White Label Goods: How vinyl culture shaped grime

By in Features

Listen to VF’s new podcast exploring the roots of grime in record shops, dubplates and pirate radio.

Few musical movements have undergone such rapid and turbulent development as grime. Blossoming from hand-stamped white labels and patchy pirate radio broadcasts to chart-topping albums, the shape-shifting genre has always had a sense of community and DIY spirit at its core.

And while grime has flourished on digital platforms – exploiting instant and accessible channels like YouTube and streaming services to reach wider audiences – it’s a genre firmly grounded in physical spaces and products.

It is this relationship that Will Pritchard explores in our new podcast, White Label Goods: How vinyl culture shaped grime. Investigating the pivotal role record shops like Rhythm Division played in connecting people and distributing grime’s nascent sound, and how dubplates and white labels were often catalysts for collaboration, the podcast meets 10 individuals who’ve been integrally involved over the last 20 years.

From personal anecdotes about Wiley borrowing the family car to shift boxes of 12″s, to contemporary perspectives from labels and artists who continue to release grime on vinyl, seeking to strengthen communities in the process, the podcast features early protagonists like Slimzee and Plastician, alongside younger artists like Shy One who grew up on the sound of grime’s first decade. There are also contributions from collectors and journalists working to provide a broader context to this singularly creative and resourceful scene, whose sound and ethos is shaped by records and the culture that surrounds them.

You can hear the podcast on various platforms below.


Credits:

Production, direction, audio editing: Will Pritchard

Illustration: Elena Gumeniuk

Interviewees in order of appearance:

Plastician
Janaya Cowie
Boofy
Slimzee
Chantelle Fiddy
Jules ‘Dobshizzle’ Green
Shy One
J-Cush
Tomas Fraser
Elijah

Music, in order of appearance:

Richard Cowie Sr. & Wiley – Untitled [Unreleased]
Wiley – Eskimo 2 (Devil Mix) [Wiley Kat Records]
Boofy & Lemzly Dale – Banshee [Sector 7 Sounds]
Drone – Narroways [Coyote Records]
Hi5Ghost – Nook Shot (Commodo Remix) [Sector 7 Sounds]

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