The Lowdown: Eskimo Dance in Amsterdam?

“Hotter than a rave where Maximum plays and Wiley’s onstage and Eskimo drops.”

Why Eskimo Dance in Amsterdam is just what grime needs…

Photo credit: Verena Stefanie Grotto

In a send for Wiley in 2009, former Roll Deep MC Trim stated, “we aren’t from the same part of East, nah […] we don’t condone the same things around these parts.” This lyric seems ridiculous when you consider that Trim was from Isle of Dogs, which is no more than 15 minutes and a couple of postcodes away from Wiley’s famous home of Bow E3.

For a number of reasons, grime has always been a very parochial and insular genre, intrinsically linked to the East London Postcode Wars and the Rep Your Ends attitude that coincided with it. Because of this, grime never quite took off as a national trend, despite being one of the most innovative and interesting scenes in UK music since the rise of punk in the 70s.

This, however, is no longer the case. As a genre, grime has been going from strength to strength both nationally and internationally over the last few years. While the Midlands and Manchester scenes are still raw and disorganised, there are a number of talented MCs and producers emerging. Japan recently held its second grime producer’s war and there has been a surge of interest in the grime scene from Eastern Europe, especially in the Czech Republic and Poland, where Wiley and Chronik recently appeared on the gold-selling album of MC and former cage fighter Popek.

Ruff Sqwad’s Rapid and Dirty Danger recently collaborated with American outfit Future Brown and Danny Brown has been very vocal about his love of grime in the past, even collaborating with both Scrufizzer and Darq E Freaker.

And now, after this year’s Eskimo Dance on the Beach, it seems as if Holland is next on grime’s list, with Amsterdam set to host grime’s flagship event soon, according to Wiley’s official Twitter page, where he recently wrote:

“The next Eskimo dance is in Amsterdam. Proper grime line up. No wishy washy line up.”

Personally, I think this is a brilliant idea, and this international ambition is exactly what grime has been lacking for a number of years, with many artists seemingly reluctant to step out of their London comfort zone…

I’ve heard grime music played at nights all over the world, from bass-heavy clubs in Barcelona and Amsterdam, to an underground hipster joint in Toronto with Tre Mission performing. The audience has always been there, it’s just a matter of taking the music to them.

On the surface of it, Amsterdam is the perfect place for grime to start spreading its wings. Not only is the Dutch capital easily accessible and affordable from pretty much anywhere in the UK, it is also one of the few cities in the world which is as multi-cultural as London, something which played a big part in the rise of grime back in the day.

Oh, and then there’s the weed culture, but I suppose that goes without saying…

Some grime artists and DJs have already been doing great work in terms of increasing their fan-base abroad. P Money and the OGz are perhaps the best example, with honourable mentions for D Double E and Footsie, Kozzie, Flowdan and Logan Sama who have all been adding to their passport stamp collections recently.

But what are the benefits of grime artists going abroad? Is it really worth the hassle?

The simple answer is; yes, of course it is.

In the UK, grime suffers from a number of image problems, not least its reputation as a violent, dangerous genre, which has lead to major discrimination from the police and recently seen the I Luv Live event shut down by the Metropolitan Police’s infamous Form 696. The fact that in the UK, grime is seen as being primarily MC-based and is often lumped in with rap and hip-hop also makes it tougher for some artists to get bookings without diversifying their sets. Although, club nights such as Butterz or the instrumentally-based Boxed raves are doing a good job at combating this.

In countries where English isn’t as widely-spoken, an MC’s flow, hype and ability to work the crowd are all way more important than their lyrics, so a spread abroad will hopefully see a return to the old-fashioned style of MCing, where mic-men had to have a bag of bars ready and be ready to go back-to-back in furious rallies to gas up the crowd. If this is the case, then, personally, I can’t wait.

Words by Paul Gibbins

Edited by Ash