01. COVER.jpg
 

The Backstory

The EP is set on an estate in South London. It was approached as an audio film with each track representing a scene. The story unfolds as a set of choices that young people have to make and life lessons we have to learn while growing up in this environment as we are figuring out who we are and who we want to become.

It’s called ‘Out of Darkness’ for 3 reasons:

1.     It’s set in a “Dark” place. The Darkness being the crime, struggle and consequences of poverty that exist here but the love, friendship, community, life lessons, tools of survival, art and talent are what grows out of this dark place, what makes this dark place special and what I’ve captured in this body of work.

2.     It’s my first body of work since I began this Spoken word/storytelling journey 7 years ago and this project is the first time I am going to be revealed to the world.

3.     All of these stories and the best of what I write are written in darkness. In my house at around 2:23am with the lights turned off or dimmed, when the world is asleep but my imagination is awake. I’ll be pacing around recording lines on my phone, developing images in my head and giving life to concepts that are dying to exist. Creating in darkness helps me see the images in my head a lil more clearly, helps me block out all distraction and fully connect with the core of each concept.

 

This project started off as a collection of Poems to be published for a poetry book, however I then got an opportunity via Arts Council to turn it into an album. When the world shutting down interrupted that plan, I was forced to adapt it. It turned into an audiobook but I wasn’t happy with what it was turning into. It then morphed into what you hear now, an Audio Experience of the place I grew up in. 

I want to thank the Most High for helping me gravitate towards storytelling as a hobby, a passion and a career. I want to thank all of my friends and family for inspiring me to become a better version of myself, all of which transfers to my art. Thank you to all of the listeners after each performance who quote my words back to me and tell me how much it impacted them. I want to thank Sarah Castro for the introduction to Zab Spencer and for the endless support leading up to this project. I want to thank Zab Spencer, he’s been more than an engineer during this process, he’s been a friend, a mentor, a music scholar and a human Google!

I want to thank Social Ark & Lisa Stepanovic for putting me in rooms and introducing me to people that helped develop me into the kind of artist who can put together a project like this. Farda Jaymez who produced this project, he put up with my perfectionist side, and helped me make miracles happen. Mum & my siblings for introducing me to the art of storytelling via HipHop, and for helping to nurture my skills. I want to thank the Spoken word community for constantly inspiring me and forcing me to push my pen as far as I can. I want to thank South London, Brixton for giving me all of these stories, experiences and shaping me into the man I am today.

I want to thank Arts Council for funding this project! I want to thank everyone who heard the first draft of this project and found a nice way to tell me it was trash (lol), it forced me to level up, go back in and really consider which form I wanted this audio experience to take. Lastly, I want to thank myself for not quitting.

 

 

L

Lyrics:

 

Two friends

 

Are you sure you know the destination

 

One sec

 

Your just staring at your phone did you get the text

stating location and address

How does man know its not a set up

 

One second im getting fed up with these questions

Ever since we left the station

Come like your scared

 

Scared, when we were sliding in that swollen wip,

You were shaking soo much you could barely load the clip,

I caught a body like it fell from the sky

then went raving don’t come to man with no scared ting

This is next mans estate and

Im anxious I need to get back to south

 

Just hold it down we’re going to do business

pick up the strap drop the money and bounce

 

Say no more I forget hes your boy

 

I wouldn’t say that I swear that’s the house

 

What hes your boy you said you two

used to go school you trusted the guy

 

Noooo I said we had a phone call you must have been high

 

Fam you said you used to go school with the yout

your messing with my head

I knew rolling with you would be something to regret

theres nothing to be said to doubt this, I hope you aint shook

That same cars been following since

man arrived and I know you aint looked

 

What car, forget the car there some any younger

look at them they aint crooks

Just hold it down the youts cool

we got mutual friends on facebook

 

Facebook? I cant wait till this Is heard in the ends

You got me outchea no car or protection

not to mention all this P buying a

strap from your virtual friend

If this flops im gonna punch you up,

 

Its not gonna flop it’ll go to plan

 

yeah im still gonna punch you up

Who paints a front door with graffiti

And they got boards at every window

are you sure this is the right house

 

Yeah, yeah I think so,

 

