Back in February, Jamie Adenuga was chilling at his brother Skepta’s house on an otherwise normal Wednesday evening. As he later recounted to GRM Daily, the 30 year old MC and co-founder of the decade-strong grime crew Boy Better Know better, known as JME, watched the house ascend into frantic chaos when a text arrived from Kanye West. It was the text that invited Skepta and his fellow MCs to join West onstage that night at the UK’s biggest annual music awards, The BRIT Awards. As everyone ran around looking for black attire to wear onstage, Adenuga had one thing on his mind: food. That day, he’d put in his final all-day studio session for his third studio album Integrity—which he self-released on May 4th—and he’d been working so hard he hadn’t eaten. With a quick word to Skepta, he excused himself from the scene, and instead of putting in an appearance on the BRITS stage, he went out for a bite to eat and watched the “All Day” performance online.
This anecdote speaks volumes. It tells you that JME is not a hype chaser. He doesn’t care much for what’s trending. He cares about hitting the studio, hard; he cares about sharp lyricism and brain-stretching beats. He cares about his health and well-being (as you’ll know if you’re a fan, he doesn’t smoke or drink, and he’s an enthusiastic vegan). And above all, he cares about his own independence.
With guest spots from Wiley, Skepta, Jammer, Shorty and more, all the tracks on JME’s latest record deal in some way with the theme set out by the album’s title, and it’s one the grime scene as a whole cherishes and strives for: Integrity. As well as tackling it in his lyrics, JME proved his own integrity with this record by totally self-releasing and promoting it—and, testament to the worth of straight-up, honest work, it skyrocketed to number 12 in the UK charts regardless (for some perspective, his last studio album Blam! charted at 66). He’s one of the most inspirational figures in UK music right now, and his album is full of motivational anthems like “Work,” on which JME outlines how his self-discipline has got him to where he is now (The only day that I don’t put in work is the 30th of February...I used to live off my overdraft, but now my account is never empty).
Bearing that in mind, we asked a cluster of grime artists and DJs—JME’s peers, Boy Better Know MCs Jammer and Shorty, as well as those who came up listening to him, Stormzy and Novelist—to choose the lines from Integrity that inspire them the most.