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Grime’s Blog Era: An Oral History

Image via Complex Original/Artwork by Willkay
L-R: Elijah / D Double E

IN THE BEGINNING…
 

Chantelle Fiddy: UK garage had reached a point where it was all very… sweet. “I’ll bring you flowers,” or whatever. But we didn’t want that—we needed that roughness, that rawness back—so, for me, even though I could see a gap in the market in terms of writing about grime, it wasn’t ever about that: it was just pure excitement and desire to push the music. I’ve never felt such energy in my career as what I felt then. And if you told me they would have been my greatest years, I would have cried. One of the reasons I started a blog was because of Simon [Reynolds]; he was, and still is, a very intelligent man and an incredible writer. I was very young at that time, just coming out of journalism school—21, 22—and I couldn’t write like he could, but I knew I could tell it in my own way. In my mind, it was like this healthy rivalry. He was the guy in America, giving grime this really intellectual spin, but I just thought: “Well, I can be the woman on the frontline over here.” I was like, “I’ll get to that level 20 years in,” but I’m still looking for it now [laughs]. 

Simon Reynolds: That’s kind of you, Chantelle. Well, I’ve been in America since the early/mid-90s. I was in London for most of ‘94—so when jungle took off—but then I moved back to New York and, funnily enough, I had just happened to be in London, unusually, for the whole of the summer of 2002. I was researching this book on post-punk and leading a very disciplined life. I was just interviewing people from the early ‘80s, going to the British Library and going through old copies of The FACE and Sounds Magazine. I wasn’t really going to clubs, but I was listening to the pirates, as I would habitually do when I was over in the UK. And that’s where I sort of heard this sound. It didn’t even have a name at that point, so I was quite lucky that I managed to catch the formative stages of this movement. Then I went back to New York and I started the Blissout blog. But you guys were already there. 

Martin Clark: We got to witness—especially Chan and I—first hand, at least two genres being born, possibly three or four, if you count funky and so on. To be there, at the root of them, was so special. I wish that blessing on every generation. It was unbelievable and I’m so grateful. I started the Blackdown blog, I’m pretty sure, thanks to Chantelle so it’s kind of a chain effect. But I only started it to see how hard it was. “I’m going to sign up for this because this is how far things have come.” Web 2.0. That was pretty revolutionary. You didn’t have to be a web designer to get on the internet, and you didn’t need to know HTML. Grime, back then, nobody knew what it was so it was hard to pitch to editors. It didn’t even have a name in 2001. Loads of the editors were white men, middle-class men, like myself, but I really wanted to write about it. They’d often say to me, “I just don’t know what this is.” But when the blogs came along, it was like, “I don’t need anyone’s permission. I can publish now, today, when I want, and say what I want and cover stuff that I feel is relevant rather than having to have someone buy in.”

Hyperfrank: I lost my mum when I was quite young, and I had a lot of pent-up frustration from it. But writing was always an outlet for me. I felt like whenever I was really passionate about something, I would write about it in a diary or something. I was the same in school. Grime allowed me to have an outlet to communicate better, and for that, I’m always thankful. Before I did anything in this space, I used to go on forums—UKMusic.com, VIP2, RWD Forum (R.I.P)—and drop wild, silly comments about UK underground music. It was actually a friend of mine, Precious—who I hadn’t even met by that point—who told me to create a blog from the comments she saw I was making on the forums. I was never interested in being a journalist, though. My English was terrible—I was raised in France for most of my childhood—but I still did it anyway. Obviously, the love for the music was what pushed me. I didn’t think anyone would read it, but my blog started to pick up a lot of traction from the funny takes and photoshopped images I used to make. I was faceless as well, so that made people want to lock in even more.

Raj Kapone: I joined RWD in September 2005, by which time the forum was already a thriving, infamous place. As one of only a handful of media outlets covering the seminal years of the grime scene, RWD attracted a young, hungry audience who were living off the scraps of info that was out there at the time, and then filling each other in on the gaps to varying degrees of truth. Logan Sama moderated the page and loads of artists, DJs and producers would contribute from time to time, most famously Wiley beefing anyone and their mums!

