Earlier this year—as if out of nowhere—Skepta hinted that he’d be retiring from music and that “Dimension”, his collab with JAE5 and Rema, would be his last. “This Jae5 song/video featuring Rema and myself was recorded and shot last year in Ghana”, he said in an Instagram post, adding, “Any verses of mine you hear this year were all recorded last year. I’ve stopped recording 2021.” Word has it that Skepta’s next move will take him deeper into the fashion world he’s been exploring with his label, Mains, and his SK Air collab with Nike.
But as gutting as it was, you can’t help but be happy for the Tottenham grime legend. Across 11 albums and mixtapes, Joseph Jr.’s remained at the scene’s core. Starting out as a DJ and producer, before picking up the mic as a member of Meridian Crew and later BBK, he became one of grime’s brightest lights and most beloved icons. Like many of the scene’s stars—and the scene itself—it hasn’t always been plain sailing for Skepta, but he’s weathered it all and come out triumphant.
At least as much as Dizzee, Wiley and Kano, perhaps more so, Skepta has been responsible for some of grime’s biggest successes. He wasn’t the first to take grime Stateside (that’s a contested title that Jammer, Plastician, D Double and quite a few others could stake a claim to), but it was Skepta that Diddy called on for his “Hello Good Morning” remix, it was Skepta’s Devilman clash that Drake fell head over heels for, it was Skepta who Kanye called on to rally the troops for that BRIT Awards shutdown, and it was Skepta who fronted the grime scene’s New York invasion.
But his legacy doesn’t begin and end with grime. As far back as 2008, Skepta was showing off his rap credentials for the BET Awards UK Cypher, and he’s always fostered close relationships with the underground UK rap scene. In recent years, a new generation of British rhymers has emerged, drawing influence from grime and applying it to a new iteration of the sound. With a formidable reputation in both camps, post-Konnichiwa Skepta has been the one to bridge that gap, holding the door open for new talents like slowthai, Lancey Foux and AJ Tracey, and guiding them with the hard-earned experience of a seasoned elder-statesman.
Join us as we take a journey through Skepta’s seminal music career, project by project.