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Logan Sama has been instrumental in grime’s endurance and success.

The genre’s self-instated ambassador and former Kiss FM resident forged his voice on pirate radio stations such as Deja Vu and Pulse FM in the early 00s, before landing a primetime slot on Rinse. It was here that Sama immersed himself in the scene, forming early allegiances with London’s pioneering MC crews. In light of his FABRICLIVE mix, which compiles 24 unheard instrumentals and features 66 MCs, we asked Sama where he sees himself in the growth of grime.

Late 90s to 2001: Pirate Radio and Steve Jackson

Garage was a product of the environment I was in: I went out clubbing and garage was in the clubs. Growing up in Essex there was all manner of club nights playing underground garage music, and pirate radio was a catalyst to that. Hearing someone like Steve Jackson play garage music on the Breakfast Show on the way to school made me discover Tuff Jam, DJ EZ, Heartless Crew and Pay As U Go. There was a real thrill hearing records on pirate radio. It just enticed me in.

2001: Rinse, grime and the death of garage

By the time I started DJing, I didn’t care about the technical aspect, I just wanted the same kind of reaction EZ got from a crowd. And I just wasn’t afraid. By the time I got on Rinse it was the height of Pay As U Go’s Champagne Dance era. I knew things were shifting away from garage and I can identify three important instances. One: the disillusionment with the saccharine, commercial conveyer belt garage that was being made. Two: the discovery of an underground garage movement that some people refer to as proto-grime, grime’s dark precursor. This movement was about experimentation; mixing Busta Rhymes instrumentals with a breakbeat track from Zinc. Anything went as long as you got a reaction. And that’s what grime is – taking influences from everywhere and making it work. Which leads to three: Boy in Da Corner. It became a realisation that I wasn’t playing a sound anymore; I was playing a culture, a reflection, a voice. That demo sounded like it was made on another planet. That’s the beautiful thing about grime; it sounds like nothing else in the world.

2005 – 2015: Residency at Kiss FM

I didn’t want to leave Kiss. I was comfortable doing the weekly show. It was really a thing of being marginalised too much. When I joined Kiss, it was such an honour. I felt like I was part of a pantheon of talent: EZ,  (David) Rodigan, DJ Hype, Hatcha. The station wasn’t making the most of these incredible DJs. I was trending number one in the country. I had more listeners than Radio 1 and Capital combined for my time slot. But they started moving us over to a digital strand of the station that was going to have zero marketing budget. I was in my tenth year, and it was the right time to leave. I took it as an opportunity to challenge myself again.

2015: Founding Keepinitgrimy

Keepinitgrimy is intended to be a hub for grime. The genre is so disparate, it needs a site to keep track of what’s going on. That’s the main problem: it’s become harder for people to keep track on who’s good and what’s coming out. I want to make it easy for people to stay in touch with music they feel something for. I came from an era where people would tape radio sets, go in to school the next day and get hyped on a new MC. It’s not about building a community, it’s about building resources. Skepta said something like, if people go through the door and learn all the secrets and cheat codes and don’t tell the people behind them: fuck them. They’re snakes. Grime is the abandoned child of garage. We had no business savvy, no experience. We learnt everything ourselves like estranged children. But I want to work with the next generation. And big up platforms like Radar, Rogue FM, Flex, Deja and NTS for helping these kids discover that pirate spirit. These platforms maintain the ethos of grime.

Present: The release of FABRICLIVE 83

I’ve always felt more like a curator or librarian than a performance DJ. There may be better grime DJs out there technically, but when it comes to the full package, I’m the best. That’s reflected on this FABRICLIVE set. No one else could’ve done it. I’ve created nothing on this CD but I’ve curated everything. It’s 24 tracks made specifically for this project. I wanted to retain the spirit, the raw feeling of grime, but up the quality of the sound. I mastered all the instrumentals and the MC acapellas are arranged like a pseudo-grime set. It’s a coffee table piece of grime. Grime as high art.

FABRICLIVE 83 is out now via fabric