Friday, 27 July 2007

Lethal vs Dave

It's a sign of our times that the main opponents in the debate which raged last year about youth culture and social responsibility were an Ipod wielding Tory and a Uk Grime artist named Lethal Bizzle.

Lethal had stepped up to rubbish Cameron's claims that Black music was responsible for gun crime, declaring that "David Cameron is a donut":

"Open your eyes to UK society David Cameron. By making comments like this you're taking yourself further from the young British society. I'm a young black British music artist and I'm the voice for the streets; you should be working with us instead of laying the blame on us.

A lot of what I do is on a positive tip for the community, but that all gets ignored. I've signed 14 young rappers from east London to my own label; that's taken them off the streets and given them something positive to look forward to. They're working on their own mix tapes and I'm providing them with an opportunity to make a living out of music."

But on the Guradian free comment message board it was posted on, some of the responses find Bizzle less than a perfect role model, quoting from his song 'POW!':

" I'lllll....crack your skull
Leave you fu***d up in a wheelchair
If you try to clash this evil bre...

Just swing my belt round like a nun chuckle
Bus you head and make your blood start trickle
One more lick fi make da p***y hole topple
Greet da bre with a fistful of knuckle"

They also find holes in his arguments:

Bizzle: "There needs to be more happening: try and make school exciting, let them have fun, involve them with their interests."

Platonic: "What's wrong with education is that this already happens far too much. If all education pandered to children's interests, we'd have even more of an infantile society than we do at present. Not everything worthwhile is exciting or fun. Individuals and societies progress by tolerating a great deal that is dreary or difficult but necessary. Education should acknowledge this and help children to manage it, not shy away from it."

Hmmmmm. Whilst I find many of the violent, sexist and often deeply homophobic attitudes of some 'Urban' music totally unbearable, the truth is Lethal actually comes across as the less bigoted of the two in these statements. The above counter-arguments from 'Platonic' reak of the type of 'not-really-getting-it' that Cameron displayed so aptly with is comments about black music. The whole UK Grime scene operates at a deeply grass roots level - the majority of this music isn't pushed incessantly upon us by the mainstream pop media, David, where roomfuls of part-sedated yoofs lap up thirstily the words of their distant idols. The people listening to the music are, on the whole, also the ones who make it; the ones who are constantly evolving the scene; who are in touch with people like Lethal B; who are making art.

What I'm saying here is that David Cameron would need to try very very hard to ever begin to understand this particular part of youth culture and that this scene contains a million wannabe MCs, DJs and producers - young people mobilising themselves, organising themselves, being deeply deeply creative - and, for now, ugly lyrical content aside - this is a positive force. It is perhaps the not-getting-it that is the problem - from the outside this scene seems frightening and violent. Yes, Lethal B may only be supporting 14 MCs (as Platonic says "Taking 14 people "off the streets" so that they may pursue a career in popular music might be laudable, but ignores a very pertinent reality: fame is in short supply. Most of them won't make it." - and in the process completely misses the point that the self-esteem and skills gained are the actual rewards on offer) but hundreds more will be practicing in their bedrooms, as I write, inspired by Mr Bizzle.

Picking up on the article, NME, as they occasionally have a great knack of doing, hit the nail on the head:

"This, despite the repeated evidence that young people carry knives not because they've listened to Tim Westwood [...] or that the majority of violent crime in this country is laregly committed not because of the latest G-Unit single but as a result of more complex issues like drug addiction, under-age drinking, bad housing, poor family structures. All problems inflames by factors such as the destruction of the trade industries by the conservatives in the 80s, the idea created by the Conservatives that selfish capitalism is a good thing, and an education/solcial service system so fucked up by privatisation [...] that it's bursting at the seams."

NME, fair play (though they did manage a more traditional NME approach with the hilarious 'Tough on Grime, Tough on the causes of Grime" headline"

Haven't we been here before? Aren't those in the suits perpetually blaming youth culture for the ills they themselves create?

I'm aware this whole story is about a year old, but it was brought to my attention because Lethal B has just released his new single and because Cameron is certainly not a changed man (even if his Ipod collection may have expanded).

So, whatever you think, you cannot deny that this song is a motherfucker, er, I mean a *ripper* of a tune!

Lethal Bizzle - Bizzle Bizzle

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