Grime is a genre of electronic dance music that emerged in London in the early 2000s. It developed out of earlier UK electronic music styles, including UK garage and jungle, and draws influence from dancehall, ragga, and hip hop. The style is typified by rapid, syncopated breakbeats, generally around 140 bpm, and often features an aggressive or jagged electronic sound. Rapping is also a significant element of the style, and lyrics often revolve around gritty depictions of urban life. The style initially spread among pirate radio stations (such as Rinse FM) and underground scenes before achieving some mainstream recognition in the UK during the mid-2000s through artists such as Dizzee Rascal, Kano, Lethal Bizzle, and Wiley. Other prominent artists include; P Money, Ghetts, Jme, Skepta, Stormzy, The Streets and grime crews such as Boy Better Know, Newham Generals, Roll Deep, and Ruff Sqwad. In the mid-2010s, grime began to receive popular attention in Australia. The genre has been described as the "most significant musical development within the UK for decades."

Origins and History

Grime emerged in the early 2000s in London. It has origins tied with UK pirate radio stations such as Rinse FM, Deja Vu FM, Major Fm, Freeze 92.7 and Raw Mission. At this point, the style was known by a number of names, including 8-bar (meaning eight-bar verse patterns), nu shape (which encouraged more complex 16-bar and 32-bar verse patterns), sublow (a music style and movement created by Jon E Cash with Dread D (T Williams) and crew "The Black Ops", the name sublow being a reference to the very low bassline frequencies, (often around 40 Hz) and eskibeat, a term applied specifically to a style initially developed by Wiley and his collaborators, incorporating dance and electro elements. This indicated the movement of UK garage away from its house influences towards darker themes and sounds. Among the first tracks to be labelled "grime" as a genre in itself were Eskimo, Ice Rink and Igloo by Wiley, Pulse X by Musical Mob and Creeper by Danny Weed.

The name grime was coined by journalists who initially termed the music's sub-bass heavy sound as "grimy", which subsequently became "grime". It has also been suggested by artists themselves that the term fits as the music frequently talks about "grimy goings-on" in deprived areas.

Dizzee Rascal, Wiley, Kano and Lethal Bizzle were among the first to bring the genre to mainstream media attention in 2003–2004, with their albums Boy in da Corner, Treddin' on Thin Ice, Home Sweet Home and Against All Oddz respectively. Dizzee Rascal garnered widespread critical acclaim and commercial success with Boy in da Corner winning the 2003 Mercury Music Prize. Despite the popularity and commercial success of individual artists, many underground grime artists failed to find a platform. In response to this, Boy Better Know's Jammer created Lords of the Mics in 2004 which was an annual DVD series, showcasing underground artists participating in battle rapping and also giving them a platform through interviews. Lord of the Mics was originally sold by Jammer locally but eventually helped smaller grime artists find a platform through selling the DVDs to independent record stores throughout the UK and eventually helping grime form an internet following from uploads to YouTube. This series built a unique platform for artists because the majority of prior exposure for these artists was through pirate radio. This video series allowed artists to be more visible, and spread their sound.

Grime has since received exposure from television stations including Channel U (later became Channel AKA, now Total Country), Logan Sama's show on London radio station Kiss FM, Sir Spyro's Grime Show on the BBC's youth-oriented digital radio station BBC Radio 1Xtra. as well as Charlie Sloth's show, which showcases various grime artists such as Stormzy, Bugzy Malone and Trim with his popular segment "Fire in the Booth" and the MOBO Awards, which launched its first "Best Grime" category in 2014 (prior to this, grime had been merged with "Best Hip-Hop" since 2011) when the show was being broadcast on BBC One.

Grime is not an offshoot of early electronic music, but rather a subgenre that draws from a wide variety of influences. Early innovative artists such as Dizzee Rascal and Wiley were able to take the strong thumping drums of drum and bass, lyricism and vocal styles of UK garage and alter some of the rhythms of dancehall to capture all three genre’s essences and add a new half-time, down-tempo dimension to the mix. The genre’s popularity grew exponentially in the United Kingdom, as people across the scene’s musical spectrum appreciated grime’s eclectic mix of instrumentation and subcultures. This hybridization united many different music scenes, allowing for it to spread in the same word-of-mouth and mixtape-based style as hip-hop, yet still appeal to fans of electronic music. It also paved the way for more electronic music artists to incorporate stronger African and Caribbean influences in the future. grime never received the same attention worldwide that it did in the UK. Much like many other less mainstream forms of British electronic music, its main scene and fan base remained in the United Kingdom.

