I had never heard of this guy before but what I’ve seen from a few videos on youtube I think he’s worth listening to.
I don’t want to say too much about Jun Tzu other than offer a few observations. His lyrics are autobiographical and clever. At times they are funny, at other times, painfully honest. I also like his use of colloquialisms and that he hasn’t toned down his accent.
First, hear him hanging out with some kids in Rathcoole beside a UVF mural:
It seems to me like stating the obvious, but from the reactions of the kids in that video Jun Tzu’s hip hop will be able to communicate to young people in a way that community relations and other funded peace education programmes can only dream of doing.
Jun Tzu is clearly not shy about talking about his background. In the next video he addresses the issue of what it was like to grow up in a segregated society.
It strikes me that Northern Ireland desperately needs an art form that appeals to grassroots young people. Historically, hip-hop has acted as a means of emotional catharsis, much like blues, jazz, and other musical genres did for previous generations. It is almost always rooted in working and lower class communities. For those of you who are not fans of hip hop have a look at what Cornel West says about it:
‘At their best, these [hip-hop] artists respond to their sense of being rejected by society at large, of being invisible in the society at large, with a subversive critique of that society. It has to do with both the description of the conditions under which they are forced to live, as well as a description and depiction of the humanity preserved by those living in such excruciating conditions. It then goes beyond to a larger critique of the power structure as a whole.’
If you think that’s taking things too far, check out this last video where Jun Tzu talks about his struggle with the legacy of his Dad’s involvement in the UVF and the tension between expectations of some people in own community and finding an identity that is not rooted in bigotry.
If you listen to the media you could be forgiven for believing not much good can come out of Loyalist and Unionist working class areas. Jun Tzu is proving them wrong. Good luck to him.