Back in 2006, the influence of UK garage had somewhat petered out on the club scene and in the charts (Artful Dodger, DJ Luck / MC Neat). Around the same time, Grime had built up a big following but was still relatively underground. In an attempt to break the negative stigma attached to the scene, JME released Tropical on his label Boy Better Know. DJ’s such as Todd Edwards and Wookie were huge influences on this new direction of music that took the positive, bubbly and club-ready influence of garage and fused it with grime.
Fast forward nearly ten years later and the influence of garage is prevalent in almost every house track that makes the Top 40. Whilst grime gathers more and more momentum, its underground roots aren’t forgotten in a night that fuses the old and new; presented by Red Bull Music Academy with a little help from a few familiar faces.
Former Rinse FM DJ, Logan Sama’s setlist is characteristic of the night; full-throttled and in your face. His hour-long set spans the legacy of grime music, from Fire Crew’s ‘Oi’ to Stormzy’s ‘Know Me From,’ via tracks such as Kano’s ‘New Banger’ and Newham Generals’ ‘Hard.’ Solo 45’s ‘Feed ‘Em to the Lions’ receives one of the biggest receptions of the night; mosh pits and madness – the crowd are more than ready for the next act.
Birmingham’s finest Preditah and C4 grace the stage starting with a funkier, garage-influenced set of songs, throwing it back halfway through their set to the late 90’s/ early 2000’s with Ed Case’s remix of Gorillaz’ ‘Clint Eastwood’ and Paul Johnson’s ‘Get Get Down.’
With no introduction the first few notes of ‘That’s Not Me’ reinvigorate the kids of the Ritz to put away their shape-cutting house shuffles and pull out their poignant gun-finger salutes. This is grime at its purest; needless to say the song was a highlight judging by everyone’s Snapchat stories the next morning. JME and Skepta deliver bars over a solid set that includes RBX’s classic ‘Rhythm ‘N Gash,’ the infectious ‘It Ain’t Safe’ and Skepta’s latest release ‘Shutdown,’ which receives huge reaction, however is moderate in comparison to ‘That’s Not Me.’ The gig sees the duo bring out BBK’s Shorty (who celebrated his birthday on stage) and Frisco, amongst others in a 30 minute set that seemed it was over way too quickly.
The Adenuga brothers disappear off stage, and the man who is regarded as the inspiration behind Tropical, DJ Todd Edwards takes over the ones and twos by bringing the exotic flavours to a dreary Manchester evening. Although a legend in every right, his set is wasted on the wrong kind of crowd. The house-y, electronic vibes don’t sit well with the crowd as noted by the streams of people periodically leaving the building during his set.
Overall, Redbull Music Academy’s Tropical came across as a little confused – designed as a club night with the main attraction being a live grime set. Nonetheless, for the short time JME and Skepta were on stage it felt like the beginning of something fresh; a much needed re-emergence for grime music. It is a culture that promotes an outlet for a disenfranchised mass of people, and one which is becoming more and more accepted by an ever-growing audience.[review]