Birmingham-born, Tottenham grime MC President T has always enjoyed a cult status in grime. His eccentric delivery and idiosyncratic lyrics may have earned him detractors as well as fans, but for many, including a number of his north London contemporaries, he ranks close to canonical greats like Wiley and Dizzee Rascal. He is considered one of the most important MCs of the genre’s early years, responsible for a style that was subsequently imitated and adapted by the slew of aspiring lyricists who came up in an era when Meridian Crew’s Monday night DejaVu FM show ruled the local airwaves.
In 2007, fans of the offbeat rhyming patterns that he couples with a uniquely British patois were rewarded by the arrival of his long awaited mixtape ‘Back Inna My Face Volume 1’ the release of which was owed in part to the efforts of DJ Logan Sama, who had championed his music for years on his weekly radio shows.
One aspect which distinguished that tape, and much of the MC’s output since, is the finely tuned ear that he has for a strong beat, an ability that is furnished by his close ties to legendary beatmakers like the Adenuga brothers, as well as other north London producers revered in the underground, like P Jam and Spyda Beats. That is no less true of his latest offering ‘T On The Wing’, which features a number of powerful, futurist beats alongside freestyles over coveted classics like Danny Weed’s ‘Salt Beef’.
The guest vocal appearances, meanwhile, are no less impressive, with grime scene elders Frisco, Bossman and Ghetto stepping up, as well as luminaries from the generation slightly below them, including Tower Hamlet’s So Large (formerly Solja Kid). Billed as the prequel to ‘Stranger Returns’, the album that he’s been trailing ever since his first solo outing, it stands just as solidly in its own right, and marks the end of a particularly barnstorming year for grime, as it continued its worldwide advance during 2016.
President T is an MC whose appeal will probably remain focused domestically, but that’s no bad thing, in fact his parochialism is what makes him so popular — he’s never tried to morph his style to better fit passing trends. Existing fans will be pleased, and if he gains new ones (viral star The Chicken Shop Connoisseur recently described him as his favourite MC), it will have been on his own terms. As the man himself says: “There’s only one President.”
Words: Alex McFadyen
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