mon 15/07/2024

Violent grime on the increase | reviews, news & interviews

Violent grime on the increase

Violent grime on the increase

Grime gets back to its gritty roots

New wave grime rapper Tempa T aka Tempz in full

Grime music, following its emergence from (mostly) East London clubs and pirate radio stations in the very early 2000s, was archetypical music of urban disaffection. Although it produced characters like the rambunctious Jammer and the oddly melancholic Trim among its legions of young rappers, its fundamental mode is of straight-up combat and threat – of gunplay and postcode rivalries, of “slewing” (killing), “murking” (killing) and “duppying” (go on, have a guess) rivals, of fury at unspecified “haters” – and the jagged rhythms and harsh tones of the music tended to back this up.

Grime music, following its emergence from (mostly) East London clubs and pirate radio stations in the very early 2000s, was archetypical music of urban disaffection. Although it produced characters like the rambunctious Jammer and the oddly melancholic Trim among its legions of young rappers, its fundamental mode is of straight-up combat and threat – of gunplay and postcode rivalries, of “slewing” (killing), “murking” (killing) and “duppying” (go on, have a guess) rivals, of fury at unspecified “haters” – and the jagged rhythms and harsh tones of the music tended to back this up.


Excellent read again Joe, thanks.

it's 2010 and people are still taking Grime lyrics literally and still talking about Crazy Titch. wow and merk doesn't mean kill.

Nothing that hasn't been said before really. The grime and punk comparison was made around 2004 and has been mentioned many times by other journalists since then. If violent grime is on the increase I'd like to hear proof of it other than Kozzie and Crazy T (whose mixtape had about 3 hype tracks and the rest was shit). Name more songs please - say another 5-10 to prove your case.

@ Grimecraft: no I don't take lyrics literally; if you read what I said again, I made very clear that mostly it's true that the lyrics are figurative, i.e. NOT literal, and that they're about hype and energy. And it's relevant to talk about Crazy Titch given that I was talking about the This Is UK Grime compilation and he's on it. But would you seriously deny that grime's violent imagery is a reflection of the violence and deprivation of the areas from which it emerged?

@ Igloo 1) Does it matter if a particular point has been made before? I was writing for The Face in 2003, and yes, I made the comparison to punk back then too - but some things bear repeating. I don't know if you'd noticed, but not everyone on the planet reads every article about grime, so there may be readers who don't even know what it is, let alone its similarity to punk etc. The reason I think it bears repeating now in particular, as I made clear in the last paragraph, was that we're entering a time when anger and disaffection is no longer confined to inner city council estates but is spreading round the country. 2) As for your point about angry grime, you missed my mentions of Maxsta, Tempz, Devlin, Dot Rotten and the importance of the Spartan riddim then? Both Maxsta and Kozzie have explicity positioned themselves as hardcore grime in opposition to the pop styles that have been so dominant in the public eye - see Maxsta's battles with Griminal recently... Look at the grime forums and you'll see loads of chat where people talk about grime's hype energy in opposition to the 'lazy' beats and raps of 'road rap' or whatever you want to call the Giggs type style. The angry attitude is only one tendency within grime, but one that is definitely there - I've written about other things within grime and I will continue to in future, but this article was about one small theme within the sound, and I'm not quite sure why you have an issue with that.

As much as bandwagon-seeking media types love to romanticise Grime, make comparisons with Punk, and say it's all about anger and the frustrations of the urban dispossessed, it's really mostly just a macho thing, posturing drawn largely from Rap. One may argue that Rap is itself a sibling of Punk, all about the rage of the have-nots, but pretty much everyone realises now that Rap has become an unwitting satire of itself, its own excesses and flaws raised to the fore and magnified. As Grime is in many ways a Rap pastiche - British kids who wish they were American rappers who are themselves pretending to be gangsters - any real truths about modern British life are by now bouncing off several sets of fun-house mirrors and deeply distorted. So, yes, Grime's really just the (often fairly inarticulate and ignorant) outburst of testosterone-filled young men. This also accounts for all the commonly heard very chauvinistic "bars" about having sex with sluts and even smacking them about. It's trashy, it's shallow, and at times deeply unpleasant - for all the wrong reasons - but it's heady stuff. I'm a big Grime fan myself - despite its flaws, it IS real, an authentic British movement that came from the same glorious melting-pot that gave us Jungle, Drum&Bass, Dubstep and 2-Step Garage. I doubt most journos, musical dilettantes really who flit from genre to genre according to popularity, will ever really be able to grasp innately what music like this is all about. Not trying to be especially rude here, but that's why I cringe when I read all this "urban frustration" stuff: you appear to find worth in it via intellectualising it, I just like to hear a whole load of MCs going nuts over a sick beat on the radio.

