Big Narstie chats to SteveO about new track and ROTW’The BDL Skank’ and giving student lectures
Brixton-born Tyrone Lindo, better known as Big Narstie, was as well-known as a prolific YouTuber as he was for his output as a grime MC. His most popular video series was the agony aunt-style Uncle Pain videos, many episodes of which racked up several hundred thousand views. He frequently described himself as the biggest MC in the grime scene — a reference to his ample physique — a theme he often used and made light of in his rhymes.
Big Narstie first made an impression on the grime world in 2003 as a member of the N Double A crew, who put out a steady stream of singles and mixtapes in the mid-noughties under their own steam. They made some sizeable waves in the London grime scene, but it was Narstie’s signing to independent urban label Dice Recordings in 2006 that gave him a wider exposure, most notably his vocals on P Jam’s so-called “grindie” rework of Coldplay’s “Trouble.” Another effort from 2006, a tongue-in-cheek dis track between Narstie and fellow N Double A member Solo entitled “Brush Man,” found its way from the pirate to the legitimate radio stations, such as Kiss and Radio 1 Xtra.
The North West London trio N-Dubz were rising to prominence around this time, and some confusion between the two groups arose due to N Double A often abbreviating their name to N Dubs. Instead of dis tracks flying back and forth between their respective boroughs, the two groups decided to air out their disagreement on a collaborative track and video, N-Dubz vs. N.A.A, which was an instant hit on the scene and was included on N-Dubz’ platinum-selling debut album Uncle B.
Big Narstie continued to put out several semi-official mixtapes and free downloads throughout the late 2000s and into the 2010s, one of which, 2012’s Pain Overload, paved the way for the release of his first official EP later that year, #Pain. It entered the iTunes U.K. hip-hop chart at number five, helping him to pick up the 2012 Urban Music Award for Best Grime Act ahead of well-established artists such as Skepta and Lethal Bizzle. He would go on to scoop the award again the following year.
After a switch to the WagWan label in 2013, Big Narstie released What’s the Story Brixton Glory, Vol. 2, a sequel to an earlier EP from 2008, on which various Brit-pop classics by bands such as Oasis and Coldplay were cranked up to 140 bpm and given the bass-heavy grime treatment. He was also nominated for the MOBO award for best grime act later in the same year, but lost out to fellow South London MC Stormzy. What was perhaps his highest-profile collaboration came in 2015, with U.K. garage veteran Craig David. His first release since 2010, “When the Bassline Drops” peaked at number 12 on the U.K. singles chart and was the lead single from David’s sixth studio album, Following My Intuition, in 2016.