The last 12 months have been a whirlwind of activity for Black Boys creator MC Bashy (real name Ashley Thomas). Previously the 23 year-old North West Londoner was known as a clash MC on the grime circuit but now he insists that he has ‘grown up’ – and with the release of his uplifting single he has managed to widen his appeal to the entire black/urban community, young and old. If you haven’t heard the lyrics: ‘Black Boys, Black Boys, Yeah We’re Called Black Boys, And One Day We’re Gonna Be Black Men, And One Day We Might Have Black Boys And We Gotta Teach Them To Be Black Men’ – then where have you been?
So much Airplay!
The song has been on heavy rotation on Radio 1, 1xtra, Choice, Pyro, Kiss and Galaxy and was so influential on the UK Hip Hop and Grime scene that it prompted Bashy to do a remix and allow any British artist that wanted too, to jump on the track. So Akala, Ms Dynamite, Nolay, J2K, Mike GLC, Ty, Sincere, Scorcher, Styla, Tinee Tempah, Swiss, Wretch 32, Narstie, Bigz, Chipmunk, Jaja and Skinnyman stepped to the mic enabling the remix to feature some of the best British talent.
The chorus is sung by up-and-coming singer Loick Essien sampling the Spinners ‘ooh child things are gonna get easier…’ and the song shouts out a number of black UK role models from the world of music, entertainment, sport and business. ‘My dad got mad emotional and got little tears in his eyes,’ when he heard the original track says the charismatic star. ‘Even though we always haven’t gotten on he’s always trying to keep me motivated and encouraging me to keep doing my music so on Black Boys I had to shout him out.’
‘The Youtube comments have been over a quarter of a million,’ continues Bashy who has been overwhelmed by the response. ‘To sit back and watch Jay-Z and Beyoncé on The Lick and for me to be in my house in my boxer shorts and socks watching Trevor Nelson say ‘that’s my tune of the year Bashy, Black Boys’. I was by myself looking around asking did anybody hear that.’
History in the Making
It’s not just The Lick presenter that loves the song, all the artist that jumped on it do and many of them were out of their creative comfort zone but managed to write their most inspirational and thought-provoking lyrics yet. Bashy said it is too difficult to decide which lyrics he likes best but stated: ‘To have all these artists feature on the track and for them to come and show me love when I’m coming up is shocking.’ Bashy sits quietly as he contemplates this. If you know the MC, you know that quietness isn’t in his DNA, but the enormity of what he’s made happen has finally hit home. ‘To have guys like Skinnyman on the track who I used to look up to growing up and Mega and Blak Twang come down to the shoot is amazing.’
Banned for being racist
As positive as the track is, there was a complaint that the track is racist and it has been rumoured that it has been banned by Ofcom, which is not true. ‘It’s pro-black but it’s not anti-white or Asian. It’s just a positive song-so how can it be racist?’ he asks.
Whether you agree if it’s racist or not with over 20 of the hottest artists from the UK’s Hip Hop and Grime scene featuring on the remix and Bashy has made British music video history with a powerful and inspiring track and for that he should be proud.
Black Boys DVD Box Set is out now
Words by Annika Allen