#ThrowbackThursdays Celebrating unity with 'Orchestra Boroughs' from @WongWilliams, @JMEBBK, @Flirta_D and Crazy Titch
Author: Daniel David | Thursday 6th February 2020
Sometimes we just need a bit of unity. Especially in times of turmoil. And we as a country have had a lot of it as of late, the election in December, leaving the EU, fears of the Coronavirus, gentrification everywhere. Sometimes we just need a person to bring us together. And in 2004, Mr Wong was that person.
In 2004, south London MC Mr. Wong brought together MCs from different parts of London for the Channel U classic ‘Orchestra Boroughs.’ Channel U was dominated by all star tracks, but a lot of the time, these songs were area specific, sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. This was before the internet was so prevalent, and sending verses by E-Mail was a little harder, so MCs made music with people they knew and people in surrounding areas. But Orchestra Boroughs was explicitly representing different parts of the London Map, with Mr. Wong on the intro proclaiming he was getting MCs from every ends.
The song kicks off in south-east London with Peckham’s Mr. Wong and a couple quick cameos in the video from J2K and Bashy. Decked out in Adidas, Wong spits with an eclectic flow with content ranging from being Chinese, liking black food and black girls and not being afraid to say what he believes in. Mr. Wong had a crazy amount of charisma. If he came out now he would blow up off social media without even making music.
The segue between the end of Wong’s verse and the beginning of the next MC might be one of the best ever recorded, as Mr Wong finishes his verse, Crazy’s adlibs start, building anticipation for his arrival. The video switches to east London as Titch comes through with a flurry of energy. Sporting a denim suit, Titch spits 32 bars all based around the differences between ‘your crew’ and ‘my crew.’ Titch really excelled on this song, producing a memorable verse. It is crazy to think what the UK scene would be like were it not for his incarceration, the song that was just released on his birthday shows that he would have fit right into the current scene.
Things take a more Serious turn (see what I did there) as JME, representing north London, makes one of his first appearances in a video. Spitting about Nike Air Dunks and Akademiks tracksuits, Tottenham's JME rocks his trademark durag and spits his iconic ‘Serious’ bars in a skatepark with skateboarders performing tricks around him. This level of aggressiveness is not something we are used to from JME as much these days, but was common in his music in those days.
And finally, the part I will never forget watching for the first time; when the video heads towards north-west London. I first saw this video in my friend’s living room, because he was the only one with Sky. Seeing Cricklewood station and seeing people we know was a huge surprise. And we went nuts, with gun fingers in the air as we jumped around; it was a real moment. Flirta comes through spitting on the platform at Cricklewood station, and he is spitting. We get some classic sound effects, but he has polished bars on this. I feel like people get caught up with the noises and forget that Flirta could actually spit.
This tune was a Channel U classic, it is everything you wanted in a Channel U video: low budget but memorable, hyperactive, fun, full of energy, a little rough around the edges. Everyone on the song had the opportunity to shine and bring recognition to their respective part of London with plenty of cameos from other artists. Mr. Wong certified his status as an old Grime legend with the track, Titch exhibited why he was such a powerful force within the Grime scene, JME showed a glimpse of what would go on to make him one of the most unique voices in Grime and Flirta showed he could spit when people thought it was just about noises. And most importantly, this tune can still get people hyped to this day!
We take it for granted how easy it is now for artists from different areas, even different countries, to make music together now. But it wasn't so commonplace in the early days of Grime. Mr Wong, by bringing these MCs together and allowing them to represent their respective areas, created a song that would stand the test of time; one that would go down in the annals of the genre. And a track that still bangs.