Thursday, November 03, 2005


London's very own mayor, Ken Livingstone, has done a Ms Dynamite. We don't mean in the sense of a disappointingly lacklustre second collection - although, come to think of it, since he got re-elected he hasn't exactly been releasing top ten hits, has he? - and having a pop at plastic gangsta rappers for more-or-less forcing black kids to carry guns and knives:

"Gun crime, knife crime - they are the only crime categories that continue to rise. With role models like So Solid Crew, there is almost an inevitability about that and people in the public eye should consider the role models they set," the mayor said.

He added: "This idea, that it is fun to use guns and knives - particularly when that is big bands or rap artists - is a role model that ends up killing kids.

"The people that do that in the public eye need to realise they are responsible for that. Their actions set the standard that kids pick up. Some overpaid rap artists swinging around with a gun or knife...the consequences of their behaviour is a kid lying dead in the street."

The curiosity, of course, is that most of the So Solids were cheeky little stage school kids before they were in the band, which presumably means they were equally bad influences on themselves as they were on everybody else. And while we understand Ken's point, just going "well, it's the rappers with their knives, isn't it?" hardly explains anything, does it? If rappers thought that dressing as bunny rabbits and singing songs about ponys would bring them massive sales, they'd be doing that. Unless you start asking why the culture is apparently generating so many songs about stabbing, and why they resonate so effectively with the target audience, you're going to get nowhere.

And while we knwo it's not exactly contempt of court, we were a bit surprised to see Ken stood in one part of London condemning the So Solids, while in another part of the same city, Romeo So Solid was denying charges of wounding with intent.

Romeo - real name Marvin Dawkins - denies cutting Ejay Armstrong's face during a pointless argument outside the Cirque in Leicester Square. (If we were Dawkins, we'd be desperately denying we'd even set foot in such a place.) The prosecution is a bit sniffy about Romeo:

"He was known to various people because he happens to be something of a celebrity as he used to belong to So Solid Crew," Miss Forshaw told the court.

Although, to be honest, we doubt that he'd be spotted in the line-up round on Never Mind The Buzzcocks these days. The case continues.