Together We Rise Review

Together We Rise Review

With a subscriber base of over 3.25 million (with total video views standing at an estimated 3.6 billion) on YouTube, GRM Daily has firmly placed itself at the head of the Black British music scene. What started out as a small website looking to create a “UK version of WorldStarHipHop” in 2009 has outstripped all expectations of its co-founders Koby “Posty” Hagan, Pierre Godson-Amamoo and Matt ‘Sketchy’ Thorne, all of whom speak on the success of the channel in the first episode of the Together We Rise docuseries.

Over the coming weeks the Theo Williams directed documentary will detail how GRM has become the go-to site for any aspiring UK grime, drill, garage and afroswing artist looking to make a name for themselves. A scene that once saw artists with little hope of making a sustained living from it are now seeing Black British music having a bigger influence than ever before. The industry still has plenty of roadblocks in place for Black artists, and authorities continue to police drill for its content, but GRM Daily is living proof that the rise of Black voices in the music industry can’t and won’t be stopped.

Each episode runs at around 30 minutes, the first giving a brief ‘101’ of Black music’s evolution in the UK over the past 20 years. Post-jungle came garage, a shift from vocalists to rappers, So Solid’s arrival in the mainstream, followed by the likes of Pay As U Go and Heartless Crew, before Dizzee Rascal’s Boy in da Corner album opened ears up to a brand new sound much of the UK were yet to hear. As it did for early house and jungle, pirate radio played a big part in pushing the voice of a new generation out from the underground and into the mainstream, while the Risky Roadz DVDs and Channel U TV channel gave it a face.

Dizzee is one of many who appear in the episode, along with the likes of Ashley Walters, Ghetts, Kano, Ms Banks and Tinie (Tempah). Comedian Mo Gilligan also gives his take on hearing the likes of So Solid for the first time, remembering friends who would clout chase claiming to be their cousins. Posty recalls finishing law school but feeling uninspired to follow the traditional route into the corporate world, and using WorldStarHipHop as inspiration he co-launched the Grime Daily website (its first incarnation) 11 years ago.

The content was mostly rehashed versions of the videos already seen hundreds of times by viewers on the Risky Roadz and Lord of the Mics DVDs, but web traffic was high. Still, money was low, which meant taking the DIY approach and Posty went out with a camera to capture freestyles and interviews, also creating a “crep check” feature that put an essential part of street culture front and centre of the content.

As alluded to in the trailer and the end of the first episode, the past decade has been far from plain sailing as it teases the unexpected closure of Grime Daily by YouTube in 2012 (this review only covers the first episode). Together We Rise is nicely shot and follows a fairly standard documentary-style template, but that will mean little to most fans who will come for the content and to celebrate the success of a channel that shows no signs of slowing down its growth and influence.

You can watch the first episode of Together We Rise: The Uncompromised Story of GRM Daily on YouTube from September 28.

Overall

Nicely-packaged together, the first part of the 4-part docuseries sets the stage for remaining episodes to explore the channel's success in more detail.

7

out of 10

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