Across the Atlantic, North London artist Skepta is not quite a mainstream household name yet his street-smart blend of hip-hop and grime is now three albums deep, with a fourth just around the corner. The MC/producer has a substantial UK following.
A couple of weeks ago a track from his latest album, “Lights, Camera, Action” went up on the Internet, igniting a somewhat unusual chain of events which now links him to one of the world’s biggest music labels and one of their biggest stars.
The track in question “Dare to Dream” was put up on YouTube last week but inexplicably disappeared, only to be replaced by a copyright complaint notice courtesy of Universal Records.
Skepta had no idea why, but that would quickly change.
“Just got a f*%king CRAZY email,” Skepta tweeted last Thursday.
“I don’t know if I should be angry or privileged. This explains why the f*%k YouTube took ‘Dare To Dream’ off.”
It happened like this.
After “Dare to Dream” was put up on YouTube one of its early listeners was Jimmy Iovine, founder of Interscope records. Recognizing quality, Iovine had plans in his mind for Skepta’s track so, with help from parent company Universal, they had YouTube remove the song on copyright grounds.
Armed with cash Interscope approached Boy Better Known, a group and record label founded in 2005 by Skepta and the team behind Dare to Dream.
“Being in an industry where money talks, everybody involved in the ‘Dare To Dream’ project came to a conclusion to sign it to Interscope,” says Skepta.
So who is the lucky recipient of the track? None other than Interscope giant Eminem.
“I overly love the song but at the same time I do understand Eminem together with the ‘Dare To Dream’ chorus will be absolutely f*%king CRAZY,” says Skepta.
While the rest of the track has a distinctly UK urban flavor, the chorus has undoubted international appeal. With Eminem on board it will be huge. Well spotted Jimmy Iovine.
So what happens to Skepta’s original version, is it now resigned to a locked box? Well not quite. Although Universal are taking them down quickly, copies are springing up on YouTube and being shared on file-sharing sites.
“So if you’ve already radio ripped my version of ‘Dare To Dream’ this will be the first time I say ‘WELL DONE’,” Skepta concludes.
Skepta did not respond to a request for comment.