Grime has come a long way. The artists that were doing their ting 10 years ago are finally reaping the rewards for all the hard work they put inside dark clubs and radio sets. A great example of this is the Godfather, Wiley. Wiley has earned this title by ushering in the new youngers into the world of Grime. Over 10 years ago during a radio set with the legendary Tim Westwood, Wiley introduced 2 young MCs who went on to light up the microphone made everyone pay attention. One of those kids was an MC named Chipmunk.
Following from the success of the freestyle, Chipmunk went on to release his debut album ‘League Of My Own’ 2007. The evidence was clear that we were dealing with a special MC. At a young age, he was able to demonstrate flows and rapid-fire bars. A decade later, Chip, as he is now known, released ‘League Of My Own 2’. After several clashes, EPs and stellar featured verses, Chip presented a body of work that earned him a top 20 chart position and once again demonstrated his variety and ability to pair well with the best in the game.
Chip went on to sell out his headline show at KOKO but unfortunately I had to watch that via other people’s snapchat. Seeing Chip perform with the Grime scene through my phone was bittersweet, so when I found out that he was putting on a show at The Roundhouse celebrating over 10 years in the game, I had to make sure I was there.
Walking up to the venue I was reminded of a show I had attended just over a year ago. In 2007, Ghetts released ‘Ghetto Gospel‘ and celebrated it 10 years later by performing the album in its entirety at the same venue. It just goes to show that we are now at a place in time where albums are passing the decade mark and the artists and fans are still embracing and participating in the scene.
As I entered the Roundhouse, the atmosphere was buzzing with excitement. Ms Banks was on stage performing her standout verse on ‘Yu Zimme All Star Remix’ which recently caught the attention of Nicki Minaj and may even result in a supporting slot on tour. The international audience is paying attention to the UK music scene and Chip has been putting in work over the years to make that happen.
As I look around, all of the seats fill up quickly and photographers pack into the front of the stage. The lights dim and Tim Westwood jumps on the mic and in inimitable style, introduces Chip to the stage. Draped in Moschino, Chip bops out to a loud crowd and immediately gets to work.
“I don’t wanna see anyone sitting down. We’re gonna have fun tonight. Everyone gotta stand up!”
After encouraging everyone to stand on their feet and get involved, Chip makes great use of the wide stage performing songs from his latest album with the clarity we’ve come to expect. Tunes like ‘Confirmed’, ‘Snap Snap’ and ‘Honestly’ set the tone and warm up the crowd nicely for what’s the come.
With everyone up and out of their seats, Chip takes it back to 2009 with ‘Chip Diddy Chip’, brought to life with an electric guitarist going ham on stage. This clearly encourages Chip to amp up his performance and results in the crowd going crazy.
Taking the audience through his catalogue, Chip ushers us into 2009 with a passionate live rendition of ‘Champion’ before stepping in with the island vibes of ‘Every Gyal’ from his ‘Transition’ album and keeps the Caribbean vibes while introducing Stylo G to perform the remix of ‘Yu Zimme’.
The energy is turned down a notch as we step into a few songs for the ladies. Standing centre stage under a spotlight, Chip performs ‘Hit Me up’ and decides to really get into it. Even though Ella Mai isn’t present, that doesn’t stop Chip from closing his eyes and singing the words along with the women in the crowd. Then taking the mic from its stand he goes into ‘About Time’. As the song starts, the stage illuminates with a red glow and Kojo Funds walks out to his signature introduction over everyone’s applause. It’s great to witness how easily Chip entertains different demographics within the audience. His creativity within his music means that at his shows, everyone has the opportunity to enjoy themselves.
Turning up the levels once again with ‘Settings’, the live band support the stage show to the point where Chip absolutely loses himself in the music. The combination of the drums patterns, the dynamic guitar and the roar of the crowd results in Chip choosing to forget performing his bars whilst he jumps and spins on the stage. His energy at this high point is amazing and directly affects the crowd, amplified even more when legendary artists Ghetts and Giggs came out to perform their features verses on ‘League Of My Own 2’. Watching Chip react to both rappers, it’s clear from his facial expressions that he’s not hiding his wonder and appreciation that they are both here – for him. Even though Chip is established in this ting, he still pays homage to the musicians that are a force and have encouraged him to stay strong in the game.
As the penultimate performance, the Lotto Boyz make the journey from Birmingham to perform the remix of their hit ‘No Don’ alongside Chip and Not3s. At this point, everyone who is able to make it to the floor joins in the party. The flashing lights and loud live instrumentation make for an immersive experience. And as I look around, everyone from the stands to the ushers are on their feet as the show is nearing it’s end.
For the finale, Chip brings back Tim Westwood to introduce what I believe is a freestyle that will be looked back years from now as a classic. The Behind Barz freestyle that Chip executed for Link Up TV made waves in the scene and it’s great to see that after more than a decade in the game, Chip can always jump on the mic and rap about his life in a lyrical and entertaining way. As he performs the freestyle, the crowd rap along word for word – the impact on his fans is evident.
As the show comes to a close, I stand there thinking about the different feelings I’ve experienced listening to Chip’s music. In ‘Amazing Minds’, Chip states “Decade in the game, like how am I still under 30?”. When I first heard that bar, I really had to think about this. All of his peers are older than him, yet he continues to perform at a high level. It’s a testament to his determination and talent.
Who knows what the next 10 years will mean for Chip. But if he decides to stay creative, I’m confident that the music scene will embrace him with open arms.