The artist Lowkey has the ability to crop up with songs at hard times which completely reflect the way I’m feeling and articulate them in ways unimaginable. The first time he did this to me was his song “Dear Listener” from the album of the same name. This was during the 2008/9 Gaza massacre, one of the most awful events I’ve lived thorugh – despite being hundreds of miles away from that continuous 3-week terror campaign. A lot of us felt helpless and disgusted, and for me this song expressed many of the feelings I had at that time.
However the past year (2010-11) has been another difficult one. We had the new Coalition government, launching an assault on the poor and starting with universities. Our revolt against the fee rise led to filthy policing and repression, and we lost. Cuts have been continuing apace with the left (and I include myself in this) for all intents and purposes proving utterly ineffectual in opposition.
And then the riots happened; an amalgamation of everything wrong in this country. The poor being battered for an economic crisis started by the rich, the left fighting amongst themselves to be *the* leaders of an anti-cuts movement that never existed. Mass youth unemployment, scrapping of EMA, and a barbaric consumerist, materialist culture being promoted by all echelons of power – from the media to the schools. And of course – racist policing, and we should never forget it all started because yet another black man had been killed by the police.
It was sad to watch the TV screens of the rioting. People destroying their own communities – that is the scale of the alienation we are living through today. And all the while knowing that when things had calmed down, the ‘justice’ system would have a field day locking poor people away. And my god they did. Democracies, like humans, show their true colours when times get difficult. As far as democracy went, it didn’t exist as the courts threw the book out of the window and handed out outrageous sentences to queues of ordinary people being charged like a conveyor belt.
And all the while Murdoch and his empire were being softly investigated for mass illegal phone tapping, Tony Blair was walking freely (and wealthy) in spite of the bloodbath of Iraq, and Libya was the latest victim of a NATO ‘liberation’ mission through bombardment. Yet then Lowkey’s new album came out and rocked the world, screaming up the Itunes charts and shifting by the thousands. The true gem in this album is “Dear England” – it just encapsulates everything I was feeling, the frustration, hopelessness, anger, disillusionment. I have attempted to transcribe the lyrics below, as they are just so powerful, but should be read in conjucntion with the video, which is equally as powerful. Simply staring at the camera unemotionally reciting the words with such subtle passion is simply the perfection delivery. The video is here:
Dear England by Lowkey
They say God save the Queen,
Britannia rules the waves,
Britannia’s in my genes but Britannia called us slaves
Britannia made the borders, coz Britannia’s forces came
Britannia lit the match, but Britannia fears the flame
Where blood stains the pavement,
Tears stain the cheek
When privilege is threatened, The fear reigns supreme
Where bankers are earning for burning and looting,
The nervous are shooting, search for solutions,
I, shed a tear for the father in Birmingham, quick swerve of the car and they murdered them,
In Tottenham the apartments were burning and nobody came just passing and they circling,
All wanna be down,
Til TVs get robbed like jewels in the Queen’s crown,
They see now no thought for a rebound, see now they call me a fool coz I speak out
People are humans, not mindless, animals, this violent, tyrannical system is fallible,
Hand in the looter the minute you see him, but the biggest looters are the British Museum,
This happened here and you think it’s an accident,
Just relax as we slip into fascism,
And the fear gets drilled into your hearts, But remember these children are all ours.
If a policeman can kill a black man where he found him,
A soldier can kill an Afghan in the mountains,
A petty thief can get ransacked from his housing, while the bankers are lounging, that’s my surroundings,
Took land, noone in your family has heard of,
Before you sleep, whisper the mantra you learnt coz,
Never will there be a day that cameras are turned off,
Who runs this country, Cameron or Murdoch?
Who was the Government of Government that can’t govern?
Can’t figure its way, bigger than Mark Duggan,
Bigger than Smiley, bigger than Jean Charles,
Hundreds are dead not one killer is on trial,
Just a familiar sound of hysteria,
Bombs over Libya but not this area,
Downing Street, I can find villains,
Cut education, privatise prisons
Surprised by theft when it’s organised, but mass immorality is normalised,
Assumptions surrounding the looting of London, but this is a system consumed by consumption
It happened here and you think it’s an accident,
Just relax as we slip into fascism,
And the fear gets drilled into your hearts,
But remember these children are all ours