Various Artists – ‘Grime 2.0’

What the genre did next. Thirty-five tracks from legends and newcomers that puts grime back at UK music’s frontier

It’s a decade since grime – one of the most innovative and experimental of all genres – bubbled up from London’s council estates and overflowed into the mainstream. With Dizzee leading the charge, the transition opened the door for a handful of MCs like Tinchy Stryder and Tinie Tempah to reclaim Britrap as a primetime concern. But it was at a cost.

With every Calvin Harris collab attributed to a former grime MC, the scene floundered, and the promise of this complex new sound and its under-represented point of view coming from a marginalised corner of British society was sidelined in favour of making quick bucks with pop hooks. Meanwhile the stereotype of grime being a bunch of aggy men in tracksuits shouting at each other in basements became wearily common. After the initial thrill of Dizzee’s ‘Boy In Da Corner’, it became the responsibility of the producers to keep things forward-facing, and gradually instrumental grime took precedence.

Finally, we’re getting compilations like ‘Grime 2.0’, 35 vocal-free tracks that act as a perfect entry point for music fans looking for something invigorating, while anointing grime music with the vote of confidence it has long sought. Alongside the outputs of the pioneering Butterz, Hyperdub and Rinse labels, ‘Grime 2.0’ expertly represents a generation of internet-enabled producers (based everywhere from east London to east Asia) who have moved out of the basements to articulate the possibilities of grime with a surprising amount of feeling.

There’s scene legend Wiley’s ‘Logic Pro’; Darq E Freaker, who has already captured attention in America with his vaudevillian bass experiments, being vocalled by Danny Brown; and lesser-known artists like Glaswegian producer Inkke, whose featured track ‘L-O-K’ is the shutter-click of Duran Duran’s ‘Girls On Film’ shredded through a JG Ballard car crash. With every step this challenging record shows how grime can respond to and inform other genres while

always remaining a force unto itself.

Disc One makes you do the hard work, with a sparse, moody landscape that stays closer to grime’s untrusting, insular roots – typified by Faze Miyake’s trap-styled, sirens-blaring ‘5000’ but lightened by ‘Vinyls VIP’ from Preditah, the most prolific producer of the moment. Disc Two explodes in a non-stop melée of dumbfoundingly diverse energy – Moony’s ‘Winner’, Mr SnoWman’s ‘Frosty Lake’ and Japanese producer Prettybwoy’s ‘Kissin U’.

By revealing that grime is now something closer to an essence and ethos than a technical spec, ‘Grime 2.0’ places itself at electronic music’s avant-garde frontier, and shows that grime is a product of the British music scene that we can all be proud of.

Alex Hoban


Record label: Big Dada