The folk music of England before the Industrial Revolution usually suggests a wide variety of colours to me. When I refer to colours in this context, I’m thinking about the expressive range of the sounds and the sunlit feeling of the song lyrics. Something happened to the psyche of the country during the Victorian era, which made gave things a grey monochrome hue in my mind’s eye. The British were proud of their nation’s standing during that era, but I believe the country lost a significant amount of its soulfulness, which didn’t return until the end of colonialism, perhaps due to the contributions of Commonwealth citizens and others of exotic heritages to the culture.
Does this account for the dismissive remark attributed to Napoleon about the UK, calling it “a nation of shopkeepers”? It is hard to tell, but deep down at the heart of things, the elements within its population that would like to pull up the drawbridges and become more insular are missing a very important point about the culture being most healthy when it makes space for social inclusion and multiculturalism.
The current political debate about the rights of the Windrush migrants and their descendants has got me thinking about the impact of assimilation on the psyches of the ethnic minority communities. At the moment, Grime music is being touted as a phenomenon, perhaps due to its popularity amongst large numbers of young people. It is gratifying to note that some of the more notable Grime artists are able to express their ideas to relatively large audiences, thus making decent incomes. What does Grime evoke in the mind’s eye?
If one chooses to be literal about what the genre’s name suggests, one can only see a form of greyness. It is possible that creative musicians with skills gained from other genres could draw inspiration from Grime, to create music with more colour and expressive range. Is this happening at present? I am not enough of a connoisseur to comment authoritatively.
Is it possible that Black British communities are doing themselves a form of violence by trying too hard to take on the attributes of the ethnic majority? The jury is still out about this.