Loki, the Scottish Rapper: Poverty Safari Live

Like stereotypes, labels generally become meaningless upon scrutiny. Loki (aka Darren McGarvey) is a Glaswegian, working-class rapper. Poverty Safari Live offers a perspective which is rooted in, but challenges, the meaning of all these labels in contemporary society. It’s a challenging and fiercely intellectual work from an important voice in Scottish culture.

A challenging and fiercely intellectual work from an important voice in Scottish culture

Blending rap, spoken-word poetry and social commentary, Loki constructs and annotates the tale of a young man from one of Glasgow’s deprived areas as he negotiates the frustrations and obstacles, both internal and external, to changing his lot in life. From choosing trendy coffee to maintaining a relationship with a girl from the same city but a different world, the story becomes a conduit to conversations about class, social mobility (or lack thereof) and the experience of people from schemes and housing estates which, when they aren’t being forgotten totally, are being vilified or treated as spectacles for so-called poverty porn. Framed by context-offering trigger warnings, it’s a tale which is often dark, often funny, and always challenging.

Loki is strongest when talking about class, alienation and the uneasy way in which the fabric of Scottish society is stitched together. He also offers great insights into the appropriateness of rap as a means of exploring important issues, and the opinion which prevails in some quarters that it is not a safe medium for weighty ideas. There is less clarity when it comes to social media driven angst, although that is probably more a reflection on the absurdity, murkiness and incomprehensibility of Facebook comment sections related to anything remotely political or cultural.

Loki’s book, Poverty Safari, is a serious insight into the lives and frustrations of a British underclass. This live show brings many of the book’s themes to life in a compelling hour of poetic art. Read the book, see the show, and enjoy one of the most interesting cultural viewpoints in modern Scotland.

Reviews by Alec Martin

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Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
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Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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The Blurb

Blending elements of music, comedy and spoken word to bring to life themes of social mobility, class and identity. An attempt to find a way across the ravine while still retaining your sanity. Loki AKA Darren McGarvey's bestselling 2017 book Poverty Safari: Understanding the Anger of Britain’s Underclass blended memoir, journalism and polemic to make an argument that even the left – as well as Conservatives – misunderstand the complexity of poverty as it is experienced and that many traditional ideas on both the left and right are dangerously outdated.

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