Institutionalised racism and prejudice is “stifling” grime, say MPs

Despite the scrapping of Form 696, the genre is still under threat, according to rappers and MPs...

19.03.19

Words by: Felicity Martin

A new report by MPs into the UK’s live music scene finds that grime and rap are facing significant challenges because of discrimination and prejudice.

The report by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee, made up of eleven Conservative, Labour and SNP MPs, wrote that ‘prejudices against grime artists risks stifling one of the UK’s most exciting musical exports’.

They noted that, despite the scrapping of Form 696 in 2017, licensing authorities and police have been known to cancel gigs at short notice, affecting artists’ abilities to attain a following.

Rapper ShaoDow was invited by the committee to describe the challenges he had faced in trying to put on shows in London.

“I had a venue cancel on me on the day that I was meant to go there,” he said. “I was booked for a performance in a club and called them ahead of time to say, ‘I am on my way’, and they said, ‘Oh, by the way, we were just listening to your music. You make hip-hop’.

“I said, ‘Yes’, and he said, ‘Oh, we cannot do that here, we will lose our licence’.”

1Xtra’s DJ Target said the police and local authorities were still applying pressure on smaller venues: “It could be a venue that has been pressured to cancel the event by the police… The small venue that is already struggling cannot afford to risk it so then they end up saying, ‘OK. We do not do those types of nights any more.’”

Another witness told MPs that “institutionalised racism” among local councils and licensees “is hindering that scene rather than allowing it to flourish”.

UK drill rappers Skengo x AM were recently handed suspended prison sentences for breaching an injunction by performing their own music.

Read the full report.