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Tag Archives: rap

I have to admire the guts of this guy – Mr.Guti . Apparently Basra is run by gangs and it is somewhere you can be in danger if you espouse western modernist forms in public. I saw a programme on Youtube influencers in Iraq the other night. One has been killed and another, in Bagdad, was running a legal  battle against people threatening her (which she was winning!) and had to live almost in isolation with her daughter. These people are fighting for basic freedom of expression which we take for granted. This was in Baghdad which is reckoned to be generally much safer to live an and more stable than Basra.

The video above start in Arabic and then about half way there is an version in English. The lyrics area protest a bout the desperate poverty of the mass of people…

For more see:

Skepta is now top of the tree and his Konnichiwa album has protest songs (so says the BBC). But how long can you sing songs about being held by cops; when you are a slick hitmaker? The glamour, the people, the money, the need for minders that surround you… the busy schedule that steals your day away …. he may have got there by a DIY route and kept control late in the day. Will he be able to keep it real when its all red carpets and feigning models. I mean Puffy Daddy has run his own businesses for many years; there comes a point when DIY ceases to mean much. It was cute that just before his album started the Time Out rolled up this house and found it used as a storage place for his business. but even then he wasn’t sticking stamps on himself like wot real DIY publishing means.

How long is he gonna rap “The feds wanna shift man / Wanna put me in a van / Wanna strip a man / I ain’t a Chippendale / Wanna strip a male / Put me in a prison cell / Got me biting on my finger nails.” with any conviction?

The analysis will have to get more political, more theoretical, more abstracted from his personal situation. And probably threatening to his own pro feet ability…

Can integrity survive success? Can a radical message survive institutionalisation or being framed on corporate media?

But for now Ok this Tottenham boy wants people to ‘shed preconceptions’ that’s not bad thing. I’m reading Mike Hales book on ‘Thinkwork’ from 1980 and he had this idea of ‘pre conceptualism’ and it set me thinking about whether cultural works can reach out into that pre-idea stage of thinking. There’s a hope music or art might be able to get past the normalisation of our thinking as it enters onto cultural or intellectual platforms… But to do that it would have use very undercapitalised platform, autonomous underground venues, collectively run shows, illegal shebeens maybe, but not a gallery. How is it done? How is it done?


for more thoughts in this vein see my now FREE ebook…

This blog is to signpost news of agit disco related events and stories that come to my attention though daily media. It does not mean that I agree with he viewpoints offered. Obviously the BBC World Service tends to have a ‘benign’ paternalistic imperialism behind what it does and does not say.

I find the story of the ‘Halal Rappers’ interesting because it shows a flexible and adaptive approach to making culture rather than one that is hidebound by convention.

or try YouTube direct:

On another side of another coin are the Russian rappers which might be seen as a détournement of local racism by rapping pro Putin!  or

Another one of a Vietnamese rapper living in USA doing agit disco stuff:

BBC blurb “Son Nguyen A.K.A. ‘Nah’, a young Vietnamese rapper studying in the United States, has launched a scathing criticism of Vietnam’s Communist Party. ”

The world is full of contradictory tactics.  Am I serving imperialism by lazily picking up on BBseize establishment voice? Maybe… I’d appreciate hearing of more direct sources!?

Coming up to the election we have quite a few Agit Disco groups gunning for the charts:

Video above is from West London DIY Creative Collective Dovetown.

Cassette Boy + Russell Brand are putting out:

not only but also let’s not leave out:

How isolated are the suburbs when one of you neighbours hits the big time without you having known about them? He has some superb agit disco style tracks too! Listen to ‘Storm Trooper’!

Thornton Heath

Thornton Heath rapper Stormzy third in big 2015 poll

From the Croydon Advertiser  |  Posted: January 07, 2015


“A STORMZ A’ BREWIN’: Thornton Heath rapper Stormzy is tipped to make it big by the BBC this year. A GRIME artist from Croydon looks set to take the country by storm after coming third in BBC’s Sound of 2015 poll.  Stormzy, 21, from Thornton Heath, appeared on the Radio One breakfast show this morning to hear the news from Huw Stephens.  He is the only unsigned artist from the longlist of 15 and will have his track Know Me From played throughout the day.  Stormzy will appear again on Zane Lowe’s show on Radio One from 7pm tonight.”


