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Baker's Dozen

Straight Dubplate Business: Slimzee's Favourite Tracks
Manu Ekanayake , November 22nd, 2023 10:36

The godfather of grime takes Manu Ekanayake through thirteen favourite tracks, that soundtracked his journey through his part in the birth of grime, scaling tower blocks to set up pirate radio aerials, his hiatus following a mental breakdown, and helming chaotic raves from Milton Keynes to Ayia Napa

Slimzee is hard to pin down, but when you’re getting an audience with a grime OG that’s what you expect. But he’s not locked in the studio, partying, or recovering from said partying; he was actually off on holiday. Slimzee, the godfather of grime (as he rightly calls himself on socials and his website), is also a father and family man, at least when he’s being Dean Fullman, a suburban dad in his mid 40s. He reminds me very much of my friends’ dads and uncles from my own suburban Essex background as we chat about how much his generation of East Londoners and those before have moved outwards to the county and beyond; I’m just a couple of years his junior.

In an MC-led scene full of professional hype men, the so-called ‘quiet man of grime’ tells a much more modest tale, always from a fan-turned-professional, enthusiast POV that’s thoroughly approachable and often low-key funny. But don’t get it twisted; Slim, who was risking his life up mountaineering up tower blocks with an aerial when he founded Rinse FM with his friend from Bow in East London, Geeneus, back in 1994, is not short on bottle. His role as a grime OG goes all the way back to his time at Bow Boys Secondary School, alongside then-classmate Wiley. He’s been listening to hardcore pirates ever since those years, where he witnessed UK bass music evolve into jungle and UK garage, the darker end of which became grime, his truest love as a DJ and producer.

I can’t help but feel he found it difficult to call himself ‘the godfather of grime’ online as he’s so unfailingly modest. But as his baker’s dozen shows us, he was there at the start, at the big regional raves like Sidewinder that helped grime spread beyond East London, and from the outset of the scene’s favourite pirate, Rinse. He was in an early incarnation of Pay As You Go Cartel, who had a Top 20 hit in the UK charts with ‘Champagne Dance’, one of the seminal garage crews that led the way to grime, with Wiley forming Roll Deep after it disbanded two years after forming in 2000. Roll Deep lasted longer than its predecessor, up to 2013, with a cast of grime heavyweights like Flowdan, Manga Saint Hilare, Riko Dan, DJ Target (now of 1Xtra and writer of the new Grime Kids TV show), plus a couple of young lads called Dizzee Rascal and Tinchy Strider, whose rise helped build the genre’s popularity.

So Slim’s seen some of grime’s mainstream success up close, but he’s never been interested in that himself – despite getting a gold record for his contribution to Dizzee’s Mercury Award winning album, Boy In Da Corner, in 2003. Just two years later he got an ASBO, one of the first of its kind in that it banned him from being any more than four storeys high in Tower Hamlets, for a period of five years. We discuss the affect this, as well as overwork, had on him and how his subsequent nervous breakdown kept him out of music for almost a decade. But you can’t keep a good man down, so when grime returned to prominence in the mid-2010s Slim did the same, going back on radio at NTS and Rinse and making and playing tunes. As we speak he’s got the freshly-released debut track on OG dubstep and grime club FWD>>’s new label, ‘Mile End’ with his friends Boylan and Riko Dan. Big, bad and bassy, just the way he loves, it’s Slimzee at his bass-wrecking best.

Slimzee's new track 'Mile End', with Boylan and Riko Dan, is out now on the new FWD>> label.

To begin reading his Baker's Dozen, click the image of him below