The Poetics of Grime is a blog exploring the poetic significance of grime lyricism through interviews, articles, and close reading. The site was founded and is edited by Kayo Chingonyi

The Best 16 Bar in Grime?

Watching this interview with Kano shows how deep his knowledge runs but you could argue, as my brother did when I mentioned this interview to him, that 'Champagne Dance' was pre-grime. Be that as it may, Wiley's 16 on the track still stands up with its meandering cadences and inventive rhyme scheme:

                    Oi it's the paperboy I'm in effect directly from the L-O-N/E3 check it I step it up/crew got wetted up/wanna set me up I blaze fire like a blow torch hot it up/ I got my gat I don't care just pop it up/ I make a soundboy run I'ma shut em up/ I used to draw nuff girl to the pink block/ tower block hotshot used to push a red spot/ hot rod when I'm on the riddim I'm top notch/ hopscotch see me flex with my ice watch/ ice chain, ice cream, money what my ice cost/ I'm gonna floss I am the boss bish bosh/ move to the slosh right quick/ give them the once over bend it over/ here I go again bodies fi get flipped over/ pay as u go ha the game's over

The slashes I've used to delineate each bar are inexact becuase Wiley runs so many lines into each other and uses such an irregular metrical and rhyming scheme that it is only in the context of the instrumental that this verse makes complete sense. The twists and turns of the flow are a response to the beat and fit it in a dynamic way. What perhaps pushes this 16 into a new realm is its skippiness, that quality that has become the marker of virtuosity in grime. In a more well-worn mode an emcee might just follow the sentiments of the chorus with its its UKG style shouts to the 'raving crew' who are encouraged to 'keep skanking until the morning light'. Wiley pushes in a different direction here, opening out a space for a more complex flow and rhyme pattern. I couldn't settle on just one 16 bar as a favourite but I think Kano's is a worthy choice.




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