Grime spreads beyond London's underground

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Tower blocks are seen in the distance at Edmonton cemetery in London, Britain, September 17, 2016. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
Grime group Slew Dem Crew walk through Hackney Wick after performing at a radio station in London, Britain, September 11, 2016. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
Grime artists Charisma Mixamilla (L), DJ of The Collective and Tiny-K, MC of The Collective wait outside XOYO club in Shoreditch, London, Britain, September 23, 2016. REUTERS/Paul Hackett SEARCH "GRIME LONDON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.?
Members from grime group The Collective perform at City Sound Project, Penny Theatre club, Canterbury, Britain, May 28, 2017. REUTERS/Paul Hackett SEARCH "GRIME LONDON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Grime group Slew Dem Crew leave Tubby's Kebab, after a radio show, in Hackney Wick, London, September 11, 2016. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
A man looks at his phone at a grime night at The Nest club in Dalston, London, Britain, October 30, 2016. REUTERS/Paul Hackett SEARCH "GRIME LONDON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Grime artist Big Reky performs at Mayhem club in Southend, Britain, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
A woman dances at a grime night at XOYO club in Shoreditch, London, Britain, September 23, 2016. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
A grime artist performs at The Nest club in Dalston, London, Britain, September 17, 2016. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
Grime artist Kraze, MC of Slew Dem Crew, performs at The Nest club in Dalston, London, Britain, September 17, 2016. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
Clubbers are seen at a grime night at The Nest club in Dalston, London, Britain, September 17, 2016. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
Grime artist Charisma Mixamilla (L), DJ of The Collective and Mr Myki, MC of The Collective laugh as they look at a phone in Hoxton, London, Britain, September 24, 2016. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
Grime artist M3, MC of The Collective (C), greets a friend outside the Tone coffee shop during a grime night in Willesden Green, London, Britain May 27, 2017. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
People gather outside Tone coffee shop for a grime night in Willesden Green, London, Britain, May 27, 2017. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
People gather in the Tone coffee shop for a grime night in Willesden Green, London, Britain May 27, 2017. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
Grime artist Luciferian, MC of The Collective, poses for a photograph in woods close to his house in Cobham, Surrey, Britain, September 23, 2016. Luciferian said he loves to go to the woods to relax, keep fit and think about music. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
Grime artist Bang GK watches Luciferian, MC of The Collective, rehearse at home in Cobham, Surrey, Britain, September 23, 2016. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
Grime artist Lady Shocker talks to a friend on her mobile phone during a break in recording at a home studio in Hackney, London, Britain, September 29, 2016. "Grime is my story, my passion, my hopes, my dreams and my means to succeed," she said. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
Grime artist Jabz, MC of The Collective, makes his dog Bruce jump for a biscuit, as his mother relaxes at home in Abbey Wood, London, Britain, September 21, 2016. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
Grime artist MC Squintz (C), and Luciferian (L), MC of The Collective perform at Mode FM radio station in London, Britain, September 18, 2016. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
Grime artist Tiny K (L), MC of The Collective and his partner Taylor Knight relax at Mode FM radio station before a set in London, Britain, May 28, 2017. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
Grime artist Rage, MC of Slew Dem Crew, performs during a radio show in central London, Britain, September 10, 2016. "Grime is a way to vent, a way to express yourself, it's a form of release. Grime is still developing and defining itself and I think it can only go from strength to strength... watch this space," he said. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
Grime artist Clipson, MC of Slew Dem Crew, jokes with his partner Mamie Lolo, a hip-hop artist, during a walk in Leytonstone, London, Britain, September 11, 2016. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
Grime artist Kraze, MC of Slew Dem Crew, types lyrics on his mobile phone during a studio session in Hackney, London, Britain, September 4, 2016. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
A microphone lies on top of a notepad containing lyrics at a studio where members of The Collective are performing in Shoreditch, London, Britain, September 24, 2016. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
Grime artist Brownsilla, MC of The Collective, MCs at Mode FM radio station in Enfield, London, Britain, September 25, 2016. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
Student and grime artist MC Squintz travels home after performing at a grime event in Shoreditch, London, Britain, September 24, 2016. "Grime is energy, grime is coming together, grime is spitting flames on any riddim you touch," he said. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
Student and grime artist MC Squintz checks his mobile phone in Edmonton, London, Britain, September 17, 2016. "Grime is energy, grime is coming together, grime is spitting flames on any riddim you touch," he said. REUTERS/Paul Hackett 
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LONDON, July 5 (Reuters) - Squeezed in to a small and sweaty East London nightclub at 3 a.m., the Slew Dem Crew spit bars to a raucous audience reveling in the fast growing popularity of Britain's new musical obsession.

Grime, developed from garage and rap, has been enjoying a breakout period since British artist Skepta scooped the prestigious Mercury Prize in September and fellow Londoner Stormzy gave the genre its first number one album in March.

In the small nightclubs, cafes and independent radio station studios of the capital, the accolades and recognition are drowning out the critics who say the music glamorizes violence.

"To those critics I would say you haven't listened to enough grime music because there's so many creative people in the scene for someone to belittle us with that statement," Rage, 32, a member of the Slew Dem Crew, told Reuters.

"Grime is now being accepted all over the world. We are seeing people of all races and genders actively listening to, buying and making grime music."

The grime artists do tackle drugs, money, respect, turf wars and other gritty topics, all set over a tempo of 140 beats per minute.

"A lot of us come from dark backgrounds and deeper struggles so the real lyrics we write may have violence in them but it's just a form of expression," said Clipson, another member of the Slew Dem Crew.

The energy onstage is infectious, wild celebrations from artists and listeners showcase camaraderie over competitiveness.

"I love the atmosphere of a set and performing with the guys... everyone pumping each other up. For me it's all about the unity," said 21-year-old Tiny K, a member of The Collective.

"People associate it with trouble ... but I think it has kept me out of trouble."

The fast-paced world of grime was dubbed "a commercial force" by The British Phonographic Industry in January and even broke into Britain's national election.

The leader of Britain's opposition Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, sat down to speak with grime artist JME before last month's vote to try and get his manifesto across to young voters.

The mainstream may be embracing it, but its artists aren't ready to be contained.

"(Grime) is a way for the underground to be creative and illustrate whatever they want," said 18-year-old MC Squintz.

(Writing by Patrick Johnston; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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