No Hats. No Hoods. No Violence.
Traditionally, grime has always been a genre that relied heavily on the intricate details of violent behaviour and explicit sexual acts within its content, to entice listeners and score notoriety. When grime was still in its infancy, chip wrapper newspapers would point a blameful finger at the genre each time a drug-running youth was stabbed, shot or robbed...
Although sensationalising the problem, and to some extent papering over the cracks by blaming it all on one genre of music, the red tops had a point. As grime gained popularity, raves became an integral part of the scene. To begin with, club promoters would step over themselves to take the radio sets out of abandoned buildings and into the clubs. Grime raves would fill venues wall to wall with angry teenagers, clad in Akademik’s tracksuits with Persil bags swinging inside their trousers. But things soon turned sour.
The majority of grime raves slowly turned into an opportunity for its more violent ravers to start an all-out brawl – some of which left people maimed, in some cases, nearly dead! It appeared, in the media’s eyes at least, that the fans of grime were all gun-toting hoodlums who liked nothing better than unloading a cartridge into the ceiling of Sidewinder events as MCs got reloads.
Grime crept back under its stone and remained fully underground for a few years. The media still shone its torch into the shadows of east London council estates when they needed a scape goat, and violent bars still reigned supreme within the scene, but the raves were dying out. MCs would clash and often end up chasing each other down as a direct reaction of war dubs. Vicious conduct simply fuelled MCs credibility. If you weren’t stabbing and shooting at the same time as spitting and recording, you weren’t worth your salt.
But this would never take grime into stadiums and arenas. After a few years of MCs evolving into artists and recognising that the way to make money from their music was to recreate the scene and sell it off to the middle classes, grime became something new and trendy. This would eventually dilute the violence within grime.
It wasn’t just the “unruly street kids” flocking from the council blocks to bop their heads and throw their fists at grime events anymore. Rapidly, people from all sides of the social spectrum fell in love with grime and its underground appeal. The demographic changed, and grime was getting airtime on the same stations that used to choke it down. You didn’t have to listen to Tim Westwood on a late Friday night to catch two minutes of grime anymore; you could tune in midday and hear your favourite MC lacing commercial beats, pleasing to the ear of its new consumers.
As the content changed, so did the demographic of listeners and this created a new niche for grime and it soon became socially acceptable. MCs suddenly started to appear in glossy magazines and received features in various newspapers, notably The Sun. So, without the initial underground threat of violence that grime once presented to some, its new fans could enjoy it at raves, events and on the street.
Although people argue that grime’s true soul has been sold to the evil one, I feel that the transition was inevitable, whether we liked it or not. Having a more mainstream friendly environment for its listeners can’t be a bad thing when money is being made, and it looks like the only way that grime could’ve progressed to where it is today, was to put its muzzle on.
Words: Jake Hanrahan (@OiJake)
Photography: Verena Stefanie Grotto (@KidsOfGrime)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)