by Mike Vinti
Debate has been raging in the US over issues of cultural appropriation in hip-hop and popular music, particularly with regard to the roles of white artists in a traditionally black genre. This debate is a vital one and has highlighted many of the inequalities present between black and white musicians, actors, and other cultural figures. British culture faces its own issues around appropriation and representation, not just of race but of class. The relationship between class and culture in the UK has always been a complex one. From tales of working class hardship by the likes of Charles Dickens and Alan Bennett, to the idolisation of that landed gentry life by the likes of Mumford and Sons and the plague of imitation artists that followed their break into the mainstream, class undercuts British culture as much as it does day to day life.
In the past decade or so however, the evolutions in music and culture driven by the working class have been side-lined in favour of sanitised replicas, stripped of any comment or reflection on the socioeconomic factors that bore them.