Originating in East London, UK, in the early 2000’s, grime is a relatively recent genre in the “urban music” spectrum. With its origins lying in an almighty mashup of garage, drum & bass, house and techno music, grime has made enormous developments and contributions to UK urban music over the past decade and a half.
Until 2003, pirate radio was responsible for exposing the genre to London’s urban culture. Various DJs latched onto the harsh, gritty sounds of grime, until “godfather” of the genre, Wiley, brought it to the attention of the mainstream media in 2004 with his album Treddin’ On Thin Ice. Dizzee Rascal was also partly responsible for grime’s introduction to widespread media with Boy In Da Corner (2003), although the rapper went on to gain commercial success with his movement into the more marketable urban-dance genre, somewhat leaving his grime roots to diminish.
As expected with most musical movements developing from a hip-hop culture, grime has met some harsh criticism – mostly from some of the UK’s most prominent government officials. Kim Howells, ex-minister of political party Labour, naively accused grime music of creating a culture “where killing is almost a fashion accessory”, as well as rather misguidedly referring to such artists as “boasting macho idiot rappers”. However, despite the controversy surrounding grime, the scene has held its own over the past decade and has produced some of the most celebrated UK rappers to date.
Today, more and more people are listening to and talking about grime. It still remains almost wholly limited to the UK urban music scene, but has unveiled some of the most talented, exciting MCs the country has seen. Intricate, elaborate flows are spat over minimal, choppy, off-centred rhythms, making grime instrumentals arguably one of the most difficult types of beats to spit over.
28-year-old Kano, who has collaborated with global artists such as Vybz Kartel and Gorillaz, is regarded as one of the greatest grime artists since the movement began. His complex, sophisticated flow, compelling delivery and story-telling techniques, as well as his ability to speak lyrically on a variety of subject matters from social problems to street life, makes him consistently relevant and unfailingly relatable.
A more recent artist to surface in the grime scene is Devlin, aged 24, who first started spitting in 2006. However, he did not become well known within the scene until 2009 with his ground-breaking underground hit “London City”, which stayed at number one on UK-based music broadcaster Channel AKA for ten weeks. Devlin has since released numerous mixtapes and one studio album which have been prominent catalysts to moving the grime scene forward and opening it up to a wider range of listeners, thanks to his ability to pick a more accessible variety of beats for the mainstream crowd, without compromising his lyrics and flow.
Grime is now an influential and important part of the urban music scene worldwide, however it is still relatively unheard of beyond the UK. Dubstep, one of the most popular genres of music in the past few years worldwide, has grime to thank for its coarse, unforgivingly abrasive – yet entrancing and addictive – sound.
Have you heard about the UK grime scene before? Love it or hate it? Will you be listening to more grime after having heard the artists in this post? Let us know what you think by posting a comment, or tweeting us @DeadEndHipHop.
The opinions and views expressed here are the opinions of the designated author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or views of any of the individual members of Dead End Hip Hop.