Elijah: I saw what Hyperfrank, Chantelle Fiddy, Blackdown and Prancehall were doing, and I would be in the same spaces as them early on, too, at events and stuff. I was going to FWD>>, Dirty Canvas, ChockABlock—whatever club night was on that played grime music as a focus. I also started going to record shops; I was buying records at that time, but not like a DJ yet. I was just learning how to DJ with vinyl and stuff. And then when I built confidence in that, I thought, “Okay, let’s put the writing and the DJing in the same place, put the music up with tracklists and a download link.” At the time, to get to listen to a Rinse FM show after it had aired, you’d have to go on Rapidshare or GetDarker or the forums—RWD Forum and, later, GrimeForum.com—and see if someone had ripped it. What I was doing was I was ripping my own shows and posting them, as well as writing about new releases and stuff. And then I’d interview artists here and there, mainly producers, because the other blogs already had a platform for the MCs. When I interviewed people like Teddy (Silencer) and Rude Kid, they would send me beats. But before, if I asked for beats, they wouldn’t send me shit [laughs]. Blogging and interviewing was like my ploy to get music, and it worked.

Sian Anderson: I wasn’t around in the early days like the rest, but blogging was a good way to send messages to my friends. I couldn’t write essays on MSN to my pals about what was going on, so Blogspot was the next best thing to do that on. And it was MySpace that taught me how to do HTML to then learn how to do a Blogspot. I thought I was nang! Me and Julie [Adenuga] thought we were so sick because we knew how to create Blogspots and do HTML and make it look epic. But I never said to anybody that I had a “grime blog.” It just so happens that I was going to shows that were grime and was around the music a lot. When people like Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift started popping up on my blog, people were baffled! But, like I said, I didn’t call my blog a grime blog and, honestly, I didn’t want to be boxed in as just a grime blogger as the industry back then didn’t get it.

“Jessie Ware told me once: ‘I used to read your blog, and the other grime blogs.’ She was a journalism student, but you just don’t realise how far and wide these things were.”—Chantelle Fiddy
Image via Prancehall's blog, 2005

BLOG WARS: FIDDY VS. PRANCEHALL


Chantelle Fiddy: It all started in 2005, when the legend that is kris ex put my blog in VIBE Magazine’s annual ‘Cool List’—guys were hating on Chan! [Laughs] But generally, Prancehall used to “send” a lot. His style was more controversial than most other bloggers of the time, albeit tongue-in-cheek. It was a similar approach to VICE Grimewatch—which, for those who don’t remember, was an anonymous column renowned for ruffling feathers monthly. I also saw that Prancehall had sent for famed UK journalist, and my best friend, Hattie Collins. Not sure if she ever responded. I don’t think I ever met Prancehall either, although I could be lying. But that was part of the ‘thing’: nobody really cared. It was about the words still. Little did we know that the tech around the corner would forever change subculture and the nuances of blogging. But to recall the battle with Prancehall is to recall—and pay homage to—the late writer Pete Cashmore. I’m not a barrer. Pete was. On seeing the witty and on-point disrespect Prancehall was sending my way and keen to get involved, Pete—who was a staffer at Loaded magazine at the time—offered his ghostwriting services. I’d already dished some dirt, but coming from the old-school, drawing for a more hip-hop-centred approach to clash lyrics, it was Pete who came with the real fire. May he rest in power.

Raj Kapone: I always rated Prancehall, but Fiddy’s the original grime don out here. Like Skepta said in his famous bar: “I load magazines like Chantelle Fiddy!” 

