Writer Joe Morrissey says: “When Kano comes to town, all I say is mines right, and they loose the limelight, when Kano comes around.”
When Kane Robinson, more commonly known by stage name and as grime veteran ‘Kano’, penned those now iconic words just over ten years ago, most probably situated somewhere within the capitals notorious East end as he did so, I very much doubt he was referring to his appearance in Sheffield on Saturday night. None the less it proved to be a fitting analogy of the night which proceeded, gracing the stage in front of the frantically energetic crowd after the cities very own growing grime contingent had helped raise the energy levels with well-known classics such as Wiley’s ‘Wot do you call it’ reverberating around the packed arena.
Grime as a Genre and a movement has certainly progressed a long way since that very song. From the moment it was conceived and the name ‘Grime’ was coined it has been relentlessly shrewd with controversy, resurrected itself from its many ‘deaths’ and managed to branch out to the masses in the process. And on this rainy night in Sheffield this was encapsulated, the vast demographics represented throughout the crowd who seemed almost connected by the slow resonant drum beat as heads nodded in unison,. Students, those in their forties, hard core grime fans all showing their appreciation for the music.
My worst fear upon attending this event was that a man I once idolised and have grown up listening too would stick to a very mainstream song choice. Call it selfish but I wanted to hear the lyrics and experience the heavy basslines of the songs I had blared through headphones since I was first introduced to them many years ago. A self-indulgent view perhaps, after all it was his mainstream songs that helped line the man’s pockets and allowed him to branch out and appeal to the masses as opposed to those that were perhaps unable or reluctant to spend £££ on his music. It was also this mould of song that some claim contributed to the original ‘downfall’ of Grime, the commercialisation and at the time what was perceived as a clear choice to distance itself from its humbled beginnings and those that had loved and connected with it in a way its ‘new’ audience perhaps couldn’t.
Upon speaking to many of the nights revellers I began to better gauge how Sheffield, a self-proclaimed ‘Small Northern City’ proud of its Steel industry roots, has been influenced and benefitted from the heavy hitting drum beats that originated out of the East end. It occurred to me that without the commercialisation and marketing of artists such as Kano, Dizzee Rascal, Skepta and Wiley that perhaps a lot of these people wouldn’t have been introduced to this unique sound. Realisation hitting me that the same commercialisation I had once distanced myself from had actually opened the door for so many more people to enjoy the same sound I grew up listening too. It didn’t just limit them to hearing the watered down songs that gained acclaim in the UK charts, they would then be enlightened to the underground classics that belonged in the open.
‘P’s and Q’s, arguably one of the best grime songs ever produced seemed a fitting to end to a thoroughly enjoyable night which showcased one of the pioneers, originators and old school grime veterans treating a sold out crowd to his discography of classics many of which will surely go down in history as paving the way for a whole host of new musicians and musical genres.
Words by Joe Morrissey