I cant put all the blame on him tho

Not knowing what was on the other side

of that door should have made me turn back then

but I haven’t got the heart to not

Soldier it on through adversity

I’m from a dark place look at this scarred face

backing down doesn’t work for me im hard to shock

We approached the front door cautiously

it opened up before we had the chance to knock

 

Darkness covered all angles of the doorway

there wasn’t a thing to see

Except the living room table supporting a bottle of henny

Surrounded by plastic cups

they looked like unfinished drinks to me

A reaper look alike appeared from the abyss

smoking a spliff,

 

Yo you got the P

 

Yo you got the ting

 

Yo you bring the P

 

Yeah mans got that

 

Cool cah you know man don’t get a ting for free

 

We forced that moment of friendly laughter

The vibe turned empty after,

He pointed us towards the table

where he offered a shot of henny

 

Nah, nah.

 

He bent down behind the sofa,

picking up a bag dropped it on the table

in a nonchalant manner,

My bredrin looked at me like a told you so,

we sat down to have a look

 

As expected, It was as empty as my hope

of getting back to south alive,

I looked back up at the yout,

he took out a knife

And was surrounded by what could’ve been

ten or a thousand guys

Either way we’re out numbered

 

I looked at my boy he’s looking back at me

I saw the fear deep in his eyes,

We both smelt the scent of death in the atmosphere

Henny bottle near, I felt the tense urge to grab it

my boy already planned it,

He picked it up and smashed it

against the wooden table started pointing it at them

in self defense,

 

This fool brought us here,

and only now he’s got his wealth of sense,

But these youts weren’t on no negotiations,

everyones holding something except for me

and we know the saying

Every man for themselves, having said that

my boys looking real selfish

with that broken glass from the hennessy,

To my front I see 6 blades

approaching my torso with energy,

I’ve lived by the knife so maybe this was meant to be,

1.5 gallons of blood in the human body

and they’re starting to empty me,

 

I saw colours you’d only get to see on LSD

so now im dancing around the table

dodging hands but blades

pierce my skin like its made of butter,

Im tryna hide behind my friend

hes got the only form of defense

while im inbetween consciousness and my

temperatures rising higher than bajan summer

Im seeing bodies hit the floor

as well as imagines of my mum and my baby brother

 

Whos to blame in a world where buying a strap

for protection is a social trend

I thought id live to see more than such a soulful end

My near death experience was

interrupted by my so called friend

with a moment of inspiration he smashed through

the garden door and sped off like Fred flint stone

no looking back that actually shocked me

 

Left me with this army of defeat, heart on its last beat,

I jumped through the same door tryna keep up to him,

having to put pressure on these knife wounds

and tucking internal organs back in my body.

 

Reflecting on and writing this story made me understand a lil more why listening when Mum had a weird feeling about a certain “friend” was important to listen to. This is the moment before the end. The end being ‘John’ and the start being ‘Rehearsals’... the turning point being ‘Summertime’.

 

 

John Malkovich

 

You ever wake up drenched in a cold sweat

Scenes of death playing in your head

nightmares of dead friends’ unfulfilled dreams

They stay in your head, those around you won’t get it

Being John Malkovich

I’ve excepted the fact they now live through me

I was in pain the day my G was murdered

It was a weird feeling beneath the surface

You know when you know something’s wrong

But it’s a sensation way beyond a gut feeling

Its like the bullet entered him but I was the one bleeding

 

World war to turf way, bullets are worth more

Than grave yards still we insist

on burying bullets deep inside

Paranoia is the guardian angel

keeping soldiers on the streets alive

You can run the roads

but can’t out run head strong hollow tips

How has it come to this,

we pour soo much liquor  for the fallen

we run the risk

Of drowning ourselves

before we drown our sorrows

 

Have you ever tried to have a heart to heart

with a broken mother

Resting till the afternoon in hopes

she doesn’t have to face the mourning

Tempted to answer satans calling

Praying her sons killer becomes pray just this one time

Sometimes empathy is just a word made up of letters

 

Sometimes letters are as useless together

as they are apart

Sometimes theres so much to say that quiet says it all

So when people ask how she doing she’s replies with….

Sometimes theres so much to say that silence says it all

And those words linger forever like r.i.p

or who’s to blame but no one points fingers

like the shooter does

that’s four fingers back at him with every trigger pulled

 

Have you ever stabbed someone before?

