Museum of London announce new display honouring the music, people and places central to the grime scene


Museum of London presents Grime Stories: from the corner to the mainstream, a new display honouring the music, people and places central to the grime scene and its roots in east London.

Co-produced by one of grime’s early documentarians, Roony ‘Risky’ Keefe, the display features a series of newly commissioned films that explore the community at the heart of grime’s success, a large-scale illustration from artist Willkay and personal artefacts from the MCs and producers who developed grime’s unique sound.

Grime music emerged twenty years ago in the early 2000s and flourished through an informal network of record shops, youth clubs and pirate radio stations. By 2004, London’s grime scene had reached mainstream success, as albums like Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Boy in da Corner’ garnered widespread acclaim.

Grime Stories: from the corner to the mainstream addresses its local origins on the street corners and estates of inner-city east London. Partnering with those who were there at the scene’s inception, the display considers how the area has changed in the 20 years since and the impact of these change on the future landscape of grime.

At the core of the display is a series of films, one of which sees the display’s co-producer and documentarian Roony tour east London in his black cab with influential figures from the UK grime scene: grime MC and producer Jammer, Ruff Sqwad’s Rapid and Slix, and Troy ‘A+’ Miller from Practice Hours. As an important documentarian of grime, Risky uses his expert knowledge to carve out journeys down memory lane which tell grime’s story of Black and working class ingenuity. Footage featuring Skepta and DJ Slimzee examines how these once emergent artists were able to find an outlet to share their music, uncensored through pirate radio networks such as Rinse FM.

In an era before social media, Roony’s Risky Roadz and Troy ‘A+’ Miller’s Practice Hours DVDs were instrumental in kick-starting the careers of countless MCs, distributed through London record shop, Rhythm Division.

The young east London artists of today are highlighted in a film collaboration with Ruff Sqwad Arts Foundation, which sees emergent talent discuss the future of grime and how they create music in the face of the city’s gentrification.

A central feature of the exhibition will be a nod to the Leytonstone basement of UK grime pioneer Jammer. Nicknamed ‘The Dungeon,’ this iconic space was the birthplace of Lord of the Mics, one of the most important battle platforms to ever exist in the UK music scene.

An installation will feature the keyboard on which Skepta’s ‘That’s Not Me’ was produced and graffiti from the basement walls in the home of Jammer’s parents, detailing the illustrious names of east London grime, with an interview film from the legendary Dungeon recording studio.

The display includes a newly commissioned large-scale illustration from artist Willkay depicting the changing face of east London, as the concrete of the city’s council estates sits beside the glass buildings of Canary Wharf. The composite view, imagined from the perspective of a rooftop, pays tribute to the informal network of pirate radio stations and aerial rigs on tower blocks that allowed grime music to flourish to global acclaim.

Roony ‘Risky’ Keefe, display co-producer, said:
“Grime is a culture in itself and uniquely houses London’s attitude and DIY spirit. In two decades, it has given so much back, not only to the city, but to an international audience. Grime’s influence has changed music forever. This Museum of London display makes me feel proud to see grime’s legacy acknowledged, knowing how far the scene has come and how essential it is to London’s culture. Grime continues to push boundaries and Grime Stories: from the corner to the mainstream will bring its history and pioneering work to a whole new audience.”

Dhelia Snoussi, the Museum of London’s Youth Culture Curator, said:
“Grime Stories: from the corner to the mainstream tells the story of grime in the fabric of London’s history: one of place and community, all built without the support of mainstream radio and friends in high places. The global success of the scene could not have been achieved without the social and physical infrastructure underpinning grime music. By honing in on significant landmarks that nurtured the music, Grime Stories explores the relationship between sound and place and questions what the sonic consequences of urban gentrification might be for music in east London.”

Grime Stories: from the corner to the mainstream is a FREE display opening Friday 17 June 2022. The Museum of London opens seven days a week (10am – 5pm).