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WPGM Commentary: AKS Explores The Complexities Of Being A Black Father On ‘Parity’

What’s good y’all? My name is AKS, I’m rapper and producer from Deptford, London. I’ve just released my new single “Parity”, a deeply personal tune which on some level I’m still surprised exists in a space where people can listen to it.

Having worked with some brilliant instrumentalists (Adrian Remedy, Benjamin Muralt, Charlie Stacey) to help bring this to fruition, it’s a self-produced effort which explores the topics of parenting, culture and legacy; and it’s literally been a bit of a passion piece for me to explore some thoughts and conversations I’ve been having recently.

The accompanying video features my son. It was shot on a family staycation in Bournemouth (travel restrictions due to covid meant we couldn’t travel abroad). It was great to share this project with my son and get him involved in the creation process.

A friend had mentioned to me not to take for granted the impact that even at a young age, being involved and aware of what was happening can have. So now with the song out in the world and it doing the rounds, it’s amazing to watch his response to hearing his voice or seeing himself on screens. I hope it leaves a lasting impression on him with regard to what’s achievable.

As a parent there’s specific aspirations that I have which revolve around the foundation for opportunity that I’m able to afford my child. I have the hope that the efforts of my spouse and I, put him in a position to be able to sidestep some of the struggles that we’ve had to endure and/or have the benefit of our experiences to draw from when navigating some of those things.

There’s an equivalency between our hopes and dreams, and the hopes and dreams that our parents had on our behalf. And the song is about exploring some of those points of commonality but also laying out where differences between each generation can cause conflict.

Beyond that, as a parent of a black child there are specific realities of life that I have to navigate on behalf of my kid, and the decisions that we make have a direct result on that. There’s a line in the single that most people seem to pick out as a particular talking point (listen to the song, you’ll get which one it is). It revolves around juxtaposition between worlds.

In one world… I grew up on a council estate, in circumstances that some people would consider impoverished. As a result that came with an exposure to inner-city gangs and a lifestyle akin to the kind of stuff we see portrayed in popular series like Top Boy etc.

Illegitimate as it is, on one hand that’s young peeps attempting to better their financial standing through what they have at their disposal, on the other hand there’s a real violence and risk of death and/or incarceration that no real parents would wish for their kids. Most parents raising kids in those areas try and shield their kids from what’s going on but it’s never really 100% possible.

Growing up in an area which had all of that going on, my drive was “How do I get off the estate?” and chasing whatever would bring me closer to that. My pathway was generally an academic route, but when you’re in close proximity to things, however much you’re not involved; even the most academic and innocent of kids can be touched.

In another world… there’s a picture of success that those of us who grew up on the estate built up in our minds. It usually looked like a house in a rural area, where you’re afforded a garden and much more space, and on the surface of things it presents itself as a better quality of life.

But in my mind that often also meant living in an area which was less culturally diverse, and as a “minority” had the prospect of exposing you to more racism and the realities of that are things that many of my friends and counterparts have had to navigate when buying houses and considering where to raise their kids.

Putting ourselves and our kids in circumstances that we’ve always considered to be “better”, but realising that there are aspects that that may come with that we wasn’t prepared for. Is it an even trade to have a perceived “better” standard of living, if one of the costs is your kid is the target of racist abuse?… My answer to that would be “Hell No!

For a vantage point of this, I’d encourage peeps to watch the Oscar nominated 2018 documentary, Black Sheep, which explores the story of Cornelius Walker whose life changed in the aftermath of the murder of Damilola Taylor.

Living five minutes away, and fearing for their son’s safety, his parents made the difficult decision to move the family out of London. Cornelius suddenly found himself living on a predominantly white estate run by racists, which had dire consequences for him in the years that followed.

Like I said, the juxtaposition between two worlds. It’s a challenging conversation and dynamic that’s an important point to explore honestly for the parents of black children.

I hope when you watch and listen to “Parity” some of the things I’ve outlined here jump out to you. I hope people are moved in some way and I hope it speaks to all generations. I’m in a space where I’m making some of the most honest pieces of art that I’ve ever made, and letting them out in the world and seeing them celebrated is touching.

Blessings to everyone who has watched, listened and shared the single! Long may that continue. Bless Up! AKS.

Watch the video for “Parity” below and stream it everywhere else here.

Words by AKS // Follow him on Twitter + Instagram

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