Elisa Bray: Where's soul, reggae, rap, jazz, R'n'B, hip-hop and trip-hop on the Music is GREAT compilation?


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The Independent Culture

If the team behind the Music is GREAT compilation were looking for live moments that captured the pop zeitgeist, there could be no better moment than Dizzee Rascal performing Bonkers at Glastonbury 2010.

It was the moment when the east London rapper cemented his place in the pop mainstream and the nation’s hearts. His is the ultimate rap success story, having risen from an underground grime scene based around UK hip-hop clubs to win the Mercury Prize with his debut album Boy in da Corner in 2003, and by 2009 he had his second summer hit in two years. Thousands flocked to the festival’s Pyramid Stage to hear him and the chart-topping Bonkers would soundtrack the summer. The feverish atmosphere and sing along that ensued marked the performance as a triumph.

Billy Ocean, Sade, Aswad, Steel Pulse and Goldie are just some of the black British artists who have contributed to the richness and path shaping of British music over the decades. Where's soul, reggae, rap, jazz, R'n'B, hip-hop and trip-hop in the list? Let’s not forget one of the biggest bands for a time during the late Eighties. Soul II Soul, the R’n’B group fronted by Jazzie B, became a huge success as soon as they took over the Africa Centre in Covent Garden for a gig which had record labels clamouring to secure the band’s signature. With their 1989 chart-topper Back to Life, the fifth top-selling single of 1989 beneath Jason Donovan, Black Box, The Bangles and Jive Bunny, and Jazzie B’s utopian mantra “a smiling face, a thumping bass for a loving race”, they performed a legendary concert at Wembley in 1991. Massive Attack were a band that pioneered a new genre, trip-hop, and while the Phoenix Festival may have been short-lived, a performance there in 1996 by the Bristol band would have lived much longer in fans’ minds.

With Tinie Tempah - a young black British hip-hop artist - at the top of the chart right now, it seems ever more important to reflect the prominence and importance of black artists in UK music.