AJ Tracey on West London’s mul­ti­cul­tur­al beauty

Portobello Road, Ladbroke Grove – nowhere beats West London for the UK rapper.

From raves to church­es, accents to ges­tures, E8 to SE22, no Londoner’s sto­ry is the same. In our first series, Audio Sto­ries: Lon­don, we asked indi­vid­u­als from all walks of life to share an account of their city.

We often hear about London’s neg­a­tives on loop – nat­u­ral­ly, all the things that make the cap­i­tal great are often over­looked. When Lon­don is good, it’s great and some­thing many Lon­don­ers are proud of is its com­mu­ni­ty spir­it. When times are tough, we pool togeth­er, offer a hand, show our sup­port, send our love. Lon­don may not be the most open­ly friend­ly (always avoid eye-con­tact on the tube), but what we excel at is pick­ing one anoth­er up, shar­ing our cul­tures and offer­ing space for every­one to grow.

Hail­ing from one of the most com­mu­ni­ty spir­it­ed’ areas, then, is UK rap artist AJ Tracey from Lad­broke Grove – he knows all too well about the pow­er of the peo­ple. In his Lon­don, beau­ti­ful, beau­ti­ful West Lon­don”, the area he can eat a tagine, smoke some shisha, cel­e­brate Not­ting Hill car­ni­val and even have Nel­son Man­dela vis­it his school, the idea of the cul­tur­al melt­ing pot’ is at its most authen­tic. AJ Tracey’s Lon­don is an exam­ple of how the count­less cul­tures we’re sur­round­ed by needn’t alien­ate or divide, it can bring us clos­er togeth­er because, after all, the com­mu­ni­ty is what makes Lon­don.

Audio tran­scrip­tion:

Lis­ten, my name’s AJ Tracey. I’m twen­ty-five years young. I’m from beau­ti­ful, beau­ti­ful, beau­ti­ful, West Lon­don, near the Por­to­bel­lo area. My area is amaz­ing, it’s mul­ti­cul­tur­al, it’s one of the best places on the plan­et, not just in Eng­land. Lit­er­al­ly. Dif­fer­ent races every­where, you get me, dif­fer­ent cul­tures, dif­fer­ent foods, cel­e­bra­tions. We’ve got Not­ting Hill Car­ni­val there, you know what I’m sayin’, which this year actu­al­ly I heard is three days, I dun­no if that’s true. It is isn’t it? Appar­ent­ly. Isn’t it? It’s a cel­e­bra­tion innit’, over 50 years. Arite’ cool. Well yeah, I went to school in Hol­land Park, Hol­land Park School. We had vis­i­tors like Gor­bachev and Nel­son Man­dela, swear? Mick? Nel­son Man­dela come to our school? And err Oba­ma, yeh hold tight Oba­ma. You get me?

But yeah, I sup­port Tot­ten­ham. I’m a heavy Tot­ten­ham sup­port­er. So yeah man, go watch the game with my lit­tle broth­er. Right now I’m actu­al­ly in Moroc­co though, I’ve come out here to shoot a music video. My area has a big Moroc­can pop­u­la­tion and a lot of my friends are Moroc­can, so obvi­ous­ly the culture’s embed­ded in Lad­broke Grove. We eat tagine, shisha. It’s a Lad­broke Grove ting man. It’s my area. Kens­ing­ton — the finest. Beau­ti­ful beau­ti­ful West London.

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