After massive success with the likes of "Eskimo Dance" (a club night to showcase all the best talent in the grime scene) and 'Lord of the Mics' (live face to face clashes where 2 MC's would face off against each-other, winner takes all in a boxing match of words, (created by 'Jammer' and 'Ratty') the scene was spreading faster than anyone had imagined. Though 'Grime' was seen as a London scene there was plenty of potential emerging from other areas of the country ready to show London that it wasn't just for them. The lord of the mics clashes showed people how seriously people took the scene and sounds they were pioneering.
In the Midlands things were stirring and people were slowly getting behind their own MC's and local talent which went mostly unheard by London MC's at that time but soon things would change drastically. London had cultivated it's scene off the back of a 'crew' mentality and this had worked extremely well but if things were to escalate the same for the midlands a new approach was needed. This would take the form of crews of people still but the main difference was because the scene was already thriving in London it gave MC's an entry point in the scene and also meant that instead of fighting between themselves for status or popularity it sparked the hunger for the areas as a whole to fight for a piece of the "London Pie" that was Grime music and bring it back to their area. It's 2008 - 09, and Nottingham were already backing their local legend 'Wariko' who built a foundation to bring MC's through with on his 'NewCamp" brand (Splinta, J Dot and others). In the West they were backing "Stay Fresh" (Macca, Raider, Movez, J1, Saf-1, Deadly, Pressure, Don Menna and Casper; two in-house producers; Swifta beater and Moky, and two videographers, Jay and Despa) around 2010 onwards saw Birmingham form a brand called "Invasion Alert" (Jaykae, Depzman, D2, Hazman, Hitman, K1, Sox, Tazzle, Vader). Wariko would be featured on "lord of the mics 3" which would pave the way for more Nottingham MC's to get a shot. Stay fresh released heavyweight hard hitting collective music that cemented them in the scene as a force to be reckoned with.
But no other rise to fame happened as quickly and as rapidly as "Invasion Alert". 'Sox' featuring on "Lord of the mics 3", 'Jaykae' and 'Depzman' featured on "lord of the mics 4" and D2 featured on "lord of the mics 5", showed everyone that not only Birmingham but the whole of the midlands had their own styles and could hold their own against a London MC. Clashing is one side of Grime culture and arguably the most important foundation for any upcoming MC to showcase their talent and also express their emotions in a safe controlled environment. On one hand you have the 'clash' of two MC's from a crew or the two groups themselves 'clash' to gain popularity for their area but this can only gain you so much momentum, other avenues were opening up for midlands MC's that were not available to the London MC's who pioneered the scene in the beginning.
After much success of YouTube channels like "SBTV" who were at the forefront of the social media explosion used their ever rapidly expanding followers to showcase talent in the London area uploading 'street style' videos to the masses this sparked more channels to pop-up all around the country from 'linkup tv' to 'M45 TV', to "Grime Report TV" and 'P110' to 'JDZ Media' just to name a few.. All searching for new talent to bring to the masses and also trying to get existing legends on board to help spread the word. These channels started out with street freestyles of local artists and slowly progressed to bigger names dropping music videos, also branching into live footage from raves / dances and festivals. The more footage that became available the more the scene exploded and evolved, showing people all around the country what was happening in the grime scene. This opened up another new spectrum for artists / producers and Dj's to showcase talent.. and even some comedians were born, on the "Grime Report TV" channel a popular artist called "Big Narstie" gained popularity for a show he created called "Uncle Pain", a show based on the famous "Agony Aunt" you find in the back of newspapers where he would answer questions submitted by fans about problems they were encountering in their lives. It gained massive support and was evidence that Grime culture wasn't just music . . Avenues into chart music were opened up and more avenues meant more money for artists and different ways to make it for example custom T-Shirts which would turn into clothing brands, mix-tapes which would turn into studio albums, which would in turn expose artists to major festivals not only around the country but around the globe! which in turn made more people get involved which then meant more people would have to take Grime culture more seriously.
