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Top boy and UK culture being represented in mainstream media platforms

Written by on 30th September 2019

We are currently in an era where urban UK culture is thriving. Where we see all genres of rap charting both independently and signed, and mainstream television is giving us a platform. From Top Boy, to The Rap Game, and Hate the Player, all major TV channels such as BBC, Channel 4, ITV2 are catering to us in a way that’s never been done before. They’re not just hiring a middle-class white man to write stereotypical skits that are intended to be funny but in reality, are patronising and condescending. They’re hiring us to tell the story, we’re the ones behind the scene, we have the control, and we create the narrative.

Having the power to control the narrative is critical. However, with that power, one simultaneously gains the responsibility for what you choose present to your audience. You have the ability and platform to give people a deeper understanding and insight into a new reality or a fresh perspective to the reality they’re already living. Which is why I highly commend the way Top Boy (on Netflix if you didn’t know) chose to use their platform and shine a light on fundamental issues that affect the working-class society on a day to day. They touched upon racism, the Windrush scandal, the poverty cycle and obviously the street life in a tasteful and realistic way. They shared people’s stories and allowed us to empathise with characters the world can be quick to judge, even the fact they chose to have that scene with the police officers shown in a positive light was unexpected, but I also think necessary. It would have been easy to paint them out as villains in that scene. A large population already see them like that anyway but like I said when you have a platform big or small you’re accountable for what you’re presenting to the world, and I think what TopBoy did with theirs was outstanding. They didn’t glorify life on the roads; they showed the constant battles both with outer circumstances but also from within, depression and anxiety, sacrificing family for a dream. You see Dushane and Sully continuously question whether it’s all worth it, which is an important message to see, especially when we’re saturated with music that paints a different picture. A lot of the time you’re not fully aware of what you’re signing up to, but you’re already in too deep to back away, or you’re too young to access the consequences of your actions fully.

All in all, it’s inspiring to see people who have come from similar backgrounds as I, achieving great thing as well as seeing the growth in representation of ethnic minorities on our tv screens. However, I shall say it would have been great to see some Latinos on Top Boy, especially considering Ashley Waters grew up in Peckham we’re literally a whole community around those sides. He’s even graced us with a remarkable interview on Luchandddlive, so he knows what we’re about. But in all seriousness, it’s a great age to be a creator, we have more opportunities than ever, and I believe that’s due to social media showing corporations that we have things to say, and we have people that want to hear them. We’re showing them that we can do things they only wish they could, and we can reach people in a real and authentic way, and we have the numbers to statistically back that up. And they’re listening. 

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