#Grime4Corbyn: Two Movements United By A Goal Of Giving A Voice To Those Ignored By The Mainstream

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#GRIME4CORBYN, a hashtag that seeks to unite a sexagenarian politician and a genre of music created on the council estates of Bow, Tower Hamlets seems somewhat of a mismatch. Dig deeper and it is clear that there is a lot that unites the self-confessed Radio 3 listener and a genre of music created by Wiley in one of the most impoverished areas in the country.

You see, like Corbyn, grime was once a pariah, an unassuming underdog that has risen from the ashes to unlikely mass appeal. Grime was dismissed by the music business as too niche, too grassroots and unrefined. The smear campaign that Corbyn was subjected to during the election campaign by the mainstream press reminds us early grime fans of how “our scene” was dismissed by mainstream radio stations, TV channels and record labels. Grime was even dismissed by its own forbears with house and garage acts dismissing it as a worthy successor; Corbyn was made to prove his worth to the Labour Party in two leadership elections! The scene was resourceful in creating and nurturing a sub-culture that encompassed its own radio stations (De Ja Vu, Mystic, Heat and more), TV channel (Channel U), magazine (RWD) and raves (Young Man Standing, Eskimo Dance, Sidewinder and more). Corbyn and his supporters have worked tirelessly to canvass, push for tactical voting strategies in marginals and to shine light on a manifesto that was initially dismissed by the mainstream press. Grime and Corbyn are unified in seeking to give a voice to those nobody in the mainstream wants to listen to.

Grime’s greatest achievement has been harnessing the power of the Internet and social media to push its cause. Stormzy famously entered the UK charts with a song that featured him rapping in a park surrounded by friends. However, this phenomenon is not new – JME, who is one of the most successful grime artists ever, has achieved this fete through his mastery of social media, dating back to the MySpace days. This time the grime artists were not doing it for self gain, they were “repping” Corbyn. Posts by prominent grime artists such as Ghetts, AJ Tracey, Novelist and more, massively gave Corbyn access to the young without having to do anything cringe for it. This was supplemented by Corbyn’s social media campaign, which was brilliantly managed with content released in a digestible and timely manner. This resulted in Labour being the most discussed party on social media in the final hours of the elections.

For grime artists, many of whom are young and were raised in working class communities, Corbyn’s policies make a lot of sense. More spending on public housing, ending university fees, freezing energy bills and rail fares, cutting taxes for those on low incomes as well as scrapping exploitative zero-hour contracts appealed to these artists who are not too far removed from the areas they grew up in. If one contrasts this with the Conservatives’ somewhat singular focus on Brexit, it is probably why Grime’s golden boy and one of the best-selling UK artists of the year, Stormzy said: “My man, Jeremy! I dig what he says. I feel like he gets what the ethnic minorities are going through and the homeless and working class.”

A standard that the artists are consistently held up to is authenticity. In the early days, when grime artists got record deals and released dry pop and electro songs, they were held to task by “the scene” for not staying true to their roots. Jeremy Corbyn’s greatest asset in reaching the grime world was his authenticity. His effortless charm in TV interviews and his unwavering belief in his principles resulted in him standing head and shoulder above the “Maybot”.

Femi Oyeniran is an award-winning actor/filmmaker whose latest film THE INTENT is now available on Netflix

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