Rap music is now the UK's pop culture, says Blue Story director

The director and musician said the success of black music in the mainstream showed people were looking past skin colour.

Rap music is now the UK’s “pop culture” and will soon become a “billion dollar industry”, the director behind Blue Story has said.

Rapman, real name Andrew Onwubolu, spoke at the Mobo Awards following a year in which a series of grime, hip hop and drill artists such as Headie One and Nines topped the charts.

After presenting Nines with an award, the director and musician told the PA news agency that the UK’s black music scene was “killing it”.

Blue Story premiere – London
Stephen Odubola, Rapman and Michael Ward at the Blue Story premiere (Ian West/PA)

He added: “We are like the pop culture now. Our stuff is the popular music now. UK music is where it is at now.

“We can sell out shows, we can show up. It should be a billion dollar industry any second now if it’s not already.”

Speaking about the influence of the awards, which celebrate music of black origin, he added: “Do you know what’s mad? When I used to watch the Mobos back in the day it was all American artists performing even though it was set in the UK. I remember watching that.

“We didn’t have a scene then. We didn’t have a UK rap scene. So years later now you don’t even want to see anyone from America up there. Not anything against them but we have got our own scene.”

Rapman, who has reportedly cast Hollywood star Russell Crowe in his upcoming mobster film American Son, said the success of black music in the mainstream indicated people were looking past skin colour.

Mobo Awards 2020
Mobo Awards hosts Maya Jama and Chunkz (Ian West/PA)

He said: “You know what they say, they love us black people to entertain them but they don’t want to look at us in any other way, which is a tough one.

“They are good for us to play their music, they want to watch our movies, they want to eat our food but more time out of that they don’t want us to come to the table at the moment.

“But we are getting there. We are earning our respect and it is only a matter of time before people see past colour and just treat everyone as equals.”

Rapman won plaudits for his directorial debut Blue Story, a gang drama that follows the lives of two boys caught on opposite sides of a postcode war in London.

Actor Michael Ward, who played the lead role of Marco, won the rising star award at the Baftas following his turn in the film.

However, the drama was temporarily withdrawn from Vue cinemas after seven police officers were injured in a disturbance at Star City in Birmingham in November, where there were reports of youths with machetes.

The Mobo Awards will be rebroadcast on BBC One at 10.45pm.

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