Exclusive Interview: YGG on radio, internet comments and getting the family onside
YGG aka You Get Grime are a trio of grime MCs who, like the vast majority of mic men to emerge in the last couple of years, have done so by mastering their craft on a revitalised radio scene. PK and Saint P linked up at school in Camden, NW London, before later meeting Lyrical Strally of Feltham, West London and joining forces. As their reputations grew, so too did their radio, live show and guest feature appearances. Following official YGG singles ‘Okay’ and ‘Don’t Talk Like That’ comes a vocal of Sir Spyro’s ‘Side By Side’ instrumental for the Amy Becker RMX EP, which is out now. RWD spent some time with the MCs recently and got to know them a little better…
PK & Saint,when you started to MC and write bars together at school, was there a lot of other people doing it too?
Saint: Not really, to be honest. It was only us at the time.
LS: Swear down?! There were bare people trying at my school, but they were all shit.
PK: It was people from ends, if anything. It weren’t people in school, only the real dons that knew about grime, that had olders that lived in their ends, would write bars. Apart from that, it was just us man really.
Saint: We’re talking 2010 times. This was the time when grime was ‘dead’, if you wanna say that.
What was the transition like from writing bars to those early trips to studio?
PK: I remember after school we were told there was a studio in the ends, it was a youth centre. The first couple of times we went there, we’d get shegged for our sessions init. Imagine. They wouldn’t even mix it or nothing, it was like a quick 15 minutes, everyone had their 16 and we’ll just lay one big track. We were meant to have an hour, but the olders were just like ‘as long as they don’t know the rules to the ting, we’re gonna keep on doing this’ so at first we didn’t think they were rating us. Every time we were in the studio, nobody would actually like nod their head and shit, just to show man it was good. They kept it secret for time! This was when grime was apparently dead, so people were rating the ting but they were on the rap ting.
Was there a point when any of you were more on the rap ting?
Saint: You might wanna talk to…[points to Strally, laughing]
LS: Yeah, once upon a time I was doing both. It was mainly grime anyway, I had more grime bars than rap. As them lot said, this was when grime was dead.
We were on YouTube earlier, and while we didn’t find any rap there were some old grime freestyles from each of you [PK & Saint | Strally]. In some cases there are early versions of your bars now and the potential is there, but what’s clear is how much you have improved in clarity since. Is that all down to radio?
Saint: Yeah, literally practice.
PK: Obviously in the old videos, we was wild. We were wild Pokémons, just out there. We had the bars, like we weren’t shit but we were just wild. We didn’t know how to polish the final product of the ting, so shit like radio helped. Going radio when people weren’t going radio just helped us, and now we’re just masters of the ting.
Saint: Not to boast.
We won’t dispute it. What was the first radio set then? Was it local?
[puffed cheeks from all]
LS: Empire is not local. That’s Enfield. It’s calm for these man but for me-
PK: That’s not even calm for us blud!
Were you able to learn much from it or were you too caught up in the moment?
Saint: I was just trying to spray bars, I can’t lie. You know when you’re doing stuff, it’s hard to see your progress. Back in the early days I didn’t listen back to the sets, but more recently I did and that’s when you can hear when you’re improving and see the value of going to radio over time.
When do you start to realise that people were starting to pick up on you and your bars?
PK: Probably that 1Xtra set with Spooky. That was when I was starting to clocking ‘rah, people know mandem’s bars’, typing shit in the comments and that. When we started doing shows properly, obviously people in radio that were spitting with us already knew the bars, but when we started seeing one or two people saying the bars back I was like ‘yeah, I hear that still!’ It’s a building process init.
So you look at comments? What’s the worst thing you’ve seen written about yourself?
Saint: Someone said I was drowning the other day still, drowning in air.
LS: [laughing] Oh yeah, I remember that! You stopped for a second or something.
Saint: The headphones were bugging init, but someone in the comments said ‘ah, you were gasping for air’.
LS: One of them ones were they put the time as well and it fits perfectly.
PK: Them neeks!
From web disses to live clashes…has there been a clash since Grimey MicPol at Wot Do You Call It’s birthday set?
Saint: Nah. I think everyone witnessed that and…you know what I’m saying.
PK: The personal destruction of my man was peak, still.
Saint: It was a public hanging.
PK: Yeah it was a public execution still, so people are not really down to do them tings again.
Having been through that time where others around you perceived grime as ‘dead’, how do you feel about the way ‘grime’ is a cool thing to say now, and attached by some people to music that isn’t necessarily what we would identify as grime?
LS: It’s disgusting. Scumbags, all of them.
PK: It’s bare annoying still, but then it helps as well because it kind of shines light on us lot.
Saint: He has a point, but it’s like…
PK: Listen, if it was down to me blud I would scrap all those articles that I see chatting shit, but really and truly it shines a bit of light on us. We know what we’re really doing. They know them man are impostors init, that’s why they’re not screaming ‘oh yeah I’m grime’. They’re letting people say they’re grime. End of the day, it’s gonna shine light on the mandem anyway so it don’t even matter.
Saint: But it’s peak because, the fans are gonna see it as ‘these lot are grime’ and-
LS: Some of them are saying they’re grime!
Saint: -so when there’s like grime raves happening now, we might lose a slot to someone who those fans think is actually grime.
PK: Ah, I hear that still.
LS: Would you lot do that then? Just take the booking if someone told you to do a rap event?
PK: If that’s the case you might as well just call it ‘urban’ music or something then. There’s actually grime and then there’s urban music, rap as well. You know wha gwarn init, if you’re gonna just say everyone’s a grime MC, you might as well say it’s urban music cah that’s all dead init. You weren’t in pirate radio when we were slanging it out in 2013 so you’re definitely not a grime MC.
How many radio appearances do you consider now? Are you more selective than before?
PK: I can’t lie, I’m a bit more careful with it still. I know whose set I want to go on and whose I don’t.
Saint: We used to smash it out though, can’t lie.
LS: We’ve been on everyone’s set, literally all the DJs.
PK: We’ve got our own show on NTS Radio, get me. DJ Travis-T!
What’s your favourite live show so far?
Saint: There was a couple, but I like the Birthdays set for Acrylic still.
PK: I’m saying Italy! That was actually the funniest time with the mandem. It was fashion week, that was sick. The first time we went abroad as well init, so it was naaaang!
That must be real motivation that you’re on the right track, and that you can make a career out of this.
PK: It just shows it’s paying off, and it’s a good feeling, I can’t lie.
Something that helps convince the family too!
PK: It’s mad init! My marj is calm with it yeah, but like she obviously wants man to get a job and them ting there. You know them ones there. Man’s trying to tell her this is my job, this is my profession, see what I’m saying? The other day, we done a Selfridges booking and got Ps from that…I just gave her a pinky and said ‘yeah, hold that init.’ She was like ‘ah, where did you get it from?’…’Obviously I do music init, I told you’. Bang, kept quiet after that. Say nuttin. It’s just the beginning.
Get the YGG remix of Side By Side on the Amy Becker RMX EP, out now [iTunes]
Follow on Twitter: @TheReal_PK | @IAmSaintP | @Lyrical_Strally | @YGG_