Although grime is recognised as a creative and innovative musical style, there are other contributing factors to its rapid and widespread growth in popularity. The MCs producing current grime music is overwhelmingly young as a group, the most well-known names in the industry, Dizzee Rascal and Kano, both getting their first hits at the age of 16 with "I Luv U" and "Boys Love Girls" respectively, and the resultant package of "youth making music for youth" is seen as a crucial factor for grime's success.

National growth

As grime became more popular in the UK throughout the mid-2000s, it spread out of London to other major British cities. Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Blackpool, and Bristol now have grime MCs who are currently gaining major exposure in the scene and have featured on Lord of the Mics, an annual DVD released by Boy Better Know's Jammer.

The national growth of the grime scene has also been evident with many grime artists playing on the urban music stages of the big summer festivals such as Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, T in the Park and O2 Wireless Festival in Hyde Park. Dizzee Rascal played at all these events in the summer of 2008. In 2015, Manchester grime artist Bugzy Malone was involved in a heavily publicized grime feud with London-based MC Chip who had created controversy with comments during a Fire in the Booth session. The feud catapulted Bugzy Malone to national fame and he has so far released three commercial projects, all debuting in the top 10 in the UK with his latest album charting at number four.

Birmingham Grime

From its roots in East London, Grime has become a global phenomenon. Across the UK, the largest scene outside London is based in Birmingham and the wider area. In Birmingham, Grime came out of the vibrant Bassline and Garage scenes of 2001-2 and was driven by MCs such as MC Docta and Vadar. Prominent in this scene was Dj Big Mikee who would play Grime sets (before it was called Grime) on Silk City FM.  Also on the Garage scene at that time was Mike Skinner aka The Streets and it was to be his critically acclaimed debut album, Original Pirate Material, that was to usher in Grime. Skinner followed this up with an EP entitled All Got Our Runnins, which featured a number of grime MCs on the remixes of some of his tracks. Skinner also produced and featured on Kano's 2005 hit single, Nite Nite, from the critically acclaimed Home Sweet Home album.

In 2004, the first in the series of Lord of the Mics DVDs were released. It featured Devilman from Birmingham, clashing Skepta. Devilman's appearance on Lord of the Mics is one of the earliest examples of a Midlands MC at the forefront of the scene and is credited by Jammer with helping to break down the stigma of accents from outside London over grime music. The clash is considered to be one of the greatest in the LOTM series with artists such as Drake praising it. Devilman would later link up with Mike Skinner to appear on the remix of "Prangin' Out". In 2007, Trilla released the single 'G Star', produced by the Dwellaz. A fusion of grime and bassline, it became an underground hit. Several other tracks were released during this time which were also well received by fans, such as Slash's Birmingham and C4's Oorite.

By the early 2010s, the grime scene in Birmingham was well established and the city hosted several highly successful events called 'Goonies' at the Rainbow Warehouse in Digbeth. These events attracted some of the biggest names in grime, most notably P-Money, who referenced the events on his single 'Slang Like This'.

Other prominent artists include Deadly, who formed the grime group N.O.D.B, the first group from Birmingham to feature on BBC Radio 1Xtra; Mayhem, who is also a founding member of N.O.D.B, known for his bombastic sound and his 2012 feud with Wiley C4, Sox, JayKae and SafOne. Many Birmingham artists have now had success outside the Birmingham region in recent years. The fourth edition of Lady Leshurr's Queen's Speech freestyle has gained over 28 million views on YouTube as of May 2016. In 2016, Lady Leshurr won a MOBO award for the Best Female Act.

As well as hosting large events, the pirate radio scene includes stations such as Silk City Radio, where Birmingham DJ Big Mikee hosts a regular slot between 10-12pm every Sunday.

Birmingham producers such as Preditah and Swifta Beater have become established figures in the Grime scene, with leading artists such as Wiley giving recognition to their contribution to grime. In 2011, Preditah released his Solitaire EP; a collection of four grime instrumentals. This EP reached number 1 on the iTunes album charts.