You must have been hiding under a rock if you’ve failed to notice the support from some of the biggest acts in Grime for the Labour party, and more specifically Jeremy Corbyn, in this election. Never before could we have imagined stars like JME, who has previously declared he has never voted, AJ Tracey and Novelist all reaching out to implore fans and those generally involved in the scene to get out and vote because there’s now a candidate who represents them in a way no other has before.
The unprecedented support Corbyn has gained stemmed from the idea that he is a supporter of the many and is willing to listen to the voices of those that are somewhat overheard in today’s society. Young people often have a disinterest in politics as they believe their voice is lost beneath those of the wealthy older generations with selfish, corporate interests. It is the combination of an annoyance at this lack of voice and the collective interest of grime music that birthed #Grime4Corbyn, a grassroots campaign group who set up a website offering tickets to a secret event if you registered to vote in the upcoming election through their site.
Last Saturday 3rd June was the day this event finally unfolded. Held at STYX right by Tottenham Hale station the sun came out for what unravelled to be a day of positivity and what felt like steps towards actual change. There were people of all backgrounds in attendance, certified grime heads and general supporters of the labour party. Trust, this was a rally like no other before it.
The event kicked off with a panel discussion, hosted by Femi Oyeniran. Femi was joined by Temi Mwale of the 4front project, Jessica Straker (Juice VCR & #Grime4Corbyn), Tayler Prince Fraser (The Basement) and Slix of Ruff Squad Arts Foundation. The guests answered a series of questions from Femi regarding the event, support for Corbyn, grime and politics in general.
The panel unanimously agreed that politics needs to be made more accessible for young people. Tayler Prince Fraser commented that “there is a law that manifestos must be made translatable for people that are blind and deaf but what about young people, they’re not going to read through a 20,000 word manifesto”
Slix reinforced that by adding “young people want change but it’s just the language that’s what I’ve learnt” If you translate it or break it down to them they understand it”
At the end of the panel Slix introduced a young man who he had met through the Ruff Squad’s Art Foundation. 12 year old Tofi has such a raw talent for spoken word even Slix admitted he didn’t believe he was the author of the work until he challenged him to create a piece with a single word he gave him on the spot. Needless to say Tofi returned 5 minutes after the challenge and blew Slix’s mind away once again with his poetry skills. Keep an eye out for this guy, his word’s on staying motivated whislt overcoming struggle and dealing with the pressures of society we live in was inspirational to all that listened to him. The words were spoken with such power and resonated so deeply with everyone who watched. Let’s just say it started the event in suitable style.
Then came through the main acts. The stage was blessed by the likes of Jevon, Scrufizzer, Lady Shocker, Saskilla (feat Grim Slickers & more) and D Dark. The major line up kept the energy in the room going for the entire day. There was shouts mid set of “save the NHS” and of course “bun the tories”. The acts just kept on rolling through, C Cane, Luciferian and Mic of Course alongside NGO (New Grime Order) notably shut down the place with their set. At one point the whole crowd sang Jeremy Corbyn’s name in unison. It was a mad atmosphere and held its own as a live rave as well as political event.
Sophia, the official spokesperson for #Grime4Corbyn who was at the event, perfectly summarised the movement and spoke about the need for this union between grime and politics currently occurring.
“Im hoping this is going to be the start of a movement the untaps the potential of cultural spaces to become a form of political resistance.”
“People from poorer backgrounds are often so concerned with just surviving day to day life that the they don’t have space or time to also organise politically but if we combine music with politics then everyone has space for that. I think it can untap the energy and a sense of community”
“Because that’s what we need, a connection with other people from a similar background who want to see change.”
Whatever the outcome on Thursday, the fact that grime’s platform is being used for something so important as this speaks volumes about the extent of which young people today feel the need for their voice to be heard. Everyone involved in the organisation of the event should be proud of their achievements, here’s hoping this is the first of many of its kind.