An unlikely pairing, but t’s no secret that the UK grime scene goes above and beyond to support Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. I’m sure you are all familiar with the likes of JME, Skepta and AJ Tracey and well if you’re not, you must be living under a rock. Regardless, their involvement with politics is setting a positive example to their fans-who tend to be younger in age- and as a result encouraged young people to vote in the 2017 general election.
Of course like anything nowadays, most of their debating and voicing was done via social media especially Twitter. Some people even say that they were largely responsible for the voting outcome in youth and influenced a Labour ‘Youth Surge’. Leading up to voting day and throughout the election period, the grime artists didn’t hold back in tweeting their personal political stances and opinions. All in favour of labour and Jeremy Corbyn, below is a tweet from JME.
If you want to vote Corbyn.
Step 1: Register https://t.co/OOXc9Uih0P
Step 2: vote Corbyn.
Step 3: press Up, X, Y, B, A
Step 4: press start
— Jme (@JmeBBK) April 23, 2017
A single artist just declaring what they were voting for influenced others to vote the same.
Due to JME expressing his views in who to vote for, a large proportion of his fans decided to vote the same. However, some could argue that people voting for a particular party just because they’re favourite artist voted is un- educated. The question is whether young individuals actually researched into the different political parties and voted according to their own personal views and gains or just voted in an effort to aspire to their role models. Without the use of digital media from the artists, the amount of people voting for labour may have been reduced drastically. This shows how influential social media platforms can be especially surrounding political issues- this literally could’ve changed how the country was ran.
Digital media was not just used by the Grime artists to express their views to fans. Publicity from JME and Jeremy Corbyn becoming best pals was spread by media outlets.They were continuoulsy being papped together and tweeted about for the millions of fans and general public to see and retweet. Media outlets wouldn’t have intentionally done this to gain Labour supporters but by sharing stories this increased publicity and meant that Grime and Labour were spoken about frequently over the election period.
Why were Grime Artists significant?
Young individuals are more likely to associate themselves with these Grime artists due to our social backgrounds and similarities in accent, interests and youth culture. Because of this, we feel represented more by these artists than any politician could ever make us feel. Their involvement with politics is inspiring and when Stormzy’s voice was heard in front of the most influential people in UK politics, we felt like our voice was heard too. Finally, young people being represented and listened to.
A huge break through that made history was when Stormzy’s lyrics were quoted in the House of Commons by Labour MP Sarah Jones:
New Labour MP for Croydon Central, Sarah Jones, quotes @stormzy1 in the Commons pic.twitter.com/GzCInSPjWn
— Esther Webber (@estwebber) July 12, 2017
This is almost un heard off in such a professional and formal political institution. Not only were fans of Grime being influenced but even politicians at the House of Commons! And of course, this couldn’t have been possible without digital media. Without social media, the #grime4labour scene couldn’t have blown up as much as it did. Although other tactics were used such as this poster spotted in Croydon. However, even the print media refers to digital media- ‘even your dad’s got more Facebook friends’. This comical tactic to put voting into perspective actually proves the effect of digital media, people can relate to the amount of Facebook friends as a legitimate form of measuring. Moreover, using a grime artist on the poster holds connotations from the online campaigning and assumes the receiver of this poster is already aware of the pro active Labour supporters from social media. Additionally the poster was posted to twitter to be further seen by people outside the Croydon area.
— Ellis Hayes (@ellishayes) May 30, 2017
But that wasn’t the end to Stormzy’s campaigning. Using another digital technique to campaign, Stormzy publicly spoke out on the Jonathon Ross Show:
“I like Corbyn, he’s cool. My boy! Corbyn is cool, man. J Corb.”
Progression in enabling people from all walks of life to have a say in politics has been largely due to how these Grime stars used their high social media status to win over votes. Of course their high social media status wouldn’t be available without digital media. Its incredibly interesting to see how digital media effects day-to-day lives so much and even effects politics- something we wouldn’t perhaps associate with new up-coming technology and the likes of Stormzy and JME. I think the use of the digital media to promote politics is a huge step forward into getting younger people involved and to break down barriers between politicians and the public. And this is exactly what the Grime Scene achieved.