UK Grime Production Tips

UK Grime has gone from being a small, DIY spin-off of Garage through a stratospheric rise to become THE sound of the last decade in Britain and beyond!

The Birth of a Genre

Its earliest conceptions come from the likes of DJ Target, Wiley and Skepta, all producing beats at 140BPM (the default BPM on Fruity Loops, the most accessible DAW at the time) on their parents or schools laptops, before the likes of Wiley and Skepta went on to be world-renowned MC’s in their own rights. It’s this software, that was available as a Freeware at the time, that proliferated the early genesis of the sounds now inherent in Grime, previously going by various names; such as ‘Sub low’ and ‘Eski’.

With minimal options for synthesis, it was more a matter of sampling snippets from old tracks, giving you short stabs and FX to work with, over intricate drum patterns (enabled by Fruity Loops user-friendly interface) and a deep sub-bass from the TS-404, one of the few built-in synths to work with (and a pivotal sound in the early years of Dubstep). The sounds borrowed heavily from Ragga, Jungle, Hardcore and Garage, all quintessential sounds of the 90’s in London and beyond, bringing a unique sound that focuses on the sub-bass, the grit, the aggression and the hype.

Rising Stars

Wiley has long been considered the ‘Godfather’ of the sound; however, Dizzee Rascal was the first to break through and achieve mainstream success in the first wave of success that the genre saw. There were then many years where Grime’s popularity would come and go, but it remained an underground genre, until in 2012, Skepta bagged himself a MOBO for Best Music Video for ‘That’s Not Me’ that cost him £80!

Following this, it’s fair to say Grime was firmly established in the mainstream and has continued to go from strength to strength; with Kanye jumping on board and showcasing Grimes’ many talents onstage and Drake signing to Boy Better Know, JME and Skepta’s label. There is now a whole new wave of talented up-and-coming producers who are pushing the sounds forward into the next decade. Here are some to look out for:

Tyrell 169

Having produced for the likes of Craig David, Mabel, and Streatham rapper Dave, it’s fair to say Tyrell 169 is extremely versatile in his productions.

Kwes Darko

Kwes channels dark vibes and an intense energy into his productions, working with a diverse selection of people, from Mura Masa, Sampa the Great and someone who’s heavily in the spotlight right now, SlowThai.


Whilst they may have been around for the best part of a decade now, they continue to work with a heavy roster of artists such as Chip, Ghetts, Sneakbo, 67, Fekky and Flohio, and are constantly pushing the sound forward!

Grime Production

There are a few key components that make up the foundation of a Grime track, here are a few to bear in mind.

The tempo needs to be set at 140BPM, this has been a standard since the start; although there is room to deviate 5BPM, or so, either side of this if it suits the track.

You will need a dirty kick drum and a snappy snare to build the foundations of your beat, the general aesthetic of Grime is pretty lo-fi so look for something with some grit and find a good snare with some decent high frequencies to cut through the mix and accentuate the rhythm.

The rhythms can be pretty complex in Grime, but the foundations come from 2-step and can be built up from there. You can take a basic 2-step pattern and add in some more kicks and try offsetting the second snare to give that slightly disjointed feel.

The Hi-Hats give it the essential groove; a good starting point would be to place a hat on the 1st, 4th, 7th, 9th, 12th, and 15th notes in a bar on a 1/16th grid. From there you can add hat rolls or extra hits as needed.

The key is to not overly complicate the drums by just throwing loop upon loop, but to follow the approach of Dancehall, with distinct, hard-hitting drums and try chopping up loops to add skitterish fills here and there.

Big square wave basses, run through a low-pass filter are a good starting point for your low end. You can play with the attack and decay times depending on whether you’re aiming for short, sharp stabs or a more old-school-style slow attack ‘reverse bass’. You can add some more grit to the sound with a nice dose of saturation or overdrive if the bass is sounding too clean!

For the melodies, the simpler the better. 8-bit style sounds work well and these can be sampled from old computer games or run your favourite synth through some bit reduction. Again, it’s the sparseness between the sounds that let the beats really roll and leaves enough space for MC’s to do their thing!

The old-school stabs chopped out of early 90’s rave records and be replicated by grabbing an SFX sample pack and then drenching these sounds in some reverb and delay. These can fill in any space where necessary, or be used to define the start of a new 8 or 16 bar section.

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