The Black man : A life systematically deemed invaluable

Dehumanised and Imprisoned, an insight into the revealing Netflix Documentary 13th. Such a narrative is extremely important, 13th is powerful and eye opening, accurately depicted story that allows a deep understanding into the lives of the oppressed.

13th brought me to tears, Tears of sadness, deep sadness. A sadness that stems from grown up with and positively being influenced and lead by strong Black males. Men of substance and intellect who have a lot to offer the world, fortunately for them, they’ve had the opportunity to live a progressive life, which wasn’t the case for young Black Men in the past. Innocent lives of young Black Men were taken away because of government systems that were created by the oppressor, designed to imprison and take away their freedom and livelihood for their monetary benefits and control. The biggest casualty being the Black Man.

In America, Black men make up 46% of Prisoners, bearing in mind Black People only account for 12.2% of the entire population which is absolutely astonishing! Described as ‘Super Predators’ during Bill Clintons’ reign as president, black men were subjected to longer and tougher prison sentences for petty crimes. A detrimental description of the Black man, which lead to an epidemic fear of the Black Man. A fear felt by both White and Black people, due to a media smear campaign that brainwashed the large majority of a lost nation. A stereotype that has forever haunted the Black Man, the term ‘Super Predator’ created a stereotype that today is still the unfortunate narrative! 

In 2016, police brutality and systematic oppression is still very prominent. Living in a Social Media era visuals circulate immediately despite how gruesome they are. We as a society have been subjected to first-hand videos of the unfortunate killings of innocent young black men across the United States. 

Social Media has given us the access to the actions of law enforcement. We have seen policemen get away with first degree murder! It is bitter sweet, as we have knowledge and evidence but still we’re unable to stop their actions, with the Law on their side and a blue code of secrecy, the question is What Action Can We As A Global Society Do To Make Changes??

As a very big fan of Hip Hop music, I am appreciative of the music and the people behind the talent. Black people have created a culture that has taken on a world of its own. Hip Hop music is more than just words and a beat, it is a culture that sees no race, no colour or economic status. Hip Hop unites people globally purely on the strength of Music. Music that originally derived from the disadvantaged black man, for the disadvantaged black man. In 2016 Hip Hop music is the biggest influencer globally, from the music to the lifestyle, culture, dress code and the language. It’s all Hip Hop!

Reflecting on the Hip Hop culture as a whole and analysing the contradictions between the fear of black men and the global love of the hip hop culture. I began dissecting the contradictions between the fear and the influence which is ironic, people fearing something they imitate in all aspects of their lives. A fear that many non-black parents have, the worry of their children being caught up in a ‘Dangerous’ lifestyle of gangs, drugs and violence, which is the narrative of Hip Hop culture to those who are ignorant. It is hearsay based on the media’s perception of the black man and its culture which is perceived a negative.

Is the power of Hip Hop greater than the ‘Hate’ of the Black man? Despite the negative media portrayal of black males. The power of the internet means that the government cannot stop the force that is the black man and its culture. Despite their attempt too, from the incarceration of certain rappers and the ‘Hip Hop Police’ on constant patrol, it hasn’t stopped black men from succeeding against all odds. Successful black men such as Jay Z, P Diddy, Kanye West are all testament to the power of the music.

Long may black men continue to showcase their importance, talent and intellect on bigger and bigger platforms globally! May they continue to disregard negative notions that depict them wrongfully, and may the NEVER allow people’s perception to cloud their dreams! we are proud and appreciate you!!


Hip Hop vs The Police – The Unfortunate Casualty Within Music

The Hip Hop police have existed within the music industry for decades almost being part of the furniture. The term itself refers to a group of policeman who target a certain demographic of rappers, which they refer to as street or gangster rappers.  Unfortunately, this type of policing which originated in the United States, has managed to manifest itself into the UK Urban music scene, or for a lack of a better word UK Street Hip Hop. Many artists have fell casualty to this type of policing, from the days of The So Solid crew to current rappers Giggs and Sneakbo.  

