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What the Dub? Origins of Grime (1997-2004)


In honour of our latest headliner, RIZ LA TEEF, this weeks ‘What The Dub?’ post will be about the origins of Grime, so this goes out to all the Nike TN wearing, tracksuit mafia bashers.

Like Dubstep, Grime came into fruition from the demise of Garage, the steady minimising of itself and incorporation of darker beats allowed the genre to move forwards, evolving from shuffling 2 step beats to darker, weightier and far more brooding patterns with a solid bpm set at (mostly) around 140. With dubstep not as reliant on MCs, Grime became a magnet for stray Garage MCs who all wanted to expand and grow, with the primary figurehead being Wiley.

Grime ‘Godfather’ Wiley has the title for a reason, having emerged on pirate radio initially spitting over jungle instrumentals in 1997 and then going on to establish ‘Pay as U Go Cartel’ two years later, made up of legends consisting of Slimzee, Geeneus, Flowdan amongst others. The east London Garage crew split up in the aftermath their single ‘Champagne Dance’ reaching the Top 20. Two of their producers, Geeneus and Slimzee, went onto concentrate on their pirate radio station, Rinse FM which was established in 1994. Meanwhile Wiley began to pioneer his “Eski" style which lead to him inventing Grime or Eski beat with an instrumental track that you may know as 'Eskimo'.

With the release of ‘Eskimo’ in 2002 Wiley looks to completely leave behind Garage and forms Roll Deep Crew as a consequence. Initially made up of Dizzee Rascal, Danny Weed, Tinchy Stryder, Jamaka B, DJ Wonder, DJ Karnage, Scratchy, Flow Dan and of course himself, later replacing and adding on other members like Skepta, Trim and Killa P. The crew became the new spearhead for the movement, having numerous sets on pirate radio which back then was the only feasible way of spreading the sound further than just East London.

It was at the same time when the ‘Godfather’ founded Eskimo dance which back then was the biggest Grime event, and till this day still is, most recently held in the SSE arena in Wembley.

Steady momentum allowed a channel to be launched on British satellite television in 2003, which was dedicated to solely play Grime and UK Hip-Hop. Enough to make Channel 4 produce a small late-night documentary where it would interview MCs to find out the genres name. Just in case all this wasn’t confusing enough, Wiley later releases a single called ‘Wot Do U Call It?’

Wiley and Dizzee fall out and say they’ll no longer work together (still true till this day), days before Dizzee’s first album ‘Boy In The Corner’, winning a Mercury Prize in 2003, with the LP heavily shaping the sound of the genre and is still regarded as one of the best if not the best Grime album of all time.

Just a couple months after Lethal Bizzle made his first mark on the charts, Grime collective ‘More Fire Crew’ reached number 7 in the Official Singles Chart with their single “Oi”.

Jammer, a member of Roll Deep, Neckle Camp, and Boy Better Know, founded the Lord Of The Mics, which was a video series featuring lyrical clashes between the biggest MCs in the scene. Not only being a ‘top producer’ with bangers like ‘Birds in the Sky’ and ‘Murkle Man’ his LOTM series featured classics and groundbreaking clashes, like Wiley vs Kano, Skepta vs Devilman, Scratchy vs Footise and of course Crazy Titch vs Bruza. All of this havoc having taken place in his mum’s basement.. Madness.

By 2004, Grime has its own moshpit anthem in the form of Lethal Bizzle’s ‘Forward Riddim’, better known as ‘Pow!’. Not only is it the first grime single to break the UK Top 20, but it makes headlines after the moshpits it provokes see club owners put up signs to DJs saying: ‘Do not play “Pow!”

That was our brief report on the origins of Grime, we understand a few key elements may have been missing and therefore encourage anyone to fill in any gaps in the comments below.

Stay 2-stepping,

Juan Love x



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