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 Owlboy – Conspiracy

Owlboy | Conspiracy
Tuesday 13 January 7-9pm
Free admission, no booking requiredConspiracy is the latest track by West London-based rap artist Owlboy written as a direct result of his involvement in the London riots in 2011. The music video, a 12-month collaboration between Owlboy, Reveal Poison (an Iranian born, London raised hip-hop artist, writer and ethnomusicologist), Sam Hepworth (producer and filmmaker) and The Showroom, has been produced as part of The Showroom’s Communal Knowledge programme.Conspiracy is the story of many told through one: including original footage and documentation, it re-tells a series of local events that directly resulted from the larger-scale riots of 2011. Chronicled from the perspective of a young person who was not only present, but who was also reprimanded and imprisoned as a result of his involvement, the narrative serves as an integral chapter in the larger media story dubbed the ‘UK Riots’.This collaboration will extend into 2015 with further music video productions, and will feed into Dutch artist Wendelien van Oldenborgh’s How to work together commission in spring 2015.
63 Penfold Street
London NW8 8PQ
T 020 7724 4300

An encounter with gift economy on the street of Thornton Heath: a review of  ‘Portraits of a Player’

Art Daley's street gifted creation

Thornton Heath obviously does not have the extreme cruelty and oppression of apartheid – different cultures happily swim together in the same pool and share the same schools. That can feel good. But the cultural groups of The Heath still mostly lead separate lives; meeting fleetingly in school drop-offs and children’s parties. So it was refreshing when a older white man like me, trudging up the hill from shopping, was approached by a young black man with an offer to gift me a copy of his latest CD. I get approached to embrace Jesus often enough, but this is a rarer and realer opportunity. The man introduced himself as Art Daley. I got home and put it straight on. He describes it as having a Seventies soul vibe, to me it’s articulate and often lyrical urban rap. ‘Portraits of a Player’ is nicely presented with ten well-produced tracks from the local Crook Street Gang. Read More »

Rahul Verma in todays Metro writes an ode to British Iraqi rapper Lowkey. He is “loyal the the roots”;  “in these discontented times… couldn’t be more relevant”; “in the tradition of Public Enemy, Dead Prez and Immortal Technique”; “ensure hip hop remembers its responsibility to challenge, question and act as a voice for the oppressed”. And a beautiful portrait photo of Lowkey to top it off – much better than most of his more macho publicity shots. I’m always amazed when such gems appear in what is usually a crap middle of the road paper.

Soundtrack to the Struggle..., Lowkey

This is all a review of his Soundtrack to the Struggle LP (Mesopotamia Music)  After writing this I heard ‘Hand On Your Gun’ on Resonance in the car which has a stroke of ironic genius as a chorus sample -“Keep Your Hand on Your Gun” probably from some western = brilliant. See hear

Verma goes on to look at other independent UK hip hop voices, Mikill, Tricky Micky, & Random Impulse: Not to be found on Metro’s terrible website !?  so no link. Read More »

An interesting low-key background to the Libya and Arab Spring youth support from capitalism is demonstrated by the Mercycorps promoted video of Libyan rapper Yousef Ramadan, whose main inspiration is Tupac Shakur, whose cremated body was apparently smoked by Outlawz in 1996! (Outlawz members included Shakur’s half brother aka Kadafi)

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The Tunisian rap track that concided with Ben Ali departure some months ago deserves a mention. Hamada Ben Amore a.k.a El General’s viral track title translates as ‘Mr President your people are dying’. The lyrics detailing the corruption of the state and track are widely available online.

A senior Tunisian rapper Balti has a currently released track ‘Zine el-Abadine Ben Ali and the 40 Thieves’. Balti has taken a global stage through his interview on CNN.
’We felt like our voices didn’t get to the regime… but thank God our voices were heard by the people, so we were the fuel of our revolution.’

Great Protest Songs

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