The presence of this type of policing to an artist restricts their movement and progression. From sudden show cancellations, to being banned from certain venues and limiting their radio plays throughout mainstream airways, and also lack of displayed physical copies of albums on shelves. Being labelled as a gangster or street rapper systematically works against you, the negative connotations and perceptions make you an institutional target.

In an interview on Not For The Radio, London gangster rapper Giggs spoke about his battles with the ‘Hip Hop police’. Speaking openly about the racial bias and prejudice he has encountered since his inception into the music industry. Giggs spoke about being told by music insiders that nationally syndicated radio stations such as BBC 1xtra were refusing to play his music, and club DJ’s across London were not being allowed to play his music. The politics did not stop there, he revealed at that stage he had yet to be allowed to perform in his home town of London since he started rapping. Until recently the rapper had to perform secret gigs in London (Carefully planned unadvertised gigs) and perform outside of London, but to everyone’s surprise and excitement the rapper finally announced his tour dates for his LandLord Album which includes a London date, for the 11th of November. Finally, his London fans can celebrate with the LandLord himself!

We can all agree that ‘they’ as DJ Khaled would say, have been trying to supress the man’s growth and stop him from having a successfully smooth journey within the music industry. The truth within his lyrical content and storytelling is what the police and the non-hip hop lovers search for when trying to incriminate and stereotype him and other rappers.  Often ignorantly without understanding the man behind the message, not caring enough to understand one’s journey through hardship, struggles and perseverance, they convict you without knowledge.

As law enforcement, the police have a job to serve and protect those who they believe are a potential danger to society and are capable of polluting the minds of those who are easily influenced. Unfortunately, some of the language and lyrics that certain rappers use to glamourize the gang lifestyle justifies their actions and concerns. In every situation there are a minority of ignorant people who choose to use their platform to encourage negativity and ignorance, and Hip Hop often falls casualty to that.  

There is a big difference between biographically depicting your lifes journey through lyrical content to empower, encourage and uplift your audience and spewing venomous lyrics that hype and encourage impressionable people to go out and commit criminal activities against one another. Young people these days can be extremely impressionable and believe everything they hear. I believe that a rapper like Giggs represents the first example, but he is treated like someone who is doing the latter, which is unfortunate.

There’s a huge elephant in the room when it comes to inequality within the music industry as a whole.  Other genres of music that are typically associated with Caucasians, such as Heavy Metal/ Rock/ Punk and satanic music focuses and glamorises negative notions of death, rioting, killing and suicide etc. The artists are rarely individually held accountable, but Hip Hop artists seem to be singled out and personally targeted.

Can one question whether institutional racism has a lot to do with this type of treatment towards black rappers? Just to elaborate on Institutional or systematic racism (They are forms of restrictions that were put in place deliberately or indirectly into political and social institutions, limiting certain ethnic groups’ human rights). To the naked eye the restriction and prejudice is not seen but it takes into effect within organisations, institutions and within government.

For those artists who clearly have a much more decorated past than other artists, it is unfair and unfortunate that they are continuously judged and treated like a criminal when it is clearly a thing of the past. There is a saying ‘The choices you make in life, predict and shape your future’ but that narrative should be retracted if growth has been shown and they no longer choose to live that life. Just because one has had a disruptive start in life, does not mean that another should continue to disrupt their future.

Surely as a person of the law, you’d encourage change and progression amongst people. In light of the police brutality towards young black men in the United States of America, there was mention of police departments having targets in which they have to arrest a certain number of individuals daily, to make up systematic targets. Is it wrong to insinuate that in order to reach those targets, there needs to be a few black men being involved in illegal activities, therefore helping eliminate gang related crimes and uplifting those already involved or trying to get out would defeat the purpose and would affect targets? There is no certainty whether it relates to the police in the UK, but systematic racism is exactly that. Not obvious, but effects certain groups whom are unaware. 

