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Life of grime

PEOPLE: A young mum to be who features in the book

MUSIC IS often more than the words of a song, or the notes in a score. For many young people it is a way of life.

In the early Nineties, the sound of inner city London clawed its way through the council estates of areas like Bow in east London, to slap the mainstream music charts in the face.

Grime music is the evolution of garage – perhaps the description 'coup d’etat' is more fitting.

Artists like Wiley, Dizzee Rascal, and Kano elbowed the Ayia Napa party boy MCs out of the way, hungry to have their time on the mic and in the spotlight.

Photographer Simon Wheatley has documented the story of grime music in his first book Don’t Call Me Urban! The Time of Grime.

The book is a series of striking images which spans his 12 years photographing some of the genre’s key players.

It captures the environment that gave birth to Britain’s “most significant and controversial musical expression since punk” –according to the book’s blurb – and has already sold more than 2,000 copies of its first print run.

Wheatley said that the book grew out of his desire to explore the reality of life on an inner city council estate. “The book was something that grew as I went into it, originally as a social experiment in the late nineties looking at inner city architecture like Lambeth Walk during a controversial regeneration scheme” he said.

REALITY

“The more I got into that world, the more fascinated I was by the social dynamic. I was drawn in by the music, the young people and their lives. They were living in a concrete jungle and were becoming animalistic, just running wild. I chose the title because I think it works on several levels. There’s the urban identity that is pushed by advertisers and it’s all about being cool, a trend everyone wants to buy into. But not every black person is Dizzee Rascal and Tinie Tempah. To be born urban is a very difficult social reality.”

He added “I wanted to take a deeper look at the reality of being ‘urban’ on a council estate. The mainstream media can be inclined to a very shallow depiction. For example, a group of youths on a street corner becomes something negative…..they could be a group of friends who are students. The book is also an appeal to people within the book to take a look at themselves and say: ‘What is this life we’re living? It’s madness.’”

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