It’s like the good old days. Grime’s steady march towards sanitised professionalism and a grinning, marketable face (enter electro-grime) has taken a conk on the head through the recent war between Wiley and Durrty Goodz. It’s provided me with ample entertainment, and sly, shameless smirks at revelations of ‘paedos’, cross-dressers and ‘baby mums’.
But that’s just the trimmings. Goodz’s latest reply has brought to the forefront the war’s main focus; an MC conspicuous by his absence, regarded by die-hards as a ‘legend’, and a figure already shrouded in nostalgia, having currently served just over two years behind bars. Crazy Titch is still remembered, yet is he an impotent figure as grime moves forwards, or one that still holds relevance in 2009?
His energy and relatively precocious song-writing skills, married together on the underground hit I Can C U, the boisterous character that clashed with Dizzee Rascal on the Conflict DVD, and his uncompromising, lyrical delivery paradoxically marked him out as an individual, while simultaneously epitomising the grime sound in its prime. Yet his style has been left behind with grime’s natural evolution, hastened by the empty pockets of its Flag-bearers. Dizzee Rascal was still around during grime’s golden era; he took his chance with Boy In Da Corner. He hasn’t looked back. Wiley has rued lost opportunities, but a number two single and a current tour of Australia makes the pill easier to swallow. Titch’s hype on the streets could well have led to larger success; the rise of South London rapper Giggs proves the point.
However, the chance wasn’t seized and, while the success of contemporaries makes a stark contrast to his situation, Titch underscores it himself on the Goodz dub; his uneasy references to funky house, the newest form of UK underground music to make a stir, and ‘rolex sweeping’, are in a present he has been sequestered from. Boy Better Know’s Too Many Man highlights the conscious move of grime acts to more dance-orientated music, alienating Titch’s lyrics of almost comic violence.
As MCs have gradually established ways of operating, and past guinea pigs now regarded as precedent, the paths have been defined for future artists. Optimism doesn’t look over its shoulder, and Titch is in the rear-view.
His direct relevance may become more tenuous by the day, but his mere, former presence has guaranteed a legacy that won’t be forgotten. Ghetts has proclaimed that the scene ‘ain’t been the same since Titch has been away’, and another rising East London talent, Griminal, has stated a desire to take up his mantle. With a stark flow, blunt rhyme schemes, and a philosophy of attacking beats, he has the ingredients.
The need to move forward has been embraced, yet to do that successfully, the past needs acknowledgement. Titch forms an indelible part of grime’s history and, if the music is to credibly reach out to a wider audience in 2009, it could do worse than remember its original traits; those which Titch exemplified to perfection.
– Written by Fullygrown Grime.