Grime (music)

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Grime, also known as 8-bar, nu shape, sublow and eskibeat, is a style of British music that emerged in Bow, London. It was developed by teens of mostly African and Caribbean heritage, in the early 2000s, primarily as a development of UK garage, drum and bass, hip hop and dancehall.[2]

Pioneers of this stylized music include English rappers Dizzee Rascal, Wiley, Kano, Roll Deep, Lethal Bizzle, More Fire Crew, Tinchy Stryder, Ruff Sqwad, Skepta, JME, Jammer, Boy Better Know, Crazy Titch, Durrty Goodz, Newham Generals, Ghetts, Devlin, Scorcher, Wretch 32 and Chip.

Grime crews included Roll Deep, Boy Better Know, Ruff Sqwad, More Fire Crew and So Solid Crew.

History[edit]

Origins[edit]

Roll Deep, a well-known grime crew, performs at the 2006 Love Music Hate Racism festival.

Grime emerged from Bow, East London with its origins on UK pirate radio stations[2] such as Rinse FM,[3] Deja Vu FM, Freeze 92.7 and Major FM.com which were essential to the evolution of the genre. At this point, the style was known by a number of names, including 8-bar (meaning 8 bar verse patterns), nu shape (which encouraged more complexed 16 bar and 32 bar verse patterns), sublow (a reference to the very low bassline frequencies, often around 40 Hz[4]), as well as eskibeat, a term applied specifically to a style initially developed by Wiley and his collaborators, incorporating dance and electro elements. This indicated the movement of UK garage away from its house influences towards darker themes and sounds. Among the first tracks to be labelled "grime" as a genre in itself were "Eskimo" by Wiley, "Pulse X" by Musical Mob and "Dilemma" by So Solid Crew.[5]

Development[edit]

Dizzee Rascal and Wiley were among the first to bring the genre to mainstream media attention in 2003–04, with their albums Boy in da Corner and Treddin' on Thin Ice respectively. Dizzee Rascal garnered widespread critical acclaim and commercial success with Boy in da Corner winning the 2003 Mercury Music Prize.[2] Grime has received exposure from television stations including Channel U (now known as Channel AKA), Logan Sama's show on London station Kiss FM, and the BBC's youth-oriented digital radio station BBC Radio 1Xtra.[citation needed]

Grime is not an offshoot of early electronic music, but rather a subgenre that draws from a wide variety of influences. Early innovative artists such as Dizzee Rascal and Wiley were able to take the strong thumping drums of drum and bass, lyricism and vocal styles of hip-hop and alter some of the rhythms of dancehall to capture all three genre’s essences and add a new half-time, down-tempo dimension to the mix. The genre’s popularity grew exponentially in the United Kingdom, as people across the scene’s musical spectrum appreciated grime’s eclectic mix of instrumentation and subcultures. This hybridization united many different music scenes, allowing for it to spread in the same word-of-mouth and mixtape-based style as hip-hop, yet still appeal to fans of electronic music. It also paved the way for more electronic music artists to incorporate stronger African and Caribbean influences in the future. Unfortunately, grime never received the same attention worldwide that it did in the UK. Much like many other less mainstream forms of British electronic music, its main scene and fan base remained in its home, the United Kingdom.

Although grime is recognised as a creative and innovative musical style,[6] there are other contributing factors to its rapid and widespread growth in popularity; the MCs producing current grime music are overwhelmingly young as a group. The most well known names in the industry such as Dizzee Rascal and Kano both getting their first hits at age 16 with "I Luv U" and "Boys Love Girls" respectively, and the resultant package of "youth making music for youth" is seen as a crucial factor for grime's success.[7]

On March 20, 2013, a comedy drama called Youngers began on E4 and is based around a group of teenagers in South-East London trying to become recognised in the grime music scene.[8] Another series of the show is in production after being commissioned by Channel 4.[9]

From 2013 onwards producers started to create what they called "instrumental grime" and they battled in so-called "war dubs", as producer Footsie explains in this interview.[10]

In 2014, Meridian Dan reached #13 in the UK Singles Charts with his single "German Whip" featuring Big H and JME - the most commercially successful grime single in the past few years.

International growth[edit]

It was not until the release of his third album, 2007's Maths + English, that Dizzee Rascal experienced international acclaim. He was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize again, and despite the fact that the album was not released in the United States in 2007, it received high praise from international music critics, magazines, websites and blogs, including Pitchfork Media,[11] Rolling Stone,[12] NME,[13] and Rock Sound.[14] By 2010, he had achieved three number one singles in a row.

