Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn
With the upcoming election on the 12 of December, there was an air of uncertainty around the revival of the Grime4Corbyn movement. The project originally started in 2017, with the hope of engaging fans with the electoral process and connecting them to the Labour leader. A surge of artists declared their voting intentions on social media, including the likes of AJ Tracey and Novelist. JME helped inspire the movement by interviewing Corbyn discussing grime, youth engagement and what Labour policies could do for people living in London. The project contributed to the ‘youthquake’ which saw the largest number of young people voting in an election since 1992.
I say there was an uncertainty due to the official website being deactivated and some artists expressed that they had been let down by the politicians, claiming they had ignored the community once the election was over.
The previously named artists, which once vocalised their support for Corbyn have either retracted their support or fallen silent on the matter. AJ Tracey has again tried to encourage people to register to vote but has said he won’t vote for Corbyn this time round and in 2017 he was the “best of a bad bunch.” Skepta has been critical of political campaigns using artists for point scoring and after the election, the politicians “don’t give a fuck about us again.”
The movement has lost some backers this time, nevertheless, the anti-Tory message within the arts has been consistent. Sister group Fck Boris has mobilised young people by creating protests and street events. Johnson has a record using racist and homophobic language, a magical ability to lie and headed the Leave campaign, which doesn’t sit well with young people. Slowthai is the newest of public figures using his platform to spread a political message. His Promethean stunt at the Mercury Prize ceremony mirrors his politically charged music as well as the selling of ‘Fuck Boris’ t-shirts.
The official Grime4Corbyn movement made its comeback with a live set on the 29th of November. Logan Sama, Saskilla, Nadia Rose and Durrty Goodz and many more made an appearance, contributing to the live-streamed session dedicated to the Corbyn cause. The event was four hours long and was reminiscent of the old-school grime sets. A crowded room, back-to-back sets and constant baring.
Without associating themselves directly with the Grime4Corbyn movement, other artists have expressed their support for Corbyn including Kano, Wiley, Akala, Lowkey and Charlie Sloth. Most importantly (due to the size of his audience), Stormzy called on young people to register to vote, dispelling the myth that ‘one vote won’t make a difference’ and encouraged people to do their own research before voting. As well as addressing the disengaged, he outlined why he’s backing Corbyn, saying that the list of reasons is too long but believed that finally, he can vote for someone who wants to give power back to the people. In the post, Stormzy heavily criticises Johnson saying, “I think Boris Johnson is a sinister man with a long record of lying and policies that have absolutely no regard for the people that our government should be committed to helping and empowering.”
Why are grime artists pushing an anti-Conservative message? Well, I can’t speak on behalf of them all but perhaps I can make some guesses: The government’s response to Grenfell, the Windrush scandal, ten years of austerity, enabling islamophobia, closing down of community centres and wealth inequality.
Each artist will have their reasons for supporting Corbyn. Most likely, it’s a combination of experiencing the crumbling of communities around them and a refreshing sense of trust in a politician. Unlike leaders of the past, he doesn’t come across as crooked, elitist and stuffy. I think the anti-Conservative stance merged with Corbyn’s natural standpoint on issues is what makes him appealing.
I’m thankful to see artists using their platform positively, engaging fans with politics, encouraging people to research and not being afraid to voice their opinion. I hope this trend doesn’t stop once the election finishes and artist can continue being vocal on important issues.
Watch here: Grime4Corbyn 2.0
Words by Sam Venables