Drake with Skepta, both part of the Boy Better Know collective
Last night the BET nominations were released and British stars dominated the European Best International Act category. In particular, the list of nominees revealed that the distinctly British sound of grime is making waves across the pond with Giggs, Skepta, Stormzy and Wiley all up for the prize.
When Kanye West brought out some of grime’s finest – including Stormzy, Skepta, Krept and Konan and Novelist – at his 2015 BRIT Awards performance some praised the move but others critiqued the fact that they were not collaborating vocally and therefore appeared as ‘back-up dancers.’ Either way, having Kanye (arguably the biggest rapper in the world right now) on stage with grime artists was a statement, particularly given that the awards ceremony has chosen to overlook these artists despite their immense popularity.
Kanye's 2015 BRIT Awards performance
Since then grime has continued to make inroads in the States, helped no doubt by Drake vocalising his appreciation for the genre – bringing out Skepta at Wireless, jumping on Santan Dave’s Wanna Know and of course signing to Boy Better Know last year.
SBTV founder and entrepreneur Jamal Edwards seems to think that grime is gaining fans in the US: “I've been travelling backwards and forwards for years and I've always seen people enjoying the authentic English sound (of grime) […] Grime is a young genre and we're building the house."
It isn’t hard to see why grime would be popular in the United States given some of the characteristics it shares with hip hop, notably its street origins and being a channel for the voices usually suppressed in society.