During lockdown, artists from Nottingham must have been scheming, as new freestyles have emerged on JDZ Media from J Dot, Kamar, Kyeza, Vandull, Lanzo, CM and YP. While I thought the noise around Nottingham had quietened, perhaps my attention wavered instead.
There was a real buzz around Nottingham in 2015/16. Sir Spyro’s The Grime Show was consistent in platforming MC’s from the city, introducing themselves to a wider audience and impressing viewers. Around this time Mez’s popularity was gaining traction, especially after his debut appearance on the show, which remains one of my favourite sets.
While Mez has become the most established and connected rapper from Nottingham, it would be unfair to give him the entire limelight. Shxdow hasn’t stopped working – he’s far more talented than ‘bigger’ names that get more attention, but somehow hasn’t blown up to the level he deserves. It poses a question that could apply to many artists: how big would Shxdow be if he were born in London?
The majority of grime fans will only know the tip of the iceberg too. Imagine that ability of some rappers from the city that are just starting out, or haven’t got the time and energy to share their music.
Every upload from an MC from Nottingham will have a comment under it claiming Nottingham is slept on and underrated. The artists have got the ability and had the opportunities to platform their music on channels like Rinse FM and JDZ. From an outside perspective, it’s ambiguous why it didn’t take off.
The internet has changed music and how artists achieve their own version of ‘success’. The artists from Nottingham don’t need the thumbs up from the gatekeepers and record labels. They can build their own path, revive the energy that was once there, and establish Nottingham as a hub of grime.
They could do this through a local grime set. There’s enough talent in Nottingham to upload as frequently as they like, also allowing the lesser-known artists to be heard. It would be competitive for spots, encouraging artists to write new bars and work hard.
The production value would have to be high, to draw in floating viewers. Most people prefer watching something that’s clean cut, and with the mushrooming of production quality, it must keep up.
With Nottingham being in the centre of England, it perfectly located geographically for travelling guests, especially those from the underrepresented North. If Mez decided to co-operate, he could bring in artists from London, making the process come to fruition quicker. If not, it’s still entirely possible that guests would travel to perform, considering Shxdow, Snowy, J Dot (to name a few) will pull in numbers that will attract MC’s.
There is a demand for grime sets, which is why Nottingham must act now. I’m not from Nottingham, and I am unaware of the working relationships between artists there, but if possible, unity and organisation through a local grime set would bring about collective success.