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  • I'd like to thank Goldie for introducing me.

  • Thank you guys for having me here.

  • I got kicked out of school in year ten

  • and no other schools would take me.

  • I had to go to a Pupil Referral Unit,

  • which is also known as a PRU.

  • I went to Tunmarsh Centre in Plaistow

  • and at this school... I was there with other kids

  • from a lot more dysfunctional families than me.

  • They'd been through a lot more than me.

  • And one thing we shared in common is

  • we didn't have any respect for authority,

  • whether it be teachers or police.

  • I think the reason why we didn't have respect for authority

  • was because we felt that we're ignored by society.

  • That we didn't belong to it.

  • And so we wouldn't listen to anyone

  • apart from our favorite rappers.

  • You know -- There was underground music out there that we would listen to.

  • We would let this music raise us

  • and most of these artists we'd never meet in our lives

  • but their words are what guided us.

  • And unfortunately, some of those words are negative.

  • You know, within hip hop, there is that kind of --

  • that hip hop that romanticizes street life and being a gangster and selling drugs.

  • There is that.

  • But there's also conscious hip hop.

  • And I was a fan of the conscious hip hop.

  • I was a fan of the hip hop that was like poetry,

  • it was like reading a book.

  • And it changed your life. Just one sentence could change your life.

  • And I've realized that this was a powerful tool

  • and I wanted to change things.

  • I wanted to change the stuff that I read in the paper or the stuff that I came in direct contact with,

  • that I didn't agree with.

  • Damilola Taylor was ten years old when he lost his life.

  • He was stabbed by a kid

  • that was maybe only three or four years older than him.

  • This is a child killing another child.

  • I didn't agree with this.

  • I didn't agree with the mentality.

  • There are a lot of these kids [this was going around with]

  • but I understood why [there is going around with it].

  • I understood that they were from broken families

  • they had parents that were probably alcoholics, drug addicts, dysfunctional.

  • That raised them up to believe they could never make anything of themselves

  • because them, as parents never made anything of themselves.

  • There's a lot of kids that grow up in families where they're abused,

  • whether it be physically or mentally.

  • The great thing about the Tunmarsh Centre was

  • that it was a place where these kids could go for the first time in their lives

  • and be showed encouragement and motivation,

  • and be told that they could make something of their lives.

  • And this school changed my life.

  • I watched Goldie's TED lecture from last year and he said, basically,

  • the same things that I'm saying today.

  • That there's one person out there that can change these kids' lives, you know.

  • They can come from a negative family environment.

  • They only have to bump into one person that can plant one positive seed

  • in their head and in their heart and it can change their life.

  • And Tunmarsh Centre was full of these positive teachers.

  • And when I left there, I went on this journey,

  • through hip hop music,

  • and I decided to write an album to try to reach out to these kids

  • and try to, in some ways, I guess, be a father figure to these kids

  • because they were parentless.

  • And that's what my first record was.

  • I found -- with my first record, there was a lot of stumbling blocks

  • the music industry, the way that it works.

  • You know, it's not built for the way I make hip hop music.

  • If I want to talk to these kids, if I want to get through to them,

  • I've got to talk in their language.

  • I've got to swear.

  • I've got to talk about violent negative things

  • because that's what they're attracted to.

  • But -- my methods of trying to teach positivity were unorthodox.

  • I wanted to hook them in by making my hip hop, on first listen,

  • sound like it was the rest of the hip hop out there.

  • But when you listen deeper, you'd actually find there was a meaning within it,

  • and it was positive.

  • It wasn't glamorizing gang culture.

  • It was exposing it for what it really was.

  • The grim reality that, if you get shot nine times,

  • you're gonna die.

  • Alright?

  • You know, 50 Cent is lucky to be alive.

  • But in reality, you get shot once, you're gonna die.

  • And I guess the first album was almost like the anti-smoking campaigns.

  • You know, where you see a main artery with a load of shit coming out of it.

  • It's trying to scare us into not smoking.

  • To think about our actions.

  • And that's what I think the first record was.

  • And it was very hard to get it played on radio.

  • So I took a break from it,

  • because I started hating music, you know,

  • and I took a break from the politics of hip hop.

