During an interview on British television program Channel 4 News, Run The Jewels emcee/producer El-P was asked about grime, the East London-born genre which incorporates elements of electronic, dancehall and hip-hop.
"We don't have much time when we get here to run around but I'm a big fan [of grime]," said El-P. "I always thought it was just rap, personally. Call it whatever you want, it's cool, you know, but I see people rapping in a nasty way, so, I'll be a fan of anyone who does that."
As popular as grime has become in the U.K. over the past decade, it has not translated across the Atlantic to the United States. Perhaps, one of the reasons why is because like El-P, many Americans don't fully identify with the cultural roots of grime beyond its sonic similarities to hip-hop.
If grime is viewed as nothing more than a noxious version of European hip-hop, it's no wonder many Americans cite an inability to understand its artist's strong English accents as the primary reason why they choose not to listen.
As El-P knows from having worked with grime forefather Dizzee Rascal for a number of years, there is, of course, more to grime than just "rapping in a nasty way."
While it would be impossible for grime artists to educate an entire country on the elemental differences between hip-hop—a genre birthed in New York City—and grime—a genre birthed in London—there is a fairly easy way for curious music fans to be in the know. "Thank God, the internet has allowed us to share in those cultures from a distance," said El-P.
Get your Google on, folks.
Editor's Note: I did a very poor job of making clear in the original version of this article that El-P's comments were merely a jumping off point for a larger discussion about the lack of appreciation for grime Stateside. I have updated the piece to provide further contextualization for the original purpose of the article. We will try to do better next time.
Photo Credit: Derrick Rossignol