Grime has been lurking in the shadows of the electronic music scene in the United States for years. In the UK it has been a huge and influential part of their music culture, and is now bigger than ever. Its constant growth across the pond has lead to a few US based Grime artists and labels popping up and making some noise, most notably being American Grime. This crew has quickly proven that Grime is a movement open to MCs and producers from around the world.
We interviewed the founders of American Grime to discuss their plans for growing and becoming a part of the Grime culture.
1. What is American Grime?
American Grime is just a single branch of a global movement centered on the influence of UK Grime. It’s also the name of our record label, under which we push grime releases inspired by UK grime, but produced by American artists.
2. When and why was American Grime founded?
AG, the label, was founded September 2016. Originally, the reason behind the label was a response to bad distribution of our own music. The more we experienced, the more we began to learn and grow. We soon realized we had the drive to create our own momentum and bring grime here to the United States.
3. What are the differences in Grime music and Grime Culture coming out of the UK vs US/rest of the world?
UK grime artists will always be the originators of the sound. Their influences come from a multitude of genres including 2-step, garage and dancehall. American Grime draws its influences from UK grime and the American hip hop scene. One of the major differences is accent. The slang of UK is much different than the slang used in America, so the word choices are often very different, which changes the flow. The pronunciation of words is also different which leads to different rhyme schemes.
One of our goals is to not try and “Americanize” grime, but instead to represent grime from an American perspective.
4. What type of backlash/positive recognition have you received from critics in regards
representing Grime outside of the UK?
Just like anyone who innovates, there will always be negative feedback. When we first started pushing the movement, the comments section on Youtube and other social media platforms were brutal. What was interesting was that, although much of the backlash was coming from the UK, the comments came mainly from fans. UK grime artists seemed to be very open to the idea of global expansion but the fanbase felt like we were stealing something and calling it our own. Maybe because they didn’t understand the influence their “local music” had on the world stage. That said, many well-known artists in the genre have acknowledged us, including some oF the first pioneers, such as Wiley, Rude Kid and Skepta. In the end, what we push is expansion of
the sound and exposure of the genre to those who otherwise would have never heard of it.
5. How does American Grime hope to stand out from other Grime labels?
American Grime is much more than just a record label. We are developing a collective of producers, vocalists, graphic designers, photographers and more to push the growth and impact we will have on the music scene. We also throw events that bridge the gap for fans, mixing garage, house and grime in one night, and hip hop, reggaeton and grime on another.
6. How does American Grime hope to impact the Grime Movement over here in the US?
As we grow, we constantly spread awareness of what we represent. We have traveled up and down the east coast of the US, establishing bases for us to push the sound from. In doing so, we positioned ourselves as the liaisons for Grime artists looking to come stateside. We hope to continue to find and cultivate American grime artists, as well as facilitate collaborations from UK to America.
7. Why do you think it took so long for Grime to take off in the US?
New music is hard to break in the US. Most commonly, new music is released on the radio, streaming services such as spotify and in clubs. It’s difficult to access any of this exposure for grime because many find the English accent as the main barrier. Many look at grime as an underground and foreign branch of music. For widespread exposure of grime in the US, it took Drake bringing Skepta on stage before people started wanting more.
8. What does the future of American Grime look like?
We are going to help establish the relationship between US and the UK, and eventually, every country pushing the sound and genre.
Our aim is to become the bridge for artists to collaborate, travel and see the different cultures in which Grime relates.
9. What is your proudest accomplishment as a collective thus far?
Our proudest moment was booking the Unofficial American Grime show at SXSW in Austin, Texas earlier this year. That opportunity led to us meeting some of the leading pioneers of the genre: Kano, Frisco, Ghetts and RudeKid. RudeKid was so shocked to see grime being represented in America by Americans that he featured us in his mini-documentary and played MC Jumanji’s track on his KissFM radio show. That was mad! It proved to us that we were on the right path and there was more to come.
10. Anything else you want us to know about American Grime?
Although we are a small music label, our escalating growth within the states and across the pond is building the foundation to something much bigger than ourselves. We encourage everyone and anyone to reach out and add to our mission: growing this culture. Be on the lookout as we may be in your city near you.
BIG UPS to the American Grime crew! They are clearly expanding the movement, and proving that although the foundation of Grime lies within the UK, the sound is spreading to countries around the world. If you want to stay tuned in with this collective, check out their website.