The British grime scene has recently been thrown into politics, and it was by no means an accident. For the past year, scores of grime artists and MCs from across the UK have been pledging their support to Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Apart from being a fantastic PR stunt, the #Grime4Corbyn movement is crucial to revitalizing the youth vote in the upcoming general election. After 453,000 young people signed up to vote after a push from the Labour party, could #Grime4Corbyn be the party's secret weapon to electoral success?
Grime artists such as Novelist, Stormzy and more recently, JME have all come out in support of Jeremy Corbyn as the 2017 general election campaign got underway. In an interview with the Guardian, world famous grime MC stormzy referred to the Labour leader as "My man, Jeremy!". And as the Conservatives called a snap general election in the hope of crushing Labour, #Grime4Corbyn began gathering momentum. AJ Tracey tweeted support for Corbyn and JME got together with the Labour team to film a series of snapchats and interviews, solidifying the #grime4corbyn movement in the eyes of young people up and down the country. Musician and public speaker Akala admitted he would be voting for the first time in his life, and it was Corbyn who would be getting his vote. Grime artists have began to utilize their platform to inspire young people to vote across the country, and it is Corbyn who has inspired them to do so. Unlike the conservatives and their divisive campaign strategy, Corbyn has managed to tap into a market previously thought lost, the youth of Great Britain. The beauty of #Grime4Corbyn is that it is not a campaign built by design, but one that was built on hope. Even Corbyn himself has only recently began to publicly collaborate with the campaign. There is now a pro-voting registration website called Grime 4 Corbyn where the song 'Corbyn Riddim' has been premiered. Is this the anthem of the 2017 election? The tune is in fact the audio of one of Corbyn's speeches set to a typical grime track, and it's already racked up 77.5k plays on Soundcloud.
In the 2015 general election, turnout among black and minority ethnic (BME) voters was 56%. But Operation Blackvote, who attempt to engage BME communities with the political process said "this isn't apathy, but a silent protest against a system that they think either ignores them or works against them". Although Corbyn is motivating these grime artists to speak out, the mobilization of young people to get involved in the political discussion is something that must be utilized to it's full potential. If Labour lose this general election and Corbyn steps down, there must be an effort to keep these new voters politically engaged. It is this that will be the real challenge for Labour come June the 8th.
Grime godfather Big Narstie said in regards to #Grime4Corbyn - "To be honest with you, I'm not a fan of any politician, I don't trust any of them. If the grime scene makes them vote for Corbyn and the country ends up in the shitter, then we've lost the power that we had, we've lost the confidence in the strength of our word. I wish the MCs who've supported him all the best, but it's a big risk to take." The point Big Narstie makes is one of great importance, due to MC's being viewed as such inspirational figures, will their support of Corbyn backfire if Labour loses? Or is it that the #Grime4Corbyn movement is much less about winning and much more about inspiring a generation to take an interest in politics after decades of dissatisfaction and indifference.
#Grime4Corbyn has revitalized a generation of non voters and we can only hope that the movement continues long after the result of the general election. Akala said on #Grime4Corbyn 's inclusion of young BME voters - "Hopefully, we'll show that we need to start being factored in in a way that we haven't been for a very long time... In the way that Ukip mobilised a group of people who pulled the Tory party to the right, hopefully people like myself, JME and Novelist will show that our demographic can be mobilised,"
As June 8th looms, and Labour's polling increases by the day, it could well be that #Grime4Corbyn has set Labour on course for electoral success...