Trim is a genuine one-off. An immediately discernable presence and personality, his distinctive, lopsided flow stands out in 3D from any backing track it’s wrapped around. Since cutting his teeth in the early days of grime, he has honed an inimitable and witty lyrical approach, seamlessly blending everyday observation with surreal humour. Witty insults cut abruptly into strange and imaginative asides; tales of growing up are paired with musings on video games, family, friendship and London life.
“I think in grime a lot of people thought you had to be a certain persona or say certain things to be a grime MC,” reflects Trim of the unique worldview and darkly humorous streak that mark out his lyrics. “Whereas I didn’t think you had to be – you just have to be yourself. I’m just in my own cloud, my own bubble – and I never want to come out, either, because if you try to adjust to everyone else, you’re not yourself. So I’d just stay away from everyone else, hide in my house and write the first thing that comes to my head.”
Within his self-defined world, Trim’s lyrics and flow are able to cut across genres, a rare versatility which has made him a uniquely adaptable presence as an MC, from his origins in the grime scene and a stint in seminal grime collective Roll Deep, to a prolific string of acclaimed solo mixtapes and collaborations with a host of varied names within the electronic music world, including James Blake, Mark Pritchard, Becoming Real and Dusk & Blackdown.
Growing up near Limehouse in East London, Trim first became involved with music during grime’s early days. He’d already spent several years writing poetry and hip-hop lyrics, and was inspired by the fiercely energetic and location-specific nature of the music that was being channeled from the pirate stations based just on his doorstep. He started sneaking into pirate radio studios during broadcasts, turning up uninvited and awaiting a turn on the mic to deliver his unique, already distinctively off-kilter bars.
“I was going on all these radio stations, and all the station mangers would always come and see me and be like ‘You’re not allowed on’ or whatever,” he remembers with a laugh. But Rinse FM founder Geeneus was one of the first to recognise his talent, and the young Trim soon became a regular fixture on Rinse. “He was like, ‘Just keep coming man, I just want to to hear you’.”
It wasn’t long before others started to take notice. Wiley, one of grime’s earliest architects and pioneers, asked Trim to join his crew Roll Deep in 2003, not long after former member Dizzee Rascal had departed on his road to solo success. He remained with the crew – alongside fellow scene luminaries such as Scratchy and Flow Dan – for several years. During that time he developed an infamous reputation for his barbed wit and skill during lyrical clashes against other MCs, and was a key presence on Roll Deep’s debut album In At The Deep End.
In 2007, feeling disillusioned with a shift among many grime contemporaries towards the pop charts, he departed Roll Deep to pursue his own personal musical vision. Over the subsequent years he’s been dazzlingly prolific. “I’m a bit of a weirdo, I don’t stop,” grins Trim of his non-stop approach to lyric writing. “I don’t think there’s anything else outside that for me – everybody has their hobbies and gets their thrills from certain drugs or other stuff, but for me, my biggest thrill is sitting behind a piece of paper and having music thumping in my ears.”
Since 2008 Trim has released a string of acclaimed mixtapes – including the raw and raucous Soul Food volumes and Monkey Features– that have further explored the many facets of his musical personality and his numerous lyrical alter egos on the mic. Remaining independent and developing his own approach has marked him out as something of a maverick in the scene that first nurtured him, but it has also enabled him to be unusually fluid and flexible in his approach. “Grime has changed in a lot of ways and it’s not really grime anymore now, compared to what we were doing,” he reflects. “But I think I’m the closest thing you’ll get to grime, because I haven’t changed to fit into this whole pop world. Still, my music’s not depressing or anything – it’s just reality.”
So with new studio music and his debut full-length artist album on the horizon, the future will offer listeners still further insights into Trim’s reality, while broadening outwards to encompass different styles of music and lyrical perspectives. Expect to hear far more soon from this most idiosyncratic and charismatic of musical personalities.
The Grove, Bristol BS1 4RB
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