What can Irish Artists learn from Grime? Well, let’s jump in and say we should do what the UK did and make hip hop from across the pond our own. You probably have an idea of what Grime is already thanks to the fabulous Roadman Shaq meme. It’s actually an affectionate parody of the genre:
But Grime is much bigger than that. It started as an underground movement in England nearly two decades ago. It emerged from East London in the early 2000s. A mixture of Jamaican dancehall, hip-hop, garage, jungle, reggae – with lyrics that express a gritty urban life. Sharp verse, electronic synths, hard bass – it’s bouncy and cutting at the same time, exciting interest from the US and worldwide in the mid-2010s and it’s only getting more popular.
Grime may be named so but it’s not so dirty because big brands want to cash-in on it. And they normally like to keep their hands clean. Such is the upcoming popularity of Grime. In fact, Adidas is sponsoring Stormzy. Japanese Uniqlo sponsor Skepta. KFC sponsor Chip. You’ve probably noticed tracksuits are everyday wear again and not just by the same people who wear their jammies to Dunnes at 3 in the afternoon. Flexing may not be as big in the Grime game compared to hip-hop, but how you express yourself with clothes will always be cool regardless of the price (Adidas has Gucci beat here).
And hopefully… this commercial success will spread its popularity to Ireland and we can show our best stuff. But what would be Ireland’s way in and what can it learn from the way Grime is today?
First of all, this why you should be listening to Grime: It’s the new punk. The aesthetic is different, more commercial. But the affect it has on its listeners? Same as punk. It speaks to the middle-class, it’s just not as anti-government. I don’t mean to get too deep here or too political. But Ireland can also learn to get off the streets and into the recording studios. That kind of culture just doesn’t exist here in a big way. Get away from gang violence, poverty, and rise up in the world. I know it’s a very American ideal, but it’s better than selling heroin on the streets and killing kids with drugs.
Grime is spectacle, it’s fun. It creates a culture for youth. Imagine if Conor McGregor wrote a diss track and you’ll see Ireland’s potential to be the best, most intimidating Grime. But he’s cheeky and fun too. He’s always on about how MMA got him to stop being a waster, wouldn’t you like to see young people in Ireland saying music is what got them to find meaning in their lives? Musical talent could be the gift that gets some kids off the street. Their own perspective on the climate they grew up in is a voice more people in Ireland need to hear.
Like this, it just makes sense that we should be hearing more of this.
I think what Irish Grime could have is a variety of accents that are unique to each place. I think that should be interesting, rather than strange to the ears. We can learn to be proud of where we’re from, own it, that’s a big part of it. The East London accent doesn’t change much regionally, neither does the culture. Ireland’s accents are more versatile. If you bring the production polish (as in polish, not Polish) and the clothing into it…if you bring some feuds and diss tracks. I think that would get people interested. Speaking of accents, could you imagine how funny Irish Grime would be with a Cork accent? I’m sure it could work, but it would be so distinct, so novel that it would get us on the map.
Ireland has a colourful amount of slang that is so unique to the land and yeah, it can be similar to British slang. But what matters is we shouldn’t use terms that are already popular like lit and fire and the thing goes skrrrrra (I’m always saying that, specially around my mam to keep her young). If we incorporate our own slang into Grime then we could have people trying to figure out what we’re saying and wanting to join an exclusive club that takes a magic word. Christ on a bike would be mine, it’s pretty tame but the imagery is what sells it.
I think we could fill a huge gap in the Grime World. Especially people who are fascinated by McGregor’s onstage persona, his accent, his big words. Even the way he speaks has a lyrical flow to it. People like listening to that. Which is just a big a part of his appeal as his actual fighting ability? Americans would eat that shit up! They’ll probably think it’s Scottish and we’re part of the UK but don’t be so offended cause they never got a proper education anyway… Did you know Christopher Columbus discovered the Earth was flat?
I think fashion would be a good way to garner interest, create a culture for Irish youth. if you bring a sense of artistic sensibility rather than gaudy “look at me, I wear Gucci. I’m class.” Nothing wrong with that all the time but it would be interesting to see an artist stand out from that. Bring it to a higher level, it’s an urban music movement…why not take notes from street art and street fashion? They’ve gotten to a level of artistic expression, in Ireland too, why can’t Grime? Maybe I’m an idealist, but this is where Ireland can shine. And maybe take its own reign.
Bring it to a higher level. And at times maybe keep it light and funny. You can observe a sense of easy irony in other music subgenres popping up, but it’s still good shit. A bit more diversity. I think the genre, in general, needs more fun. It’s very serious, lots of vague death threats, gang violence. I understand that’s an inherent part of it but I think the Irish lads should be the ones to be a little more light-hearted. But is the Irish audience even ready for that? We’ll talk about that next time. For now, you can see these reactions to humour in rap from groups like Versatile, just check out the comments on Dublin City G’s.