Thursday, 2 April 2009

A BRIEF HISTORY OF GRIME : THE EVOLUTION OF GRIME MUSIC & CULTURE


This was written for students on the CSVMedia Alternative Curriculum program as a result of the lack of decent articles on the history and development of this important youth culture and division of the UK ‘urban’ music scene. Thanks to students Green Eyez, Seriouz, Black D and Boy T who contributed to the research for this article.
The 'lesson' can be delivered in an hour, but could be extended to two hours with discussion and ‘brainstorming’ exercises.

Introduction

Read extracts from article by Dan Hancox in The Gaurdian ‘The triumph of grime’
What does the article say about the Grime scenes relationship with the music industry?
In what ways is Grime compared to the punk scene of the late 70’s?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/feb/14/music-grime-dan-hancox

After a look at some of the videos and music clips selected, as well as discussion of what the individual genres mean ;students arrange cards (with the dates removed) into the correct chronological order


EARLY UK CALYPSO AND SKA ARTISTS AND SOUNDSYSTEMS
1950's-1960's


Lord Kitchener
Trinidad Calypso artists came to the UK in 1949. Calypso was a Caribbean folk music that emerged in the beginning of the 2oth century and had a lot of similarities with rap/grime in that it often was about daily struggles in life of poor people (Lack of food, fuel or the opposite sex!) Ska, a dance music famous for its 'skanking' rhythm was a Caribbean take on early US rhythm n blues, and first became popular in Britain in the 1960's.
Key Artists:
Lord Kitchener
Lord Beginner (real name: Egbert Moore)

(Below Lord Kitchener performs 'If your not white your black')




FIRST UK ‘DJ,s’ / MC ‘s
LATE 1970’s EARLY EIGHTIES


Papa Levi
Reggae music, a Jamaican take on US rhythm and blues was exported to England in the late 1960's and was taken to heart by not only the UK's Caribbean community but the wider UK population as well, especially by white working class teenagers. Out of this came the 'Skin head' and 'Rude Boy' subcultures. The artists below were undoubtedly the first modern M.C's (Referred too confusingly as DJ's in Jamaica) who would 'toast' or 'chat' over instrumental 'riddim' tracks imported from Jamaica. As the 1970's went on, more and more of these DJ's were producing their own music in the UK and even exported it back to the Caribbean (Like the Greensleves & Fashion record labels)
Key Figures:
Saxon (Sound System)
Papa Levi
Tippa Irie

Greensleves Records, Fashion Records


See also :
An-England-Story-how-Jamaica-changed-the-voice-of-teenage-Britain

Below : Papa Levi performs his hit 'Mi God, Mi King' with Saxon Sound in 1984





EARLY UK HIP HOP 1980 0nwards.

London Posse

The first UK rappers often copied the US language, terminology and accent of their US peers. However as UK hip hop matured it started to devlope its own unique sound that was often influenced by the earlier UK reggae soundsystems and riddims.
Key Figures
London Posse
Rodney P
Soul 2 Soul
REBEL MC
Hijack, Caveman

Silver Bullit

Below London Posse peform 'How's Life in London'





OLD SCHOOL RAVE/EARLY DRUM N BASS/JUNGLE 1989-1990



Ragga Twins step out....

The acid house explosion in 1989 lead to the development of 'Jungle'. This was a fast (170bpm) form of rave music that often sampled older reggae music and 'chopped up' and 'time stretched' classic funk drum breaks by artists like James Brown. This was the 'urban' form of Rave music that embraced and referenced black music culture more than the electronic forms of 'techno' rave music.

KEY FIGURES :

Shut Up and Dance/Ragga Twins
Nicky Blackmarket, Mickey Finn, Grooverider (DJ's)
Ganga Kru, The Prodigy
Metalheadz/Goldie, the 'Bristol' sound.


