GRIME IS NOT DEAD. THIS NARRATIVE IS.
Here we are. This debate. Yet again.
Is Grime dead? What future has grime got? Why do the next generation not care about Grime?
Aitch has recently come out and claimed, ‘No one younger’ than him ‘cares about Grime’. A bold statement. Nonetheless, is there any truth in this? If so, does that even matter?
Excuse me for the rather apathetic tone. However, this rhetoric of Grime being dead is staler than a loaf of bread in a student dorm.
It feels like every five years we come to this part of the cycle. The part where there’s no hope for grime. We had it before the rise of Stormzy, we had it during heyday of the funky house. We’re having it again.
One major problem with the ‘Grime is dead’ narrative? People don’t even know what grime is.
No, honestly. We see it all the time. Especially from the media. Dave, Aitch and J Hus – all have been called grime throughout their careers. How can a genre be dead if people don’t know what the genre even is?
It’s difficult. I understand that. Very rarely is a genre of music defined by a feeling. Grime is one of those rare genres. You can go by its 140bpm definition; nonetheless, not all music at 140bpm is grime and not all Grime is at 140bpm.
Grime is as much an attitude as it is a music form. The likes of Dave, Aitch and J Hus are children of grime. Never is this article meant to dispute their worth to the UK music scene. They are the future and it is an exciting one. However, how can they be called grime if they themselves shy away from the term? Grime is hype, raw emotion, adrenaline rushing, fast, competitive. Grime is British.
Unlike afroswing and UK rap, Grime stems from the UK; a birthchild of UK Garage and Jungle. In Grime, mc’ing is not just an artform but a competition; a battle royal. In grime, the DJ is paramount; a King or Queen. Afroswing cannot boast this. UK Rap cannot boast this. Only Grime can.
Grime has not died. Grime has evolved. The world has changed. The UK has changed. Grime changed with it.
The competitive nature of grime was ever-present on pirate radio and at underground raves. Fast forward to 2020: radio’s importance to the music industry is diminishing by the day and the rave scene has frantically changed. Most of the clubs which birthed iconic grime raves like Eskimo dance have shut down.
YouTube sets and more sporadic, but bigger, grime raves have filled the hole, somewhat. Nonetheless, elements which make the genre are still well and truly alive.
It was only two months ago when Wiley and Stormzy where the talk of the whole UK music scene. Their ‘beef’, no matter what you thought of it, was Grime. The instrumentals, for the most part, was Grime. The competitive nature of the battle was Grime.
Music fans of all ages were talking about it: whether you are 15 or 35, it was the hot topic. It captured the interests of everyone. Even BBC news. We also had dubs from Birmingham MC Jaykae and Wiley’s brother Cadell. Some might say it was one big battle royal… where have we heard that term before?
Stating that Grime is dead more so does a massive disservice to the MCs and DJs currently in the scene.
It was only three months ago that D Double E received national acclaim for his grime riddim, Fresh n Clean, in Ikea’s Christmas advert. JME was applauded for his physical only Grime release. It sold out. Link Up TV are doing a documentary on the epic Chip, Tinie Tempah and Bugzy Malone clash. Grime is still heard on the national airwaves through Sir Spyro. The very same DJ and producer who made Stormzy’s hit record Sounds of the Sir. A grime record. We’ve had recent releases from Ghetts, P Money and Capo Lee – three of the best lyricists this country has to offer. There is still a strong Grime presence at raves and festivals nationwide.
Sure, these artists are not headlining… and that is okay.
Grime is not dead. It’s not at the front of the music scene right now and again… that is okay. The music scene can be fickle. Very fickle. What’s hot today can quickly become yesterday’s memory. We’ve seen genres come in and out of the spotlight.
Take UK Garage for example. The mainstream success and recognition came between 199-2001; however, there’s still a crop of exciting producers, singers and promoters keeping that scene VERY healthy.
If Grime is going down that same route… then that is okay.
Grime was never made to be mainstream. It was never made to be universally acclaimed. It was never made to be the sound of festivals.
Grime is a depiction of the harsh realities of life through music.
The way we consume it has changed. The MC’s have changed. The sound has changed. What’s not changed is it’s importance to the UK: musically and culturally.
For that reason alone, Grime can never die.
Written by David Akosim
Label Manager, Radio producer and playlist specialist, David Akosim has worn many hats in his music career. He spent 4 years at Radio 1 and 1Xtra pushing underground club music, working with the likes of Logan Sama, Sian Anderson, Deadmau5 and TQD. In addition David was part of the 1Xtra playlist team curating the daytime sound of the station. As manager of his own label, Resonate Sounds, David is at the forefront of pushing new innovative bass music in the U.K