Hello XXLMag.com readers, my name is Joseph “JP” Patterson and I’d like to welcome y’all to my new monthly column, where I’ll be reporting on the UK underground music scene. At the top of each month I’ll be profiling one artist from either the grime or UK rap scene and, although they might be well-known to folks on my side of the globe, they might be totally unknown to you guys across the pond. By the way, we’re not all like the Queen and we all don’t drink cups of tea and eat crumpets like the media might have you believe. Well, only on special occasions.
UK rap has had an amazing couple of years, but the scene has one guy to really thank for opening some major doors. His name is Giggs. http://www.sn1giggs.com/ The first time I came across this rapper was when he was a feature on a track in 2006 entitled, Up In The Shoobz and ever since then I’ve followed the movements (no 5-0) of this south London-born rapper.
Starting off in the UK garage scene as an MC in 2002, Giggs, otherwise known as Giggler because he’s always laughing or has a smile on his face, then found himself behind bars. But when he got out a year later, he found himself a new voice in hip-hop music.
By 2008 Giggs had solidified himself as one of the big players, not only in the rap scene, but in UK music in general. He released a YouTube video for his Spare No One freestyle and it saw the rapper turn from being an unknown hustler, who just used to rap in his spare time, to becoming one of the most talked about and most booked underground artists in the country, and that is no exaggeration.
A few months after he released that freestyle, Giggs released his 7th mixtape, Ard Bodied, which went on to sell in the thousands. His following project Walk In Da Park later do similar numbers. But with all this newfound success, the rapper found himself up against the law on a regular basis. The Metropolitan Police and Trident (an anti-knife and gun crime organization) tried their hardest to ban Giggs from performing at club nights around the UK, as his lyrical content was thought to be “a cause for concern.” Something that he’s had to deal with up until this day.
Giggs once told me: “People can say that my music is all negative, but life is messed up and me telling people what’s really going on isn’t going to change anything, make anything worse, or make anything better out there. Most of them people saying we’re influencing the youngsters don’t know how it is out here. What would they prefer me do? Write down about what pisses me off? Or go buy a strap and start spraying (laughs)?”
Even bosses of Black music radio and TV stations would ban the artists’ tracks and videos from being played, but Giggs wasn’t fazed by any of this and continued to make that real heat for the streets. American television station BET, on the other hand, understood what Giggs was about and he went on to win the award for Best UK Hip-Hip Artist at their 2008 award ceremony, still as an unsigned artist at this point.
Fast forward a year and the rap “star” was to find himself sitting in the offices of XL Recordings (home to the likes of M.I.A. and Dizzee Rascal) about to sign his first record deal and this was when the rapper from Peckham’s life would change, forever. Something really stood out for me when I interviewed him in September of 2008 (pre-signing), he was doing all of this for his ’hood, something that he still represents in his music this day. “I just want to carry on with my music and make it good for the ’hood, because there is mad talent in the ’hood; rappers, graphic designers, you’ve got your comedians as well. I just want to do my thing and bring the hood with me.”
Giggs still remains humble when it comes to talking about his success so far, the lyricist doesn’t feel as if he’s made it, just yet. “I’ve moved forward, but I’m not successful like that yet,” he said. “If I was, then I’d be getting a lot more respect than what I’m getting at the moment. I just wanna expand and take it worldwide. I know a lot of artists who are just happy with where they’re at right now, but I want to take over the rassclart world (laughs). With my next album, I wanna take it international. Everything is moving forward, but I want to move even more forward.” —Joseph “JP” Patterson