A string of violent attacks on high-profile rap stars who have appeared on BBC channels remain unsolved.
The case files include one of the UK’s most hotly-tipped grime acts, Pa Salieu, being shot in the head in a street in Coventry.
The 22-year-old, who performs under his real name, survived and later posted a picture of himself in a hospital bed along with the caption: ‘Can’t stop greatness.’
Another unsolved case is the near-fatal stabbing of presenter Krept at a 1Xtra gig.
The grime artist, one half of Krept & Konan, is currently co-presenting the Rap Game UK, a BBC Three talent show aimed at unearthing the next big name from a crop of MCs.
The last series had a cameo from grime star MIST, who was shot in the leg during a suspected robbery at a luxury villa in Portugal.
Another case, that of DJ Village, who deputised on Radio 1’s former reggae show for Chris Goldfinger, has also remained unsolved, almost two decades after he was shot dead in Wembley.
Two police forces told Metro.co.uk that the cases have not been closed and reissued appeals for information.
Pat Reid, a social entrepreneur and community worker in south London, said the cases reflect too many incidents of murders and attacks in the black community going unsolved.
Mr Reid is director of PJ’s Community Services, which previously operated a recording studio in Thornton Heath where Krept, Stormzy and other urban music artists recorded music early in their careers.
He said: ‘Their genre of music is deemed as violence begetting violence so there is the attitude of “leave them to it”, and there’s institutionalised bias against that scene. I don’t see the authorities busting a gut to solve these cases and spend large amounts of taxpayers’ money in areas where there’s a perceived code of silence anyway.
‘There’s an institutionalised lack of response, or a lack of care, which is generally what happens when violent crimes like these take place in the black community.’
Mr Reid rejected the notion that malevolent lyrics in grime, drill and rap mean the exponents bring real-life violence on themselves.
‘The law is the law,’ he said. ‘If you take that approach, you’re basically saying there’s a law for us and a law for them.’
Blaming rappers is lazy
Mr Reid also pointed to a depth of meaning in drill and grime lyrics – a hallmark of stars such as Dave, Kano and Stormzy – that he identifies as key to reaching out to a younger generation on the margins of society.
‘The rappers are reflecting their experiences, which can be horrific, and there’s a parallel universe within the lyrics,’ he said.
‘They have their own signs and idiosyncrasies, which we need to understand to see where they are coming from.’
In October 2019, Krept, real name Casyo Johnson, was slashed across the leg and neck with a knife backstage at Arena Birmingham.
The grime artist later said he was just one millimetre from death after violence broke out backstage at the BBC Radio 1Xtra gig on October 5.
West Midlands Police, the venue’s security team and the BBC were involved in the investigation, but to date no arrests have been made.
A couple of weeks later, rising star Pa Salieu, whose gritty tracks have regularly been highlighted as standout new tunes by 1Xtra DJs, was shot in the head on a Coventry street.
Earlier unsolved cases include the suspected robbery of rapper MIST, real name Rhys Thomas Sylvester, at a villa in the Algarve. The Mobo-award winner, 28, was shot in the leg during the attack in August 2019.
The same month he was shown smiling and wearing a thick gold chain while making a guest appearance on the first season of The Rap Game, with his track Game Changer featuring on the show’s soundtrack.
Historical cases include the murder of DJ Village, real name Horace Pinnock, who was shot dead outside a London hotel in 2001.
The reggae presenter, 29, was a friend of Tim Westwood who at the time was a Radio 1 rap DJ and had himself been injured in a drive-by shooting a couple of years earlier as he left a concert in the city.
Wall of silence needs breaking down
Alison Cope, whose son Joshua Ribera was stabbed to death aged 18 in September 2013, believes that lyrics espousing the code of the streets do reinforce a code of silence.
Joshua, a rapper from Birmingham who was known as Depzman, has inspired her to lead a national campaign against youth violence.
She believes some drill and grime lyrics are part of the cycle of violence.
‘There’s a huge stigma around not being seen as a snitch,’ Alison said.
‘The messages young people get through the media reinforce this, saying that if you are a young black male you deal with it on the roads and don’t go to the police. They should be getting messages encouraging them to go to university and realise their ambitions.’
Alison, who speaks in schools to students about how to avoid being drawn into violent situations, believes breaking down the code of omerta is a huge struggle.
‘It’s not snitching, it’s about protecting yourself, members of the public and your family,’ she said.
‘But to get young people to see it like this is going to be a massive task involving closer relationships with the police.
‘There’s a lot of distrust historically with the police.
‘Say if there’s a white female that’s been stabbed it’s portrayed in the media and in the courts as of much greater harm to society than if a black person gets stabbed.
‘It becomes a vicious circle where rappers, gang members and drug dealers are not treated as human beings, we just label them and assume they brought it on themselves.
‘It’s about breaking down that myth and building stronger relationships with the police. Consistency will bring trust and people’s confidence to speak out when things aren’t right.’
Alison believes that rappers share some responsibility for the messages they spread, but with the darker forms of the genre remaining the most popular, she believes it will be hard to change mindsets.
‘If you spread the right messages it does spread through to the younger generation,’ she said. ‘But that can be detrimental to your career so it’s difficult for people to do that.
‘There’s been so many rumours about the Krept stabbing and people saying it’s no big deal, but it could have been very different.’
In response to the Krept stabbing, West Midlands Police said: ‘We carried out enquiries after a man suffered a slash wound at Arena Birmingham last October. We received a number of calls from the public to support our enquiries but the injured party did not want to make a formal complaint.
‘We’ve been unable to identify who was responsible but officers will assess any fresh information we receive.’
The force confirmed no one had been arrested over the Pa Salieu shooting but reiterated details of an appeal for information.
New leads will be thoroughly investigated
The Met said it would follow up any new leads in the DJ Village shooting after officers exhausted all lines of enquiry in the case.
A spokesman said: ‘The Met never closes unsolved murders.
‘While witnesses have been spoken with in connection with this investigation, all existing avenues of enquiry have currently been exhausted.
‘However, any new information will be thoroughly investigated.’
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