The grime star will perform Wednesday, April 19, at Neumos in Seattle.
He’s been called the savior of grime, but U.K. rapper Skepta doesn’t buy into that.
“People who think grime is back are sheep that follow the media. People who aren’t sheep know grime never went away,” he said in a rare interview with London magazine Time Out last year.
Skepta, one of the biggest international stars in the U.K. electronic/rap crossover genre known as grime, will perform at Neumos on Wednesday, April 19. The Tottenham-born rapper was scheduled to perform at The Crocodile last April but was forced to cancel after he was denied a work visa.
8 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., Seattle; $22 (neumos.com).
His fourth full-length “Konnichiwa” — which he produced a majority of himself and put out on his own label — was released last May to critical acclaim, and even won the 2016 Mercury Prize for album of the year. Recently, he appeared on Drake’s globe-trotting, genre-hopping “More Life” album (or “playlist” as he’s been calling it) with a spotlight-snatching interlude.
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The sudden increase in global — and especially American — exposure has many critics hailing Skepta as an ambassador of grime, bringing the genre back to the masses and the glory days of its inception in the early 2000s. It was then that the foundations of grime were built — an evolution of shuffling, syncopated U.K. garage and 2-step that featured MCs like Dizzee Rascal, Kano and Wiley rapping and toasting in their distinct dialects and slang.
Though he’s a new artist to many American rap fans, Skepta’s roots in the grime and greater U.K. electronic scene trace back to its, and his, origins. His father, who immigrated to England from Nigeria, was a DJ. He started off spinning records on pirate radio stations, then began producing before picking up the microphone and co-founding his Boy Better Know label/brand in 2006, and dropping his debut full-length “Greatest Hits” the following year. Over the course of his entire career, he’s stayed independent, with no corporate affiliation and no label but his own.
With cultural exchange at an all-time high because of the internet, and America’s musical palette becoming increasingly electronic over the past decade, it seems that Skepta is finally getting the same recognition and respect from the rest of the world that he does in his home country. And with a proven track record of contributions and purely independent hustle, it’s well-deserved.
But, as he told Time Out, it’s not all about him.
“That’s all I’ve ever wanted: for London to have a credible musical voice,” he said. “I will honestly, honestly die happy knowing that I saw it happen.”