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Grime is a genre that is constantly evolving and full of boundless creativity. There is always something exciting and new going on, whether it’s the atmospheric instrumentals of Mr. Mitch and Wen or the furious, passionate, politicized rebellion of Ghetts’ debut album Rebel With A Cause. Although it is his first album proper, Ghetts is far from new on the scene—the East London MC releasing album quality mixtapes for years.
Rebel With A Cause, however, is a fitting culmination of many years hard grind in the scene. It’s a deeply personal record, and extremely varied both lyrically and in the production, both of which range from contemplative to raw and in your face. If Dizzee Rascal’s game-changing first two albums are your reference point when approaching grime (as it seems to be for the majority of non-British people), you will find a similar intensity and razor sharp focus on Ghetts’ album, but may be surprised by the influence of rock, punk, reggae, and jazz on the production, something that really helps this album stand out from the pack.
Oh his influences, Ghetts told us, “I’ve lived for 29 years, and grime music was born when I was 15, so I’ve been influenced by pretty much every other musical genre that existed before that. I like experimenting with music, and mixing grime with genres not always associated with it.” One listen to “Rebel” (audio above, video below), makes the politicized nature of this record immediately obvious, so the obvious question seemed to be what Ghetts is rebelling against:
I’m rebelling against conformity and my cause is the culture of grime. Rebel interprets the way I am as a person and me wanting to do what I want to do. I’m not doing what the mainstream or the underground says I should do. I’m doing what I want to do.
One of the main reasons grime continues to flourish in the UK, and be a constant source of wonderfully boundary pushing music is because it hasn’t crossed over. There are the occasional tracks that make it to the radio, but overall, it is still an underground genre, which means there is none of that watering down and commodification for a mass market that happened to so much hip-hop.
Or, as Ghetts puts it, ”If you’re looking for something thats original, that’s authentic, listen to RWAC. I would say grime music is now flourishing in the way hip-hop did in it’s earlier stages. In grime music, every artist brings something different to the table. My thing is substance and ‘the struggle’ is a worldwide language that most of us can relate to.”
Buy Rebel With A Cause here.