The mainstream window into Grime culture is wide open and Sheffield MC Coco represents one of the new wave of Grime voices coming through with his own story to tell. ‘No Rehearsal’ is on the way this May and it’s the latest chapter for an MC who’s been getting skilled up to take over the game since his debut single ‘Big Bou Yah’ dropped.
Unlucky for some, Friday 13th was a packed line up as Coco took to the stage alongside Toddla T, at Fabric’s infamous room one; with Redlight, Steel Banglez Jus Now and Cardinal Sound inside for some serious rib rattling raving vibes. All smiles and energy after riding some ruthless bass and drum, I caught up with Coco backstage after his set to talk about the work he’s been putting in to get to this new chapter. Due out on May 25th ‘No Rehearsal’ sees Coco step out on production duties, formally showing off the range in his sound for the first time, “Well I’ve been producing since like 2008 but I’ve not actually put myself on a record formally and released it,” he says. “Took about six months to make all in all, with every track and it feels wicked man, even just hearing it on stage coming out of those PA speakers in Fabric it’s surreal. I’m used to hearing Toddla’s beats or someone else’s so when I hear my own like, it’s wicked.”
No stranger to the scene by now, Coco has been steadily honing his style since 2015 and the crowd reaction speaks volumes about just how far he’s come in three short years. If the music is good, that’s all that matters and in Coco, Grime has a new generation MC who is not only passionate about the genre; but one who is intent on doing the culture proud. I ask him how it feels to have a fanbase in London just as adoring as any Yorkshire crowd, “It feels good, because obviously like the place where I’m coming from, it’s hard enough as it is but obviously making an impact in the scene I’ve kind of grown up on and looked up to is mad because it’s like – not that we’re not supposed to shine here but it’s kinda the unwritten rule where it’s not really a northern thing for people to come to London and be recognised straight away. London’s a place like where it’s the epicentre of UK music so for me to come from outside those borders and have an impact on people – sometimes I think like, how have I done it? Do you know what I’m saying? But at the same time I think it’s hard work, determination and I think the talent speaks for itself as well.”
At a time when Grime fans are wondering who will be next to fly the flag for a genre designed for live show performances, there’s nowhere to hide in a Grime set and luckily Coco has the Steeze to deliver. “I mean I don’t think there’s as much of a barrier as what there was before in regards to my accent and stuff – that obviously plays a big part in terms of people not necessarily getting me as an MC or other MC’s that are from London, but I think – not in a big headed way – but I think I’ve got a decent amount of fans that are Grime and that understand what I’m trying to do. Like I’m trying to push Grime from my sector – it used to be hard, but I think now I’m about what I’m doing, so I don’t think it’s a problem.”
The state of the Grime scene is a conversation that will always be up for endless debate. Depending on your perspective it’s either bubbling away nicely or at death’s door. While some breakout voices have moved on to dabble in other genres there’s still a strong mix of seasoned voices and new talent determined to do it right. Whether it’s a seasoned voice in the shape of Chip, Manga or President T; or a fresher voice with Grime heat in their belly like Yizzy – Coco being known as a Grime artist is something that still means a lot. “I think it’s very important man because obviously like, you can’t forget about your roots and even though I didn’t come up listening to Grime straight all my life, when I found Grime and found that I could be a part of the scene, I sort of fit into it. It’s one of them where I think when you’ve got it, you’ve got it. It took a lot of practice to get to this stage but like I said over time it just develops.”
It remains to be seen whether or not industry gatekeepers embrace this fast rising regional voice at a time when nostalgia for a past era can cloud the vibrant talent here in the present but ‘No Rehearsal’ is an EP with Grime at its core, “Three of them are solely Grime,” Coco affirms, “Obviously I am a Grime artist but when producing and even when I’m spitting I like to show my versatility – do you know what I’m saying? With the EP yeah, me and Toddla didn’t say ‘I wanna make an EP’ I want this track, this track this track’ it was a case of I’d made the tracks over a course of time and we just picked out what tracks were bangers.”
‘No Rehearsal’ is available for pre-order and released on May 25 2018.