‘Grime4Corbyn: UK Grime and the Labour Party’

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingChapter


    When Grime artists showed their support for Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party the popular press presented it as an ‘unlikely pairing’. A key aspect to this was the commonly held belief among the Grime community that New Labour represented the introduction of tuition fees, asbos and a hugely unpopular war. In this light New Labour were presented as being no different to the Conservative Party.

    With the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party leader however, many Grime artists found a figurehead that they could focus on. Stormzy, who scored a number one album in March with his debut Gang Signs and Prayer, endorsed Corbyn thus: “My man, Jeremy! I dig what he says. I feel like he gets what the ethnic minorities are going through and the homeless and the working class.” (Hancox, 5 June, 2017).

    Despite the apparent rejection of New Labour, Grime’s emergence and growth is closely linked to the party’s policies. New Labour’s flagship New Deal for Musicians policy is often linked by the popular music press to the successes of artists such as James Morrison and The Zutons as key beneficiaries. This focus offers a particular ideological slant on the identity of British popular music.

    However, the emergence and growth of British urban music forms such Grime can also be traced back to the same support mechanisms via the educational infrastructures put in place in urban spaces such as youth clubs. Many of these were also funded by the Department for Education and skills.

    This chapter will draw on the case studies on the educational activities of Bristol and Roni Size’s 'The Basement Project'; East London and Tower Hamlets’ Summer University; and Asian Dub Foundation’s Community Music to map the emergence of Grime genre as an immediate beneficiary of The New Deal, and other New Labour initiatives. Specifically in the areas of community funding when linked to skills training and urban regeneration.

    In actively incubating a genre that has activated an urban youth culture that has in turn shown support to Coybyn’s Labour, we are able to consider the long term impacts of the New Deal policy on UK urban music culture and it’s long term links to the left. In doing this, the chapter will reconsider the links between UK Grime, New Labour and the Labour Party.

    Cloonan, M. (2002) ‘Hitting the right note? the New Deal for musicians’. Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 54:1, 51-66, DOI: 10.1080/13636820200200187
    Cloonan,M. (2013) Popular Music and the State in the UK: culture, trade or industry?. London: Routledge
    Hancox, D. (2017) ‘Why Grime Might Save the Labour Party’, The Guardian. 5 June, 2017. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/labour-party-jeremy-corbyn-stormzy-grime-general-election-professor-green-akala-jme-theresa-may-a7773281.html . Last accessed: July 20 2018
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationMixing Pop and Politics
    EditorsG Stahl, C Hoad, O Wilson
    Publication statusIn preparation - 2020

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  • Cite this

    James, M. (2020). ‘Grime4Corbyn: UK Grime and the Labour Party’. Manuscript in preparation. In G. Stahl, C. Hoad, & O. Wilson (Eds.), Mixing Pop and Politics Routledge.