Posted in activism, music, Race, Uncategorized

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. #BlackLivesMatter

“I trust God and know that everything that happens is for our greatest good, but man….it’s tough right now. Blessings to all the families that have lost loved ones to police brutality” These were lyrics said by Jay-Z on his song “Spiritual” released in 2016 after the deadly racist police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. 4 years later and those lyrics couldn’t be any more relevant. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

Rest in Peace to Ahmaud, Breonna and George.

On May 25th 2020, George Floyd, a BLACK man was MURDERED by a police officer in Powderhorn, a neighbourhood in Minneapolis. Shortly after, videos and still images of the officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck started to circulate. These kind of murders are not isolated incidents and this is one of the substantial amount of killings by the hand of US police against black people. The past few months alone, to name a few, On February 23rd 2020, we saw the murder of Ahmaud Arbery who was jogging before being chased cornered and killed by 3 white racist men. On March 13th 2020, Breonna Taylor, a BLACK woman, was killed by police by being shot EIGHT times in her home. A further point to add is that all of these murders have taken place in the middle of a global pandemic. For me it is clear that the biggest deadliest virus here is racism. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

As a result of these murders, people have started to protest against racism in America as well as the UK. I don’t condone violence of any kind when innocent people are being hurt. However, Colin Kaepernick, the ex NFL player knelt peacefully in protest to the racism black people face in the US daily and there was a public uproar. It even resulted with him losing his job. Now, people are taking a different approach via the rioting and protests which is happening in the US and UK. However, yet again people are complaining, this time focussing on the destruction caused by the rioting and looting rather than what got people to that place in the first place. To make it worse, I am seeing numerous counter arguments to the statement ‘Black Lives Matter’ with another statement “All Lives Matter”. I just want to point out ONLY racists have an issue with the first statement. Black Lives Matter is a statement to argue that our lives matter TOO, it does not mean ‘instead of’. People that do not understand this are part of the problem. PRO BLACK DOES NOT MEAN ANTI-WHITE.

I live in London and I have grown up with numerous stories about death caused by racism whether it is by people or via police. Cases like Stephen Lawrence, Damilola Taylor, Mark Duggan are just a crumb of the numerous racist fuelled deaths in this country. I read an article that Black people in the UK are “40 times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched by the police“. This is despite the fact white people outnumber black people in the UK. As a Black 26 year old woman living in the UK, I too have experienced racism in my lifetime. Some of this racism has been subtle, either by looks or flippant statements or even by lack of acknowledgement of myself. However, some has been blatant and loud. 95% of my black male friends have been racially profiled and stopped and searched at least once by police in the UK. None has been because they have committed a crime but simply because of how they look. The majority of my black female friends are working in organisations where they are the “only black person” in the room. UK racism is not as subtle as people like to believe, some of it is as clear as the sky is blue. The Wind Rush Scandal, Grenfell Tower fire, stop and search and even when it comes to medical issues, it is very evident. I don’t know what it will take for a change to come, I don’t whether there will ever be a day I am not reminded of the fact most of the world is against my people or that I will always have to work extra hard to even be seen on the same level as white people. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

It is tiresome having to constantly wait for tragedies to occur for us to scream that our lives matter too. It is tiresome having to constantly worry about our brothers and sisters knowing the system was not made for them.

It is tiresome having to bite our tongues knowing that we cannot react to EVERY racist incident without falling into the “angry stereotype”.

Being black in this society is having a good day because you hear that there was “The first black person” somewhere that has achieved greatness and then turning on the news and hearing an unarmed, innocent black person was murdered in cold blood for simply being black.

Being black is worrying about what racism is going to be like in the country you want to visit on holiday.

Being Black is assuming you will most likely in most corporate places, be the only black person in the room.

Being a black woman is having the burden of having to constantly worry about our black brothers, sons, boyfriends, husbands or even friends knowing that at any moment they can be targeted for the colour of their skin.

Being a black woman is having the burden of making sure at work you are “approachable”, “not too loud”, or “not too intimidating”.

Being a Black Woman is knowing that in some instances you have to avoid reacting so you are not portrayed as the “angry black woman”.

Being a Black Woman is knowing your hairstyle has to be “professional” when going for job interviews, adhering to the “caucasian look”

One thing I will say, it is down to white people to contribute and join us on this fight to equality. Ultimately, it will have to be white people that eradicate racism as they are the ones in a position of power. The more white people and non black people speak up against the injustice and racism, the closer we all are to finally fighting this. I don’t know if there will ever be a day when Black people would not have to worry about the things we currently do but I pray that day comes. We are exhausted of constantly being hunted, targeted and mistreated and I really hope and can only pray that one day a change will come. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

Some people have previously asked me “Why is this blog called Music & Life? What does it mean?“. On my very first post on this blog I stated that music IS life. There is a song that relates to every possible human experience and life itself. For me music is supposed to be a comfort, whether it’s to energise you, empathise with you, educate you or even disagree with you.

