Rap Rundown: #LondonIsOpen
In this week’s Rap Rundown we’ve got news of the Met dropping Form 696, Asher D announcing the new series of Top Boy, and the remix of E. Mak’s ‘Yo’...
Firstly, it would be impossible to talk about last week’s UK rap and grime news without mentioning the Metropolitan Police’s decision to abolish Form 696. If you’re unfamiliar with Form 696, it’s a risk assessment procedure implemented in 2005 to improve safety standards at live music events in London. As part of this procedure, promoters and licensees were asked to complete a form when arranging events ‘predominantly featuring DJs and MCs performing to a recorded backing track’. As you can imagine, considering the specific type of live events they seemed to be targeting in the risk assessment, the Met were consequently accused of racially profiling urban music nights and in 2009, two questions that asked about the ethnic makeup of the show’s attendees and the genre of music being performed were removed. In 2014 BBK’s JME called the form an ‘attack on people’s civil liberties’ and said it was ‘blatant discrimination’ after one of his performances was canceled at short notice. Also, after being dropped from multiple line-ups as what he claimed was a direct result of information being passed on by Form 696, P Money - one of the grime scene’s veteran performers – spoke out against the legislation. He explained on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in March how it was a ‘race thing’ and asked "Why is it different? There's fights everywhere, there's situations everywhere at all types of shows, all types of things, whether its punk, rock, hip-hop, pop, whatever".
In September, after speaking with DJs, musicians and venue owners, who were among the critics accusing the system of unfairly stigmatising genres like hip-hop, grime and drum and bass, London Mayor Sadiq Khan called for a review of the use of the form. In response, the Met claimed that the form had prevented serious incidents, adding "However, we also recognise recent concerns raised by members of the London music industry, particularly around a perception that events associated with some genres of music were disproportionately affected by this process".
On November 10 (last Friday), after a collaborative campaign between the Mayor, Night Czar Amy Lamé, representatives from London’s grassroots music industry and the Met Police, it was announced that Form 696 would be dropped and a ‘voluntary partnership approach’ would be introduced. Khan tweeted ‘JUST ANNOUNCED: Form 696 has been scrapped. This decision will help London’s night-time economy thrive & shows #LondonIsOpen to music artists & DJs’.
In my opinion, although I do feel, to an extent, that this is a lot to do with the fact that people are starting to realise that grime and UK rap can contribute to the city’s economy, I do believe that this is a huge deal for the scene and British music of black origin in general. The scrapping of a legislation which has been described as racist will allow UK rap and grime talent to flourish and break through the metaphorical glass ceiling which has been preventing them from progressing. This is an historic event and another acknowledgment of the legitimacy of UK rap and grime and, in the words of Sneakbo, ‘I like man like Sadiq’.
Last week also saw the announcement of Top Boy’s third series, starring Asher D and Kano. The first two series’, aired on Channel 4, were met with critical acclaim and won a BAFTA for Best Original Television Music. But, what eventually secured the third series wasn’t the approval from the British Acadamy of Film and Television, it was the co-sign from the grime scene’s adopted uncle, Drake.
After Drake had quoted the series on various social media platforms and subsequently engaged in conversation with Asher D (AKA Ashley Walters), rumours started to circulate. Then, in early 2017, after the Toronto rapper had given Top Boy a shout out on his 2015 track ‘Know Yourself’ it was revealed that he had bought the rights to the show. Consequently, after his talks with the creators and Netflix (where the first two seasons are available), Drake is set to revive the show which will be aired via the streaming service in early 2019. Netflix’s vice president of original content, Cindy Holland, said ‘Drake came to us several months ago with a passion to help bring this series back to life, and we’re thrilled to support the original creative team to do just that’.
On Wednesday Asher D announced the news on Instagram, writing "So after years of speculation and anticipation I can finally reveal that we have managed to secure a brand new home for the new season of TOPBOY! In all honesty I'm more happy for you guys than myself. You have been waiting for a while! It is going to be epic!!! "We're going back to Summerhouse. @TopBoyNetflix 2019".
I personally can’t wait to see what they have in store and I’m also keen to see if and where Drake will slot into the show as an actor. If you haven’t seen either of the first two series’ of Top Boy, check out the trailer below.
As well as historical announcements and the garage and grime scene continuing its synergetic progression into TV, last week also welcomed the release of some big new tunes. One of the highlights for me being E. Mak’s ‘Yo’ remix, featuring Big Zeeks, Stylo G, Frisco and TE_dness.
A lot of the time, I feel, when a UK tune does well, it’s common practice to then remix it and throw together a line-up of features who could potentially draw in new audiences. This doesn’t always work. I could provide a few examples, but there’s no need - I would rather talk about how E. Mak did it perfectly on the remix of his latest rap anthem.
Each verse on the track compliments the last and every artist feeds off the dynamism of their forerunner, and by the time you get to TE dness’s appearance towards the end, the track reaches its energetic climax. This energy is then visually demonstrated in the video which I suggest you check out below.
Words: Patrick Fennelly
Online Edit: Zardine Collins