Grime has become a buzzword this past year, with even the most respected of publications using it to describe every Tom, Dick, and Ray BLK in the urban music scene who just so happen to be black. It's been an annoyance for many, myself included, but when you have artists like Jammz representing the genre in such a serious, take-no-bullshit way — its draw is understandable. First impressing us at Complex HQ last year with his free EP, Hit Then Run, which he produced almost entirely himself, Jammz from Hackney, East London, showed a real dedication to this thing called grime, which hadn't been seen in quite some time.
Much like fellow rising MC Big Zuu, Jammz isn't in it for the notoriety, but more for his skill and genuine love for the scene to take complete centre stage. This month saw the I Am Grime label founder (and radio host) release a new 5-track EP entitled Warrior. As powerful as the title suggests, on it, Jammz tackles some of the issues facing young people today in a post-Brexit UK, and whether you're hailing from London, Leeds, Manchester or Nottingham — it's bound to hit home. "The Warrior EP is not a political EP," said Jammz in a recent interview with style bible i-D. [It's] just an expression of frustration towards the things I've observed around me — whether that's politics, people, situations, or just a lack of common sense in the world... I just wanted to document the mindset of someone who's grown up in the ends."
When he's not writing thought-provoking bars to put on wax, or supporting the likes of Kano on nationwide tours, you can find Jammz shelling down at any radio station that'll have him down, and he's made a name for himself as being that guy — he really does live and breathe this stuff. Complex caught up with Jammz to discuss his favourite thing in the world: grime music.
You were one of the early champions of the pirate radio revival, and live grime in general. Do you feel any pressure to uphold the "pirate radio king" title that fans have placed on you?
Not at all. I done it and dominated in such a way that I don't think many have matched. At that point in time, I had a point to prove—which I did. Pirate radio's still a big love for me, but I've become so busy that I have to use my time wisely now, so I've learned that it's not always a bad thing to not be on the radio all the time. Plus, it gives you a chance to come back fresh.
Do you ever get days when you just want to go Morley's for a 2-piece and chips, a Ribena, and just chill at home with the missus when you'd otherwise be on your daily grime movements, shelling down radio etc? In other words: do you have any off days?
All the time! More than I probably should, you know... I'm not a south Londoner, though, so Morley's has never really been my thing [laughs]. I can show you a few of the toppa-top chicken shops in East, though, for real. Having said that, I don't know how to rest and it's a problem. If I'm not doing anything, my brain can't process it. I need to be active at all times.
I keep forgetting there's no Morley's in East—you guys are missing out, man! So I've had conversations with a lot of the new acts coming through this year about co-signs; and how most of them have never really had any, but are still catching up with the scene's top-dogs. Did you get any when you were coming up? Do you need a big co-sign for people to care?
Yeah, I think in terms of co-signs, I've got them from a lot of people in the game. First it was Big Mikee, P Money, then Dullah, and the list goes on. I do feel like, although co-signs can accelerate your progress, they're not entirely necessary. If you're putting the work in, people are bound to see it, whether it's those who are in the game or not. If you make yourself an undeniable force, co-signs aren't the be-all and end-all.
You've just released a new project entitled Warrior—strong title. Tell me more about the theme for this project.
There were a lot of themes in the project: power, work ethic, London, as a city, and what comes with it. I think the strongest theme for me was rebellion against control, in various forms. On the intro I talk about rebellion against the establishment, whereas in other songs I talk about being controlled by social values and the opinions of others. That definitely comes through on a majority of the tracks and that's why I feel like so many people can relate to it. Overall, for me, the EP represents the struggle and mindset of a young person living in London today.
How does this EP differ from your previous ones, Hit Then Run, I Am Grime and Underdog Season?
This project was a lot more introspective. It wasn't just a bunch of sick tunes that produced for the sake of it. I think you can listen to Warrior and get an idea of who Jammz is and what makes Jammz tick. It's definitely an exploration of self-type project.
To me, it doesn't seem like you're phased by the fuss and lights currently surrounding grime and its scene. Is that a conscious decision, or do you sometimes feel left out of the conversation?
Nothing much phases me anymore, in general. I think that's just down to me being a workaholic and having extreme tunnel vision. I need to learn to enjoy what's going on at the same time; I'm just living through it right now. In terms of being left out of the conversation, I don't feel like that's always the case. I just feel like there's a lot of bigger things to come; I'm really only just getting started, so we'll see innit.