All of this happened, more or less. I discovered grime on the top deck of the 134 bus on my way to school one dreary morning. The Northern Line was suspended along my desired route, as is often the case with the Tube when you’re in a rush, so I found myself travelling on a bus full of kids from the local Catholic school, St Aloysius (my mum opted to enrol me elsewhere after hearing a harrowing tale of an attempted Chelsea smile from the worried parents of a pupil).
On the back row of the upper deck, a gaggle of teenagers were huddled around a pair of headphones extolling something they were calling “Eskimo Riddim”. This was in the days before mobile phones had the capability to blast out tinny, inner ear-grating mp3s, so it was only after searching online record shops when I got home in the evening that I discovered they were talking about Wiley’s archetypal white label 12-inch.
Over the next few years I grew obsessed with grime. I loved the peculiar-sounding beats, the solemn lyrics punctuated with humour and the unparalleled energy of live radio sets. While in my late teens, I started a blog called Prancehall (the silliest name for an imaginary genre I could think of), where I exalted grime’s most vivid characters and poked fun at MCs I didn’t like. At the time I was studying for a degree in chemistry, following in the footsteps of such luminaries as Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Thatcher and Ashton Kutcher, so I needed an escape from the inane daily drudge.
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