There are a lot of changes that need to incur in order for equality to be present amongst all genres and groups within music. The challenge is to tackle a system which in its core isn’t set up to benefit minorities especially those with a past that the government is aware of. It is up to us as a genre to change the narrative. We should all be held accountable for the information and the message that is delivered to the young generation, to those impressionable and most importantly the media, who in the end will not have any ammunition to assassinate the characters of our black brothers. To end on a positive note, there are plenty of positive influential rappers who have chosen to use their platform for greatness and they are the ones that should be celebrated and championed!


Most Iconic UK Music Videos

Music videos are one of the best tools to market an artist or promote an album. Think, 2pac - California Love or Snoop Dogg, Gin and Juice. The most iconic videos can vary from the outside of the box direction, visually enthralling story, or just the plain and simple. Here at The Cultured Critics, we decided to pick our most iconic music videos from the UK.

Dizzee Rascal - Fix Up Look Sharp.

Fix up Look Sharp is the second single from Dizzee Rascal's Boy In Da Corner and one of the most iconic music videos to come out of the UK. The yellow backdrop, the black spirals, the on screen lyrics. This video was truly ahead of its time and helped elevate Dizzee Rascal from the streets of Bow to the whole world. Released in 2003, Fix up Look Sharp stood the test of time as a creative music video and saw its style replicated many times during Grime's rise in the early 2000's. Sweet as a nut mate, Sweet like Tropicana.

So Solid Crew - 21 Seconds.

What more can be said about this video that hasn't already been said? 21 Seconds is seen as one of, if not, thee greatest music video to come out of the UK Urban scene. It had everything, dancers, thunderstorms, cages, mandem, girlsdem, children, helicopters, what more could you want? Maybe some more time? Maybe 29? Well one thing is for sure, 21 Seconds will always be a classic and the part the video played in turning it into a classic shouldn't be underestimated. We all wish we were on the set that day but testament to its success, 21 seconds is still the most expensive urban music video from the UK and proudly won Best British video at the 2002 BRIT Awards. Romeo Dunn.

Sir Spyro ft Big H, President T, Bossman - Side by Side.

Side by Side is the 2015 hit produced by hit provider DJ Spyro, who instilled the help of Bloodline's frontline to peice together a classic track but also classic visuals that simply are stunning. When you think of Grime videos, you are more often than not, visualising a group of men, aimlessly jumping around near council estates but Side by Side is far from that. It leads us on a spirally journey of fast cuts and unorthodox angles as we are led through the streets of East London as Big H verbalises his communication issues on the chorus. The video takes a truly cinematic turn during Bossman's verse as the director, Henry Schofield decides to play mind tricks with the viewers as you'll find from 1 minute onwards. The less said about this video, the better. You just need to watch it to realise how amazing it really is. Big hooli WHOO.

Murda! If man try test the terrafirma! 'Murda' off Klashnekoff's debut album - The Sagas of : is one of the best videos to come out of the UK underground culture. Released in 2004, 'Murda' features Klashnekoff in a pitch black room with his black bandana as he is captured on camcorder trapped in a damn corner chatting to pandora. The great thing about this video is that it was the first of its kind in the UK urban scene and captures the evil and dark essence of the track. Murda went on to receive huge rotation on underground television station, Channel U which helped cement it into the memories of the UK underground scene for decades and decades to come. 

If there's one video to epitomise Grime in 3 minutes. It would be Forward 2004. Shot by what seems to be a high definition calculator and featuring some of the biggest legends to grace Grime, Pow is seen as the most iconic grime song of all time so it was only right the video is seen as one of the most iconic to come out of the underground. If its seeing an apple macintosh in a grime video for the first time, the hoards of men jumping around on camera, spinning alloy wheels or just a dude getting rejected from the club, this video has it all for the student of grime. POW or Forward, whichever one you want to call it, would and should be the blueprint for what Grime was/is and always will be.