My copy of Ewen Spencer’s 2005 Open Mic, a photo book of his work documenting the UK grime scene in the early 2000s, arrived in the mail today. After I cut through the heavy bands of black tape lining the thick cardboard packaging, I was able to flip through the tiny paperback, which doesn’t even reach a foot in dimension.
The book includes a foreword by English rapper Mike Skinner, band leader of the alternative UK hip hop scene’s The Streets. Like he mentions in the text, you don’t need all of the “facts” to feel the energy behind each photograph of a grime MC standing fiercely in the center of a blackened-out basement show or a young fan irreverently blowing kush out of the side of his mouth while on a friend’s couch. Ewen Spencer is one of our greatest visual historians of youth culture in all its rawest forms.
After discovering the photos on page you’ll understand why this modest artwork needs no bells or whistles. It’s straight UK grime from his lens to your hands. Purchase Open Mic and his follow-up project Open Mic Vol. 2 at his website here.