I’m not really in the mood for hordes of screaming teens with their hands in the air tonight, but that’s firmly on the agenda when Chipmunk ( aka Chip Diddy Chip) hits Nottingham Rock City – or anywhere, I guess! But first, the tone gets nice and grimey, blud. One of the original kings of the UK grime scene, Skepta, hits the stage to a cacophony of deafening screams. It’s awesome that these kids know who he is and greet him with the kind of reverence reserved for a headliner.
Dressed in a grey tracksuit and wearing the infamous BBK t-shirt, he kicks off his twenty minute set somewhat predictably with Skream’s Let’s Get Ravey remix of La Roux’s In For The Kill, spitting out his lyrics over the top like a true master. He tells us we look lively and is met with more roars of appreciation, before we’re treated to a manic but immaculately smooth succession of frenzied beats and bars over Sunglasses At Night.
Skepta’s lost none of his urgency and killer delivery
BBK’s Too Many Man (We Need More Girls In Here) is met with pure rapture, seeing every kid in the room going nuts. I’m a tad disappointed as he finishes up with Bad Boy instead of Rolex Sweep though. The raw energy of grime may have become diluted by shifting from tiny rooms to full scale venues but Skepta departs the Rock City stage knowing full well he’s lost none of his urgency and killer delivery in the transition.
After Tinie Tempah’s slightly more conventional hip-hop MC set that sees him setting loose the inspired M.I.A collaboration I’m Hot, an eardrum piercing chorus of screams engulfs me once more, but this time its definitely worth it! The stage is slick with bling, from the huge central disco ball to Chipmunk’s glittering mic. Live drums are a welcome addition, bringing a massive boost to this criminally young blighter’s stage presence. As the house lights go up, we hear more screams from all the assembled girls. Frankly, it’s just unbelievable that the last time we saw Chipmunk in Nottingham about, ooh four months ago, he was playing a support set to Tinchy Stryder in a room one tenth this size!
Chipmunk’s set is taut, fluid, catchy and very, very clever
Holding forth with authority, the Chipster goes rap/pop for Diamond Ring, pretty much dubstep for Man Dem where his lyrics are skilfully laced over addictive drum n bass rhythms and grimey pop for a slew of N Dubz covers and Look For Me, which sees the inimitable Skepta return to the stage to assist. Musically it’s taut, fluid, catchy and very, very clever. He’s totally on top form throughout the entire 90 minute set and it only takes a dubstep beat to set the whole room on fire.
The amazing combination of glitz and musical dynamism tonight brings Jay-Z to my mind and the irony of Chipmunk’s new Chip Diddy Chip t-shirt definitely isn’t lost on anyone. Pushing grime into the mainstream may have seemed an impossibility a decade or so ago but it definitely isn’t any longer thanks to this fresh-faced youngster. He may only be a skinny 19 year old, but Chipmunk is all set for superstardom. Jay-who?