22 May 10 of the best football bars from UK rappers and grime MCs
Football bars hold a special place in the UK’s music scene. Some of these football bars, however, get slept on. So we’ve broken things down so you can understand them without needing football knowledge.
If you already know about what Strapzy meant when he said he’ll ‘drag man off the bench like Jose done Lingard’ then fair enough, but there are many who don’t follow the sport who could be missing out on the true meaning of some of the best football bars.
Our mission here is to explain the method behind the madness. Listed in the order they were released, here are 10 of the best football bars from UK rappers and grime MCs.
Youngs Teflon – Daily Duppy
‘I’m out here/ tryna bag all the lootey/ we on the other side playing real Call of Duty/ my young g that’s my smallest shootey/ he go hard for the team so I call him Rooney’
This wouldn’t really be a top 10 list about football bars without an entry from Youngs Teflon.
GRM Daily used was once called ‘Grime Daily’, but their old YouTube channel was shut down around 2011, so they rebranded under ‘GRM’. This was a Daily Duppy’s from the ‘Grime’ Daily days, but still one of the best freestyles you’ll hear.
Nowadays, you hear a lot of new slang in drill music, rappers extending words to make them rhyme with another. Tef has been doing that since way back.
Back in those days, Wayne Rooney was also at the peak of his career. Part of a trio alongside Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo that is commonly ranked among the Premier League’s best-ever sides, Rooney was once a ‘young g’ that went hard for his team, considered among the best during the peak of his powers.
Nowadays, Rooney doesn’t quite fit that description, but when this freestyle originally dropped, it all made perfect sense. Using Rooney to illustrate how South London can be similar to a gun-happy video game, as well as seamlessly blending in that element of coded slang that is now a huge selling point of drill music, reminds of how Tef has been a lyrical trend-setter from early on.
Margs – Mashtown Freestyle
‘I’ll run up in your mumsies and dump the steel/ leave her yard smoked out like she burned the grill/ with a big 4 5 you should’ve heard the shots/ I’ll turn his white top red like Berbatov’
When this freestyle dropped, Margs and Mashtown were some of the biggest rappers in the country, as he explains in Plugsville’s exclusive interview, which you can read here. Part of the reason he was so rated, was because he was capable of moments like this. Raw, unfiltered realness that has a crisp sound to it, which this bar about arguably Bulgaria’s most famous footballer, certainly does.
Dealing with the first part, talking about leaving someone’s yard smoked out as if they burned a grill is just plain rude. The detail in that bar is there for all to see, and then he comes through with a quick haye-maker.
Tottenham play in white, Man United play in red. Dimitar Berbatov used to play for Spurs, then joined United in a £30m deal back in 2008. The bar itself is crisp, but what stands out is the delivery. There’s just too much passion and enunciation in how he delivers these bars for you not to feel it. A definite classic.
Dru Blu – SBTV F64
‘My dargs got big tools that will crack a lorry/ yeah I’m Savage Robbie/ I got a team in the blue/ and I’m the boss, Ancelotti’
Operating as ‘Dru Blu’, after temporarily ditching ‘Don Strapzy’ because of the connotations that came with having ‘strap’ in his name, the leader of SE Dons absolutely tore this freestyle to shreds, regardless what he went by at the time.
This one has got a few football-focused gems crammed into one, with the bar about Carlo Ancelotti serving as the thing that helps people remember this iconic freestyle, even years later.
Back when this was released, in 2010, Ancelotti was the manager of Chelsea. He helped the Blues one of, if not the best team in England during his two-year stay, winning the Premier League and FA Cup. Strapzy is from Lewisham, where the roads signs and bins are blue, hence the name ‘blue borough’. So when he says he has a team in the blue and he’s the boss, he’s not just saying he’s a boss in the ends, but also that his team is best, and he is the leader of that table-topping pack.
