Reflecting on the growth of Grime and its integration into the UK’s music mainstream you can’t ignore the music platforms that helped elevate it.
One of the leading and most prevalent being GRM Daily originally known as Grime Daily. Co-founded by Koby ‘Posty’ Hagen, Matt ‘Sketchy’ Thorne, and Pierre Godson-Amamo the media platform created in 2009 has played a key part in the success of artists such as Stormzy, Skepta, J Hus, Dave, and many more who have gone on to take the mainstream music scene by storm. Not only in the UK but globally.
Once seen as a passing phase in music, Grime has become one of the most popular and lucrative genres of music in the UK and GRM Daily has been on that journey alongside it. Marking the 10th anniversary and beyond, Posty and his GRM family have released the 4-part documentary Together We Rise which takes a look at the platform.
We caught up with Posty to find out more…
Hi Posty please can you tell our audience what it is that you do?
I’m the founder and CEO of GRM Daily. We try to represent the best in UK Black British music, we’ve been around since 2009 and we have a documentary out called ‘Together We Rise’. The documentary celebrates some of our wins and some of our losses. It enlightens people on where we’ve been and where we plan to go.
What was the moment that inspired you and your co-founders to create GRM Daily?
At the time I was just an observer and a fan of UK music and there seemed to be a huge gap in the market for artists to actually promote their videos. At the time DVD’s such as Risky Roadz and Practise Hours and Lord of the Mics were really impacting our scene and culture, then people stopped buying DVD’s and I was just waiting around for somebody to build something online. No one did. So we just decided to do it.
What was your initial role alongside Matt and Pierre?
At the time we did everything, we did the filming, editing, populating our website, promoting the brand, building relationships, we did it all.
Did you ever anticipate how big the platform would get ?
Yeah. Our aim was to contribute towards making UK Grime music the biggest thing coming out of the country. We knew and understood the pool of talent that our country had to offer was so incredible and that they only had to reach the right ears. For us the platform was going to be a representation of the music, we had belief in the music so hoped it would be a reflection on the platform.
When was it that you thought … this is mad we’re actually making a difference to the culture?
The moment that stands out was in our first year we had a football competition that we had only begun to organise a week and a half before. We thought we’d try and invite everyone we could think of to come and play and everyone showed up. Everyone from Boy better Know, Tinchy Stryder, Ruff Squad just every artist. It was at that point that we thought OK we must be a part of this now.
What were some of the more challenging moments running GRM Daily and how did you get through them?
There have been many challenging moments a lot of them are discussed in our documentary. One of them was getting our YouTube channel shutdown and deleted and us contemplating whether we should quit or prevail and start again. That was pretty difficult, losing our life’s work so there have definitely been a few challenges along the way.
What has been your proudest moment?
I felt very proud of the Rated Awards this year just the way it was done, we, unfortunately, didn’t have a show last year. But we were able to get everyone and pull it off especially with the restrictions in place in terms of the pandemic. It took a lot of work and caused a lot of anxiety but we managed to pull it off and it was so well received.
Thinking about how big Stormzy has become, and with artists like Kano and Ghetts still holding down successful careers which artist most represents what GRM Daily is about … (not talking about favourites, but who really represent the dream)?
Difficult to answer just because not one artist can represent the GRM Daily dream. The dream is all about togetherness about us taking a little bit from each other and trying to be the best we can be. It’s very relative so I’m just really proud of all the artists that pass through our doors and have done since the beginning. I just think that any of those people are the representation of the GRM Daily dream if there is one.
You’ve expanded the platform, rebranded as GRM Daily, and as mentioned the Rated awards – how important was it for you not just be an online music platform – and what was behind the decision to change the name?
It’s most definitely important, initially, that’s all we wanted it to be but then it’s important that as it grew we were able to adapt and become an asset to whatever your working in. In our attempt to be that asset a lot of great ideas such as the Rated Awards were formulated. We’re all about empowerment and trying to create opportunities for young people who don’t have many options and see music as one. In order for us to do so, we have to be a part of pushing the culture and the music as much as possible.
