Grime has always had a competitive edge - in fact, competition is in the DNA of most people associated with the music.
Whether it's having the best trainers in the rave or riding the hardest beat, grime is one area where the participants push one another to new heights with an unrelenting sense of power.
Last week Wiley caused social media apoplexy when he felt that Dizzee Rascal "sent for him" on his as yet unreleased new album.
Threatening to unleash another 'Night Bus', Wiley vowed to update his semi-legendary clash, one of the most ferocious pieces of verbal savagery you'll ever hear.
With that in mind, a few Clash writers assembled their favourite pars, the most astute put-downs, the most stunningly violent outbursts grime has witnessed...
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Bear Man – 'Footsie Dub'
Bear Man, who rolled with south London crews Mastermind Trooperz and N.A.A., probably had the best sense of humour of any grime MC before or since. Not only did he release a mixtape called 'Bear Necessities', the cover of which is a bear stalking the outskirts of a post-apocalyptic London (eerily predicting the rise to power of Boris Johnson), he also made 'Drinking Beer'.
Along with the films of Nick Love, oversized leather jackets and properly hot summers, its video captures a brief, weird moment in British history. It’s pretty much the ‘Rari WorkOut’ of 2005, which probably says more about the present than it does the past.
Anyway, his crowning achievement is still this war dub, over the same instrumental as ‘Drinking Beer’, where he taunts Footsie in an increasingly childish, relentless, style for over five minutes.
It says a lot about this dub that more than 10 years after it dropped you can still occasionally hear Foots sending for him. Even though he put the mic down a while back, Bear Man’s name echoes through the ages.
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Wiley & Trim – 'War Report 4' (As picked by Alex McFadyen)
Recorded over a version of Wiley’s classic beat ‘Colder’ for the second volume of Trim’s Soulfood mixtape series, this was set to be iconic before the vocals were even recorded.
Two of grime’s most notoriously mouthy MCs, over one of the genre’s most popular instrumentals, remixing each other’s insults for Bashy (Trim also includes some obligatory bars sending for Stormin).
Bashy pissed off Wiley by making some inelegant remarks about the Bow MC’s sister, Trim responds by taking aim at the former bus driver’s mum: “What d’you call her scatty, what d’you call her grime? Selling PlayStations with no wires, Ladbroke Grove station, sitting in the road on some tyres. And like the tyres, she looks tired, eyes wired. That hooked on white look. Bashy’s a shook one in my book.”
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God’s Gift – 'Scorcher Dub' (As picked by Alex McFadyen)
During a period of seemingly endless sniping between east and north London MCs, which played out on Logan Sama’s Monday night Kiss FM show in 2006, and culminated in Wiley’s infamous Nightbus Dubplate, Scorcher made the mistake of sending a stray shot in the direction of legendary E3 MC God’s Gift.
He probably thought Gift, who wasn’t that active at the time, would ignore it. Instead the Wolfpack capo went into his mate’s bedroom/garage/shower cubicle, recorded a few dozen bars onto a CDR in a single take, and had it delivered straight to the reception desk at Kiss. This is probably the grittiest diss track in grime history. Don’t fuck with God’s Gift.
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Lethal Bizzle - 'Kylie Riddim' (As picked by Will Pritchard)
How do you respond when someone accuses your mum of having athlete's foot? Jump on a Kylie Minogue instrumental of course.
With arguably one of the most inventive beat choices in the history of grime clashing, Lethal announces he'll send for Wiley on one of his own riddims - Wiley's real name is Richard Kylea Cowie - before launching into a bouncy diatribe over 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head'.
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Dot Rotten - sending for Wiley on Fuck Radio 5 (As picked by Will Pritchard)
One of the hardest sections from one of the hardest series of radio sets (which, of course, weren't actually broadcast on radio). The way Dot Rotten, barely into his twenties at the time, rides the beat to repeat his coup de grace - "You can beat me and test me? No chance | Try eat me in E3, I'll pull out the streazy | and make Eskimo dance" - is enough to send shivers up even an inuit's spine.
Despite multiple attempts to bait him, Wiley had never really shown much interest in replying to Dot's call-outs at the time. On the strength of this send alone, you'd question whether even Wiley had much he could say in response.
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Grimmy vs Syco (As picked by Paul Gibbins)
By the time Birmingham MCs Grimmy and Syco clashed on Who’s Da Boss there was certainly no love lost. The pair had traded blows across radio sets and YouTube freestyles and no subject was off-limits. The clash itself was an entertaining - if utterly puerile - back and forth, but its peak came when Grimmy got a little creative.
“How can you say that I ain’t fucked Syco’s mum” he began, before hollering “when she left her knickers at mine!” and pulling out a pair of women’s underwear from his pocket. Sometimes clashes are won with bars, flows and exposure; sometimes a well-placed mum bar is literally all it takes…
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Lethal Bizzle vs N-Dubz (As picked by Paul Gibbins)
Probably one of the more leftfield choices in this list, Lethal’s response to Dappy’s Tarzan freestyle dropped at a time when barely anybody was making war dubs or diss tracks in the scene.
Spitting over an N-Dubz beat in what looks like his conservatory, Bizzle opens his diss in particularly blunt form, asking “Dappy, why you’re such a crackhead? Used to be cool but not since your dad’s dead”.
After turning his attentions on Tulisa for a while he launches into an absolutely hilarious singing outro, expressing a seemingly genuine concern for the lifestyle of Dappy’s mum. It’s not big, it’s not clever, but it’s definitely really, really funny.
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Ghetts vs Tempa T (As picked by Paul Gibbins)
If looks could kill…
When Ghetts and Tempa T clashed on Westwood there had been some animosity between Tempz and Ghetts’ friend Griminal over the use of the catchphrase “it’s a lot”. A beef which ultimately ended with Griminal having a bottle smashed over his head at Eskimo Dance.
At this point, though, there had been some friction throughout the set before Ghetts launched into “it’s a lot, it’s a lot, I swear you man borrowed that from Josh”. Check out Tempz’s face in the background. Do you think he liked it?
Ghetts would go on to reference this clash in his verse for Wiley’s Skillzone, claiming “nah you don’t want it with that Westwood Ghetts. Stoney on my headtop, MCs ganging up, I’ll spin ‘em all over a Westwood set”.
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Words: Alex McFadyen, Will Pritchard, Paul Gibbins