Grime’s success story has been well documented since its recent ‘renaissance’, and its cultural significance is now regularly discussed by the mainstream media. The genre, which was previously subject to marginalisation and unfair legislations like the Met Police’s Form 696 risk assessment procedure, has become an intercontinental infatuation and is developing into one of Britain’s most popular musical exports.
Sky Arts and Renowned Film are the latest to tell the story with their documentary, Generation Grime, but this time it’s with the help of, not only the grime pioneers, but also politicians, digital age entrepreneurs and the people who were championing the scene in the industry boardrooms. And, as well as looking at how grime was created as an artistic response to the adversity faced by Britain’s black working class, it captures the genre’s character and humour and the multifaceted talent of its artists.
"This is just how we are," explains JME, "it’s just that our culture became a music genre". Few could articulate it better than the Boy Better Know MC, whose crew, over the past two decades, has personified grime’s accomplishments.
Mike Skinner also shares his thoughts in the documentary, explaining how "grime is one of the most important forms of music that this country has ever made", before a full battalion of legends, including Dizzee Rascal, Lethal Bizzle, Jammer, JME, J2K, Wretch 32, DJ Target, Logan Sama, Shystie, Twin B, Jamal Edwards and Devlin, appear to give their accounts, detailing the scene’s evolution from sound system culture, through garage music and pirate radio, all the way to the Boy Better Know O2 Takeover.
David Lammy, MP for Tottenham (the town that nurtured the talents of Skepta, JME, Wretch 32 et al.) also makes an appearance to celebrate grime’s success, but also to express how it has changed the landscape of British politics. From start to finish, Generation Grime fondly tells the story of a unique, British scene, with candid insight and genuine humour, and, contrary to what you might expect, is more than just a nostalgic look back at how things used to be.
It is an analysis of how, with the foundations it currently stands on, grime can become totally self-sustainable and progress on an upward trajectory well in the future.
Words: Patrick Fennelly
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