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Lowkey urges us not to forget about Grenfell with powerful visual

11 Aug 2017

New Lowkey track ‘Ghosts of Grenfell’ features survivors and footage of the fire in powerful visual tribute to victims.

London rapper, poet and activist Lowkey has released a track which pays tribute to the victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster, demanding accountability and justice.

The video, produced and directed by filmmaker Fahim Alam, features local residents and survivors of the fire, as well as community leaders of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Before releasing the video, Lowkey wrote about it on his Facebook page:

“In attempting to define the narrative and cultivate an ambience welcoming to radical societal shifts we have no choice but to confront the culture of power with the power of culture.”

Known for commentating on the daily societal issues that working-class minorities face, it comes as no surprise that Lowkey is as unfiltered and unapologetic as ever on this latest release. The tone and lyrics capture the shocking scenes of the tragedy, as well as the mood of its aftermath in an incredibly honest way.

The rapper and political activist lives in a neighbouring tower block, next to Grenfell and watched people who were trapped in the building on the night of 14 June, which is what makes the lyrics and visual all the more visceral.

He raps about his own friend, Yasin, who died in the fire:

“They say Yasin saw the fire and he ran inside,
Who thought that would be the site where he and his family died
The street is like graveyard, a tombstone lurching over us
No shouting out to their windows, I wish they never woke ‘em up”

Yesterday, it was announced that 600 people, including 100 children, have been referred for specialist mental health assessments in the wake of the disaster.

According to the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, the referrals were made as a result of calls made to a specialist hot line, as well as GP appointments and walk-in appointments at The Curve community centre in the neighbourhood. The 600 people who have been referred include witnesses traumatised by the events of the night, survivors from the fire and bereaved families.

The song then lists missing people. The final lyrics draw on the ongoing state of the crisis and how it has been handled by authorities:

“The blood is on your hands,
There will be ashes on your grave,
Like a phoenix we will rise”

Two days after he witnessed the tragedy, Lowkey told The Canary:

“You have corporations competing over the outsourcing of what should be functions of the council, and functions of the state. And so often, they want to get the highest profit they can, so they do jobs which are just not up to par.

“The way I see it, it has to be the death knell of the Theresa May government. Neoliberalism is discredited. Austerity is discredited. It is a political choice. It doesn’t have to be this way. And it is a matter of life and death”

The video has been shared already by the likes of JME, Frankie Boyle and Riz Ahmed, with over 48,000 YouTube views already.