Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Is Dizzee Rascal the most influential Black person in London?

Rapper Dizzee Rascal

So before I begin let me just start by saying this post is not intended to be a personal attack on Dizzee Rascal, as the issue I am about to address is actually not his fault.

Ok, well picture this. I was on the underground today reading the Evening Standard newspaper whilst waiting to reach my destination. Flicking through the pages I came across an article on page 4 entitled “The 20 people who keep London leading in the world”. Amongst some of the figures were Boris Johnson, The Mayor of London; Stella McCartney, fashion designer; Mervyn King, Bank of England Governor and Lord Coe, London Olympic Organising Committee chairman. And then at number 18 my eyes gleamed on Dizzee Rascal, occupation rapper and most notably the only Black figure to enter the top 20 line up.

Subconsciously I screwed up my face. And then I started to ask myself why am I actually annoyed to see him there? After all Dizzee is doing it big. You know he came from the streets of East London and is now an award winning number one selling artist. But despite his success is he really London’s most influential Black person?

Where is David Lammy MP for Tottenham or Charlene White who presents the ITV London News? Furthermore what about Sherry Dixon, the editor of Pride Magazine or Idris Elba the critically acclaimed actor who has starred in Law and Order and most notably known for his role in The Wire and whose success is shamelessly ignored by the British media?

Is The Evening Standard really trying to say that the most influential Black Londoner is Dizzee Rascal? When without even scratching the surface I can name several Black Londoners who have far more influence than Dizzee with far more reaching positive effects. As I said at the beginning I have no personal qualms with Dizzee but it just winds me up when I read things like this from the main stream media that insinuate that the only thing Black people will ever be rewarded for is rapping and the images that this subsequently conjures up. If they really couldn't find a Black person that they felt worthy enough for the title then they should have left it vacant. But please spare the token figure, as it's insulting!

So I have to wonder who did they collect their data from (certainly not me or anyone I know)? What message are they really trying to send out? And do you agree that he is the most influential Black person in London?


  1. I never understood why apart from June Sarpong, Dizzee was chosen to give a running commentary on Obama's inauguration. I was cringing through most of it because I was wondering if any non-Brits would get a word of what he was saying. And most of what I could see was him throwing his hands around and saying "...you na mean...".

    I guess the media are trying to show that they're paying attention to the black youth. I'm sure he's inspiring to some kids somewhere, but they could be sending a better message if they cared to.

  2. You know, I read the same article and thought the very same thing. I mean Dizzie has done well for himself and all but HOW on earth is he the most influential black person in London? But then if you look above his name in the list there you see Lilly Allen, and you breath a sigh of relief...this is clearly NOT serious reporting!

  3. Well first and foremost that particular newspaper prints rubbish, as for Dizzie being the most influential black person in London is so nonsensecal. He does appeal to younger generation who wish to persue a career in the music industry but thats as far as it goes. He doesn't represent me or any other black person i no, but he has done very well for himself and for that i congratualate the boy. the media once again wants black people to look inferior as a race.

  4. You've touched on an interesting point- the selection of black entertainment and black entertainers, as the symbol of success.
    Dizzee's got some fun music, but he's an entertainer, and the argument that a successful entertainer equates influence and justifies him providing political commentary is a shallow one.

  5. It's Obvious! Being black is not longer the issue, "young blacks" are the new stereotype. They are not ridiculing us by making him an idol, the youngsters do that themselves(making him an idol that is, not ridiculing us). They are simply congratulating him on his alternative to "street life". Think of it like this, of those influential few how many of them are under the age of 25?

  6. I hear what your saying as me and Dizzee are the same age. I have no problem with him being an idol either, when he exploded I was one of the first people to go crazy over his tune "i love you" so I completely get Dizzee and his rise to success (although I don't get his present music but thats a different issue).

    The point is for me the majority of the time when I am confronted with images of Black Briton by the mainstream media they tend to be of one type - the rapper. And it's as if they have championed Dizzee to be their mascot to reinforce the point that is being made (whether intentionally or not) that the image of the Black rapper will be celebrated to mainstream England, as if that is Black Britons sole contribution to England.

    I don't think there are a lack of under 25 Black role models as I speak to many everyday. The issue is they are not given the opportunity to showcase themselves to the masses because the mainstream media have all ready got an image of Black Briton and anything that does not fit into that mould is not promoted.

    Are we really trying to suggest that Black British under 25's are all about rapping and music? That may be a part of our social make up. But by no means are we that one dimensional. But for some reason this side is very much neglected!

  7. Fame these days is youth! And how do you get rich quick other that entertain! It avoids years of education usually just raw talent, in some cases luck (Florida) We dont have time!

  8. I agree with Agnes: having Dizzee rascal as the most influential person reinforces the stereotype of black people eternally young, with all the negative connotations that go with it: juvenile, un-disciplined, with no real history.. It also shows that mainstream media still don't care about our culture: there was no research, they only chose the most "visible" person

  9. So many people have made it big and to see that the most they could come up with was dizzee does make you wonder.


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