Grime takes after hip-hop in many ways, and although the genre was born out of UK garage, one practice it learnt from hip-hop is the art of sampling. Eminem was already a platinum-certified artist when grime first emerged in the UK. However, one of his tracks was sampled for a grime instrumental that got many spins on London’s pirate radio stations.
The instrumental is called ‘Calm Down’ and was made by legendary UK emcee and producer JME. The song, which was a very popular backing track for grime emcees, samples ‘Who Knew’ from The Marshall Mathers LP, which was released in 2000. As an instrumental that got played regularly on the radio, Eminem and Dr Dre are both (technically) entitled to royalties from ‘Calm Down’ as they’re the music’s original creators.
However, as this was happening overseas on pirate radio stations operating at an underground level, there was no official regulation from record labels, so it went unnoticed. JME even sold the copies instrumental on vinyl and made quite a good bit of money from the track but again, it was all at such an underground level that the samples and remixes people were making just slipped through the net.
If US hip-hop artists were to look back at the origins of grime, they would see a lot of their music was flipped, sampled, bootlegged and then sold as a new instrumental on vinyl, precisely the same as JME did. There was a remix of ‘Thuggish Ruggish Bone’ and even the Terror Squad’s ‘Lean Back’.
Although JME did profit from Eminem’s 2000 track ‘Who Knew’, it would be next to impossible for Eminem to win a court case regarding the situation. To pinpoint every time it was played and on which specific station would be akin to finding a needle in a haystack. However, it’s pretty certain that will not happen, but it shows incredible entrepreneurial spirit from the UK emcee to repurpose an already popular song and repurpose it.
Below you can hear the original version, hear JME’s grime flip and watch a freestyle in which it is used.