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Electro-grime is dead...but did you know it was alive?

Published by Warren Dell under , , , , , on Sunday, November 16, 2008

Grime purists may not like the sound, but have record companies missed a trick here?

After the success of Wearing my Rolex earlier in the year, this summer saw a flood of Electro-Grime tracks hitting the airwaves and video channels, with producer Bless Beats at the forefront. But by the end of the summer season (an extended one thanks to Wiley) when all was said and done, the sound has come crashing down if the chart positions of Summertime and Rolex Sleep are anything to go by.

But while those with their Grime hats firmly wedged on not buying the sound and happy to pronounce the music dead, I'm in no doubt that it could have done better than it did for all concerned, if only the record companies behind the aforementioned tracks knew what they were doing.

Wider audience

Grime will always have trouble reaching a new audience with the sound only accessible to a small following. Despite various attempts to extend that reach, most notably Roll Deep mixing their Grimey tones with pop sounds on In At The Deep End and Kano, Lethal Bizzle and the like collaborating with Indie singers, it just wasn't the right fit.

But whereas pop and indie just isn’t compatible with Grime, Electro is a more natural fit with both sitting in that underground dance category so Tinchy, Roll Deep, Skepta and all were hardly venturing into foreign territory. But for the tracks that had major backing behind it the chart numbers may signal failure, but one can't help feel that these would have been much higher had those promoting them knew what they had in front of them.


By the time Skepta Rolexed Sweeped his way into 86th position in the charts everyone and their mum knew the dance. Ranging from Busta Rhymes to Paul O'Grady doing the sweep, even that bird from the cafe on Eastenders had given it a go along with the months worth of Youtube tributes. But herein lies the problem.

All this exposure would have done wonders for the tune, in fact any tune from any genre if a release date was forthcoming, but by the time the release came round in September those that would have supported it with a purchase had already got the download, or had purchased a ringtone. The tune was tired.

Most tunes can create an underground buzz for a year before it gets picked up for a commercial release and still sell records, look at the success of bassline tracks by T2 and H20 as a recent example but the problem for Rolex Sweep was that a track with a limited shelf life (it is nothing more than a fun, perfect night out, summer holiday track) had missed the trick by not capitalising on the exposure.

Summertime in October?

At the same time that lover of record labels Wiley was looking to follow up the success of Wearing My Rolex with Summertime. It wasn't as good as the aforementioned track but anyone knows releasing a track about the summer in October is destined to fail.

While tracks like Stryderman, Do Me Wrong and Rolex Sweep shouldn't make up the majority of a Grime artists output, there is no wrong doing in knocking one or two of these out. Some are going to work and some won't, but the positives need to be taken from them.

In Stryderman, Tinchy has a tune that has given him more exposure than any of his previous tracks which is surely what any artist would want, it’s now up to him to capitalise on that with his album. Sadly with Wiley I think we are all expecting an album full of Wearing My Rolex knock-offs but he could have had some commercial success with a mainly Grime album if released on the back of his number two charted single.

Do record companies know how to market a Grime artist? Are electro grime tracks the answer? The chart positions of the aforementioned tracks would suggest no in black and white, but bearing in mind the record companies failure in handling these releases and how in the US, Hip-Hop artists have been making commercial sounding tracks to sell their grittier material for years, it could indicate that they may have a purpose in making Grime more accessible and allow more artists to make a living from it...which ultimately is what they’re trying to do.

The death of Electro Grime (The Guardian)
The making of Rolex Sweep
Wiley - Summertime Video


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