In the world of music right now there’s nothing more quintessentially London than Grime. This underground movement of mc’s has recently come to the forefront of popular culture thanks to the meteoric rise of stars such as Stormzy and Skepta. For those who have been around from the start of the genre, these are well worn names, but for these names to be in the charts – especially when Stormzy for example, isn’t even signed to a record label – is progress in itself. The genre is even getting recognition from the other side of the Atlantic, with Drake hopping on the Boy Better Know bandwagon after striking a friendship with Skepta, and after Kanye brought the likes of Jammer, Krept and Konan and others on stage at the Brits for his performance of All Day.
But it’s not just hip hop royalty that are giving grime the recognition it deserves, the cultural elite have picked up on this musical phenomenon, home grown in our capital. This Friday, Tate Britain is to showcase a series of oil paintings of grime mc’s by artist Reuben Dangoor, whose images caught the attention of many a grime fan, and artist on Instagram via his username @reubendangoor. His series portrays these mc’s as British nobility, which I’m sure some wouldn’t argue with; Skepta in iconic white tracksuit and Nikes riding a white horse and Newham Generals’ D Double E in full military get up; like something you’d see at the top of the staircase at an English Heritage Site.
Not quite the British aristocracy, but the protagonists of these paintings are grime royalty nonetheless – from Dizzee Rascall to ‘godfather of grime’ Wiley, these musicians command serious respect from their fans both old and new and Dangoor’s phenomenal paintings capture this. There’s no denying there has been a recent surge in both the popularity and the respect held for the genre, most recently Wiley was honoured with a MOBO plaque at his old school in Bow to recognise his contribution to music. Many may say this was long overdue, but with the rise of Grime not looking to slow down any time soon, could we be seeing a statue of Novelist popping up in Lewisham in 10 years time? Maybe not. But one thing’s for sure, these musicians have put their postcodes on the map and names are springing up from all over town, producing their music independently and getting more and more popular recognition.
It’s a big step for Tate Britain to confirm the cultural significance of this wave of artistic talent sweeping across London (and granted, has been for ages) but hopefully this is the start of a bigger amount of respect coming into play for this abundance of talent which is starting right here in the capital and taking the world by storm.
Reuben Dangoor’s Legends of the Scene is open for one night only at the Tate Britain Friday 4th Dec, 6.30-9.30pm.