@ AJC Oh dear, well I'm not even going to count the number of times you tripped yourself up there. That just seems to be an all-purpose rant you have ready to cut-and-paste into the comments of any article about grime that you deem to be insufficiently in the know - it certainly has very little reference to anything I actually wrote. You are hugely pleased with yourself about how much you understand grime (with the requisite levels of detached irony), yet in all your verbosity you don't actually say much of substance that I didn't already say myself in the article. I made very clear that grime can be ugly and politically incorrect, and it kind of goes without saying that it's macho, wouldn't you say? Whether that's a direct imitation of hip hop is highly dubious - although Wiley may idolise Jitset or whatever, grime vocals owe far more to the styles of jungle MCs and dancehall DJs than to anything in US music - and in any case you instantly contradict yourself by admitting that it is a distinctively British style. But really, to all your points: SO WHAT? Yes, it's boys showing off, but that doesn't condradict the idea that it is a reflection of its environment does it? You don't get Keane or Coldplay writing lyrics like those to "Next Hype", do you? Or are you going to contradict the idea that grime emerged from estates where young men get trapped by lifestyle and lack of options?

To be honest, yeah, it does get on my tits when I see journos trying to talk about Grime as if they speak from a position of any authority. Sorry, but there it is. Joe, Grime originated in a kinder world than the recession-blighted one we live in now, yet the tendency toward "swagger" content - money, designer clothes, how loads of girls are supposedly after you - has pretty obviously increased. It's not a radio-friendly thing. It can only really be explained by looking at the extent to which the Grime scene idolises millionaire US rappers and buys into this strange ultra-exaggerated imaginary gangsta world they've created. Rather than life imitating art this is art imitating other art which only loosely imitates life anymore. If anything, Grime is escapism rather than a reflection of the world as it is. US rap formed an escape from mundane British life, and now Grime mcs are starring in their own homemade version - a further and more fulfilling degree of escapism. "grime vocals owe far more to the styles of jungle MCs and dancehall DJs" - really, by the way? It's actually grown more out of UK Garage culture (do you recognise the name "So Solid Crew"?) although certain artists do push the Dancehall influences forward more. It's distinctly British as much as anything to come out of the UK is. Black music in the UK takes massive cues from the US and the West Indies. The dance/rave component, mostly in the beats but also in the lyrical delivery (but not really the content) is what chiefly marks it out as a UK scene but come on: can you honestly deny the massive influence of US rap? The guns/money/hoes ethic runs right through it. I sense I've struck a nerve, by the way. Guessing these home truths don't jive with your earnest, vaguely leftist cliches of Grime as an expression of working class protest. Oh well.

You're just avoiding the issues again here. Garage, jungle, who cares - it still undermines your silly point that it's all an imitation of hip hop. Of course I know grime's immediate antecedent was garage, as you'd well know if you'd read anything else I've written before steaming in with your false assumptions. But come on: D Double E? Wiley? Dizzee? Tinchy? Riko? All got their MC skills in jungle/D&B. Also I don't notice any of the artists I'm talking about in this article talking that much about bling; as I've said, a lot of the young artists are specifically reacting against the gloss of the more US-influenced pop-grime artists. This "leftist" thing reveals where you're coming from: you're arguing not against me or my article but against a clichéd "journo" persona that you've built in your own mind, with some fantasy of the clueless liberal media. You actually sound like a "journo" yourself, the Daily Mail variety who rail against "Guardianistas" causing all the ills of the world. And as for "I've obviously touched a nerve" - dear boy, this is the refrain of every troll on the internet when someone calls them out on their innacuracies and deliberate misreadings. It's a dead giveaway: your aim is not to set the facts straight, nor even to enter into a debate, but to "touch a nerve" i.e. wind people up. Well, you failed. Sorry.

