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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Drop The Grime

posted by on July 31 at 17:52 PM

Wiley / Dizzee Rascal - 'Wearing My Rolex' / 'Dance Wiv Me'

It’s odd, isn’t it.

Grime, a.k.a. England’s inner-city black hip-hop dance music that spiraled off from jungle and 2-step at the beginning of the decade, has skirted around a mass-appeal breakout for years, often getting close to a widespread popular cross-over, but never quite managing to deliver. The grime scene remains a cult, despite everything that had been — and it still has — going for it.

But out of nowhere, two different songs from the sound’s biggest names have just scored new-found freakish popularity.

Earlier this summer, Wiley released “Wearing My Rolex,” a strolling and acid-propelled club anthem that features a simple bassline-house spine, samples of DSK’s 1991 garage classic “What Would We Do,” and Wiley’s own spit-fueled, blame-it-on-the-alcohol bursts of rhyme. It was the biggest digital single the week of its release and eventually got to #2 in the U.K. charts. Hot Chip covered it. Jay-Z had Wiley open for him. It even had its own dance.

Then, just a few weeks ago, Dizzee Rascal put out “Dance Wiv Me.” Showcasing smarm-pop addict Calvin Harris and the old-school R&B of Chrome, the song bobs and dips with a glow of easy-going grime and bargain disco (beepew!) effects, all technicolor and good-natured. It sounds modern. A style-clash with an addictive hook. “Dance Wiv Me” fired right into #1 and has remained the best-selling, most popular single in the U.K. for the last month. Even Dizzee was floored from the start, and instantly promised to drink all night every day it stayed at the top. Which has since become impossible.

What’s going on?

On the one hand, it’s a real victory to see grime get its due. While the sound has had success before, often with Wiley and Dizzee, nothing has come close to this summer’s surprise, this new quasi-resurgence. After “Wearing My Rolex” and “Dance Wiv Me,” the mainstream has found grime again, years late, just when everyone thought it was impossible.

But on the other, it says something that this only happened when grime doesn’t sound like grime anymore. Both Wiley and Dizzee — press-egged-on rivals who might be forever damned to race against each other — followed the same instincts around the same time and independently ended up going for a preposterously similar club-crossover approach. And this can be seen as either 1.] a late-but-necessary evolution of grime’s sonic plan, or 2.] a watered-down compromise of sound, the latter of which already becoming a popular choice.

My new favorite backlash bits being from Fader magazine:

I hate to slag off Dizzee Rascal because it’s such an obvious thing to do at the moment — it’s like shooting an anaesthetised whale in a barrel — but I can’t help it. Safe in the knowledge that the worst song he has ever made has given him the most success, our man Dyl has decided to carry on making utter musical faeces. His latest output is a cover for Jo Whiley’s Radio 1 show of “That’s Not My Name” by The Ting Tings, who are almost indescribably bad. The only equivalent I can think of would be the Vengaboys. They are the Vengaboys of indie-pop. I’m not sure what that would now make Dizzee.

In the end, though, it’s hard to tell which side all of this comes down on.

I don’t know what to think.

It’s a success of conflicted feelings, but at least I’m glad, in a way, to feel the conflict again.

RSS icon Comments


I read about the rolex song a while back, but when I saw the video I thought I must have been hearing a remix. It doesn't sound like grime to me, although I love the foxy ladies.

Posted by boydmain | July 31, 2008 7:38 PM

It's amazing to me that people still only follow Dizzee, Wiley and that little brat Lady Sov when it comes to grime. Check out Trim, Dot Rotten, Ghetto, Durrty Goodz, Chipmunk, or Tinchy Stryder.

Posted by Ives1 | July 31, 2008 7:59 PM

This is like a shitty version of Li'l Wayne's Lollipop. An obvious attempt to hit the charts that will burn out quickly.

Except Li'l Wayne's try was good. I can't say that I feel the same about these two tracks.

Posted by Tom C. | August 1, 2008 9:15 AM

this is why "grime" is starting to gain popularity: less songs about stabbing people and being from east london, more songs about watches and dance moves. also, to be fair, dizzee rascal has done a lot of crossover moves before this (he's on the latest fatboy slim / david byrne joint, he was on band aid 20's new version of 'do they know it's christmas?' - also a #1 uk hit).

Posted by cosby | August 1, 2008 9:31 AM

two songs out! it's a quasi-resurgence!


been out 4 hella


Posted by ndrwmtsn | August 2, 2008 9:08 AM

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