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Powerful message out of Hackney via Rudimental

I heard this track a while back and loved it. Now I’ve seen the video I am blown away. Rudimental come from Hackney, a place I moved out of when young kids started to get caught, and killed, in gang crossfire. This video is a brave response to urban street life and the choices young men make. Boys evolving into manhood need to assert themselves and their identities and society needs rituals and markers for this to happen in both a symbolic and positive way. Work is one rite of passage that is harder and harder to come by for young men. With time on their hands and hope in short supply it is no wonder some get into gang culture to fill the vacuum modern society has created.

There was an insightful programme on Radio 4 this week about the absence of fathers in the black British community (listen again here). David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham, who presents the programme highlights the sad fact that of nineteen youths arrested in the immediate aftermath of the riot in Tottenham last year, only two had fathers who played an active role in their lives. As Lammy puts it, directly from his own experience, he ‘struggled to cope… to fill the great father-shaped hole in his life.’

It sounds dramatic to say this, but I will say it anyway: there is an emerging crisis in masculinity in the UK. I regularly work with men whose skills and knowledge were once needed and recompensed, but as the world has moved on rapidly, they have been devalued and discarded. I work with young men who have no role, no apparent future and no obvious way of creating a meaningful identity for themselves in mainstream society. I see egos in need of emergency first aid and reinvention and I see a culture that would rather point the finger and label people than shoulder some of the blame itself.

The message from the Rudimental video is that there is another way. It is a short, film with maximum visual impact and as such it could be accused of being simplistic. Of course there is not only one answer. But I understand it as a response to a desperate hidden situation that no-one cares about, is barely reported and I believe it is a much-needed start. Rudimental are not the only musicians reflecting these urgent issues, I think also of Plan B and Chase & Status. We must try and harness the energy this music creates, talk about the issues openly and respond creatively to the situation.

The future of the 21st Century male depends on that happening.

Friday Night is Dance Night

Even it’s all in my head: alongside the incipient migraine.

This is a track I like a lot and have been listening to for a while with a Jeremy Kyle downfall type video that is easily found on You Tube.

I prefer it without the visual distraction, especially with a banging head, so I am sharing it direct from Chase & Status’ new album Blind Faith.

Chase & Status: Let You Go (feat. Mali)

*takes headache pills and looks for second wind*

The car radio

I was being shown round a new gallery space on Friday morning, and one of the exhibits that caught my eye in the Anti-Photography exhibition was a set of black and white photographs entitled “Car Radios Playing Good Tunes”. I will have to go back so I can credit the photographer properly.

In the meantime here’s my own radio playing the blog anthem for 2011. It’s quite soon to call it, but I’ve no choice.
I was driving about this afternoon and, after a period of silence and contemplation, I flicked the radio on and the tune jumped out and grabbed me round the throat. It’s that good.