The much anticipated Red Bull Music Academy Tour reached Leeds at the close of October, following stops in Liverpool, Glasgow and London. In Leeds, amongst a variety of genres represented, Grime was on the agenda.
Schoolyard favourite since the turn of the decade, Giggs sat down with i-D’s Music Editor and author of ‘This is Grime’, Hattie Collins, to discuss his unconventional career and rise to fame. The home of this event, Prime Studios, simultaneously housed An Eye on Grime, a free exhibition curated by Collins and photographer Olivia Rose showcasing photography documenting the grime scene from its beginnings.
Giggs was, on the face of it, a peculiar choice for this interview dynamic. Never the natural showman, he’s always demanded attention on account of his slightly stunted delivery and uncomfortable manner with the fame he receives. Indeed, his awkwardness did stifle the fluidity of conversation, however, this added to the authenticity. Giggs is no poser, he has served time for the possession of a weapon and regularly had his shows closed down under Form 696. To come from this to having his recent album Landlord peak at number two in the chart is remarkable.
Giggs spoke in a way which was as divisive and unique as the man himself. He was downright rejecting of the audience in some places, “its not that deep” when asked if his music can tell us anything about mental health. At other points he was hilarious, claiming “my mum wrote the lyric, it was hard tho!” when talking about his first verses.
Giggs was as uncompromising as he is famed to be. To encapsulate the talk in one exchange, when asked “telling stories or reloads?” concerning the style of grime he prefers, he replied “I’m just music”. I don’t think any of the audience doubted this sentiment at all.
The talk delivered by Hattie Collins was predicated on her book, which seeks to give an intimate insight into the communities and people who create Grime, past the traditional media image. Huge canvases around the studios depicted photos from the book, as well as a collection of artefacts on the table, such as the original Risky Roadz camera.
Reuben Dangoor’s famous paintings adorned the walls of the corridor, whilst one room depicted an old living room with Risky Roadz and Lord of the Mics tapes playing over the TV. Used cigarettes as well as more questionable stubs littered a table covered in classic PS2 games.
Those who managed to get a sought after ticket for the event that night saw Giggs in a situation he was much more comfortable in. He performed in the intimate setting of the Garage, now home to Tapas Bar ‘La Rambla’. The Garage, former winner of DJ Mag’s UK Small Club of the Year award closed in 2013, yet was transformed for one night only into the club that you still hear wizened fourth years whisper about. It returned without its infamous Chevrolet fire truck DJ decks, but with all the passion of its past.
Giggs was suitably menacing, although his set was admittedly short. It was rammed full of his classic discography, and performed dynamically. Anywhere else you’d be paying more for a whitewashed, shortened performance. This, in comparison, was golden.
Following Giggs’ set much of the crowd dispersed. This was a little disappointing, but did allow a little space in a venue which was bordering on unbearably packed. Mez was next up, and was so energetic the crowd pulsated with double the electricity despite half the people, a very strong set for an artist who wasn’t on everyone’s radar.
Slimzee could have made anyone forget they were at the Garage, with a set which seemed ripped from the underbelly of Wire, not seeming out of place at Jamz circa 2015. Uncompromising instrumentals and aggressive vocals were his game, but unfortunately his B2B partner Grandmixxer dropped the ball on multiple occasions, with overly experimental mixes which were not pulled off.
Dialect closed the night, shelling it like us locals knew he would. In a day brimming with London’s talent, he brought the capital to Yorkshire. It seems as at home here as it does anywhere else.
(Images supplied by Tandem PR)