The hippie revolution of the 60’s. Punks and skinheads of the late 70’s. Hip-Hop renaissance in the 80’s. Ravers of the 90’s. The…err, well, that’s where subculture all ended really.
The noughties were a time where somebody pushed the factory reset button on UK subculture. The result was a generation of young people shuffling about to Westlife, Usher and Britney Spears. It was a confusing and embarrassing time for everyone involved.
Don’t get me wrong, there was some great artists to rise throughout the decade – Eminem (especially the early years when he was off his bonce on prescription pills – until Encore, we do not talk about that album), as well as some R&B royalty rising to prominence. But the UK’s subculture scene had disintegrated in tandem with Kate Moss’ septum, leaving an unoccupied vacuum.
The problem was this: music had stopped reflecting and influencing people’s lifestyles.
Because us Millennials seem to be the most docile generation to date.
Subcultures have always been a form of protest – a way to flick a swift fuck you in the direction of established society. The music and fashion went hand-in-hand. You didn’t need to ask people about what they were into, because it oozed from every stitch.
Now we want to conform. In order to be individual it has to be Instagram worthy. Being alternative is a popular trend. Imitation is the new innovation. Social media offers us an instantaneous kangaroo court, and we’re quick to condemn those who defy our conformity. We’re routinely discouraged to actually challenge the status-quo, through fear of ridicule and rejection from our peers.
In order for subcultures to rise, genuine individuality must be celebrated. Pioneers who dare to do things differently should be heralded, rather than stomped down on. Millenial’s legacy shouldn’t be referred to as the ‘end of subcultures’. We should be the generation known for utilising new technology to create a diverse range of solid subcultures.
Enter stage left – Grime.
Grime is increasingly becoming the championed sound of Britain. Originating in the capital, this genre has seen a meteoric rise in popularity over the past few years; with hip-hop megastar Drake endorsing Skepta, and Stormzy releasing a debut #1 album on his own label #Merky, there is no shortage of success stories. However, Grime’s humble beginnings root it squarely in the framework of what a successful subculture is built on; originality, captivation and pride. The artists who built this genre did so because they loved it. There was no money or recognition from the mainstream. It was a lifestyle choice.
So, what do you think my call to action is going to be this week?
Well, Grime won’t be for everyone – that’s the point of a sub-culture, it caters for it’s own audience (although if you do want an introductory delve into the softer side of Grime, before he became more prevalent than chlamydia on a Magaluf booze-cruise, Ed Sheeran did a genuinely brilliant EP called ‘No. 5 Collaborations Project’). But we can’t let UK subculture end. There needs to be a shift of attitude across the board. Millenials have more things to be angry about than any generation before them – but we’re consigned to an online world that’s easily ignored and quick to ridicule.
So your task is simple. Go and do something new this week. It can be anything, as long as it puts you out of your comfort zone – just don’t write about it on social media. Do it for you. Then maybe, once people have learnt what they enjoy away from the prying eye of social media, subcultures will live again. We can stop this, becoming our musical legacy.