#Grime4Corbyn: UK grime scene gets political

JME is one of many UK grime artists to have spoken out in support of Jeremy Corbyn.

Story highlights

  • JME, Stormzy and Akala are all supporting Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the UK's upcoming election
  • The hashtag #grime4corbyn is catching on among grime fans
  • "We seem to be seeing someone that we can actually trust, someone that's human," said JME

(CNN)Grime music is getting political in the UK.

Superstars of the grime scene such as JME, Stormzy and Akala as well as young MCs Novelist, Big Zuu and AJ Tracey have all tweeted, instagrammed or snapped their support for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, in the run-up to the UK's general election
Corbyn, a left-wing politician who has been a Labour MP in London since 1983, was elected leader of the party in 2015.
Many Labour MPs have been critical of his leadership, his socialist policies and his pacifist stance. But grime artists are now speaking out in support of the politician, and urging their fans to vote for his party on June 8.
"For the first time in my adult life there is a chance to elect someone I would consider a sane and decent human," wrote rapper and poet Akala on Twitter soon after the snap election was announced in April.
"He has constantly voted/spoken against UK foreign aggression," he wrote. "This alone makes him the most electable politician we have ever had," he added, also praising Corbyn's anti-austerity, pro-National Health Service stance.
There's now a hashtag -- #Grime4Corbyn -- and a website that encourages users to register to vote before the May 22 deadline.
Jeremy Corbyn addresses the crowd at a campaign rally on May 16, 2017 in Huddersfield, England.
The website also links to a grime track, the lyrics for which are taken from a speech given by Corbyn in September 2016 after he won a second Labour leadership election.
"If like me, you believe that it's a scandal that here in Britain, the sixth largest economy in the world," the track starts, "four million children are in poverty, six million workers are paid less than the living wage; and if like me, you believe we can do things far better, then help us build support for a genuine alternative that would invest in our future.
"A more prosperous future, in which the wealth we all create is shared more equally."
Earlier this week, JME, co-founder of grime collective and record label Boy Better Know (BBK), revealed via Snapchat that he and Corbyn had met and spoken about politics and the need for young people to vote in the election.
"I've never voted before. Ever!" said JME. Lots of young people think that "no one has our best interests at heart," he said.
"Now, we seem to be seeing someone that we can actually trust, someone that's human."
Lee Barron, lecturer at the University of Northumbria, thinks the explosion of support for Corbyn among grime artists and fans makes a lot of sense.
"Grime is very much about urban experience," he told CNN. "It emerged from economically marginalized areas where there are lots of working-class voters. It's logical that this kind of street music would be more aligned with a Labour attitude, and particularly with Corbyn's impassioned principles."
But while grime music has always been political, Barron explains, until now this has largely taken the form of general criticism of politics.
The support for "a very specific figure is something which is new," Barron says.
Michael Kyriacou, 25, a grime fan and PhD student in political theory, agrees.
"When it comes to the articulation of politics and grime, the lyric that is often parroted is Skepta Shutdown's 'We don't listen to no politician. Everybody on the same mission. We don't care about your -isms and schisms.' I think with the Grime4Corbyn movement we are seeing this being overturned," he says.
"By being reached out to by major artists like JME and Stormzy he's managing to cultivate a clear appeal. This is due to Corbyn being seen as someone with integrity and conviction as well as offering policies which seek to ameliorate the conditions imposed by Conservative austerity.
"It's the convergence of personality and policy in Corbyn that enables him to make political headway in areas previously off limits to mainstream politics."
And the hashtag is clearly catching on. Twitter user Craig tweeted on May 16, "Jeremy Corbyn went from a lad who I didn't care about to my favorite politician in the space of a week #grime4corbyn is an excellent idea."
Agatka, 34, from London, has also used the hashtag. "I love that grime artists are getting more political," she told CNN. "I only wish it started louder and earlier. Many of the struggles so many grime artists rap about are a direct result of choices our MPs made."
And it's Conservative MPs that she blames the most. "The policies of the Tories punish the most vulnerable and breed inequality," she said.
But is there a danger that fans could be turned off by the politics that now dominates some of their idols' Twitter and Instagram feeds?
Barron doesn't think so. "There is a wider cynicism about politicized celebrities," he said. "In the 1990s, we saw pop artists allied with particular politicians, for example.
"But grime is much more spontaneous than that and much more authentic ... It's about life as it's lived. And with Corbyn, they see someone who relates to that. It's a return to a more classic Labour position."