Clash names the new rebel radio MCs...

Much has been made of the “grime revival” over the last two years. The truth is that grime never really went away. The main change in the grime scene has been its perception in the media, all the while, grime artists have just been getting on with what they’ve been doing.

This surge of positive coverage, however, has been responsible for an increased self-belief in a genre which has always suffered from a thinly-veiled insecurity. In the past, there were plenty of albums, EPs or other projects which ended up cast aside, and doomed to mythological status by artists who couldn’t quite put the finishing touches on them for whatever reason. These days, however, the latest generation of MCs are actually putting music out there for their fans, bolstered by the confidence that has come with more and more exposure from both mainstream and pirate radio.

Pirate radio has always been one of the major outlets for up-and-coming grime artists, as well as providing a support network for more established acts. Even when grime was at its lowest point, you could hear it on radio multiple times a week, but it’s fair to say that in the last year or so it has become more vital to the scene than it has been for a long time. This is partly down to the fact that online broadcasting means that pirate radio is now legal and legit, with no risk of OFCOM turning up and confiscating the equipment. At the heart of the pirate radio resurgence is an ever-growing group of DJs and MCs broadcasting on legendary stations such as Déjà vu or Empire FM, but also on newly-established, online-only setups such as Radar Radio, Mode FM and others.

Novelist and The Square famously cut their teeth on pirate radio, and are rightfully receiving their plaudits at the moment, but there are plenty of other MCs worth looking out for, and who you can hear mashing up pirate radio sets on a regular basis. Here are some of the best around.

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In his own words, Jammz is radio, live in the flesh, sometimes turning up on 5 or 6 sets a week. A versatile artist who can produce and spit, his recent releases have been very well received, and his profile is higher than ever. His latest release Final Warning is a dry and funny look at a girl who is getting too clingy for his liking.

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Mic Ty

Less than a year ago, Mic Ty burst onto the scene with a head full of bedroom-bars and a 64 Bar Statement on his Soundcloud. After hitting radio regularly since then, he’s carved out a reputation as one of the most promising newcomers around. To celebrate his anniversary in the game, he released a free mixtape called ‘Av Dis' this summer.

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AKA Wiley’s little brother, but there’s plenty more to him than that. Cadell is one of the leaders of the new wave, having already clashed Novelist in the street and released two of the best war dubs of recent times, 'Hotline 1' and 'Hotline 2'.

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Big Zuu

With a bassy, gruff delivery which belies his young age, Big Zuu is another exciting up-and-comer, having dropped one of the best free releases of the year so far, the Big Who? EP. He’s also shown he’s more than a match for established MCs too, as he and Jay Amo tore lumps out of Werewolf with their diss track 'Little Dog'.

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Row D

Row D by name and rowdy on the mic, the North London MC gained a lot of coverage and attention following his convincing victory over Tempo in the Rinse x LOTM clash series last year. Row D has a loud, brash delivery and a knack for writing catchy 8-bar sequences, but is also a versatile and skilled MC with a sharp sense of humour.

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AJ Tracey

Another MC who has recently released a free mixtape, AJ Tracey put The Front up for free download via SBTV earlier this summer. He was also responsible for the best rally tune of the year, teaming up with 17 other MCs over an old-fashioned Eskibeat production for the Swerve and Skid remix.

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A Nottingham MC with a distinctive delivery, Mez has mic control reminiscent of a young D Double E, and that’s not something that grime fans say lightly. His energetic and hyperactive performances have seen him shut down countless sets and raves and also be selected to appear with Kano on a recent Butterz tour. He also convincingly won 1Xtra’s Next in Grime contest not long ago.

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Despite the resurgence, one thing that is still missing from grime is the crew culture. Aside from Boy Better Know, OGz and The Square, there aren’t many crews doing the rounds these days, even Roll Deep has gone quiet. YGG consists of PK, Lyrical Strally and Saint P, three young and promising MCs with great chemistry on set.

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So Large

A big presence in any set he appears on, So Large has an ultra-aggressive, in-your-face flow, punctuated with violent patois slang. He’s more than capable of barring with some of the best, as he’s shown on set with Ghetts a number of times, but most noticeably on Radar Radio earlier this summer.

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The youngest MC in this list, Blaydes is just 16 years old and hails from Lewisham, home of Novelist and The Square, among others. When the scene went wardub-crazy recently, Blaydes stepped up to take on Chipmunk, Cadell, Werewolf and others with his send, SMH. Having already been played on 1Xtra and across pirate radio, he’s due to drop an EP in the next few months.

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Words: Paul Gibbins

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