Hyperfrank: I wasn’t even around during that beef, but I remember [late music manager] Thembi [Jozana] telling me all about it. I used to make fun of people all the time, though, especially Fiddy—we laugh about it now—where I used to make her bald in my photoshop pics for bants, for clicks [laughs]. I think, for myself, I didn’t care about blog beef—I never felt any of that energy from any of you guys here. Whenever I saw people, it was always love because we were all out there trying to push this thing whilst getting to the bag! Half of us didn’t even know what we were doing. Well, I didn’t, that’s for sure. I feel like only in the last five years have I found my lane. Some people have been a lot quicker. What I would say is, and I didn’t realise it then, but at different stages, there was a lot of exploitation going on. It’s still happening today, to be honest. It got to a point where a lot of the core work that all of us were doing for free was just being lifted and basically being used to allow certain gatekeepers to get into, or sustain, positions. With the work that I do now, in TV production, I’ve seen countless pitches where a lot of articles that we’ve all written are featured heavily in these pitches for TV shows. And it’s infuriating. So if I have or had any beef with anyone, it’s with those people.

Sian Anderson: Fiddy vs. Prancehall was hilarious! Iconic. I think that was just before I worked with Fiddy at Live Magazine—she was a mentor there, and that’s where I got my start as its Editor. Generally, the grime blog community was a close one—we would all go out to eat with each other, or see each other at raves. I feel like any bickering that went on was because we were all in close proximity. You know, just general friendship things, because we’re all here in one scene doing the same. But in terms of that, grime itself being competitive, I don’t know… I still feel like everybody had their own lane, so to speak. You knew what to come to Sian for versus what to go to Elijah for, versus what to go to Hyperfrank for. I think the competitive side probably came from people who wanted to be Hyperfrank or wanted to be JP or wanted to be Sian, but it’s like, if you don’t have the unique selling point that we’ve got—i.e. how we’ve grown up, what angle we’re coming from, what perspective we’re looking at things from—it was never gonna happen.

Elijah: I agree with Sian. For me, the person I wanted to be didn’t exist yet. So sometimes people thought, like, I was competing with them—like the DJs when I started, it felt like there was a bit of animosity there. Then it was the people who actually had real journalism jobs who were like, “Who are these people writing on the internet? Who do they think they are?” Then when I started venturing out into other things, you always have that little bit of resistance. So you fight back and you’re like, “Fuck you! Who are you? Who is this person?” I just hadn’t grown into what I am now, but gradually I knew that I wanted to put on raves, DJ, write, make records, release records, but there was no job title for that. When I graduated my mum was like, “What do you want to be?” I wanted to be this, but there wasn’t a name for it. 

“To see the people we were writing about finally getting the props they deserve, that did it for me.”—Martin Clark
The flyer for Chantelle Fiddy's club night, Straight Outta Bethnal. 2006.

COME TO THE DANCE!

[Ed. Note: Around 2006/2007, many of us launched club nights off the back of our grime blogs: Prancehall had ‘DO IT!’, Fiddy had ‘Straight Outta Bethnal’, Styleslut had their thing, I had ‘ChockABlock’, and then there was Dirty Canvas, Urban Nerds and those guys—Shoreditch days: nu-ravers and art kids raving it out to grime with the mandem. It was an important time].

Raj Kapone: I remember helping DJ Magic out with Dirty Canvas, either on the door or liaising with artists. My favourite memory from that was probably sitting down with Ghetts and working out the setlist for his Freedom Of Speech mixtape launch. Coming up with ideas and having him be receptive to what I was saying really meant a lot. Straight Outta Bethnal was my favourite, though. It was the first time I saw a lot of artists perform, including Tempa T. I had no idea who he was, but he just came through with a wicked energy and I was blown away.

Chantelle Fiddy: I got very lucky with what I did, in that Neil Borman—who was 333, and this won’t mean anything to new readers—was a big deal because of Shoreditch Twat. And I think he was editing Sleazenation, too. To put it simply: Neil had clout! He hit me up one day and was like, “Why don’t you come and do a grime thing at 333?” It hadn’t turned into the West End like it is today—this was still Shoreditch, the coolest place you could have a rave. And we were having a grime rave in the darkest, dingiest, stinkiest basement; the perfect kind of place for it. And again, seeing the makeup of people in there—the nu-rave kids, the i-D magazine fashion lot, the hood kids—for me, that was all I wanted. It felt like it brought together all these worlds I was a part of into one. And it was lively, never any trouble. I never made money, but it was honestly never about that.

