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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