‘A Huge Game Change’: How Channel U Brought Dirt To Satellite TV | The music


isIf you haven’t heard of Channel U – the old British rap and grime channel that launched in 2003 in an anarchic, DIY spirit – it might sound hyperbolic to call it one of the biggest influences. of the current UK music scene. But its importance is undisputed among those familiar with it, reinforced by its success outside of traditional custodians. “It had a big impact on people who had nothing and who were no one and who weren’t part of the machine,” says grime D Double E. “Just like YouTube, it doesn’t matter who you are. It just mattered that you try to be creative. “Throughout the 2000s, it became one of the only media platforms where British black culture was represented – and, most importantly, accurately represented. Apart from films such as Kidulthood and series like Dubplate Drama, working class black experiences were not portrayed on television except to be demonized on the news. Music channels that broadcast something “urban” from a distance – MTV Base, Kiss, The Box – focused on American rap and R&B dominating the UK music scene in ways local talent couldn’t. As the only TV channel to broadcast the first offerings from future British grime and rap artists, Channel U was responsible for turning many of the hood stars into a household name: Tinchy Stryder, Tinie Tempah, Chip, Ghetts , Wretch 32 and Giggs.

” Seeing [someone] who sounded like me, with the same voice as me, MCing and not with an American accent, was inspiring, ”says grime novelist MC, who grew up watching the channel. “I always wanted to be a part of everything that happened when I got older.”


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