Is America Ready for Britain's Grime Music Invasion?
England is a land that has given us such divisive cultural touchstones as the Spice Girls, Piers Morgan, colonization, and more over the years. It’s inspired us to whip out our awful attempt at a British accent whenever possible. Now, the country may be the source of the biggest musical import since Adele made us cry by the gallon with her entire discography. Grime, the music genre that emerged in England in the early 2000s, has been capturing the ears of rebellious British youth for over a decade but never crossed the pond to smear some dirt on the stars and stripes.
Until now, that is. The genre has been catching the attention of some of rap and hip-hop’s biggest names, and now it looks poised to finally break out here and break down the music industry one guttural baseline and choppy freestyle at a time. The impending grime takeover comes on the heels of Britain’s own race-tinged award show controversy that fell under the #BritsSoWhite hashtag and targeted The Brit Awards for, once again, ignoring the black grime artists who have been at the forefront of the movement. But mainstream recognition of the grime genre is changing fast. The new head of music for BBC Radio 1, Chris Price, came out in support of the cult music scene. “This year could be quite a turning point for grime. Can this become our big cultural export moment, our hip-hop?” he asked. “It feels like international eyes are on the genre.”
Some of those international eyes seem to belong to a handful of our own favorite artists. We’re still getting over last year’s epic performance at the Brit Awards that saw Kanye West bring out a legion of emcees from the genre for “All Day.” Grime legends like Skepta, Stormzy, Krept & Konan, and dozens of others mobbed onstage and shot off flamethrowers, which provided a literal flame to illuminate a genre that has long been ignored by America’s music scene.
The anti-establishment genre that has rocked the foundation of Britain for over a decade hasn’t just caught the attention of Kanye, either. One of the most fervent devotees of grime has been our favorite sensitive 6 God, Drake. Most recently, he gave a shoutout on Wednesday to DJ Logan Sama for helping him on his new track you’ve probably had on repeat for days, “One Dance.” Sama is a founding father of the genre and has been releasing music under the grime label for over a decade. Drake’s work with him is no surprise given his close relationship to the genre. He borrowed Skepta lyrics for “Used To,” had Sneakbo perform on his UK tours way back in 2011, and in February announced that he had signed to grime label Boy Better Know.
With Kanye and Drake backing the artists who have been cultivating the genre for years, it’s only a matter of time before grime makes the crossover and invades American airwaves. A handful of these artists took on SXSW this year while Stormzy brought fire to Brooklyn last month and, with Drake’s new album slated for the end of this month, it seems just about everyone and everything is primed for music’s next big revolution. While we wait for this year’s album drops from Stormzy and Skepta, we’ll be checking out the best that the genre has to offer.
Stay tuned to Milk for more grime.
Images via Getty.