George the Poet: He Has Too Much Love for the Ends
You may or may not have heard about George the Poet, but he is definitely a force to be reckoned with. Born in London and of Ugandan Heritage, he is arguably the best thing to have been produced in 1991.
The Search Party tour officially started in one of the beautiful antiquated rooms of Bristol’s Everyman Cinema. To be honest, we had no idea what to expect upon our arrival. A concert? A film? A documentary? Tickets were bought with an open mind, as I was genuinely interested in whatever creative genius this wordsmith had to display. Walking into the cinema, the sofas matched the ambience, the calm red glow of the room, quite a contrast anyone would agree, from “Skelewu” and other African bops blasting from the speakers. A generous number of people were already seated, everyone relaxed but just as eager to have their wigs blown away as I was.
Fast forward a couple of minutes and the room is quiet, deathly so. The lights dim even further, a melody begins to play, and George’s voice fills the room, just as laid-back, as captivating, as comforting and as unapologetically London as it was coming out of my headphones earlier that morning. A funny piece about the charade between women and men who don’t text back quickly enough, always quick to cite “I’m that guy”. A little joke here, a little blunt truth there and sure enough the amazing live band is already engaging the crowd. The lights transition from red to pink to a deep warm orange to blue and a range of other eye-catching hues, matching the tone of the poems. The topics start off with a bang, the first one being about his exit from his label, often citing comparisons to Brexit. I am yet to see an artist more passionate about his people than this guy.
“Just because something isn’t your fault doesn’t mean it’s not your problem.” In this context, he spoke in relation to politics but in reality, we can equate it to many things. Just because you weren’t a slave owner doesn’t mean you should turn a blind eye to injustice, privilege needs to be used for the greater good daily. Just because you’re an international student doesn’t mean you have no business fighting for black lives and spaces in the diaspora because in the end, you’re still just another black person who just might become a hashtag as long as you’re here.
“You gotta handle ya biz, don’t get distracted by them other man doing bits.” As groovy as this bit was, it clicked me into perspective. As we’ve gotten older, it is more and more common to see people out there, same age as you doing absolutely wonderful things and getting caught up in that. People often say “focus on your own journey, your time will come”, but often times I ask myself, “When? Why not now?”.
During summer especially, I went through a phase where I was completely beating myself up because so many people were harnessing their talents and going places, and there I was, waking up in the afternoon to cheerios and Netflix almost every day, when I knew I had the potential to flourish. I vowed (so dramatic, Kamara) that when I came to university, I would make use of every opportunity available to me, not because I wanted to ‘flex’ on people, but because I’m trying to build myself up in a way that I haven’t done for the last two years and find out how far I can stretch myself. I would encourage anyone and everyone to get involved at uni, build character, garnish your CV, experience new things, because at the end of the day, it will be such a shame if all you took out of university was the opportunity to get wasted every single night.
We glide from talk on the denial of climate change, to the heavy subject of abortion and unprotected sex and stigma on these topics, aided by the words of his song, Baby Father from the Chicken and the Egg EP. “Stigma around sex and child birth is still the leading reason why 75% of HIV infected people in Sub-Saharan Africa do not receive treatment.” Know who you’re dealing with and know who you can speak to when you’re dealing with what you’re dealing with.
We sail through the criminal justice system, mind-boggling statistics that prove it doesn’t take a genius to see there’s a problem with the system. Did you know that England has the highest rate of child imprisonment in the whole of western Europe? Go on, go and read a Howard league report. Goosebumps begin to pop up one by one, as he recounts a conversation he had with some youths during one of his usual visits to prison.
“Rap’s a commodity, it’s gotta be the best thing adapted from poverty.” Man. I have no words about this piece. It was so distinct and influential you need to hear it for yourself. There is power in his words. He speaks with the voice of a man with a vision, a voice underlined with a plea for understanding, empathy, action. My heart physically quakes when he performs the song, Search Party. I am filled with so much emotion, the need to make a difference, a dent in this little world, “as long as you’re courageous, I promise you, you’re gonna see some changes.”
There is absolutely no questioning the immense standing ovation he receives at the end of this performance, it is overwhelming. I am staring at this wonder of a human being wondering how I’m going to begin a new life without my edges, while still screaming at the top of my voice. And he remains, sincere as ever, not quite knowing what to do with all the applause. The awkward exit was a given!
But wait, about a minute after he leaves, someone screams, “COME ON GEORGE”, and that’s it. The whole crowd is chanting “George! George!”. It’s a madness. He does a slight jog back to the stage and hits us with another banger, I feel a slight loss the final time he exits the stage. I asked one of the audience members how she felt about the performance, and she paused to gather her thoughts for a while, before she breathed out, “Amazing. I feel like I need to sort my life out now. He actually not only addresses the problems but he offers solutions as well. HE HAS A PLAN.”
The Search Party App is being released when the tour concludes and you’re going to be able to watch the live performances on there. Basically, you get the full lyrics and interpretation, and an information pack containing loads of facts and figures about all the topics discussed. Then, a set of instructions to aid you in your social activism. You can sign a petition, join a demonstration or start your own thing. It’s such an amazing opportunity man, definitely subscribe, and allow your edges to be scraped away strand by strand as mine were.
“YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE, YOU GOTTA MAKE IT COUNT.”