The reemergence of UK grime has been impossible to ignore. Kids across the globe are able to recite the lyrics to Boy Better Know songs, 140BPM nights are cropping up everywhere and JME’s Integrity entered the UK albums chart at number 12. Wrongly condemned by the government for years under the belief that it incited violence – grime's unflinching army of followers refused to sit still. What was deemed a cult is now considered a religion and through tireless work from the likes of JME and Skepta they are able to bring Grime to Manchester for Britain’s premier club series.
The recent departure of Novelist has undoubtedly had an effect on The Square. Despite putting so much energy into their music, there is little reaction from the crowd; even when they drop Pengaleng – the crowd is largely made up of people talking over them or checking their phones. Elf Kid is definitely a rising talent but we might have to leave this one to simmer for the time being.
We head to room two, drawn by the prospects of a dubstep and grime splice from the legendary Kode9. Teaming up with Wiley in 2007 for a Rinse FM mix that went down in history, Shuf had sleepless nights imagining the second coming. Alas, the Hyperdub boss instead opted for cluttered future trap selections and left that older sound in the morgue.
The enigmatic Zomby opens with Step 2001 and after a slow start from other artists, he provides us with exactly we came for. The set consists of a series of early grime tracks you wish you could remember the name of, and falls into a blissful old-school jungle set. Now re-energised by new releases on XL, there has never been a better time to give Zomby a second (or third) chance.
Back in Room One JME and Skepta take stage and the venue is heaving, the punters know the words to every hook and verse and the hype is unmatched by any other Store Street crowd we’ve experienced. The set is a trophy case of the brothers’ productions from over the years and although it’s a rare occasion that they link up to perform live, each time the show is impeccable. The emcees are uncommonly modest, they big each other up, talk about realities and bring on other BBK affiliates Shorty and Lethal Bizzle.
DJ EZ closes our evening with a collection of garage and grime’s treasured anthems. His ability behind the turntables never ceases to amaze and although the set is predictable it always does the trick. A true victory lap after an exceptional year – JME and Skepta have raised the Union Jack over Manchester.
Words: Charlie Fyfe