This audiobook is narrated by Ash Hunter, stage and screen actor who is currently playing Hamilton in the West End production of the musical.
The year 2000. As Britain celebrates the new millennium, something fluorescent and futuristic is stirring in the crumbling council estates of inner city London. Making beats on stolen software, spitting lyrics on tower block rooftops and beaming out signals from pirate radio aerials, a group of teenagers raised on UK garage, American hip-hop and Jamaican reggae stumble upon a dazzling new genre.
Against all odds, these young MCs will grow up to become some of the UK’s most famous musicians, scoring number one records and dominating British pop culture for years to come. Hip-hop royalty will fawn over them, billion-dollar brands will queue up to beg for their endorsements and, through their determined DIY ethics, they’ll turn the music industry's logic on its head.
But getting there won’t be easy. Successive governments will attempt to control their music, their behaviour and even their clothes. The media will demonise them, and the police will shut down their clubs. National radio stations and live music venues will ban them. There will be riots, fighting in the streets and even murder. And the inner city landscape that shaped them will be changed beyond all recognition.
Drawn from over a decade of in-depth interviews and research with all the key MCs, DJs and industry players, in this extraordinary book the UK’s greatest grime journalist, Dan Hancox, tells the remarkable story of how a group of outsiders from the margins of urban life went on to create a genre that has become a British institution. Here, for the first time, is the full story of grime.
"Excellent." (New Yorker)
"My hero." (Josie Long)
"Hilarious." (Ed Miliband)
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In at the Deep End
It was 2003, I was 14, when I first heard Grime music, by way of of Dizzee Rascal's "Boy In Da Corner". As a Hip Hop obsessed immigrant teenager living in the rainy Amsterdam metropolitan area, I was immediately drawn to Grime's sounds and narratives. Although it sounded so new, it felt familiar. I have had a fondness for the genre ever since.
I went into "Inner City Pressure: The Story of Grime" expecting it to be Grime's version of Jeff Chang's rigorous "Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation". It isn't. Like "Can't Stop Won't Stop", "Inner City Pressure" delivers a lot of context within which the story of its genre took place (or rather is taking place, as Grime is still a young genre), but unlike "Can't Stop Won't Stop", it seemingly does this without following rigourous academic writing standards. Whereas "Can't Stop Won't Stop" is in many ways a classic academic history book, "Inner City Pressure" reads like a very long piece of contemporary music criticism that, although incredibly well researched, relies on a lot of interpretation and extrapolation, often with a strong Marxist tilt. Whether or not you agree with any or all of the author's many conclusions is up to you, but know what to expect. Despite this (or because of it, depending on your point of view), "Inner City Pressure" is a very well written, very informative and often touching (and also troubling) book for anyone looking to gain greater understanding of Grime, its origins and its history.
The narration, by the otherwise very talented actor Ash Hunter, is good overall, but occasionally boring.
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