Police hire Scottish rapper to fight violent crime

Darren McGarvey. Picture: YouTube
Darren McGarvey. Picture: YouTube
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POLICE Scotland have appointed a “rapper in residence” in a bid to combat violent crime.

Darren McGarvey, aka Loki, is one of Scotland’s most high profile rap artists and boasts a sell-out album titled G.I.M.P and hit songs such as “Porno”, “Kill Your Darlings” and “Wargasm”.

His album artwork includes a naked man wearing an elephant thong and a harness, and coffins floating around a world adorned with a Scottish flag.

He has been homeless, is a recovered drug addict and grew up in a family blighted by abuse and alcohol.

But now he is set to join the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit to spread the power of the spoken word.

His six-month stint with the force will see him visiting schools and prisons across the country, encouraging young people and offenders to partake in “rap battles” instead of physical violence.

He will also produce a number of pieces of rap, poetry, spoken and written word in a bid to change perceptions and reduce crime.

Controversially his first rap, due for completion later this month, broaches the subject of domestic violence from the perspective of a male perpetrator.

Despite growing up in Pollock, one of the most deprived areas of Glasgow, he has gone on to headline the Scottish Album of the Year awards and has been supported by Sir Tom Hunter and Alex Salmond.

The 31-year-old says he his underclass background gives him “insight into aspects of privilege”.

“I want to show the public the positive contribution of hip-hop culture while trying to represent a demographic that doesn’t get very well-represented at all,” he said.

“We have a culture that caters to the affluent. I want to say what the underclass experience is like in an authoritative way so people can say, ‘I can see myself in this’.”

While violence and misogyny are often perceived as a staple of hip hop music, McGarvey insists that the genre is “is at it’s core, about reducing violence”.

“Hip hop is a movement that was born in violent American communities where people found an alternative way to express their frustrations,” he added.

“Coming from an underclass background I have insight into aspects of privilege - you feel unheard, you feel like you are going crazy sometimes.

“If we can find a way to educate each other without blaming specific groups while being careful not to absolve abusive people, we can move forward.”

Karyn McCluskey, the unit’s director, said: “We are trying to start a conversation to make Scotland better.

“Darren is quite provocative and a really interesting character. We felt he would be relevant to a lot of younger people.”

As an experienced community artist, McGarvey has worked with “marginalised groups” for the last decade, including time spent as a youth worker.

He has presented programmes on Radio Scotland on anti-social behaviour and filmed a mini-documentary titled Glasgow Gangs.

He joins the police force at a time when violent crime, particularly crime against women, is still a major concern in Scotland.

Figures released by the Scottish government revealed an 11 per cent increase in sexual crimes in 2014-15 and the unit believes it is crucial to understand why such crimes are being committed.