2012 - now Now things have slowed down and people are crossing over into different genres of music completely, perusing either different career paths through the evolution of their music or money. The current feeling in the grime scene is that it's 'Dead' I remember 3 or 4 years ago (around the time "too many man" came out) this same statement was made by big name grime artists at the time and still here we are today after the explosion of the midlands scene and the YouTube / SBTV explosion, talking about the scene being 'dead'. I always took this as "I'm not making (or making enough) money so I'm going to to go where the better money is" which diluted the scene even more but left behind the people who were creating solid grime sounds for the passion of the scene not just for the money, I always had the mentality of "Do what you love and the money will come" and I firmly believe it to this day. JME (Boy Better Know) mentions this in many of his lyrics stating that the people who leave aren't part of the scene anyway... Famously in his track "If you don't know" he says "People who like good music know how to hunt it down", meaning that if you know where to look... you'll find that original grime sound regardless of what's big or popular at the time. Grime music was created on it's own by the music artists, with minimal help from major labels, major sponsors and the media.
People took it upon themselves to create a sound based on the world that they were subject too and didn't care what anyone else thought or who was listening it wasn't theirs.. it was OURS.... OUR.. PRECIOOUSSS! Even with the constant talk of the grime scene being 'Dead',the scene is bigger and badder than ever with not only the London legends like Big Narstie, P Money and countless others still on top of their game, but over the years the Midlands has been growing to the point where this has left room for new heads that are ready to take their place at the top like Sharkz, Mez, JDot (Nottingham), C4, Deadly, Safone (Birmingham), Dialect, Zen, Eyez (Leeds) and so many more! Also we are seeing a female division forming giving some guys a good run for their money for example Lady Leshurr (Birmingham), NOLAY (London) and countless others. And producers from all over the country creating amazing scores of music.. Riddla, Beat Geeks (Nottingham), Preditah, Swifta Beater (Birmingham) & Erbal T (South East) (Just to name a handful of them as I can't name them all) have between them made some of the best music to come out of the midlands and surrounding areas. The Grime scene is no longer as simple as 140BPM music tracks sent on blank CD's or uploaded to SoundCloud or dedicated to dingy back room or underground basements.. it's a living breathing organism that is being spread everywhere, whether it be on battle rap stages like 'DontFlop' which not only has established itself as the number one UK Rap Battle League but has seen MC's travel overseas to battle internationally adding more fuel to the fire, but also sparked a grime league to be set up called "Words Are Weapons" which has seen amazing talent rise through the ranks to become some of the best fresh talent on the scene, Marvin (Nottingham), Raptor (Manchester) and plenty of others. I think that with the transition of Grime from it's start-up roots in the beginning to what it's become today (Something more easily marketable for the future) has meant that some original heads have lost interest in the grime scene and this could be for multiple reasons. Maybe they see it as 'Watered down' and have no interest in making it more easily digestible and want to keep the sound darker and less 'Radio friendly'. I can relate to this, to a certain degree. I feel that every sound that has emerged in the UK and was raised by an underground scene, (Especially Dubstep!) has been taken from the originators and handed to the mainstream to dissect and pretty much turn into a "get rick quick" scheme to then be dumped in it's grave when the money dries up. Or maybe it's something that was made up by the popular music executives to try and steer the music industry away from Grime music or to try and keep a hold on the "Top 40" dominance of pop music. My Opinion: I personally think that because grime has shifted away from it's roots in London, people don't look outside of London to see what is happening and who is in the scene, or care about the underdog for that matter. One trend I have noticed in the grime scene as a whole is, anyone who makes grime is considered "a dead artists" until they have a large enough following or enough legendary artists on their side that everyone jumps on board. I want to see the day where UK Grime music is embraced like 'Gangsta Rap' is in America, and I think it's not far away. We saw people get behind London and grow Grime from nothing to something that was massive. We saw that transition from London to it's surrounding areas and shortly the whole country to the point now where it's pegged down by popular music. With the release of Meridian Dan's "German Whip" it sparked an interest from everyone in the grime scene as a whole, barriers were smashed down when it charted at number 13 in the official chart after ZERO help from commercial radio (apart from digital Radio 1Xtra dedicated grime shows). This was higher than any other grime single in the last 5 years (or even longer) and showed that grime can be something big without the help of the standard outlets given to bigger more successful artists. Given the right amount of time and the right set of artists and mentalities coming into the scene it is obvious to see that Grime culture will still be here in 20 years time like Drum and Bass did before it and will hopefully be something that we can use to show the world what British culture really and truly is, instead of what it is today.. A cheap American knock off.
Author- Moses Heeney