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Brrrap, Brrrap, Brrrap: Street Slang, Gunshots and the Controversial Grime Tour

MTV Base producer and Voice newspaper columnist Jasmine Dotiwala discussed the latest controversy surrounding the Britpop music scene on her blog last week.

Apparently, Dotiwala and artist manager Kwame Kwaten thought it’d be a good idea to promote three of the UK’s hottest rappers (Tinchy Stryder, Chipmunk and Ironik) by labelling them ‘the Brrrap Pack’.

However, the concept was hijacked by The Sun newspaper who quickly announced they’d be promoting an eight-date national Brrrap Pack tour featuring two of the aforementioned artists.

Now, Dotiwala (pictured below with Bashy, Master Shortie and Tinchy) is worried she’s inadvertently linked the artists with gun crime, concluding her blog with the question: ‘Am I being naive?’ and requesting feedback. So here goes…

What I find confusing and somewhat ironic (excuse the pun) is the ambiguity of Dotiwala and her TV station’s position on British street culture.

In December, Overground quizzed the MTV Base head about her reluctance to play music videos by popular, but controversial rapper Giggs.

She responded by claiming that MTV cannot be seen to support UK rappers and entertainers affiliated with street crime.

Understandable. But then why associate three of the UK’s most talented and promising young performers with the sound of gunfire?

Surely, this can’t be an intelligent move. Just ask any member of So Solid.

Dotiwala says brrrap is a positive term of ‘…jubilation/cheering/positive acknowledgement’.

Yes, maybe if you’re a fan of 80s and 90s bashment MCs like Super Cat and Ninja Man who would hype up their audiences by asking rudeboys and policemen to fire ‘legal gunshots’ as a sign of their musical appreciation.

But somehow, I don’t think Chip Diddy and Tinchy’s target audience (teenage school girls) fit that stereotype.

In Jamaica (where it’s legal to carry licensed firearms in inner-city areas) excitable ravers sometimes discharge gunshots at live music events.

And in the UK (where there’s been a huge increase in the number of incidents involving kids and illegal firearms) teens sometimes say ‘brap’ as a ‘term of jubilation’.

But it’s impossible to say the two acts are unrelated. Irrespective of geography, brap represents gunfire. 

To be fair, perhaps the problem is Dotiwala and Kwaten are simply unaware of how much Jamaican dancehall culture influences British street trends.

Afterall, how many of us consider where popular terms such as blessed; skankin; jook; skets; and dubplate come from?

Nevertheless, any responsible music executive or mainstream organisation that uses street slang to re-brand their products should research the origins of the word.

Obviously, this would have helped Dotiwala avoid those tweets accusing her of ‘cheapening’ UK street culture by linking the scene with gunman terminology.

For the record, I personally don’t have a problem with either the Brrrap Pack or bashment fans who like giving their favourite entertainers a 21 gun salute (although I would recommend an open-air venue).

But the problem is, although Dotiwala clearly wasn’t aware the term could be controversial, some clever fucker at The Sun knows exactly what brap means and is probably preparing a story linking Tinchy, Ironik and Chipmunk to gun crime as we speak.

Let’s hope not, eh?

Orantes Moore

Countdown: Top 7 ‘Brap, Brap’ Tunes

7. Serious - Maxwell D  


6. My Weapon – Ninja Man

5. Gunman Connection – Nicodemus

4. Black Boys – Bashy

3. Gun Man Tune – Pan Head

2. Jamrock Takeover – Klashnekoff

1. Gangster Anthem – Terror Fabulous

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Tags Tinchy Stryder, chipmunk, Bashy, Jasmine Dotiwala, brrrap, street slang, master shortie, guns
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