Hosted by rapper Big Zuu, Agenda with Beats by Dr. Dre is a series that brings together top UK artists and influential names in culture to discuss trending topics important to the local artist community. Featured guests of the first 3 episodes include Ghetts, Dizzee Rascal, Ms Banks, Maya Jama, Tiffany Calver, Zeze Millz, Ray Blk, Asim Chaudhry, and Alhan.
“We are moving forward and there are things that are kind of changing the outlook of what it is to be an ethnic minority in Britain” – Big Zuu
Recorded on 27th May 2020 via video-conferencing, Big Zuu speaks with Ghetts, Zeze Millz and Asim Chaudhry on artisticresponsibility, lyricism, the issue of colourismand typecasting. The thought-provoking conversations around these topics not only reflect wider discussions and issues taking place in the world today, but are also personal to the group and their career experiences as well. Ghetts speaks on his poignant 2018 release Black Rose, Asim provides advice to young people when dealing with typecasting and Zeze shares her thoughts on black female representation.
“If you want black women to enjoy the skin that they’re in and understand that they’re beautiful, we have to see it in a wider world” – Zeze Millz
“Representation needs to be looked at in a much more serious wider way and we need to start making people believe that this can actually happen.” – Asim Chaudhry
On artistic responsibility:
- Ghetts: “We are conflicted people. Today we don’t want to do Martin Luther, today we want to do Malcolm X”
- Ghetts: “I’m knowledgable in this arena, I’ve been through certain things in this arena, let me speak on it. I can project an educated view. Now can every artist project an educated view? No. It’s not everyone’s job to speak on everything. Everyone wants to speak on everything these days and it’s not from a place of education. It’s not from a place of ‘I’ve been through it or experienced it’”.
- Asim: “Wheres the effort, where’s the poetry, where the lyricism. Artillery is a fucking aggressive song, but lyrically, you write that shit down, that’s some complex writing going on. That inspires people to go ok, there’s an artistry that’s missing I feel, there’s a lyricism missing to it, its too simplistic and yes I know that simple stuff sells but these guys were lyrical and they were selling, they were still kings of their time”.
On Black Rose:
- Ghetts: “I was thinking, ok what would it be like from my daughters perspective in years to come…maybe if I don’t try and help these current situations now, like if I’m not doing my part now as somebody with a platform. Thats an urge I felt, because I felt I don’t want my daughter coming home in 10 years from now, by then my music won’t be as relevant and it is now, and trying to do something then but you never did it in the time you needed to do it in the time.”
On the issue of colourism:
- Zeze: “Whenever I’ve spoken about colourism I’ve just been told oh you’re angry or you’re bitter, do you get what I mean. It was like a bitter sweet moment, like finally somebody is kind of saying what I’ve been saying, and it’s coming from a man and i’m glad its’ a man with a platform, but why when I say it, it’s bitter? There’s beauty in darker skin women. It was annoying, but at the end of the day because I’ve always said its not just about me, I put myself to the side and I just was happy that there was awareness about it on a larger scale and people were actually agreeing with him”.
- Asim: “It’s the way they just completely brush you off and go well she’s emotional, she’s irrational, they do that to all women, but black women especially because of that stupid stereotype. I think it comes down to self-worth, a song like Black Rose it teaches little black girls, little girls of any colour to question why am I not? It’s about self-worth, if you don’t see it then you cant believe it. I always say you got to see it to be it, if you don’t see it then you cant become it.”
- Asim: “What I’ve done as I’ve gotten more and more into this industry, my advice to young people in that situation, if you don’t find those roles are coming to you, and you find you are getting typecast for those roles, get your writing, get your pen game on and write the characters. If the characters aren’t there, then create them. Sometimes it’s so bate when you see a script and you see the characters, it’s so not authentic, it’s not sincere. So my thing is I write. All my characters, most of the acting I do now I write, I create my characters, I create those worlds. The power is in the pen for real, you need to create these characters and that’s what’s going to lead to more accurate and more real representation”.
- Asim: “ I’m a child of empire, a direct result of empire, of this country colonising my country for years, stealing our culture and stealing so much from us and then we’re here, I call this cashback”
- Zeze: “To believe that you can do something, you need to see yourself in it, or represented. That’s to do with magazines, things online, especially black women, if you want black women to enjoy the skin that they are in, and understand that they are beautiful, we have to see it in a wider world”.
- Ghetts: “Because I am from the grime scene, I have this independent way of thinking. The power’s in the pen, if there’s no rose then create something for yourself”.
- Episodes 2 and 3 coming soon.