Grime’s 4 steps for Success

How the musical art form has simplified success

Being a born and bred Londoner, I grew up with grime. It was a platform for expression, a music form made by a generation of inspired poets and musicians, with stories and talents that perfectly captured my inner city experiences. My attempts to emulate the likes of Dizzee Rascal, Wiley, So Solid Crew, Bashy, Skepta & Kano to name a few; were probably the main reason behind my ‘A’ grade in GCSE English Language, and the motivation to begin speaking and writing.

However, it wasn’t until I heard both Chip’s — ‘Where’s Ice Kid At (ft. Ice Kid)’ and Bonkaz x Stormzy — ‘And Dat’, that it finally hit me. Four lines had been consistent in the genre’s rise, ever since 2003 and Dizzee Rascal dropped his ‘Boy In Da Corner’ album. Four clear, simple steps that had been used by many of grime’s heavyweights in one form or another; from Dizzee to Stormzy (in ‘Scary’), all reference these principles. Four hidden principles that even live outside of grime, proven by those who have achieved personal success; the principles of “Stop that, start that, get that, what?”

1. Stop That (Habits)

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. — Will Durant

Habits are indicators of our thoughts and the things that define our attitude and our life’s altitude. If Stephen Covey was a former grime artist, His book, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, would’ve included ‘The 4 Habits of change’ in his ‘Sharpen the Saw’ section.

You don’t have to have heard much of grime to hear about the lifestyles of many of the artists before they found their medium in music. A medium that allowed them to reflect on what they used to do and where they’ve come from. How? By accepting and recognising where they were and wanting something different or something more. But the first step to all change is to acknowledge what needs to stop.

Having just watched ‘BrOTHERHOOD’ on Netflix, watch this clip to see how Stormzy’s character is supported in stopping his behaviour by Arnold Oceng. I won’t spoil it for you, but watch the entire scene to see how putting these steps in action can change the foundations for your life, in under 5 minutes.

2. Start That (Begin)

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. — Francis of Assisi

Starting is often the most difficult stage of anything. It’s about the journey, the process of growth that leads to fulfilment, success, mastery and leadership. It could be anything from missing a minor detail, to receiving criticism in a negative manner that literally paralyzes your dream and condemns it to the graveyard. The proverb, “the journey of a thousand miles starts with one step”, is a profound way of putting this step. It’s vital here to acknowledge that patience is a key virtue. 1000 miles on a treadmill is easy to count but life, like the treadmill, can go up and down, even have it’s energy taken from it and move fast or slower at intervals. That being said, you have to take the first step to get on it in the first place if you intend on reaching that 1000 miles.

The next transition proves the significance and intricacy of these steps. It’s one thing to acknowledge you need start that journey, but do you have the treadmill?

3. Get that (Prepare / Resources / Support)

Do what you love and the necessary resources will follow. — Peter McWilliams

Marvell’s (the grime group, not the comics) song, ‘Own Path’ feat. Wretch 32 & Chip; symbolises what all the artists had to acquire to make their dreams come true. Confidence, a network, belief, patience, a passion, a service for others; even the little things like people to shoot their videos and knowledge of their audience; they knew exactly what it was that they needed to create, maintain and sustain their dreams.

4. What? (Feedback / Reflect / Dream / Goal Setting)
Live out of your imagination, not your history. — Stephen Covey

Listening to Wretch 32 in Church say, “I could’ve been in jail on a Monday, instead I’m in church on a Sunday”; is an easy way to sum up the definition of the ‘What?’ step. Many of us rarely take time to actually think about the internal impact of our actions, thoughts or behaviours before we continue the cycle. This is vital because without this time and by skipping this step, we’re doomed to continue the negative things from our history which have defined our present and will mould our futures.

Going back to the BrOTHERHOOD clip, even taking just a few minutes to consider and reflect on these things, can drastically effect our lives. We do these things everyday, so it only makes sense to reflect everyday. Having somebody supportively challenge you on your dreams, can help when the cycle inevitably begins again. How? See this stage as the petrol station; It will help you think about what needs to be stopped, what needs to be started and what you’ll need for either the next part of the journey or the rest of the journey. In the song ‘Church’, Wretch sums up all the things he’s learned from his past, whilst acknowledging how grateful he is for what he’s gained and where he is now as a result of his decisions.

Conclusion — Success will follow your ‘flow’

If there’s one grime song that sums up the attitude, fruits and legacy of these steps in practice; Skepta’s — ‘Ace Hood Flow’ is an good indicator. From paying subs to get on the radio; to a manager, a DJ, 7 MCs and 5 producers on his label; Skepta and many of grime and life’s heavyweights are proof, that by using the 4 steps in a cyclical process, you too, can fulfil your hopes with a purpose that will serve and lead others.