NOW who's applying an archetype of their own devising to the other? What's all this "dear boy" and saying I sound like a journo stuff all about too? Because I can spell and string a sentence together?! My assumptions were less about the 'liberal media' and more about middle-class media hipsters who think they can talk about street music as if they're 'down' with it and are daringly reporting back from the bleeding edge of culture. I'm giving you a bit of an unnecessarily hard time, I suppose, but it gets my back up when I read anyone parroting this tired old cliche about Grime being "the sound of the angry youth". I don't recall saying it was all an imitation of Rap (not Hiphop, because Hiphop has a social conscience) but that Grime and its culture/mindset is massively influenced by Rap, from the beats and bars to fashion and slang. It's all set in the same exaggerated Grand Theft Autoesque universe (try and count how many bars and track titles lately reference COD - Black Ops, by the way. Violent videogames are another way that Grime folks indulge their gun-toting macho fantasies) where everyone's a gangster, everyone shoots people all the time, earns huge amounts of money from selling coke... It's make believe. It's entertainment. Rather than being a complaint against the horrors of modern urban society, Grime revels in it and talks it up. The senseless, gratuitous violence in the lyrics becomes cartoonish and that's the whole point. When you get down to it, anger's not at the heart of Tempa Ts lyrics, rather it's intended to make you go "LOL, did he really say that?!" That's all I'm going to say, really. And if you don't get the above, you don't get Grime. Sorry.

Nope, sorry, you're still talking about an article I didn't write. My article says that for the most part grime IS just entertainment, but that there is ALSO a streak of aggression in it that comes from its roots in deprived and violent areas. That's not setting out to define grime as a whole or asign some worthy motive to any of it, just mentioning a part of it that is currently in the ascendency and clearly audible on this new CD. If you think any of this is false, dear boy, then you are the one who doesn't "get" it. Anyway, you want people parrotting tired old lines, the old "hip hop" vs "rap" thing is as hoary as they come, and wrong to boot. You really are clearly just trolling.

Im 18, white and currently in sixth form. Ive followed Grime from the beginning, frequently buying sidewinder packs and mixtapes. Joe Its obvious you know what your talking about, you have pretty good knowledge of the scene. In my opinion I believe that the true power of Grime is its energy, this energy however can come across aggressively. I do agree with the fact that some of the violence in Grime is not to be taken literally, i.e 'Next hype'. The aggression within the music is purposefully added to great an energetic, riled up crowd, for example the early raves like Sidewinder. AJC sorry but I don't think you know what your talking about. People who listen to Grime do not idolise the American rapper image. Mc's talking about how much money they have do not get far in Grime! Chipmunk for example was highly rated, now people in Grime hate him. On the Game Over Remix, on every forum and on youtube people are saying how bad Chipmunk was partly because of his new 'Americanised flow' but also because of his bragging. MC's are more focused on the fact they have no money, having to sell drugs to get money. Tempa T I believe is unique, the hype he produces is second to none. It is obvious that he is not bragging or faking his agressive persona, as it is well known that he 'bottled' griminal at a rave. I believe that Grime has calmed down since its early days, MC's like Tempa T and Kozzie are still using that raw agressive flow, but other Mc's are taking different routes. Maxsta's 'on the low' is a tune everyone should listen to, Maxsta is a young for an Mc and I personally believe he will go onto big things. Roll Deep have also done extremely well, since their 'In at the deep end' days. I Believe two things are going to happen to Grime. (You can disagree with me of course) 1. I think Grime is going to continue creating top ten hits. (Look out for Giggs, Wileys A List, Roll Deep, Boy Better Know, Chipmunk, Kano, Professor Green, Devlin and Scorcher' 2. To counter-act Grime artists making it big, and possibly going 'comercial'. I believe that there will be a new wave of agressive, young Mc's. There are many people in Grime who wish to see the days of 'the war reports' and the 'Lord of the Mics'. We can all agree that Grimes future is Bright :)

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