As it was with Hardcore, Jungle, Garage and 2-Step, so it is with Grime. Genres that only cater to one market, let alone one as small as the UKs, are always going to be susceptible to the fickle nature of its fans. They will quickly jump on a bandwagon to be in with the cool kids but will jump off even faster when the fad is over (just ask the So Solid Crew).
Tinie Tempah and manager Dumi Oburota, expressed concerns over Grime’s standing in the industry as a platform for its artists but I would have to wonder why. Can you have such misgivings when your music no longer reflects said genre yourself? His new album, Demonstration, is proof that if such artists want to get themselves heard then they need to adapt. Grime is not going to get you noticed in the big leagues anymore so it’s exponents should be “changing their lane” as it were, if they want to eat at the grown ups table. Dizzie Rascal and Wiley are prime examples. When Grime’s popularity started to descend they quickly Jumped on the EDM juggernaut, reaped the rewards and watched Tinie do the same with his debut, Disc-Overy.
Urban dance music has evolved to a point where one type is easily amalgamated to another and Hip Hop has now, to an extent, joined the party. Is it any wonder that Grime has gotten lost in the shuffle? Brostep, Dubstep, Drumstep, Filthstep, Dropstep, Chillstep, Glitch Hop, Dubstyle, Modestep (apparently a band with a genre named after them) Clownstep (need I go on?) are all in existence yet hard to differentiate to the novice listener, so what did Grime really expect?
If Grime’s current aces in the pack want to make the ‘step’ up they are going to have to leave it, or at least a part of it, behind. Any MC or singer worth their weight can surely let their talent loose on a more conventional sound. Unless their lyrics are just nonsensical filler talent scouts everywhere will welcome it. The British Urban scene is crying out for credible challengers to Tinie Tempah and Dizzie Rascal (see: my Adian Coker mixtape review). I am willing to bet that plenty of them can be found through Grime and it’s exhaustive list of subsidiaries but an obvious lack of exposure can only be addressed by removing themselves from the shadows and this, I suspect, is the issue.
When Dizzee Rascal took the decision to make himself a more viable option to the listening masses, he was met with hostility from a section of those that had previously considered him a hero. He was ‘going soft’ or a ‘sell out’ or his then new material was considered ‘gay’ (there’s that word again) but he knew even back then that Grime was only going to take him so far. I suspect that for some, the fear of a similar backlash is chief among the reasons for their lack of momentum.
If I am wrong, then Grime’s wane as a force on the UK scene will be permanent. The entire EDM scene has undergone a seismic popularity shift and as it can take on so many forms, Grime could easily be discarded altogether to fend for itself. After that it’s a simple case of survival of the fittest and I can’t see there being many survivors. MCs like Scrufizzer and Dot Rotten have preempted the change and embraced it and a few more are following suit. But the producers who were making beats for those MCs are increasingly turning to DJs and themselves, for income and exposure. Added to the fact that many of grimes new generation of beat makers are criticised by those in the know as being too nostalgic for their own good, there only seems to be one conclusion.
Grime as a major player is too far removed to recover in its original guise but those sub genres that bare a resemblance to US Trap Music can make an impact. Harnessing that comparison and utilising its best aspects is the only way that I can see a revival of Grime in any form. MCs that have made the exodus may never return but the new crop will believe they have a chance of success and stick around. Tinie Tempah can be as upset about it’s current predicament as he likes. The easiest way for him to put Grime back in the limelight was to include a Grime song on his new album. Or he could have done what was best to help make him a true international star. I don’t blame him for choosing the latter.