It’s been nearly two years since UK grime rapper Stormzy was invited by Oxford University to speak at their Oxford University Guild, where he spoke about the inherent sexism within the grime scene, most obviously within the lyrics being written by male rappers.

In his 90-minute Q&A with students and staff from Oxford, he touched upon the issue that UK grime has with portraying women negatively through lyrics and songs, noting that some of the language used in grime to speak about women is “embarrassing”.

I’m sure a lot of MCs are derogatory towards females but we’re not as bad as the Americans. Me personally, I say the odd b-word or ‘slut’ or ‘sket’ – this sounds so bad man now I’m saying it. I don’t know enough to give a proper comment cos I don’t want to say ‘we’re not that bad’ when we probably are. But, yeah, MCs stop cussing girls. I’ll have a word with the fellow grime massive.

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The Australian grime community is still quite young, and while it’s finding its own sound and beat, the music being produced here definitely takes inspiration from the British grandparents of grime. But has it also adopted its bad habits when it comes to being inclusive to women?

PEDESTRIAN.TV spoke with Fraksha – a Melbourne-based grime MC, who has been involved in the community for well over ten years.

Fraksha believes that although there maybe an “an odd line here or there”, Australian grime MCs don’t rely on degrading women when creating music.

I wouldn’t say there was a distinct problem with sexist lyrics in the music that’s being made here. The scene is in its infancy at present and lyrically it’s very much focused on the live arena, clashing, reloads and that competitive combative energy.

As the community in Australia is still in its youth, this means that MCs and artists have the ability to lay the foundations for an accepting and inclusive grime movement here.

There is the opportunity for crucial members of the scene to set the precedent that Australian grime has the ability to be progressive and not rely on tired tropes of rap and hiphop.

Fraksha tells us that a lot of the women involved in the Australian community are MCs and DJs, and women that are active in the wider community are acknowledged and respected for their work.

Of the women involved in the scene here most would be DJs who play grime amongst other genres. There are a few female MCs, some wicked talent, but unfortunately at this time not really any grime music [is] being actually released… that I hear of anyway.

From my perspective as someone looking in and as a fan, artists like No Lay, Lady Leshur, Lady Chann, Flava D to pick a few, stand alongside male artists and are respected as important contributors and cultivators of the scene.

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Stormzy’s shame of how women are spoken and rapped about by UK MCs has changed the way he writes, which is evident through the way he speaks about women in his music.

From 2010’s ‘Skengman Pat 4’ where he uses sleeping with someone else’s partner as a method of asserting dominance, and 2014’s ‘Lay You Down’, where he details intimacy with a woman, it’s understandable to see why he’d feel some embarrassment when his mum questioned what some of his lyrics meant.

Looking at his 2017 release, Stormzy’s moved away from relying on “cussing girls” to make good music, sticking to the call-out that he made in the session at Oxford.

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Considering Stormzy’s also being lauded as the artist that brought grime to the top of the UK charts, continuing on the work in the mainstream that artists like Dizzee Rascal and Skepta forged in the late 00s, he’s got the authority and ability to influence the grime community both in the UK and around the world.

He might be 23, but Stormzy’s much more than the man we see on stage.

Image: Getty Images / Andrew Benge