Attacking and questioning social and political issues – where have we seen this before? That’s right, you guessed it – with punk.
Grime music and lyrics come from an extremely incensed and personal place producing tracks that question and probe social norms, expectations and racial politics through highly intelligent and impressive word-play.
The grime scene has been rapidly expanding over the last couple of years having emerged in the early 2000s in London, with current grime artists racking up millions of views for their quick-witted and contentious tracks online and filling out shows across the country.
After its birth, grime was set to be the next most influential facet of hip-hop to grace the stage, but was exceptionally cliquey in its presentation – being almost exclusively isolated to East London areas. It was broadcast over pirate radio stations and gigs were regularly shut down by local police.
Largely being produced in personal studios and homes in London, grime artists have been majorly anarchic in the music scene. Avoiding capitalisation and manufacturing, grime is associated with community, family and social change. We haven’t seen a more brutally candid genre of music since punk – but even punk bands ended up feeling somewhat manufactured and contrived. Grime, it seems will never let itself be constructed by corporations; it remains underground and niche even with thousands upon thousands of people rallying behind contemporary artists such as JME, Stormzy and Skepta.
Grime is largely associated with violence, however which may be holding it back somewhat. There is a resistance from certain artists to involve themselves in the grime scene for this reason. But does that not enhance their anarchic, punk-ish relevance? An unwillingness to be chained to mass-produced labels and an unwavering honesty mean that grime is starting a new movement of backlash to the oppressive systems of contemporary society through home-made beats and backing tracks and enraged lyrics.
With the violent and hostile stigmas attached to grime slowly fading we are seeing a massive acceptance of the art-form over the last couple of years and grime needs to be supported and cultivated for its attempts to enforce justice, change and stick a finger up to the man. Move over, punk – it’s grime’s turn to enthrall the masses.
Photo by James Gould