One of grime’s most respected producers Rude Kid recently teamed up with long time collaborator Ghetts on their energetic track “Banger after Banger”. We spoke exclusively to the artist on the eve of the track’s release about the genre, radio and producers.
Rude Kid is perhaps the only producer, presenter and DJ in music who is able to cite Skepta, JME, Wiley, Shy FX, Giggs and Ghetts among his collaborators. A veteran of the genre, his tracks have been supported over the years by the likes of Mistajam and Annie Mac and his records have been bumped in sets by the likes of DJ Target and BBK’s Maximum. As a DJ he's performed at Glastonbury, Lovebox, Wireless, Parklife, Reading and Leeds Festivals. He’s toured Australia, Ibiza and Prague - and in doing so he’s helped push the genre around Europe and the rest of the world.
Listen to the full interview here:
Since joining the grime scene back in 2009 by producing Ghetts’ “Sing 4 Me”, Rude Kid has gone on to build a stunning career. He was signed by Sony Music in 2011 and released his “Outer Space” EP in February 2015. He followed it up with production credits on JME’s “Integrity” album in May 2015. The album peaked at No. 1 on the UK RnB album charts and No. 12 on the UK Albums chart. Over the past 12 months he’s worked with a fresh crop of artists including Stormzy, Yungen and Cadet; and he’s confirmed a brand new grime show on national station, Kiss FM. The hour long show is broadcast across Kiss’s network at 10pm every Sunday night and it’s followed by repeats of the show on Kiss Fresh each Tuesday. It features exclusive interviews, new music and breaking news from the vanguard of the grime scene.
We sat down with Rude Kid on the eve of his latest release, “Banger after Banger” to talk about the evolution of grime and the rising fame of producers in modern music.
Seated comfortably in Relentless No. 5’s world class studios before the track’s private launch party, Rude Kid comes down in a calm and confident mood. He’s been here before. This would turn out to be his third such launch party. “It’s always packed by 10pm. It’s good to see that everyone’s here and having a great time” he says - settling into his chair by the MIDI sequencers.
Rude Kid is an artist who’s been in the game since its very beginning, so we wanted to know first and foremost what he thought it had changed and evolved over the years. Rude Kid said “It has definitely gotten much bigger. People around the world now know about grime due to the power of social media. You can put up a tune on Soundcloud and post about it on Twitter or Instagram and people instantly know. That’s really helped grime’s following get much bigger, and because of it grime will continue to just grow and grow and grow. It’s a genre that’s never really died. There was a time when it was a little quiet. But it never died out.”
Curious, we asked him what it was about the genre that prevented it from dying out when so many other genres seem to come and go. Garage, for example, is a genre that some have argued has lost some of its lustre. Rude Kid however, had his own opinions. He said “We grew up on garage - so our influences came from garage. We can call Wiley the creator of grime - and he’s a garage artist. So I’d say that garage is still there doing its thing. It hasn’t really died, but grime is the most exciting music right now. I just came back from America and they’re loving it over there.”
He had a point. In the first fortnight since Drake’s “More Life” was released via OVOSOUND Radio on Apple Music, streaming statistics for British artists including Skepta, Giggs, Dave and Jorja Smith - all of whom had cameos on the Toronto emcee’s playlist - rocketed. The likes of Dave and AJ Tracey recently sold out performances at Fader Fort for SXSW. Recent memes have been circulating with Americans tirelessly searching for “who is Skepta?” or “what is a Giggs?”, and Dave was recently featured in an extended interview with Hot 97’s Ebro in which Ebro asked the UK artist to clarify the difference between Hip Hop and Grime. Rude Kid had his own thoughts on the difference between grime and hip hop, and he shared them with us in our conversation. “It’s the energy. The sounds. It’s more than just the 140 BPM. Future and Rick Ross are spitting on 140 BPM tracks too - but the instruments they use are very different. The differences between our flows is very distinct. “Banger after Banger” is a grime tune. “One Take” is a grime tune. We use sounds that Hip Hop / Trap etc. just don’t use.
So one difference between Grime and Hip Hop appears to be the combination of BPM, instrumentation and lyrical flow. Another difference between the two styles of artistry appears to be the relationship between producers and emcees. It would appear that major acts in the United States come in pairs: Drake and 40, Gucci Mane and Zaytoven, The Weeknd and Nav. Rude Kid thinks that that level of partnership between emcees and producers should be emphasised more across the channel. He said, “There’s so many people out there doing their thing. Emcees, producers, DJs. In America you’ve got Future and Drake and everyone knows them. But at the same time you also have Metro and 40. Producers over there have figured out how to build brands around themselves.”
“It’s great that producers are getting more love - and they should get out there more to make the most of that”, he continued. “I’ve never been the kind of producer to put myself in the background. I show people who I am. I think that great producers put a stamp on their work so you know it’s theirs. It’s sick to see producers finally saying “you know what - we do this as well. That’s where ‘Are You Ready’ came out”. It’s important because not every party is going to big you up. Your name’s not always going to be on the title on YouTube or Spotify. But with the trademark people know it’s yours.”
We then spoke about the genre’s transition from pirate radio stations such as Radar and Rinse to the likes of Kiss FM, and the differences that entails? He said: “The audience first and foremost is different. Your music will reach a wider audience because the frequency’s clear. Everything’s correct. There are people who have Kiss just on in the background. Anything can be on and they’ll listen to it. The thing with pirate radio for example is that you’d have to be a fan of the person or the station to listen to it. Back in the day you’d have to go out of your way to find the dial. You can listen to Kiss anywhere. For me to have the grime show on Kiss is a blessing. I can play the music I want to play, talk how I want to talk, and showcase that I’ve got a great personality on the mic. It’s a new avenue for me and I’m enjoying it.”
The difference in scale between commercial and pirate radio stations is significant. Kiss FM reaches over 4.6 million listeners each week across over 35 hours of specialist programming. By comparison, East London’s NTS Radio reaches around 500,000 listeners each month. The wider audience has its benefits, but also comes with its own set of challenges. We wondered how having to cater to such a broad audience of casual listeners might impact the general sound of the genre. Would it lead to a watered down version of a sound that’s known for its raw authenticity?
Rude Kid acknowledged the point. He said “this is where I almost ran into trouble a few years ago. I was thinking about what other people think. I asked whether people would like what I put out, and it didn’t work. Instead, I think it’s better to keep in touch with your core and ask yourself why you started making music. For me, it’s because I enjoy making music for myself and for my friends. That’s how “Banger after Banger” came about. We wanted to have fun with music again and stop thinking about whether this or that person is going to like it. If you think like that - I think it gets rid of a lot of the problem of catering to a wider audience. They come because they want to see what you like. So if you like it, there’s a fair chance that they’ll like it too.”
We ended our discussion with a word about independence. Rude Kid credits the wave of artistic independence as being one of the defining characteristics of modern grime. He shared, “I’ve been to meetings with labels which is great, but I can do a lot of this on my own. I’ve got the support of Relentless. I can fund myself. Independence is sick because you can be as creative as you want. That’s why grime is grime. People have stopped caring about wanting people to like what they do. It’s about doing things ourselves now.”
Watch Rude Kid's "Banger after Banger" featuring Ghetts here: