Beginning at the start of the new millennium in the council towerblocks of east London, Inner City Pressure: The Story of Grime charts the remarkable history of the genre they couldn’t shut down. Against seemingly insurmountable odds, through ASBOs, tabloid hysteria, protests and riots, grime’s teenage pioneers sent out a signal from the pirate radio aerials and crumbling estates of London’s poorest boroughs that would, 15 years later, resonate as the universal sound of youthful rebellion, and the voices of #grime4corbyn and Grenfell.

The likes of Dizzee Rascal, Wiley, Skepta and Stormzy have long since become household names. But with the inner city transformed beyond recognition by gentrification, have the conditions that produced this music now gone forever? And what happens to a rebellious, outsider sound when it is fully accepted by the mainstream of pop culture?

Inner City Pressure: The Story of Grime tells the astonishing story of a generation dancing, fighting and rioting against the powers that be, and its thrilling new soundtrack. Published in the UK 17 May 2018 by William Collins, in the US/Canada 7 September 2018, and in paperback 7 February 2019.

It is shortlisted for the 2019 Penderyn Music Book Prize, and was a 2018 book of the year in The Guardian, The Observer, Pitchfork, NME, New Statesman, NPR, Irish Examiner, The Herald, Clash, The Metro and Hot Press.

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Reviews: in the New Yorker. In The Observer. In the New Statesman. In GQ magazine. In the Evening Standard. In the Financial Times. In Indx magazine. In Frieze magazine. In The Guardian. In The Wire magazine. In Prospect. In Pitchfork. In Jacobin.

Interviews: in The Guardian. In the NME. In The Quietus. In Pin-Up Magazine. In French daily Libération. On BBC Radio 1Xtra with Mistajam. On BBC Radio 4‘s Front Row. On BBC London with Robert Elms. On The VICE ‘British Dream’ podcast. On the Three Track Podcast. On Trash Future Podcast. On Red Bull Radio.

Related pieces: for the BBC. In Mixmag. In Noisey. In The Observer. In RBMA. In The Guardian. In How We Get to Next.

Excerpts: in The Fader. In Resident Advisor. In Red Pepper.


Riveting… Grime, black music’s rawest response against social injustice, has the chronicler it deserves. Hancox is a tremendous guide’ Kitty Empire, Observer

‘Raucous, sharp, funny… Inner City Pressure is a landmark genre history.” Jazz Monroe, Pitchfork

An extraordinary pop music story. Hancox’s deep knowledge of London illuminates the music … just as you could tell the story of the US in the Sixties via rock music, Hancox sees 21st Century London through a grime lens, from the 2011 riots to Grenfell Tower’ Dorian Lynskey, GQ

“Hancox writes with a fan’s zeal, recounting the rush of hearing paradigm-shifting singles for the first time, and the pride of seeing underdogs like Wiley and Skepta ascend to superstardom… [the] book is distinguished by his background in urbanism and politics.” Hua Hsu, New Yorker

‘A must read’ DJ Slimzee

‘An excellent, thorough history’ Wire

‘The definitive grime biography’ NME

‘An amazing book… fucking phenomenal’ Mostly Lit Podcast

‘Grime is the sound of 21st century protest. Inner City Pressure is essential reading from a superb writer on the political awakening of a generation’ Owen Jones

‘Dan Hancox charts a remarkable story from pirate radio to the front pages. This is a story that deserves to be heard’ David Lammy MP

‘Unputdownable and bristling with insights about grime and the city it was born in. Anyone with any interest in grime, you need to be reading this, trust me’ Jeffrey Boakye, author of Hold Tight: Black Masculinity, Millennials and the Meaning of Grime

It says something about the last two decades that the first real history of 21st century London comes in the form of a book about grime. Hancox tells the story of a city and a music scene with restraint, humour and anger’ Owen Hatherley, author of A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain

‘A dazzling book’ Ellie Mae O’Hagan

‘The definitive statement on a sound that emerged from the tower blocks of east London in the early 2000s and has gone on to become a musical phenomenon’ Resident Advisor

An essential look at the birth of grime and its relationship with London, setting it against the backdrop of pirate radio, gentrification, urban protest, riots and police harassment’ Trench