Young people in London have contributed to the production of a distinctively British rap culture. This book moves beyond accounts of Hip-Hop’s marginality and shows, with an examination of the production, dissemination and use of rap in London, how this cultural form plays an important role in the everyday lives of young Londoners and the formation of identities. Through in-depth interviews with a range of leading and emerging rap artists, close analysis of rap music tracks, and over two years of ethnographic research of London’s UK Hip-Hop and Grime scenes, the author examines how black and white urban youths use rap to come together to explore their creative abilities. By combining these methodological approaches in the development of a critical participant observation, the book reveals how the collaborative work of these urban youths produced these politically significant subcultures, through which they resist unfair and illegitimate policing practices and attempt to develop their economic autonomy in a city marred by immense social and economic inequalities.
"Make no mistake. There is no other book remotely like this one. It initiates a new era in the study of black London's subterranean music scenes and the broader youth cultures that they continue to fuel. Bramwell has not only accomplished an invaluable work of cultural history but provided a welcome reorientation for all future work in this field."
— Paul Gilroy, King's College London, UK
Introduction 1. "Revolution of a Next Kind": Building Black London from the Bottom 2. "On The Bus My Oyster Card Goes ‘Ding De Diing De Ding Ding’": Transforming the Space of London’s Public Transport 3. "I See the Glow in You": Summoning the Aura in London’s Post Hip-Hop Culture 4. "That There Kind of Sumthin’ Sounds Strange to Me": Social Representation and the Recorded Soundscape 5. From a "Junior Spesh" to the "Keys to the Bentley": The Routes of Grimey London. Conclusion: "Take Back the Scene"
Ethnography is a celebrated, if contested, research methodology that offers unprecedented access to people's intimate lives, their often hidden social worlds and the meanings they attach to these. The intensity of ethnographic fieldwork often makes considerable personal and emotional demands on the researcher, while the final product is a vivid human document with personal resonance impossible to recreate by the application of any other social science methodology. This series aims to highlight the best, most innovative ethnographic work available from both new and established scholars.