Giggs Vs NME: Why ‘Sorry’ Isn’t Enough

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Giggs just dropped his new album ‘Landlord‘ and people love it. Amidst all the praise and hype is a review from NME’s Louis Pattinson that ends:

And it gets pretty gnarly, never more than on ‘The Process‘, a particularly unpleasant track that starts like a love song, but ends with rape.’

He’s actually confusing the last line in the song with ‘rate’.

There’s bare thoughts out my mouth, Like man hates her/ But then I thought couple things,
And man RATES her’

Other than clearly sounding like the word ‘RATE’; Giggs even follows it up by using the word again at the songs end.

But that’s not the point. Giggs uploaded a video condemning the seriousness of the mistake, which was followed by outrage on Twitter:

And from Complex UK writers:

That’s the point.

Before anything we should remind ourselves that NME isn’t really a music magazine. Not since the 90’s anyway. The music they predominantly cover doesn’t have the hardcore followings they once did; or at least in the numbers they want. Pop, Hip Hop, UK hip hop and guys holding guitars making pop rule the airwaves and those aren’t the bands they cover. So now in desperation they’ve turned their attention back to grime. Declaring Grime’s back, or dead, or back again. Whilst also informing us Tinchy and Dizzie are irrelevant.

Print may be on the way out, but some will be leaving before others. Rock and Metal magazine Kerrang has been outselling NME since 2002, mainly due to a dedicated fan base, constantly searching for new bands and allowing the fans to influence the content. And despite the genre difference that’s pretty much what sites like SBTV, GRM, Grime Report and of course Link Up focus on. NME? While they very likely do discover various underground indie bands; the same can’t be said of UK hip hop/grime. And that’s where the problem is. They allow the aforementioned sites and blogs to do the heavy lifting of actually being at events and showcases and then once they’ve spent years working with the artists turning buzz into a career; once absolutely everyone is talking about said artist, then NME will wiki the version of what you need to know.

In all honesty it does seem like Louis Pattinson made a mistake. But the real mistake was NME not having someone who was an authority on the music. As the music is a culture and comes with an entire language, dress code and aesthetic. Indie doesn’t, or at least not to the same extent. So just assuming someone who thinks ‘Kanye is a genius’, will completely get South London hip hop is misguided.

And maybe there was a time when people waited for NME’s verdict on the latest albums. But those days are over. Now Twitter has the verdict an hour after the album leaks. And honestly who is really waiting for NME to tell them whether Giggs‘ album is good or not?

NME need Giggs, Skepta and even Dizzee because these are the names controlling British culture the way the way Blur and Oasis used to. Who’s to say in the next five years ‘Wonderwall‘ won’t be replaced by ‘That’s Not Me‘ as the go to anthem to end a drunken night.

Tastes change and brands evolve and there’s nothing wrong with that. But NME’s lack of understanding is problematic. Because there are a lot of people who have already made their minds up about Giggs, UK rap and more importantly young black men who look exactly like Giggs. Young black men from estates are seen as murderous sociopaths that you should cross the road to avoid. And the media uses UK hip hop to brand all young black men as violent thugs; which is kind of like expecting every young blonde white girl to have three dragons and an eye on the iron throne.

Louis and NME represent something that has been happening to urban music for decades. People in authority with a complete lack of knowledge on what they are speaking about. UK hip hop isn’t treated as an art form. It isn’t seen as good enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with guitar based music. The same way police and The Daily Mail see young black men as a subspecies, is the same way these groups categorise UK hip hop as music for a subspecies. Music for those who love rape and violence and who can’t be blamed as they know no better. That music doesn’t require a professional.

The reality is many black men are viewed this way. And hip hop has to be bear the burden for the worlds ills. And we see this narrative played out every time the police profiles someone who looks like Giggs. We all love seeing The same people who love The Joker at his most sadistic on the big screen would call the police if we saw him in real life. Which is what happens when these people see people who look like Giggs. They’re perfectly entertaining within the confines of an mp3 or a YouTube clip. But instead of green hair and clown makeup it’s tracksuits and hoody’s, but for some it may as well be the same thing.

And that’s where actual knowledge of the genre comes in. Simply put:

If an NME writer is never covering events, discussing the culture and base the entirety of their knowledge from an artists wiki page, how can they be expected to see through the fact and the fiction? This is how ‘rate’ changes to ‘rape’ and casually makes Giggs a rapist. A writer who’d only ever listened to grime wouldn’t be expected to give a competent review of the new Coldplay, so why isn’t UK hip hop given the same respect? NME need writers who understand the music and the culture that surrounds it or will continue to misrepresent it to people who don’t understand it. And people who come from estates, wear hoods or who are even just black will be judged for it.