Grime music's 'time to impress', says Wretch 32

Skepta’s Mercury Prize win has launched grime music into the mainstream, British rapper Wretch 32 has said.

Tottenham-born Skepta was handed the prestigious award in September for his album Konnichiwa, beating off competition from David Bowie and Radiohead.

Wretch 32, real name Jermaine Scott Sinclair, said the win was grime scene’s “time to impress”.

“The best way I can explain it is when you got that little kid who plays football at the side of the cage while everyone inside the cage, and he never gets to come in and play,” he said.

“And then one day someone says ‘we’re a man down, can you come on the pitch and join us?’ And when he gets on, he knows that this is his time to impress and show what he can do.

“I think that’s the grime scene, we got our moment and all the big boys and top things are coming through and delivering.”

The rapper, who has partnered with EA for new game Titanfall 2, recently released his third album that includes a track titled A Conversation with Mark Duggan, referencing the police shooting of Duggan in 2011.

Duggan’s death triggered riots across the capital in which shops were looted, buildings set alight and there were stand-offs with police. It quickly spread to other parts of the country, including Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester.

Wretch 32 said his new song and the wider grime scene benefits from more media focus on the police in recent years.

He said: “I might have been talking about police brutality six years ago in a mix tape but it’s not all over the TV. It is now, so when I talk about it now people are like ‘oh, he’s talking about that’.

“But I’ve seen this all my life. I’ve seen friends being battered, being beaten up by police being chased, everything. Dogs set on us.

“So, for me, I’m talking to about a story I’ve lived but the only difference with the time now is when people flick on the TV they can see a policeman just killed someone.

“You can’t hide from it, so when you listen to it in the music that’s why it’s making more sense now.”

:: Wretch 32 stepped into the shoes of a Pilot for the launch of EA’s Titanfall 2, out now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. Battling against boxer Tony Bellew, the pair went head-to-head, using a futuristic replica weapon to shoot targets and replicate scenes from the game.

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