Martin Clark: I went to a few Sidewinder raves, and while FWD>> was never a grime event, a lot of grime DJs and MCs got booked there. I met people from all different backgrounds at FWD>>, and that’s actually surprisingly difficult in a multicultural city like London. It’s actually relatively separated, in a funny sort of way, despite not having ideas of ghettoisation and so on that you might get in more segregated places. It didn’t have the feeling of a rave. This was different in style. It was darker music, more serious and focused. People from magazines, music producers, grime MCs, dubstep producers from Croydon, working class, upper class, middle class—there were people representing different groups and I really loved that. I don’t think blogging had a specific role in the fight against Form 696, but certainly raves and the events Chan put on were basically pushing against these boundaries about councils not allowing Black people to have clubs or protesters against grime raves and so on. 

Chantelle Fiddy: Straight Outta Bethnal was definitely a victim of Form 696. And, obviously, I know there was a big hoo-haa not that long ago when they scrapped it, but they’ve replaced it with something that’s pretty much the same thing with the drill rappers getting censored. 

Sian Anderson: The raves were a really important part of character-building for me in my teens. When I started going to grime raves, I would dress up as though I was going to a West End club, because my experience of going raving was that the girls wear dresses and heels to get into the clubs. Obviously, it took me one dirty trip across the Fabric floor in my heels and another at ChockABlock on the EGG dancefloor for me to vow against them ever again! But also: I knew I’d found my scene. I’d found my happy place, where I could wear my tracksuits and denim shorts and Nike blazers in peace, head out comfortably without being scared that I’d get turfed at the door for incorrect attire, and listen to the music I love. I’ve never looked back. 

“When I got mentioned in mainstream media spaces, like The Guardian and London Paper, it was because of my blog and its grime content.”—Sian Anderson
Image via Publicist

THE IMPACT…


Raj Kapone: Any youth culture movement is gonna get eyed up by brands because it gives them direct access to the kids and what they want. The developing nature of the grime scene meant that anyone involved around the beginning was on the inside looking out, so, naturally, we were the ones they came to when they wanted a piece of the action. As a free title that was reliant on advertising, RWD was already working with these brands who were trying to tap into our young audience—from Nike and Adidas to Levi’s—so we were seeing the impact blogs, forums and our print magazine was having close-up, on a commercial level. 

Hyperfrank: I had one goal back then: to get a byline in RWD. I was like, “In two years’ time, I want to write for this magazine. It’s something I am going to do.” Three months after starting my blog in 2006, I had written my first piece and then I was like, “Okay, where else can this go?” Because you weren’t really getting bloggers writing for mainstream publications at the time, unless you were experienced in the field of music journalism, like Fiddy—who wrote for style mags like i-D—or Martin, who wrote a grime/dubstep column for Pitchfork. There was such a massive hierarchy, and I remember me and you, JP, being up all hours of the night going through our grime ideas to send to all these big platforms. It felt like you could only get through if you did the whole degree stuff. Anyway, I think, for me, it was just more about sharing my love for this music and culture with the masses. There was one specific incident where I was very drunk at one grime event, and I remember going home and writing a post about homophobia in grime, which was wild and not constructive at all. It was quite immature, to be honest. But when I woke up the next day, I was being sent for—live on airwaves—by one of the MCs I mentioned in the piece. It was crazy, but that’s when I really knew my words held weight.

