A worthy history lesson featuring chart hits and underground cuts alike.
Noel Gardner 2012
It’s hard to think of anyone more entitled to cobble together a compilation of seminal grime than Rinse – the label of the radio station that used to be a pirate frequency, and undertook extraordinary amounts of ducking ’n’ diving just to stay, for a long time illegally, on the air.
At the epicentre as grime sprouted from the stalk of UK garage in the early 2000s, Rinse has since given comparable pushes to dubstep and UK funky. I Love Grime packs 52 tracks across two CDs, mixed respectively by Rinse’s main grime DJs Spyro and Sian Anderson. Actual chart smashes feature, but there’s no way this tracklisting could have sprung from a major label boardroom.
Spyro and Sian begin their grime story in 2000 – a disputable date, as So Solid Crew’s Oh No (Sentimental Things) and Know We by Pay As U Go Cartel emerged at least a year before "grime" had appeared in the lexicon. The brace of instrumentals which pinpoint grime’s birth, rather than its ancestry, both appear though: Wiley’s Eskimo and Youngstar’s Pulse X.
The latter only appears as a few transitional bars before being dumped for Lethal B’s unruly Leave It Yeah. Spyro, especially, treats this like a standard mix session, rather than an equally weighted history lesson – Champion’s blistering Crystal Meth, one of the newest numbers present, is given similarly short shrift.
Grime has always had a vaguely complicated relationship with success and the mainstream; lots of MCs talked as if they were far bigger than they actually were. Whatever the reality, though, there are classics on here by people who indisputably "made it", even if only briefly: the likes of Tinchy Stryder, Roll Deep and Dizzee Rascal.
There are also those who never scaled the heights of the aforementioned, but are essential to any grime primer – Jammer, Skepta, Ruff Sqwad – and people who have unleashed legit anthems during grime’s moribund last few years: Boy Better Know’s Too Many Man; the cheeky East London is Back, by the generally unremarkable Maxsta.
As for whether or not Ed Sheeran belongs here at all, that’s a question only the individual listener can answer.