THE MUSEUM in London has officially opened ‘Grime Stories: From Local to Widespread’, a new exhibition honoring the music, people and places at the heart of the grime scene and its roots in east London.
Co-curated by one of grime’s earliest documentarians, Roony ‘Risky’ Keefe, the exhibition features a series of recently commissioned films that explore the community at the heart of grime’s success, a large-scale illustration by artist Willkay and personal MC artifacts. and the producers who developed grime’s unique sound.
Grime music emerged twenty years ago in the early 2000s and flourished through an informal network of record stores, youth clubs and pirate radio stations.
By 2004, London’s grime scene had achieved mainstream success, as albums like Dizzee Rascal’s “Boy in da Corner” received widespread acclaim. Grime Stories: from the corner to the mainstream tackles its local origins on street corners and in the inner city estates of east London.
In partnership with those who were there at the start of the scene, the exhibition examines how the region has changed over the past 20 years and the impact of these changes on the future landscape of grime.
At the heart of the exhibition is a series of films, one of which sees the exhibition’s co-curator and documentarian Roony touring east London in his black cab with influential figures from the British grime scene: grime MC and producer Jammer, Ruff Sqwad’s Rapid and Slix and Troy ‘A+’ Miller of Practice Hours.
As an important grime documentarian, Risky uses his expert knowledge to carve out trips to the past that tell grime’s tale of black and working-class ingenuity.
Images featuring Skepta and DJ Slimzee examine how these once up-and-coming artists were able to find an outlet to share their music, uncensored, via pirate radio networks such as Rinse FM.
In an era before social media, Roony’s Risky Roadz and Troy ‘A+’ Miller’s Practice Hours DVDs were instrumental in launching the careers of countless MCs, distributed by London-based record store Rhythm Division.
The young artists of today’s East London are spotlighted in a film featuring emerging London talent including Eerf Evil and TeeZandos, and other youngsters from the Ruff Sqwad Arts Foundation.
The film depicts a discussion about the future of grime and how these young people are creating music in the face of the city’s gentrification.
A central feature of the exhibition will be a nod to the British grime pioneer’s Leytonstone basement jammer. Dubbed ‘The Dungeon’, this iconic space was the birthplace of Lord of the Mics, one of the most important fighting platforms to ever exist in the UK music scene.
An installation will feature the keyboard on which Skepta’s ‘That’s Not Me’ was produced and graffiti on the basement walls of Jammer’s parents’ home, detailing the illustrious names of East London grime , featuring an interview film from legendary recording studio Dungeon.
The exhibition includes a recently commissioned large-scale illustration from artist Willkay depicting the changing face of east London, as the concrete of the city council estates sits alongside the glass buildings of Canary Wharf. The composite view, imagined from a rooftop perspective, pays homage to the informal network of pirate radio stations and aerial platforms on the towers that allowed grime music to flourish with worldwide fame.
Roony ‘Risky’ Keefe, co-curator of the exhibition, said: “Grome is a culture in itself and uniquely harbors London’s DIY attitude and spirit. In two decades, he has given back so much, not only to the city, but to an international audience. Grime’s influence changed music forever.
“This Museum of London exhibition makes me proud to see the legacy of grime recognised, knowing how far the scene has come and how essential it is to London culture.
“Grime continues to push the boundaries and Grime Stories: From Corner to Mainstream will bring its history and pioneering work to a whole new audience.”
Dhelia Snoussi, Curator of Youth Culture at the Museum of London, said: “Grome Stories: from the corner to the mainstream tells the story of the grime in the fabric of London’s history: that of a place and of a community, all built without the support of mainstream radio and friends in high places.
The worldwide success of the scene could not have been achieved without the social and physical infrastructure that underpins grime music. Focusing on important landmarks that have informed music, Grime Stories explores the relationship between sound and place and questions the sonic consequences of urban gentrification for music in East London.
Grime Stories: from the corner to the mainstream is a FREE exhibition opening on Friday June 17, 2022. The Museum of London is open seven days a week (10am-5pm).
This is part of the last chance to see the program at the museum’s London Wall site, before it closes in December 2022.
Grime Stories: from the local to the general public