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A brief introduction to grime

Grime has definitely been in the news lately, Skepta released his long-awaited album Konichiwa and young MC’s like Novelist and Stormzy are making serious waves, alongside a slew of young producers exploring the limits of the grime sound.

The origins of grime goes back to the latter days of UK Garage, seeing a split into the darker side of garage which evolved into dubstep and grime, an MC-led movement, characterized by its sparse and ice cold instrumentals. In UK dance music, pirate radio has always played an important role for the ever-evolving genres. Grime’s relationship in pirate radio is, of course, no exception. It’s an intense relationship, in large part defining the genre’s mode of expression. The key player for grime’s pirate radio romance was DJ Slimzee, co-founder of the legendary RinseFM. With Roll Deep MC’ing and productions from Wiley, Danny Weed and a host of other producers, the genre solidified as the ultimate expression of urban youth in the UK.

Talking about grime, you can’t escape talking about Wiley. He has played a large part in grime’s evolution, both as a producer and MC. His very distinct instrumentals, relying mainly on a synth preset from the Korg Triton synth called Gliding Squares and percussion from a synth called Emu Mo Phatt, his instrumentals is without a doubt the most vocalled instrumentals in all of grime. Initially calling it Eskibeat, and running with the ice cold aesthetic of the beats, he released timeless instrumentals like Ice Rink and Eskimo.

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The last few years instrumental grime rose to the forefront, spearheaded by labels like Butterz and Oil Gang, it has spawned a new generation of producers (and MC’s), experimenting with the old forms of expression in grime and creating exciting new music. Three years ago, producers and dj’s Slackk, Mr. Mitch, Logos and Oil Gang founded Boxed, a club night in London aimed at exploring the weird and instrumental side of grime. Ultimately extending its operations to releasing music as well as putting on nights, Boxed has been on the forefront of the instrumental grime scene, together with labels like Local Action, Coyote and the aforementioned Butterz.

Even though instrumental grime have found popularity in recent years, it doesn’t mean that the MC’s has disappeared. The last couple of years has been really exciting for fans of grime, with MC’s like Jammz, Novelist, Big Zuu and AJ Tracey cropping up, slewing radio sets and releasing a neckbreak pace. Kanye and Drake might have picked up on grime, but the homegrown londoners are still the defining players in grime, and if talent keeps popping up and developing like it does now, it will be that way for a long time.

If you want to explore grime further, you can check out these tracks, a good blend of classics and new heat: