It's amazing to see a book like Don't Call Me Urban! bring light to a term that completely seems to negate any difference between a plethora of people and communities, simply because of their shared taste in the grime music scene, and their location. Over a twelve year period, Simon Wheatley has delved into the lives of hundreds of different individuals, both MCs and people living in several boroughs of London. His photography style differs from blurred, real-time shots to sharp, clear shots, depicting the landscapes of lives and failed architecture. Reality screams from every page, but having the insight from the people that live in that area and perform in the grime scene completes this book as a true work of art. I have purposely avoid the term `social' art. Like many great real-life photography/biographical books, it engrosses the reader with imagery that differs from page-to-page. You almost feel like you have delved into someone's life. But this book isn't just the work of Simon Wheatley: as he readily acknowledges, it is the work of a body of people, all different, not to be labelled: urban. I would recommend this to anyone that has any interest in art, music or simply a city, as it moves through twelve years of its existence. With the London 2012 Olympic Games fast approaching, this book could not have more relevance.
As a grime fan I was originally attracted to the book by the promise of early photographs of stars such as Dizzee, Wiley, Skepta, Tinchy and Giggs, and was hoping to gain some insight into what their early careers were like. While there were some fantastic insights and interviews with acts like these, what comes across loud and clear is the depth of Wheatley's study which turns the failed MCs and the youngers who are dreaming of success into the stars and the focus of the book.
The stories from the youths in the book are a mixture of fascinating and terrifying, and Wheatley has a fantastic way of including poignant images of football trophies, bmx bikes or, at one point, an old rocking horse as reminders of how young some of his subjects are.
Perhaps the dichotomy of Wheatley's study is best summed up by the cover star Crazy Titch, an MC tipped as hotly as Dizzee Rascal at the time to achieve mainstream success who is now serving a 30-year jail sentence for allegedly shooting a teenager over disrespectful lyrics.
A fantastic study, not just of a musical phenomenon unique to Britain, but of life in London's council estates and the true stories behind the posing, posturing and bravado of the Grime scene.
Don't Call Me Urban is a great mixture of interviews, opinions, observations and photos that encapsulate the inner city urban life style and the Grime Scene. Wheatley's pictures capture the sadness and the joy within these young peoples lives and is a powerful insight into a place that many journalists and artists haven't yet explored. It is clear that he has put a lot of time and effort into this book and it is worth reading.
This book is for anyone interested in youth / street culture and contains some excellent photos depicting inner city urban life on some of the toughest estates in london. Brilliant. The text allows a story to unfold from the pictures and reflects the gritty reality of the lives of young people in london today.
Been a grime fan for nearly a decade now, and this does grime justice. Could do with a few more pages of writing, but the images are brutally shocking and relevant. Going past some of these places regularly is different to what these pictures depict, the interviews and pages of writing are really good and it's nice to see an academic who truly immerses himself in the area of study. Gonna make my diss somewhat easier. Thanks