Maybe he deserved a slap

but the knife was just the nearest

Maybe you’re doing 10 toes

and carry it out of fear its

Weird like I’m addressing the youts

who will probably never hear this

 

Over the bassline playing through the aux cord

The ops are 2-1 up so they’re in the 4 door

about to even out the scoreboard

Or insert the sharp end of justice

Cos a thousand souls are raging,

when lives on road are taken

the situation is way past negotiations

More tears, praying, now its clothes we’re making

 

The facts are shameful,

so many faces on T-shirts we could start a fashion label

R.I.P clothing,

we all grew up watching the whole thing

Traumatised from it,

thinking is having no one left to kill

the only way you’ll stop it

 

 

Backstory:

I named this piece after the film John Malkovich. It’s one of my favourite films and for me gives a visual representation of all three perspectives that I touch on in the track. I’ve been in all three scenarios: losing a friend, talking to a mother who’s lost a son and talking to the youts on the other end of the blade/gun. I overstand the perspective of everyone involved and felt like it would be helpful to bring everyone involved into the same room for a conversation. This piece acts as that.

 

This track is one of the first tracks that inspired the overall story for me; it forced me to reflect on the beginning and ask myself how we got here.

 

 

Rehearsals

Soaking up as much playtime with my sweets

As possible

knowing I’d wake up a day closer to adulthood

I used to train all day to fight sleep

I’m not at all convinced much has changed from then til now

Bottle to lips, fizzy drink dripping down my chin

To then rummage through toys

Fizzy drinks turned into chasers

when I hit the rum age and toys…

They morphed into the emotions of the hearts

In women which I’d pull apart like my sister’s Barbie dolls

 

Sometimes I wonder if I was playing or rehearsing for adulthood

 

Adults would pick-me-up when I was down

My smile a pick-me-up for when they were down

One day an adult picked-me-up for the last time

that day adulthood crept up

like the addiction I use to cope with it

 

I realised I’d be down more than up

This was the day I needed a pick me up the most

This was the day a thin line was drawn between

My imaginary friend and mental health

This was the day I began playing knock down ginger

at the doors of opportunity

this was the day squirts turned to bangs

water to blood

raise a voice to razor blades

this was the day some continued to rehearse

others were discontinued re: hearse

it seems like yesterday…

 

Backstory:

Life moves quick. One day we’re acting grown the next day we are grown. This piece is like a portal into the estate for me. This is where the story starts.

Each morning

Each morning my eye lids was like a front door to the streets

Outside reflected what I saw from the sheets

I learned gang sign language before I could speak

I learned to spell from street signs,

When someone got murdered

I’d practise on those yellow police signs,

These four words stuck out each time:

Your days are numbered

The ends were flames in summer

I learned to count when I realised I could count on:

 

one friends - taught me to ride on his stolen bicycle

 

two hands - approach me on the ground, I fell and I felt like a fool

 

three people - jumped over me: one hoodie, two boys in blue

 

four friends - came over, hearing all the noise we knew

 

five minutes - was the difference between either:

 

This hustler in a hoodie celebrating freedom or

being chauffeured in the back of the police car

The closest he got to class was Class A,

He stood there in cuffs looking blasé

Thinking no one saw where he stashed it

Tightened his poker face

as the pigs oinked through his jacket

It happened outside our humble homes

far from a glass house

Our innocence granted us permission to cast stones

I can’t vouch for the index fingers on my peers

I knew it was rude to point but my friend Darren didn’t

The Hustler’s tears fought for freedom as he accepted his fate

Life went on as the police car left the estate.

 

Backstory:

Some people call the ends the ‘School of Hardknocks’. To me it’s definitely a school where valuable, timeless lessons are learnt. Practical life lessons like learning who you can count on and what the future holds.

