Genre in Focus: Grime

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In the 21st century grime, has taken over as one of the leading music genres in the UK, it has given way to many musicians such as Stormzy, Skepta and Wiley who have made their mark in music and cultural history. However, grime is more than just a genre of music: it’s a form of political and social rebellion. It originated in the council estates in London and became a genre that gave a voice to the otherwise marginalised people in society. By giving a voice to these individuals it encourages many grime artists to openly discuss the troubles of working-class life, including gang and knife crime. Grime is considered the 21st century’s version of punk as it challenges contemporary music in production and lyrical approach much like punk. It is London’s ‘Fuck Da Police’. It is one of the primary genres to give the silenced a voice. It energises a disillusioned section of society and welcomes them with open arms. It is one of the best genres to come out of this century. Grime descended from Jamaican dancehall, UK garage, jungle and US hip-hop, it is amazingly unique and complex genre which features some of the best lyricism you will ever encounter. Notable in P Money’s ‘No One’, its 2 minutes and 44 seconds featuring P Money rapping straight throughout and only consists of one verse but discusses many issues. This is a key example of the amazing musicality of grime artists who are able to provide astonishing lyricism without needing to add any special effects.

Grime brings the discussion of racism and discrimination to the forefront, most seen in South-London grime artist Dave’s album Psychodrama, specifically in his song titled ‘Black’ which addresses racism in today’s society. Lyrics such as “It’s workin’ twice as hard as the people you know you’re better than” exemplify the racism that many black Britons face in this country. Grime questions government authority and represents the voices of black Britons when no one else will, it is a genre that produces meaningful messages mixed with club bangers making it a hit especially with the student population.

Many grime artists have become influential in encouraging young people to vote, Stormzy is a key example as he regularly promoted across social medias the importance of young people turning out in the election. Influential grime artists almost take on the role of educating the youth in society on the true nature of politics, allowing them to decide their future. This has greatly impacted the recent elections which has seen a rise in youth turnout and has been titled as the “grime generation”. Skepta says “I’m not a rapper, I’m an activist” and this is certainly true, grime artists have taken it upon themselves to inform the truth of the inequalities between race and class in Britain, making this so much more than a genre of music, but a revolution. A recent study showed many grime fans feel the genre is still perceived negatively by non-grime fans and this is certainly true with the elder generation taking it as music that “promotes violence”. But grime is far from promoting violence, it promotes individuality, self-expression and freedom to those who may often feel stuck in their place in society. Grime has changed the face of London and as it slowly becomes mainstream it is bringing the true political issues of working-class and black lives to the forefront.

Here are some grime artists you should be listening to:

  • Stormzy
  • Skepta
  • AJ Tracey
  • Wiley
  • P Money
  • Dave
  • Giggs

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Editor 2020/21 and a History student with a Britney Spears addiction.

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