Elijah: I guess my tipping point was when I joined Rinse FM. They’d seen my blogs and heard my mixes and stuff and, because they were looking for DJs as well, they took a chance on me. Once I took that up, and once I started meeting people regularly, I was more careful about what I was saying on my blog. People that came up to the station would be like, “Oh, it’s you! You’re the guy that writes the things on the internet, innit?” It meant that I couldn’t be as critical as I was in the beginning. First, on forums and posts, I’d just say what I thought of a song, if I thought lyrics were rubbish or something. But now, or just from then… I had a call with an artist one time and they were like, “Who are you, fam? I’ll dun you!” Once they calmed down, they were like, “I’m just trying to feed my family, man.” From that point, I decided I was gonna be a lot less critical. If I didn’t like something, I wouldn’t write about it.

Sian Anderson: I remember someone hit me up from 1Xtra, when DJ Cameo was on the station, and was like, “Oh, yeah, we saw your blog. You should come and do a demo for the Grime News on Cameo’s show.” So I go to the BBC, I get put into some studio, and I see Cameo—who’s live recording—and they’re like, “Yeah, record a demo.” And I’m like, “I don’t know what a demo is. I don’t really know why I’m here, but I’m here—hello!” [Laughs] When stuff like that used to happen, or when I got mentioned in mainstream media spaces like The Guardian and The London Paper—I knew it was because of my blog, and mostly off the back of the grime content. It was a real thing. My mum still has the paper clippings. I think when people started paying me for my opinion on grime, that’s when I realised there was really something in this. There’s a story to tell. We didn’t think it was a story to tell because we were growing up in it and living in it, so it wasn’t that fascinating to us. We were speaking our truth or the truth for the people that were around and our friends and family and our peers. But then it got to a point where I realised there’s a whole world of people that didn’t have a clue what this was, what we were doing and why we were doing it, so it was like: let me help tell it from my perspective, through the mediums of journalism, radio and A&R.

Martin Clark: Once artists started to hit certain milestones—like Dizzee winning a Mercury and going to his first SXSW, Burial getting recognised in certain spaces, Skepta and Jammer touring New York early on—it sounds totally trivial now, but these things weren’t necessarily destined to happen. There’s so many artists that don’t get anywhere. But to see the people we were writing about finally getting the props they deserve, that did it for me. As people, we make our bet; like, “I think this record is cool” or “I think this artist is cool,” and you’ll probably make a bunch of them over time, but only a few of them you get right and then you see it growing and growing and growing. Every time I turn on DJ Target on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra, it’s like: “Man, you did it!” He probably had many life goals, but if you think about his progression from Roll Deep and running around to now… Sure, I think Target is great and there was Aim High and all that important stuff, but there was no guarantee he was going to get this kind of audience to go that way.

Chantelle Fiddy: Don’t you feel like that about so many others? I remember the first time Tinchy Stryder came to my house with Wiley, he just sat on the stairs. He wouldn’t come in—he was so shy. I spoke to him recently and he’s married with kids now, talking about investments and things like that. I put the phone down and I just thought, “How mad is this world? That kid that sat on my stairs is now…” And it’s not just him; there are so many people who have gone so much further than you ever thought was possible. Look at Skepta! So many people.

Simon Reynolds: When Dizzee came and did his first gig ever in America, Williamsburg, a whole bunch of American music journalists of my acquaintance came out to see him. Americans had this thing—it’s a traditional reflex in American rock critic culture that you wait till you see the artist deliver live. So they were all skeptical about the Boy In Da Corner record. They weren’t sure if British people could rap. This was a whole big thing in America: “The speech patterns are all wrong—it sounds fake.” But then they were like, “Oh, yeah, he’s great!” He commanded the stage very powerfully. I think blogs probably helped to sort of interest or intrigue other media people. A rave review in a proper magazine probably did a lot more, but even then, I think in the end the music breaks through. I mean, for grime to get to the point where someone could play headline in Glastonbury, it took a really long while for that to happen. Grime started to become a critical success. Dizzee won the Mercury in 2003, didn’t he?

Martin Clark: Bit of a lull after that, wasn’t it? In terms of the validation by wider...