The 2005 release of 679 Recordings' Run the Road compilation showcased some of the most popular grime releases to that point, increasing the popularity and fame of grime and grime artists internationally. A particularly notable grime artist who has had success overseas is Lady Sovereign, who appeared on Late Show with David Letterman, signed to Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella Records, and whose "Love Me or Hate Me" became the first video by a British artist to reach number one on MTV's Total Request Live,[15] although her music has departed considerably from her early output on pirate radio stations, and she does not regard herself as a grime artist.[citation needed]

The international growth of the grime scene has also been evident in recent years with many popular grime artists playing on the urban music stages of the big summer festivals such as Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, T in the Park and O2 Wireless Festival in Hyde Park. Dizzee Rascal played at all these events in the summer of 2008.[16][17]

Musical style[edit]

Grime is typified by complex 2-step, 4x4 breakbeats, generally around 140 beats per minute, or sometimes structured around a halftime rhythm, and constructed from different synth, string and electronic sounds.[2] Stylistically, grime draws on many genres including UK garage, dubstep, drum and bass, hip hop and dancehall.[6] The lyrics and music combine futuristic electronic elements and dark, guttural basslines.[citation needed]

Grime predominately evolved from the UK speed garage scene and genre towards the latter stages, although it takes influences from other genres. It is young urban sound originating and pioneered from London and represents in such a way with many references and the way it ebbs and flows.[citation needed] According to Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker, grime has developed a fierce sound by "distilling" rhythms to a minimal style resulting in a choppy, off-centre sound. Whereas hip hop is inherently dance music, the writer argues that "grime sounds as if it had been made for a boxing gym, one where the fighters have a lot of punching to do but not much room to move."[7] Frere-Jones also states that grime has maintained a style distinct from hip hop, with clear African and Caribbean influences.[7] Hattie Collins supports Frere-Jones' analysis, asserting that grime is "an amalgamation of UK garage with a bit of drum & bass, a splash of punk and a touch of hip-hop thrown in for good measure."[6] According to Alex de Jong and Marc Schuilenburg, grime music also samples sawtooth wave sounds (chiptunes) from video game music and ringtones which had become part of everyday life in East London and other parts of the capital.[18]

Criticism[edit]

As with many similar scenes around the world, grime has encountered some criticism, especially from government officials such as Home Secretary David Blunkett who in 2003 called rap lyrics "appalling". Former minister Kim Howells made a statement in 2006 that grime artists were helping to create a culture "where killing is almost a fashion accessory."[19] Howells went even deeper into the issue, making comments that some grime supporters claimed to find "deeply racist", referring to popular artists and crews as "boasting macho idiot rappers".[20] A counter argument is given by Jeff Chang in an article in The Village Voice where he said Dizzee Rascal’s often violent and sexual lyrics are heralded as "capturing, encapsulating, and preserving" the life that he and his peers live on the streets every day.[21]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://thump.vice.com/en_uk/words/i-want-to-blast-my-record-in-chinatown-an-interview-with-fatima-al-qadiri
  2. ^ a b c d McKinnon, Matthew (2005-05-05). "Grime Wave". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2008-02-24. 
  3. ^ Campion, Chris (2004-05-23). "Inside grime". Observer Music Monthly (Guardian Media Group). Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  4. ^ Sturges, Fiona (2005-07-09). "A life of grime". The Independent (Independent News & Media). Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  5. ^ Harvell, Jess (2005-03-21). "They Don't Know". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  6. ^ a b c Collins, Hattie (2004-11-19). "will grime pay?". Collective. BBC. Retrieved 2008-03-12. 
  7. ^ a b c Frere-Jones, Sasha (2005-03-21). "True Grime". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2008-03-12. 
  8. ^ http://www.comedy.co.uk/guide/tv/youngers/
  9. ^ http://www.comedy.co.uk/news/story/000001185/
  10. ^ http://norient.com/stories/grime2014//
  11. ^ Patrin, Nate (2007-06-15). "Dizzee Rascal: Maths + English". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2008-03-12. 
  12. ^ Hoard, Christian (2007-05-30). "Maths + English". Rolling Stone Online. Retrieved 2008-03-12. 
  13. ^ Miller, Alex (2007-06-01). "Maths + English". New Music Express. Retrieved 2008-03-12. 
  14. ^ Galil, Leor. "Dizzee Rascal - Maths & English". Rock Sound. Retrieved 2008-03-12. 
  15. ^ Mathewson, Catriona (2007-02-16). "Sovereign hits her gold mine". The Courier-Mail (Queensland Newspapers). Retrieved 2008-04-13. 
  16. ^ [1] O2 reports Dizzee Rascal to play at O2 & Glastonbury
  17. ^ [2] NME reports on Dizzee Rascal playing at Reading festival
  18. ^ Alex de Jong, Marc Schuilenburg (2006). Mediapolis: popular culture and the city. 010 Publishers. p. 106. ISBN 90-6450-628-0. Retrieved 30 July 2011. 
  19. ^ "Cameron attacks Radio 1's hip-hop". BBC News (BBC). 2006-06-07. Retrieved 2008-03-12. 
  20. ^ Gibbons, Fiachra (2003-01-06). "Minister labelled racist after attack on rap 'idiots'". The Guardian (Guardian Media Group). Retrieved 2008-03-13. 
  21. ^ Chang, Jeff (2004-01-13). "Future Shock". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2008-03-12.