Grime taking over the world

“Stormzy ain’t STANDARD, man’s got MOBO Awards, that’s STANDARD. Soon have plaques on my wall like STANDARD.” (Stormzy, Standard 2015)

 

This year the 19th annual MOBO awards which took place in Leeds on November the 4th was again a huge success. This award show is mainly exclusively for British music artists but which makes it even more unique and interesting is that it only focusses on “black music”. One of the many lucky artists who went home with a prize that night was Stormzy, a very young (22 years old) but talented MC from London. He won a MOBO award in the category Best Grime Act of 2015 and this category is special since it is very new, just like the music genre it it based on. It was introduced in 2014 to become its own category after it had always been infused with Hip Hop as the Best Hip Hop/Grime Act. This act of recognition for the relatively young music genre Grime was very much needed because it is gaining popularity and attention all over the world. So for those who do not know; what is Grime exactly and how and why is it becoming so popular? If you want to know the answers to these questions continue reading…

Grime is a sub genre of both Hip Hop and UK Garage which started in the streets of (East) London 2 decades ago and combines aggressive and fast rap lyrics with electronic (tech)house or even trap beats. This unique combination is also what mainly distinguishes this genre of music from other types of Hip Hop but not only that, also the Cockney accent of the rappers who are all from London makes the music very refreshing and different for Hip Hop fans who are used to hearing American accents. Topics like; life on the streets of London, criminality, and discrimination are popular in Grime music. Some people refer to it as the UK version of the American gangster rap but within the boarders of Hip Hop music it is worlds apart, style wise. The first artist who really brought this genre to the general public is Dizzee Rascal. He became popular in 2003 after he scored the hit I Luv U and many more over the years with his, for most people still, unique style of rapping. The real “father” of this genre and at the same time mentor if Dizzee Rascal though is Wiley. Many now popular Grime artists still refer to him as their big inspiration even though he has been out of the picture for a while. The main players in Grime scene nowadays are artists like Stormzy of course but also Skepta and his brother Jme.

Not only the fact that Grime has become a separate category at the MOBO awards demonstrate how popular it has become but also the fact that many mainstream rappers acknowledge and support Grime artists nowadays is an interesting trend. For example, Kanye West has openly showed his support for Skepta by letting him perform at his shows and recommending him to his own fans. The same goes for the famous Canadian rapper, Drake who has also shown his admiration for Grime music and has worked together with Skepta as well ass letting him perform on his own OVO music festival in his hometown Toronto. It is safe to say that in the Grime scene Skepta is taking a leading role in bringing the music even more to the mainstream audience. But numbers eventually provide the biggest and best proof of success for Grime music. The video of Skepta for his song Shut Down has over 9 million views on YouTube and Stormzy’s video for Shut Up even has 13 million.

An important criterion for Grime music is of course that it is from the UK but interestingly enough, artists from other countries have started copying the style as well. For example, the rap collaboration Zwart Licht in Holland states to be very inspired by Grime music from the UK and tries to produce music which fits in this genre. The rappers from this collaboration even have a weekly radio programme of a few hours which is totally devoted to Grime music and bringing this to a broader audience.

I am personally also a big fan of Grime music and what makes it unique to me is that it is very energetic and upbeat because it uses fast electronic music with more complicated drums to background the lyrics which makes it different from the more simplistic drums that are used in traditional Hip Hop songs. This makes it very well suited for clubs and bars because it keeps the audience awake and going the whole night. Grime audiences at concerts are also the craziest ones I have ever witnessed in terms of energy and atmosphere. All these things combined make a good reason to definitely keep an eye on this unique style of music because Grime is here to stay whether you like it or not.

 

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