Simon Reynolds: —the outside world, yes. So, in terms of pundits or whatever, grime had this status a lot earlier than it actually broke through to become pop music. And I think—to some extent—blogs influenced that, just by alerting people to the existence of this music. As I’ve dedicated my life to being a critic, I’m not sure how much critics really change the fortunes of artists. One mainstream radio spin is worth more than 20 rave reviews in a newspaper, so how many blog posts is one worth?

Chantelle Fiddy: I do wonder how many people were reading and this is the thing we’ll never know. The amount of people I’ve gone on to meet in life—even Jessie Ware, she was like, “I used to read you lot’s blogs,” because she was a journalism student. You just don’t realise how far and wide these things were. I’ve worked with people at marketing agencies in other countries who used to read our blogs, so I think it was wider spread than we realise. I didn’t want to be the face of anything. I didn’t want to be bait. We’re now in the age of the influencer, and I remember the first time somebody asked me for a press shot and I was like, “What? We’re writers.” Okay, you might see a tiny little pic on an article, but that’s not what we were in it for. I’m so grateful to have had that experience because the focus was on the writing, on the words, on the music, not me having to put a picture up there of myself. I’d hate to be a young person navigating a career in the creative industries right now. I really would.

“You can hear grime’s DNA in UK drill, and probably countless other evolutions.”—Raj Kapone

GRIME’S FUTURE

Martin Clark: I, for one, would like seven more debates about whether it’s dead or not.

Chantelle Fiddy: I’ve been working in management for many years, and I now work closely with [grime MC] Mez. It’s really hard for me to talk about because I believe in Mez and what Mez is doing, but for me to believe in Mez and to know the journey he’s on, it means ignoring a hell of a lot of what’s going on in the grime scene because it’s a playground. It’s not going to help his career to get involved in that stuff. So, I guess, I’ve got Chantelle: manager-head, and Chantelle: opinion-head. I think the truth of the matter is, if I didn’t work with Mez, I’m not really sure how much attention I would be paying. But, again, I believe in what Mez and [DJ] Grandmixxer are doing. It’s about the soundboy, the DJ-MC interaction, the stage shows—top level! That’s what grime is about. 

Simon Reynolds: I haven’t really been following grime very closely for a while. I picked up a bit of interest with the whole Grime 4 Corbyn thing; that really interested me as a phenomenon, partly because there aren’t a lot of grime lyrics that are about, as far as I know, increasing funding for libraries or protecting the NHS. There’s something very un-grime about Jeremy Corbyn, too, very unglamorous. From my memories of grime, it didn’t really have a lot about social policy in it; although it was expressive of people, minorities, urban life and had a social energy to it, it very rarely came out in that political way in the lyrics. The spirit definitely had rebellion against all kinds of things, so that fascinated me. But I think I’m just too removed geographically, and in age, for it to connect with me now. My niece and nephew in the UK were really into grime in the 2010s; when I went to visit them, they were watching Channel U. I suppose grime is now quite similar to drum & bass, in that it’s become its own free-floating international genre. 

Chantelle Fiddy: Some of the things that we loved about grime in the original instance have gone because we were all listening to the same pirate radio, so you’d hear stories, anecdotes, tales, and you’d all go and talk about it afterwards. So you start learning about these street characters that you’ve never met before, and were never going to meet. Now, because there’s so much content—we’ve got all these platforms—everything’s just lost. Somebody like Mez might drop a tune with so many bazzes in it—he could be dissing 200 guys on the tune—but nobody clocks on. Nobody’s tuned in enough to understand the references. Only the very, very, very small inner circle will get it. Change is a constant, as we said, but that’s the biggest problem I think grime’s facing: so much of the original rules don’t work now.

Martin Clark: I’m happy for grime. It really got there. When you see stuff like Stormzy’s Glastonbury performance, that was so powerful. If you just zoom out and look back from where it came… Simon, can you remember that time I took you to Rinse FM, right when it was illegal? We saw Skepta, Newham Generals and Roll Deep huddled in the corner near the fruit machine, and they were like: “Who are these weird dudes?” It was in Whitechapel, above some knock-in shop or something. So, imagine from that to Glastonbury and what Sormzy did! It’s also been quite cool to see people like Ghetts and Kano doing very big but authentic grime, releasing interesting and creative projects. I’m not that interested in Dizzee’s stadium years, his festival years—that kind of dance stuff didn’t do it for me—but you can see what Ghetts and Kano have managed to maintain, that balance of really telling stories and growing as artists, but still seem to more authentically connect with where grime came from and expanding on that.

