Is Grime a subgenre of Hip Hop?

I recently had an interesting little debate on YouTube about the origins of Grime. Here’s what I wrote. I amended it slightly so it makes sense on here.

Remember, it’s just my opinion:

I wouldn’t say it’s a subgenre of hip hop, more like a branch of garage. Garage in turn is a branch of drum & bass/electronic music. In the early days, Grime was never about lyrical depth, it was more about HOW you spat your lyrics which is why dudes would always repeat that one explosive line over and over…it was flow over bars. Unlike hip hop, grime was never slick or cool it was highly energetic and raw. Dudes would spit like they were pissed off ready to fight. Things are rather different now, but grime was always about that crazy energy and that uncontrollable head nod.

The main thing both genres have in common is rap. Don’t get hip hop mixed up with rap, they are two different things. I think that’s the main problem here. People see rap as a synonym of hip hop. In an informal sense you could say rap is hip hop but technically they’re separate. Rap is merely a facet of hip hop just like rap is merely a facet of grime. Hip Hop is about the music (fast/slow rapping, lyricism, sampling) and the culture (b-boys, graffiti, DJing, fashion). Likewise grime is about the music (generally fast rapping, electronic beats, snappy catchy lyrics, pirate radio) and the culture (crews, fashion – avirex jackets were a thing in the early early days, rap battling – lord of the mics, distinctive jamaican-influenced slang, post code wars). Grime also had a certain kind of look. Instead of dudes on street corners chillin it was “mans” on the block chillin. It was blocks, estates and council flats – no “corners”. To summarize – Two different worlds, two different stories.

In the beginning grime was just about riddims and beats – no lyrics. People associated grime with the beat you heard at the beginning of the vid below (pied piper riddim). Grime began when London kids started making beats on crappy computers. Today, it could be described as a loose subgenre of hip hop but it’s mainly garage, 2-step and drum & bass.

One thing is for sure though, Hip Hop definitely influenced grime…no one can deny that.

Top 5 new(ish) artists to look forward to in 2015

Nao

Now I think we can all agree that this girl has a truly beautiful voice. It’s very sweet, very delicate and rather innocent. She has that haribo tone….those 10p sherbet vocal chords of yesteryear. It reminds you of a child – a little kid that’s just discovered the art of singing. Nowadays, you don’t tend to hear a lot of singers with unusually high pitched voices. She looks fantastic too (love the natural look – so in vogue right now). Her ‘So Good’ EP is also banging, got a lot of groovy tracks on there. I expect good things from her this year.

 

Ibeyi

I love em! Check out my previous post.

 

Fleur East

Fleur East. Unfortunately she didn’t win the X-Factor but let’s be honest, does that really matter? She’s still gonna get a record label, probably on Cowell’s label too. I’m quite excited to see what she’s gonna do this year. As long as she hooks up with a decent song writer and producer, everything will be A-okay. She’s one helluva performer, a great dancer, reasonable voice and she kinda looks like Janet Jackson which is pretty fucking awesome.

 

Fuse ODG

Fuse ODG is a Ghanaian musician who was born in London and although he’s only been around since 2013 (in the mainstream sense) he already has a few global hits to his name which is quite impressive. His debut album came out last November and its quality stuff. Good range of songs on there, very melodic, very up-tempo, very African sounding…you can tell throughout the whole album that he definitely has Africa on his back and he’s not afraid to show it. 2014 was a really good year for him so we’ll have to wait and see what he does this year. Might hook up with Beyoncé or something….who knows? Anything is possible at this point.

 

Jai Paul

Jai Paul has been around since 2011 and the whole world has been waiting for this guy to drop an album or something but he’s taking his sweet time. He’s signed to XL and they’re basically saying be patient but damn, how long does a brother have to wait? I can’t take it anymore. There are a few rumours here and there suggesting that an album is going to be released this year but who really knows? The only tracks out now are Jasmine and BTSTU…two absolute bangers and then there’s that 2013 leaked mixtape….a lot of fantastic songs were on there but that was unlawfully uploaded on to the internet and I don’t condone illegal activity in any shape or form so I will stop writing about it before I get assassinated. Hopefully, the guy will come out with something fresh this year…maybe in April?

Ibeyi – Who Are They?

Ibeyi are pretty awesome. They are made up of two French/Cuban sisters (Lisa-Kaindé Diaz & Naomi Diaz) who sing in both English and Yoruba and sound like Rihanna (well one of them does). I’m sure a lot of you know this already but for those that don’t, Cuba and Nigeria have a lot of shared history. During the slave trade, West African slaves were brought to Cuba and though they were prisoners in a foreign land, they held tightly on to their beliefs and passed them on to their children and so on. Today you can see remnants of Yoruba culture throughout Cuba – a religion called Santeria is definitely a big one. The fiery and energetic La Lupe, who many bill as one of the greatest salsa singers of all time was also a massive believer of Santeria.

Now if you’re Nigerian, African or Caribbean, you’ve probably heard of the Yoruba language, but apart from the songs of Fela Kuti, the language has never really been introduced to a western audience in a nice, neat, accessible package. Now don’t get me wrong, that thumping, rhythmic African sound is definitely a fixture of western society now. Afrobeats as some would call it, has definitely cemented its place in Europe and the US through popular artists like D’banj, Fuse ODG and P-Square but I’m talking about the language itself not the sound….we don’t tend to hear a lot of it and I feel like Ibeyi are kind of bridging that gap. They sing a substantial amount of their lyrics in Yoruba but musically, they also sound very up-to-date. Their beats are quite minimalist similar to electronic artists like Jamie xx which is funny because they’re both signed to XL records.

The real amazing thing about Ibeyi is that they’re almost like a beautiful anomaly or something, like someone extracted them from a parallel universe. Yoruba people are very spirited (this may be a stereotype but most africans would agree) yet Ibeyi are so chill, so ethereal and gentle…it’s mindboggling! Two indie sounding chics who sing in Yoruba….it just doesn’t compute. They’re like a black CocoRosie but the difference is that they’re really genuine and I’m not trying to shit on Coco but sometimes they come across like caricatures. I love Ibeyi’s stripped back sound; the song Mama Says has one sister playing the piano and the other playing a simple beat on a cajon – that is all, and the song is truly divine. It really captivates you. I had a similar experience the first time I watched a live performance of Maybe Not by Cat Power.

Ibeyi’s EP dropped last year so you can snap that up if you haven’t already and definitely keep your eyes peeled for their debut album this year.  

Ben Khan – Youth

Ben Khan, the elusive, futuristic-sounding and rather mysterious singer/producer from London, is back with yet another head-bopping tune to satisfy our fiendish appetites. Youth starts off slow and gentle, dripping in synth and intercepted with some striking guitar riffs that scream, “Fuck Yeah! Blade Runner……and stuff”. This only lasts for a dreamy moment before the beat tricksily drops into a nice summery “hand in hand with the girl you love” vibe or some cheesy shit like that (but who doesn’t like a bit of cheddar every now and then?)

Seriously though, it’s another obvious classic from Mr Khan. Personally, I prefer the dark, almost apocalyptic sound of one of his earlier songs – Eden, but it’s nice to know that he is able to switch things up.