Everybody Loves Road Rap
6 Apr 2012
… especially those that claim to dislike it!!
After playing that track I can imagine critics sharpening their swords and lunging in for the attack. Well, Adele may be the first artist to go double platinum on iTunes but till this day the only fella I know to release 2 platinum albums in one year was DMX. Pain is a powerful life dosage that provides social commentary into a world most wish ignore and deny even exits. Hence why wider society doesn’t value social workers on the same level it values bankers, popstars, MPs etc. The recession made this even more evident when powerful social youth services like Exposure have experienced that wrath of council cuts. But back to the track by RA, it is the most gulliest track I have ever felt or connected with. I remember being in a dark and frustrating place where all doors seemed closed. Police treating me like a criminal, feeling disconnected from school, the roads where attacking me, parents always beefing over money, too young and apparently street for a job, peers entering the the new year by gracing the air with herbal scents, people around me dying and going jail. I didn’t even have a phone. All I had was coins, hoodies, phoneboxes and a survival mentality, which without ambition is a dangerous mentality to possesses. Yes, I admit this song is not suitable for children but then you are missing the point, this is a reality for many children and till this day it serves as a vital reflection point.
First and foremost road rap is a part of UK urban music and the last 3 decades alone is littered with examples as to why it is the most open, indiscriminating and least prejudice in comparison to other genres and society at large.
Check it you can be fat, slim, skinny, short, tall, black, white, yellow, pink, green, man or woman. This argument was validated strongly in 2011, from Tinchy Stryder to Adele to Wretch 32 to Roxanne to Jay Sean to Maverick Sabre. But I digress, my initial statement was everybody loves road rap.
Let’s start with the first stakeholder; the fan. The overt genuine fan, who buys the music, shares it on his/her Facebook, wheels up the videos and visits Mixtape Madness for the back catalogue. They love creativity, artistic expression, some like lyrical content, some like easy listening, laid back flows and others prefer a dynamic flow. Most appreciate and connect to the authenticity, whether it be ‘pain’ or ‘motivation’. Hence why so called ‘fake’ rappers do not have that Blade Brown longevity. Ultimately it’s their ability to depict life which is why other stakeholders and not only fans love road rap.
So despite the fact that various stakeholders benefit and profit from the pictures that road rappers create, unfortunately many of the below stakeholders would like to prevent road rappers from eating.
[2nd Stakeholder] An artist may love road rap for various reasons but a common reason many can relate to is that it provides an opportunity. Young people in history tend to be the key pioneers behind social change and going against the grain, as displayed last August to an extent. This combined with fact that this year 2012 youth unemployment has surpassed 1 million and we have disproportionate number of young people on holiday at HMP. Fortunately, unlike other sectors in society, a successful career is attainable via work rate and talent. Road rap doesn’t possess superficial or trivial barriers of entry to the same extent as wider society. Thus if one possesses a criminal record, you can still make a living. Many reoffenders state that they struggle to find employment and road rap has appeased this issue. As announced on BBC 3 Freedom Speech (04/04/12) most prisoners apparently don’t possess the necessary skills for 90% of jobs, so when wider society closes its doors road rap opens its arms for artists and young entrepreneurs. Some may argue only a small percentage are successful but you’re not looking at the wider social impact.
[3rd Stakeholder] Let us look at 2 parts of London with a similar story, Tottenham, North London and Pecknarm (Peckham), South London.
Tottenham possesses wards such as Northumberland Park, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the UK, approximately 50% of residents choose NOT to vote in the last election, which shows how much faith they have in the government. Peckham in the last election was highlighted as possessing similar statistics, which also included a disproportionate number of children living below the child poverty rate. These are fertile grounds for soaring crime rates so in many respects the concept of recession is nothing new to these environments. Yet as mentioned with Akala and Jaja, road rap often leads to an evolutionary step within an artist. This example is illustrated by Wretch 32 and Fem Fel, who have used the artform too economically empower others from their community. From Wretch’s clothing brand to Fem Fel’s business ventures many people from harsh economic conditions have been allowed to slip on their entrepreneurial jackets. Below is an example of Joe Black positively supporting youth in his community; coach Blacks.
[4th Stakeholder] Lazy politicans and social commentators such as David Starkey, that do not plan on addressing wider social issues use road rap as a scapegoat. Yet some politicians such as Kerry McCarthy have opposed this and highlighted how it’s a powerful form of social commentary. Many powerful lyrical social activists such as Akala have received valuable training from previously being immersed in road rap. In some respects for many artists road rap is their rights of passage and provides legitimacy and authority to address social issues i.e. Jaja Soze. It’s a more accurate version of Sky News and provides a detailed insight into an environment that wider society tends to ignore. This leads onto my next 2 stakeholders…
[5th Stakeholder] My primary lesson in sex education was via listening to old skool grime sets, learning about the consequences of not wearing a “jimmy” or a “hat”. It also explained to me emotional madness one can go through when they fall for a woman. I may not argee with all of the words used in road rap but I do acknowledge that freedom of speech and expression is beautiful aspect of language. In order to communicate with someone you need to understand their language so road rap is the perfect manual. It also gives parents a heads up of what potential social pitfalls lie in their child’s mist. Many road rappers quote family breakdowns in their track #pain. If your latch key parent, you may financially be able to provide but you must ask yourself who and what is raising my child? It also helps identify parallels in you, your child and wider society.
[Ok this is Grime not road rap but I have thrown it in because it’s a classic banger!!!]
[6th Stakeholder] The police benefit from road rap immensely. How many times have you opened the Metro and heard about an individual’s road rap track used as evidence against them in court? Police have used Youtube to identify gang members, form crime pyramids and prosecute. In some respect road rap has made it easier for the police to their job. On the other side of the equation some road rappers use the music as an exit from the roads thus reducing the crime rate.
So as mentioned prior everyone loves road rap!!!