NEW GEN, the XL Records backed project behind last year’s album of the same name, have released a new short film starring some of the album’s featured artists. Set around London’s estates, the short film juxtaposes freestyle performances from the likes of Kojey Radical and AJ Tracey with often harsh, unforgivingly realist scenes of inner-city life. Kojey Radical also narrates the film, conjuring verses of poetry over abstract scenes of London’s streets. Moments of violence are hinted at with scenes of a young man’s body lying on the concrete opening and closing the film and police in riot gear raiding buildings. However, there are also surreal moments such as a carnival dancer appearing in full regalia in a block of derelict garages and a room full of young men stood motionless reading, surrounded by piles of books.
Contrasted with the freestyles by Kojey Radical, AJ Tracey and Dotty the whole thing hints at the album’s subject matter without explicitly delving into it, creating a fuller picture of the context around its creation. “We didn’t want to make a film directly about the music from the NEW GEN album, we wanted to try and paint a picture of the world that breeds it,” explains Lewis Levi, one half of the directing duo The Rest. “In the shadows of the steel and shiny city centre of London, inner city life can be grim in comparison, but that’s where the magic grows. When we first came up with the concept of the film, we just wanted to put a spotlight on these issues, which are ingrained in the black experience of living in the UK’s inner cities. But it was shocking to us to find out in pre-production that almost every person we spoke to about the film had had someone close to them either get hurt or die because of crime within the city – mostly knife or gang related. These are issues that happen so regularly you read about them and then just move on, it’s normal.” Watch the short film below.
Follow Mike Vinti on Twitter