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Medway rapper's words of defiance that strike a chord

They won’t like what he’s saying at Medway Council but they’ll probably put a plaque up in his honour if he ever hits the big time.

Rapper Jack Dodd, aka JDefianT, talks about life in the Towns as he sees it and, while the video for his track Welcome to Medway will never be used to promote tourism here, the picture he paints is sadly close to the mark for many.

Scroll down to watch his music video

Medway rapper Jack Dodd aka JDefianT
Medway rapper Jack Dodd aka JDefianT

Sometimes X-rated, his lyrics are also brutally honest, drawing on his experience of growing up in Gillingham and trying to get by on his own since the death of his parents when he was only 17.

Welcome to Medway took the listeners on a journey through a world ridden with drug dealing, violence, “wannabe pikeys”, school children “slapping up their teachers”, teen pregnancies and transmitted disease, prostitutes, arsonists, and “fathers threatened so they’re betting cos’ their debts have increased”.

As the chorus goes: “Welcome to the Medway Towns, full of geezers on brown, thieving your pounds and the people will frown if you’re different and proud.”

Watch: JDefianT's "Welcome to Medway"

Too harsh? Too cynical?

The song and video won the former New Brompton College pupil many fans, gaining almost 9,000 views on YouTube, but Jack concedes some found the message hard too stomach even if he did lighten it up by rapping over a sample of Cornershop’s Brimful of Asha.

“That had a lot of comments because people thought it painted Medway in a bad light,” says Jack, “but from what I can see there isn’t much positivity. At the same time I gave it quite a comedic feel. It just paints a picture, it’s what I see when I come out of my door.

“Kent is supposed to be the Garden of England but this part is far from it, even though they’re trying to build it up and create a tourist attraction.

“Just open your eyes. Those that find it offensive are probably living in the more desirable parts of town and aren’t exposed to drug addicts on the stairwell or people fighting outside at 3am.

“They’re quite safe in their fortress but for us it’s a reality.”

With a new single “#ItsThatReal” getting airplay and a baby on its way, Jack’s future is about to change one way or the other but he doesn’t think Medway’s changed much since he recorded Welcome to Medway five years ago.

JDefianT performing at the Love Music Hate Racism Festival
JDefianT performing at the Love Music Hate Racism Festival

“#ItsThatReal” is a more considered piece of work, the diary of a 23-year-old who’s had to grow up fast but is struggling with same pressures as ever, trying to balance working in a shop in Maidstone with his dreams of success in music, one minute riding high after getting played on Radio 1, the next minute riding the bus back to Gillingham.

There are people in worse situations of course, but this is a story of everyday life that thousands can relate to.

And with wages still flat-lining, support services being cut and – as the council agreed last week – council tax set to rise, things aren’t likely to get any easier for them.

“It’s hard enough to live with things as they are,” he says.

“I’ve been independent since I was 17. I was thrown in at the deep end after both my parents died.

“After you’ve paid for your rent, council tax, bills and food you’re left with nothing if you’re on the minimum wage.

“You’re left with £100-200 a month, that’s why some people have to do other things you’re not proud of.

“As a younger person I had to do certain things to put money on the table, but you’re contributing to your own situation when you’re doing certain things.”

Those “certain things” are things of the past for Jack, but the pressures that drove him to them remain, and he says politicians, both locally or nationally, are failing to engage those worst affected.

“The little they do, we’re not in a rush to embrace it,” he says.

“As a society we’re used to being let down. We’re used to hearing a lot of talk and seeing little action, especially when we have the Conservatives in power. They’re more for the rich than the poor so they contribute more to this vibe.

“Everyone puts the blame on immigrants but it’s the other way round, they’re harder working.

“I lived in Luton Road for five years where there’s a higher population of eastern Europeans, and every time anything happens the finger gets pointed at them.

“As a people we’re not looking to take responsibility, and that’s why we’re reluctant to engage.”

Could a career in politics be the next step for JDefianT?

Probably not all the while he’s getting played on influential stations like DejaVU FM, Radar Radio, Streetwise FM, and receiving praise on social media from the Mobo awards.

For now it’s a case of watch this space.

Follow Jack on Twitter @JDefianT or search for JDefianT on youtube or soundcloud.com

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