Last week, the UK music industry & global cannabis community lost a leader. The moniker Black the Ripper means many things to different people across the UK. To many, he is known as a pioneer of Grime, someone who supported & helped spark the genesis of early 2000’s underground music. Albums like Motivation Music Vol.1 & Vol.2, Afro Samurai and Summer Madness established BTR as one of the most talented creative protesters & forward thinking wordsmiths around. His musical relationships with artists like Chip, Jammer, Ghetts, Frisco, Big Nastie and Remson resulted in a world class repertoire of unadulterated vibes. He put his thoughts, philosophies and frustrations into his music, sharing his enlightened and often humbling perspective with his listeners. He combined Akala like penmanship and protestation with the energy and ferocity of BBK .
To many others, he is the the Leader & Kief Executive Officer of the most trust worthy bank in the UK, the un-corruptible “Dank Of England”. A raw and revolutionary independent record label & cannabis legalization movement, run by those who truly understood what Grime & UK Hip Hop meant to those who loved it. What made Dank of England truly different was their unyielding willingness to use their collective voice to champion the injustices they witnessed and wanted to correct.
It is no exaggeration to say that without the early activism and awareness generated by Black the Ripper & The Dank of England, the UK would still be half a century behind in its attitudes towards cannabis. The dedication shown by this man too fight for his right to choose what he consumes should make all of us Amsterdammers stop to appreciate the frivolity in which we access cannabis.
Meeting Black The Ripper
I got the chance to meet Black the Ripper for a very brief moment three years ago at the 2017 Green Pride Cannabis Legalization Protest in Brighton. Not that this is saying much, particularly given the context of a cannabis festival, but he was the most energetic bloke for a 3 mile radius. Full of life and laughter. He was having a gassed time with his mandem whilst serving a mobbed Dank Of England stall, approaching customers and best friends as if they were indistinguishable.
True to the myths that preceded his legendary character, he was indeed armed with the biggest baton of a zoot my 18 year old self had ever laid eyes on. Shit was so big you needed to turn you head to see from the top to the roach. He seemed like an approachable, look you in the eye kinda guy. Gregarious and gangster at the same time.
Too this day i keep a draw in the DOE emblazoned jar i bought from him that day. Black the Ripper and The Dank of England has therefore protected my cannabis with bravery and diligence for three years. This may be a jarring connection, but really he protected all of our Cannabis with diligence and bravery without us even knowing it.
A Legacy That Will Never Leave
If you smoke weed now; if you have in the past; if you have the freedom too in the future; If you have come round to the thought of CBD or dabbled in ‘skunk’ in you youth; if you have ever skanked out at a rave or laughed your self silly on a brownie… then you should always remember this. You owe a little something too a man named Black the Ripper. He wasn’t just a cannabis activist or a musician. He was a titan of free thought who did his part to move a whole culture out from the shade too stand proudly in front of a prejudicial legal system.
In essence he achieved that which only a few ever actually do. He changed a nations thought process and influenced a generation, and perhaps most telling, he didn’t even ask for credit.
It saddens me to think that Black wont be around to see the day the UK legalises the plant he spent his whole career fighting for a right to have. That’s why, when that day comes, we will all light one in gratitude for the man without whom it wouldn’t be possible. The late & forever great Black The Ripper.