“You can absolutely enjoy Grime 2016 without any appreciation of Grime 2004 but there is a level of appreciation that you miss if you don’t have the knowledge.”
Hold Tight: Black Masculinity, Millennials and the Meaning of Grime, published in summer 2016 is a non-fiction exploration of the rise of Grime music. Whether you are a day one fan or a Grime novice, here are 5 reasons why you should read this book:
1. It’s Playful
It’s academic in how thorough of an exploration it is it but not (always) academic in tone. It’s more like your cool clued up uncle telling you stories about back in the day and yelling, ‘What do you know about this one?’ whenever one of his songs come on.
Instead of chapters, it’s divided into a 50 song tracklist. In each section, Boakye unpacks a song that is part of the journey of the development of Grime. He sometimes breaks into slang, occasionally rhymes and then flits back into ‘Doctorate of Grime’ mode.
2. It’s educational
He starts from ‘Amen, Brother’-The Winstons (1969) and ends with ‘Can’t Go Wrong’ by Wiley (2017). But it’s not just a book about these songs.
Hold Tight is about history and music and the history of music. He walks us through the usual socio-political issues including race, gender and class. But he also touches on African- American and Black British relations, London youth culture, video games, sound clashes and Channel U/AKA. Somewhere in the book, we find out he’s a secondary school teacher, which makes a lot of sense. You start learning from page one.
In the book, Boakye calls himself an ‘outsider-insider’. He may not be a Grime artist himself but he’s been part of the Grime journey for most of his life. He’s not a newcomer or a wave surfer (not that there’s anything wrong with being a new fan). But he has ‘the knowledge’. He’s in love and you can feel it. And so you trust him.
4. It’s Fun
Boakye’s writing is as energetic and lively as the genres he describes. His excitement to school you shines through on every page. Plus, it’s very current. He spends many paragraphs dragging Drake through the mud and makes references to the moment ‘Pow’ comes on in a rave. I just couldn’t help but smile at reading something so close to home.
5. It’s a Historical record
It may feel unusual to write or read non-fiction about Grime. However, regardless of how you feel about the genre, it’s important to have a written record of everything to do with Black British culture. In decades to come, having books like this to refer to is important.150 years from now our great-grandchildren can pick this up and learn about the soundtrack of Black British life so many years before them.