If you haven’t done some homework on British hip-hop, you might not be immediately familiar with UK rap group Section Boyz, although you likely will be soon considering Drake just brought them on stage for his first tour stop in London.
The South London group has been active for years, however, and they began to bridge the international gap last year by putting out a collaborative mixtape with Chris Brown and OHB titled Attack The Block.
While the group is enjoying surging recognition, I doubt their recent inclusion in the Australian edition of The Daily Mail was the type of publicity they were hoping for.
Today (January 31), the publication posted an article about the Melbourne criminal organization Apex Gang, a group of multicultural youth males that have apparently become increasingly active in Australia’s criminal underworld.
The most striking issue with the article? The headline image they chose to use, which did not depict Apex Gang members, but was instead a Section Boyz photo with the members' faces blurred out.
Below are the Daily Mail's headline image and the unaltered, original image from Section Boyz’ official Twitter account, posted by Media Watch, "Australia's leading forum for media analysis and comment."
While this is—unfortunately—not that surprising coming from a tabloid newspaper whose original publisher was homies with Hitler and Mussolini (seriously), it’s still another instance in a long line of hip-hop being flippantly misrepresented by the media.
About a minute spent on Google would’ve told the Daily Mail editors that this was not the picture they should’ve used, especially considering the publication ran an exclusive interview with Apex Gang members—photos included—back in July of 2016.
I understand there are corners being cut in online journalism these days in an effort to maximize content, but I can’t help but see this as a conscious misrepresentation. The Daily Mail has since replaced the photo (after being called out on Twitter) with, surprise, one of the photos they themselves took of Apex Gang members last year.
After thinking about it for a moment, the only similarity between Section Boyz and the Apex Gang seems to be that they both contain predominantly black members. So not only does this misrepresent a hip-hop group on the cusp of international fame, it has extremely racist overtones, and this isn’t new. Hip-hop has always been misrepresented by the media, and it doesn't always go hand in hand with the overarching problems of racism in mainstream media.
Remember back when a couple different Trump supporters/spokespeople tried to throw hip-hop under the bus for our own President’s perpetuation of rape culture?
As a vast and diverse culture that does so much for this country and for the world, hip-hop deserves to be reported on without inherent bias as to its baseline moral standing. Are there artists that glorify crime and misogyny? Of course. But there are countless others that offer uplifting, educational and socially relevant art.
Regardless of the content, this isn’t a defense of hip-hop’s freedom of speech (although that’s always been under fire as well), this is calling out a trashy tabloid site for defaming an innocent hip-hop group out of laziness at best, and purposeful malice at worst.
Media, do better. Hip-hop, let’s keep calling these publications out on their bullshit.
By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.
Photo Credit: Twitter