LONDON’S CHANGING MUSIC SCENE
12 December 2018
Nestled under railway arches, booming out of basements and shining in arenas, London’s music scene is alive and well.
In the capital you can hear rumblings of every musical genre; from afro-trap to urban-jazz, spoken word to EDM, grunge to grime – and all that’s in between.
The city that epitomised the Swinging Sixties, seized the synth and strings of the eighties and embraced Britpop in the nineties has undergone another musical makeover in the past decade or so.
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Known for its rich diversity andmelting pot of cultures, London’s blueprint is made up of many influences. This much hasn’t changed.
What it has is the breadth of influence we hear today. Afro Bashment, the all-encompassing term for African, Caribbean, R&B and hip-hop influence, is evident in the unique beats emanating from the city.
An evolution of dubstep, garage, jungle and grime, pioneered by artists like The Streets and Wiley, the UK’s answer to hip-hop holds it down on a world stage.
Technology has been a game-changer in the industry. Today, you don’t necessarily need a label or a marketing machine behind you, just raw talent and a platform – YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram.
This has given a much-needed voice to young black teenagers in London, with independent breakthrough artists in charge of their own creative destiny. Names like Stormzy and Skepta, who built their own legions of fans.
But London’s thriving music scene has not been immune to rising property prices.
We’ve lost great London venues like The Cross to the gentrification of St Pancras, and the Astoria to Crossrail, amongst many others.
Recognising a much-needed boost to grassroots venues, the Mayor of London launched a campaign in 2015 to tackle the problem. In its wake, smaller venues are starting to rise up, while much-loved favourites continue to pull in the crowds.
Which brings us to East London.
Usually Drink, Usually Dance, Usually Bubble
A hub for innovation, creativity and hipsters, E1 is home to a number of emerging and established London venues.
One of the mosticonic, 93 Feet East, is known as a destination for live music and progressive UK sounds. It recently hosted a one-off ‘Boiler Room’ gig for the launch of the new Range Rover Evoque -the latest must-have city car.
A stellar line-up of British female talent, championed by activist and model Adwoa Aboah, performed to a rapturous reception. Home-grown artist Alweya opened the live broadcast, followed by the deliciously soulful sounds of Fatima & The Eglo Band. A staple on London’s music circuit, Little Simz raised the roof with fresh hip-hop beats followed by a DJ set and fusion mashup from Cooly Gand BBZ collective that kept the party in full flow.
If this was a showcase for the future sound of London, then the city has every reason to celebrate.