Thursday, 24 April 2014

Ill behaviour

From: Inside edge

Has anyone watched the video for ill Manors yet? Or heard the song on the radio? If not, you should.

If you need enlightening, ill Manors is the new single from the rap and soul star Plan B that is officially released next Monday ahead of a film of the same name that is due out soon.

The reason it’s relevant here is because it’s about kids who are ‘Council Housed and Violent’ or rather kids who are labelled as chavs by a media and respectable society that gets surprised when they then act like it. And so it’s also about the summer riots and looting and the problems that have not gone away and how they might be tackled.

It’s been hailed by Guardian music critic Dorian Lynskey as the most important British protest song in years while Ben Drew himself spoke it at a TEDx/Observer conference last week. 

I’ve blogged before about the way that the media and TV negatively stereotypes council estates and the people that live on them. To illustrate the point, just see the portrayal of the Farmead Estate in recent episodes of Casualty. ill Manors turns that representation on its head in a way that is shocking and is meant to be shocking but also in ways that make you think. Many people are not going to like it and some probably will hate it, but you should watch.

Anyway, enough from me. Here’s the official video (by the director of Top Boy).

But before you make your mind up, listen to this interview with Plan B on Radio 1Xtra, where he explains the intentions behind it. 

I’m guessing opinions on this are going to split on similar lines to opinions on the events of last summer: criminality by a feral youth that just needs a strong police response or an expression of anger by a group that feels ignored and marginalised by the rest of society or varying combinations of the two. Or as Plan B puts it in the song: ‘There’s no such thing as broken Britain, we’re just broke in Britain’.

We’ve been here before, of course, when Ghost Town was the sound track to the riots of the early 1980s, but this feels very different and something important for everyone to understand. That applies especially to 50-somethings like me and to everyone who works in social housing, so that initiatives like Inside Housing’s Riot Report can be built on and make a difference. As Plan B puts it: ‘Let me make my point first, let me raise the issue, then if anybody wants to talk to me about how we can change these things I’m ready.’

Otherwise, as Iain Duncan Smith put it last summer, the inner city will come calling again.

Readers' comments (5)

  • Melvin Bone

    This Plan B character is not exactly Joan Baez is he...

    And what is it with the daft name. They went out of fashion with Gary Glitter...

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  • Colin Wiles

    Good blog Jules. I don't hold with the "Broken Britain" thesis. For a start only a tiny minority of young people participate in last year's riots. Most of the young people I meet are decent, upstanding citizens with fewer hangups than our genration had/has! The concept tarnishes the vast majority of decent, hardworking people, including the millions living in social housing. A more credible argument for Broken Britain, and the symptom of a dysfunctional society, would the fact that 80% of the Cabinet are millionaires and 70% went to public schools, but hey, that's me getting political!

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  • I wish people in power would listen to people like Plan B. I also think Tinie Tempa would be worth bringing in to 10 Downing St and really listening to.

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  • I notice that the song meets with the approval of the Observer, the Guardian, the Labour Pary and other elements of the intelligentsia. If I was young and had any attitude I'd be worried about the way my 'youth culture' was being colonised by the chattering classes, just as the chattering classes did over the student protests. Clearly they are using the song to defend the welfarism upon which their careers and salaries rely.

    The riots had nothing to do with benefit cuts or reform of the welfare state but the loss of purpose, political direction and the misanthropy of the governing elite.

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  • oh, and another thing, what on earth are you doing still listening to pop music at your age?

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