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.
Ive got a couple of theories circling the blog and when I have got some time later I will give them permission to land.
They arent mine by the way; they are theories that are based on limited scientific evidence, have few variables and yet have taken hold of the popular consciousness without so much as a by-your-leave.
The theorists are Freud and Maslow and for now I will only say this: Freud developed his ideas by mainly studying upper class Austrian ladies in the early 1900s; Maslow studied the top 1% of American college students 60 years ago – yet both theories have been enthusiastically extrapolated out to throw a blanket over us all.
I am no psychologist, but I cant help wondering what the superego would look like out of the drawing room and on the racecourse.