CULTURE

This Is Grime: Meet London’s Underground MCs

15 years in, a vibrant London subculture is getting its first oral history.


Photograph © Olivia Rose. This image may only be used in the context of the book title above. It may not be re-used in any way nor stored in any archive or data base.

Earlier this month, a photo of President Obama in an Adidas tracksuit started making the rounds on the internet, officially achieving meme status when it was tagged with the phrase “listens to Skepta once.” It was a testament not just to the grime legend and the style culture he helped define, but to how the genre has now fully entered the mainstream. While Stateside many only started diving into grime over the past year or two — thanks in part to Drake, who signed to Skepta’s UK label, Boy Better Know, in February — the scene has been making noise across the pond in London for almost a full decade and a half.

This Is Grime,” then, comes at the perfect time: Out this month, the scene’s first-ever oral history traces the subculture all the way back to the music the grime MC Jammer listened to the day after he was born. That detail comes from his parents, who are just some of the many producers, songwriters, photographers, and journalists embedded in the scene that were interviewed by Hattie Collins, a writer who has spent over a decade covering grime. And while the big names are present and accounted for — JME, Wiley, Footsie, Tinie Tempah — the book also highlights those behind the scenes and lesser-known stars like Mizz Beats. Get to know them all with the accompanying portraits photographer Olivia Rose took all over London, here.

Meet the Londoners Behind Grime’s First Oral History

Photogenic D Double E – Dalston, N16.

“THIS IS GRIME” by Hattie Collins and Olivia Rose. Hodder & Stoughton 2016. Photograph © Olivia Rose.

Julie Adenuga near Church Studios – Crouch End, N8.

“THIS IS GRIME” by Hattie Collins and Olivia Rose. Hodder & Stoughton 2016. Photograph © Olivia Rose.

Tinchy Strider, Star In the Hood – Devons Road, E3.

“THIS IS GRIME” by Hattie Collins and Olivia Rose. Hodder & Stoughton 2016. Photograph © Olivia Rose.

JME wearing Ryan Hawaii – somewhere near the Rotherhithe tunnel, E14.

“THIS IS GRIME” by Hattie Collins and Olivia Rose. Hodder & Stoughton 2016. Photograph © Olivia Rose.

Mizz Beats outside Balfron House – Poplar, E14.

“THIS IS GRIME” by Hattie Collins and Olivia Rose. Hodder & Stoughton 2016. Photograph © Olivia Rose.

THIS IS GRIME by Hattie Collins & Olivia Rose. Hodder & Stoughton Publishers 2016

“THIS IS GRIME” by Hattie Collins and Olivia Rose. Hodder & Stoughton 2016. Photograph © Olivia Rose.

THIS IS GRIME by Hattie Collins & Olivia Rose. Hodder & Stoughton Publishers 2016

“THIS IS GRIME” by Hattie Collins and Olivia Rose. Hodder & Stoughton 2016. Photograph © Olivia Rose.

Scorcher – South Tottenham High Rd, N15.

“THIS IS GRIME” by Hattie Collins and Olivia Rose. Hodder & Stoughton 2016. Photograph © Olivia Rose.

Joseph “JP” Patterson and Laura “Hyperfrank” Brosnan wax lyrical outside of Dalston Pier Studios – Dalston, N16.

“THIS IS GRIME” by Hattie Collins and Olivia Rose. Hodder & Stoughton 2016. Photograph © Olivia Rose.

It’s Reaaaal, Doogz under the A40 – Portobello Road, W10.

“THIS IS GRIME” by Hattie Collins and Olivia Rose. Hodder & Stoughton 2016. Photograph © Olivia Rose.

Ears – Dalston, N16.

“THIS IS GRIME” by Hattie Collins and Olivia Rose. Hodder & Stoughton 2016. Photograph © Olivia Rose.
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