8 Bar – The Evolution of Grime

A new documentary exploring the history and impact of grime music will screen at the BFI London Film Festival this October. ‘8 Bar – The Evolution of Grime’ is the latest film from Brighton-based photographer Ewen Spencer, and offers a nuanced overview of the genre while tracing its emergence and contemporary influence on UK music and culture. 

As relayed in the 93-minute film, grime’s complex history begins in early ‘00s London council estates and pirate radio — where DIY collaborations and diverse influences helped define the genre’s dark, garage-indebted sound. Having spent years documenting the scene for publications like GQ, Dazed and The Face, Spencer now offers extraordinary access to Grime’s pioneering artists in ‘8 Bar’ — with a host of archival footage exploring the genre’s unique socio-political context and reactionary philosophy. 

Spencer, who is also known for his work with Massive Attack and The Streets, was previously praised by legendary documentarian Martin Parr for his ability to make “visual sense of the wonderful anarchy of grime” — as outlined in Parr’s introduction for the 2005 book ‘Open Mic’. Before ‘8 Bar’, Spencer also explored the world of garage and grime in a series of short films including ‘Brandy & Coke’ and ‘The Business of Grime’ — which featured artists such as Lethal Bizzle, AJ Tracey and 2016 Mercury Prize nominee Kano.

‘8 Bar — The Evolution of Grime’ plays at the BFI London Film Festival on 16th and 17th October 2021.ewenspencer

Photo of Ghetto and Kano, 2004, by Ewen Spencer.