For the first time in a long time it’s cool to be poet in the UK. You have the license to speak a six-minute stream-of-consciousness verse and people will actually listen intently. There are now 12 regular poetry and spoken word events in my city alone and most of them are packed.
George Mpanga started rapping at 15, but a few years later discovered what various rappers discover: if you rap acapella in certain settings and your material is labelled poetry, a wider group of people will taste, ingest and digest your rap lyrics. You’ve gained a whole new audience.
Mpanga aka George the Poet grew up on the Stonebridge Park estate in north-west London and some of his most memorable work picks apart London life with humor, affection and stark clarity.
George makes the most complex multi-syllable rhymes sound natural – like they were hanging for centuries in the ether somewhere just waiting to be spoken.
Evidence: ‘Baby Mother’
and ‘Estate of Mind’
His trademarks are vulnerability, confidence, beautifully weighted flows and uncomfortable calls for personal transformation.
George explains that his profound new EP ‘The Chicken and The Egg’ is about premature parenthood. “Through the story of a rocky relationship, it outlines the cycle of fatherlessness in seven tracks.”
George has a vision, which it appears he’s pursuing with sincerity and zeal: helping the next generation of inner-city youth discover their talents and grow their confidence and self-esteem. George’s words aren’t merely aspirational. He’s not weaving a tapestry of fanciful dreams – no, his words are a bulldozer to the lies and self-doubt of young people across the UK.
I’d go as far as to say George the Poet has a prophetic core. We need more artists brave enough to stand up to ego, empire, slavery and community dysfunction and say, ‘This ain’t working. There’s another way of living’.
Over the last decade we’ve seen a new wave of performance poets building their skills, pouring out their guts, confessing their inner demons and telling compelling stories of joy or misfortune. However George the Poet’s work stands out. With every measured pause, every mournful smile, every subtle internal rhyme you sense just how devoted he is to his craft and his mission. His poems cut through the fog of hegemonic disinformation with samurai ease and hopefully he’ll school some heads and unhead some spin doctors while he’s at it.