Grime is the genre that everyone’s now happy to get dirty with, so we decided to take a brief look back at the history of it, to see if we can predict it’s future.
Last week, news broke of everyone’s favourite dancing/singing/rapping/roasting meme, Drake, signing to UK based grime label, Boy Better Know. This followed videos of Drake making a guest appearance, alongside Boy Better Know co-founder Skepta, at a Section Boyz show in London. Drake is no stranger to grime culture, being pictured wearing Boy Better Know x OVO clothing early last year, as well as giving numerous shout outs to Skepta, and the genre as a whole, on his last project, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, which was released following Drake’s stint in the UK. Drake isn’t the only massive Hip-Hop artist who continually gives daps to the UK genre; Kanye West brought numerous grime artists onstage during his BRIT Awards performance last year, and A$AP Mob has featured on many grime artists’ tracks, as well as performed with them at grime events.
For the majority of people, this may be the first time that they are hearing about this genre, as despite it’s colourful history in the UK, it has never really broken through on a global scale, though this has changed over the last 6-9 months. This point is where a lot of frustration lies for people who have been listening to grime since it’s inception; the roots of the genre run the risk of being forgotten as it’s popularity reaches unprecedented levels, to the point where it could possibly be called the genre of 2016. HOWEVER, as per my resourceful nature, I have put together a brief but thorough history of grime, right from its beginnings in Jamaica, all the way through to the present day. So, lace up your Air Max 95’s, pop on your Stone Island coach jacket, put the kettle on, and let’s take it back (this is where I would insert some sort of echo effect, please just pretend it’s there).
The roots of grime can be traced back to Jamdung (Jamaica), where MC’s were taking a bigger role in dancehall music, beginning to rap, or ‘toast’ over a variety of tunes the DJ would select. This influenced the large rave/ragga scene in the UK around the mid-to-late ‘90s, as MC’s would keep the party together, throwing out one-liners here and there. Flash-forward to the very late ‘90s as the rave scene is starting to die down and attention started being directed to more intimate club environments. The music itself mirrored this, with the tempo slowing, and thus UK garage was born. MC’s had a huge role in this, collaborating with DJ’s and producers, taking heavy influence from it’s Jamaican roots. This bred many crews who are often cited as the very seeds of grime, including Ruff Sqwad, and Pay as You Go Cartel. Towards the start of the ‘00s, two main genres started evolving out of this garage sound; one more dark, brooding, 2-step-shuffle, MC-less dubbed dubstep (NOT THE TYPE YOU ARE FAMILIAR WITH THANKS TO THIS GUY ), and another more upbeat, MC-driven, grime/eskibeat/sublow (it was known by a few names).
The primary figurehead of this movement was an MC known as Wiley. Wiley was originally part of the Pay as You Go crew, and had been MCing for many years in the garage era. His unique style of Garage production self-titled as eskibeat or grime, garnered him massive of amounts of attention underground, and with the release of his single “Eskimo”, he and his newly founded crew Roll Deep were shot to the front of the UK underground music scene. Grime/eskibeat started getting wild amounts of plays on pirate radio, and ‘clashes’ or ‘battles’ were packing out clubs.