This is what grime fans look like in 2015

Riding the bandwagon, that’s not them

From Christmas number one campaigns to Skepta performing with Drake at Wireless, grime is becoming quite a phenomenon in 2015. Rewind two years ago and house was polluting the airwaves – Grime was nowhere to be seen in mainstream success besides the occasional Wiley collaboration with a dance pulse and a hook from Ms D or Yasmin.

JME once said: “the music originated and will always remain in the streets”, but if it never leaves the streets, how will it ever make a difference?

We spoke to a few people who have been listening to this voice all along, and what they’ve experienced while following their favourite MC’s since as young as 12. Here are the true grime heads – the ones who’ve followed from the playground, and the ones who were hooked in from Shutdown.

Alex Cockeram, third year, Manchester

Someone wears their sunglasses at night

Someone clearly wears their sunglasses at night

With JME looking serious

With JME looking serious

So when did you start listening to grime?

I always listened to it a bit but properly got into it in 6th form.

Anyone in particular?

Always Dizzee.

Where did it go from there?

When I turned 18 and could get into clubs went to raves.

Who have you seen live?

Saw JME at fabric and that’s stuck with me. I’ve seen most mainstream ones: P Money, Akala, most of BBK. I’m desperate to see Dizzee though.

So who are you on now?

As of this week been getting into Devilman, but I tend to listen to non album stuff of most artists — just when they’re doing fire in the booth kinda set ups.

Why do you think grimes had such a resurgence in the past year?

High publicity not only due to the actual music but social media stuff causing it to spread easier than before. Stuff like Uncle Pain with Big Narstie isn’t about the music. So it gets a wider audience involved.

So you think now its becoming more of a fashion statement than a genre?

Drake getting gassed off BBK made me think it’s a cool thing to like – I think that’s how it is. The lifestyle is at its core, but it’s spreading from its roots to the mainstream more than before and with that fashion and culture comes too. So it’s a bit reciprocal.

Charlie Dublin, third year, UWE


Charlie (Middle) and Trilla (right)

When did you start listening to grime?

I think year eight when my mate showed me Trilla – Etap.

Who was your first love?

Either Trilla or Skepta.

Who are you listening to at the moment?

J hus and Nines.

Who have you seen live?

Devilman, Skepta, Jme, Trilla, Bomma B, Newham Generals, Big Narstie and Lethal Bizzle over four times.

Do you think its changed since the beginning? Or do you think its making a return to that raw sound it once had?

Well for me who’s gone to private school and that, the sound has come back to how I first heard it, yeah. But I haven’t lived the way others may have, so I think if you asked someone from the “hood” they’d say it can’t go back to the same.

Do you think theres an ownership when it comes to grime? Do you think people from private schools shouldn’t listen to it?

No way. It’s open to everyone like music should be. Whatever background someone has there’s going to be something within grime they can relate to. Also it’s so new – it’s not like oh yeah my parents like grime so I do, it’s new to our generation so we just like it cause we actually do. Not because it’s been passed down.

So would you say you’ve found solace in grime where others have found it in other genres? Do you think it has the power to comfort?

Yeah I love it. I’ll always listen to it and would happily talk to someone about it — try and get them listening to it. I want it to grow everywhere, some people like having there own genre and songs to themselves but I’d much rather people be jamming to the same tune and enjoying as much as I do.

Favourite tune if you had to choose one?

King of Grime. Or Next Hype.

Callum O’Hare, third year, Birmingham


Footsie, Callum, and Nick

When did you start listening to grime?

2008 maybe, 2009.

Who started it off for you?

Wiley the godfather.

Any reason?

First grime guy to make tunes for the radio, like Wearing My Rolex. Awful tune, but back then it was cool.

Who have you seen live?

JME twice, Wiley once, Skepta twice, Trilla (at my mate’s birthday), Newham Generals, P Money twice, I think that’s it.

So who are you following now then?

Section Boyz, Big H, President T, Roll Safe.

Do you think the landscape has changed since the start?

Not really, I think everyone is going to try and bring elements of the old because that’s what the people like. For example a dirty garage beat would still kill it on a grime track making sense due to the origins of the sounds!  But if anything, over the years more people are sending for each other. Chip, Skepta and others, which is so unique: in America all those rappers would never challenge each other publicly. So in turn all this anger is making some crazy stuff.|

By the looks of it people seem to think grimes moving towards more of a fashion statement than a genre – do you agree?

