Racism has no place in Drum and Bass, or the world. Let’s find out why.
This article is meant as a reaction to the recent events surrounding producer Mistabishi, but I’ve tried (and failed) to make this as general as possible. Because even if I hope the contrary, I’m afraid it’ll come up again eventually. These kind of posts are not what we are about, yet we also don’t want to turn a blind eye to racism, inequality, and prejudice.
Until recently I’ve always thought racism was virtualy inexistent in Jungle and Drum and Bass. It was one of the few places that showed that just enjoying something together, almost paying homage to the Woodstock era, without making a point of it. We don’t need to wave flags, wear bands on our arms or rally for more equality. We just are. And by just being, we show the world how everything could be. There are few places I feel so readily accepted as when I go to parties or festivals anywhere in Europe (I haven’t had the privilege to party outside the ol’ EU). We have one thing that binds us, our love for the music. Even if in that love we look down on- or up to- other subgenres, it’s a testament to the one thing that binds us. Music.
Bad apples are everywhere. Recent elections of certain leaders and the rise of racist movements across the globe gave some people the idea it was okay to spread hate. It isn’t. It never is. Let’s list some reasons why.
1. Know your roots.
I started this blog-thing of with a series on ” The Godfathers of Drum and Bass“. And if you look at that list you’ll see that even though almost all of the artists are from the UK, yet more than half of those artists have roots in other cultures. The genre started out from Reggae, Dub, and mostly dominant “black” music. It evolved, and other races weren’t shunned back then from producing and DJ-ing, let’s not start now.
As Sigma stated in “The Jungle“: “Jungle, It’s a worldwide sometin’, and a worldwide sometin’ big-big-big-big-big”.
2. The statement “X is of Y descent, and thus has no right to speak about Z”
This one is directly from Mistabishi’s FaceBook rant but is something heard over and over again, on a “Mr. Happy”-scale (or on a Supersharp-shooter-scale, for the older generation).
Let’s set 2 things straight:
1) Until we have some form of thought-police, everybody is entitled to an opinion, based on factual statement.
2) Racism (and any other form of derogatory or belittling speech, targeting an entire population without any form of factual basis) is the exception on that first statement. (Like saying Muslims are terrorists.)
When you deny someone’s right of existing, you don’t have the right to express that. With your actions you devalue whatever the other group has to say, diminishing every attempt at reasonable retort and portraying them as being less human than you.
When saying (in Mistabishi’s case) that Sadiq Khan shouldn’t be mayor of London, purely based off of heritage (even though the laws in your country allowed him to legally enter the race, and your democratic system allowed him to win), then you’re trying to nullify his opinions by reasons that are not only baseless, but also not supported by your country as a whole. Also in that same line, being the Trump-aficionado Mistabishi is, he must know that by his same logic the current POTUS (as every other POTUS in US history) is illegitimate as he and every president before him are not of American descent.
Even in Drum & bass, the title-statement holds up. Remember that time Teddy Killers didn’t know who Guv was? Remember when Guv Fans Demanded respect for their overlord? “Teddy Killers (X), who are Neurofunk producers (Y), should’ve kept their mouth shut about an artist from another subgenre they allegedly know nothing about. (Z)” Or remember when the same Teddy Killers said they’d make better Jump Up then most producers. (Decide for yourself.)
I’m having kindergarten flashbacks here.
When talking about polarisation I’m mostly referring to the practice of setting up the conversation as it’s us against them, with them being the most general description of a group as possible (ie. Muslims are terrorists). It’s a self-fullfilling prophecy of an easy way out. When you say your neighborhood is going to shambles because of all the muslims that live there, maybe it’s partially caused by constantly stigmatizing them. Push someone enough into a corner, until they believe that’s where they belong.
Everybody deserves the benefit of the doubt. That’s the hard way. The easy way is just being suspicious about everybody and everything all the time, locking yourself away behind a huge biggly wall (really, the best wall you’ve ever seen, everybody says so) and not sifting, but just blocking everything out. The hard way is taking chances, and learning from them. You can’t be part of something that’s inclusive and at the same time not wanting to mix with everybody included based solely on prejudice.
Ending note: I’m actually more nihilistic in my personal views, but I can’t stand racism. It’s a view on life that can only end in pain and suffering. You are entitled to enjoy your life for as long as you live it, but not at the cost of someone else’s happiness. Nobody is special, don’t act that you are because of you being born and brought up the way you are.
If you, as me, are against racism, check out “Love music, Hate Racism“, a cause every junglist should stand behind. Shout out to them, Hospital records for doing the right thing, and junglists worldwide, who commented fiercely denouncing the words Mistabishi spewed. Also check out this interview on UKF with the people behind “Drum & Bass against racism”, and join their cause here.
Next time I’ll be tackling global warming, and stretch it out to be about Jungle, and the lack thereof. /s