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New grime documentary, 8 Bar, explores the genre’s early years and evolution: Watch

Skepta, Jammer, D Double E , Kano and more feature in the film by award-winning director and photographer Ewen Spencer  

Ghetto Kano Ewen Spencer 8 Bar Evolution of Grime
Ewen Spencer

A new music documentary exploring the early years and development of grime in the UK is now available to stream on iPlayer as part of BBC Four's Storyville series.

8 Bar: The Evolution of Grime features a number of pioneers credited with pushing the sound of East London to the world, including Skepta, Kano, Dizzee Rascal, Jammer, D Double E, Slimzee and DJ Target. Made up of rare archive footage and recent interviews, it charts how a DIY culture emerged on pirate radio stations and at basement raves, sowing the seeds for iconic singles, albums and fashion that would define Britain in the first decade of the 21st Century. 

Praised for its vivid, high energy scenes, which span mic battles in residential tower blocks to appearances on Top of the Pops and stages at Glastonbury festival, the story begins with jungle and garage setting the stage for grime, before formative era crews such as the Pay As U Go Cartel are introduced. It also explores the culture's self-sufficient economics, born from lack of resources, and demonisation at the hands of media, politicians and authorities as artists began to break into the mainstream. 

8 Bar: The Evolution of Grime was originally screened as part of the 2021 London Film Festival. Directed by filmmaker and photographer Ewen Spencer, his previous projects have included Street, Sound and Style, looking at youth style and music from 1980 to present day, Brandy & Coke and UKG respectively a film and book focused on UK garage, and his award-winning 2005 picture book, Open Mic, one of the earliest long-form journalistic celebrations of grime.

Watch a trailer for the documentary below and revisit DJ Mag's recent feature on the revival of dubplate culture in genres such as grime. The full video is available here