This week marks the 15th birthday of BBC Radio 1Xtra.
It’s a platform that’s broadcasted the best of black British music to every corner of the country and served as a springboard for artists like Tinie Tempah, Stormzy and Giggs to make it through to the mainstream. Over the years the station has also provided us with some of the most legendary freestyles in UK rap and grime, so how better to celebrate than with a selection of some of our favourites from 15 years of 1Xtra.
In no particular order of course.
Wiley, Chipmunk & Ice Kid freestyle – Westwood2007
Let’s take things back ten years, back to when Chip was just 16-year-old Chipmunk, introduced to the world by the Godfather of Grime, Wiley. Here we get unbelievable bars and energy from both Chip and his elusive counterpart Ice Kid. A decade later and this freestyle has achieved nothing less than grail status.
Nines – Fire In The Booth2013
North West London’s Nines AKA Nina with the Nina hit 1Xtra presenter Charlie Sloth with a freestyle so sick that after tireless calls from the rapper’s fans it warranted a part two. That dropped earlier this year on the campaign trail for his critically acclaimed debut album.
Mez & AJ Tracey – Mic Check2015
For this special edition of Sian Anderson’s weekly show, Nottingham MC Mez brought mad amounts of energy to the Maida Vale studios for his Mic Check with AJ Tracey. It saw the two go over the orchestra’s take on a classic grime instrumental for a magical and memorable performance.
Wretch 32 & Avelino – Fire In The Booth2015
Two forces came together when Wretch 32 and Avelino tag teamed on a freestyle which dropped just before the release of their collaborative mixtape Young Fire, Old Flame in 2015. Wretch’s verse is hard hitting but he doesn’t break a sweat as he flows effortlessly over The xx’s Intro.
Skepta – That's Not Me All-Star Remix) Live On Toddla T2014
Toddla T played host to grime royalty when Skepta, Tempa T, JME, D Double E and more stepped up to the mic for their remix of Skeppy’s self-produced single That’s Not Me – a track with helped ignite the flames of the last few years. The bars, beats and energy all take you straight back to the scene’s first golden era… so much so, it’s hard to believe this was only three years ago.
67, Youngs Teflon and 86 – #SiansStudio with Kenny Allstar2016
For the first time ever, South London drill unit 67, 86 and Youngs Teflon blessed the 1Xtra studios with a special UK drill set curated by none other than DJ Kenny Allstar – the champion of road rap and all things underground – for Sian Anderson’s show.
K Koke – Fire in the Booth Part 12010
This hallowed freestyle is almost a decade old, coming from the very height of K Koke’s career right before getting signed to Roc Nation by Jay-Z. As one of the most viewed freestyles in the country (an eye-watering 10.2 million views), it’s probably even been watched by Hov himself.
Skepta UK's biggest ever freestyle – Westwood2008
Ed Hardy Party and Microphone Champion era Skepta gave us this truly unforgettable gem when he freestyled for Tim Westwood over the ice cold Bless Beats-produced instrumental from Wiley’s Where’s My Brother back in 2008. An essential chapter in any grime primer.
#SixtyMinutesLive – Kurupt FM Takeover feat. Craig David and more2015
Here we have an all-star cast. Big Narstie, Stormzy, Shola Ama, Scott Garcia and Craig David all pass through for a sixty-minute takeover of MistaJam’s show anchored by Kurupt FM. It’s a video that showcased the crew’s clout beyond satire – accelerating their live bookings and kickstarting the immaculate resurgence of Craig David.
Fire In The Booth – The Movement2013
Wretch 32, Scorcher, Ghetts and Mercston reunited after six long years for The Movement’s much anticipated Fire In The Booth with Charlie Sloth. This legendary line up was certainly one for the books, plus Ghetts did what he does best and went straight into beast mode going from 0 to 100 in no time at all.