The Financial Times doesn't get rap, and their caricature of it is dangerous

Rap is not "loud, but lacking in Substance", Mr Guthrie

Share
Related Topics

Yesterday Jonathan Guthrie, the City Editor of the Financial Times, wrote a front page opinion piece that attracted a great deal of comment.  The piece, titled “G-Dawg splashes out tax cuts like P Diddy with Dom Pérignon in his blingiest giveaway”, dissected George Osborne’s Autumn Statement with the aid of a range of hip-hop references.  Mr. Guthrie’s words have been thoroughly dissected by Alex Hern of the New Statesman, but the most startling moment was when he observed that “as an art form, rap is loud, gestural but lacking in substance.”

Rap, of course, isn’t the only art form that gets loud and gestural from time to time – after all, Luciano Pavarotti was pretty good at belting the tunes out – but I felt that Mr. Guthrie had short-changed the genre, to put it mildly.  Saying that rap lacks substance is like walking into a bookstore, catching sight of Pippa Middleton’s new book, and walking out declaring that there is no good literature to be found in the world.

Rap isn’t so much an artform as a culture – much more so, I think, than rock, for example, which I have always viewed much more as a means of escapism. The type of rap of which Mr. Guthrie writes – the sanitised, materialistic dirge that is pumped out over the airwaves, as opposed to the thoughtful societal critiques that are rarely granted mainstream airplay – is unrepresentative of the artform and the wider culture.

Caricature

The wider problem with Mr. Guthrie’s article is that it stereotypes a group of people whom a very large proportion of the readers of the Financial Times are unlikely to encounter.  And that can have very dangerous effects.  In my view, one of the problems with the current Government is that many of them have never experienced the deprivation of those whom they are governing, and so they do not understand the pressures that they are experiencing as a result of these cuts.  They are applying a weight that the people cannot take.  Ironically, with his caricature of rap, it is this same lack of empathy that Mr. Guthrie has served to encourage.

A further irony is that, for any rapper to enjoy enduring respect, their rhymes must have substance.  (Incidentally, there are many rappers who could provide brilliant analyses of the damaging effects of the Government’s austerity policies.) It was rappers such as Lowkey and Akala who were among the first to comment on the nuances of the Arab Spring.  It was they who first questioned whether Omar Suleiman, with his notorious past, was truly a fitting candidate to rule the new Egypt.  It was they who questioned President Obama’s extensive use of drones, a full two years before the broadsheets caught on.  It was Wretch 32 who, for years prior to the UK riots, was warning of the possible causes of social unrest.  Mic Righteous and Kendrick Lamar are proving today that rap can be journalism set to music.  These are people who know what they are talking about.  They are be listened to, if not consulted, just as you might consult with business leaders or others who frequent the seats of Newsnight.  I do not see why they are being ridiculed.

Voiceless

Whilst rap is often derided for its negative elements, I think that these are unfairly emphasised.  Rap, at its best, tells the stories of the voiceless and the disenfranchised, of the human cost of societal and economic inequality.  It tells stories of which the readers of the Financial Times would do well to take note.

I have put together a mixtape for Mr. Guthrie, and for others who believe that rap is “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.  So I sat down one afternoon after work with Giordano, a good friend of mine, and we compiled the following collection of tracks, spanning the last twenty years; though, in truth, we could have chosen thousands of others.  Given that this mixtape is something of an announcement in defence of rap, I have called it “The Autumn Statement”.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: the strange case of the errant royal pronoun

Guy Keleny
Flowers and candles are placed at the site where a refrigerated truck with decomposing bodies was found by an Austrian motorway  

EU migrant crisis: The 71 people found dead in a lorry should have reached sanctuary

Charlotte Mcdonald-Gibson
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future