In amongst the cracks of a tired debate regarding the boundaries between grime and UK rap, there has been an uprising. While journalists and radio personalities - both on home turf and across the pond - try to place music into the correct boxes, there are artists are hard at work, paying it no mind as they expand the sounds to even more ambivalent pastures. Creativity rules over a flagship club night, tempo or dress code. Grime’s DNA fused with contemporary R&B sounds, the pulsing bassline of club music matched with the narrative poetry of hip-hop. To a new generation of crea-tives, the old rules don’t exist.
At the centre of this, sits the Mini Kingz collective, formed by EPXCS and Ragz Originale. Both creatives themselves, the former is a rapper, producer, manager, promoter and pretty much any-thing else that he needs to adapt to in order to keep the movement going, while the latter is an artist best known these days for his production on Skepta’s ‘Konnichiwa’ album - particularly ‘Shutdown’ which was nominated for an Ivor Novello Award last year. Dig a little deeper though and you’ll find that Ragz has been in this game a minute. Trawling through the Internet you’ll dig up his old self-produced rap mixtapes, you’ll find placements on Detroit rapper DeJ Loaf’s before-she-was-famous ‘Just Do It’ mixtape, and more recently you’ll see him injecting his sound into tracks by anyone from masked MC CASISDEAD, to pink-haired pop star GIRLI.
Mini Kingz formed somewhere during a transition from making Funky House beats to throwing parties in Camden. EPXCS came up with the name and had a logo designed. The first night - called Hype On The End - saw the crew go straight into the deep end. It was late 2013 and EPXCS had come across the contact details for Boy Better Know’s manager Sam, and decided to give him a call out of the blue to see if Skepta would headline their first event the coming February. “It was the maddest struggle because I’d never really done and event before, and I’m deciding I'm going to organise this mad event with Skepta,” EPXCS laughs. “It weren't no Ally Pally show, but it was definitely a success.”
“That’s the first time I ever met Skep,” recalls Ragz. The casual exchange of words would be of monumental importance to both of their careers, although it didn’t feel like anything out of the ordinary at the time. “I spoke with him backstage there. I had a CD with some beats on it - USB’s weren’t how they are today!” Ragz laughs. “Literally 20 minutes after the show was done I got a call from Skepta ‘I’m using this beat, and this beat, Number 304.’ He never used them in the end but that was the start of us working together.”