Having spent recent years studying interior architecture at Middlesex University completing my course and enjoying normal student pastimes; which for me one was listening to music and reading up on new artists, I noticed a lack of good reportage on ‘urban street music’ in the music press.
Even though ‘Urban Beatz’ and by this I mean Grime, Drill, Afrobeatz and other forms of rap is current and popular, the scene remains underground, which some believe is how those with a negative attitude to rap may want it to stay. We can’t pretend that urban street music has not inherited a reputation from its big brother ‘rap’ and it is obvious that an onus has been placed on its connection with it, which in turn has bred controversial responses, some saying it incites crime and violence. However, as this has not been proven as a fact and is ultimately an opinion, and since the music is so current and so many young people do tune into it, I personally feel, and I don’t think I am alone here, that it should have better exposure in mainstream music magazines. Furthermore, if there are debates to be had about this controversial music genre then let’s have them and make sure they include a cross-section of young people contributing to the dialogue, especially the youth that listen to the music, who understand it and for who it has meaning. It seems that some people don’t seem to be getting it, a bit like the Black Lives Matters movement!
Urban Beatz fuelling crime and violence is a misnomer. What is a fact and a sad one at that, is that some of the best music by a new generation of creative souls is being asked to take a back seat because of negative connotations relating to the musical genre. In real life, much of the lyrical content is derived from young people talking about the environments they grew up in. They are real stories, real experiences. None of it derived from a plan to instigate violence. It’s an age-old debate which came to the forefront when rap music started to enter the mainstream charts, which was more or less from the 1980s onwards, and along with it, at some point, came the question, which came first ‘urban street music or crime and violence?’ Now we all know the answer to that, and still, the debate rages on.
To help tip the scales to a state of equilibrium regarding this genre of music I have picked out some of the best up-and-coming urban artists around at the moment who are more focused on the lifestyle and interests of young people rather than an exclusive focus on crime and violence. This allows me to play a small part in addressing the balance and respectively I want to ask for the politics around this music to be scrutinised and rationalised in a more positive way.
Starting with a young musician named ‘Dipz’. ‘Dipz’ has never been a stranger to the music scene being the nephew of renowned UK rap artist ‘Monie Love’ a London artist that made in big in the US during the late eighties to early-90s with hits such as ‘It’s a Shame’, ‘Grandma’s Party’ and ‘Monie in the Middle’. ‘Dipz’ has of course been nurtured and influenced by his famous aunt, but his style is still however unique to him. He has released a number of his own tracks and worked on collaborations with other artists in his league. This tune ‘Fast Lane’ is a good club track which is vibez-y from the intro. It lives up to its high energy title as it takes you on a journey of living in the fast lane https//youtu.be/dym7L4G3Q0s
Sauce Boy M. Another London based artist that should be causing a stir. Sauce has a catalogue of talents behind him having created his own clothing label and managing his own artistic interests. His musical work started in his teenage years. Having had a break to concentrate on other life issues, he returned to his love of music and re-created what he started. This track is a dance-y collaboration with artists including J.R. Melodic, Skully & Ceize. A breezy summer tune that takes the listener to easy, house party vibes with the temperature up... It’s rolling.
If you prefer a bit of a controversial banter, then listen to ‘Survivor. Influenced by his Ugandan roots, this tune is one to be talked about. Instantly infectious beat with banging bass and a pounding drum sound it automatically has a tribal feel made to leave the listener immediately moved to groove along.
‘Survivor’ is energetic, raw, original, and maintains a cool, and melodic Afro-rhythm throughout blended with a fresh rap which makes this track a completely brand new sound.
Skully describes himself as an unorthodox UK musician.
His musical creations developed over years, starting with learning to play the piano at just 6-years old. By the age of 11-years old, he was waxing lyrical with psychedelic energy and a unique ‘Skully’ sound. He has worked with a wide range of artists such as Ninja man, Fektion, Capiton, Fekky, Jammer and Chi Ching Ching. Skully not only has an interesting sound but an interesting look, being booked as a model for Puma, Nike and Nick Knight. Back to the music GTA acronym for Grand Theft Auto is a composition that harks back to a young man growing up and playing computer games. A Caribbean influence resounds throughout the tune. It is an eclectic composition with good ad-libs.
It is witty and relatable to this generation of urban sound listeners. Listen Up!
Arena Hookz. A London born artist with cultural ties to Zimbabwe and Jamaica. He says “Music has always been the background to my life with my Dad spinning the Jamaican tunes and my Mother the African Beatz I grew up with. She also played the guitar and was a real influence on my work. My older brother also had an influence on me. I listened to his hip-hop tunes and followed him watching music channels such as MTV which opened me up o different music genres”. Arena lost his father at the young age of 10-years-old and growing up in a tough and uncertain environment he felt that it was music that gave him an outlet for his personal experiences. He says “Creating lyrics allowed him to create an identity for himself and gave him the outlet he needed to voice his experiences. Wonderallz featuring Sauce BoyM is a silky smooth re-execution of the much-loved pop hit by Oasis into an atmospheric R&B groove. It’s a laid-back, tricky little head-nodder of a tune.