Published: 29 April 2010
by JAMIE WELHAM
ASK most people what the Camden Crawl is all about, and they’ll probably describe something that sounds a bit like a giant game of Chinese whispers played by floppy fringed indie kids around an assault course of pubs, clubs, and any café that can bend the licensing rules for a piece of the multi-gig marathon mayhem – a sort of tenth circle of hell for Reader’s Digest subscribers.
But this year sees the arrival of an ever-growing tribe who are not content with being the usual diversion and will be parking their tanks in the middle of Camden Town – they are Grimewave.
Not so long ago music journalists were writing grime’s epitaph – radio stations weren’t interested and clubs wouldn’t play it, largely thanks to some rather draconian police rulings.
But that’s all changed now. Their anointed leader in NW1 for the weekend is the Tottenham-born MC, Skepta, who is playing sets on the Saturday and Sunday.
He might not be on the Radio 1 playlist, something that has more to do with ill-advised forays into electro-grime cross-over music at the hands of label execs rather than any ability on the mic.
But his star is certainly on the rise since moving to the other side of the mixing desk. Listen out for anthems Bad Boy, Too Many Man (probably won’t get the WI vote, but one to move your feet to) as well as heavy hitters from his Boy Better Know (BBK) crew, the biggest being Shut Ya Mouf.
Another act to watch out for, a lady who needs no introduction, is Ms Dynamite.
Camden might be a short hop from her old Archway stomping ground but if her latest single is anything to go by her musical movement has gone full circle. Forget Miss Dyna-mite-EEE, Mercury prize winner, acceptable tracksuit wearing adopted artist of the Metropolitan elite. Despite being a sort of elder-stateswoman, she’s back in her hungry teenage bass-thumping half-life these days.
Keeping it in the family, her brother and former Acland Burghley School pupil Akala (right) is also playing, and with an album due in the summer, he must be worth a visit.
Camden is also welcoming another rapper who is hard to place in the imperfect sphere people call urban. Last year Speech Debelle was parachuted into our consciousness overnight thanks to the Mercury Prize. Her live billing hasn’t always lived up to the hype and she has been booed off stage on more than once occasion. Camden could be her chance to win fans over.