Grime music is a genre, which originated in the UK and epitomised real life in Britain. For a long time I assumed that Grime artists only existed within the UK. This was mainly because many of the Grime MCs I had listened to growing up came from London and other British cities. Little did I know that my bubble of naivety would soon burst.
A few weeks ago I came across a video on London-based Youtube channel Grime Report titled “American Grime Freestyle” by an Miami-based MC called MC Jumanji .As the video was playing on my laptop I became impressed with the way he managed to freestyle in time with the Grime instrumental, whilst adding his own personality onto it. After watching his freestyle I felt that it was important for me to get in touch with this American Grime artist.
I hoped to find out how this Miami-based MC discovered Grime and the reason he called himself MC Jumanji. I also wanted to know what made a guy from Miami choose to jump on the British genre as opposed to HipHop.
MC Jumanji is a very interesting name. Why did you give yourself that name?
“I actually had 2 names before Jumanji. When I first started, I went by Hollywood. I later changed that to Infamous. When I was younger, I’d use the word Jumanji as a way to cuss without getting in trouble. It was the most random word I could think of in a split second. So “Jumanji your mom” or “Jumanji on your face” were just funny phrases I’d throw out. When I was living in L.A., I was at a house party with some real Cali ravers who decided I needed a name, and Jumanji is what stuck. I’ve been Jumanji ever since.”
“There’s what tourists think Miami is and then there’s the real Miami.”
What was it like growing up in Miami?
“I’m actually not from Miami, but I represent it like I am. There’s a reason. My mother and I moved about the US, from Philadelphia, PA to Tallahassee, FL, to Rockville, MD. From 1st grade until I graduated high school, I went to 10 different schools. Since then, I’ve lived anywhere from Los Angeles to Atlanta. All that moving left me feeling a little unsteady about where I was from. Instead, I think I picked up a lot of pieces of everywhere and made it apart of who I am.
However when I moved to Miami 10 years ago, it was like all of the pieces clicked and made sense. I started doing music and Miami accepted me and supported me like nowhere has been able to. I think since being here, you definitely learn that there are 2 sides to every city.
There’s what tourists think Miami is and then there’s the real Miami, which is more an underground current of culture. The plastic Miami can’t compare to what the real Miami has to offer. Living here is gritty, dangerous, aggressive, addicting and easy to get lost in. Endless parties, endless beaches, beautiful women, fast money. it’s like the g’s playground.”
Hiphop is one of America’s biggest exports and so many people across the world want to be come HipHop artists. What made guy from Miami want to jump on Grime music instead?
“I first started hearing grime when I was a DnB MC and first started performing with Juan Basshead in Miami. He was a Dubstep and DnB DJ that challenged me to try and learn to spit to Dubstep. Obviously, because Dubstep and Grime are 140, he suggested I check out Wiley and Dizzee Rascal. I instantly became a student of grime.”
Do your friends in Miami think it is strange that you spit on Grime?
“Not that it’s strange that I spit on grime, just different. They like it though. In Miami we like different. And they respect me for doing my thing. Not worrying about what other people think. ”
Who were your influences?
“I used to listen to a lot of Immortal Technique, Outkast, Eminem and TechN9ne. Bone Thugs too. I’ve always liked fast rappers so when I heard Wiley and Skepta and Tempa T, I knew the energy was a new level. Lots of Roll Deep, BBK videos, Kano.”
“Grime is going global and there’s no brakes. ”
Your freestyle was posted on British Grime Youtube channel Grime Report, how did that happen?
“Think it was just luck. Had the right video for the right person at the right time. I hit up Lordie online and told him I had something different for him and he liked it. Lordie liked what it stood for. Grime is going global and there’s no brakes. So here was a video of an American dropping grime bars. What more of an example was there. ”
You have performed in a London nightclub called Fabric. How did the crowd in London react towards you spitting on grime?
“I wish we had better video of the actual show. My DJ Juan Basshead was dropping some nasty tunes from Slayer to Preditah. So I was able to jump in and push some bars and the crowd went nuts. I think most of them assumed I was an English guy trying to sound American though. ”
It must be great seeing a Grime artist like Skepta breaking America?
“What a lot of UK Grimeheads don’t really understand is that we don’t get the chance to see the big grime guys. We’ve always been the weird dudes who liked those British rappers. So for big names like Skepta and Stormzy to be able to come over and we get to see them for ourselves. That’s sick. And a chance for us as Americans to be able to get some heavyweight help in pushing the genre stateside. ”
What inspired you to create the American Grime podcast?
“I made the podcast to try and help connect grime heads in America, as well as make a pipeline for lesser known British artist to reach Americans who are looking for grime. Just wanted to be a bridge both ways. ”
How do you feel about the state of American grime scene?
“The American Grime scene is bigger than most people think. In fact, it’s bigger still than even I know. Through the podcast, I was able to connect to a lot more artists and fans stateside than I knew existed. And there are more still everyday. I think these bigger guys getting a chance to come over and perform is helping our scene unite and connect with those we didn’t know were out there. ”
Are there any particular American Grime MCs or DJs we should look out for?
“For DJs you should check Benzmixer from Orlando and Shiftee from NYC. Crowell from LowrLevls is a beast too. Dev79 from Pennsylvania is a fire DJ as well. He helps head an American Grime and Bass label called Slit Jockey that you should definitely be looking at. When it comes to MCs you got to check out Twisty from Baltimore, Quick Tempa in Texas, Bobby Moses in NYC, 3iJoe in Los Angeles, Werd2jah in New Orleans and my boy Argyle Bixby from right here in Miami. ”
“I can’t change my voice or where I’m from. So I keep on doing my thing. ”
Do you feel that you constantly have to prove yourself because you’re an American Grime artist?
“Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I know I’m different in a scene of mostly British artists. I am an American. Just like I’m black. It doesn’t matter most days, but sometimes, someone calls you “yank” and makes some comment about how my accent doesn’t sound right. But what can I do about that? I can’t change my voice or where I’m from. So I keep on doing my thing. ”
What was the concept behind the American Grime: The Takeover EP?
“The whole concept behind the EP was to show that grime is coming to takeover. I wanted it to be a splash for the hip hop scene and the grime scene. Not only is Grime here in America, but an American is here on grime. The world is now on notice. My first EP was “King of American Grime”. I don’t really care if it caused controversy. I’m here to make a statement. I’m here to change the game. ”
What was your favourite track?
“My favorite track is a back and forth collaboration with Argyle Bixby called Life of Sin (Preacher). I like the way we weaved our lines in and out. There’s also a nod to Skepta’s “Shut Down” in it. It just has a good energy and some good wordplay. “
After releasing American Grime: The Takeover. What is your next step?
“I’ve shot a video for the song F*ck All That and I have a new 3 track EP I’m working on. I also have some projects in the works with monsters from the UK and a song with Cotti the Don. I also have some big collabs down the road as well that I can’t speak on but when it’s out it will be a statement. ”
You can listen to more of MC Jumanji’s music below on Soundcloud but his American Grime: The Takeover E.P is also available on ITunes and Spotify.
You can also tune in to his American Grime podcast on ITunes.
Follow MC Jumanji on Social Media.
Twitter – @MCJumanji
Facebook – MC Jumanji
Instagram – @MCJumanji