The UK grime scene has been an inspiration for some of North America's biggest rappers. Drake and Kanye West have made a point of showing their appreciation for its MCs and the music they produce: the former is friend with grime fixture Skepta and brought him on stage during a London set earlier this year, while Kanye enlisted the help of some of the scene's biggest names during a fiery performance at the Brit Awards. But although they might share a mutual appreciation, some grime MCs do things a little differently than their trans-Atlantic cousins. Where Drake responds to Meek Mill with a trio of carefully calibrated diss tracks that belittled his rap skills, his relationship, and his entire being, prolific British grime artist JME uses something else in his latest diss track — Pokémon cards.
"The Very Best" is rapper and producer JME's response to complaints about his latest video. The track samples the Pokémon cartoon theme tune, and stars an anime-styled version of the artist dressed like Pokémon master and star of the cartoon Ash Ketchum, spitting bars about shiny Charizards and master balls. It could be a joke song, but there's fire in the animated JME's eyes as he reiterates his contributions to grime, taking the time to chastise new MCs who weren't around at the time of the original 151 Pokémon.
JME and his brother, Skepta, have been influential in the rise and recent resurgence of grime, having founded London-based record label Boy Better Know in 2005. JME released grime classic "Serious" soon after, and came back to collaborate with his brother on last year's banger "That's Not Me," just before Skepta released this year's grime anthem, "Shutdown" — for which Drake provided the intro bars. JME's long been an outspoken voice in grime, using Twitter to take swipes at BlackBerry, share his confusion about vaping, and build his own mini-meme out of pointing at things. Where a lot of grime MCs aim to look hard, JME happily raps about Pokémon, swaps his records for foil Charizard cards, and appears on stage in a full Iron Man suit.
Let's hope North American artists are still watching the grime scene closely for inspiration — I for one can't wait for Drake to challenge Meek Mill to a Beyblade match, and for Kanye's Yu-Gi-Oh!-themed concept album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Trap Card.