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Lowkey: Is America A Bigger Terrorist Than Al Qaeda?

by Will Dalton
19 July 2012 10 Comments

UK rapper Lowkey asks "what’s the bigger threat to human society… remote controlled drones killing off human lives, or a man with homemade bomb committing suicide?”

“So, we must ask ourselves,’ begins British rapper Lowkey, in his track Terrorist, “what is the dictionary definition of Terrorism?  The systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion.

“But what is terror?”

A decade on from the Twin Towers tragedy, an event that now symbolises twenty-first century terrorism, it is an apt time to pose such questions. Whether you raised a glass or an enraged fist to the declarations of a ‘War on Terror’ after 9/11, and were filled with joy or riled by the celebrations  on America’s streets that met the death of Osama bin Laden this year, it is an unquestionably important time to evaluate how we perceive terrorism.

Lowkey, real name Kareem Dennis, would have been placed firmly in the latter camp regarding each of the above scenarios, as is clearly conveyed through the track in question. Terrorist, which has over 1.5 million views on YouTube, offers a damning critique of western foreign policy before and after the ground zero attacks. Akin to many leftist interpretations of post 9/11 international diplomacy, Lowkey argues that the western powers have twisted the definition of terrorism to suit their economic agenda and justify an assault on the resources harboured in the Middle East and beyond.

The Anglo-Iraqi’s lyrics also tackle events in the centuries preceding 9/11; events that in his view detract from any democracy-coated moral standing the likes of Britain and America have in political affairs overseas. In a nod to the United States’ role in removing the democratically elected leaders of the Congo, Iran and Chile respectively, Dennis laments:

“Lumumba was democracy, Mossadegh was democracy, Allende was democracy, hypocrisy it bothers me.”

Lowkey asks: “what’s the bigger threat to human society… remote controlled drones killing off human lives, or a man with homemade bomb committing suicide?”

Moving onto the post 9/11 years, with the States’ prolific use of drones and military base expansion, Lowkey asks: “what’s the bigger threat to human society… remote controlled drones killing off human lives, or a man with homemade bomb committing suicide?” Adding: “This is very basic, one nation in the world has over a thousand military bases.” Similar themes emerge in Dennis’ latest offering, Obama Nation Part 2 that went online this month. Along with widely-tipped British compatriot Black the Ripper, the track features M-1 from US duo Dead Prez, demonstrating Lowkey’s increasing impact across the pond. For further evidence, see charm-merchant Glenn Beck mocking Lowkey via his radio show on YouTube.

Though many have been enlightened and inspired by the rappers’ music, you don’t have to be as far-right as Beck to prefer a less dogmatic pursuit of his leftist political agenda. Yet, whether or not the arguments resonate with the listener, it is undoubtedly refreshing to have an artist from a scene derided for its superficiality willing to pose such questions. Lowkey was ranked 10th in MTV’s most recent Best UK MCs list, but unlike much of the work produced by fellow nominees Chipmunk, Skepta, Giggs and co, Dennis’ work attempts to provoke thought, political activism and social responsibility among today’s youth. A welcome trend that should be noted by commentators and politicians who pointed the finger of blame at British rap music after the London riots.

The current promo surrounding the October release of Lowkey’s second album, Soundtrack to the Struggle, seems well timed. Approaching the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, political discourse is already saturated with reflections on terrorism and western policy since the fateful morning in New York. Agree with his message or not, one should appreciate the efforts of a talented British hip-hop artist attempting to engage the youth with matters beyond their typical spectrum.

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image descriptionCOMMENTS

hannah 1:52 pm, 9-Sep-2011

Lowkey for president

Bertie B 9:57 pm, 9-Sep-2011

more than a bit of Gary Clail & on u-sound about this - and thats no bad ting!

SE25 5:17 am, 10-Sep-2011

Lowkey & Akala.

Chris 9:31 am, 10-Sep-2011

I watched the video, he's a talented performer. However, his opinions whilst valid are far from balanced. The images at the end of the song could easily be countered with a far more vile montage of atrocities committed by religious fanatics, those opposed to democracy and western civilization.

James Ingram 5:35 pm, 12-Sep-2011

I agree Chris, the opinions aren't 'balanced'. But they do not need to be balanced. His opinion is, as you say, valid, and that's the start and finish of it. He doesn't need to add some disclaimer verse in case some in 'the west' take offence, any more than Woody Guthrie's dustbowl ballads had to explain themselves to Eisenhower's 1940 America, or had to suggest the failed 'American Dream' that led to the Okie migration during the Great Depression was OK...America was still great. Those songs, 70 years ago, were fine to present from a single, experienced, viewpoint, and it's great to see that young performers like Lowkey keep alive that tradition. What would be even more impressive is that this represents the vanguard of some new punk-rap that doesn't fixate to bitches, ho's and humvees but instead articulates disaffection with the world he's growing up and growing older in. The punks soundtracked their lives brilliantly with agit-pop, and if a new breed of rappers can do the same with punk-rap, I'm all in favour. Marvellous piece of music, marvellous video. I love it.

Mikie 9:47 pm, 19-Jul-2012

Freedom of expressing artform is vitally important. However, a song does not enlighten my views on foreign policy. Read a fucking book.

Djpekingman 12:21 pm, 20-Jul-2012

Black the Ripper? Shame he didn't live in west yorkshire back in the late seventies early eighties. See how he feels about his witty play on words then. Not heard any of his stuff, but he's already on the knob pile for me. Call me reactionary, but if you lived in that atmosphere, passing through the ring of steel night after night, worried sick every time your girlfriend, sister or mother was a few minutes late then you'll understand my reaction.

myleftboot 2:35 pm, 20-Jul-2012

He isn't the only MC of this type, there are many avoiding the drug laden braggadocio stereotype. If you can't be bothered to put the time and in, does that reflect on hip hop, or you?

jake 11:20 pm, 19-Oct-2012

Mikie, might i suggest that these songs may not be intended to educate in full,rather intended to spark a interest in less spoken of issues. Lowkey's music is a great source of information to BEGIN your education, try fact cracking his information, that's where you might learn something new.

lowkey mk. 2 2:10 am, 10-Dec-2012

chris and james mates- the western civilization are aganist them. they evoke them to commit those 'vile atrocities' i mean do you know how many times afghanistans been invaded by england? all these arab rulers who are droppin left rite and center were placed in by the west and had dere support once upon a time they also split up the muslimarab lands which led to many rifts n wars and intro of dictators my point? west need to stop nosin in da east

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