As featured in Complex UK
January 6, 2017, was a special day for grime.
After the astronomic heights the scene reached in 2016, its purists came down with a severe case of nostalgia when Brixton crew Roadside G’s rolled through to Kenny Allstar’s Radar Radio show. It was a moment everyone dreamed of, but no one could have imagined—the triumphant return of the collective that put South LDN on the map during the heady Channel U days of the scene genesis. Speaking to Kenny on Radar, the present members—Alan B, Dan Diggerz, Smiley, Elmz and Den Den—seemed just as shocked as us at their reunion, explaining how this was the first time all five of them had been in the same room in seven or eight years. A truly unfathomable admission, considering the kinetic chemistry between all of them that was plain to hear (and see).
Transporting back in time even further, however, and the guys on the Roadside were shaping this exciting new thing called grime in its formative years, south of the river, with gritty accounts of life on the roads of Brixton. They proceeded to retell their story of shelling down radio sets and setting the levels high for their peers during the early days, spitting real street rhymes over the most frantic of grime beats—the “first crew” to really touch on such subjects and the difficulties of living the life their rhymes portrayed, completely engulfing them (fellow G’s R.A. and DRz remain in prison). The strides grime has taken has largely passed RSG’s by, but at Radar, they went on to absolutely body their set, sounding as relevant now as they did a decade ago.
Riding classic grime instrumentals and UK drill beats, they rapped vividly and with intensity in front of a giddy Kenny, with some of the best one-liners in recent memory. It was clear they hadn’t missed a step. “We were ten years ahead of our time,” said Diggerz, a statement which spoke volumes once the madness ensued. Immediately, listeners were taken on a journey back to the halcyon days of pirate radio; Radar’s lowkey, visceral environment suited them perfectly and, in Kenny Allstar, they were in the hands of a man who truly understood and was invested, and had taken their journey with them. Roadside G’s also hinted at new material, which could mean this is only the beginning of their return. And, although their lane might not be as niche as it once was, they always brought an originality, a level of conviction and skill, that set them apart from their more illustrious counterparts in East and North London.
Bringing those gully vibes to grime’s commercial stage, at a time when it is at its most popular yet, RSG’s can now reinstall some real legitimacy to the game as far as bars go, and entice a new generation of grime-listening kids who have come for the ride. At this point, though, it isn’t even about that. Listening back to their Radar set, you get a feeling that they felt they had something to prove after years in the wilderness. It silenced any doubts whether they could still go bar-for-bar with grime’s biggest names, and, needless to say, they blew all expectations out of the park. The set proved they could seamlessly blend back into the scene and be one of the best things about it.
In the grand scheme of things, Roadside’s recent shelling was a great trip down memory lane that shook scene nurturers to their core and, hopefully, will have amplified their visibility amongst grime heads old and new. Such an event can only benefit the scene and remind listeners not only of the crew’s greatness but also how, dare I say, grimey, the genre can still be.