Sunday, February 21, 2010

Grime: banished from physical London

It's a measure of how busy I've been lately that I still haven't managed to pick up a physical copy of the RBMA's Daily Note newspaper with my story on the cover. Some people will be familiar - perhaps wearily over-familiar - with the Met's systematic campaign to shut down London's urban music scenes. After pieces in Woofah and The Guardian (twice) I had hoped I wouldn't have to write about Form 696 again; I was wrong. Even if those of us who care about grime (and bashment, funky, and other verboten genres) know all too well about police transgressions against it (with a little help from certain venues), the 80,000 commuters who were handed the free Daily Note paper probably didn't.

This is about bureaucracy as a blunt but powerful weapon, but it's also about the pyrrhic victory of web 2.0 democratisation of underground music scenes. It's a grim state of affairs when you can watch a grime DJ playing a set online from their bedroom (via u-stream) but you can't see them in the club round the corner. Full article is here, or in PDF here.

In London itself underground black music has been forced into the private sphere, away from the clubs. Grime was always meant to be club music: inheriting its BPM from garage, it was that bit too fast to simply be the British hip hop. Yet in 2010, the music has been relegated from clubs to be heard mostly through the pale grey beehive of PC speakers, or in the solitary isolation of headphones. In this context, common experience, enthusiasm and debate occurs globally on internet message boards, but not communally, locally, in the bars and clubs of the capital. Grime has been banished from real, physical London.

PS as an aside i am so so proud to have a piece headlined with a line from my favourite clash song EVER

Monday, February 08, 2010

Bruce Forsyth, Anish Kapoor, The Nutty Professor, etc

Quick round-up:

Glow sticks, superclubs... and Bruce Forsyth in the New Statesman: dance manias, Barbara Ehrenreich, skanking in IKEA, and why, in strictly Darwinian terms, wallflowers get EATEN BY TIGERS.

Bread and Roses in Middlesbrough
in the New Statesman: "Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses" - why the arrival of the world's most expensive public art project in Boro is very poorly timed.

Some free old skool Geeneus riddims on Lower End Spasm.

Interviewed on The Lepanto League
about writing, London music, and political reportage. Also I told the story about winning a competition to review Dragonheart when I was 13 - the prize was a long-sleeve Nutty Professor t-shirt.