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The increased popularity of grime across the globe is in no small part down to the energetic and authentic live events the scene has hosted. Discussing the importance of live events across music for Ticketmaster’s State of Play: Grime report, influential promoter Lilz says: “Grime as a music genre is urgent, is fast paced, is part of reload culture, usually in 140BPM, in sets, passing the mic around. Grime as a culture is about community, and everyone coming together.”
As with any musical movement, these live events have been instrumental in propelling the sound into the mainstream. Shows continue to engaged the masses, offering innovation and excitement at every turn.
With the release of the State of Play: Grime report, we’ve pulled together our top live grime moments.
With grime emerging in part from the UK garage scene, 2001’s Universal Sounds rave at London’s Alexandra Palace welcomed future genre leader and mainstream breakthrough Wiley, performing alongside the likes of So Solid Crew’s Romeo, Pay As You Go, Heartless Crew and more. The now notorious event marked a huge platform for the fledgling genre. Our thoughts go out to the recently departed grime pioneer Major Ace of Pay As You Go.
One of the earliest grime raves, Eskimo Dance (driven by Wiley) continually acted as the birthplace of some major players in the genre. It was a place to make or break reputations, welcoming the likes of D Double E and Footsie, Jammer, Flirta D and Ghetts.
Nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize, Dizzee Rascal performed at the ceremony in 2003 – bringing grime careering into the mainstream. In an interview with Jools Holland later that year, he acknowledged the power of the win on mainstream success. “Stay true to yourself,” was his ultimate message.
Boy Better Know’s popularity skyrocketed following their appearance at Culture Clash in 2014. Stormzy joined BBK on stage, going on to include the experience in the huge anthem Know Me From. Following the event, A$ap Rocky talked about grime back home in the states, bigging up Skepta and BBK. Drake even got a BBK tattoo.
In 2010, Skepta tweeted: “One day I’m gonna have a party in a car park and you can all come for free.” Five years later he did just that, shutting down Holywell Lane Car Park in Shoreditch. 1000 fans turned up for the impromptu rave, cementing the power of grime and the popularity of Skepta.
When grime first emerged out of East London bedrooms, few would have expected it to reach the inside of London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall. The evening’s highlight saw Lethal Bizzle perform Pow!, a track previously banned from clubs due to its tendency to incite violence, with a full orchestra. The perception of grime had irreversibly shifted.
Launched by GRM Daily, a leading voice in grime, The Rated Awards were set up to honour the best from the British urban music scene. Making history in 2015, the ceremony awarded the likes of Stormzy, Bugzy Malone and Skepta. The event also included performances by the likes of Ghetts.
Performing his huge hit All Day at the 2015 BRIT Awards, hip-hop megastar Kanye West celebrated the British grime scene by inviting a whole load of artists on stage. Guests included Skepta, Fekky, Krept & Konan, Stormzy and Novelist. The performance propelled grime further onto the world stage.
Last year, Boy Better Know were billed right at the top of London’s inner-city Wireless Festival. As the Guardian reported, it was the moment grime broke through the festival headline barrier. We expect many more to come.
Wiley was presented with the Outstanding Contribution to Music Award at the NME Awards by Skepta, who dubbed the winner “one of my favourite people on the planet”. To honour the occasion, Wiley – the godfather of grime – performed Speakerbox and Can’t Go Wrong. Both the performance and award acknowledged the vast importance of the innovator, who performed at the Universal Sounds rave in 2001 and launched Eskimo Dance. It was, and remains, testament to the immense rise of grime over the past 15 years.
Read the full State of Play: Grime report here now.