Accomplishments of grime
Written by: Thompson Urhiofe
“They don't give a fuck about us
And when I start to rise
A hero in their children's eyes
Now they give a fuck about us”
* Tupac Shakur
When it comes to black history, the achievements of young black youths rarely see day light. It’s very uncelebrated but we have made one of the largest contributions to UK culture. Grime music, starting out from almost nothing has grown to become a phenomenon in it self. This is said with no exaggeration. When you look at Grime music as a whole and how it was birthed, it is a symbol of the power of the youth. The power of the black youth left to their devise with no guidance and support from the generation that came before them. The beginnings of Grime came from adolescents who were left to fend for themselves in a dog eat dog underground world that was visible to the wider society but ignored.
2pac said the above quote in the track “they don’t give a f*ck about us”. It’s ironic that I use an American artist to explain the importance of black British contributions but whilst cycling listening to to his Better Dayz album, this hook stood out for me because like many things that young black people do, “they” meaning parents, educators, institutions or the generation above, don’t really give two shits about what we do until we begin to rise out of the conditions we’ve been placed in. Only then, will they begin to give credence to things we do. Only when our influence is recognised that our work begins to be noticed rather than vice versa.
This is why grime is so important to the history of the black British youth. I don’t think what we’ve created is recognised enough. I don’t think the scale of what we’ve created has been put into perspective for us to be aware of the influence and potential that we have. We have not only built a whole new genre that drew in some of the worlds most influential musicians, but also an an ecosystem that has paved way for creative individuals from so many fields to flourish. Photographers, stylists, graphic designers, club venues, writers, promoters; amazing talent in all these areas and more have been established off the back of Grime; a scene that was created by a group so often described by educators and politicians as the underclass.
The troubled history of Grime has been given it’s due diligence. We know of the violence that often came with it and the stigma that the genre carries within mainstream establishments. However, it’s the contributions it has made that should be taught far and wide. The deconstruction of how it spread from East London to parts of the world like Japan should documented and analysed in-depth. What was it about grime that drew people to it? How much money has the culture made for corporations like Nike and Adidas who have become synonymous with the scene? Could it be replicated now and if not why?
The grime scene wouldn’t be where it is without the artists that continue to push it forward and it definitely wouldn’t be where it is without the fans that set a flame to the spark of young and hungry minds at the time. The success of Grime music as a culture was a collective one to say the least. The stars were local to the audiences. Their studios and radio stations were known by the fans. There was a constant loop of Feedback and praise so artists and producers knew instantly what worked and what did not. These were just some elements that characterise the success of this culture.
What is often misunderstood is that Grime is black culture. Grime is not black culture here in the UK. Rather, Grime is a product of black culture, specifically young black working class culture working collectively. When you recognise this distinction, you begin to think, what if more resources and and safe spaces were given to this group, what more could they create?