24 Nov 2022
Grime Stories: From the Corner to the Mainstream at the London Museum
History isn’t always linear, and values change overtime for better and for worse. British museums boast some of the most diverse collections. Antiquities – largely from the global south (Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East) – have been taken and enshrined into European ownership. According to a report in the New York Times ‘90 – 95 percent of Africa’s heritage is held outside of Africa by major museums.’
At our last team building day, we all paid a trip to the London Museum which featured an exhibition that left me feeling more optimistic. Grime Stories: from the corner to the mainstream honours the grime music genre and gives staying power to the black British experience. This exhibition was the last stop after a chronological history of Britain, and pays homage to grime music, its origins, and the people behind its legacy.
From the deprived areas of East London emerged a genre of music that has become popular worldwide. Since the early 2000s Grime has been replicated in unlikely locations such as Japan and more recently, Canada. Until then black British culture had been largely borrowed from black music in the US such as hip hop and R&B. Through pirate radio and the underground music scene, artists such as Roll Deep, Kano, Dizzee Rascal, Wiley, Lethal Bizzle, Romeo and So Solid Crew brought grime into mainstream recognition.
The main display features an illustration of high-rise residential flats in East London and extends to the central London skyline. The interior is decorated with road signs (Plaistow, Stratford, Bow), and signatures of grime artists pepper the walls. Between vintage music equipment is a screen which depicts a film featuring both emerging and established Grime talent, including Eerf Evil and TeeZandos, and other young people from Ruff Sqwad Arts Foundation.
This exhibition will leave one with a better understanding of a movement that has lifted so many lives and created so many careers. It shows culture can be created out of historically marginalised communities and developed into a staple of patriotism.
The Grime Stories exhibition is freely accessible at the Museum of London, but just until Sunday 4th December 2022, so get in quick.
Written by Eddie Kaziro