“We are the abandoned children of garage”: Logan Sama on the marginalisation facing grime and dancehall
If you wanted to feel really glum about stuff today, read this.
"People get out of the habit of consuming it because it’s not there for them to readily get. When it comes to music – and just generally everything in life – people are happy to consume what’s put in front of them. Grime isn’t something that’s put in front of many people because there aren’t any dedicated grime shows on mainstream radio, nothing on mainstream TV covering the culture, very little in the way of live events. There’s quarterlies, Eskimo Dance two or three times a year, but there aren’t as many dedicated events as there are for dubstep or house or drum ‘n’ bass."
As someone living in the American Midwest, this is pretty much the case for me — plus I feel like it’s being reinforced by media outlets, especially in the States, that grime is supposed to be marginally relevant at best and why bother when there’s DJ Mustard or whatever. And that’s probably because it’s a distinctly British thing that hasn’t had its big American-market crossover moment a’la Skrillex/Afrojack/Pendulum/etc., Danny Brown co-signs notwithstanding. (For what it’s worth, Danny Brown co-signs may not result in six-figure Vegas EDM engagements but they are generally pretty damn trustworthy.) Like, the closest we got was Dizzee Rascal, and even though I still stand by how many schools his run from Boy in Da Corner through Maths + English rules (answer: All of the Schools), he didn’t really conquer the States like I’d hoped he would, and maybe that was a semi-jingoistic “who cares, we have our own rap” sentiment building the ramparts. Now that I hear the scene seems to be lagging in the UK, despite the strong quality of relatively recent efforts, it feels like a weird dichotomy for me of being into something for primarily aesthetic reasons — what few scenester-cred points remain in the States be damned — while not entirely being sure just how quickly that aesthetic might be fading, and how part of that might just be my geographic and cultural distance from it.
And yet on the other hand, this concept crosses the Atlantic with no need for translation:
"Now I’m not going to say that the risk of violent escalation [in a music scene] is the same with middle class students from Oxfordshire and middle of nowhere in England, but the amount of fear, ridiculous exaggeration and ignorance about the audience that listens to this music is inexcusable.
We have problems with the police and form 696 – which is still pretty much unconstitutional – and investment is always difficult as with anything that’s generally focused on the working classes. Youth centres were a huge part of bringing through new talent who couldn’t get on pirate radio, they could go to their local youth centre where there would be a set of decks, a mixer, some speakers and a microphone. They could go down there and do their thing.
There’s less and less of that for young people and grime’s definitely for the young people. It’s their voice, message and culture. It’s alright when it can be safely bottled up. JD Sports sell tracksuits and fitted caps so people can dress like boys off the estate and make millions. It’s done very well off that culture, but actually doing something with the voice of that culture hasn’t really happened.
You’ve just got a disenfranchised mass of people doing whatever they want to do and that’s why grime is always exciting to me. That first Dizzee Rascal album was full of the thoughts, opinion, feelings and emotions of young people in London at the time and across Britain. The fact that there aren’t more opportunities for that is a shame.”