To my east-side crew, get paper: more Sinogrime
I recently wrote a Sinogrime primer to accompany an exclusive Kode9 mix on Lower End Spasm.
Sinogrime is a sub-genre that barely ever existed, a momentary glitch in the supposedly predictable sonic geography of London dance music. Around 2002-3, with garage crumbling and the cement still drying on grime as a genre, a few producers in E3 suddenly lurched further east than they ever had before. This is the sound of Shanghai towerblocks and the millennial promise of a new superpower, refracted through the scuffed windows of Crossways Estate in Bow.
Grime at its best is sonic futurism incarnate, rejecting the clutter of live instrumentation in favour of empty space, dehumanised synths and detuned basslines. I was unlucky enough to see Roll Deep play with a live band at the Stratford Rex in 2005, and it was all kinds of wrong - the wholesome twang of the live bass guitar the complete antithesis of grime's aesthetic.
The Rise of China: Wiley the Financier
"London could be pushed into third place as a global financial centre by Shanghai in the next decade", according to the BBC earlier this week.
Grime is situated in the future aesthetically, musically - and perhaps embedded in Sinogrime is a sort of intuition about where the future lies, geo-politically. Canary Wharf is the 'stainless steel obelisk' honouring 20th century western hyper-capitalism, a totem to Thatcherism that looms over grime's spiritual epicentre, the Isle of Dogs and Bow. In looking east beyond its 50 stories to China, Sinogrime producers were engaged in socio-political prophecy, taking grime's aspirational, acquisitional tendencies and sending them east on a journey beyond Britain's deflating post-industrial bubble.
Sinogrime reflects the current, gradual shift in superpowers from west to east, incorporating China, and rejecting America: in terms of the US, it's notable that grime has always been not hip-hop.
This isn't to say the likes of Wiley and Danny Weed have been moonlighting as financial speculators, or that in 2003 they explicitly predicted the burst of the bubble and the global downturn. But then let's face it, nor did the actual financial speculators.
Dizzee Rascal - I Luv U Remix
Wiley and Danny Weed - Blue Rizla