6 unmissable Skepta deep cuts

A throwback to some old school Skepta tracks from his extensive catalogue.

The Mercury Award-winning, Tottenham-born MC has achieved commercial success that seemed entirely out of reach at one point. Well, at least when the tracks you’ll find below were doing the rounds on pirate radio, being Bluetoothed across playgrounds, shared on MSN Messenger and downloaded via BearShare, Limewire and other P2P file sharing programs of the era.

Skepta’s career has reached dizzying heights in the last two years, so as an ode to the foundations he laid more than a decade ago, and the inspiration he still is today, we present to you six unmissable Skepta deep cuts from his naughty noughties catalogue.

Skepta – Reign (2007)

During a period when the Boy Better Know crew were independently making trips to New York to network and build on their buzz at the time, this intercontinental classic was a subsequent product. Skepta teamed up with Brooklyn-based producer Shadetek to create this certified anthem.

Skepta – The End (2006)

During a period of Meridian Crew crew conflict – a crew made up of the toppa top MCs from Tottenham’s Meridian estate – a feud had arisen with north west London-based group SLK. Flirta D, Van Damage and Skrapsta – now known as UK rapper Skrapz – were at war with Meridian. True to the roots of the culture, war dubs were recorded, lyrical shots were fired, and this was Skepta’s offering during a less glossy period in grime’s history.

Skepta – Me And Da Mandem (2005)

This one needs little introduction – it was a throwaway track from around 2005, and not connected to any beef or used on any particular project. It features Desperado, an MC from what was to become the Lewisham grime crew, OGz. The beat is reminiscent of the RWD Forum era of teenage Fruity Loops producers and represents a changing tide in the grime sound as production quality slipped – perhaps due to an influx of young, inexperienced producers – though creativity was rife and arguably at its peak for the genre. The beats were getting more melodic, yet retaining a grimey quality… reinforced by the devilish lyrics and deadly delivery from Skepta on ‘Me And Da Mandem’.

Skepta – Stupid (2006)

Featuring the godfather of grime… Wiley and Skepta team up on this track from the self-titled Stupid White Label EP in 2006. Another classic for a generation of original grime kids.

Skepta – DTI (2003)

This track is special for a number of reasons. It was one of the most popular Skepta productions of the period and likely featured on nearly every pirate radio show at the time. It was the first grime music video and possibly the only grime music video for an instrumental – a testament to the track’s impact on a street level. You can watch the video above and if you want to hear a vocal version, the freestyle from late Slew Dem Crew MC Escobar is highly recommended. You can check it out here.

Skepta – Fuck Widda Team (2006)

Signing off with this one, because the tune accurately enforces the notion that back then, and especially today, you cannot fuck with the team. Maybe some other teams, but not Boy Better Know or Meridian. Not then, not now, and with JME still doin’ bits; probably never.

Words: Timi Ben-Edigbe

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