Can Wolverhampton grime MC Zeo‘s new single “999” from his latest EP “Raah”, help save grime?

Because, first of all, Wiley is right! Popular grime tracks right now are sounding like pop music. I go through grime outlets like once or twice a week looking for some of the hidden gems and diamonds-in-the-rough that used to pop up like every other day, featuring some of that authentic flow at the right break-neck speed, coupled with some ice cold beats that skip along, breaking some of the rules on how good music should sound.

It’s like since Stormzy’s meteoric rise after deciding to go for a more mainstream feel and vibe for his debut album, toning down the grime elements a bit, has all of UK grime trying to sound more American or like pop. And, once upon a time, not that long ago, Stormzy was one of those diamonds in the rough, dropping freestyles in the park like hot cookies in cold milk, with all kinds of sizzle.

Even Big Shaq‘S cross-over hit “Man’s Not Hot”, which is also grime-lite, but still authentic tho, seems to have validated the concept of trying to reduce the DNA of authentic grime, in order to be more accessible both to mainstream UK, and the US. Although, that’s really just his style, since in actuality he’s a parody played by Michael Dapaah, who’s a comedian and not a full-time grime MC.

Not to beat a dead horse, but just this week up-and-coming grime MC Santan Dave who’s been co-signed by Drake released a collab track where he is singing, like he’s on a Future track or something. Even Kanye, who started all this singing, made sure he already had some heavy bars lined up, before doing any kinda singing. Really, when did melody become part of the lexicon of hiphop. This ain’t kpop.

Anyways, thankfully, not everyone seems to have gotten the memo. ‘Cause Zeo must have been grinding in the studio when the bandwagon came rolling by.

While everybody tryna get hot, Zeo went ice-cold on the beat, with 999. From the opening salvo, which had Zeo redefining the speed limit on roads with all kinds of street lighting, to the beat, which will give you the chills, the entire track a is reminder of what grime ought to sound like. Or, at least used to sound like.

Michael Dapaah (aka Big Shaq), with all due respect to his hustle, may not be hot (as in “Mans not hot!”), but Zeo’s 999 is not just not hot, but straight up cold.

You def gonna need a jacket for this one.

We reached out to Zeo to tell us about 999:

“For the track I wanted to make something that was very engaging, dark and aggressive. For the video me & Kyle wanted to achieve the same thing, something that would draw the listener in and then drop into something crazy. Beat was produced by me. Inspired by an MC from birmingham called Docta who I used to listen to before I even began writing lyrics myself.

With regards to grime’s current evolution, Zeo said:

“I have no comments on the grime scene, I’ve tried to be a part of it for so long now i’m just not interested in whats going on in it and just need to build my own world.”

He continued:
“Right now I am doing things as independent as possible so I have control over my own career… so this way now nobody can affect what my career is doing and I can consistently release material.”

That said, with all due respect and much deserved accolades to Stormz, Shaq, and Dave, you can’t knock their hustle. As Shaq so eloquently put it in Man’s Not Hot… they have gone international. “Check the statisticals.”

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