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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… London MCs & the police March 16, 2013

Posted by Oireachtas Retort in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....

Dey handcuff an take me down a station
started dem interrogation
thirty six hours inna detention
and dem a wouldn’t let contact no one
try fi make a search in me private region
say me conceal a dangerous weapon

and lord me analyse a situation
make no mistake it’s a legal rape
say these kinda things I say we cant tolerate
dey turning this here place into a police state

We have fi kill , kill the Police Bill

say ninty six hours inna penitentiary
and when dem let me out, guess what dey tell me
dem intend to pick me up continually
hold me inna custody
and dem don’t even have fi charge me
Wid dem legality a take way we liberty

dey make up pretence for your conviction
to get release have fi make confession
same they do inna Northern Ireland
and now they a bring it here in England

dem have the power to set up a road block
so better watch out if you’re poor or black
You drive your car, you bound to be stopped
Remember how Stephen Waldorf get shot

We have fi kill, kill the Police Bill

Ranking Ann, 1983

The Bill, now Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 was the Met’s answer to Brixton riots two years previous. More spurious custody, more stop & search and powers to seize journalists material. The anti-terror of it’s day and used with much enthusiasm since.

Lesley Lyrics following a brief cat and mouse round his estate

rass a take me down the station
truncheon pon me face for di interrogation
they insult intelligence when they question me
treat me like an animal a call me monkey
make I sign statement wasn’t written by me

Andrew Paul – What police can do

Not that oppression kills humour.

As Asher Senator recounts with phenomenal skill

Or indeed subversion

I’m a problem for Anthony Blair

As garage hit commercial peak around the turn of millennium a slightly darker strain began to bubble up in East London.

A five year transition rode by Doogz

While charts were dominated by sugar sweet beats something entirely different was incubating on the pirates. The presence of MCs was nothing new, inherited from junglist roots but MC lead and coalescing with the long shadow of Timbaland was beginning to – again – twist into something far more representative then the swing and champaign that emerged to front dog the scene.

If the Friday night bling of garage represented some of London’s most deprived boroughs declaring nothing is too good for us. Grime stepped into the vacuum of it’s implosion to talk about what went on during the week.

When we ain’t kids no more
Will it still be about wot is right now
Like backscams, street robbery
Shottas, plottas or HMP
When we ain’t kids no more
Will it still be about wot it is rite now
Pregnant girls who think they luv
Useless mans wid no plans
When we ain’t kids no more
Will it still be about wot it is rite now
Coz negative signs jus keep showin up
Sum of us betta jus start growin up

on Dizzie’s catapulting Mercury success Martin Clark;

a momentous victory for one British teenager. But the 19-year-old MC’s debut album, Boy In Da Corner, carries a sobering message, which is at risk of being drowned out by the applause. Listen to the lyrics and ask yourself this: how can a country with a welfare state produce an artist this angry?

“I’m a problem for Anthony Blair,” rhymes Dizzee on the album. He certainly should be.

The album depicts Dizzee’s life in Bow, east London. Uncompromising, raging, it is not easy listening – but every MP in Westminster should be forced to hear it.

As a fatherless only child, Dizzee moved from school to school. “Disruptive” and “troublesome”, he eventually found himself at Langdon Park in Bow. He was excluded from every lesson except music, where teacher Tim Smith saw his potential.

Today if you return to Langdon Park the football pitch is a dustbowl and Tim Smith has moved on. The school bridge over the Docklands Light Railway is encased in barbed wire.

Anyone take heed?

While now globtrotting sister dubstep was playing to empty clubs.

Grime was getting locked out.

Echoing the Tory’s Criminal Justice Act, the Met’s 696 ushered in the end of grime’s physical presence in London. While 1994 was somewhat left open to interpretation in  “sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of repetitive beats”, the 696 risk assessment have explicitly targeted certain communities. Dan Hancox

696 is used by the Metropolitan police when trouble is expected at a gig or club. It requests information about performers and audience members from the licensee. Failure to submit it could result in six months in jail or a £20,000 fine.

Form 696 has been approved by all 21 London councils, and its use could soon spread to the rest of the UK. It has attracted criticism not least because it is bureaucratic: while it has now been cut from eight pages to four, it still demands every performer’s name, address, date of birth and phone number. It’s hard enough to get a musician to answer the phone, let alone fill in a mini-census every time they perform.

Form 696’s ulterior motives have also raised concerns. One question on the eight-page version suggested it was being used to racially profile audiences: “Is there a particular ethnic group attending? If ‘yes’, please state group.”

“I’ve got a nagging suspicion that ‘Irish’ was not the answer they were looking for,” says Feargal Sharkey. The former Undertones frontman is CEO of UK Music, the musicians’ rights body, and has been leading the campaign against form 696. Sharkey’s suspicion that black music is being targeted by the Met is supported by other leading questions on the form: “Music style to be played/performed (eg bashment, R&B, garage)”, reads one section, while another gives examples of types of musical artists as “DJs, MCs, etc”.

