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Grime pays

SCHOOLING THE YOUTHS: Lethal B with Jasmine

LETHAL B was kind enough to pop up to the BBC recently to speak to a group of young journalists and reporters from London 360 for an impromptu press conference scenario.

The east London grime MC understands more than most what it’s like for young, frustrated people. And with so much being written in the press about gang violence amongst young people, he was vocal about his own desire to make something of himself.

“The council estates… a lot of negative things can happen [in those environments],” he said. “That kind of inspired me to do better. I got to a point where I knew that the way things were going for me, it could only end in two ways – and neither of them was positive.

“So in that sense, it was like the whole music thing was kind of a saviour for me. It sounds cheesy but that’s how it was. When I was in a crew, we used to support each other and go and make mixtapes and freestyle. That was the kind of support we had for each other. Slowly, we were building our careers. We helped each other, rather than being on the street causing trouble.”

He added: “Music definitely brings people together. Music’s the universal language – it doesn’t matter what colour you are. I do festivals, I do club shows, I do all sorts of events and every single person knows my songs.”
Lethal B might be a pioneer in his game, but he admitted he still feels frustration with parts of the media, saying: “Recently, I was on the front page of the Coventry Telegraph. I was headlining at a festival and their headline was Gun-rapper to headline Godiva Festival.’ I was like, ‘what the hell are they talking about?’

“They were referencing my song Pow, saying it was about guns and stuff like that. I was disappointed to see that. The negative, ignorant media stereotyping is still there.”

Despite the negative connotations grime has garnered over the years, Lethal B told the young crowd that the music is all about self-expression.

“Grime lifestyle is about expressing yourself,” he said. “Grime has allowed me to express myself and it’s made me dress how I want to. Don’t be scared to speak. If you don’t speak, no-one’s going to hear your opinion. Everyone has an opinion. So grime helps me express myself, how I want to.”

Next, the conversation turned to the many African celebrities currently enjoying success in the charts, as well as in sport and politics. Lethal B, a proud Ghanaian descendant, recalled a time when African heritage wasn’t widely celebrated.

“When I was at school, it was like a crime to be an African. I used to get teased, ‘Uh uh uh, you’re from Africa!’ But I’ve always been a proud African. And now Africans have just empowered themselves.

“I am a Ghanaian, so I represent Ghana. But Africa as a whole, we have come a very long way. People are proud and now, we can find African restaurants, African clubs and African culture being embraced. It’s a happy day!”
With that, I bid him farewell and stood taller and prouder with my own Kenyan roots!

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SEAN'S STILL BLAZING


FLY: Jas and Sean Paul

SEAN PAUL was in town recently to promote his new music. We met at his hotel where his label rep, the infamous Taponeswa Mavunga and his manager Steve Wilson were awaiting my arrival.

When Sean wandered in, complete with his Mohawk hairdo, he settled down and told me he was currently enjoying the excitement around his new single Got 2 Luv U. Produced by Norwegian duo Stargate and featuring Roc Nation starlet, the single’s video, is due to be shot next month.

I recalled the early days with Sean when he was just starting out and we filmed his Diary Of Sean Paul at MTV. We visited South Africa and places all across Europe where he sampled fine French wine, went into various African townships and more.

Sean’s an artist that has worked hard and his music continues to get played in parties and in clubs on the regular and has everyone dancing hard – even in my gym’s Body Jam classes!

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JAS IS NORMAL


NORMAL: Jas (not pictured) does do chores!

THIS WEEK, I’ve been working on new mainstream music TV shows and news shows for young people. I also welcomed a whole new batch of young journalists into the London 360 TV roles and next week, I’ll be spending most of the week interviewing loads of young people for the new London 360 reporter roles.

I also grabbed lunches with Sean Paul, Princess Nyah, DJ Manny Norte, the Grimedaily team and the British Urban Film Festival (BUFF) team, and did an interview with musician and actor Lonyo, who stars in the upcoming film David Is Dying.

But in addition – just to reassure all those on Twitter who accuse me of not living in the real world or doing what real people do – I also had a doctor’s appointment, went bowling with friends, helped my mum and dad with cleaning and shopping, and paid a parking ticket. There. Normal enough?

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