“When people fail to define their culture or are prevented from defining their culture, liberties are taken,” said MOBO award-winning hip hop artist Akala speaking at the Intelligent movement festival.
But what does he mean by this? Well he used Professor Green’s music video Jungle to explain his point. The video is full of violence, agression and guess what? All the people that are committing the violence are black, big surprise there. For once I agree with the psychologists favourite term “glamorising violence” because I can find no other way to describe what this video does. And to be perfectly honest, it makes me really angry to think that young black men are still being represented this way. They’re basically being told “it’s perfectly OK to act like this” and then people wonder about the state of the “troubled youth”.
Akala made it clear that he didn’t have a problem with white rappers, he didn’t have a problem with Professor Green nor did he have a problem with the fact that an Irish man was singing in a Jamaican accent. But as a person of Jamaican and Scottish descent he did have a problem with someone using his accent to highlight the “worst part” of his culture. Which brings us back to the first quote. Akala claims that Eminem (who he thinks is one of the greatest rappers of all time) would never produce a video like this, because African-Americans have defined their culture better than black people in the UK.
One interesting point he made was that UK rapper Giggs who has actually lived this lifestyle, unlike Professor Green, would never produce a video so violent. “There are people that don’t really understand the culture, they can still have respect for it, but don’t have true understanding,” said Akala naming Tim Westwood as a such a person. People who haven’t lived this lifestyle will probably never truly understand it making it so easy for them to make videos like Jungle which completely makes a mockery of the harsh reality of this lifestyle. People with guns with the intention to use them is no joke, it is literally life or death.
“Every black artist in the UK, knows that if they wanna make it they can not display white culture at it’s worst. Fact,” Akala said. And sadly this is the truth you would never see black UK artists ever attempt to disgrace white culture. Why? Because they would speak-up. It’s terrible that things like this can practically go unnoticed, it’s almost as if we’ve become immune to this and have come to accept it. How then can anyone expect the perception of black people in the UK to change if we don’t respect ourselves enough to make a change?