It seems that gone were the days when black people would only be depicted as hoodlems in gangs, dabbling in knife crime and sleazy relationships. And good riddance to them. Instead we are now seeing more and more accurate representations of black culture in films, especially when it comes to the art of grime.
It seems that rappers and film walk along as partners-in-grime, with films like ‘Straight Outta Compton’ giving an insight into the lives of hardcore-rap gang N.W.A (Niggas With Attitude), whilst recent additions such as ‘Brotherhood’ show real grime artists taking to the screen, in the form of ‘Shut Up’ owner Stormzy.
As much as these films are documenting death and violence within the grime-culture, they are also demonstrating how this culture isn’t just owned by gangs who battle for drug payments and to get their own back on adultering-partners. Earlier mentioned ‘Straight Outta Compton’ shows the natural death of a world-renowned rap-genius, Easy-E, and paints this in the same sympathetic light as the killing of Dr. Dre’s younger, half-brother, who died an inhumane death. It seems that for once grime-artists and the stereotyped black community are not being placed under the dark and dingy spotlight they bask under far too often.
However the reality of certain grime rapper’s past are not adorned with a pair of wings and a halo. Upcoming TV-film ‘Surviving Compton’, set for release on October 15, demonstrates the six-year abusive relationship between rapper Dre and singer Michel’le- who is telling her story through this biopic. Using this as her platform to show the reality of her public-eye relationship, the singer is relating the story to Dre himself, and not the industry and culture he revels in. Let’s just hope it’s depicted in such a way.
The use of grime acts in such films is also allowing the culture to shift more and more into the public eye in a positive way- for those perhaps of the older generation who haven’t been haunted by the “rudeboy” lyrics of ‘Shut Up’ every time they turn on the radio. Both starring in the film, as Yardz, and writing the title track- Stormzy is encouraging grime to be very much worshipped throughout the film on and off screen.
However it’s not just the movies that are forcing grime to be taken seriously, obviously the music industry is encouraging it too, although admittedly, this is mainly for music-buffs. 2016’s festival season has seen grime take centre stage, with Skepta performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury and sub-headlining the Main Stage at Bestival, ahead of DJ threesome Major Lazer- it’s clear that his live days aren’t solely to be seen on the sticky-stages of Malia clubs.
It seems as though grime is finally being universally acknowledged in the creative and diverse way that it should be. And with Skepta’s recent Mercury Prize win, it seems the arts industry is going to be in grimy hands for a little bit longer.
Words by Mollie Mansfield