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.