We changed the name from Grime to GRM because there was a bit of turbulence with Grime Daily. In the beginning, we had a lot of issues, we also didn’t want to be boxed into just one genre of music. We had always pushed rap music, so with GRM, we were able to make it Grime Rap Music Daily – that’s what the abbreviation stands for.
Can’t avoid talking about the reputation of Grime music and the positive impact it’s had on helping British Black music define its position globally…
The platform is just a representation of people’s hard work, we put eyes on things that are already happening so we are just happy to be able to contribute. You have to tip your hat off to the actual creatives, the artists, the producers, the people that are actually making the art, they’ve been dedicated for so many years, and even allow us to have jobs. We are just proud of our people and proud of the things they are able to create and to see how far things have come.
But also … there is always when it comes to our music the negativity. Some of it is blatant racism, but some of it is something we need to deal with from violence in lyrics to misogyny, etc… How do you feel about those who criticise the music and culture- but also, do you acknowledge some of the issues?
It’s a difficult one, I think music is music. I believe there are similar issues in film and just in life in general. Music is a reflection of people’s lives and the things they’ve seen and been through. So it’s an opportunity for them to get into a real-life job and to be able to provide for their families. I think on the whole there are positives and negatives to everything and music has given people the opportunity to do better rather than get involved in things that they shouldn’t.
Are there any artists that you’ve had to say no sorry we can’t post this?
Yeah of course. We turn down videos all day long, if they’re too violent, we don’t have any diss tracks on our channel, we’ve turned down some of the biggest Drill hits you can imagine, and then we’ll hear them on radio. We understand the responsibility that we have and we don’t take that lightly. You can ask the Drillas they will tell you how annoying we are.
With the trouble that happened at the last physical Rated Awards, how will you manage the awards in the future?
We just have an event and although there weren’t people in attendance only time will tell how things we move forward. We were able to adapt this year and we will continue to be able to adapt and continue to make it one of the best Black award shows in the UK.
Tell us about the documentary, why now and what can we expect?
Last year was our 10 year anniversary and we started this journey of trying to tell our story and it just grew to be something a little bit bigger. It’s called Together We Rise because the Black British music scene is the biggest it’s ever been and it’s not an effort from just one person or platform.
It’s been a contribution of many platforms such as yourselves, directors, producers, artists (of course), all the people that have become A&R’s everyone that just been pushing towards the same goal of making our generation as powerful as we can be and as nurturing as we can be. We’re at a place where we push each other without telling each other we have the same goal that’s why it’s called Together We Rise. It’s a great watch and I’m very proud of it.
Getting to know you …
A book you have to have in your collection – 50 Cent’s Hustle Hard or Hustle Smarter. That’s the last book I read and I really enjoyed it. I know it sounds like it’s not written by this great author but it’s actually an amazing book.
A song/ album that defines the soundtrack of your life? – Jay-Z 4:44. He is very knowledgeable and he covers a lot of issues from growing up, turbulence he faced from friends; peers. And he discusses success a lot and his approach and what you should do with money. He also discusses loyalty and his relationship and almost losing that because of personal choices. Just some real grown-up mature stuff that fuels the mind and nurtures the soul.
A film or TV show that you rate – I just watched a film called The Gentleman on Amazon prime and it was a really good watch. Bugzy Malone (UK music artist) is in it which was a surprise.
What made you Sad, Mad, and Glad this week? My aunt died which made me sad. I haven’t been dieting as well this week that’s made me mad. What made me glad? We got a mural of the artwork for the documentary at Village Underground in Shoreditch and all our faces are painted on there which is pretty cool. It’s not every day you’re a mural.
TOGETHER WE RISE: The Uncompromised story of GRM Daily is a YouTube Originals production with episodes available to watch via GRM Daily here.