In May ‘18 it is exactly a half century ago that turbulent student revolts took place in Paris and spread throughout Europe. To mark the occasion, the city of Brussels has designated 2018 as ‘Year of the Contestation’ and asked all cultural players to offer an answer to the question: "What remains of the social, political and cultural revolution 50 years after May ‘68? Which forms of contestation are we familiar with today?"
AB responds and commits to protest music. The current social and political climate is unfortunately an ‘ideal’ source of inspiration. Noteworthy: "It’s remarkable that—in a year hijacked by Trump’s reckless, witless Twitter belches—artists didn’t dive to meet his level" – Pitchfork. And also: "Most of the year's socially conscious music has been far more personal than political" - Consequence Of Sound.
AB delves into the The Sound Of Protest and lets the voices of Turkish social protest songs, London’s grime, the call for (musical) borderlessness, the Black Lives Matter movement and working class heroes fully resound.
Even though grime – just call it: the raw London underground variant of rap – already popped up around the turn of the century, the genre would seem to be just verging on a European breakthrough over the past two years. Flagbearer Skepta actually landed the prestigious Mercury Prize Award in ’16 and Stormzy’s debut ‘Gangs Signs & Prayer’ was the first grime album to reach #1 in the British charts. The Guardian just recently described grime as ‘The Sound of Protest’ and ‘The Most Vital Political Music Around’. Skepta says this of himself: "I’m not a rapper. I’m an activist" and Stormzy openly supports Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Their tweets at David Cameron about Syrian air strikes were fodder for political debate. So, its time for a real grime mini-festival!
Enter AJ Tracey, the 23-year-old West-London rapper who was tipped by Britain’s Independent as ‘One to watch’ in 2016 and already managed to meet those expectations a year later with an international tour. He combines his forthright beats with keen humor & London street talk and takes a clearly socially critical standpoint. He openly sided with the Jeremy Corbyn campaign: “The Labour Party strongly support the youth in following their dreams and giving people a chance. In my opinion we need a Labour government to give young people a hope, a chance for their future and I genuinely believe that Corbyn is the man to do it.”
The BBC Sound of 2017 nominee Nadia Rose, also Stormzy’s cousin, raised eyebrows with her debut ‘Highly Flammable’. She is at the heart of a new wave of female MCs and stands out in the grime scene with her authentic own sound. The Fader described her as ‘The sharp-tongued joker who can’t be stopped’.
The much talked-of Novelist, also referred to as ‘the new face of grime’, announced the arrival of his debut album via twitter. The MC will release ‘Novelist Guy’ on April 13 and has already released the single ‘Nov Wait Stop Wait’ upon the world as a foretaste. ‘I spent most of the last few years creating these beats, learning how to mix how I like and pouring my heart out, somehow still managing to rhyme with depth and meaning’, the London rapper added to his tweet. Meaningful, poetic and politically tinted rhymes are nothing new for Novelist. His tracks have always been very personal and socially critical. Just like AJ Tracey, he openly supported the campaign of the Labour Party’s Jeremy Corbyn.
British-Nigerian Flohio spits raw, heavy and poetic rhymes. She made her formidable entrance with the single ‘SE16’, produced by London duo God Colony and for which the video clip was directed by the eccentric GAIKA. She is currently working on her debut album.
GRIME NIGHT: AJ TRACEY + NADIA ROSE + NOVELIST + FLOHIO – SUN 13.05.18 – AB Box – BUY TICKETS