From the first hip hop and drum and bass influenced underground sounds of grime artists in the early 2000s, to the modern day grime superpowers dominating the UK music scene, the genre has always played a quintessential role in British sub-culture.
However, it is in the last year that grime has begun to cultivate not only a much more significant following, but an important place in mainstream British culture.
Not only are artists such as Skepta, Stormzy, JME and AJ Tracey becoming part of our national identity in terms of their musical exploits, these figures are beginning to partake in the political conversation of our country.
The 2017 parliamentary elections saw a massive upsurge in the youth involvement in political discussion. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have facilitated a nationwide connection between young people and the bigger issues of the day.
Traditionally, politics in Britain has been an area of culture occupied by older generations. The youth, along with the politically disenfranchised, have never really had a voice in the mainstream media. However, this has changed with the increasing popularity of Labour Party Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who has spearheaded a movement towards youth inclusion in politics.
50%- the amount of Grime listeners who voted Labour in 2017.
One of the main methods Corbyn has used to target this emergent teen and young adult political demographic is through music, and in doing so has earned the endorsement of some huge names in UK culture.
Performing speeches to the young, wide eyed and inspired music fans at Glastonbury Festival, as well as appearing alongside the Libertines in Merseyside in May of this year, Corbyn has proven that he is willing to explore alternative ways to help give young voters a political voice.
Perhaps Corbyn himself even underestimated the effect this outreach may have had, as the likes of JME and Stormzy began to support the Labour leader with the social media campaign “#Grime4Corbyn”. Both JME and Stomzy appear on the list of most streamed Grime artists on Spotify in 2016, meaning that this integration between the electoral candidate and UK Grime culture reached a vast number of fans.
300,000- the number of views on Jeremy Corbyn’s interview with JME.
A Ticketmaster press release reported that 58% of grime fans voted for Labour in the general election, with 24% saying that the #Grime4Corbyn twitter campaign influenced their vote. Appearing in a viral video interview in May alongside JME, Corbyn generated over 300,000 views on the J-D magazine youtube channel, a popular media outlet amongst young members of UK subculture.
Regardless of political persuasion, age or interest, and no matter whether your musical influences are a little more Beethoven than Bugzy Malone, it must be said that Corbyn’s youth focus through music is a step in the right direction, and can hopefully pave the way for the recognition of music and its power to communicate even the most important of issues.
Last modified: 11th December 2017