JME talks a lot about himself in his songs. He “had a durag straight at birth” (‘96 F**kries’), his vegan diet includes “No meat, no cheese, no milk, no eggs” (‘Pulse 8’), and we even know his school history: he “went Welbourne, went St. Paul’s, went Winchmore then went Greenwich” (‘JME’).
He also drives a Tesla, won’t wear jeans because denim is bad for the environment and regularly live-streams himself playing the piano. What we’re getting at is he might not fit the ‘grime artist’ template you’re thinking of.
With this in mind the easiest way to learn about the vegan, university educated, non-drinking, non-smoking “Boy Better Know CEO” (‘AWOH’) is to have a listen to his discography. We’ve picked out five of his tracks to get you started, and we’ve written a little bit about each one too. We’ll be honest, this is the fifth one of these we’ve done, if you don’t understand the formula now we’ve pretty much lost hope.
Here are the tracks, before we start crying because nobody listens to us:
Serious – 2006
Originally released in 2006 and included on JME’s debut album Famous?, ‘Serious’ was JME’s first single and first underground hit. A massive part of this was the fact that instead of rapping about punching, shooting and stabbing people, he rapped about how stupid it was to spend all day punching, shooting and stabbing people. He also makes the point that major labels are unlikely to sign people with a reputation for murdering people they don’t like, which is fair enough really.
CD Is Dead (featuring Tempa T) – 2010
Taken from JME’s second album Blam!, ‘CD is Dead’ sees him teaming up with human tank and famously shouty bloke Tempa T with an important message for their competition: You aren’t very good, so go get a real job.
On a separate note, JME’s complaint that “People think they can book one guy from Boy Better Know and get the rest free” is a bit dubious, as if you’ve ever been to one of their shows, you’d know it’s actually pretty accurate.
JME – 2011
Also from Blam!, ‘JME’ is part autobiographical account of JME’s rise to where he is today and part sideswipe at people that love guns a bit more than strictly necessary. We find out that JME was born in Hackney and has never had a job (he’s not unemployed though, he’s a sole trader), but ‘JME’ also features classic lines like “One minute’s silence for your enemies and one minute’s silence for your bank balance”.
‘JME’ is a pretty perfect example of what sets JME apart from other grime artists: he really isn’t bothered about violence and being threatening, he’d much rather talk about video games and his childhood. The video is also great and should be seen by everyone.
96 F**kries – 2012
JME’s highest charting single, ‘96 F**kries’ just barely missed out on the top 40, peaking at number 41. It was also the first single from most recent album Integrity>, although it was released 3 years in advance of the album itself.
Recorded in one take, the track features one of the truest lyrics in grime: “Nobody wants to get punched in the face, ‘cause when you get punched in the face it hurts”. You can’t fault that logic.
Man Don’t Care (Featuring Giggs) – 2015
Most memorable for featuring a verse where Giggs describes himself as “Like Batman, da-na-da-na-da-na”, ‘Man Don’t Care’ is probably JME’s best known song, at least amongst newer grime fans.
It’s not every day that a grime track features an MC setting fire to the microphone with his university diploma, but then again, JME doesn’t exactly fit the usual stereotype of a grime MC. The music video is below, but we’ve also included the special opera version of the song, just to add a bit of high culture to your day.