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Scrufizzer interview: The inner circle of grime

i4SiU 300x225 Scrufizzer interview: The inner circle of grimeGrime is a niche genre dominated by some big names in the scene – names such as Wiley, Skepta and JME who will be known by the majority of the populous by their occasional dip into the mainstream market – and these are MCs that continue to receive love for their underground work.

But, is this domination turning into a full-on monopolisation? And is there room for younger MCs in a market dominated by such huge names?

For those still loyal to the genre, grime is not what it used to be. The days of Dirty Canvas, Sidewinders and Rinse FM and Deja Vu sets are now nothing but memories and crackling audio rips.

Just a few years ago, those of us with a specific taste for 140BPM (beats-per-minute, and one of many varying characteristics of grime music), had music on our phones and iPods that was hardly up to date – many sticking with the nostalgic tracks of the glory days.

However, a new wave of young, ambitious and fresh-sounding MCs have emerged and found themselves in a prominent light at the forefront of the scene.

Romani Lorenzo, 22, better known by his alias ‘Scrufizzer’, might, perhaps, be considered one of the highest rated young MCs to be part of this new wave. Hailed by the Guardian just a few weeks ago as an artist to look out for and generating numerous comparisons to a young Dizzee Rascal, I caught up with Scrufizzer to talk about making a name for yourself in the industry.

Despite being a massive hit at the first two Eskimo Dance events at Proud2 this year when Scrufizzer arrived at the third, he was refused entry at the last moment.

“This is why people don’t do grime anymore,” he says, “and this is why grime’s not going anywhere. Because big events like this – I’m going to say this as real as I can and if people are going to be offended, then they can be offended but I’m not being rude – with anything, there has to be evolution. And for there to be evolution, the people in charge need to give everyone a chance.”

“Cheeky (the promoter) didn’t let me in and I was upset because I’m classed as a grime artist and they won’t even let me in the venue.”

For those that have never been, Eskimo Dance is a legendary grime night which entered the scene under the guidance of Wiley, considered the founder or ‘Godfather’ of grime. After years of absence, it made a return in January 2012 with two more in the following months. And while these nights have a bill that boasts the likes of Roll Deep, Boy Better Know, OGz and more, artists from across the grime scene, who weren’t necessarily advertised to be coming, make an appearance.

It’s true. Grime events are, again, dominated by those big name MCs saying the same lyrics as they do at every other event – this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the audience as it’s what most of them want to hear but it does provide MCs who aren’t as well known with a problem.

“The problem comes when that inner circle run the game until someone comes out and literally blows them out of the water and they can’t block him – there’s a lot of blocking going on,” Lorenzo continues.

“There’s not enough people in grime, and the people that are in grime are in that one circle. If you’re not in that circle then there’s no way on God’s green earth that you’re going to get in – they’re not going to let you.

He adds: “Even if tomorrow, a random MC goes to a grime event and he’s really good and he got on the mic and sprayed some lyrics, nobody’s going to rate him. Everyone would be like ‘who the hell is this guy?’ because that’s how it is now and you need to be affiliated with the circle to get in.”

Scrufizzer isn’t a man who’s angry at the current system or the people who control it, as he says “I haven’t got a problem with any of the guys at the top and they’ve always been cool to me,” but it is evident he’s frustrated at the state of the scene in general.

“You have to reproduce for your scene to grow,” he says. “Now, the whole grime scene has changed. Nobody wants to do grime, so people are saying ‘we can’t get into that circle so we’re going to do hip-hop now’.

“So they branch off and the listeners who liked them as a grime artist say that they’ve ditched the grime scene… but it’s not even that. It’s that they can’t get into the circle and have the opportunities that they might somewhere else [if they worked in a different genre].”

Evolution, it seems, is the key behind Lorenzo’s idea of the scene growing and, as he talks about it, I’m reminded of the way Wiley would talk about the scene in the mid-to-late-noughties.

The passion is clearly there and I’m certain that in 5 years’ time, when Scrufizzer is a more dominant name than it already is, he will be listening to young MCs and giving them the support and time that he clearly feels new, talented artists deserve.

You can preorder Scrufizzer’s single ‘Rap Rave’ on iTunes by clicking here.

@Jamie__Lewis

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  • stonecold90

    We need the fresh blood coming through, otherwise the scene will die, it can’t survive on a freestyle or mixtape every now and again from skeppy or chip. Enough young blood there to do it, the sound just needs harnessing in the right direction.

  • .:.

    The thing is not even the grime artists know of smaller, even if they’re at the top of the underground. Status is everything. There’s alot of sets, much better than any big one, watch JustJam and it’s not filled with annoying fans who only listen cos they’re big, just people in the scene. To be honest though, most artists repeat on sets.


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