Source: i-D VICE
GRIME IS MORE THAN ANOTHER URBAN MUSIC GENRE, GRIME IS A CULTURE.
This branch of British rap music was born out of the evolution of the 90's garage music scene in the UK. Grime was the ultimate amalgamation of the nitty-gritty aspects of several music genres, from jungle to hip-hop, hardcore techno, garage, ragga, and dancehall. The deeper you dig, the more styles you find have influenced this genre. Characterized by its 140bpm, frenetic energy and fast beats, grime soon took over the underground scene in London, and it has largely remained unnoticed by the mainstream masses with the exception of an occasional song or artist reaching the top of the charts, or famous artist dipping their toes in.
While grime has had its moments of popularity throughout its lifetime, it has always very much been a culture that belongs to the streets where it was born. Its influence on British youth culture has often been overlooked, but the truth is that it became a sort of refuge for and representation of the working class youth.
Source: Living in the grime
GRIME WAS BORN ON THE STREETS, FOR THE STREETS.
Grime originated in the black community, and it served as a tool of protesting and denouncing the inherent injustices of the British class systems. The marginalised black community found a safe space to express themselves and their experiences, offering solace and a sense of community to those less privileged. For this reason, grime culture had a reputation for being rather political, and at times aggressive.
Oftentimes, grime artists would form grime crews, which consisted of collectives of musicians that would produce tracks altogether, and would later perform them in clubs and other nightlife venues. Grime music would often portray gang-like behaviour in its music videos, with disputes over territory being a recurrent theme in grime songs. Roadside Gangsters, also known as RSG, was a notorious South London gang, and grime crew.
Nevertheless, for the most part, grime music's chief theme is often police discrimination and British class-based oppression. Grime crews and artists served as the voice of the working class, making grime an intrinsically collective movement. The success of one, translated into a win for the overall grime scene, and rather than resent those artists that made it, they were celebrated. These artists, in turn, would take pride in their identity and culture.
EVERY COMMUNITY NEEDS ITS UNIFORM, CUE THE TRACKSUIT.
The tracksuit was the uniform of the working class basically, so it comes as no surprise that grime artists would eventually adopt it as a uniform of their own.
Why the tracksuit though? Well, for one, everyone had a tracksuit in their closet. It was an accessible garment as all British students will have had to own one for P.E. Moreover, it made it easy to blend in as a crew and stand out less, it was low-key and discrete. Grime artist Skepta even named his crew the 'tracksuit mafia'. Soon after that, fans of grime everywhere had claimed the tracksuit as their uniform too.
GRIME REMAINS TRUE TO ITS ROOTS.
That genuine sense of community is what has set the grime scene apart from other initially underground genres. We have witnessed the complete transformation of entire genres once they became a lucrative venture time and time again. Authenticity and real identity were often compromised for the sake of appealing to a larger mainstream audience. And this is precisely what grime has not done.
Despite evolving into a more profitable sector, thus being able to produce higher quality videos and actually make decent money off of the music, the ethos of the genre remains largely untouched. Still, we would be amiss if we didn’t admit that street culture has infiltrated middle-upper class, and so has the tracksuit. It continues to be grime’s uniform by choice, but it has been now been transported to the upper spheres of society too. Paradoxically, grime exists now both on the streets, and in the world of luxury.