I have made a playlist with some songs that help reflect in detail what I have and most black people have been screaming. The songs help bring awareness to the racial injustice we feel on a daily basis. Here are just a few of the songs featured, full playlist is included below for you all to follow and play:

Childish Gambino – This Is America (2019): This is possibly one of the biggest examples and insights into Black America as of recent. The juxtaposition of the happy tone with the dark and deep context surrounding this song is a great ploy to get people to take in the subject at hand.

Common Ft. John Legend – Glory (2014) – This song was from the ‘Selma’ soundtrack and it feels like a fantasy of what the world could be like when or if we are ever seen as equals.

Freedom is like religion to us, justice is juxtaposition in us. Sins that go against our skin become blessings”

In a sad twist of irony, sometimes our suffering is used for the greater good or have been catalysts for change.

Bashy – Black Boys (2009) – UK rapper Bashy is possibly loved by so many men due to the impact of this song. In the intro Bashy says ; “This is out to all the black boys growing up, yeah. There’s bare positive black boys around you making movements…making movements toward success“. This song is an ode specifically to Black Boys all around. In a world where they are the minority and sometimes persecuted due to their colour, this song lets them know they are not alone. The song touches on the successful Black Men in media and in life that are doing and where doing well. All those men could be considered role models to young black boys listening. This song is still relevant today in a society where Black boys are being killed in every part of the world, some black boys may be feeling de motivated or alone but they must remember “Ooh child, things are gonna get easier…Ooh child things will get brighter”.

No we ain’t hooligans, just young and talented nubians with potential and promise”

Ty Dolla $ign Ft. Big TC – No Justice (2016) – This is one of my favourite Ty songs. The opening lines “Seem like shit is getting worse before it’s getting better” can be applied to the current climate.

Kenneth Whalum Ft. Big K.R.I.T – Might Not Be OK (2016) – WOW. One of the most powerful songs on this list. There is absolutely no way you can listen to this song and not hear the pain being spoken about in this song. It would be an injustice to point out a specific line in this song because you really need to hear the whole song to take it all in.

The Game Ft. Rick Ross, Fabolous, Diddy, 2 Chainz, Wale, DJ Khaled, Swizz Beatz, Yo Gotti, Problem & more – Don’t Shoot– Following the murder of Michael Brown, the Game brought together 10 14 other artists for this song. The song focusses on the constant injustice of how black people keep getting killed repeatedly for no reason other than their race. The song also focusses on the lack of trust between the black community and the police. The songs’ chorus is sung by The Game’s daughter.

Throwing up our hands don’t let them shoot us…’Cause we all we got, we all we got. God ain’t put us on the Earth to get murdered, it’s murder”

YG – Police Get Away with Murder (2016) – Self explanatory. Facts too. This song was YG’s response to the numerous cases where police literally got away with murdering black people with no consequences.

Gotta watch how I walk and wear my outfit…White tan brown black, white tan brown black…Black males in a hoodie that’s a target to them”

Powerful.

Jay Z- 99 Problems (2003) – One of Hov’s most popular songs. The second verse is a prime example of racial profiling. Jay Z narrates the scene perfectly demonstrating an insight into the lives of black men in America.

Half a mill for bail cos I’m African”

Demonstrating the way black people are treated. Bail is usually set extremely high knowing majority of the time, will not be able to be paid.

Joyner Lucas – I’m Not Racist (2017) – This song is perfect for those that do not believe race is an issue in America or even the world. It focusses on the disconnect between Black people and White people. Joyner raps from both perspectives in order to emphasise the point at hand. The video is incredible and I love the fact he creatively explains the main issue regarding racism.

Below is the Playlist:

Posted in music

Why I think Stormzy headlining Glastonbury is a huge step forward for Black culture in the UK…

It’s crazy to think that in 2019, we are still saying “first black” but any progress is appreciated.

On the 15th of November 2018, it was announced that Stormzy would be headlining Glastonbury 2019. Glastonbury, being the largest greenfield festival in the WORLD attended by around 175,000 people meant that this was a huge deal. Fast forward to Friday 28th of June 2019 when Stormzy takes to the stage. Stormzy is the first Black British solo artist to headline Glastonbury in its 48 year reign. If that wasn’t enough of a record to break he is also at 25 years old, the second youngest solo act to ever headline Glastonbury, the youngest being a 24-year-old David Bowie in 1971. However, Stormzy is used to being the record breaker throughout his career. He was the first grime MC to have a debut album go number 1 in the UK charts and has since had 5 UK top 10s. At a time where a lot of genres of music including rap or grime are blamed for the violence in London, I am glad the Glastonbury organisers gave Stormzy the opportunity to shine.

His stardom may seem random and quick to some but he has definitely been putting in the work from very early on. As a big fan of Stormzy, I have watched him grow from the beginning when he was releasing his videos and unique freestyles on his YouTube channel, which has just recently surpassed 1 million subscribers! . On top of his music, Stormzy is a voice for the youth in regards to saying and speaking on things that are happening in our society. During the Grenfell Fire, he was one of the key people rightly criticizing the government’s approach to the disaster. Stormzy is never afraid to get political in his music or performances and that is something to be admired.

