Music

OPINION: The London Riots. Who’s Throne Is It Now?

by Winston "Stone" Ford

Right now it seems we are caught in the midst of a massive sea change, most glaringly evident in our Transatlantic home-away-from-home… time and space clash radically across the pond’s many currents… on one hand we have a tale of two cities upon a hill: London on behalf of Mother England, and DC on behalf of Lady Liberty. On the other we have a tale of two soundtracks, the ambitious Watch the Throne versus The Adventures of Slick Rick. As Jay-Z and Kanye tout the impact and rap/hip-hop’s monarchical status of late – literally now - it would seem as if the future looks back to its golden age. As our generation’s defiance was defined by a one Bill Clinton’s existential debate over “what the definition of ‘is’ ‘is'” – young subjective somethings mulling monotone over the “whys” of contemporary ills, micromanaging small fires, hyperfocusing on the nuanced semantics, preserving their fame, sealing their shame, and talking themselves out of a hole they inevitably talked themselves into needlessly… Essentially, just as Slick Willy’s surgically precise wordsmithing paved the way for triumph through hazy abstractions, it seems now as we spearhead our generational voyage towards an age of post-post-modernism, so we shift focus to our literal forefathering England – five hours, and seemingly lifetimes – ahead for ear-to-the-concrete countercultural guidance…

While we sit here watching the throne… leaving our nation in Paris…sitting back, shutting up, relaxing, and enjoying” others’ seemingly unsubstantiated victorious beauty in the face of the more-gutter-than-gilded atrocity that is our own modern America; in merry old England they have chosen to go pre-post-modern – not to be confused with modern – back to the snake pit that brought us to this place, back to the Eighties,lead by the beat and brigade of a one Slick Rick. And as we gazed upon the blazes of Britain in turmoil, we couldn’t help but see the early chapters of this new culture’s very own children’s story.¬†Yeezy and Hov agree it’s a new day, but while they would have you sit back and watch the throne bask in the glory of a new sun, ¬†masked lads and ladies relive Rick the Ruler’s reign, and sieze the opportunity to grab adventures by the gold tooth and nail while they can.

That paradoxical digitally divided global village is crumbling, and in its wake there is an undoubted connection within the chaos.

You can watch the system subjugate you–leave you stranded on the split screen–or you can tap out of Mac, break through the Windows, and – as Britney so eloquently said – do something:

I’ve seen Turkish boys, I’ve seen Asian boys, I’ve seen grown white men,” he said. “They’re all out there taking part.” He recognised an element of opportunism in the mass looting but said an underlying cause was that many young people felt “trapped in the system”. “They’re disconnected from the community and they just don’t care,” he said. In some senses the rioting has been unifying a cross-section of deprived young men who identify with each other, he added.

That paradoxical digitally divided global village is crumbling, and in its wake there is an undoubted connection within the chaos.

Here: we watch the throne drift further and further away. While it remains forever present in our shrinking homes, while it remains forever factored into our shrinking wallets, while the media enhances the detachment factor that “you cannot, nor will ever be that which is prominently displayed to you”, over there, they find an attachment within the mediated ambiguity… I’m a nobody, he’s a masked anybody, put those together and we’ve got an everybody of somebodys… “Now they can go wherever they want. They’re recognising themselves from the people they see on the TV [rioting]. This is bringing them together.”

Yes, it is partially misguided – and at some point every David becomes a Goliath… it seems no matter how humble the beginnings, somehow modern revolutionaries lose sight of the cause in light of the crown…

A middle-aged African-Caribbean man explained that some young people were targeting Asian and Afghan shops, the result of petty local disagreements. And there’s no denying that a small minority are simply out to hurt people. A Chinese student, the same man said, had been set upon by a gang and beaten quite badly, simply for taking a picture.

… but for now… at least there’s a sense of something…

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Here we go,
Once upon a time not long ago,
when people wore pajamas and lived life slow,
When laws were stern and justice stood,
and people were behavin’ like they ought ta good,
There lived a lil’ boy who was misled,
by anotha lil’ boy and this is what he said:
“Me, Ya, Ty, we gonna make sum cash,
robbin’ old folks and makin’ tha dash”,
They did the job, money came with ease,
but one couldn’t stop, it’s like he had a disease,

Hov can grant the middle finger to his old life, for the rest of those whose old is new… there’s always the trigger finger for a one-way ticket to that Dynasty Blue… greed – much like fame: #kills

He robbed another and another and a sista and her brotha,
tried to rob a man who was a D.T. undercover,
The cop grabbed his arm, he started acting erratic,
he said “Keep still, boy, no need for static”,
Punched him in his belly and he gave him a slap,
but little did he know the lil’ boy was strapped,
The kid pulled out a gun, he said “Why did ya hit me?”,
the barrel was set straight for the cop’s kidney,
The cop got scared, the kid, he starts to figure,
“I’ll do years if I pull this trigga”,

Knocked an old man down and swore he killed him,
then he made his move to an abandoned building,
Ran up the stairs up to the top floor,
opened up the door there, guess who he saw?,
Dave the dope fiend shootin’ dope,
who don’t know the meaning of water nor soap,
He said “I need bullets, hurry up, run!”
the dope fiend brought back a spanking shotgun,

When in doubt, times of economic drought, don’t worry about new-new (or revenue) – race to the bottom and have the underclass do it for you… because no matter how bad the situation, there’s always someone worse – and they have less to lose than you – it’s a win-win!

He went outside but there was cops all over,
then he dipped into a car, a stolen Nova [?],
Raced up the block doing 83,
crashed into a tree near university,
Escaped alive though the car was battered,
rat-a-tat-tatted and all the cops scattered,
Ran out of bullets and still had static,
grabbed a pregnant lady and out the automatic,
Pointed at her head and he said the gun was full o’ lead,
he told the cops “Back off or honey here’s dead”,
Deep in his heart he knew he was wrong,
so he let the lady go and he starts to run on,

Ridin’ dirty tryna get filthy: Pablo Picassos, Rothkos, Rilkes – graduated to the MoMA, and I did all of this without a diploma the Eighties-produced throne ghost rode the stars, crashed the academy, and with their back against the wall grabbed the first hostage they could find… needless to say, as always, it was she who could bear life again, erase that which produced this ill merely by creating something new – yes, hard as it may seem, something outside of revenue: humanity.

“When another group finished ransacking a pawnbroker’s and started cleaning out a local fashion boutique, an angry young black woman berated one of them. ‘You’re taking the piss, man. That woman hand-stitches everything, she’s built that shop up from nothing. It’s like stealing from your mum.'”

Sirens sounded, he seemed astounded,
before long the lil’ boy got surrounded,
He dropped the gun, so went the glory,
and this is the way I must end this story,
He was only seventeen, in a madman’s dream,
the cops shot the kid, I still hear him scream,
This ain’t funny so don’t ya dare laugh,
just another case ’bout the wrong path,
Straight ‘n narrow or yo’ soul gets cast.

Good Night

Early ramblings and riffings… a few one-offs about the pseudo-authority granted in the ability to watch a throne versus the active – though a bit askewed – authority in making those adventures your own…

Are we on the brink of something bigger; are we on the crest of the cyber-disconnect; if hip-hop is the reigning social soundtrack – is Slick Rick the ruler… when Slick Willy charmed his way from the snake pit to a place of subjective prominence, did that leave our own young deviance stalemated in the cerebral scape… is eRioting, @truancy, taking a cyber-stand – on Facebook #ohilikethat – on the decline? Is this the catalyst for the baby cake-eater? … I guess it depends on what your definition of “is” is.