We asked the renowned radio host and DJ alliance to some of the biggest MCs to list his A-Z of grime. Everything from BBK to gun fingers to pirate radio.
Last updated: 29th Aug 2017. Originally published: 4th Feb 2016
Logan Sama has seen grime evolve, adapt and flourish over the past ten years. Back in 2002 he was picked up by pirate radio station Rinse FM following a stint on Plush FM and began to showcase new music and the biggest MCs.
In 2005 he moved to Kiss 100 and spent a whole decade presenting the best in grime to his listeners whilst assisting the likes of Wiley, JME, Dizzee Rascal and Skepta with their careers, championing their music and their talent.
He was responsible for FABRICLIVE 83, the first album in the series to include MC sets, highlighting his credentials as a true advocate for grime music in every which way.
When it comes to live performances, you can often catch him with the genre's key players and collectives. Whether it's for Boiler Room takeovers (below), at festivals or in clubs - Logan Sama is only a stone's throw away from the MCs you know and love. Here's his A-Z of the genre he has support and shaped...
A - Air Max
Grime and Air Max go together like fish and chips, bangers and mash, rice and peas. Completely synonymous with UK culture and fashion ever since they exploded onto the high street in the late nineties. The Air Max trainer in all its different forms is a favourite with grime artists and fans everywhere.
B - Boy Better Know
Without a doubt the most important collective and record label in grime history. They didn’t start grime, they haven’t had the most chart hits, but they have been at the top of the game since their rise. Despite the foundation crews they followed like Nasty and Roll Deep disbanding, they’ve never given up their spot.
Over a decade strong bringing grime to untold thousands of people; JME, Skepta, Jammer, Frisco, Shorty, Wiley, Solo 45, Lay-Z, DJ Maximum and of course CantForgetSam have created a dynasty.
C - Crews
Crews were one of the driving forces behind grime leaving the umbrella of UK garage music and starting its own thing. Groups of hungry, young MCs spitting over the mixes and chops from their DJ soundtracked the earliest years of a new millennium.
Crews like So Solid, Pay As U Go and Heartless paved the way. The MC culture began to overshadow much of the sickly sweet UK Garage of the time and a divide became clear. And it was crews like Roll Deep, Nasty, More Fire, Ruff Sqwad, Slew Dem, Boyz In The Hood, East Connection, Essentials and Meridian that breathed new life into the infant genre that became known as grime.
When I was starting out as a DJ, if you weren’t cutting fresh dubplates every week then you would definitely get left behind. Taking music direct from the studios and laptops of the top producers of the time and getting them direct to the airwaves and clubs wasn’t widely possible on CD. That meant a trip down to legendary cutting studio, Music House, to pay Leon a visit. £25 got you 4 tracks cut into a 10” acetate dubplate, and guaranteed reloads and gun fingers on your next set.
E - Eski
Before we really had a name for grime, there was a new, exciting sound that definitely wasn’t the same as the dreary two-step garage being churned out by major labels. Wiley, Danny Weed and a few others were making a new sound in Bow E3. The Eski sound. Tracks like Eskimo, Creeper, Igloo, Ice Rink and Salt Beef were all classics and helped act as the backbone for a new credible scene.
F - Fruity Loops
Whilst the earliest forefathers of grime were producing on Apple Mac G4s and powerful PCs using Cubase and Logic, the next generation were coming home from school and running FL Studio 3 on their family computer in the front room.
Fruity Loops helped some of the most talented musicians in grime get to grips with the basics of making music, and many continue to use it today for the ease of writing. Legendary names such as JME, Skepta, Rude Kid, Teddy Music and P Jam all started out on Fruity.
G - Gunfingers
The universal sign of appreciation for any sick riddim or nang lyric. Put your two fingers in the air in appreciation!
H - Hype
What better word to use when talking about the grime experience than HYPE! Whether it is live in the rave, a radio set or even at festival stages round the world, grime always brings the HYPE!
I - Internet
Grime began to rise when the internet was becoming a major player in the music industry, and it has been both helped and hindered by the world wide web.
At the same time as allowing the listener to download whatever they want whenever they want without paying for it, the internet has also allowed new listeners around the world to discover our music. Grime is one of the first genres to really have been birthed during the era when the internet totally changed the music industry.
J - Jack'um
When it sounds so nice we have to play it twice! Many grime artists and DJs are the sons and daughters of fathers who played on Reggae sound systems. Footsie recently booked his own father to DJ at his ‘King Original’ night.
Grime has inherited many of dancehall and reggae's characteristics like jungle and garage before it - none more notable than the reload. Whilst it is a concept alien to many coming from a dance music background, literally rewinding the track on the deck and playing it again from the top is the upmost sign of respect either to the track itself or the MC who just dropped a lyric that set the crowd alight. Yoooo DJ, jack datttttttt!
K - Korg Triton
This top of the range synth keyboard holds a sound bank of thousands, but it is the Gliding Square bass which is the most distinctive sound in grime. Wiley started his whole Eski sound on this rack and it has been synonymous with the genre ever since.
L - Lord of the Mics
Jammer, Ratty and Capo got together in Jammer’s studio basement, a site which saw anyone who was anyone pass through, either for beats or to vocal, back in the earliest days of grime.
They set out to capture some of the lyrical altercations as a form of prize fighting contest as well as much of the behind the scenes exclusive access people were loving on the DVDs of that time. Lord of the Mics was born soon after and has recently celebrated a decade in the game with it’s seven installment.
