After months of speculation surrounding a tattoo and a surprise London appearance, Skepta (Joseph Adenuga) has confirmed Drake is ‘the first Canadian signed to Boy Better Know (BBK)’.
The British underground grime collective and label, headed up by the Adenuga brothers, Skepta and JME (Jamie Adenuga) is finally peering out of the dark clubs of London from the shadow of Police form 696.
The form has become notorious in London and across the country for closing down many grime events in recent years.
Drake signing to BBK however echoes a new era in rap.
Grime is now becoming a truly marketable art form that has potential to establish British hip-hop worldwide alongside its new Canadian comrade.
With artists such as Wiley, Preditah and Solo 45 featured on BBK’s roster, the collective is
already the main (and probably only) power in British hip-hop.
However, Drake joining BBK could mean the grass roots values of Grime’s battle hardened voice will soften in an attempt to accommodate the trends of modern American rap.
Grime has always been the voice of those who grew up on the street, but it never makes any attempt to glamorize the harsh realities of those behind the microphone’s early lives.
Perhaps it is the perfect time for grime to manoeuvre itself into the consciousness of rap fans in the new world though.
The genre has finally forgotten the ghosts of bashment, which objectified women, degraded homosexuals and incited violence.
Thankfully the home grown garage influences that made grime so meaningful at the turn of the century have always been maintained in the genre.
JME has dedicated his whole career so far to building the BBK brand through merchandising and creating an online community of fans that now span across our entire country.
Is it conceivable though that Drake’s alignment with BBK could make JME and Skepta’s voices heard all over the globe?
The BBK label is intended to be set up as a worldwide organisation after all.
So it is conceivable this was the plan all along on the part of both Skepta and Drake in order to build the brand.
Skepta’s new album ‘Konnichiwa’, released 6th May, has certainly taken inspiration from American rap in places.
He trades the 64-bit video game synthesizer sound for trap beats, tuned down dark vocals and he even allowed the word ‘twerk’ to be said…
It should also be noted that serial hit machine Pharrell Williams makes an appearance.
Skepta hasn’t forgotten what made him great in the first place though.
His true grime UK hits ‘Shutdown’ and ‘That’s Not Me’ featuring JME confirm this.
The union of Drake with Skepta and JME’s label, Boy Better Know in my opinion is a business move by all involved to build the reputation of Grime in the United States.
Whether it is possible a movement born in the streets of London, styled by the streets of Manchester and Liverpool (according to Skepta) can become a hit across the pond, remains to be seen.