Song of the Week: “It’s a London Thing” by Jammz ft. Scott Garcia

by Douglas Cowie on 5 January 2018

Each Friday I pick a song–new, old, borrowed, blue–that’s been on my mind and in my ears, and write a short post about it.

This is “It’s a London Thing” by Jammz ft. Scott Garcia:

“It’s a London Thing” is the penultimate song discussed by Jeffrey Boakye in Hold Tight: Black Masculinity, Millenials and the Meaning of Grime, which was published in 2017 by Influx Press.

It’s an excellent book. Writing about this song, Jeffrey Boakye says that “Grime really is a London thing,” and he goes on to examine the way the song lyrically and musically addresses the idea that “London is the most paradoxical place because there are so many opposite things happening in the ends.”

Boakye’s entire book addresses the paradoxes of grime music, of black British culture, of masculinity, of black British masculinity, and more. He does this by shining a spotlight on songs that created the foundations for grime, and then on dozens of key grime songs themselves, one by one. Each song, each spotlight Boakye shines, illuminates a different aspect of the music, its evolution, and the various meanings, musically and culturally, that the music both creates and represents. Again writing about “It’s a London Thing,” Boakye says, “I’ve always had the suspicion that interrogating social rifts is the true meaning and purpose of lyrical, urban music.” This sentence serves as a useful description of Boakye’s project as well.

Oscar Wilde wrote (in the preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray) that “The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium.” Hold Tight examines both the moral life of man and the morality of the art of grime, and at the same time, Jeffrey Boakye make perfect use of the imperfect medium of the written word to create an insightful and passionate study. It’s opened my ears to a genre of music to which I’d previously paid very little attention, and it’s opened my mind to a new way of understanding the city in which I live.

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