Dan Hancox at Poetry Magazine:
Grime music is catharsis delivered from a vertiginous height. Born and bred in London’s inner city housing projects in the early 2000’s, among a Black youth subculture that drew more on Jamaican reggae than American rap, grime was a product of confinement. London’s social housing tower blocks, in which many of grime’s pioneers grew up, became synonymous with the genre’s grittiness and hyperlocal roots, but they were also essential to the music’s distribution. Grime was first popularized by pirate radio stations broadcast from illegal transmitters and squatted “studios” erected on the rooftops of 20- and 30-story buildings. Up there, elevated from their impoverished upbringings, grime’s founders found space to breathe. What they created was unapologetically strange and uncompromising: music built from beats too irregular to dance to, rapping too fast to be intelligible on the radio, lyrics full of niche slang and swear words, and songs not geared around hooks and choruses. Moreover, all of this was produced by artists unwilling to play with a British music industry focused on developing homegrown guitar bands and importing rap and R&B from the United States.