Wednesday, 22 September 2004

The Rise of Grime

From underground to overground, it’s the flag we’re all going to be waving…

Since Dizzee Rascal clinched the Mercury Music Prize last year for ‘Boy In Da Corner’, and Wiley’s ‘Wot Do U Call It?’ landed, there’s been no escaping the great new genre debate.

Eski, 8 Bar, Sublow, Grime? While the latter seems to be the preferred choice (despite most ‘grime’ artists detesting the term), who wants to sit around discussing names when the music is as good as it is?

Grime is injecting the life back into what was becoming a dull UK music scene, awash with sub-standard R&B and hip hop. It’s the voice of inner city British youth that is been embraced by teens and adults alike. REAL soul food if you will.

The more obvious roots of grime can be traced way back to the days when Pay As U Go turned UK garage as we knew it on it’s head, DJ Slimzee even playing slowed down jungle so his boys could spit lyrics over it. Anthems such as the Wiley produced Know We set new trends. Even the likes of So Solids ‘Woah’, belong with grime’s seminal records. By 2002, a very definite new sound had begun filtering through. Now there are instrumentals, culmination’s of jittery, unpredictable, recondite beats and demoniac bass, some-what unexplainable backing tracks, the preferred choice of DJ’s, ravers and more noticeably, a new skool of MC’s.

Rather than imitate American flows and speech, these Cockney linguists (the majority of the top MC’s hailing from east London) are making a stand, accents exaggerating and switching between their favoured patois and street slang. They use their music as a weapon to gain a voice, a reflection of their world which we tend to ignore but that they don’t want to disregard anymore. It’s a revolt against meaningless, wasteful pop music. And It’s British through and through.

Championed by newer crews like N.A.S.T.Y and Roll Deep on radio stations such as Rinse and Déjà Vu, the scene has been bubbling and evolving. The soundtrack to London street life is now emanating throughout the nations cities, the rhythm of suburbia an indispensable fuel.

And It seems that with XL Recordings exporting Dizzee and Wiley to Top of The Pops territory, the major label pound signs have begun flashing. Kano, Roll Deep, Durrty Goodz (formerly known as Doogz) and Lady Sovereign are about to drop albums, and all, in some shape or form have ridden the grime wave. While the likes of Kano have worked their way up via radio and raves such as Sidewinder and Eskimo Dance, gaining fan bases and making street anthems, others, like Sovereign (and Shystie) ooze the influences but offer a more alternative take on the sound. Even rapper Klashnekoff is looking to get in the studio with heavy weight grime producers Terror Danjah and Jammer, a sight a lot of people never thought they’d see given the UK hip hop fraternities disdain for anything garage. But that’s one of grime’s most attractive qualities – an autonomous, professedly rule-free musical ideology.

So while we don’t know whether grime will be called grime by this time next year (G Hop anybody?)), there is one thing we can be pretty sure about – it’s got a colossal future and we can all be a part of it.

Words: Chantelle Fiddy

A version of this article appears in UMS Magazine

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