Week 4 – Popular Music & Meaning

This week, one of Grime’s biggest artists held a show in Birmingham that i attended. Globally recognised ‘Skepta’ attended a relatively small venue in Digbeth. For a rapper as big as Skepta is right now, i was surprised to find out that he was booked into such a small venue. Usually, big names in the music industry always hold shows at the Genting arena, O2 Academy or The Institute. Even the Skepta could have easily sold enough tickets to perform at these venues, the reason behind the venue choice may be due to its destination in Digbeth. Digbeth is a very creative area in Birmingham. It holds plenty of independant fashion shops and skate shops, and is also known for its underground music scene. Therefore, the crowd that will attend the show may bring a more raw, gritty edge to the vibe. Which is perhaps the kind of audience Skepta prefers turning up at his shows.

During the show, Skepta surprised the audience by welcoming some local Birmingham rappers that are big in the grime game named Sox and Jaykae. The audience responded in such a positive manner and it instantly made them respect Skepta a lot more for connecting the Birmingham scene to his big movements.

Grime is a very motivational genre. The BPM (beats per minute) of grime tracks are usually quite high tempo, therefore when you listen to it (depending on your taste) it could get you quite pumped up and full of energy. This positive, lively energy was very infectious and you could feel the vibes of the beats bouncing amongst the crowd.

Music can have a very converse, unique meaning to everyone.

“I may give a name to a specific piece of music, calling it “Moonlight Sonata” or “Ninth Symphony”; I may even say, “These were variations with a finale in the form of a passacaglia,” or characterise, as certain program notes ate prone to do, the particular mood or emotion this piece of music is supposed to have evoked in me. But the musical content itself, its very meaning, can be grasped merely by reimmersing oneself in the ongoing flux, by reproducing this the articulated music occurrence as it unfolds in polythetic steps in inner time, a process itself belonging to the dimension of inner time.” (Schutz, A. 1951).

The main way a grime track expresses meaning and emotion is through its lyrics. Some artists talk about their rough lifestyles, daily struggles and how they overcome them, and some talk about their toughness and the amount of money they make. So these different artists may mean more to you as you may relate more to their songs emotionally. However, Theodor Adorno suggests that the emotional feeling you get is false. That the song was not made to make you feel that way, it has made you think you feel a certain way based on the way you have perceived the audio.

I personally think that there are certain cases where songs are supposed to make you feel the way you feel when listening to them or witnessing them be performed live. Especially when it comes to the genre of grime. Just based solely on the energy and similar human behaviours during the live set at Skepta’s show proved that the emotional effect it had on its listeners was shared. However, in other examples, their may be songs that listeners will really appreciate the instrumental arrangement of, yet  others may feel more emotionally involved with the lyrics and vocals of the artist/song.




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