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I bloody love this song

And I’ve not even had a drink.

My suggestion: put it on in the car, in the dark, and drive. Anywhere. Until you get sick of it… although, frankly, you are more likely to run out of road before that happens.

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.

From Hackney to Philadelphia via Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club

Rudimental, whose latest track I posted yesterday, are a four-piece outfit from my old stamping ground of Hackney. Interestingly, one of their older videos involves them running round North London in white rabbit suits. Their latest video to ‘Feel the Love’ left the rabbits behind and in the process intrigued me – featuring horses & riders in an über urban environment, so, I hopped on the Google, as you do.

Turns out, they shot it at the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club in Philadelphia, an amazing project that tackles unemployment, drug culture and crime through mentoring young people as they become involved with the horses. Like every good grass roots project, they need to fundraise so you can click here for donations and here to buy photographer Martha Camarillo’s book.

It reminds me a little of Mudchute City Farm where I used to ride with a friend, on the Isle of Dogs, behind Asda. The Fletcher Street project looks edgier somehow. I think it’s riding in hoods, not helmets, that does it. I was in Philadelphia once, the ‘City of Brotherly Love’.
I wish I’d gone to Fletcher Street.

Perhaps next time…