Updated: Jul 1, 2021
Reviewed by Stephen Pennell
Legendary film-maker Risky Roadz points his camera at the second city.
It’s not every day you see an electronic billboard in the Bullring with your near-neighbour and daughter’s mate (Lady Leshurr) on it, so it was always gonna be an attention grabber. I immediately sought the assistance of family members who are more tech-savvy than me (ie everyone but the cat - and that’s a close run thing), and fired up Amazon TV to watch Risky Roadz return to film-making after a 15-year break. 0121 - The Birmingham Grime Story is his new joint, and it’s well worth tearing yourself away from the Euros to watch.
Packed with easy-going but informative interviews, this quick-cut documentary shines a light on the movers and shakers of the scene faster than the 140 BPM of a classic Grime banger, making its 79 minutes fly by. Leshurr, Jaykae, Dapz On The Map and Mist are heavily featured, but they are by no means the only stars.
The film also goes behind the scenes with the likes of Despa Robinson (Birmingham’s answer to Shug Knight); the massively influential DJ Biggos, and the utterly charming Muna Ruumi, shining a light on a level of infrastructure I never knew existed. I was particularly impressed, not to mention surprised, to find out that ubiquitous YouTube channels P110 and JDZ Media have their roots in the second city, along with the clothing brand that’s being worn seemingly everywhere you look - LYFE..
The film also pays tribute to the OGs that won Birmingham its enviable rep - 0121 soldiers like Safone, Depzman, Vader, Mayhem, Devilman and Sox - a list to inspire current stars and future generations alike, and also give them a hell of a lot to live up to.
Risky Roadz has delivered an in-depth yet entertaining look at an incredibly vibrant scene, giving Birmingham the props it richly deserves for keeping the Grime flag flying as the genre itself seemed to flag more or less everywhere else. With the depth of talent and entrepreneurial spirit at work in Brum, I just can’t see that ever happening here.