From PJ Harvey’s war-torn rose we highlight another even more work that’s also bang on the money about Britain and beyond. Brockley’s Tempest is a 31-year-old playwright and rapper whose 2016 album, Let Them Eat Chaos, puts her alongside the likes of The Streets, Plan B, Dizzee Rascal and Seaford Mods, in nailing the contemporary zeitgeist in inner city British culture and beyond. The title refers, undoubtedly, to the Brexit vote too and has a dystopian double-edge. Confusion over identity, the churn of work and loss of values, rising racism, environmental disaster, Donald Trump and political divide are all alluded to with a mixture of buzzwords and literary references, personal perspective and echoed phrases. So her poem spans Britain, Europe and beyond. It is very much about modern urban isolation within a whirl of unstoppable activity. This form of rap can sometimes overbalance the “tell” element more than the “show”, and be perceived as preachy, but here Tempest gets it dead right, the proto-industrial sound working perfectly alongside her voice, with a series of ironic, killer lines and vivid images in a superbly edited video. She has certainly found a medium to show how society is lost.
People are dead in their lifetimes,
Dazed in the shine of the streets.
But look how the traffic keeps moving.
The system’s too slick to stop working.
Business is good. And there’s bands every night in the pubs,
And there’s two for one drinks in the clubs .…
It’s big business baby and its smile is hideous.
Top-down violence, structural viciousness.
Your kids are doped up on medical sedatives.
But don’t worry bout that. Worry 'bout terrorists.
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