The "US Remix" of London grime MC Skepta's “That’s Not Me” has a good shot of being a grime song that carries over to the US. Whereas a lot of grime stuff before has fallen flat in this country because of how unfamiliar it has sounded—grime is a mutant gene, a distinctive outlier, hard to immediately connect to other styles besides rap—the original's beat is essentially party rap, with megaton trap dynamics and blocky neon synths that recall Hudson Mohawke and TNGHT. It certainly doesn’t hurt anything that Wiki of the beloved NYC crew Ratking jumps on this new version, completely redrawing the song’s contours with his distinctive, fluid flow set against Skepta’s rapidfire imperiousness. This remix just works, and the playful, apropos video makes for a fun viewing—here’s to hoping it’s just the start of serious transatlantic grime cross-pollination. Check out the video above and see what Skepta had to say about it below.
How was it being in America? It’s sick, man. Because all of my life I’ve seen American films and shit, that novelty has always been there. But I feel like as I grew up—not to say that America is not a good place—the novelty kind of wore off and I kind of looked at it more on a level. So now when I’m out there, I’ve got celebrity friends in America and shit, American rappers and them, but I don’t really like, I don’t even contact them at all man, I just go to America and just go to radio stations and freestyle and go to hood parties and shit with all the people I’ve met through being on the streets out there.
Did it seem like your shows this summer in New York were well received? It’s a bit crazy, because I wouldn’t say my latest song, “That’s Not Me,” [check the original below] is any better than any grime song I’ve made before, but that’s the song that’s really killin’ in New York when I go there. The last time I went there I was performing the track and hearing 200, 300 people sing it back to me, then I went to MoMA PS1 and I don’t even know how many people were there. When I did “That’s Not Me,” I could see so many people knew the song there. I wouldn’t say that I’ve done something [with that song] that’s so amazingly different or whatever, but it’s just how the world works sometimes.
I just want to maintain that but not force it; I’m not trying to fucking “break” America in that way. It would be nice for just grime and London and the UK accent just to be recognized as another state, you know? I’m sure somebody that lives in Lil’ Wayne’s area doesn’t understand what somebody in Chief Keef’s area is sayin’ that well—it’s completely different accents. Or somebody in Miami ain’t really gonna get what Chief Keef is sayin’, but because of how Chief Keef puts it down, and how he laid down his story and how he explains himself, you can see he’s fully, 100% gassed up and fully excited about himself. When you see somebody who’s gassed off themselves, whether you can understand them or not, you can feel the pain and you can hear the story. Rather than “breaking” America, I just want British rap to be treated as just another state, like as it is in the south, west coast or east coast. Britain is just another place that raps. And we’ve got our own type of music which I think is probably the best genre in the world, without sounding too big-headed. Just a hybrid of shit, innit? Literally anyone can make grime, it doesn’t matter about the speed, it’s just a sound and a feeling of rawness. Somebody who doesn’t know how to use these music programs properly, basically they’ve just gone in there with a vibe and they’ve made that vibe, that’s what grime is.
What did you think of Ratking’s verse on the remix of “That’s Not Me”? He murdered his verse, murdered his verse, man. I liked the fact that he approached it like a grime MC. Grime is not like… You can’t really put your finger on what it is. It’s just an energy, a feeling of raw energy. I’ve listened to Ratking [for a while], that’s how I even met them in the first place. When I first heard their song “Piece Of Shit,” I was like, “These guys probably don’t know because they’re from New York, but this shit is grime!” Ratking makes grime, so it’s funny—when I went out there and I went to Know-Wave radio to freestyle, the first night I went there, they were there. And we freestyled back to back and Wiki was like “Yo, that verse was fire man, we gotta do some work.” He didn’t know how much I’ve been listening to his stuff so it was cool to have a mutual respect for our talents.
Do you see grime breaking through in America? Yeah, I see it being recognized, being accepted. I don’t want grime to be like the biggest commercial music in the world, that’s totally the opposite of what I want it to be. You know how you accept and recognize trap music as a part of the hip hop genre? I just want grime to be accepted like that. And it’s good to know there’s a lot of people out in America that are really pushing it with their heart, it’s been generations now. When I do shows out there, people come up to me, real New York guys, talking to me like, “Yo, Skepta, bro you don’t understand, I’ve been listening to you all my life.” Now it’s embedded in them, generations are floating through, and people out there are really doing it for the love. That’s what you need. I’m happy to know that when I leave, get to JFK airport and I’m boarding the plane, there are some real fuckin’ activists out there goin’ in for grime. People like J-Cush, World’s Fair, Ian Connor, he’s been doing a lot of stuff, A$AP Bari. There’s a few different people that are really key players out there, all the Know-Wave gang, Blood Orange… It’s gonna be a good part in music history if we were the guys that got grime recognized and it had its moment.