  • I tried to get "ill Manors" made.

  • And I had a lot of big film companies that was interested in making it,

  • but nobody wanted to take a chance on me

  • because I was an un-tested, un-tried director.

  • I was ready to make "ill Manors" before this album came out.

  • And the only reason I didn't make it was because no-one would back me

  • until this album came out and went straight to number one.

  • And then suddenly people wanted to give me their money.

  • But by then, it was too late. I had already done a deal

  • to make this film on a small budget.

  • And the reason why I care about it so much

  • is because this project was me going back,

  • going back to Tunmarsh Centre,

  • going back to the schools in the local area,

  • specifically targeting the poor schools in the local area.

  • Because I needed kids to represent the characters in this story, in a real way.

  • I couldn't have Thespians.

  • At fourteen years of age, you can't expect a fourteen-year-old kid,

  • who's not from this world to portray this world.

  • You can't expect that.

  • The one school that invited us in with open arms was Rokeby School,

  • which doesn't exist anymore. It's an all-boys school in Stratford.

  • And I found some gems there. I found some real talent there.

  • You know, I only had one space, for one role.

  • And it was like five kids. The one other kid that didn't make it into my film,

  • off the back of us knowing about him and the casting director taking another job,

  • he got the main part in "Top Boy".

  • So the young man in "Top Boy" is someone that through failing to get into my film,

  • got another opportunity off the back of it.

  • And that filled me with even more purpose.

  • So when you've got these kids giving you 100 percent,

  • and they're believing in you and expecting you to pull through for them,

  • how could I neglect this project?

  • How could I enjoy the success of what students make?

  • I couldn't!

  • Not coming where I come from.

  • So... I'm gonna play you a little bit of my next single

  • and we'll talk about it afterwards.

  • (Music)

  • [Lyrics] Let's all go on an urban safari, we might see some illegal migrants.

  • [Lyrics] Oi, look there's a chav. That means council housed and violent.

  • [Lyrics] He's got a hoodie on, give him a hug. On second thoughts, don't, you don't wanna get mugged.

  • [Lyrics] Oh shit, too late, that was kinda dumb. Whose idea was that? ...Stupid.

  • [Lyrics] He's got some front, ain't we all? Be the joker, play the fool.

  • [Lyrics] What's politics, ain't it all smoke and mirrors, April fools?

  • [Lyrics] All year round, all in all just another brick in the wall

  • [Lyrics] Get away with murder in the schools, use four letter swear words coz we're cool

  • [Lyrics] We're all drinkers, drug takers every single one of us burns the herb

  • [Lyrics] Keep on believing what you read in the papers council estate kids, scum of the earth

  • [Lyrics] Think you know how life on a council estate is from everything you've ever read about it or heard

  • [Lyrics] Well it's all true, so stay where you're safest there's no need to step foot out the 'burbs

  • [Lyrics] Truth is here, we're all disturbed we cheat and lie, it's so absurd

  • [Lyrics] Feed the fear that's what we've learned Fuel the fireLet it burn.

  • [Lyrics] Oi! I said Oi! What you looking at, you little rich boy!

  • [Lyrics] We're poor 'round here, run home and lock your door

  • [Lyrics] Don't come 'round here no more, you could get robbed for real

  • [LyricsYeah, because my manner's ill.

  • [Lyrics] My manner's ill, for real. Yeah you know my manner's ill, my manner's ill!

  • [Lyrics] You could get lost in this concrete jungle. New builds keep springing up outta nowhere.

  • [Lyrics] Take the wrong turn down a one way junction, find yourself in the hood, nobody goes there.

  • [Lyrics] We got an Eco-friendly government they preserve our natural habitat.

  • [Lyrics] Built an entire Olympic village around where we live without pulling down any flats

  • (Applause)

  • I wanna ask you guys: What is this a picture of?

  • A what?

  • (Audience:) A youth!

  • (Plan B:) A youth.

  • Oh no, that's not me!

  • (Laughter)

  • What is it, though? What is it?

  • (Audience: It's a child.)

  • (Plan B:) It's a child, it's a boy.

  • Yeah? Alright.

  • What's that?