Written by Jack Andrew Cribb
As June 8th approaches seemingly faster and faster, political parties are going to lengths to engage with the large pool of untapped voters this country has, that is, people aged 18-24. In the EU referendum, around 36% of 18-24’s voted, yet each age group from 35 and above ranged from 72% to 83%.
What does seem apparent in the run up to the June 8th elections is the growing attitude of young people who do want to vote, and they are spreading the words ‘Register to vote’ more and more passionately.
One interesting and unexpected consequence of this surge in youth interest has been the appearance of the Grime scene in mainstream social media news threads – in particular the meeting of Labour Leader Jeremy Corby and Grime MC Jme last Sunday. Corbyn’s Snapchat followers were greeted with a message from the rapper, saying “It’s JME on Jeremy’s Snapchat and I’m here right now to tell you to register to vote!”
Those who are fans of Grime will not see this as a surprise effort on the rappers part, or as a shock addition to the Grime scene in general. While being critical of the establishment, the grime scene has never seemed to get behind one particular political movement or party in particular until now, where more and more artists are supporting the Labour party and Jeremy Corbyn.
In April 2016, South London’s Novelist, tweeted a screengrab of a text that confirmed his membership in the Labour party. For some it was the first acknowledgement that a scene with its roots in garage and underground scenes was allowed, or even supposed, to use its weight to back a political party. This was around the time Corbyn was under pressure to resign over his seemingly lackadaisical approach to the Brexit campaign, where he was accused of not doing enough to halt it’s progression. Interestingly enough, even though Labour showed themselves as strongly remain, Corbyn himself is a known Eurosceptic, having backed a proposed referendum on British withdrawal from the EU in 2011.
Stormzy has also declared his love for the Labour leader, in an interview with the Guardian declaring Corbyn to be “My man, Jeremy!”. AJ Tracey has previously expressed his support, and the well-known political voice and activist Akala wrote a Facebook post explaining that because of Corbyn, this would be the first time he would be voting. Grime-based pro-Corbyn posters have popped up around London, and tracks, such as Corbyn Riddim, produced by DA have been released, which is an absolutely flaming grime instrumental, set to one of Corbyn’s speeches, which you can listen to here.
Corbyn even ended up, albeit momentarily, as a member of Boy Better Know on their Wikipedia page, which although done for comedic effect, does show the underlying feelings behind many of grime’s artists in their support of the Labour Leader.
The initial poignant thing about the JME/JEREMY interview that happened on Sunday is that JME admits he has never voted before, showing the stark disillusionment the grime/bme/youth communities have with mainstream politics. JME states in conversation “I’ve never voted before, ever, ever” after Corbyn addresses the issue of youth’s voter registration history, and it’s appalling turnouts. “I’ve grown up like, making the best out of what I’ve got. And being optimistic of what I’ve got.
“We feel, when I say ‘we’, I’m talking for anyone… hopefully people like me that have never voted. We feel like no matter what happens, they’re going to have to make the best out of that situation. So sometimes we feel like ‘You don’t need to vote.’ It doesn’t matter… no one has our best interests at heart anyway.”
“Whereas now, we seem to be seeing someone that we can actually trust… someone that’s human.”
JME touched on an important point that has affected young voters in the past few years of political discourse, that their vote, regardless of whether they cast it or not, will not make a difference. At the end of the video, and after quite an evocative set of journalistic skills on the part of JME, the rapper states “I wanted to find out what change does he hope, somebody like me will see. And he definitely said health service, education, things that are important.”
“The main, main thing is the make sure people will remember to register to vote. That’s the most important thing.”
“This is real, and there is a chance to make a change now, which is sick, if you don’t mind me saying. So yeah, do your research, know why you’re voting for who you’re voting for, and then you can go and vote.”
The main lesson we take from this meeting of worlds is the one Jeremy touches upon and JME ends on, REGISTER TO VOTE. You can click here to do that, it only takes five minutes.
You can check out the full video here.
Check out the hashtag #grime4corbyn to keep up to date on Twitter.