Grime: The voice of cohesion

On the surface, grime music embraces a hyper-masculine ideal, but underneath this packaging it is a voice of cohesion in a conflicted world…

RSA
RSA
Apr 20, 2018 · 8 min read

by Jeffrey Boakye @unseenflirt


Party politics

Which takes us back to politics. In 2017, millennials across the country stepped up to put their cross next to a socialist vision represented by a kind of new, Old Labour, led by veteran backbencher turned frontman Jeremy Corbyn. Part idealism, part protest against an unsatisfactory status quo, we saw the electorate nudge Labour towards a triumphant loss, winning 32 seats and knocking the Conservatives out of their Commons majority. Meanwhile, the youth turnout hit its highest peak since 1992. One political sociologist, Paula Surridge of Bristol University, proposes that increases in turnout were linked more closely to factors of ethnic diversity than an increase in young voters, suggesting a complex relationship between youth and minority ethnic status; both of which are defining factors in grime. Culturally, what is significant here is how grime quickly became the unofficial soundtrack to the Corbyn renaissance. A line-up of prominent grime artists including Jme, Novelist, AJ Tracey and Stormzy came out in open support of Corbyn, encouraging their fans to vote accordingly. There was even a hashtag (that ubiquitous, millennial authentication strip), #Grime4Corbyn, which spawned digital campaigning and a series of events in the real world alike.

Winds of change

In stories, as in history, elements can emerge from the shadows to provide resolution, where recognition of oppressed groups becomes a catalyst for positive social change. This sits at the heart of the US Civil Rights movement, in which decades of subjugation stemming back to transatlantic slavery evolved into a dream for racial unity, rather than a desire for white annihilation. The hashtag #blacklivesmatter might be the 21st-century iteration of these ideals, seeking the global empowerment of a spectrum of marginalised communities via the exposure of police brutality and structural racism in the US. On this side of the Atlantic, at a time when young black people in the UK are nine times more likely to be imprisoned than their white counterparts and black men remain disproportionately incarcerated overall, grime can be read as a celebration of black empowerment. It is a millennial success story that thrives not due to, but in spite of, its hyper-masculine bent.

RSA Journal

The award-winning RSA Journal is a quarterly publication for our Fellows, featuring the latest cutting-edge ideas from international writers alongside RSA news. A selection of articles have been reproduced here.

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RSA

The mission of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) is to enrich society through ideas and action.

RSA Journal

The award-winning RSA Journal is a quarterly publication for our Fellows, featuring the latest cutting-edge ideas from international writers alongside RSA news. A selection of articles have been reproduced here.

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