Sunday 22nd April marked the 25th anniversary of the 1993 murder of Stephen Lawrence in South East London – an event that seemed to crystallize a perfect storm of discontents around race in the UK. Not only did this horrific killing take place, as Lawrence family solicitor Imran Khan put it, “simply because [Stephen] was black”. It did so against the backdrop of an ugly upsurge in far right politics that in September 1993 would see the BNP win their first London council seat on the Isle of Dogs. Lifting a stone on Metropolitan Police institutional racism, the investigation also illustrated the vast chasm in treatment between white and non-white Londoners as they inhabited the world.
As London rap came of age in the early 1990s, this turbulent moment became its sine qua non subject – an uncompromising, immediate window on perspectives that were otherwise ignored. Here, then, is a vivid sonic slice of British history, and a timely reminder as our politics once again swings right.