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Big Zuu, The Joints Show and the evolution of grime radio

Long gone are the days when grime radio shows were restricted to pirate stations in London. The scene has evolved into a legitimate music genre and in some regards an industry in itself – the music, the merchandise, the commercial appeal, what GRM Daily and the Rated Awards have achieved for instance, and all the revenue streams associated with these components. With that evolution from underground scene to fully fledged industry, there have been some developments of late that, similar to the Rated Awards, have been both inspiring and entertaining; namely Big Zuu and Radar Radio’s compelling concoction, The Joints Show.

The show is presented by Big Zuu, a prominent MC figure in the grime sphere, and closely affiliated with grime’s rising star, AJ Tracey. Big Zuu has personally earned his stripes as an MC among the grime elite but The Joints Show, thanks to his humorous hosting style, has launched him into a higher tier.

“I started mixing so I can perfect my craft more as an MC,” Zuu says, explaining his motives for taking on the role of DJ, “understanding how DJs work makes it ten times easier to work with them. At first, that’s all it was about, just learning more about the sound, but then I started doing sets which led to me jumping on decks live on air and eventually doing shows as a DJ. I only want to be an MC but DJing is proper fun and because Radar (Radio) had practice rooms it was just a joke ting, but then they always asked me to do a show, so it all worked out.”

The Joints Show is a grime radio show like no other. With fans able to phone in live on air, conversational interviews with his special guests, plus the quintessential cypher sets, make the show a cut above the rest. It offers everything you could want from a grime radio show, accurately and authentically reflecting the youth culture the genre has come to represent. “Radar [Radio] always had a phone line, just no one was really using it with their show. So I thought I’d add something different to my grime show and bring that old school vibe,” Zuu recalls. “We made sure we pushed the phone line and it’s been going well since then. On the last show, the phone didn’t stop ringing for the whole two hours and someone sent a me a screen munch of them trying to call over 50 times. The Joints Show is doing well and has come far which I’m grateful for, everything is freestyled, none of it’s planned and I think that’s why people love it, man, and hopefully, it will only get better.”

Though in essence resurrecting the palpable sense of community which was a significant element of the original pirate radio culture, The Joints Show is a far cry from the aforementioned era of illegal radio stations in London’s tower blocks. “Back then, being a DJ in grime, you were more like a ‘selector’. You were just runnin’ dubs for the MCs to spit over. You were just mixing for the set,” says seasoned grime DJ Logan Sama in an interview with the YouTube-based interview channel Straight No Chaser. “For me, I just wanted to do more than that. I wanted to share all the information I had in my head about the music. So I looked at DJs in other areas, saw what works for them and how I can incorporate that into what I do… DJs like Westwood and David Rodigan. They’re ambassadors for the music. They’re playing the music they love but also educating the audience”.

Logan Sama evolved the concept of the grime radio show in his own way – focusing on the hosting side of his sets by informing his audience on release dates, artist track names and event recommendations, rather than simply mixing tracks like your average pirate radio grime DJ of the era. You could say the same about The Joints Show. Grime has found a place in mainstream culture and this show reflects the growth in the scene as a culture, not just a genre. So with that said, it would be accurate to assume that, in addition to the commercial success of the most prominent grime MCs, the evolution of grime radio in the form of The Joints Show is a symbol of the scene’s evolution and development. Growing up, but definitely not getting old.

Lock in to the Joints Show on Radar Radio.

Big Zuu plays Outlook Festival, September 6–10. Get tickets here.

Keep up to date with Big Zuu on Facebook and Twitter.

Words: Timi Ben-Edigbe

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