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19 August 2018


Robin Carmody

The other classic example of this syndrome is the "right" to smoke whenever and wherever you please (which even many, if not most, smokers have now given up - I hope, anyway).

I may well have said this in the comments here, or somewhere else, before, but I think the reason why some independence supporters don't like Loki is that, beneath their Left-leaning facade, they have the same idea of what an independent Scotland should be like culturally as the Right-wingers in England who want Scottish independence so as to narrow and close up English society have of England: that is to say, a land without rap. On other forums I've seen independence supporters positively boast about the lower sales of some songs in the "urban" genre in Scotland, and actively suggest that such music is being "imposed" on the Scottish airwaves by an English-dominated media - they openly say they want to use Scottish independence as a platform, an excuse, for legalised radio apartheid. So much for progressive internationalist nationalism, that strange paradox they always say they've mastered. Happily, Corbyn & Davidson have between them taken a lot of the wind out of their sails.

But as I say, I think the fact that he's a rapper is the reason why they don't like him. They are as determined to marginalise and ghettoise such music in Scotland as the Mail, the Tory right etc. are in England. It's two-tier Scottishness all over with them, the more dangerously because they pretend otherwise in a way their English counterparts don't. Some years ago now, I had to break off relations with a Scottish blogger because he very much took the stance that "no hip-hop in this Aberdeenshire village" is more progressive and more excusable than "no hip-hop in this Dorset village", and I thought that was a dangerous double standard. That was my awakening (2011) - only a short time before that, I'd actually believed something similar. Now that Middle Scotland has swung back to the party of Middle England, I suspect many fewer English Leftists than previously will regard such a double standard as acceptable.


There’s been a complete turn around with smoking in my lifetime, which people now do furtively in car parks (the grown up equivalent of behind the bike sheds).

Loki/Darren McGarvey had an article in The Scotsman about how rap is seen by nationalists and in the UK context. I know nothing of rap and it sounds plausible to me.

“After a brief pioneering period, when regional UK acts were more closely aligned – in part because so many imitated the Americans and there was no money involved – the UK Hip Hop community largely shunned its Scottish iteration. Which is why “Scottish Hip Hop” – specifically rap – became a separate genre. Not because it wanted to annexe itself from the UK (the opposite in fact) but because it was widely rejected by it.
The idea of people rapping in a Scottish dialect was more laughable the further south you went.

The idea Scotland could “do” Hip Hop was preposterous, despite being home to some of the best Hip Hop artists the UK has ever produced. In the context of music, I regard myself as Scottish because I’ve been conditioned to. And not by nationalists either – many of whom, ironically, berate me for being a “rapper” – but by an all-encompassing London-centric culture that subsumes not only the Celtic nations, but also many English regions, from which countless stunning contributions to Hip Hop have emerged – consistently dismissed or ignored for over 20 years.

Hip Hop is about representing not only yourself, but also your “hood”. Which is why so many regional artists retain impenetrable dialects and obscure slang, despite commercial and cultural pressure to conceal or renounce them. I’m a “Scottish” rapper, not because I want to deny Britishness, but because I live in Scotland and perform in a thick, Glaswegian accent. It would be unthinkable to suddenly rebrand, throwing the very community that gave me a voice under the bus, simply because I’m enjoying some mainstream recognition.”

Robin Carmody

I can believe that. Certainly, it is a marked tendency for the very same people who are mocked by small-c conservatives in their own nations or regions also to be mocked by those who see themselves as the defenders of the street culture, the guardians of urban/multiracial authenticity. There is a definite tendency for people within the urban/street cultures to find common enemies with the Daily Mail/Tory right (in England) and the more insular and conservative nationalists (in Scotland) - what all those cultures have in common is that they believe in the absolute purity and immunity from outside influences of their particular forms of expression, and they have a shared antipathy (in the case of English & Scottish cultural conservatives and nationalists for being too Left-wing, in the case of the street cultures for not being Left-wing *enough*) to those both would sneer at as "liberals". I've come across people who loudly and ostentatiously take an anti-Mail stance who are nonetheless horrified, for fear of an abuse of its own "authenticity", at the thought of rap even being *heard* in the shires (these are rural English references, not Scottish ones, for the obvious reason that they're the ones most relevant to my own life and those who seek to restrict, for whatever reasons, what I might do).