Below a video of Shut Up Dance 'Holigan 69'







SPEED GARAGE UK GARAGE/2 STEP
1996 2005




Started of as speeded up version (140bpm) of US vocal garage tracks and evolved into a unique UK style of 'house' music. Where house music had a very basic 4/4 beat structure, UK garage introduced a variation in the beat termed '2 step'. Most famous proponants were South West London's So Solid Crew and Heartless/Pay As You Go crews. The sound was popularised by a rash of pirate radio stations and quickly became infamous and notorious due to the antics of members of So Solid Crew and others in criminal/gang activities and violence at Garage raves. The scene also started to develop a more 'glamorous' style as it moved into bigger clubs like Ministry of Sound and Twice As Nice and was associated with a 'champagne' lifestyle
KEY FIGURES
STICKY
SO SOLID
PAY AS U GO CREW
KELE LE ROC
MJ COLE
187 LOCKDOWN

Below :Video of UK Garage classic, Ms Dynamite & Sticky : Boo





GRIME ‘PROPER’ 2001



The one and only Wiley

This is where it gets interesting with various people claiming 2000-2001 as the birth of 'grime'. Here is what wikipedia has to say :

"Grime music is typified by complex 2-step breakbeats, generally around 140 beats per minute and constructed from "different" sounds.Stylistically, grime takes from many genres including UK Garage, dancehall and hip hop.The lyrics and music combine futuristic electronic elements and dark, guttural bass lines.
According to Sasha Frere-Jones, writer for The New Yorker, grime has developed a fierce sound by "distilling" rhythms to a minimal style resulting in a choppy, off-center 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." "

The birth of grime co-incided with the creation of Blessed Love Studios, and we certainly remember first hearing the term in about 2001 (Along with 'sublow' and 'eski-beat') Certainly Wiley's Eski beat and Musical Mobs 'Pulse X' were in heavy rotation in the youth clubs we worked in, but at this stage it was East London were this scene was 'blowing up'.

Below is a key scene from the 'Lord of the Mic's' Mixtape (Which hit the streets in 2004 we think) that typifies the energy and excitement of the scene at the time. (Be warned contains offensive lyrics)





Dubstep 2006-2007


Skream


Dubstep is distinguished by its dark mood, sparse rhythms, and emphasis on bass. Dubstep started to spread beyond small local scenes in late 2005 and early 2006 originating in the South London borough of Croydon. Dubstep has continued to be a largely instrumental genre that has put back the producer/DJ back in the front seat and has not widely used MC's. Notable cross over track into the grime scene would be Benga and Coki's track 'Night'.

Below Burial's haunting dubstep track 'Archangel'



'Rhythm N Grime' 2007-8


N-Dubz

Basically this is when grime went 'pop'. Early traiblazer Dizzie Rascal demonstrated that Grime artists could make an impact on the pop charts and get daytime airplay on commercial/mainstream radio. Its grime that your grandma might enjoy, but snide comments aside this could be the genre of UK urban music that finally makes an impact in the US who have always been bemused by British music of Black origin. Recent sucsess for Adele, Dizzie and Estelle in the states demonstrate the strength of British music of Black origin.
Key Figures : NDubs, Chipmunk, DJ Ironik



2008 FUNKY HOUSE/BASSLINE



Donaeo parties hard!

Hugely popular right now and is fast becoming the scene former grime artists want to jump onto. Its commercial, funky, does not scare of the ladies and most importantly gets daytime airplay. A big factor in the rise of funky house/bassline is that it is almost impossible to now liscence a grime or hip hop rave due to panic/fear about its association with gang violence.



ADDENDUM

Discussion : The future of grime

With referance to the concerns of the public/media of grimes link to gang crime/black on black killings and the almost impossibility of putting on Grime based music events (see previous posting Grime & Punishment : How the authorities are crimanalising youth culture) is the grime scene dead/dying? Has the rise of funky house/bassline in recent months signalled that 'urban' music fans have moved on from Grime
Is grime going to reach its tenth birthday?

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