Hyperfrank: There are a lot of new artists coming through still, and with the work that Elijah and others have been doing on the instrumental side of things, it’s been great so see. I think it’s now about investing in the artists that are around and not trying to have a war with every new sound that comes through. The divide between the older generation and the one coming up needs sorting out, too. But is there still gas in the tank? Most definitely. We all miss pirate radio and certain raves, but times change so it’s about seeing how we can push things forward with what’s happening now. Grime culture’s still thriving, though. All of us here doing great things because of it. 

Sian Anderson: There was a “grime is dead” conversation on Twitter Spaces recently, but the same day that took place, I spun new records from Footsie, Renz and Jme on national radio. There’s still some really good music coming out, but people just need to tap in a bit more. The culture’s still there, but I think the actual MCs need a lot of mentorship. The OGs of the scene, a lot of them haven’t done their due diligence in terms of making sure the artists are looked after and educated. It’s been so business and transactional that they can’t see the benefits of helping up-and-coming grime talent. Obviously, there has to be a business element attached to these things, but it then stops a Novelist from getting where Novelist needs to be because there’s this business in the middle that’s unsavoury because there’s a contract assigned to it. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but grime’s still out here.

Elijah: I guess, like most of the artists that I’m meeting now, it’s something that they do, among many other things. So if they make grime, then they also make jungle or drum & bass or drill. There isn’t this singular mentality that maybe some of us had at that time. And you aren’t rewarded for it in society anymore, or in music. It’s probably easier to be a bit more diverse—a bit more open, sonically—and I don’t blame people coming through and being like, “I’m gonna work with the best possible artists that are around me or the best possible things and not really focus on genre anymore.” The community aspect of that scene has happened already. There aren’t really central places where people are meeting up and doing the stuff, as far as I know, in any major capacity. Obviously, people are linking up and doing music, but it’s usually a bit more broad. There are people making stuff that we wouldn’t necessarily call grime; it’s new, with different-sounding electronics. But it’s still DIY! That’s what I look at. On the flip side, I’ve seen the Brazilian grime scene take it to another level—massive fanbase, big shows, artists that have 400,000+ followers on Instagram. [My label] Butterz released a record with some of the Brazilian grime MCs last year, and it sold well. For those of us now in our mid-30s, it’s not the end, but the story of the original group of people has played out. I’m looking at the people who are five or six years younger than us and going, “What are they going to become?” What happens when Dave touches 30? What happens when Stormzy touches 30? All these guys that came a bit later, like AJ Tracey and Novelist? It’s going to be interesting to see how everything evolves from here.

Raj Kapone: The way grime is reported on has changed, because the whole music scene and the internet have changed. We were dealing with a niche movement, and a pre-broadband internet. Now it’s a global artform with multiple platforms reporting and I love what’s happening with it. Young, talented kids have harnessed innovation through online video channels, podcasts and brand partnerships, whilst people like JP and Hyperfrank have killed it with grassroots reporting through TRENCH and Complex UK. There’s an in for everyone and that only helps to grow the scene. Until very recently, it felt like grime was the last localised youth music movement, and the fact that artists from 20 years ago are still successfully making music shows the longevity. You can hear grime’s DNA in UK drill, and probably countless other evolutions. When grime started, it was very much counterculture—underfunded communities, shutting down of youth clubs, shunned by the garage scene that went before it—so it had to be DIY by nature, and that was very much driven by community spirit. The community is global now, but as long as the spirit’s there, it can never die.

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This post first appeared on Complex Pop Culture, please read the originial post: here

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Grime’s Blog Era: An Oral History

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