In 2002, two school kids from Bow E3, East London helped change the face of the UK electronic music scene using computers they were given to help them in school, with their homework.


Tinchy Stryder and Ruff Sqwad

Tinchy Stryder and Ruff Sqwad


“It’s a sign of how precocious they were, that asked when they first starting making beats, Rapid and Dirty can only

place it by school year: “I think I would have been year eight or nine,” Rapid says, eventually agreeing to tie this to a calendar year (2002). “We had a parents’ evening, and my teacher said: ‘He needs a PC, to be doing his homework, and research and stuff,’ and my dad was sort of embarrassed, so a week later he went out and bought me a Packard Bell, which came with all these programs. (via Guardian)”

Grime was created in London kids who became MCs and DJs who go by the names; Rapid, Dirty, Tinchy Stryder and a crew other friends that became collectively known as the Ruff Sqwad. The sound was nurtured in UK on “pirate” radio stations such as Rinse FM, Deja Vu FM, Freeze 92.7 and Raw Mission. Among the first tracks to be labeled “grime” as a genre in itself were “Eskimo”, “Ice Rink” and “Igloo” by Wiley, “Pulse X” by Musical Mob and “Creeper” by Danny Weed.

Dizzee Rascal and Slimzee

Dizzee Rascal and Slimzee

“Grime sounded as if it had crash-landed in the present with no past, and no future. It was never supposed to be about nostalgia. But after over a year of trawling through old hard-drives and piles of vinyl, the two main producers from Ruff Sqwad, Rapid and Dirty Danger, are re-releasing the tracks that established the reputation of arguably the genre’s greatest-ever crew.” (via Guardian)

Grime is a subgenre of early electronic music 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 while integrating the rhythms of dancehall, reggae and dub. Grime tracks, whether, instrumental or vocal, capture down-tempo, dark dimensions and its essence, is its characteristic half-time tempo, inner city urban kids urban rebellion against UK Garage.

Early on it was known as eskibeat, a term applied specifically to a style initially developed by Wiley and his collaborators, who incorporated more dance, elements like Detroit Techno and electro. This shifted the movement of UK garage away from its house influences, towards darker themes and sounds. It was known by a number of other names, including 8-bar (meaning 8 bar verse patterns), nu shape (which encouraged more complex 16 bar and 32 bar verse patterns), sublow (a reference to the very low bassline frequencies, often around 40 Hz).

The genre’s popularity grew rapidly in the UK, as people across the scene’s musical spectrum appreciated grime’s eclectic mix of instrumentation and subcultures. Its hybrid nature united many different music scenes, allowing it to spread by word-of-mouth and mixtape culture like 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 their music. Globally Grime has not received the same attention that it did in the UK, but mainstream artist like Kanye West, Drake, Lady Sovereign and many others have incorporated its vibe into their tracks. Much like many other forms of UK electronic music, its fan base and underground scene remain in its home.

To learn more stream the documentary Open Mic on the History of Grime by DAZED.

“…Rinse FM has been one of the go-to places for grime MCs to get on the mic. A little too much so for the liking of the authorities, who give DJ Slimzee an ASBO, banning him from being on the roof of any building in Tower Hamlets more than four storeys high. Rinse continues to broadcast (legally), and these days, Slimzee does the occasional show with Wiley.” (Timeout London)

Stations like the TV station Channel AKA (formerly Channel U) and pirate radio stations like Rinse FM were the early incubators that spread the Grime sound across the UK.

The location of Rinse FM is the temporary location for the Grime marker until a more specific location is shared.


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