War In Grime: The Definitive Series On Clashing

Written by Edward Burrell

This is the start of series of articles where I’m going to show you everything about war in grime. From its origins to the state of war in grime right now, clashing has been a part of the genre. There will be a series of interviews with artists and producers in the scene giving different perspectives. However, there are some terms that are going to use that need to be defined early on, as they are going to be used throughout the series:

War Dub: Also known as a send, this is a track either made by a producer or MC, in order to target another MC or producer, or several of either one.

War: This is an exchange of war dubs between two producers or MCs

Clash: This is an event, sometimes arranged or spontaneous, when the producers or MC would battle each other in person. The two MC would have lyrics they have written for each other and would perform them at each other. The producers would have war dubs made for a clash and would go back to back with said war dubs (Hence why a producer clash is also called a dub for dub.)

The most obvious fact I can tell you about it, is that war in grime is normal. Grime is like a competitive sport, even though it’s a different era, that has not changed. Clashing has been happening since the genre started, and it’s a very important part of the genre itself. It tended to naturally take place on radio sets or at a rave, but later on, entire platforms were made just to showcase clashes. A comment that I’ve seen often is “This isn’t uplifting, they’re just putting each other down”. This thing is, clashes don’t always happen for the same reason. Not every clash is as personal as P Money vs Dot Rotten.

Since boxing is popular at the moment, if I compared grime to boxing, a lot of people would understand. Boxers challenge each other all the time, they are always making a claim that one can beat the other. When a boxer makes such a claim, he puts his reputation on the line (or in some cases a belt). A boxer’s reputation comes from previous fights he has one, it’s the same for an MC or producer when it comes to clashes. An amateur boxer can become known by winning a big fight as an underdog and a war/clash is exactly the same.

No boxer can afford to get sloppy knowing they could be challenged at any time, meaning everyone is kept on their toes. As Kozzie would say “Anyone can get it”. The press conference is where the boxers can exchange words, this would be the war, and the fight itself would be the clash. Some of these boxing fights are a bit more intense, the press conferences real that the tensions between boxers is a bit personal. Other times the two boxers are just fighting because that’s the sport. And the winner can be declared by knockout, or left for the audience to decide. So, war in grime was traditionally for two reasons; it was either personal, or in the case of sport.

There has a been a huge exchange of war dubs recently which has received a lot of attention, but there seems to have been a trend this year in particular concerning war dubs. Thankfully as of very recently this trend has died due to events we will take a look at, but trend needs to be addressed first. Over the 2016-early 2017 period, people were using war as a PR stunt, rather than fulfilling its true purpose which is hash out personal issues, or to compete for the sake of the sport.

Bugzy Malone seemed to have let the cat out of the bag recently about the true nature of his beef with Chip. The competition behind going bar for bar had faded, the aggression, the hunger for MCs to go each other just wasn’t there. Stormzy’s Shut Up was an open send, but he never mentioned who it was send for, despite it being an indirect for quite a few people including Cadell. Tinie Tempah’s reply to Chip wasn’t really as much of war dub although it was a good track I must admit. Yungen vs Chipmunk did have some fire but it later just succumbed to more milking for views. Sun Tzu would be disappointed, because it looked like the art of war had been lost.

But that changed and it seems like all of a sudden war had become personal again, with Big Tobz and Blittz falling out, K Koke finally replying to Nines’ various indirects and most prominently, P Money vs Dot Rotten. I’m going to go into P Money Vs Dot Rotten first as its just finished, but there is one thing that needs to made clear. This war was extremely personal. These two artists have a huge backstory, dating back almost a decade ago when they were in the crew “OGz” together. This was a way for them to unleash their rage on each other without anyone getting seriously hurt.

Despite P Money supposedly running up on Dot Rotten’s studio, the situation could have been a lot worse. The argument is that war has gone back to being personal, maybe it’s just a coincidence that everyone has all of a sudden decided to hash out their beef at this time, but that’s definitely what is currently happening. There isn’t necessarily as much clashing for the sake of the sport recently, despite the fact that war in grime is very much alive.

What also must be considered, is the platforms that grime clashes would take place on. These would include Lord of the Mics, Mic Fight, WaW clashes, Don’t Flop clashes and many more. These platforms all have different formats, but it’s mainly to record these clashes for us to watch, and judge for ourselves who won. These platforms are important because war in grime is a spectator sport, if no one gets to see the clashes, what’s the point? Let’s not forget, producers have clashes too.

There have been various producer wars over the years where producers have made dubs and had clashes. There is even a big platform for these clashes called Beat Boss and Lord of the Beats had many big name participants including Skepta, RudeKid, Teddy Music (Aka Silener), Jammer and Footsie. Beat Boss has been running steady for a while and is now on its 5th instalment.

This has been very thought provoking and has brought up a lot of questions. Why do MC’s not want to clash anymore? Are War Dubs just for PR stunts? Why are the clash platforms not so active? I am happy to announce that all those questions and more will be answered. This is just an introduction to a series of articles on this subject which will include interviews with producers and MCs alike. All to give you an answer to an overarching question, What is War in Grime?

Keep your eyes peeled on our next part of this interesting and thoughtful series.


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