For good measure, he squeezes in a bar before about a former tough-tackling Welsh midfielder that doesn’t just rhyme well, but also accurately describes the player’s style of play to a tee. In three words. Robbie Savage was a ‘savage’ kind of midfielder, and by simply reversing the two names around, Strapzy found a yard of space and somehow found the top corner from a tight angle.
Skepta – English Breakfast
‘My man are United like Giggs/ I will never leave my young Gunners like Thierry’
Another classic from years back, this time served up with a cup of tea and pork-free breakfast from Skepta.
Calling his team United like Giggs alludes to the one-club dominance Ryan Giggs was able to realise during his 24-year stay at Old Trafford. The man who had an eight-year affair with his brother’s wife was remarkably loyal to his employers, which explains why Skeppy said his team are ‘united like Giggs’.
Hailing from Tottenham, Skeppy referred to how Thierry Henry, an Arsenal legend, eventually left the club in 2007 after a hugely successful eight-year stay in North London. Before departing the club, Arsene Wenger reveals what Henry said to him before heading off to Barcelona:
“He told me, ‘look, we have a young team, we cannot win the Premier League. I’m 31, I need to go, I need to win, and I cannot wait for the young players to be good enough.”
So by saying he will never ‘leave his young Gunners like Thierry’, he’s echoing a sentiment that says, it doesn’t matter about accolades or flashy trophies if my team aren’t involved. You won’t catch Skepta switching sides like Henry to cash-in on the chance to win trophies whilst he still can.
P Money – The Warning
‘Your team against mine, I’m the grime scene’s Cristiano Ronaldo/ I will fuck up your left back’
Back when P Money and Ghetts (then ‘Ghetto’) clashed at the start of this decade, it made for a memorable back-and-forth exchange between two MC’s who would later become grime legends. One of the memorable tracks to come out of the clash was ‘The Warning’.
When this dropped in 2010, Cristiano Ronaldo was early-on in his Real Madrid career following an £80m switch to Spain the year before. What got him that then-record-breaking move, was his devastating ability as a right winger.
Ronaldo held no prisoners and recently voted Manchester United’s best-ever Premier League player by fans. A true legend, and one who did his damage primarily as a right winger during his time in England and early days in Madrid.
P Money doesn’t just stop at likening himself to one of the world’s best player’s he takes it a step further. Left backs are tasked with stopping with right-sided attacking players, like Ronaldo, so P Money basically says something along the lines of ‘I’m the best. Show me my opposite number and I’ll destroy him like Ronaldo does for fun’.
The delivery is a madness as well. It’s as if P Money enters Super Saiyan in that moment, because what follows after is straight fire. Ghetts went hard in that clash as well but that Ronaldo bar will always be remembered.
JME – 96 Fuckries
‘Call me a Rude Kid or a Maniac, but beats?/ I ain’t Sheringham like Teddy/ the only thing I Wilshere like Jack is lyrics/ I’ll spray whenever you’re ready’
JME, a football fan, who knew? In all likelihood, the Boy Better Know artist probably still doesn’t like football but was still able to put together a few over-your-head lines most football fans couldn’t.
The first part sees JME name drops two producers, Rude Kid and Maniac and uses their names to make a different point, namely, his beats are exclusive, teeing himself up to bring in a few former England internationals.
He turns Teddy Sheringham, a former striker, i.e. someone known for not sharing chances, instead taking them himself, doing the same with Jack Wilshere, reinventing his name to sound like ‘will-share’.
For good measure, the bar ends with ‘I’ll spray whenever you’re ready’, which only goes to show how it’s on-sight for JME. He will even enter spaces he doesn’t know much about and still make it sound better than someone with expert knowledge about football.
AJ Tracey – The Lane
‘AJ from the lane but it ain’t Tottenham, true say that my dad lived in Tottenham/ in my crib, man can’t chat about Arsenal’
First surfacing on one of his earlier projects, The Front, ‘The Lane’ birthed a few bars that would go onto become iconic.
