Grime, it seems for most laymen, is just a byword for any UK bass music. I have heard Dubstep songs described as Grime-y, and even the UK’s premier Hip-Hop rapper Akala being called a Grime MC (which he most certainly is not). For me, Grime is a sub-genre of British Hip-Hop, but one that is far too easily dismissed and turned away from.
Growing up in London, my first exposure to grime was coming out of someone’s Nokia 6210 on the back of the 52 bus. I hated Grime at school. All the people who considered themselves MCs were simultaneously arseholes and thus, in my school anyway, you were ushered into one of the two feuding camps of ‘Grungy’ or ‘Townie’, i.e. the Grungies supplied the Townies’ lunch money. Though these labels now seem childish, they still have ramifications in the adult music-listeners community. Most music journalists for the big publications try to avoid Grime like it’s a Townie waiting on the corner of the road with its hood up and its Staffordshire Bull Terrier unleashed. Grime’s failure to cement itself as the UK’s premier urban genre is partially down to it being unfairly judged based on unwarranted prejudices.
It is a little bit ironic that these Grungies then grow up to listen to the likes of off-beat electro and jittery techno, which are essentially synonyms for Grime. The argument against Grime MCs’ lyrics however is fair enough. After a while, all the talk of “smackin bitches” and “what the skeng done to the tree” does grate on the ear.
Despite this, I do think we are on the brink of seeing a UK Bass act that can not only cross over to the mainstream, but also grab the alternative community’s attention. It is only a matter of time. Grime veterans like Wiley, D Double E and Skepta are all knocking on mass-appeal’s door, but alas it remains unanswered.
After surviving solely on a diet of Grime and UK Bass for the last few months, it is clear this just isn’t fair. Unlike their US counterparts, UK rappers will always put flow over content, and it’s when people begin to appreciate the way that they rhyme and the subtle percussive quality of the vocals, that Grime will have its place as an exportable UK genre. And equally, Grime needs to be re-embraced by the wider music community (which it is starting to be) and the awful auto-tune and horrible R’n’B warbling must cease immediately.
Here’s a video of the old school days…