It’s been a tumultuous decade for all of us.
The past ten years have seen Britain host the Olympics and endure uninterrupted Tory rule, only to end up crashing out of the European Union in the most embarrassing way possible. Similarly, grime hasn’t exactly had a smooth run. From the genre’s beginning in 2001 up until around 2009, it had made a huge impact on British music and culture, but that trajectory to greatness was put on hold for the next three years when its central figures decided to go pop.
Then, at the top of 2013, grime’s fortune changed. Thanks to the huge success of Meridian Dan’s “German Whip”, Skepta and Jme’s “That’s Not Me” and some well-timed freestyles and radio sets, the entire country’s heads were turned. Suddenly, venues were actually willing to host events—even America was ready to worship at grime’s altar—and the nation became enamoured with the scene’s newbie, Stormzy—who, alongside Skepta, took grime to the farthest reaches of the UK and beyond. Now they’re household names in ways that only Dizzee and, to an extent, Wiley had ever approached before. Ultimately, in spite of everything, grime survived.
We’ve spoken about it in greater length before, but the point is that grime withstood a lot in the 2010s and it deserves celebrating. As the decade draws to a close, we take a look back at the grime tracks that pushed things forward the most. And this is not about commercial success—Stormzy’s had more successful tracks than “Shut Up”—this is purely about cultural significance. So, without further ado, here are grime’s most impactful songs of the decade.