Gandalf the Grey said, “A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to.”
Drake is the first Canadian signed to UK grime label Boy Better Know, and we are all prayer hands to the six gods and jah bless the forthcoming rudebo shit. People are begging the question, will grime finally make its way to America? Maybe the wizards of grime don’t give a f*ck about being embraced by America. Maybe they will arrive precisely when they mean.
Misunderstood, underrated, or simply lost on too many? Grime is too real and scary for the masses to even wrap their heads around, and they will never get a grasp on it.
It is another language. Grime is literally very hard to understand, at least lyrically. It is equatable to southern or experimental rap, dutty sounds so easily written off as gibberish or unintelligible. So misunderstood. The words on these tracks and the heavy instrumentals that go with them, are simply speaking a language not known to many. So many are unwilling to listen, even when they hear the music so clearly.
Like the unintelligible, sung, autotuned, sounds of the trap or the islands, grime and hip hop are so easily misunderstood. It breaks down sort of like this: this music is the realest, rawest shit out there. It is the truth coming from the streets, and it isn’t always grammatically correct or devoid of made up words or phrases misappropriated or misused language. Oxford, Webster, sometimes even Urban Dictionary doesn’t have the translation for the words in these rhymes. It’s like, most of the people making this music weren’t given dictionaries or a proper education or even spoken to in a way so that they would learn any form of ‘proper’ language. Just because people are disenfranchised though, does not mean they are stupid. Just because they don’t speak a recognizable language, just because you can’t understand them, does not mean they aren’t speaking some deep and meaningful shit you just can’t understand. They don’t want you to understand it. You can’t have it. It is theirs.
This proverbial you that is a them to us, representing all who shun and oppose this type of honesty, all who are afraid of the truth or know it but don’t want us to know it. They don’t want us to listen to grime, trap, or favela music, not juke nor footwork, or even moombahton or dubstep. They don’t want us to understand it. They especially don’t want any of these sounds coming together, realizing that we are all saying the same thing. They want to take these things and feed them to the masses so that they will be ruined forever like big room and EDM, mainstreaming even the counterculture ideas of peace and love so that they are ruined and drug infested, lost on a culture that is still waiting for the bass to drop, f*cking still, hypnotized by repetition and broken records or unused ones, force-fed trends and taste. The masses are overfed and the market is oversaturated, and it isn’t so easy to find music that matters and artists with integrity or sounds that speak volumes beyond all the bullshit noise.
Stööki Sound hopped off their tour bus in Grand Rapids, Michigan and killed some time rapping with me about their sound and influences. Through a rough connection and very thick accents (on both ends of the line), repeatedly running back a few seconds of tape and googling ‘British for garage’ before i realized what Luke was saying. After listening to our conversation slowly and a lot, I realized how little we even needed the words between us for me to understand and learn what this, and they, are all about.
Not many are on the next level kick of Stööki Sound’s creative process, like this very natural collaboration with rapper Marky D, “Stage Dive,” made in an LA studio on some downtime the guys had. Marky D’s highly infectious energy comes through on this track, live and loud. So turnt, and stinky like that OG Cush. It is old school hip hop in the modern world, with rappers and producers in the same room creating certifiable bangers. It is a live element that they have been able to further bring to life on tour with Keys N Krates, electronic kings of live.
Playing sounds previously unheard, dropping grime and garage in their mixes and sets, Stööki Sound is breaking down the barriers that contain sound and imprison it. Daring to be different, and as Luke said, they ‘kind of enjoy being different.’ They should enjoy being different. Being different is essential to making great art, and enjoying being different is one step closer to enlightenment.
We are all humans with the same heroes on the same mission. Stööki Sound may be from a foreign land, and their sound jarring. It is a little intimidating. Grime and UK dubstep and garage may be lost in translation or too old to be remembered, but they are the underground sounds that majorly influenced these guys. And hey, at least one of their favorite rappers is probably one of yours as well. Probably more like 4-6/6 though. Old: Biggie, Nas, Jay Z. New: Future, Drake, Young Thug.
Underground beats, jungle influence, badass lyrics, angry, come at me bro flow…the infusion of the grime and hip hop sound into the madness that is the instrumentals we are so heavy into; that is the kind of shit that will change this music game forever. Making the outliers the ones on the inside, and giving backing to all of these voices of the streets we hold in such high regard; voices the rest of the world disregards so simply, with such ease.That is what makes what these guys are doing so revolutionary, and so great. Combining all these different genres to be wholly representative of the real world and real life and real people, and how that is the greatest type of art.
Not everyone is ready to accept and understand certain music movements. There is a lot of next level music out there that the world isn’t ready for, just as people have noted the United States is not ready for grime. There is a difference between the sets Stööki Sound plays here in the states and the music they play in other countries, even a difference from arena to arena, city to city, venue to venue.
It is beautiful, but not the beauty as defined by a ‘them’ to us. It operates without constraints or restraint especially, which is something very common especially in genres like grime, hip hop, and electronic music, voices that carry through time, speak without words, all saying the same thing. Articulating all these things too tough to say out loud, too hard to deal with, and brings them directly to our faces, places them in our hearts, and makes them reality.
Maybe we are seeing the emergence of grime and hip hip as a whole, and a combination all so many elements. Electronics, lyrical madness, charged energy, electricity, connectivity; and we all come together under this umbrella where the gritty reality of things becomes clear to us so we just dance the night away and wave our arms in the air, throw our elbows, flip the bird, hang our heads low, wear all black, and say f*ck it all. Maybe with enough crossover, could unite with trap and rap and hip hop to become something much larger. These sounds from all over the world: the music of the favelas, the heavy twerk sounds from Amsterdam, all the rap and trap from the ghettos of American cities — it is all so heavily connected. Like brethren that have never met, but if they ever got together it would be as if they had known each other all the years of their existence.
What a time to be alive. Infusing grime and hip hop and electronica produces an honesty about the world and society, and ourselves, that we never have given a second glance. We have tuned out from the truth we don’t want to hear, but we can no longer deny. The voices of a people not to be ignored or slept on, and it is time to listen. It won’t be in your face like you might think, not until you are attuned and not just tuning in.
They are neither late nor early. They are going to arrive precisely when they mean.
Check out some of their favorite tracks in this exclusive Spotify playlist: