By Sam Higgins, 15 March 2017
Grime is having a bit of a moment right now and rightfully so. The underground genre isn’t just home to some of the most talented lyricists and rappers out there, but to some serious style innovators, too. We’re not talking the ability to pull off a sharp suit here – these guys are the new-age pioneers of the tracksuit and more and fans are flocking to replicate their style. Here are five of the best-dressed in the grime game right now.
Let’s start with arguably the biggest name in grime right now – Skepta. The North London artist is at the forefront of the genre's rise in popularity, especially over in the US. But it’s his influence on fashion that really has us listening (and looking). While he's an obvious advocate of the tracksuit (he did actually go to the show, sit in the front row in a black tracksuit and figuratively shut it down) Skepta also wins points for style versatility. Look at him here, rocking up to the Brits and choosing to don a khaki tracksuit, fashion-draped leopard-print jacket, trapper hat and sunnies rather than your staple award-ceremony suit. Poor style? That’s not Skepta.
We already know a lot about Stormzy and his beloved tracksuits. We took the big man around a posh house and chatted about his rise in grime and his seemingly endless array of adidas threads. The Croydon boy already has himself a top 10 hit and his influence doesn’t just resonate in music. In Shut Up, he raps ‘I set trends, them man copy’ and they do – tracksuits are having a resurgence right now and he’s a big reason why. We’ve seen Stormzy in a full suit, too, and he still looks dapper. Man try say he’s more stylish than Stormzy? Tell that man 'shut up'.
Just like his brother Skepta, Jme is not one for conforming. It only takes one look at his tee here, which boasts an enlarged photo of his face, to realise that. We don’t get to see the Boy Better Know co-founder’s style as often as we’d like – possibly down to him thinking ‘Instagram is for squares’ – but maybe he’s just saving all of his selfies for an imminent clothing line. Either way, much like his music, when we are treated to his style talents, Jme always has individuality locked down.
J Hus is breaking the genre mould. The East London rapper’s blend of afrobeat and grime has created a sound that stands out from his musical compadres. Style-wise, however, he mirrors most in the grime game right now. Not that we're complaining – it’s all about strong streetwear, adidas tracksuits, snapbacks, overhead jackets – basically the perfect attire to complement a little Lean & Bop.
Elf Kid is one of grime’s most promising young talents. Although he's only 19, Lewisham High Street’s golden boy is already making a reputation for himself in the game. Taking inspiration from the more seasoned pros in grime, Elf Kid is a big fan of the black tracksuit, but living up to his self-proclaimed title, the blue borough boy has favoured injecting some gold in to his outfits recently. At this rate, he’s on course to be the golden child of more than just Lewisham.
Following Skepta’s success in making grime globally known, AJ Tracey is fronting the next generation of rappers breaking down boundaries between the underground and the mainstream. A place on the BBC's Sound Of 2017 list and a SXSW slot is evidence of that, but aside from catching our attention with his confident bars, the Ladbroke Grove rapper is already curating his clothing with confidence. Whether it’s head-to-toe camo, colour-coordinated cream kit or seamlessly slotting his favourite Spurs shirt into his getup, we’re going to enjoy seeing plenty of AJ Tracey in the coming years.
Finally, Ghetts – one of the UK’s most respected grime MCs – is evidently a big fan of loungewear, rocking all EA7 on stage here. But we’ve also seen the rapper don some more sophisticated ‘fits over the years. Overcoats, roll necks and shearling jackets are all items that make him stand out from the parade of monochrome tracksuits and snapbacks. A new wave of grime stars may be taking the mantle now, but with his solid style, Ghetts will always remain a grime time icon.