Grime Time: Chronik “How To Be An MC”

Chronik is is probably the biggest roadman in grime right now, which means he is in and out of jail all the time, and presumably the idea of clashing with him leaves little sound boys shook in their shoes…

Grime has two worlds: the Internet and the neighborhoods of London. Sometimes these two things cross over and sometimes they don’t. Grime is both a music and a representation of London’s youthful underclass. Either way, very few people make money off of it. So, you have people who are “famous” on the Internet as MC’s working as bus drivers or something. Since grime is a very aggressive music, your actual rep as a tough guy and/or criminal contributes greatly to your reputation on the mic.  This connection between verbal battles and physical ones has been with grime from its inception.  After all, when the first full length grime LP, Dizzee Rascal’s Boy In Da Corner,  was released, Dizzee was recovering from stab wounds he received in Cyprus and the WHO STABBED DIZZEE RASCAL mystery was the first of many Internet grime rumors…

Since I only know him from the Internet, I don’t know if Chronik is a real hardman or not, but he certainly looks the part.  He has crazy eyes and yells like he really does want to roll up to where you live with a gun and rob and humiliate you.  And, as with the best grime, the menace of the music he is yelling over can’t help but emphasize his volatility.  Lately, his work-rate has been pretty high, but it seems like he may be treading water. Chances are he won’t end up in Lord of the Mics 3, as no one will pick up his challenge.  He doesn’t sound quite right on UK hip hop and I can’t see him making sweetboy tunes (i.e R&B), so I am not sure what sort of career path he has in the UK music business in 2011.

Sadly, the career path for aggressive grime MC’s seems to be doing guest vocal appearances on laddish dubstep (BROSTEP) and bad rock/rap Limp Bizkit Jr. bizness.  It helps one get bookings at festivals and in cities where there are no black people.  However, it removes the MC from any sort of sociopolitical area where his music and lyrics are representing a real time and place and changes them to generic exhortations to get up and go crazy in that mosh pit!  The threats of actual violence get transformed into cartoons about breaking stuff.  I would be happy if they tried to crossover into UK dancehall more, but I doubt that move put food on Riko or Badness’s table.


About peter

musings about music, culture, food, and more... twittering, tumbling, and instagramming: @PgunnNYC
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