One of grime’s more popular characters, Jme has come back with a bang. Despite the emergence of newcomers Stormzy, Bugzy Malone and Novelist in the grime scene in early 2015, there is no denying that with his first album in 5 years, Integrity >, Jme has proved that the old guard of grime are stronger than ever. This 16 track journey flows through Jme’s strong lyrics, mixing his usual style of solid rhymes and comedic bars, along with appearances from fellow Boy Better Know members, as well as other collaborators such as Giggs, D Double E and Big Narstie. Featuring some catchy hooks, and ever brilliant beats from Preditah and Tommy Kruise, Integrity > is a true grime album, and one of the scenes head honcho’s; Jme, has contributed to a critical part of grime’s sudden resurgence once again.
There’s no denying that Jme isn’t the most successful grime artist on his own, like his own brother Skepta or Wiley; but what makes grime such a unique scene is that collaborating plays such an important role, whether it’s having someone feature on your track or you featuring on someone else’s. On Integrity >, Jme’s collaborations are some of the albums highlights. The song ‘Amen’, featuring BBK members Skepta, Frisco, Shorty and Jammer, is a great example of a grime collaboration, featuring so many artists many would think it’s difficult to implement, especially in a song just over 2 minutes long. Yet the flow from all the artists meant they could spit a 9 verse track in such a short time. Other collaborative highlights from the album include ‘Man Don’t Care’, featuring some heavy bars from Giggs, as well as the second BBK-heavy collaboration, ‘Don’t @ Me’, with Skepta, Frisco and Shorty all spitting about haters on Twitter. Jme’s links within the scene means he can collaborate with top grime artists, which results in some great tracks.
Whilst it’s clear most grime artists have their very individual sounds and styles, Jme has always stood out with his individuality. His voice is recognisable on every track he features on, and the way he spits his bars along with his overall sound is very unique. Jme’s excellent control of flow is evident on every song on Integrity >, as he slows down or speeds up his flow depending on the beat he spits over. A clear comparison of flow on this album is evident in the songs ’96 F*ckries’ and ‘Calm’; in ’96 F*ckries’, Jme spits over the beat with such control over his speed it is to be marvelled at, and on ‘Calm’, which is consequently a much a slower song, he slows his flow down whilst keeping that original Jme sound.
In the relatively titular song, ‘Integrity’, Jme spits the bars: “Been doing this for over ten years so anyone of you cocaine snorting label executives that thinks you can take my integrity for a couple bags, think twice”. Despite Jme spitting bars that are often comedic and hilarious, he often repeats his stance on record labels, which is, to put it lightly, he doesn’t like them very much. Another great highlight of the grime scene, as it’s commercial success doesn’t match ‘similar’ genres like hip-hop, many artists have to get their music out there off of their own backs, exactly what Jme, Skepta and the rest of BBK have done. The whole resurgence in the grime scene has been based off this lack of record label interference, and titling the album Integrity >, certainly just emphasises how the people at the very top of the scene feel still about the creative direction of their music.
There is a feeling that 2015 is the year that grime is going to really kick-off again, and with releases like Integrity >, especially from someone right at the head of the scene like Jme, this feeling could be proved right. Every element on this album has given it the potential to become a grime classic for years to come. Jme’s control of flow, spitting over perfectly fitting beats that produce that raw grime sound, as well as the vast collaborations with other leading grime artists make Integrity > a truly fitting release from someone so influential in the scene like Jme.
Jme has always been in and around the top of the grime scene, yet never quite reached the heights of Wiley or Skepta, but if he can keep releases like this coming, he can certainly match their high levels.
Words by Elliott Jones