Topics covered in the module: Popular Music & Meaning, DIY Music Cultures
For many years, the genre of grime was seen as underground street music. Grime was formed out of the UK garage scene in the early 2000’s when rappers (MC’s) started adding vocals to the tracks. There are several criminal acts linked to grime, which has had a negative influence on the culture of grime music as a whole. “When grime was first hitting the headlines in 2004, many said it was the biggest thing to happen to British music since punk – and indeed it should have been. Grime has enormous potential, both commercially and artistically. But it’s always failed to live up to expectations, and violence is partly to blame”. (Ned Beauman. 2006)
Critical offenses date back to 2005 where an MC in his prime by the name of “Crazy Titch” murdered a producer “because his half-brother was “disrespected” in a song lyric” (Hugh Muir. 2006). Other cases soon followed, such as a grime show being ambushed by rival MC’s to beat up the famous ‘Wiley’ after he disrespected them live on the radio. Grimes first huge song that hit the charts was ‘Pow!’ by Lethal Bizzle and was famously banned from numerous night clubs across the country as it started too many fights due to its aggressive lyrics and ‘beefy’ beat arrangement.
The genre was formed in the depths of poverty, where besides the few that write about guns and violence, artists will often write lyrics about how challenging their upbringing was and how they have turned their lives around. “Grime is the reaction of neglected youths peering up at the exclusive, unobtainable futurism of the city from positions of poverty. Doused in anti-establishment slang, typical lyrics relay the gritty aspects of an underclass preoccupied with park bench apathy, gang warfare and drug dealing.” (Ciaran Thapar. 2015).
Overall, even with that history, I think people that are unfamiliar with the genre should see that there are more positives than negatives., Every year hundreds of new, young, up and coming artists break into the scene with incredible talent, whether its producing instrumentals for grime music or writing lyrics. Most of these kids that start taking music seriously would have been criminals or drug dealers that have chosen to change their lives. ‘Skepta’ who is one of grimes biggest names right now, admits during a verse of his song that he “Put down the cling film and picked up the mic”. Based on his current position in the industry, you could argue that many people idolise him, therefore, may attempt to follow in his footsteps.
Ciaran Thapar. (2015). The resurgence of grime music exposes a new form of political disillusionment. Available: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/02/resurgence-grime-music-exposes-new-form-political-disillusionment. Last accessed 08/11/16.
Hugh Muir. (2006). Rapper who killed producer for ‘disrespect’ gets 30 years. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/nov/03/ukguns.musicnews. Last accessed 08/11/16.
Ned Beauman. (2006). Is violence holding grime back?. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2006/nov/06/isviolenceholdinggrimeback. Last accessed 08/11/16.