Too Many Man
Grime began as a makeshift music style, blending the eclectic sounds of London’s Afro-Caribbean community. Borne out of an amalgamation of various music genres, from reggae, dancehall, bashment, ragga and dub, to garage and drum and bass, grime has made its way from humble beginnings to a global phenomenon over the past two decades.
Today, grime is everywhere. The music genre has surpassed its pirate radio days and has now found its way into charts across the world, attracting critical acclaim for its stark social commentary on living in inner-city London, opening listeners’ eyes to the harsh realities of street life from deprivation, violence and gang warfare, to the intimacies of relationships, friends and family life, to showcasing the cultural backdrop of London’s black diaspora.
Despite grime’s colossal reach, women still remain a minority in the male- oriented genre. Stars such as Wiley and Dizzee Rascal are considered veterans of the music genre, whereas little is said of their equally-talented female counterparts, such as Shystie and Lioness. When grime is mentioned, names such as Skepta and Stormzy come to mind. Some may have heard of superstars such as Lady Leshurr, but few know of other females in the scene. Females who aren’t artists, but still contribute to the grime scene in another medium, such as musicians, producers, journalists, managers, videographers and photographers find it difficult to gain recognition for their work.
Ellie Ramsden, 23-year old portrait and music photographer and long-time grime fan, has taken the genre in a new direction with Too Many Man, her photodocumentary series that illustrates the diverse and ever-growing pool of female talent in the grime scene. Growing up in South East London, grime music was background music that gave an insight into life in the capital – the highs, the lows, and everything in-between. Now the genre has been catapulted into the spotlight, attracting listeners and fans from far and wide for its raw originality, Ramsden has sought to highlight the female talent, who, despite having shaped the genre, have not received the acclaim and accolades of their male peers.
Starting the project in Spring 2017, in this series, Ramsden draws attention to the female talent both at the forefront and in the background of the genre that is so often regarded as male dominated. From DJs and producers to artists, instrumentalists and grime poets, Ramsden photographs an array of grime girls, all of whom are shot in their respective hometowns, with the sense of place proving as significant as the raw beats and lyrics that define the genre.
all images © Ellie Ramsden