This is the series that looks at people doing some of the greatest shit in our scene. We want to give people the flowers while they are still here and tell them “hey, what you’re doing is great, keep on doing it”. These are people doing it their way, however unconventional that may be. Last week, we took a look at the founders of the record label, Breeding London Kulture, Antz and Abdi. This week we’re examining two more fixtures in our scene, Poet and Vuj.
Similar to Antz and Abdi, it’s difficult for me to remember exactly when I first came across the duo. They have been active in the Black British underground scene for over ten years and have been able to make it into the mainstream in the last five years. However, I think I first came across them properly when I watched Comments Below on Copa90.
I used to love football so much so it was refreshing to hear two everyday guys speak about the latest football news, as a contrast to the Match of the Day pundits, with their polished shoes and ironed shirts. In the most respectable way possible, it made me think; “I could do that”. A skinny guy with plaits and a guy who moved to the UK as a child, from his home country of Serbia made in onto my my laptop screen. If they can do what they love, surely the possibilities for me are endless?
And things progressed. Prior to their show on Copa90, they were already known for wild content, like David Vujanic’s character, Bricka Bricka and Poet’s show, Poet’s Corner. I just missed these moments as they were happening, but even looking back on the videos, it takes me back to a much simpler time and highlights how far they have come and how much they have influenced the new generation of YouTube personalities.
They went on to interview footballers, like David Beckham, Neymar Jr and Rio Ferdinand. They were able to travel the world. And, they did this largely off the back of their own ideas and hard work, like with the series Fifa and Chill, where they wanted to humanise both rappers and footballers alike by having a chat with them and playing Fifa in bathrobes (David Vujanic’s idea).
There are been so many other moves and viral moments with Vuj especially. For example, “mum, I’ve got black friends”, or dougieing on stage at Notting Hill Carnival or dancing in D’Banj’s music video for his hit song, Oliver Twist.
Despite this, the article is quite controversial because of the content of some of their earlier videos and Tweets. Social media was a different place back then. People said what they wanted with no filter – everything was new. The days of Smokey Barbers, Diary of a Badman and KSIOlajidebt. The days when everybody had an opinion about everything, where they would make jokes about themselves and where anyone could get it.
I do not condone any of their homophobic, sexist or racist comments. I think that their previous comments were a reflection of themselves and it doesn’t matter what times we are living, they were wrong. They have both been criticised for old Tweets but Poet’s were the most high profile as he was “cancelled” in April of last year and sacked from his job at Copa90, after a journalist at Football365, exposed his sexist Tweets.
I had to question whether I could put them on my platform and say that what they’ve done is great because some of their views have not been in line with what I stand for.
However, when I thought about the impact that they have had and continue to have on me, our scene and their friends, I felt compelled to follow through with my idea, since they were some of the first names that popped into my head when I started the series.
Since Poet’s cancellation, Poet and Vuj decided to go independent and set up their own YouTube channel. I had to question what this says about our society and the power that men have to continue working, despite their views. Having said that, the introduction and success of their own channel is testament to their hard work and the value that they put into themselves.
When I listened to the Afro Child episode of Halfcast Podcast, I heard them speak about the power that they know that they have. They respect their business and life experience, which is why Vuj could go into corporate meetings and receive the money that he felt he deserved. It’s because he knows that he could do what he does with those companies, by himself and with a team of his friends. And, that type of set up is ultimately more fulfilling in the long run. You can keep your integrity, own your business and learn about all aspects of the industry.
This, along with the; “doing it with your friends”, aspect of the pair, is why they are so inspirational. Poet in particular was able to put on so many of his friends, creating a little scene of his network. People like Maya Jama, Craig Mitch and Snoochie Shy. This sets up a more enjoyable work environment for Poet, since he is surrounded by people that he actually likes and it means that they can all eat together. That is the goal.
They have both also been instrumental in nurturing new talent, directly or indirectly. People like Alhan and Harry Pinero. These guys could be considered competition as the new guys in town, but that’s not how Poet and Vuj see it. They are in competition with themselves and with the infrastructure in the scene now, there is space for so many different lanes.
I love how they can do what they want (for better or for worse) and have continued to exist in their own space. I hope and it seems like they are growing as people because listening to Poet over the last year, I’ve realised how smart he is, in a way that I hadn’t before. His mind is very quick and it is a skill to be able to remain relevant for as long as he has.
Vuj too, has a different energy about him. I saw him at the Fresh Voices event at the Guardian in February and he had a calm air about him. He has taken time away to get to know himself better so seems at peace with who he is and is less out there than in his earlier days.
I just want to them to keep on growing, learning and making great shit. And, through their podcasts, they are providing people with a lot of game that could be useful for future careers. I, for one, am going to use it and dedicate time to make some great shit of my own.
And that’s the series done! Some of my influences. Some of the youngest in charge. It’s time to go get it.