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Out There

Just in case you haven't heard, grime music fucking rules England now and is soon to be huge in America.
MM
Κείμενο Matt Mason

Just in case you haven't heard, grime music fucking rules England now and is soon to be huge in America. We were on it before anyone else over here, so we figured we'd best give you a Grime 101 now before it's too late and Grime Lite is all over McDonald's commercials. Once upon a time (1995–2002), in a far-away kingdom (London, England), there was a music scene called UK garage. UK garage was, on the surface, a shiny, happy, melodies-and-vocals kinda sound, all set to tough B-lines and crisp 2-step beats. UKG clubbers would congregate in exclusive little South London clubs, wear nasty Moschino suits, spend a week's wages on overpriced champagne, and rave the night away like disco never even fucking died. It was a sound bristling with post-millennial optimism, and yardies, turks, greeks, white boys (and girls), and pretty much everyone else aged 16-30 was listening to it. The best sugar-coated vocal tracks started topping the charts, the clubs became brands, and the UK media latched on quick. Everything was great, and everyone loved it. (The whole scene was actually underpinned by violence, drugs, security firms, and soccer hooligans, but that's another story.) Then, late in 2001, a few things happened that would completely change all this. MCs, who had always existed in the garage scene as hosts, took over the stage and formed crews like So Solid, who then took over the national charts. Then all this "there are terrorists everywhere" stuff started up, the whole planet shat its pants, and suddenly all the euphoric feelings of the new millennium wore off and were replaced with fear, lies, and paranoia. Suddenly UK garage was absolutely, totally meaningless. While the first generation of garage artists sat around moaning about the good old days and couldn't understand what had happened, kids all over London, stuck on the tempo, started to turn it into something relevant. Underproduced tracks made of five or six sounds, like Musical Mob's Pulse X, were being produced on PlayStations and selling 10,000 units. MCs and crews became bigger than DJs and lyrics, and hype became more important than the music behind it. By 2002, Heartless Crew, the Pay As U Go Cartel, and Roll Deep ruled the clubs and pirates, and a 17-year-old called Dizzee Rascal became a national hero. UK garage had evolved into grime, the most violent, exciting, antisocial, unstoppable British export since the land mine. Fast-forward to 2005, and grime has busted out of South and East London and is eating the whole country alive, but this time it's staying off the mainstream radar for the most part. It has its own underground network of radio, TV stations, websites and magazines, and though clubs are continuously shut down because the scene is so violent, it just keeps growing in popularity. Recently, ex-More Fire Crew's Lethal B's tune "Forward" got banned from clubs up and down the country for sparking riots, due to its "punch everybody around you in the face right now" hook that goes "Pow! Pow! Pow!" UK grime kids are seething with an anarchic energy not seen since punk that can only come from a really bad-trip type mix of poverty, desperation and a total disregard for any other cunt whatsoever. Onstage at a club, you'll regularly see 50 or so MCs physically and lyrically battling over one mic, which every now and then escalates into fights that consume entire clubs. Tunes get rewinds (or forwards, as they're now called) because of the lyrics an MC shouts over the top, not cos of the tune underneath. An eight bar lyric fired off at the wrong time can and has started riots. Grime is the only original British response to hip hop, and because it isn't full of lame ex-crack dealers who now sell vitamin water, and MTV are more scared of it than AIDS, it could one day take its place. Names to watch for in '05 include MCs Kano, D Double E, Lethal B and Ears, and producers Jammer, DaVinChe and Dexplicit (who has a joint on the new Dipset tape). Up until recently, the main problem with Grime was that getting hold of the records is almost impossible unless you live in East London or Brixton. Recently though, The Street's UK label 679 put together a good compilation called Run The Road which Vice is releasing in the US next month. [Yeah, yeah don't give us shit about self-promotion. This is a fucking public service—Ed.] As for the newer stuff, hit uptownrecords.com and rhythmdivision.co.uk. MATT MASON