Grime Gaining Fame

Stormzy, performing in Benicassim, Spain on July 13, 2017.

Stormzy, performing in Benicassim, Spain on July 13, 2017.

Grime, as a culture and a music style, originates from England but has recently gained a lot a traction in the States. This may be due to blossoming friendships between American rappers such as Drake and Kanye West with famous grime artists such as Stormzy and Skepta. However, while many of you may have heard of grime, what does it stand for and what does this culture entail?

Grime is primarily a music style that emerged in the early 2000s from east London. It is a music style that is primarily influenced by reggae but also contains influences from hip-hop, UK speed garage and jungle music. Grime, is not a subgenre of hip-hop as this reduces its wide variety of influences, but instead is a distinctive and vibrant form of music that has its own unique sounds. Grime is most commonly known as a music genre with a fast beat with rap lyrics and is known as an MC led genre, meaning that the rapper is freer with his lyrics and his music. What mainly distinguishes grime as a genre is the rhythm of the music, which includes harsh minimal sounds with heavy bass instrumentals and rowdy vocals. This type of music was mainly made for the club and is a reaction to the overproduced garage records (an electronic genre of music in the 90s in the UK). Unlike garage, grime allowed people to proudly create their own unpolished sounds and records. Grime artists often tend to end each line with the same phrase or a similar phrase, depending on the song and most grime artists tend to have a crew, some of the most famous being Boys Better Know, Newham Generals and Ruff Sqwad.

So how did grime make it in the music industry? In the late 90s, garage music started off on UK pirate radio stations such as Freeze FM and Rinse FM. Sooner than later, as grime was developed by the young, it grew to be listened to by the young. Grime music fans were mainly grime music producers, and the hotspot for grime culture was originally one of these pirate stations, Rinse FM, a station that now owns a radio license since 2010. The popularity of this music genre was aimed at a specific audience until one of the grime crews decided to sponsor and start their own event for grime. This event was known as the “Lord of the Mics” and was founded as a competition by Boys Better Know. This became an annual rap battle competition between grime artists/crews released on DVD from 2004. Soon, grime artists and crews made a name for themselves, the earliest ones being Dizzee Rascal and Wiley.  Grime snowballed in popularity, especially among the young generation it grew up with, that the artists in this genre quickly became headliners for many big British festivals such as Glastonbury, Reading Festival, Wireless O2 Festival and the annual summer Hyde Park festival. However, while grime music started playing out commercially, it did not stop it from flourishing in its original underground scene. A significant feature of grime music is clashing, otherwise known as battle rapping, as seen in Lords of the Mics, but also held in other major grime events such as the Red Bull Culture Clash. The Red Bull event takes place all over the world and involves 4 artists battling out against each other and see who generates the most buzz. In 2014 when the culture clash took place in London its primary focus was on grime artists, such as one of the 4 artists being Boys Better Know, against other different genres such as the A$AP Mob. This exposure to grime on such a colossal scale allowed grime to inspire the other artists such as A$AP which helped grime increase its popularity in the music industry. More recently, grime has gained even more popularity as Kanye West decided to bring up a bunch of Grime artists onto the stage at the BRITS awards such as Skepta and Stormzy.

Therefore, grime as a music industry is growing, and a lot faster than expected as it starts to hit the US. However, while grime is mainly about the music, it also encompasses a culture, one that embodies the youth; “Versace out, Nike in. Silk shirts out, tracksuits in.”  This look is meant to represent the youth the way they want to be represented, and to highlight that not all music and its culture has to be perfect, it can be unpolished.