Ever heard the one about the hustler turned rapper? You know how it goes, drug dealer sells drugs, starts rapping, starts rapping about selling drugs and then…yep you guessed it makes a movie.
You know how the movie goes drug dealer deals drugs, starts rapping, starts rapping about selling drugs…you get the picture.
You know how it goes-we all do. It’s boring. We’re so used to seeing the gangster badboy image glamorised on our screens, and hearing it on our airwaves that we’ve come to accept it.
Not only have we come to accept it, but too often we’ve come to associate this image with what is one of the World’s oldest art forms-and it is an art form. Rap, Poetry, whatever you want to call it, is that art of storytelling.
Now I’m not pigeonholing and criticising all rappers that talk about street life. I’m really not. Once upon a time the rappers that talked about what they saw were not glorifying what they witnessed. The music came from something real, and while by no means painted a pretty picture, was not confined to the same old gangster platitudes that are fast becoming clichés.
Seriously, there are some cloned boy bands I’ve seen that have more substance than some of the so-called A-list rappers that the media, happy to reinforce the image wheel out.
I guess that’s part of the problem too isn’t it? The media and the labels that control the limelight and the riches have chosen to make a certain kind of image marketable and profitable.
It’s sad because they could have made the image of a different kind of rapper marketable too if they’d wanted to. But we’ll go into that another day.
For now let’s just say there’s hope. Hope in the form of two rappers that my friend Benjamin Zephaniah, one of the World’s best know poets described to me one day as “Poets of great genius”
It’s not an overstatement. Benjamin is not one to mince his words. In the same conversation I asked him if he thought the media at large and the music labels influenced the kind of rap we hear. He said he thought the “commercial mainstream feeds the kind of stereotypes we see”.
I’m inclined to agree with Benjamin. I’m also inclined to agree that the afore mentioned Logic and Lowkey are poetic geniuses.
What sets them apart from the competition? Substance, delivery, and the overall message, AND the common thread of positivity running through the music.
They are underground rappers. They have not signed to any corporate label. They’d probably be a bit weary of doing so as they would not want to have the content of what they say watered down.
Their music conveys a positive message, while at the same time painting a picture of World as they see it in vivid imagery. The result is original and refreshing. Their ability makes them sound credible whatever they talk about from a life sharpened on London’s gritty streets, to the ongoing conflict in Palestine.
Away from rap both are socially conscious. This is reflected in their ‘conscious’ brand of poetry. Both Logic and Lowkey are politically active and campaign for a number of causes. They have made songs for the NSPCC, and music about the turmoil in Palestine-the proceeds of which were donated to the children living in the Gaza strip.
“Poetic geniuses?” Don’t just take Benjamin’s or my word for it. Youtube Logic or Lowkey and see for yourself.
Their music is a breath of fresh air, when compared with some of the alternative stuff out there. I know what I’d rather be listening to. Stand up, salute.
By Richard Sudan