 

 

Let there be light

 

Over-exposure to light leads to a blackout,

The most enticing extinction

theses experts with the black belt

struggling to fight the addiction

like it did with the fiends, his Iris lit up,

Blood shot red from the piffiest green,

I stood in faded hand-me-downs the colour of rock bottom,

Lurking in the queue,

Cocaine shaded lips, thirsting for a view,

As he impatiently began searching for a few,

Browns inbetween the stack of pinks

from the rainbow in his wallet,

Over-exposure to light leads to a blackout,

taking mothers from kids,

I was thinking, how are you comfortable within,

On the other hand I was wishing on a star,

to be as colourful as him,

Gazing as constellation twinkled at me,

From the chain on his midnight complexion,

As soon as he saw the insight he was destined,

for breaking up the spectrum,

of white light

 

Blue diamonds were in memory of every bruise,

Motivated by holes in his shoes,                                                                       

Talking back to the alpha males with a point to prove,

He finally found his respect,

with gold around his neck,

we all saw the light,

our pupils dilated from pure, uncut awe

As shiny silver rims caught our eyes 

Passenger seat holding a parentheses physique,

A figure as curvy as his would be tax bracket,

Ear rings like dangling disco balls playing peak-a-boo,

With us through the tints,

He paid for his Rizla sheets,

Leaving the change with his usual wink,

The shop window morphed into a HD plasma screen,

It televised the hot box of candy-painted

horse power that gallop by,

Newtonian hustlers wore the lifestyle,

like peacock feathers under a summertime sky,

most of my peers turned a colour blind eye

 

Backstory:

This piece follows my inner conflict of seeing the effects of drugs on the community but also seeing the lifestyle the hustlers got to live and me making decisions on who I wanted to become. It’s called Let There Be Light as a symbol of what the lifestyle allows those in it to do: come out of darkness - be seen.

 

My community

 

I love my community,

Their spirit dominates the estate like new gossip,

every inch of concrete between these blocks,

open up pop up books in my mind that unfold

in alleyways as I’m walking past,

I caught a glance of Morleys,

thinking back it weren’t the greatest chicken,

when we ate together it tasted better

so who were we to break tradition,

 

sometimes poverty was the teacher,

we were taught to find humour when humility stood tall,

we were taught to laugh harder laugh together,

it made the holes in our jeans look cool,

I remember playing football

our goal was in front of a garden

big foot kicked the ball over and,

yesterday we smashed her window

so today we continued the game with a Coka Cola can,

 

our world cup was interrupted by police

chasing an older man,

I wasn’t sure if he was guilty in a sense

my innocence convinced my inner sense

if he wasn’t he wouldn’t be running,

they must have been looking for something,

his chest shot forward as they knee’d him in his back

then let the ground swallow him whole,

he could barely stand up with ease to interact,

as friends and neighbours put summer on hold to honour their role,

 

I could feel the tension as he was hounded by police

surrounded by the whole estate ready to riot in thousands down the street,

his reassuring voice was an endorphin to their beating hearts,

“ay you lot, it wasn’t me”,

I saw honesty on all faces that gathered,

“Marcus we know it wasn’t you”,

the final verdict from the only jury that mattered.

 

Backstory:

This is one of my favourite stories. I wanted to capture how we turn negatives into positives. It also acts as a representation for how the community comes together when needed and how no matter what a judge says, as long as the people we care about believe us and support us, to an extent, that’s all that matters.

 

On Results Day

Everything flipped around on results day

The Mr Know-it-alls took motivational notes

The class clowns finally ran out of joke

Teachers who were begging us to listen with no control

Started dishing out, I told you so looks on results day

Bullies began beating themselves up

The nerd went mainstream

popularity was synonymous with intelligence on results day

 

We used to bully those guy you know the type

Socially awkward, hates confrontation

straight to an authority figure to resolve the hype

The type to close the night

with their hear buried in long division

Literally sleeping on it

Probably why it all made sense in class

We were screwing up empty sheets of homework

to throw it at them when they pulled theirs out before the teacher asked

 

Probably why they passed with flying colours

while we were trying to look fly in colours a size too big

It’s funny how our social status went up from hand me downs

We’d imitate the nerds we didn’t have the patience to become

As we’d gather round a 6 pack

of stolen beer cans getting the low down

On who lost their virginity, whose phone got jacked

 

As we passed round the can full of that super power called I’m grown now

We got our concept of grown from those living their second childhood

Still sagging trousers,

most of the cool kids wanted to be grown soo bad

now that they are grown they’re childish,

Do you ever envy the prowess

of the nerds you didn’t have the patience to become

One of the reasons they failed to make friends

The world is run by them now,

they haven’t forgotten the hell we gave them

 

