GRIME MUSIC, POLITICS & ETHICS
Exploring the Synergy: part 1
"For the first time in my adult life there is a chance to elect someone I would consider a sane and decent human," wrote rapper and poet Akala on Twitter soon after the snap election was announced in April.
Grime music has reached new heights over the past few years as artists like Skepta and Stormzy raise the profile and have helped the genre go global.
Attendance for grime events has increased by 34% over the last three years, with Ticketmaster selling more tickets to more fans than ever before.
In this insight piece we explore the relationship between Grime, Politics and Ethics, looking at key examples that highlight the synergy.
Grime has been a style music that above all describes poverty and alienation, as a teenage Dizzee says on Boy in da Corner: “Queen Elizabeth don’t know me so, how can she control me when, I live street and she lives neat?”
"When it comes to the articulation of politics and grime, the lyric that is often quoted is Skepta Shutdown's 'We don't listen to no politician. Everybody on the same mission. We don't care about your -isms and schisms.'
After some fans told Stormzy to shut up and stick to music instead of politics, he responded in his next track, Hear Dis: “They said I can’t tweet about the government, why can’t I be free any more? / I’ll expose these racist clubs and feds who can’t move me any more.”
Novelist is another leading artists who has a clear message.
He started 2016 with the instrumental David Cameron Riddim which was followed by Street Politician. Novelist’s depiction of violence and “black boys stuck in the system” was juxtaposed with swirling sirens and a repeated sample of the prime minister assuring a post-riots Britain that “keeping people safe is the first duty of government”.
He followed it with another new track, Break in Your House, on which he said: “Not enough man like me are voting / But man are on the blocks, chatting shit, moaning.”
A NEW GENERATION WITH A STRONG MESSAGE
Influencing a generation to vote
JME x Corbyn: #Grime4Corbyn
A major conclusion from the latest Ticketmaster report on Grime include the impact of the #Grime4Corbyn campaign. With 58% of grime fans voting for Labour during the 2017 election, one in four said that the campaign directly influenced their vote.
It became clear on June 9 that Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election was ill judged. This election has highlighted the disregard for the “many” that government should serve, and after an election in which the youth turnout was around 72% of those aged 18-24, the impact of the youth in Labour’s surge of popularity is obvious.
Of particular note is the role of a series of influential grime artists, who are not traditionally known for their politics yet came out in full force, working to galvanise the youth to vote and specifically supporting Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. In a 2003 radio interview, then MP Kim Howells laid into the grime scene, calling its artists “macho boasting idiots”. In the aftermath of the election, who are the macho boasting idiots now?
Working with the Police
Occasionally, grime MCs have been persuaded by the authorities into more serious musical preaching. Roll Deep’s 2006 song and video Badman, a cautionary tale about gun crime, was produced in aid of Stop the Guns, a campaign organised by the Metropolitan police’s Trident division, which is charged with tackling gun crime.
POLITICIANS AND GRIME
SADIQ KHAN - GRIME IS HERE TO STAY
Mayor Of London Sadiq Khan has spoken up in praise of the city’s grime scene, declaring that it is ‘here to stay’.
“My girls are 15 and 17 and big grime fans,” Mr Khan told NME. “Skepta’s one of their heroes, Stormzy, Wiley, it’s great. We went to Drake last week and he had Section Boyz on stage – they’re a big grime act from London.”
GRIME AND CHARITy: #grimeaid
Over the past year there have been a number of events hosted under the #GrimeAid banner where artists perform for free and use all funds raised to support important causes, for example the crisis in Syria & Sierra Leone.