Hey Jay! let’s talk about the new release… What does it mean to you?
‘Escape The Kingdom’ was inspired by the Windrush fiasco and the treatment of that generation of people by the government over the last decade. The Windrush generation made up of our grandparents and parents were invited to the UK with the promise of a better life and the pride of contribution to the ‘Motherland’, only to be told that you are no longer wanted here. It made me really think about the duality of being Black British, and the concept that your Britishness can be called into question and in fact revoked depending on the government’s stance and the rhetoric in play at the time. (It also baffled me how Amber Rudd could create this chaos and then quietly transition into a comfortable presenting job on Talk Radio).
Sonically I really wanted to tap into my Jamaican heritage, and that’s why the project so far has been a mixture of Roots Reggae and UK Hip Hop. Growing up my parents would play strictly roots reggae and so I was exposed to the sound from a very young age. It’s an integral part of my musicality and so with this project I really wanted to delve into it.
What messages are you trying to communicate?
Lyrically the project discusses the juxtaposition of the Black British experience and perhaps loving a country that historically hasn’t always loved us back. From deaths in police custody to the Windrush fiasco, to even the more recent example of the impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities and the lack of facilities provided in those areas, it’s something that I wanted to explore and articulate to not only discuss something others can relate to, but to also provide awareness for the structural and societal biases that impact our lives, progression and quality of life every day.
Kill The Noise… was written last year. Lyrically it is focused towards the way the British Government structurally disenfranchises Black lives in modern day society. From the examples of Grenfell and The New Cross Massacre (both of which neither Prime Minister visited the sites or reached out to the families of those affected) it really sparked something within me. I wanted to just vent my frustration at the lack of humanity shown by our leaders in these trying times.
Whether it’s the appalling response to Grenfell or our Prime Minster being allowed to refer to Muslim Women as ‘Letterboxes’ or the fact that he publicly has refused to show support and understanding of the recent protests regarding the value of Black Lives here in England. His response only contextualised the issue by discussing George Floyd and did not consider the many deaths in Police Custody in the UK since 1990. Britain needs an honest discourse with itself when discussing racism and the impact, as our privilege and the comforts we enjoy in modern day society are a direct benefit of the toil of those who were abused.
You recently attended the Black Lives Matter protest… for those reading, who might not be educated to the movement, could you tell me what it means to you personally?
For me BLM is highlighting and challenging a system which is inherently racist and a society that is unequal. That impacts all areas of life from the disproportionate amount of black women who die in childbirth, to health inequalities of BAME communities, to harsher sentencing of black people in the legal system in comparison to their white counterparts, to black people being more likely to be detained under the mental health act, and just the unrepresentative and inaccurate education system taught in schools.
When I say we need equality, I mean in all aspects of life, in education, the socio-economics of the areas BAME communities live and the opportunities that are afforded to people of colour. As a country, racism is ingrained into the fabric as Britain was responsible for the colonisation and enslavement of other people via the Royal African Company which then financed the industrial revolution as we began to mass process cotton. I think that open conversations about race and about history, and I mean real history not the whitewashed version taught in schools, need to be had.
Tell me about your experiences with racism and how do you see things moving forward?
I’ve experienced systemic racism as a young black man with locs. I’m profiled by the police. I’ve had the “You fit the description of…” I’ve been pulled over and questioned by armed police in an aggressive manner. I’ve been stopped and searched, and this is a familiar narrative for most men and women of colour here in England. I want us to stop contextualising the fight for equality as something that only needs to happen in America, as the same issues are happening here!
There have been over multiple deaths in police custody in the UK since 1990 with no convictions! Whilst the protests in the UK are in solidarity with America, I personally have been aiming to challenge the racism that happens here, as we commonly deflect and say “we’re not as bad as America” but we need to remember not as bad, is not good enough. Equality by any means necessary. We’ve asked, we’ve marched and we’ve protested and now is the time where community leaders are organising and trying to build a change from the ground up, and it will come.