Grime in 2017 flew to heights unimaginable to even those creating the Music, with an ever growing fan-base and a rich history to preserve that is sometimes not highlighted as much as the OG’s of Grime would like we sat down with creator of the early 2000’s DVD series “Risky Roadz” Roony Keefe to talk about pioneering Grime his relationship with the artists and to find out how that platform and the man himself fit into Grime over a decade later.
What year was Risky Roadz launched?
I first started messing about filming and then 2004 was when it properly got underway.
How hard was it for you to give up being a DJ to become a videographer having previously worked at Rhythm Division
Well basically I stopped DJ-ing club-wise and decided to just do a hobby and that, yeah the camera stuff I kinda just fell into it you know, it’s like it was a calling in a way.
At the height of Grime in the early 2000’s Risky Roadz was the pioneer of Grime Media via the DVD format, How much did Youtube affect you when it launched in 2005?
Like for myself and other content creators like A Plus, Ratty & Jammer, Youtube just kind of came along and in the beginning for me, I just used Youtube as a place to have the trailers; because we used to get charged band-with to put stuff online and stream a video on someone’s website. So t it was just a promotional tool, because in the beginning there wasn’t a business model for Youtube, no-one made anything out of it so we used it like that.
13 years later how do use Youtube, the world’s most popular video platform to elevate your craft?
I just use it as a music housing at the moment you know, like I haven’t really gone into the realms of fully utilising it, like a full on channel. I just kinda use it as a way to promote new talent and people that we find and then little formats that I come up with, like some of the formats I’ve created are still used today by other channels as well as myself you know.
You have filmed some legendary moments in Grime’s history; can you give us a few of your top freestyle or video moments from Risky Roadz?
Obviously one of them is the Ghetto Freestyle, that one is iconic; the other one is probably The Movement and Boy Better Know on Roman Road, that’s another proper one. One that always makes me laugh was when we were in the park for Risky Roadz 1 and we got dragged out by the police, just Rico and Flowdan talking always makes me laugh, that’s always a moment that, like they’re not spraying they’re just talking, but yeah it forever makes me laugh so that’s probably another one that I always think about still.
Pioneers will always open the doors for others, What has your relationship been like with SBTV Founder Jamal Edwards, GRM Daily’s Posty and Link Up TV’s Rashid & Ade, the UK’s leading Underground Music platforms to enter the game after you?
I’ve got nothing but love for them man, for instance I remember when Jamal was starting out, I used to tell him where to get the camera tapes from as there was a shop near me that sold them and we used to have conversations about best ways to export things for the internet, it’s just like I was a bit older innit and he was doing his thing so I’ve got love for Jamal and nothing but respect, same for Posty and that, like GRM shout me all the time to do stuff, I hosted one of the awards at this years Rated Awards and the same for Rashid, he called me in to do a directors cut thing in 2016.
Tell us how you built your relationship with certain artists and how it those relationships have blossomed into you working on projects together up to the present day?
It’s the same with all of the MC’s you know, you’ve got Skep you’ve got Kane, Giggs, Ghetts, Lethal Bizzle, Chip the list goes on you know, it just comes from being how I am, like we’re all in Music, we’re all just friends we’ve known each other for fifteen years you know, so sometimes you might not see each other all the time but as soon as you do its like you’ve never not seen them, you know what I mean it’s just years of like mutual respect, its more than Music its like friends and family stuff you know, like they’ll come round my house I’ll go round theirs
Would you say that there’s one thing that stands out even up to today that would make artists say you know what I don’t want anyone else to film my videos I want Roony to film my videos?
I think it’s because that aesthetic with the lo-fi look, like that Grime look is kinda like me innit. I own that aesthetic of the way the videos look, the videos match up to how they looked then but with a modern now, you know? Like. It’s that kinda Grime aesthetic of being on VHS even with a newer camera I think it’s just the look and the edit and the movement its kind of like the visualisation of Grime you know. Like where I’ve been there I can understand it and I can cut it and I can do it and that’s what it is, for instance Skep is like a crazy genius you know , when he sees something in his head he knows how its gonna be so he knows who he wants to do it. So I think that’s why I got the shout, with his projects, because he knew that with them two videos I would be the one to do them and we could pull it off. Yeah man when you’ve got good energies, you work well together, and where you know each other its like it just happens you know?
In between Risky Roadz and your come-back to the Grime scene in 2015 there was a long hiatus, what had you been doing in between and what was your morale like in terms of not being active in the scene?
I was still doing little videos here and there, people like Kronik wouldn’t let me just do nothing. Its just life, situations that took my head out of the game, I just needed a minute to recoup and work out what I was gonna do next.
It’s one of them things tgough, that once Grime’s got you it’s in you, it don’t let you go, like you cant just walk away or whatever, it’s in you like I said. My friends are all musicians they’re all rappers or producers and DJ’s or whatever you know, so its like it don’t let you go but it comes to that point as well where you have to earn and make a career so I was like “what can I do to do both?” I started to do the “Knowledge” like to become a black cab driver, because the freedom that it allows me to do what I want when I want. I can not go to work if I wanna do a video or I don’t have to do a video for a tune I don’t like cos I can go to work and that was kinda why it went quiet for a minute cos I had to study and literally like, throw myself into that but I was still doing bits and as I came to the end of learning the “knowledge “ that’s when I shot the “That’s not me” remix and then Kano called me to do ‘Haill’ and it just spiralled you know, now I did Chip’s “Scene” more recently and I’ve just finished shooting a tune for Krept and Konan with R.A.
