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This modern phrase is really getting under Seani B's skin

PROUD: Seani B was brought up in White City, west London, but his parents’ Jamaican and Dominican heritage played a huge part in his upbringing

HOW IS it that all of a sudden everyone seems interested in ‘culture’? If I’m honest, if I keep hearing that phrase I may get very “cultured” on someone… “I’m just doing it for the culture” seems to be the new trendy line that is being used. I’ve never been one to follow trends, as when they depart, there is a strong possibility that you may leave with them.

I like to think that I’ve always been cultured and display my culture in all walks of my life.

I’ve always been proud of my Jamaican and Dominican background, both of which come with a rich and complex tradition that you may see me express in different ways on a daily basis.

But what is culture? The Google definition is “the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society”.

Growing up in White City, west London, I was very much a black British youth – but the culture that our parents brought with them from back home was hugely influential to how many of us was brought up. I remember a few of my 1Xtra colleagues coming to my mother’s nine night on her estate when she passed.

More than 200 people were outside her flat in a show of respect to her. Prayers, fried fish, hard dough bread, white rum, music and lots of colourful people were on display. My culture. The next day I remember getting a call from one of them. She said: “Last night I understood who Seani B is.” In the office I’m not one to go unnoticed due to my loud character, on the block I’m just one of many…

Just listen to the music genres that have been created in the UK and you can see and hear the influences of our parents’ culture that we have been marinated in.

Even the mere mention of the word ‘marinate’ shows a different side of my culture. Cleaning, seasoning and cooking food is part of the black experience.

It may sound odd to some, but sit down in a black household and watch a cooking programme. I can put hard cash down as a bet to someone mentioning: “Dem nah go wash the meat…”

There are countless examples I can give you like that, which are unique to growing up in a black household. I’m sure the same can be said about Irish, English, German or Italian households.

Everyone has a uniqueness about them based around the definition of ‘culture’, but do you hear everyone running around or hashtagging #fortheculture at the end of a sentence?

Now it’s time to be really honest! Hearing people that may not have suffered, been held down, ridiculed, imprisoned talk up and win for this culture does get under my skin.

(Disclaimer: It is not a colour thing! I have many friends who may not look like me, but fully understand and was part of this culture I talk of. Big up Natty off the block or my mum’s countless friends who borrowed her John Holt albums. Now that was for the culture!)

The issue is when you use the culture – when you use it for your own rise – and forget about the originators of this culture. When you try to rewrite this culture for it to fit into your plan.

In my experience the issues rise when the attempt to separate day to day culture and music culture is made. All you have to do is listen to the lyrics and realise that this cannot be achieved.

Black music is driven by the black experience. I wake up in a dancehall culture everyday.

It’s called my life, that’s why I love Jamaica so much as I don’t have to seemingly ‘water down’ my existence.

If you wanna see me on my wrong side just say: “Seani, it’s about the music and not the culture.” How can this be? The good and bad of this music we all love comes from experiences someone has gone through or witnessed. That’s fact!

My culture is not just about smoking weed, girls wining, exuberant dressing, heavy basslines, talking slang and all the other stereotypes. As a race of people we could not have left a mark on this world with all the setbacks we have had without being special.

My culture is about family, tradition, history, struggle, hard work, determination, self belief, uniqueness. My culture is not just jerk chicken, but souse, flying fish, mauby, cabbage and saltfish, fritters and so much more.

I love the fact that many have opened up their eyes to enjoy the richness of my culture. Hopefully, this will see the rise of many from my community as it seems we have so much to offer.

What we need is the opportunity to demonstrate it and show it off in its full glory. However, I say this, especially after digesting the teachings of Marcus Garvey.

Until my community sees the power of our culture, nothing will change. We have so much to offer but too often do not benefit.

Instead we see others reaping huge rewards as we stand by the sidelines. We need to create our own spaces where we can control the rhetoric and direction, allowing us to tell our own stories without limitation and fear that they may not be understood.

The alternative is to stand for what we believe in and demand others accept us and our culture fully, or not at all.

We need to follow one of these paths – for the culture! Captaining his own ship – it’s one of the key fundamental rules of the new school.

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