top of page
  • Charlie Taylor

Beats, Bass & Bars: The Story Of Grime - TV Review

In Three Words: Roots, Underground, Clean

I believe that Documentaries have been the most successful genre of TV or Film this decade. Granted, that is just my opinion, I haven't got statistics to back up the statement.

The reason why I say that is because they have been extremely necessary in the Social Media Age. We're so obsessed these days to be 'In the know', "Real-Time" news and always, always up to date. Documentaries (When done well) encapsulate a moment (or moments) in time and give context to how we got to where we're at now.

Another thing you notice is that everyone has their style. You know when you're watching an Attenborough, Burns, Theroux, because as individuals, they have their own way of tackling their subject.

Zooming out a little bit, production companies & film-making teams also have their styles. Which brings me to the documentary I'm reviewing here.

A while ago, I reviewed Sky Arts' "Generation Grime", an oral history of Grime as an art form and how it has grown in it's near 20 years of life. While browsing my TV, I caught another documentary about Grime named "Beats, Bass & Bars: The Story Of Grime". This time, it was by the people at BBC Music.

I thought I would give it a watch & review, just to see how different production companies look at the same subject. There were some fundamental differences between the two, some stylistic differences, but at the end of the day, they were both great at telling the story of Grime.

I'll begin with the major difference. "Beats, Bass & Bars" (I'll call it BB&B from now on) had UK Hip-Hop pioneer Rodney P hosting the documentary, talking to people that were there from the start. It's an interesting choice, but I think they didn't really put much thought into it. Most BBC documentaries that involve Hip-Hop always has Rodney P hosting so I'm not surprised that they put Rodney in this.

While BB&B had a host, Generation Grime was all oral history. So the entire show was lead by the people that were in and around Grime. That's the major difference. Where GG relied on the people that helped shape it, BB&B had Rodney hold our hand through it all, making the overall tone of the show a bit more academic than GG.

Let me put it this way. If you wanted to watch a Grime Documentary on YouTube, GG would be it. Whereas BB&B is more for an academic setting.

These aren't bad things by the way. It actually makes more sense because compared to GG, BB&B spent much more time shining a light on Grime's roots. I'm not talking about the beginnings of Grime, I'm talking about when the Windrush Generation came and brought Reggae overseas. How 1st Generation Londoners were shunned from doing Reggae because they didn't have the accent. With that they started their own movements. Jungle, Garage and then, finally, Grime. All of this was covered in a space of a quarter of an hour.

Considering GG only covered that area for only a couple of minutes and BB&B dedicated a quarter of the hour to it, it's what separates to two in terms of the timeline. Past that, they both went down the same path. How early artists made tracks in their bedrooms, "Form 696" and it's blatant antagonism to black British culture & how people like Dizzee Rascal, Wiley and more recently Skepta & Stormzy, changed the game for the better.

BB&B really did well in broadening the scope, it's a very good attempt at giving a detailed overview of not just Grime, but the deep roots it has, going back over 50 years.

Both documentaries have their unique qualities and if you asked me which one you should watch, I'd obviously say both. Because like I said before. Every documentary has its unique angle and even though these two definitely ticked the boxes they gave themselves.

They're one of the same and both elegantly gave Grime the respect it deserves.


bottom of page