Ad libs are weird, let’s get that out of the way first. Evolving from phrases like “uh-huh” or “yeah” designed to fill spaces between lines, today’s ad libs are a hell of a lot more creative. US rappers like 2 Chainz and Lil Jon are almost more famous for their ad libs than their actual songs, with the cry of “2 Chaiiiiins” being the most iconic part of the majority of the rappers output.
But what about ad libs in the UK? They haven’t been embraced by as many grime artists as US trap stars, but it’s still an area that’s ripe for exploration. So without further ado, here’s our list of the top five ad libs in grime:
5: Tempa T- “TEEEEMPZ” (various)
Tempa T is an angry man, at least when he isn’t making smoothies (which judging by his instagram, seems to take up at least 50% of his time). It’s only fitting then that his ad lib sounds more like a war cry than anything else. Featured on “Chattin Shit” and “Next Hype”, perhaps the best example of Tempz taking the opportunity to scream the first half of his name is on the Chase & Status collaboration “Hypest Hype”, which you can listen to below.
(ad lib at 00:49)
4: Giggs- “Let’s get a coffee” (The Process)
Included more for how bizarre it is than anything else, Giggs’ first entry on this list is the logical endpoint of his ad lib use. In a gap of less than a second Giggs somehow manages to crowbar in a whole sentence, in a move that’s equal parts hilarious and impressive. Hopefully on his next track he’ll let us know how many sugars he takes.
(ad lib at 00:34)
3: JME- “Serious” (various)
It was a toss-up between this and “Well, well, well” but “Serious” wins out. Originally included in the song of the same name, JME has used this ad lib as his signature on various tracks, heralding the arrival of one of grime’s biggest stars. Plus it is really fun to imitate. Hear it below on “Serious Remix”.
(ad lib at 00:14)
2: D Double E- “Bluku” (Pretty much everything D Double E has ever been a part of)
More a stand in for all of D Double’s ad libs, the shout of “Bluku Bluku” is a major feature of most of his verses, peppered in with calls of “Bud Da Bup Bup” and “It’s Mre Mre”. D Double E was one of the pioneers of ad libs in grime, with his use of them being almost more iconic than his unique voice and delivery style. Listen to “Bluku! Bluku!” below, which features multiple ad libs at the beginning, as well as a chorus entirely composed of “Bluku! Bluku!” (which we guess explains the track title).
1: Giggs- “JHEEZ!” (various)
Giggs is on this list twice, and he deserves to be. No grime artist has embraced the ad lib as much as him, with almost every line ending in an exclamation of some kind. From the ever present “MMM!” to “Huh?!” on “Man Don’t Care”, and even just agreeing with his own lines by ending them with “Yeah”, Giggs manages to make even the most mundane words completely inimitable. The crowning glory of this is the shout of “JHEEZ!” that Giggs has been using since the very beginning. Whether or not he was the first in grime to use it is up for debate, but the majority of those now shouting the iconic phrase are doing so because Hollowman himself popularised it. Listen to one of the hundreds of examples below.
(ad lib at 00:14, and 1:32, and 2:21…)
So there you have it. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, and there are a lot of good/strange/hilarious ad libs we’ve missed out. You can treat this as your gateway to a future where you can’t listen to a grime track without picking up on every “Serious”, “JHEEZ” or “TEEEEMPZ” shouted within it. You’re welcome.