Ed

One of the joys of children growing up is watching them start to impose their own will upon the blank canvas you think you have given them. For years Radio 4 has reigned supreme in the car; our eldest was – in fact – born to the sound of it. But now, emotional pleas for Radio 1 come from the back seat. And from the (incredibly limited) Radio 1 playlist comes the boy’s favourites. And it transpires that his favourite at the minute is Ed Sheeran’s ‘Take Me Back to London’ featuring Stormzy. I’m sure you heard it – let’s see if I can embed it if you haven’t. Here you go:

In this film the director has seen fit to put the actual words on screen. That’s thin ice, right there. I don’t know where to begin with this. Ed Sheeran’s worst line here surely is ‘Give me a packet of crisps with my pint’ (no, really: that’s one of the lines of this), but it’s only slightly worse than the rest of Sheeran’s vocally auto-corrected drivel. Second worst is a line about arriving at Wembley in plenty of time (no, really). But the line about taking ‘half a billi’ on the last tour really grates. One of the features of rap from its origins has been rappers demonstrating their success in their music. However, the context is crucial: in that it was  frequently black Americans demonstrating their journey and experiences – often feeling pressure to justify themselves in economic terms to a business world controlled by white men. The bragging element of their personas can only be understood in relation to the material conditions of those making this music, and the majority of people listening to it. So, when a rich white man boasts about taking half a ‘billi’ on the last tour it is crass at best and vile appropriation at worst (unless he’s talking about Ikea furniture?). If your old geography teacher stood up in assembly (when you were at school, obviously) and started rapping about biscuits it would be daft – but that’s the image that I just can’t shake when Sheeran laments that ‘nobody thinks I write rhymes.’


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