The Dark Heart of Underground Culture in Bristol

Thursday, May 3, 2012

8Ball in the UK have put together an article about the underground culture in Bristol.

banksy rat ghettoBristol, or ‘Brizzle’ as it is affectionately known to its rude-boy protégés, plays host to an urban music scene that is the equivalent of a stocky little Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Not the biggest dog on the block, but certainly a force to be reckoned with. It will stand up and fight its corner against pretty much anyone, and can lay claim to being a truly iconic feature of bad-boy culture. Bristol bass culture is revered by teenage rebels and urbanites across the UK as a place associated with being, well, rude.

If you’re not sure what I mean by ‘rude,’ and think I’m being impolite then you probably aren’t reading the right publication, so jump on to YouTube right now and type in the words ‘drum and bass,’ ‘grime,’ and ‘garage.’ Then type in ‘bass-face’ for good measure. Turn the volume up and prepare to be educated. For the rest of you, read on.

Bristol’s musical roots are steeped in both multi-culturalism and radicalism, with a melting pot of black and white culture generating strains of dub, reggae and ska across the rooftops of the little city ever since the 1950s. The dark side of the city’s political turmoil has imprinted on the landscape, with riots, slavery and the struggle for black rights at the heart of Bristolianism. As often found in cities with a high proportion of minority ethnic cultures, its music scene has flourished as a direct response to issues like poverty, unequal rights, social uprisings and change.

Tapping into a rich musical legacy and adding fresh perspectives, Bristol artists like Portishead and Massive Attack began to experiment with New York hip hop sounds, psychedelic funk and soul, and dance beats to produce an aural formula later known as the Bristol Sound. Characterised by tracks like Massive Attack’s ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ the sound evolved and was dubbed ‘trip-hop,’ a well respected global niche in the hip-hop genre today. Graffiti art and music worked in partnership to create an urban scenography which is the essence of Bristol youth culture today.

As drum and bass, grime and later dubstep evolved from and alongside the Bristol Sound, intertwining with it and ultimately diversifying into new tendrils, the city’s reputation as an urban Mecca has been cast in stone with the local street artist Banksy’s rise to global acclaim. The sights, sounds and air of the city is captured in its urban scene and continue to influence new generations of young and aspiring DJs, producers, artists and ravers. Bristol. Long may it reign.

Byline: This article was sponsored by Make sure you check out their street art t-shirts.

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