Go Listen To The Crook Street Gang

(they are, indeed, the waviest)

Being partial to rap, and living in central London, I was excited when a bloke handed me a CD of a fourteen-track album by British rapper Ceize, and about million featured artists and producers that presumably make up the rest of the Crook Street Gang whose name is plastered all over the album artwork. Annoyingly, my computer doesn’t have a disc drive so I can’t actually listen to the album, but having swum through the group’s YouTube channel and listened to as many songs as possible within the perilously short time frame I have in which to listen to their songs, write this post, have a nap and have tea all before going out tonight, and can endorse the group – so once you’re done with this post, go listen to some CSG songs.

But before then, here’s a few pretentious English student things I have to say on the subject; it’s an easy comparison to say that ‘rap is the poetry of the streets’, which is true, but while this unites rap and poetry, it excludes other art forms from this conversation, things like novels, stories, even blog posts (to be really narcissistic). Watching CSG videos – particularly Skyy-i’s excellent South West Elly – involving the whole crew reminds me of my own collaborative blog, where we rely on each other as much for artistic inspiration as moral support and validity that people are actually paying attention to us; and listening to CSG lyrics – Art Dayley’s ‘You don’t know the meaning of dope … She is not the meaning of dope’ links musical and artistic inadequacy to personal failures, which is a pretty cool contrast – reminds me of all the parallels I try to draw between texts in my essays, and events in my real life.

I’m not suggesting that I’m as eloquent or successful as those guys, and equally their songs may not be as influential on human culture as John Frakking Milton, but it’s important to not be dismissive of things that are superficially different, but fundamentally similar, to oneself. I don’t want you to like these rappers because I told you to, I’ve encouraged to you ‘listen’ to them, and form your own opinions on their music. Because ultimately, a negative response to a piece of art is better than no response; as someone who creates a lot of stuff that could be deemed ‘art’ on a particularly pretentious day, I understand the satisfaction that comes with people engaging with a product – for me it’s views, likes and comments – and the sense of failure, albeit slight, when no-one seems to care what you’ve produced.

Art isn’t about finding the ‘right’ way to represent or reflect on life, it’s about presenting different responses to this confusing thing we call ‘existence’; and whether you like a form of art, or an individual artist, it’s relatively irrelevant – as long as we’re engaging with people who have shit to say, we’re doing it right. At the very least, it’s common courtesy.

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