 

Backstory:

I wrote this at about 2am while in Zambia. I was there doing Spoken word work and as usual, I was laying in bed trying to sleep while my mind was fully awake, in deep thought, thinking about the world and the ends. I started thinking about the people who have the most authority and their relationship to the ends. I remembered in college during my sociology class, my teacher was talking about the police and he said he thought if you really want to become a police officer you probably should be one. Right or wrong, it got me thinking about intention, power, corruption, police brutality: experiences we have growing up and this story came out of it.

Summertime

 

Its not a crime unless you get caught I thought I got one shot,

lifted the lid slowly to steal meat from the Dutch pot,

heard foot steps and made a choice to run

outside past the elders playing dominos

making yardie noise with rum

being poured like it’s the fountain of youth,

a halo of gunja smoke

puff puff passing round in a loop,

your mum is my mum they’re all home from both jobs

to indulge in the fruits of their labour,

slush puppy straws between the lips of girls

with mating seasons usual behaviour in the air,

belly tops, batty riders, flip flops,

when its this hot, sun melts the cold shoulders

now every glance is entertained from youts

in three quarter lengths bench pressing to impress

those play-hard-to-gets,

happiness is solar powered,

we all wanna enjoy the sun,

we run around shooting each other

but survive coz water pistols fill a void for guns

 

We’ve been loyal to the soil since stuck in the mud

Outsiders pass through on edge like curbie

but round here its nothing but love

Rounders and kids from the diaspora tryna

enquire if we want to play British bulldog

That’s the only time we identify with the empire

There’s nothing like the entire neighbourhood being

resourceful in where we happen to live

Up until all hours of the night

playing run outs until the stamina did

We’d knock down ginger at friends’ houses

who weren’t allowed out and worse

Temper tantrums were loud it hurts

Watching us have fun from the window

running around but perks

Of being grounded kept them down to earth

It was all laughter and hype when we were reunited

Five of us on bikes three guys

being chauffeured on handle bars

We’d ride towards the sounds of hopscotch and excitement

That lingered in the air the only sat nav we needed

Popping wheelies towards girls

seated in hairdressers converted

From doorsteps, waiting for them to finish their plaits

So we could insist in a game of cat’s cradle

hoping it lead to something with no strings attached

 

 

 

A few years from now some of us will be dead

In prison with an addiction,

just existing or even moved out the ends

These casual moments will be memories

we’ll cherish every ounce of them

Theres a reason those last 4 letters are found in friends

And why most inner city youths are bound to them

Its not about where you’re from its who you’re with

How much trouble we can cause as stupid kids

Amongst the family God let us choose

We say fam, blood, bruv, cuz,

this bond is beyond DNA

You see the way we met,

sheer luck of counsel house paperwork

If there’s 4 wings amongst five of us

somehow we’ll make it work

We learned to walk in each-others shoes

so we share a change of shirt

Problems and more,

you knocked on my door,

Your mum washed her hands of you,

face still drenched,

I felt helpless but you made your bed

still I gave you the quilt from mine

We can get turned up everyday

But its dark times which reveal the kind

of love at the heart of friendship

 

 

when it kicks off we defend our side an stand divided

we come together with ball over there you’ll find Man United

under the ‘no ball games’ sign between the coats

If you paid attention you would’ve seen the growth

we trained the talent who help keep the premiership afloat

 

we’re not footballers, we’re magicians: hat trick after hat trick

 

What’s a piece of round leather,

it takes balls to survive here testicles or not,

unless you have stripes you won’t get to call the shots

I aspired to be a striker when my friend was shooting

He chose the wrong Arsenal it was his mistake

We both ended up in a box for chasing goals,

But he had the worst twist of fate

 

 

 

 

 

Backstory:

This encapsulates the overall story of the project in one track. From growing up in the ends, making memories, making friends, everyone growing into the people they are becoming whilst our paths are causing us to grow apart.

The last two lines:

 

‘We both ended up in a box for chasing goals,

But he had the worst twist of fate’

Those two lines capture the different paths me and my friend took and also brings the overall story back in a loop.

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