No way, grime artists are promoting their clothing and you hardly see anyone wearing it. I remember Devilman with the “Ibun” shirts and C4 with the “ooright” polo’s never really took off. In England we have never really had rappers like those in America, so when we see Adidas and all the sorts I imagine it’s just the closest we can get to dressing like our favourite bands. If grime were to be a fashion statement, it would have already taken off and been recognised fully by everyone. So rather than a fashion statement, it’s definitely turning into the UK’s next biggest sound.

Liam Banks-Carr, DJ, Manchester


When did you start listening to grime?

When I was about 14. Back in the days it was Shifty and Wrigz.

You’re a DJ yourself – anyone you’ve booked or met?

Booked Footsie (Newham Generals), Black Josh, Wordz. but I’ve met: Footsie, D Double E, Big Narstie, Toddla T and Hosted for Royal T.

Who was your first love?

Probably Wiley. His lyrical flow was just mental.

Any favourite lyrics?

“I don’t care about garage”.

Do you think its changed since the beginning?

Yeah definitely it’s changed and grown, I mean it’s gone from house parties and grime nights shut down by police most of the time, to people like Skepta selling out shows in the US. I reckon the old school vibe is coming back in a way, with Stormzy using old ruff sqwad instrumentals.

Its clear that people like Kanye and Drake are enjoying it. Are you worried about the Americanisation of grime? 

I’m not worried about it as long as they are doing it for the right reasons. If it’s because of money then they can fuck off. But if they’re looking to help it grow and rock their own style then all is good.

But with that comes mainstream success — now everyone is a grime head. Is this something we should be bothered about?

Possibly. I’ve noticed that a lot of underground grime MCs and producers aren’t getting noticed as much as they should. I’d rather see them rise up than somebody already established jump on the hype.

Annabel Murphy, second year, English, Manchester


Narstie and wifey

When did you start listening to grime?

Not till I came to Manchester and started going out with a grime DJ. I went to posh school where people hadn’t found their inner roadman yet so we were all still listening to hymns in chapel.

So who are you into now?

Well I’ve explored it loads more now and listen to a bit of Newham Generals, Ruff sqwad, JME, and the obvious ones like Stormzy — I’ve seen Footsie and and D Double D live separately now as well as Stormzy at WHP which was sick.

So why do you think its such a big deal now? Why have people only now latched onto it as a genre.

I wouldnt personally say I’ve latched onto it, I still listen to all the same music that I used to, I haven’t exactly embraced the culture. I think the grime scene is growing in Manchester and because of it DJs are getting more and more work playing grime, so I became surrounded by it in that sense.

I think it seems cool, maybe like hip hop used to so that’s why young people are getting involved. Like it makes them feel kind of gangster maybe?

So you think it’s the new edge people are looking for?

Yeah definitely it seems like the cool thing to be into – a culture and way of dressing that’s quite easy to follow. If you can afford Palace.

Monique Touko, Third year, Drama, Manchester


When did you start listening to grime?

Around 12/13 I think.

Who was your first love in grime?

Dizzee, BBK, Kano, Wiley Lethal B, So Solid Crew, Giggs. It wasn’t grime before it’s just what we used to listen to. It was very urban and you could relate. The beats were just infectious, and there was more of a focus on the beats and instrumentals which various artists used to freestyle too.

Who have you seen live?

Skepta, JME, Jammer, Kano, Dizzee, Big Narstie, P Money, Giggs. I’ve seen BBK a lot but thats because they perform more than others. Other than that I can’t think.

Who are you rating now?

BBK, Section boyz, Stormzy, Krept and Konan, J Hus. I like UK road rap — an extension of grime — Names like Skrapz, Nines, 67 Liquez.

Would you say its changed since the beginning or are MC’s trying to revive that raw sound?

Its definitely changed. Its less underground, fully a brand that people are now finally listening to. The standard of the videos, the worldwide recognition,  and performing in new venues like Warehouse Project, along with really big festivals which wouldn’t have happened before.

It’s not just for urban black youth anymore. I do think its still authentic – the want to be British and not American is really good.

So you think Britain will retain its integrity and reject the Americanisation?

Completely. It has up to now and I have faith that it will remain UK. Trying to be American has been done before, and it doesn’t work.

And do you think its a problem that its not just for the urban black youth anymore?

Nah not at all. Music is for everyone, as long as it’s not wrongly appropriated then it should be inclusive.