Spiritual homes: Bow in east London; Croydon; the internet; radio stations broadcast from scary tower blocks.
Musical influences: raving, Playstations, hand-rolled hydroponic cigarettes.
Key accessory: a mean-looking crew of mates.
Anthem: Ground Zero by Wiley.
In the cities and suburbs of the UK, a sound is being created so new that no one yet knows quite what to call it. Young kids with access to cheap and simple music-making software (sometimes even on Playstations) are blending the dancefloor funk of UK garage with the bass-heavy rawness of drum and bass, the spacious rolling syncopations of R&B and dancehall/ragga, and the futuristic gleam of electro.
While more fashion-orientated clubbers are still obsessed with rigid, retrograde 1980s-influenced music, a tight underground network of ravers, producers and distinctively British rappers, linked by websites and pirate radio stations, is rapidly evolving the lithe, "grimy" sound of the future.
Dizzee Rascal is the highest-profile proponent of the new British urban sound, but his ex-colleague in Roll Deep Crew, producer and MC Wiley Kat looks ready to follow his success with an album due in the spring. Two female rappers, Shystie and Lady Sovereign, are also being tipped for success following their joint appearance on The Battle by Medasyn, aka Gabriel Olegovitch – a young producer who has already remixed Christina Aguilera and Lil' Kim. A less MC-centred substrain of the sound is centred around a club night called Forward in central London and – somewhat bizarrely – the suburban sprawl of Croydon. Producers such as Plasticman, Horsepower, Hatcha, Sheffield's Oris Jay and Mancunian Mark One are all knocking out endlessly varying instrumental permutations on what variously has been called "grime garage", "eight bar" or "dubstep" to a small but dedicated cadre of obsessive listeners.
Although most "grime" records have thus far been aimed at DJs only, get ready for this uncompromising, mind-bogglingly inventive UK sound to break into the mainstream in 2004.