In addition, he has collaborated with Penguin and started a Publishing company called #Merky Books. #Merky Books publishes around two to three books a year and is an outlet for a generation of voices. He holds initiatives for young writers to win competitions and a paid internship. Most recently, they have released “Taking Up Space…The Black Girl’s manifesto for Change” written by Black Cambridge graduates Chelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi. Stormzy mentions in his latest song ‘Crown’; “I done a scholarship for the kids, they said it’s racist, that’s not anti-white, it’s pro-black”. Stormzy is unapologetically black and is always finding a way to uplift and support his people despite the constant criticism. Stormzy also paved the way for a lot of Black British artists to see how possible it was to chart or to have commercial backing without having to feel the need to dilute themselves.

Knowing all this about Stormzy and having had the privilege of seeing him perform live at his sold out show in the past, I knew this Glastonbury performance was not going to disappoint and I wasn’t wrong. Filled with the most energy I have ever seen him have, his set consisted of his classic songs, a huge choir and backing singers, a very cute little girl with the sass to light up the world, dancers, bikers and so much more. One of my favourite parts of the performance was when Raleigh Ritchie came out and Stormzy had a little piece dedicated to the fact in the ballet world, black people no longer have to stain their shoes to have them in their skin colour as there are now shoes made for our skin colours.

We can’t forget the amazing duet with Chris Martin where they sang ‘Blinded By Your Grace Pt.1’ on the piano. Surely that iconic moment will go down in history. Stormzy always pays homage to those before him through his songs and this time was no different. He brought out two of the hottest young rappers in the UK at the moment, Fredo and Dave, who then performed their hit number 1 song “Funky Friday”. Stormzy later on gave a shout out to all the UK rappers before him and coming up after him. I think the key to the success of Stormzy besides his hard work is the fact he always remembers those before him and those after him. Despite his huge success and despite his co signs from living legends like Jay Z or Ed Sheeran, he never lets that overwhelm him.

Stormzy demonstrates to young black people that you can be yourself and still have people respect you. His confidence is a major lesson that we no longer have to keep quiet and hide away our talent in order to “fit in” or “not stand out”. It is great to see young Black kids growing up with artists like Stormzy doing so well in order to show them anything is possible. We should be at the stage in society where your skin colour should not be holding you back. His message has always been the same and he always gives glory to God. How on earth can you dislike someone like him? To me and to so many others, Stormzy is the chosen one. We are forever thankful that someone like him is representing the young black people. May his success forever reign and we will forever thank him for kicking down the doors for the ones after him.

Posted in music

Videos to Watch… MoStack & Dave…UK’s Finest.

Hi everyone, I know I usually talk about songs and lyrics but this post is dedicated to two important videos that have recently been released.

MoStack – Daily Duppy

The first video is a Daily Duppy from from UK rapper MoStack. He’s possibly one of the UK’s best rappers at the moment and this freestyle showcases his versatility. He raps about his lifestyle “see my eye bags, I carry nuff baggage” demonstrating his use of clever puns which is shown throughout the whole freestyle. The beat/instrumental used in this freestyle is great too and MoStack rides the beat like a pro. Some of my favourite bars are; “We don’t speak but your secrets won’t leave my mouth” and “How dare you think a weapon’s more stronger than prayer, I’m more than blessed, I’m more than flex”, MoStack is so talented with his words. This is definitely one of my favourite freestyles from a rapper and I love the rawness and the mention of his love for fellow UK rapper J Hus. I like freestyles when an artist spills out their true emotions and this is exactly what MoStack did. I look forward to more music from him coming in the near future.

PS: Free J Hus!!

Dave – Black

Before I start this I just want to remind everyone about Martin Luther King’s famous speech; “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character”. This dream is seeming less and less likely as the days go on.

UK rapper Dave is infamous for his thought provoking music and incredible videos. This song and video is no different. This song is the first from his upcoming debut album ‘Psychodrama’ produced by the legend that is Fraser T Smith. Dave uses this track to discuss social and racial inequality and how it is to be a Black man in a white man’s world. As a fellow Nigerian, I love the accompanying video as it was filmed in my country and shows the beauty of it. As a Black woman, I love the issues raised, I feel this a song I would love my younger cousins to hear and to digest. I relate to so many things mentioned in this song as i’m sure many other people do. Statements like “Cause you need to do double what they do so you can level them” are things my mum told me from a young age and advice I know many other young black people have been taught. So many statements in this song are powerful; “A kid dies, the blacker the killer, the sweeter the news and if he’s white you give him a chance, he’s ill and confused” reminding me pretty much of the term “Black on Black” crime. We never say “white on white crime” so why is it a specific issue when black people are concerned? I love the awareness Dave brings to these issues and it’s so sad to see the constant battle many of us have to face just because of the colour of our skin. Another point to add is that Dave features many fellow Black celebrities in the video to showcase the positive role models we have. Dave ends by saying “Black is all I know, there ain’t a thing that I would change in it” which is my sentiments exactly. Have a watch below;