Guest Post by Jack Van Cooten
Those who have an interest in UK grime music may have stumbled across Chronik’s latest offering “Deepest Darkest”. The video, released via Noisey last week, was filmed in Ghana earlier this year and is staged in the fictional nation ‘The Democratic Republic of ‘Uduno’’, which is assumed to be the DRC, based on the map at the beginning of the video. Whilst VICE, who curate Noisey, aren’t exactly well-known for their diligent and impartial reporting style when it comes to foreign affairs, this seems to have taken them to new levels of sensationalism.
It features Chronik as a heavily armed rebel leader who is reported to be the “new face of terror in Africa” (by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1978; not sure who fact-checked that one). At one point, the camouflage-clad leader ominously claims
All those who do not comply to my rules and regulations will meet the full force of my entire army. We will go anywhere we have to go, and crush anyone we have to crush. We will destroy your livestock. We will destroy any means you have of survival. Slew dem, slew dem, slew dem.
Whilst grime is no stranger to hyperbolically violent videos and lyrics, this is perhaps the most extreme example that I can recollect. It explicitly glorifies African conflict and capitalizes on the fear and violence that it entails. Complete with the usual Heart of Darkness discourses, many of the scenes involve terrified villagers running away from Chronik and his gun-wielding soldiers. As if this wasn’t ridiculous enough, the rapper from Stratford also appears to have developed a bizarre affinity with a crocodile, which he sits on throughout the video as he spouts his dire lyrics.
Aside from the almost humorously ignorant visuals, the lyrics are nothing more than a series of consecutive menacing and aimless threats, devoid of substance, direction or flow.
I would like to think that Chronik is presenting some kind of clever critique of the way that the media represents Africans and African conflict as savage and barbaric, and that it’s just too clever a metaphor for me to understand. Yeah, it’s probably that.
* Jack Van Cooten is a Geography undergraduate at the University of Sheffield, keen traveler and music enthusiast. He runs the Banana Hill music events in Sheffield.