So I would certainly agree that elements of the London scene have jealously guarded their music and sometimes invoked tedious old stereotypes of Scotland to deride someone like Loki in a manner you'd expect, as I say, more from the Mail itself than from those who the Mail would see as cultural enemies - there's a very nasty comment about the Liverpool accent in rap on a YouTube clip I was looking at the other day, for a start (again, redolent of the "they're all workshy scallies who rob hubcaps" line you get from people who ***hate all rap, wherever it's from***). It's as if they can't see that they're not the only people in the UK who live in poverty and oppression - maybe the closeness to extreme wealth and opulence and power (though note Kensington's once-unthinkable swing away from the Tories, entirely to punish them for Brexit), which you obviously won't find so much in Liverpool or Glasgow, heightens the sense of social isolation for London's poor and makes them feel special ... yes, *entitled*. And I would never dispute the creativity and vitality of what is made in London; it is a unique mix and it rightly inspires many. But sometimes its dismissal of hip-hop from other environments and cultures within the UK & Ireland is, as I say, unhealthily redolent of a Mail-reading white flighter in Essex, the very people who in unguarded moments will say they moved to get away from the very people who created grime. And I can see that he feels forced to self-identify as Scottish in terms of culture more because the culture he initially came from rejected him than because he wanted to align himself with people who he knows full well are often as anti-hip-hop as the Mail itself - this is exactly what had happened (partially reversed now, it seems at least) within the Mail-reading mainstream, with pointless, stupid jokes and codified resentments in England turning many ***who never really wanted independence*** away from a Britishness that they had mostly been brought up to identify with and aspire towards, so it is dispiriting to see it happening also in a culture which self-identifies by its difference from that mainstream and how much that mainstream dislikes it.

Robin Carmody

Might also say: this sort of London arrogance isn't too far different from people in the USA not taking even London rap seriously because they can't get what they've seen on PBS & Avengers reruns out of their heads, which people in London quite rightly dismiss and get infuriated by ...

Robin Carmody

But to get back to the Scottish situation, it is a fact that in the 1990s dance music in Scotland diverged from that in England to take a much less black-influenced form, and the pride some indy supporters seem to take in that is to me well suspect (and certainly the fact that it doesn't seem to ruffle many Leftist feathers is proof that the definition of "Left" never altered in Scotland, as discussed before - I don't agree with the claim of someone on Digital Spy that it might only be as simple as that there is a smaller BAME population in Scotland, because it never seemed that way from my own perspective, and there is probably an even smaller BAME perspective in my part of England).

Robin Carmody

"even smaller BAME perspective" = "even smaller BAME population" (was inspired to post that by one of those scare stories about deaths at raves in a 1995 Reporting Scotland clip just added to YouTube, and how it fitted with earlier topics of discussion)

Robin Carmody

Must apologise if I am going on and on, but also relevant to this matter is the tendency of Scottish nationalists to refer to English people, as a whole, as "Nigels" and to England, as a whole, as "Englandshire" - in other words, actively pretending that the very people who created British hip-hop and grime, the people in England who would suffer most heavily and profoundly from Scottish independence, don't exist.


To your last point - yes -to Scots Nats English is Eton, Westminster, the Home Counties. It isn't Manchester, or Newcastle or the poorer parts of London.

Robin Carmody

To some extent that is easier to understand now that we know Windsor (the invariably Tory seat in which I believe Eton is now located; it used to be in with much more Labour-leaning, and Leave-voting, Slough, which Fenner Brockway lost against the national trend in 1964 by literally a handful of votes, few enough I think that he'd have held on if you'd taken the Eton masters out), Westminster and much of the Home Counties agree with Scotland on EU membership, and most of the North except some atypical (because heavily Irish Catholic-influenced) cities and equally atypical never-industrial affluent areas does not. I still notice a definite indifference towards racism among many Scottish nationalists in my experience, though - not *caring* if large swathes of the English population might find it harder to identify themselves or fit in if they had their way. Happily, as I say, that seemingly is not quite as urgent a worry as it was, even in an era with more such things than ever.

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  • Rosie Bell

    Some song writing, some verse writing and too much blogging about culture, politics, cycling and gardening.

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