One of the most exciting stories in UK urban music is the crossover success of grime artists to the commercial mainstream. After Dizzee Rascal and Wiley led the way to the charts a host of underground grime MC’s like Chipmunk, Tinchy Stryder and Tinie Tempah have achieved similar success. Wretch 32 hopes soon to join that list, “It’s like six or seven kids playing football, and five of them end up in the Premiership,” says the grime MC from Tottenham, North London.
Wretch 32 - real name Jermaine Sinclair came up in crews Combination Chain Gang and The Movement, and he’s built a reputation based on guest spots and series of hot mixtapes like Teacher’s Training Day and Wretchrospective. Coming to the attention of 1Xtra’s DJ Cameo, Wretch won a 1Xtra mixtape award called Most Street Heat and subsequently took part in a live debate show about Homegrown music for the station earlier this year. At Radio 1’s Big Weekend in 2009 he delivered an assured set on the BBC Introducing stage, following in the steps of other luminaries Chipmunk and Roll Deep. Wretch 32 also snagged the Best Hip Hop award at first Official Mixtape Awards in 2010.
For Wretch the markers of contemporary success are all there: 15,000 mixtapes sold, over 20,000 followers on Twitter, his own clothing line Wretchroboys. His single Traktor is built around a dancehall hall beat and a Dick Dale surf guitar sample. Sitting somewhere between grime and UK Hip Hop, Wretch’s lilting, sing-song flow delivers canny lyrics like “My lifestyle’s terribly wild / But you never catch me on Jeremy Kyle”. With plays on 1Xtra from Trevor Nelson, Mistajam, and Rampage and a spot Radio 1as Zane Lowe’s Hottest Record In The World, Traktor as certain crossover potential. Attention UK: make way, Wretch 32 is coming through.