Get Signed or Die Trying!….


By Feyona9


5 Sep 2011

You discover you have a somewhat talent for rhyming words intellectually over a catchy beat. You develop a niche and slowly but surely recruit a couple of fans. Perform at venues earn yourself a little income. You’re basically living out your ‘wildest dreams’ as your ‘occupation’ is something that you love to do, so what more could you want?……


– This is the act of obtaining a record deal in the music industry, which enhances your chances of having the ability to produce records that actually sell to mass audiences.

Sounds easy enough if you are talented don’t it? Well that’s where you’re wrong, the crossover from ‘underground’ to the ‘mainstream’ is an issue artists have been battling with since the dawn of time; especially those from a British Rap/Grime background. With the immense amount of competition out there – as every ‘Tom Dick and Harry’ seems to be a ‘rapper’ now, the question is ‘How do I differ from everybody else?’ As the years press on, I must admit it has become a tad bit easier for artists to make this crossover, (I only said a tad bit). With names in the game that have become iconic in the UK music industry for opening up doors; the future for UK talent is looking very bright indeed. However is reaching the ultimate goal of ‘getting signed’ really what it’s cracked up to be? Are you still given that choice of being the same artist you was before the deal?

Well my music readers in this article I shall be answering these very questions whilst making sure I do not hold back on any of my personal opinions. Apologies in advance to any artists or fans that this may offend but “f*** it, I’m on one!”

Two words – Dizzee Rascal. I can’t even begin to express to you guys the impact Dizzee made in the grime scene when he was in his prime. We’re talking about a good 8 years ago when he released the phenomenon single that is still recognised to this date ‘I Luv U’. It was his brilliance with the way he flowed over a beat that lead to Dizzee’s signing with ‘XL Recordings’ to then produce the outstanding debut album ‘Boy in the Corner. Which also won him the ‘Mercury Prize’ for best album in 2003 and no wonder with tracks like; ‘Fix up Look Sharp’, ‘Jus’ a Rascal’ and the unreleased underground smash hit ‘Jezebel’.

“…but was even happier when I seen Dizzee Rascal get an album deal and get his face on the telly, personally when he won his Mercury I thought well done, he’s a black boy whose just like me so like, his respect is due certainly…”

– Bashy

As Bashy so rightly stated there in his smash hit song ‘Black Boys’, when Dizzee won a prestige award like a ‘Mercury’ for his album it gave every underground artist that glimmer of hope. The hope that it is very much possible to crossover from the underground where just a few people hear your tracks; to make it into the mainstream where thousands of people will buy your music. Dizzee became a pioneer for a genre that was only gaining its recognition solely from its UK fans and made it into something that can now be recognised in many parts of the world. So where do my qualms about Dizzee Rascal come into it you may ask? Well, I don’t know about you but for me growing up listening to him; he was just the epiphany of grime music so when he CHANGED it just crushed my heart. Now I’m not saying an artist can’t be versatile and all and try and appeal to the masses because hits like ‘Holiday’ and ‘Bonkers’ we’re quite fetching actually but you have to have a balance. Dizzee didn’t obtain this balance he abandoned grime like yesterdays paper and embraced his new found genre – ‘dance’. This upsets me for the pure fact that how can you leave something that made you who you are today?, before it you was nothing but hey I can only dream that one day he will return to his true love (grime) and begin to grace us all with tracks along the lines of this again….

“What’s your name, I seen you about, I think your choong…boomting, I really hope you’re not a grim, I really hope you’re not a Jezzie, Jezzie……”


The only positive I can commend Dizzee Rascal on after slandering him a bit there is that; I guess he was talented enough to be accepted into a new genre and a new audience and retain his success. That’s the least that can be said about this next artist…


Now where does one begin to talk about the career Kano undoubtedly should have had but failed to. Exploding onto the scene dramatically in 2004 with his debut solo single ‘Ps & Qs’ he was immediately predicted to be the next one out of the underground to blow massively. It was all going oh so well for him with the release of his first debut album ‘Home Sweet Home’ displaying unforgettable tracks such as; ‘Boys Love Girls’, ‘Brown Eyes’, ‘Nite, Nite’ and many more. Kano’s second album ‘London Town’ wasn’t as good as ‘Home Sweet Home’ but it did feature that banger ‘This is the Girl’ feat Craig David so I would have to give him that. So with a record deal two good albums under your belt, why can’t I call upon Kano as being one of the greatest MCs to date? Because some how he fell off, he wasn’t able to maintain and stay current. That is the saddest aspect of it all as Kano is one of the very few talented MCs out there that truly deserves to make it up there with your Tinie’s and your Wretch 32’s.

“I swear just about everything’s changed the man in 06 is not the man today, certain man had it fell right off, rule number 1 in the game…Maintain!”

– Chipmunk F64 Series 3.

(Some of you may well be thinking Chipmunk also deserves a mention in this article but don’t worry I’ve got a special one lined up for him. Watch out for ‘The Rise of Chip’ coming soon).

But for now let’s just cast our minds back to this track and remember how great Kano use to be and pray he also returns….

With examples like Dizzee and Kano branching out of the underground grime scene into the mainstream; you begin to wonder if the ever so sought for ‘record deal’ is even worth it anymore. Are artists creating real, passionate, street music before the deal than once they have the deal only purely creating to sell units? You have to make music that you love and believe in because if you don’t how do you expect your fans to believe in you and buy your music? I’m going to have a little Martin Luther King Jr. moment here and say,

“I have a dream that one day underground artists can continue to make that ‘feel good music’ without feeling the need to conform, to what the music industry feels they have to do to succeed. That maybe just maybe one day artists won’t need the power of a record deal to sell to mass audiences but the fact that they create great music will be enough!”