The start of AJ Tracey’s ‘Mic Check’ freestyle saw a rendition of these bars, a viral moment which helped them become etched into the memories of many. The freestyle has over 10 million views, making it one of Link Up TV’s most viewed videos ever, whilst the bars have also found their way into many other freestyle and festival performances since they first surfaced in 2015.
The blend of aggression and simplicity has since helped these few bars turn events upside down for a few years now. When AJ drops these, you know a shutdown is about to ensue.
Dave – Peligro
‘Remember when man came through/ not one of them girls were flirtin/ until I just pulled up in a Jurgen Klopp BM/ that’s an angry German’
Giggs called in Dave for a feature on his most recent project, Wamp 2 Dem, and the rest is history. Easily one of the best verses of 2017, Dave didn’t waste a single bar, with one of the most memorable being this line about Jurgen Klopp.
BMW are a German-owned car company and Jurgen Klopp is a renowned for his fiery and eccentric personality as manager of Liverpool. Dave could’ve easily said something about his BM was expensive, amazing or some other positive description. Instead he called it a ‘Jurgen Klopp BM’, using the double mention of two German references while also using Klopp’s personality to describe how his car feels.
In the first part, Dave talks about how girls overlooked him, only to later flip the script by pulling up in an ‘angry German’, using the out-going personality of two-time Bundesliga winner and former Borussia Dortmund manager, Jurgen Klopp, to hammer home his point. Genius.
Headie One – Know Better – 2018
‘Know better/ anything shh shh/ excellent finish/ Mo Salah’
Reading those bars on a screen is a markedly different experience to hearing Headie One deliver it with his melodic, laid-back flow. But the way he inserted a reference to Salah into this drill anthem really was an excellent finish.
The way Headie One says ‘shh’ throughout is what makes this track, but that bar about Salah was effortless. According to Link Up TV, the OFB rapper said ‘shh’ exactly 46 times in ‘Know Better’. Put simply, the repeated use of the word ‘shh’ seemed to pay off in a big way.
This past year, the ‘Egyptian King’, Mohamed Salah, has won 35 individual accolades and lead Liverpool to club football’s biggest stage, the final of the Champions League. Everything he’s touched, has turned to gold, with the former Roma man scoring 44 goals in 51 games so far.
Not just a goal machine, he’s also known for excellent finishes too, like his trademark close-range chip or his Arjen-Robben-like-only-better ability to cut inside from the edge of the box and curl one into the far corner. He scores bangers, and Headie One knows this.
The bar works so well, name-dropping the best footballer of the moment behind two signature renditions of ‘shh’ and ‘shh’, makes this one too difficult to leave off the list. Simplicity at its finest.
Don Strapzy – SBTV Warm Up Session
‘I been hard/ I don’t care if you got a gym pass/ chest day/ I’ll drag man off the bench, like Jose done Lingard’
Strapzy took a little break from music but this refined dose of music we’ve seen him lately suggest he’s taking things up a level. This entire freestyle is littered with elite football bars like ‘I got rid of that Dutch like Van Gaal did Van Persie’, but this one about Lingard is arguably the crown jewels.
When he says he’ll drag a man off the bench, you think of someone getting yanked mid-rep at the gym on the bench press. Strapzy ends this by talking about an entirely different meaning of getting dragged off the bench to make you digest his original point that bit more.
In Louis Van Gaal’s final game as Manchester United manager in May 2016, Jesse Lingard came off the bench to score the winner in the FA Cup final. But that’s all he was, a bench player who occasionally shone.
Jose Mourinho has since taken over at Old Trafford and Lingard has blossomed, enjoying his best-ever campaign this past season as a first-team player. So Jose really did drag Lingard off the bench, turning him from a squad player into a first team player at one of the world’s biggest clubs and member of England’s World Cup squad.
Back to Strapzy. By combining the immediate use of that bar, about dragging a man off a bench press, with such a clever double meaning of what’s being said, like using Lingard’s rise in football, he demonstrated an elite level of lyricism.