A Brief History of Grime Music

Critical Overview: Grime Music – An Urban Phenomenon

Grime music, originating in the early 2000s from the east London council estates, was initially dismissed by many as alien music, with lyrics in an incomprehensible language. However, such a response fails to recognize the significance of grime as the greatest music ever produced in London. Unlike other music genres, grime is not just about the music but is more significantly about community building, as it gave voice to the previously mute generation of Londoners on the fringes of society. Thus, it changed the face of the city, the country and the world.

Grime music has emerged on its own terms and has been characterized by an unconventional approach. For instance, scene founder Wiley, when first invited to Tim Westwood’s Radio 1 show, brought along two 16-year-olds who he insisted also be given mic time, and subsequently, the originators did not sell it to major labels despite attempts to oppress it by the police and condemn it by Tory politicians. Moreover, it is the twenty-first century’s punk and is played at student protests, and is the voice of a generation.

The lyrical content of grime music is sharp and witty, providing poignant summaries of frustrated urban youth, with lines like “You can look at my face and see the pain in my eyes/Tears ready to fall like the rain in the sky.” It is a community that invites people to be part of it and experience the sound of London. Furthermore, the music is ever-evolving, with new lyrics and beats demoed every night on radio stations like Rinse FM.

Grime music emerged in 2002 when the Pay As U Go Cartel, an east London garage super-crew, split up, and two of its producers, Geeneus and Slimzee, concentrated on their pirate radio station, Rinse FM. Meanwhile, Wiley invented grime with an instrumental track called ‘Eskimo’. However, in 2003, the music had no name, and it was called ‘Eski-beat’, ‘sub-low’, and ‘grime.’ Later, the TV station Channel U was established, and it became one of the best places to discover new grime music.

Dizzee Rascal, one of the leading artists of the genre, won the Mercury Prize in 2003 with his major label debut, ‘Boy in Da Corner.’ However, grime music stayed underground, with the site of some of the most legendary grime battles ever known being someone’s mum’s basement. The Lord of the Mics was a series of legendary rap battles hosted by Leytonstone’s MC Jammer, featuring the biggest names in the scene, including Kano, Wiley, Skepta, and Bashy.


In conclusion, grime music is a significant cultural phenomenon that has emerged from the urban sprawl of London. It has given voice to the previously silenced generation of Londoners and has been a unifying force in creating a sense of community. Its significance extends beyond music and has changed the face of the city, the country, and the world. Despite being dismissed as ‘alien music’ initially, it has emerged as the greatest music ever produced in London, with sharp and witty lyrical content that speaks to the frustrations of urban youth. Grime music has evolved to encompass new lyrics and beats that can be heard on radio stations like Rinse FM. Grime music is the twenty-first century’s punk and is the voice of a generation.