LONDON POSSE - “How’s Life in London” 1993
The quintessential UK hip hop group. Founding members, rappers Rodney P and Bionic, both from south London, transformed the sound of UK hip hop by rapping in the own accents and using London slang while infusing their sound with Jamaican ragga/dancehall.

Spotted by Mike Jones of The Clash in 1986 they supported his band, Big Audio Dynamite. On a trip to New York when the still unnamed band were referred to at the London Posse, after their hometown, and the name stuck.  Their debut album Gangster Chronicles was voted the most important UK hip hop album of all time.

Key scenes for “How’s Life in London” was shot in on Frontline aka Atlantic Road/Railton Road in Brixton.

SMILEY CULTURE - “Cockney Translation” (1984)
Smiley Culture was raised in Stockwell, a neighbourhood bordering Brixton, and went to Tulse Hill School - the same school as Linton Kwesi Johnson and Ken Livingston the first Mayor of London.

Smiley was part of Saxon Sound System and was famed for his “fast chat” style.  "Cockney Translation", his second hit, explains the difference between London cockney slang and Jamaican patois, translating the two. The song gives a great insight into the language and vocabulary continues to be uses by Londoners in the 21st century. 

He died tragically while police were raiding his home in 2011. The conditions surrounding his death and the subsequent investigation are seen as a contributing factor to the 2011 UK riots.

LINTON KWESI JOHNSON - “Di Great Insohreckshan” (1984)

Linton Kwesi Johnson (LKJ) is (still) often just know as The Poet in Brixton. Born in Jamaica he came to join his mother as a child and attended Tulse Hill School. As a school boy he became involved with the Black Panther Movement and it was at the Panther House in Brixton that he was introduced to the writing of people like WEB Du Bois was an early inspiration. LKJ still lives locally and frequently performs in Brixton. In 2002 he became the second living poet, and the only black poet, to be published in the Penguin Modern Classics series.

This poem directly references the causes and events of the 1981 Uprising
EDDY GRANT -“ Living on the Frontline” (1979)
Released about 12 months before the 1981 Uprising/Riots. The chorus became a protest chant as they held back the police on Atlantic Road/Railton Road, Brixton’s Frontline.

THE SOUTHLANDERS - “The Mole in the Hole” (1959)
(my Dad’s favourite song as a kid)
The Southlanders were a Jamaican / British vocal group. Originally founded as The Caribbeans by Trinidadian singer, actor and folklorist Edric Connor. They were briefly know as The South Londoners before shortening their name to The Southlanders. They regularly performed at Carnaby Street nightclub the Sunset Club owned by Jamaican Brixtonian Gus Leslie. Member Harry Wilmot was a passenger on the Empire Windrush in 1948. His son, Gary Wilmot is became a well know musical theatre performer and television presenter in the UK.

LORD KITCHENER - “London Is the Place for Me” (1948)
This is the studio version song that Trinidadian calypsonian Lord Kitchener performed for the Pathe cameras on the decks of the Empire Windrush when it docked in Tilbury in June 1948.

Lord Kitchener is a master Calypsonian, second only to the legendary Mighty Sparrow, Calypso is the Trinidadian art of “telling the news in verse. Written while he was on board the Empire Windrush this song is seen as the anthem of the Windrush generation. Listen out for the bells at the beginning and end of the song, these are the chimes of Big Ben.

One of the first places that Kitch performed in the UK in 1948 was the Queen’s Head pub on Bellefield Road in Brixton and at Lambeth Assembly Hall alongside fellow Empire Windrush passenger Rannie Hart.