Following on from the Hiatus, Boiler Room just recently dropped your 2 hour documentary on “The best of Risky Roadz”, tell us about the journey and creative process behind that project.
I got approached by a company called The Real Goal to put on a; ‘Best of Risky Roadz’ at the cinema and I compiled that film and basically the idea behind it was rather than to just have clips of all the old stuff, I wanted to have a little story to it, so my Dad is the guy asking me the questions.
I never really knew him when I was growing up, I didn’t meet him until later in life cos he was off doing bits and pieces and whatever, he recently changed his life around and became a counsellor, so that’s why the set up of the film was like that, cos obviously he had questions to things he didn’t know about the beginning of Risky Roads, cos he weren’t there and it made sense because me and him are really close now, he’s supported from then to now so this is his way of being a part of the journey. I wanted him to get the questions as a counsellor across and that kinda told the story of what it was and that was my whole thought process behind the documentary.
Boiler Room saw the film and they asked if they could launch it on their channel, it was great to work with a platform like Boiler Room as they are a massive platform in the Music scene and they got a fan base that is slightly different to my fan base so it’s a good working relationship.
You also took part in exploring Grime Worldwide in some capacity, talk to us about that experience and the influence that Grime has outside of the UK.
Yeah man it was mind blowing! Countries like Khazakstan and New Zealand South Africa and Australia, Japan like the list goes on Estonia, they all know Risky Roadz and Grime. Like literally when I started to do the show I just kept getting through to people from more and more countries, its definitely something I want to pursue further, cos it fascinates me to see this small scene that we created locally, for me anyway my journey started at Rhythm Division and then it branched out to everywhere else kinda like to see it go from there to a worldwide thing and every one knows me and my journey, its crazy! Like it’s a mad humbling experience just to know that people all over the world are paying attention to what we’ve done and are doing.
What was one of your best experiences/moments from that?
I think it’s just seeing the diversity of the talent you know and getting a freestyle in from like New Zealand and New Zealand shocked me cos it was like watching the New Zealand version of Slew Dem, they had that same aura and it was just mad to see that they understand the whole movement completely, like they get the Music, they get the BPM, they get the flow pattern, like everything, its just mad to see all of that.
You recently featured on a panel at the house of MTV to discuss the journey of Grime alongside some of the scene’s very influential figures in present-day Grime, How important to you is it that the fans not only enjoy what’s going on in Grime now but also get to learn about what went down before as well.
I think to understand the full movement you have to know where it’s come from, like the sound, although similar it’s a bit different, it was a bit rawer then you know. Obviously to be a fully fledged Grime fan its always good to know where it started , same as Hiphop, you can’t not listen to Raekwon Wutang and Rakim and you know like all of them you have to know the roots of it the Run DMC’s, you have to go back to go forward.
Talk to us about any projects that we haven’t covered or that haven’t aired publicly yet.
Yeah I’ve got a few formats I’m working on, one of them is where I wanna get my nan to interview the artists. I was working on it and saw Uni-Lad bring something similar to the table, but I’m still doing it regardless. Yeah that’s one that I really wanna work on because my nan’s got a special relationship with a lot of the artists as well and I wanna kind of bridge that gap of showing that middle class snooty world that don’t wanna take hold of Grime cos they think it’s a not a good thing that, hang on there’s a 79 year old woman who has grown up with everyone and she loves it and is involved in it so forget your stereotypes and just get rid of them, do you know what I mean?
Grime’s a positive thing and everyone who is in it are really great people, you know what I mean? Yeah that should be a fun one to do and then I’ve got a few other formats that I wanna push and pursue and that’s my kinda thing you know.
What do you love about today’s Grime Scene
Phwoah that’s a tough question! I think I like the no-holds-barred aspect, there are no boundaries, we can do what we want in a sense, you know like if I wanna do something that’s out there visually, people are more willing to do it because you know why now, you know what I mean? There’s another audience that can watch as well so it’s kinda like you can expand everything that’s what I like about it.
Where would you like to see Grime in 2022?
Growing and growing and growing bruv just keep growing like constantly growing to be a proper worldwide sound and us lot still doing what we’re doing, smashing up the charts and shutting up the critics who are saying “its only a five minute wonder” and like “it’s killing the charts now but we’ll be back to Rock and that soon” and “Pop will be killing the charts” Nah I want it to show that this is how the UK is now and all the other countries continuing to look in and see what we’re doing and us influencing them the way that other countries have influenced us over the years you know what I mean?
What does this year hold for yourself and Risky Roadz?
Just gotta keep grinding you know, I wanna do the album I wanna do the Risky Roadz 3 and I just gotta keep pushing you know and whatever videos come along I’ll be doing them an all. I just wanna keep creating, and like I said the format with my Nan you’ll see that and yeah man I’m just up for working and just putting the graft in what needs to be done, you know what I mean?
To keep up with Roony’s Journey and follow what’s next for Risky Roadz follow him on Twitter at @RISKYROADZ
Lead Photo Credit: MTV Music Week