dot rotten, grime

An analysis of Dot Rotten’s recent run of diss tracks and more!

In Grime by Cammy Thomas

Like the Grinch in the classic Dr. Seuss’ ‘The Grinch who stole Christmas’ Dot Rotten, aka Zeph Ellis when in producer mode, morphed into the Grinch who came to steal Grime, with the sole purpose of turning the genre inside out by sending for just about everyone with a series of scathing war dubs. It’s fair to say Dot is vexed, and his one-man mission to slew Grime’s main players most likely began bubbling up when he went to war with his former OG’z crew member; P.Money. Just as we were all recovering from the heat of that beef, Dot decided to send for West Midlands artist Jay 1 and exposed him for failing to pay him his £15k fee for producing Jay 1’s track ‘Million Bucks’. To add further insult to injury, it’s been stated Jay 1 failed to invite Dot Rotten to his video shoot and instead invited producer Steel Banglez for a cameo. The disrespect proved too much for Dot and saw him release ‘4 AM in the Morgue’ exactly a month before Christmas with his alter ego Zeph Ellis on production where he compared Jay 1 to a ‘BTEC Stormzy’.

Whoever thought Dot had got the rage out of his system was mistaken – he was only just getting started! He paused to reload on ammo and came back to spray 5 days later with the track and video entitled, ‘Original Real Talk.’

With this release Dot didn’t have just one target in his aim, rather he did the lyrical version of Tony Montana in the last scene of Scarface, and fired shots at everyone he felt had taken liberties. Dot also divulged how he didn’t think he got the credit he deserved on his production work for Aitch, Wiley, Stormzy, JME, Ghetts, Bugzy Malone and Skepta. 

He unleashed his frustrations stating he’s “Done with the humble approach, and advises to run from the smoke.” 

On December 20th, Dot Rotten lined up his aim at JME, putting a fresh spin on the JME classic ’96 Bars of Revenge.’ When listening to Dot’s sends, it’s clear his ability to accurately mimic his adversaries’ style and flow is a talent in and of itself, which he displays with the bar “Man don’t care bout you when you spit” taking JME’s own lyrics and weaponising them against him. 

Not even the temptation to nyam turkey and down Guinness and rum punch could keep Dot Rotten away from the studio… even on Christmas day Dot released the track, ‘What Does It Take.’ Not even Christmas day brought a temporary truce, as Dot dissed Grime platforms such as GRM daily and Link up TV and demanded to be shown respect. Your turkeys weren’t burning in the oven everyone! All that smoke coming from your kitchens was sent by Grime’s very own Santa Crud-mas!! Dot Rotten attempted to draw JME out again on Boxing Day, with ‘19th God’ which included the lyrics “JME gonna pee in his bed…I ain’t ever seen a Teletubbie with a skeng” (referring to the selfie Skepta posted dressed as a Teletubbie with his adorable baby girl on his lap, on Christmas day.) 

The ante was upped with Dot’s release of ‘Dot vs BBK vs Wiley’ which is one of the more creative dubs in this historic Grime war, as Dot leveled up by releasing a 3 in 1 diss track which begins with Dot taking aim at Boy Better Know as a collective, repeatedly asking why they would include a rapist in their crew (alluding to BBK member solo 45’s court case). 

The second part of the dub fully mocked it, by using Wiley’s worldwide hit ‘Boasty’ as the instrumental. The last part of the dub ‘Warning Shot’ is Dot in assassination mode – he’s taking no prisoners and he’s not playing, as he switches to an erratic flow of fury as he states he thinks Wiley should stick to dancehall and he is here to bring “Gangster Grime” from south West London to the masses, and also proclaims himself, “The king of the Grime scene.”

Godfather vs King of Grime?

There is no doubting that Dot Rotten (who should be respected for his contribution in solidifying the foundations of Grime since 2004, whether you think he is mad or not) has been the ignition Grime needed to bring clash culture hurtling into a new decade, which allowed old Grime heads to reminisce in the nostalgic days of Grime clashes, as far back as Kano vs Wiley, Skepta vs Devilman, Shystie vs Fury or Wiley vs Lethal B and in recent times, Chip vs Bugzy Malone. It also introduces the new generation of Grime heads to the essence of Grime and the sport of clashing. 

In addition to Dot dropping the aforementioned track, ‘Dot vs BBK vs Wiley’, he also fired shots at Wiley with the dubs ‘Eskimo Dance’ and ‘Bars Up’ where he slowed the pace right down. But his blows remained just as harsh, as he consistently mentions how Skepta likes to wear dresses. Who better to reply to Dot’s rotten revenge on the scene than The Godfather himself, who infamously clashed the seven-strong crew The Movement, back in 2006. 

To Wiley, clashing is like the training grounds – he gets to flex his lyrical dexterity in the training arena, and it’s here he is in his element as he indulges in combative competition. So Wiley pulled up in his night bus to reply to Dot’s five sends after a deafening week of silence from the original target – JME.

Wiley answered Dot’s send with ‘Curiosity killed the Cat’ using the theme tune to the classic TV soap ‘Sons & Daughters’ on the intro. Wiley’s flow sticks to the blueprint and essence of Grime. His words are delivered in machine-gun style staccato, that land as swift but powerful jabs. Stand out bar that had me howling was, “Dot Rotten is vegan today, but by tomorrow that man is chicken!” incorporating the all-important comedic element, which has always been a defining trait in Grime, serving as comedic relief, a stark contrast to the brutal lyrics. 

Dot Rotten responded to Wiley with the catchy ‘Curiosity killed the Wiley cat” spitting raw and rude pars, which some MCs felt were a step too far. For this reply, Dot shelled over Ruff Sqwad’s classic ‘Pied Piper’ instrumental, cussing Wiley, his family and Wiley’s BBK affiliates JME and Skepta. With Dot Rotten firing so recklessly because, well… man don’t care (bout all that), strays were bound to land and wound bystanders and prompt them to reply, enter the fray Jaykae. 

It’s no secret that JayKae and Wiley don’t see eye to eye and often have words, but when Dot Rotten made it clear he also deemed Jaykae as an enemy, the Birmingham MC decided he would have to ‘Shush his nemesis’. With Dot Rotten in beast-mode, of course, he replied to Jaykae, after all this was slewing season for Dot! Meanwhile, Wiley dropped a second dub for Dot Rotten titled, ‘Disrespect’, and in my opinion, this dub best represents the true essence of Grime. It’s skippy, manic and menacing. In short, it sounds like one of the Looney Toon cartoon characters grew fangs and took speed!! The relentless energy of the track reminds me of Tempa T’s ‘Next Hype’, and I’ve been rinsing it non-stop since it dropped. Any diss track that opens with “Suck your mum and your eediyat status, you’re not Eminem f*ck all the abolishing chambers…” is going to be on a madness.

DING! DING! Half time, time to change your mouth guards before joining us for round 2! To be continued…