A couple weeks back, we published a pretty comprehensive piece on why grime is the hot new genre for #summer2k15 … and then immediately realized we had failed to talk about Plastician.
Plastician, for the uninitiated, is the reason why we had anything to write abut in the first place. For a couple years north of a decade, the London-based DJ and producer has been at the helm of one of the most influential and progressive radio programs in the world, RinseFM, which we feel pretty safe saying is where grime was born and raised.
Plastician’s radio show has almost single-handedly pioneered the rise grime production, facilitating its slow-but-sure infiltration into the mainstream over the course of the twelve years. During that time, he’s helped break a slew of seminal grime, dubstep and future bass artists, and particularly in the past five years, it has been the Mecca for the new wave of grime producers globally.
A look through his recent on-air guests gives you the sense of just how expansive the community he has developed really is. Everyone from Norwegian producer Torjus (Raw Juice, Rytmeklubben) to recent Kanye collaborator Skepta have been featured in the past few months, a testament to both Plastician’s status as a musical taste-maker as well as his eye for talent. Somehow, Plastician has firmly planted his weekly radio hour at the front and center of the grime movement, while simultaneously impressing the genre on artists who you’d never expect to be associated with it through his own production work.
All this matters because while grime is best known as a UK rap movement, much like trap or drill, there is a secondary production-only sector of the genre that retains the heavy, pulsing sonic qualities grime is known for, yet keeps things in instrumental form. Without Plasitican’s show, producers who perfect instrumental grime like Mumdance, Preditah and (Danny Brown collaborator) Darq E Freaker, wouldn’t have had a central outlet to the global audience that they’ve been quietly building for years.
By simultaneously promoting artists like Kastle, Rustie and Awe, Plastician has also helped fuse a mutual influence between traditional grime production and the brightest and best of club and EDM producers, sometthing that has helped bolster grime’s recent ascension. While there’s no concrete evidence for this, it’s hard to imagine that labels like Night Slugs, Fade to Mind or Donky Pitch could have ever existed without Plastician’s show. Had a baby Plastician never been born, these artists may never have had placement for their sound.
From the vantage point of late Summer 2015, it’s easy to forget that grime was not regarded as ‘cool’ up until very recently, and at best took a back seat to beatscene, dubstep and trap in the electronic cross-over milieu of the past decade.
I know that the Plastician produced Skepta track, “Back Then” will be stuck in my head for months to come, but beyond that predicting grime’s future feels near impossible. Who knows if Stormzy will be the next big thing in pop, or if TM88 will start incorporating grime styles into whatever radio-hit he produces next, but it’s safe to say that whatever happens, Plastician will deserve a big thank you.