The fear of race within the music industry, most importantly – Grime.

Photo credit: Chloe Sheppard

“I’ve had more hate from my own race rather than I did from black people,” says 22-year-old Connor Cuttress, a grime artist who goes by his stage name, C Two. The musician is a mere part of a now huge mainstream industry, and has been making music for over a decade, he talks about his struggles and what it is like being a white grime artist within the grime industry. He often reflects this struggle in his own lyrics, such as the song ‘Big for your Boots’ where the lyrics say, ‘C Two’s this, C Two’s that, C Two’s shit, he thinks he’s black.”

“The go to hate speech of white people is C two you’re white, so why are you making black music, why do you believe you’re black. Keeping in mind I actually grew up in a very African orientated community I believe I’m a cultured white man, but my point is I acknowledge grime is black music but that does not mean if you’re a different race and have talent you’re not allowed to make this music, grime is an open, free for all.” The young artist who’s based in Liverpool was raised in a very African populated area, thus having a lot of black friends growing up is what influenced his journey in grime, “it was the year 2008 and I remember we were in the music room in school with my friend and he showed a track on his phone, it was a grime tune and I liked it a lot, the lyrics touched me, when I asked him who it was he said it was him, and then I thought to myself, if he could do it why can’t I? My journey pretty much started there.”

Born in East London from a mixture of Garage, Dancehall and Drum & Bass music, and entire new genre was created. Grime. When talking about Grime, the idea of Black British culture is a somewhat relative definition. It was a new sound, and the lyrics was influenced purely on self-experience of the artist. Other music that is considered as ‘black music’ such as Hip Hop, Reggae, jazz and blues share similar or even the same elements of grime, so how can we not say that Grime does not belong to the category of ‘black music’. It started off with young boys growing up in tower blocks and rusty council estates. However, since then it certainly has evolved from London pirate radios to the mainstream pop culture of London, reaching a wider audience. But does this mean Caucasian grime artists cannot further their careers within the industry, or is there a stereotype going around as to they’re less likely to be as successful as a black artist. But the main issue is, we are well aware of this topic yet are scared to talk about it. However, as Dan Hancox argues in his book ‘Inner City Pressures the Story of Grime’, “Grime is black music, even if it’s not always made by black people.”

C Two is only a part time artist who is making the most out of his talent, “I am confident in my talent, and I am only doing what I’m good at and that it making beats, making music.” Labelling a music genre as black music certainly does not mean it is purely for black people and blacks only, this is where a lot of people get confused and misunderstand the term, it is simply referring to the fact that people should acknowledge the genres origins, and it does not prohibit anyone from enjoying it or even taking part in it. Children from a very young age are exposed to pop culture, and parents unaware of how it programs them through race and even gender to embed the idea of the role they should play within society. “There’s an idea in society where people assume just because grime is black music that it’s for black people, and I have had more racism from my own race than any other, I’ve had knives pulled at me for just making black music. I am white as snow there’s no denying that, I do look in the mirror, but I certainly do not fit in with them because of the type of music I produce and make.” Says C Two.

Talking about race, and talking about the issues within the music industry that involves race is not something we should avoid but quite the contrary, we should not be afraid of it as it is not racist to argue about race.

A personal story behind the scream painting.

Image: Pinterest

Simply just another ordinary day I thought to myself, a walk with my old man. Dragging my feet across the pier, hearing my footsteps get heavier and heavier, dying of boredom was simply a very possible thing for me at that exact moment. I must say though, what I would give to relive that day. I was about four years of age back then, my fathers’ big hands absolutely wrapping mine, holding me tightly as if he was scared to lose me. Looking back now, I think he just did not want to deal with the trouble of trying to find me, if I was to wonder off. No one really knows what goes on in a curious four-year olds mind, nor do we remember what went on in our own minds when we were four. We just had so many unanswered questions and fairy-tale like adventures.

He suddenly stopped and let go of my hand at that point, I was pretty surprised by this, I looked up as far as my short neck could reach and saw his eyes lost in the distance, without looking away or even blinking he then placed both hands on either on my head – his hands were bigger than my whole face and neck combined — one hand on each side, covering my ears and squeezing my cheeks and turned my head towards the edge of the ocean and whispered “look at the sky”. I was mesmerized by what I saw. In its literal sense, simply froze on the spot. A weird trembling feeling creeped up my legs starting from the tip of my toes. It was  a tremble of fear. But it was a fear you’d embrace and not look or run away from. The sky was blood shot red, angry, I remember thinking, why Is the sky so angry. I somehow always associated the skies with god, I assumed god was angry. What did the human race do to bring anger to god to simply make the bluest of skies to be covered in spilled ink of red.