Grime, Journalism and Us



On January 11th London rapper David Osadebay, best known as C Biz, was cleared of murder case at the Old Bailey. Fans and supporters went crazy on behalf of the news and took to social media where they expressed up most happiness and shock. However, it wasn’t shock that filled my emotions, it was the confusion by Twitter’s live new feed referring to him as a Grime artist.

Grime originated in London in the early 2000s and has become a part of British culture. The music produced from Grime MC’s focused on the life growing up in London at time, which involved gangs, struggle and black culture – but let’s be clear, this is not a negative. Grime music gave the youth a category of music to fit in and a space to express their thoughts and emotions through words. Communities and pirate radio stations like Rinse FM heavily supported it and when in conversation with Grime journalist, Eliane, she explained that there’s something exciting about pirate radio, which fundamentally keeps Grime alive and I agree. She went on the identify how some people see it as a beginning point to make it big in the UK, which is clearly proven by the genre’s international expansion.

More than music. OVO BBK family for Life.

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Earlier last year, Grime icon Skepta travelled to Japan when he curated and released his album Konnichiwa. The twelve-track project featured the old school crew, Boy Better Know and incorporates a Japanese essence along with Grime’s key 140bpm that threw it way back to 2000. Skepta has also taken Grime across the pond where rapper Drake has become a friendly member of the crew, by even tattooing ‘BBK’ on his arm. Eliane described the genre to be an appreciation of life in London and it’s relativity, it’s now our culture. In a continued conversation with the Grime journalist, I asked:

What is you opinion on music journalism?

 I think music journalism is very healthy thing for the UK music scene. It could be argued that artists, especially those coming up, find it hard to gain recognition and popularity and journalism helps to do that. The UK has so many blogs and magazine that cover all kinds of music from trap to grime to electronica – rarely any genre is missed out. The integration journalism has with social media unites listeners and artists giving them more exposure. 

Do you think there are too many Grime journalists and would you agree in saying many of them are “culture vultures”?

[Laughs] It can be interesting to read about all the different opinions each an author has, but this is still a business. Most blogs nowadays are used as selling points and loosing their real purpose (which is debatable). Instead of reading new content, it’s just loads of the same promotional articles of an album release or music video. They’re all kind of doing the same thing.



Grime started with groups of friends from similar areas spitting about their life and experience, which in London unfortunately happened to be surrounded by a lack of opportunities and high crime rates. However, as the genre has grown over the last 17-years, lyrics became more optimistic in terms of whom they are influencing and what is being said. Take Stormzy, he came into the game at 11-years old as a young Grime MC spitting about drugs and robbery, whereas now, his raps consist of witty remarks, punch lines and common referencing – something we all can relate to. Modern Grime is not as raw as it used to be, it uses conventions from mainstream songs in order to push it’s audience reach and be more likely accepted by society. Yet, my problem is that the connotations drawn from Grime’s origin still stick and create a stereotype for those involved.

Grime activist, journalist and DJ Sian Anderson contributes to Fader magazine with a monthly Grime column, she believes We Need To Talk About Pop Stars Talking About Grime. In her first contribution to the publication she drew on Rita Ora’s MOBO interview where she labeled rap group, Section Boyz as Grime artist and expressed how she’s always been a fan of Grime for a long time. Anderson then went onto say, I kept quiet even when I was shocked to see veteran grime DJ Logan Sama tweet: “the difference between That’s Not Me [Skepta and JME] and Trapping Ain’t Dead [Section Boyz] is incredibly small,” in defense – That’s the problem. Big or small, there is a difference and that shouldn’t be blind sided in the mass media or spoke on if you are unaware. Education is key people and ignorance is real!

I met up with Sian Anderson during a mentoring workshop she was running for young journalists like myself. She spoke highly on many of the Grime MCs, Skepta, Wiley and Kano as well as the young rising stars and it was genuine. Anderson is one of the few Grime journalist that actually experience the crucial transition and development of Grime music. Growing up in South London the 26-year old told me how she used to “chill with the mandem in the area listening to music and spitting, it was sick”. Then to come into an industry so blindsided by something they call “British culture” is confusing. The culture is the history, the change and the message, there are more layers to Grime than how the artists may dress or the slang they used. People and Journalists, who hold the most responsibility fail to release that you don’t have to know it, just don’t speak on it.

Bethany Walker, writer for Pardon My Blog and Radar Radio expressed her personal views on Grime culture.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Grime music in comparison to the other genres explored in the UK, when speaking on the “youth” and “culture”?

An advantage of grime music is that it allows people to experience the culture of multicultural Britain, which is great, but it can be pretty one dimensional and thats the disadvantage. A lot of grime music glamorises a lifestyle, a lifestyle that not everyone is living and it can breed stereotypes of the youth and black culture. Yes we want representation, but black youth and black culture is much vaster than what grime music portrays and that needs to be shown too.

She’s right, I get it. Grime is the type of music you need to make a deeper connection and understanding to. It’s a genre where ignorance is common because wider audience cannot comprehend and I feel because of that it is journalists, the voices from the mass media to audiences hold responsibility to how messages are portrayed. Although, I don’t feel their intentions are malicious however, if music journalism is your passion and you want to be flexible enough to write about all genres of music, have enough passion to learn about them.


Alexis Carrington

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