Skip to content
BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access March 22, 2019

Grime and Spirit: On a Hype!

  • Monique Charles EMAIL logo
From the journal Open Cultural Studies


Grime is a genre of Black British music originating from London at the turn of the twenty-first century. In this article, I explore responses to moments of Grime music making and engagement in live performance settings. I make connections between Grime, Black music streams (Lena), Black Atlantic (Gilroy) practices, the Black Public Sphere (Baker) AND how engagements at these intersections are connected to spiritual practice in the context of live performance. The power in Grime live performance settings; where the spiritual is found, connects to the sonic characteristics deployed, embodied and emotive responses and cultural practice. Spirituality, through cultural practice, is an Africanised religious/spiritual outlook that remains with the African diaspora over time and space (Mbiti). Smith’s work shows how African derived religious and spiritual practice continues in diasporic religious practice contemporarily. Through live performance (raving/club culture), I explore and theorise how power is a) generated, b) operates, and outline the roles people play in the cultural-spiritual practice. Building on the work of Smith, Kennett, Sylvan, Mbiti and Baker, I introduce theories: 1) Liminal Energy Power Spirals (LEPS) and 2) AmunRave Theory, to show how the spirit enters live performance space.

Works Cited

Baker, Houston. “Critical Memory and the Black Public Sphere.” The Black Public Sphere (Series): A Public Culture Book (Black Literature and Culture), edited by The Black Public Sphere Collective 2nd ed., University of Chicago Press, 1996, pp. 7-37.Search in Google Scholar

Bradley, Lloyd. Sounds like London: 100 Years of Black Music in the Capital. Serpent’s Tail, 2012.Search in Google Scholar

Campion, Chris. “Inside Grime.” Guardia Online. 23 May 2004, in Google Scholar

Charles, Monique. “Hallowed be thy Grime?: A Musicological and Sociological Genealogy of Grime Music and Its Relation to Black Atlantic Religious Discourse.” PhD Thesis. Warwick University, 2016.Search in Google Scholar

Charles, Monique. “Chapter 7 Observations Playlist.” YouTube, uploaded by Dr. Monique Charles, 18 Aug 2016. in Google Scholar

Charles, Monique. “Grime Central! Subterranean Ground-In Grit Engulfing Manicured Mainstream Spaces.” Blackness in Britain, edited by Kehinde Andrews and Lisa Palmer, Routledge, 2016, pp. 89-100.Search in Google Scholar

Charles, Monique. “MDA as a Research Method of Generic Musical Analysis for the Social Sciences; Sifting through Grime (Music) as an SFT Case Study.” International Journal of Qualitative Methods. vol. 17, no. 1, 2018, in Google Scholar

Eshun, Kodwo. More Brilliant than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction. Quartet Books, 1998.Search in Google Scholar

Gilroy, Paul. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double-Consciousness. Verso, 1993.Search in Google Scholar

Goodman, Steve. Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 2010.10.7551/mitpress/7999.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Grime, Bow and How UK Hip-hop Found Its Voice. Directed by Powell, A. The South Bank Show. Sky Arts. 18 May 2012.Search in Google Scholar

Hall, Stuart. Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State, and Law and Order (Critical Social Studies). McMillan, 1978.Search in Google Scholar

Henriques, Julian. Sonic Bodies: Reggae Sound Systems, Performance Techniques and Ways of Knowing. Continuum, 2011.10.5040/9781501382895Search in Google Scholar

Johnson, Richard. “What Is Cultural Studies Anyway?” Social Text, no. 16 (winter), 1986, pp. 38-80. JSTOR, in Google Scholar

Kennett, Chris. “A Tribe Called Chris: Pop Music Analysis as Idioethnomusicology.” Open Space, vol. 10, no. 1, 2008, pp. 8-19.Search in Google Scholar

Lena, Jennifer. Banding Together: How Communities Create Genres in Popular Music. Princeton University Press, 2012.10.23943/princeton/9780691150765.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Leu, Lorraine. “‘Raise Yuh Hand and Get on Bad!’: New Traditions in Soca Music in Trinidad.” Latin American Music Review/Revista de Musica Latinoamericana, vol. 21, no. 1 (Spring-Summer), 2000, pp. 45-58. JSTOR, in Google Scholar

Lynch, Gordon. Between Sacred and Profane: Researching Popular Culture. I B Tauris and Co Ltd, 2007.10.5040/9780755624928Search in Google Scholar

Lynch, Gordon. The Sacred in the Modern World: A Cultural Sociological Approach. Oxford University Press, 2012.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199557011.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Mbiti, John. Introduction to African Religion. 2nd ed., Heinemann, 1991.Search in Google Scholar

McClure, John. Mashup Religion: Pop Music and Theological Invention. Baylor University Press, 2011.Search in Google Scholar

Perkinson, James. Shamanism, Racism, and Hip Hop Culture: Essays of White Supremacy and Black Subversion (Black Religion/Womanist Thought/Social Justice). Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.10.1057/9781403979186Search in Google Scholar

Ferreira, Pedro. “When Sound Meets Movement: Performance in Electronic Dance Music.” Leonardo Music Journal, Vol. 18, 2008, pp. 17-20.10.1162/lmj.2008.18.17Search in Google Scholar

Reed, Teresa. The Holy Profane: Religion in Black Popular Music. University Press of Kentucky, 2003.Search in Google Scholar

Rose, Tricia. Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America. Wesleyan University Press, 1994.Search in Google Scholar

Smith, Theophus. Conjuring Culture: Biblical Formations of Black America. Oxford University Press, 1994.Search in Google Scholar

So Solid Crew. “21 Seconds.” They Don’t Know. Relentless Records. 2001, 17.Search in Google Scholar

So Solid Crew. music video in Google Scholar

Spencer, Jon. Protest and Praise: Sacred Music of Black Religion. Fortress Press, 1990.Search in Google Scholar

St. John, Graham. Global Tribe: Technology, Spirituality and Psytrance (Studies in Popular Music). Equinox, 2012.Search in Google Scholar

Sullivan, Paul. Remixology: Tracing the Dub Diaspora. Reaktion Books, 2013.Search in Google Scholar

Sylvan, Robin. Traces of the Spirit: The Religious Dimensions of Popular Music. New York University Press, 2002.Search in Google Scholar

Till, Rupert. Pop Cult: Religion and Popular Music. Continuum, 2010.Search in Google Scholar

Turner, Victor. “Liminality and Communitas” in The Ritual Process; Structure and Anti-Structure, Transaction Publishers, 1995, pp. 94-130.10.4324/9781315134666-3Search in Google Scholar

Received: 2018-05-17
Accepted: 2018-12-07
Published Online: 2019-03-22
Published in Print: 2019-02-01

© 2019 Monique Charles, published by De Gruyter Open

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License.

Downloaded on 28.2.2024 from
Scroll to top button