M - The Movement
At the same time that Boy Better Know were cementing their style of grime, another group of MCs were pushing in another direction musically. Ghetts, Scorcher, Devlin, Wretch 32 and Mercston alongside DJ Unique were taking Grime MCing to new places. The self-styled ‘Tempo Specialists’ showed they were not limited to the 140bpm tempo or the one line flows that Grime was so often defined by. They inspired a whole generation of new MCs with their flows and content and elevated Grime as a part of it.
N - Newham Generals
If there was ever such a thing as a lifetime VIP membership in grime, D Double E and Footsie would qualify. After leaving Nasty Crew in 2004, Double and Foots formed the Newham Generals with Monkey and DJ Tubby. The line up has changed over the years but D Double E and Footsie have been ever present releasing legendary tracks and touring the world continually.
O - One Forty
The BPM that everyone associates with Grime. Born from UK garage, the earliest grime was actually around 136-138 BPM, but when a new generation of producers got their hands on Fruity Loops, which preset its BPM to 140, a new standard was set. Now the number is part of grime’s DNA with Kano even releasing an album entitled 140 Grime St.
P - Pirate Radio
Pirate radio has always been a distinctly British phenomenon. From stations literally sailing out into the open waters to broadcast rock n' roll music in the sixties, to people hastily erecting microwave linked transmitters and aerials atop London’s most prominent tower blocks.
The tradition of pirate radio in grime was inherited from jungle and garage before it. The DIY attitude of these young artists, just wanting to get heard across their immediate community when mainstream radio was not catering to their musical tastes, saw a massive explosion of stations across the UK’s major cities in the late nineties and turn of the millennium.
The legendary Rinse, De Ja Vu, Heat, Freeze and On Top all saw some of the biggest names in grime learn their craft and build up a strong fan base. With the advent of BBC 1Xtra and a newly funded OFCOM, many Pirate stations fell by the wayside. But the pirate spirit lives on in many internet based stations today.
Q - Quotables
Quotables are always important in an MC led genre. Soundbites that capture the culture, the mood and the times. Grime has ALWAYS had strong quotables that have often transcended the genre and crossed over into common use.
R - Raves
Grime needs to be experienced LIVE! Being in a packed club full of grime fans all going mad when the right riddim drops and the MC spits his most potent lyric is a religious experience. If your only interaction with grime has been through YouTube videos and your iTunes, you need to get out your house and get to your nearest grime rave!
Eskimo Dance is the spiritual home of grime music. Butterz are taking grime artists round the country. King Original crosses sound system culture with grime. KeepinItGrimy is bringing you exciting new live acts. There’s a lot to go and see.
S - Slimzee
Whilst grime MCs were giving a voice to the council estates around the UK, grime as an instrumental genre was also finding its way out of the wilderness of UK garage.
The undisputed champion of grime dubs in its early years was DJ Slimzee. You could guarantee that at any Sidewinder set with Pay As U Go, Slimzee would be playing the dubs you could not get for love nor money. VIPs, Devil mixes and brand new tunes you wouldn’t get for years. Slimzee is rightly hailed as the Godfather of Grime DJs.
T - Twitter beef!
Conflict, war dubs, live clashes! Grime has always been exciting and hype when it comes to clashes of MC Egos. However, NO ONE loves a Twitter tiff quite like the grime scene. Indirects and subtweets fly on a weekly basis and only rarely does it bubble over into any actual dubs or clashes. It’s like our very own version of Eastenders or Corrie.
U - UK
Grime is undeniably a UK sound. From the instrumental influences to the lyrical content, it all screams Great Britain. Over the last few years, artists from outside the capital have received their rightful praise as well.
With tours and shows being made mainstays in major UK cities like Bristol, Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds, the audience is UK wide too. We celebrate our Britishness in grime and NOTHING is worse than rapping in a faux American accent over here.
V - Violence
Grime music comes from a very real place where violence is an issue that many have to deal with daily. Violence has always cast a shadow over the grime scene, and its relationship with clubs and live venues has often been strained.
Police shutting down shows and banning artists from performing was a very regular occurrence in the early days of grime. Nowadays we play to a far wider audience and the violence spoken about by many of the artists in an anecdotal way very rarely crosses into the live experience.
W - Wiley
If there's one person you have to think of first and foremost when it comes to the foundation of grime music, it has to be Wiley. Father of the Eskimo sound, supporter of so many young bright talents, founder of Eskimo Dance, driving force behind Roll Deep and he is still putting out music today as good as he ever has done.
‘King of Grime’ is a title that can shift from head to head depending on who’s career is currently basking in the light, but Wiley will forever be the ‘Godfather of Grime'
X - Pulse X
‘8 bar’ describes an arrangement style in which a producer writes one 8 bar section which is traditionally the hype, riff driven part and another 8 bar section which is the slightly more down tempo rolling part. These are then alternated with very little deviation and no change to the structure such as bridges or middle 8s.
It’s a copy and paste style which was prominent during the early years of grime and has survived ever since. NO record has exemplified this beauty in simplicity as much as the legendary 'Pulse X' by Youngsta, who wrote the track whilst part of West London’s ‘Musical Mob’ collective. Tracks like this still sound as revolutionary and impactful as they did when it was made nearly 15 years ago.
Y - Youngers
This was something that was prevalent during the earlier years of grime. Crews would bring through the younger aspiring artists around them. In some cases, there were enough to start a whole new crew, which saw rise to ‘Younger’ versions of Nasty Crew, SLK, Slew Dem and more. Grime has always thrived because those in positions of influence have used it to showcase new, young talent.
Z - Zeds
Let’s not be coy, grime has been fuelled by weed for the entirety of its life span. There are many famous smokers and many tracks inspired by weed. Whether it’s draws of lemon or packs of the loud, the slang may have changed but the links between grime and smoking weed have remained a stronger bond than most relationships.