Last month, with the campaign taking shape, the form disappeared from the Met’s website, to be replaced a week later with a version half the length. The “which ethnic group” question was suddenly absent, replaced by one asking: “Who is the target audience? (Include here if Birthday Party).” This bizarre change seems to suggest you now need a risk assessment form to celebrate a birthday.

Utterly depressing and highlights how prevalent rush to link this music that music and violence remains. Similarly of course to the carnival of reaction & barely concealed class contempt following Phoenix Park last year.

Grime’s exile from clubs, the privilege of public performance enjoyed by musicians everywhere, has left expected – despite talent on a level with any peer. Commercial success let alone getting paid remained largely a pipe dream – and the unexpected – with no floor to fill it’s been free to take on ever more bizarre forms. MC virtuosity on alien beats. Born on pirate radio has stayed on radio. Isolation nothing new to these teenagers and it marked a coldness at the foundation that remained a constant theme.

the energy of youth and live radio

which for all bravado and a minority of spill over in ten years remains strictly lyrical

Radio not without trouble. Various clandestine transmitter related acrobatics in 2005 saw Rinse FM founder and ground breaking DJ Slimzee landed with an antisocial behaviour order which bizarrely banned him from going above the forth floor of any London building for five years.


One negative effect (imho) of indigenous restrictions and knock on for development has been the increasing lean to US sounds over the past six years. House has returned as all conquering. No bad thing in itself of course but over the last twenty-five years London in particular – and the mutations it’s thrown up – has always been a crucial counterweight to orthodoxy.

There was some promise in 2009/10 orbiting around the LiveFM axis and Marcus Nasty on Rinse but things drifted slowly towards more tasteful waters. On the other side, more and more MCs migrate to imported hiphop. The unstoppable march of current Southern strains does not bode well for any residual rave dna.

Smiley Culture.

Saxon deejay and first UK MC to have chart hit with “Police Officer” in 1984. One of the 1440 deaths in metropolitan police ‘contact’ since 1990 (one half, 790 in actual custody and the other with Tomlinson/de Menezes at it’s most extreme).  Smiley, suspected on, subsequently dropped, cocaine trafficking charges died of a single stab wound to the heart during a raid on his home around this time two years ago.

Within hours several newspapers carried numerous, conflicting and anonymously leaked stories. Combination of which along with the incident itself saw a huge reaction culminating in extraordinary scenes. Several thousand – including the families of similar cases – singing Barrington Levi’s ‘Murderer’ outside New Scotland Yard

One of the most remarkable statistics to emerge was the Met’s 69 press officers. The well practiced stonewalling and misinformation campaigns proved a death too far following the shooting of Mark Duggan four months later. In both cases and others, several questions hang over police conduct, internal investigation (in which officers central refused and were not compelled to appear or cooperate) and the unquestioned PR campaigns in tabloid newspapers.

Asher Senator

The time it just past four twenty
A newsflash come pon me Phillips TV
Concerning Brixton and the community
It seem the council they take a big liberty
Them call nuff man with machinery
Fi tear down the frontline vicinity
But not a word was said to the community
So evening come, the youth get angry
Start throw firebomb in a ‘ole property
The IRU not the SPG,
The dread fi an go riot in a different stylee
Say when me a chat it ah no damn fuckry

The lyric could a turn make a documentary
The ITV or a BBC
You never find reporter man a fast like me.

Selection of tunes from above and others available on John Edens’s excellent agit disco mix, charting West Indian life in London. Recommended, as is the accompanying multi author muti genre book which should be of interest to a few of you.

More on 696 from Dan Hancox here.


1. WorldbyStorm - March 16, 2013

Wow, doctorfive. That’s comprehensive and enlightening as well as having some great music. Interesting the shift to house, but I’m presuming that’s the sheer financial and numerical weight of the US.


doctorfive - March 16, 2013

Maybe not so much a shift as increasing inward influence without the same local spin on things there was traditionally.
Rave and jungle etc are so far away now and the demographics that were static enough for decades have changed dynamically so a lot of it is just the old patterns falling away and the world getting smaller.


WorldbyStorm - March 16, 2013

That makes a lot of sense. In a way the dynamic has been the opposite in relation to various forms of trance because the US finally clocked to it and (re) commercialised it.


2. anarchaeologist - March 16, 2013

Great reading there doctorfive. Interesting about House too. I’m still trying to get my middle-aged ears around dub step so I’m glad to see if you sit still long enough, it’ll all get back to you…


3. Eamonn Crudden - March 16, 2013

Ice Rink tracks are STILL futuristic


4. krossie - March 16, 2013

Outstanding – really good read and listen – appreciated


5. sonofstan - March 18, 2013

Brilliant stuff. ‘TWIMBLT’ finally leaves the 20th c 🙂


6. Mark P - March 18, 2013

Excellent work.


7. shambob - March 23, 2013

Love that grime vid. Pure … grimey.


8. Shaool - January 9, 2014

Great stuff! Akala has some savage verses http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3puADtbn_8


9. reddy - January 10, 2014

Great schtuff!


10. Boris and the cannnon. | The Cedar Lounge Revolution - June 13, 2014

[…] twiwbmlt last year, I mentioned a song by Ranking Ann about introduction of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, a response […]


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