George the Poet – Wikipedia

British spoken word artist and rapper

Musical artist

George Mpanga (born 14 January 1991), better known by his stage name George the Poet, is a Peabody award-winning, British spoken-word artist, poet, rapper, and podcast host with an interest in social and political issues.[2][3][4] Mpanga came to prominence as a poet, from which he progressed to spoken word and hip hop. This led to him being signed by Island Records and culminating in the release of his debut EP The Chicken and the Egg to critical acclaim. However, Mpanga felt constrained by the art form,[5] quit rapping,[6] and left his record label before the release of his debut album.[7] He moved on to performing poetry and created a podcast entitled Have You Heard George’s Podcast?[8]

In 2018, Mpanga was elected to be a Member of the National Council of Arts for Arts Council England.[9]Have You Heard George’s Podcast? won five awards at the 2019 British Podcast Awards, including “Podcast of the Year”.[10]

In 2019, Have You Heard George’s Podcast? won a Peabody Award, becoming the first podcast outside of the US[11] to win the award.[12][13][14]

Life and career[edit]

Mpanga was born to Ugandan parents on the St Raphael’s Estate in Neasden, north-west London.[1] His paternal grandmother is Ugandan politician and former cabinet minister Joyce Mpanga.[15] He began performing rap and grime when he was 15 years old.[1] He attended Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet, an elite selective grammar school, during 2002–2009.[16] He subsequently studied Politics, Psychology and Sociology at King’s College, Cambridge (2010–2013),[17] where he decided to adapt his rap output into poetry to communicate more effectively with his audience.[18] Mpanga said, “I think rappers are primarily expected to make money for the industry and provide party soundtracks, but obviously there are exceptions and grey areas. The poet’s ‘role’ is usually to provide thoughtful social commentary.”[19]

During his studies, Mpanga won a social enterprise competition organised by Barclays and Channel 4 called The Stake, which asked entrants how they would spend £100,000. He used his £16,000 prize to fund The Jubilee Line, a series of secondary school poetry workshops for underprivileged children in London.[2][20] In May 2012, he premiered the piece “My City”, about his hometown London.[21] Subsequently, BBC Radio 1 selected him as the face of their Hackney Weekend (in June 2012),[1] and Sky Sports F1 commissioned him to write poems for their coverage of the 2012 Formula One season and the 2013 Monaco Grand Prix.[18][22]
In July 2014, the consumer watchdog group Which? released the track “It’s Yours”, a collaboration between Mpanga and producer Jakwob, as part of a campaign lobbying the UK Government to improve their response to complaints about public services.[23] “My City” was adapted as a music collaboration with dance producers Bodhi, and released as a single in August 2014.[24] In October 2014, Mpanga released the EP The Chicken and the Egg and the single “1,2,1,2” (once again with Bodhi), describing the former release as “about premature parenthood. Through the story of a rocky relationship, it outlines the cycle of fatherlessness in seven tracks.”[25]Vice magazine wrote that the EP “showcases perhaps the tightest lyricism of the year to date”.[26]

In November 2014, it was announced that Mpanga had been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice category at the 2015 BRIT Awards.[27] He came fifth in the BBC Sound of 2015 poll.[28] As of late 2014, Mpanga was writing a debut album and working on theatre and film projects.[29] He released the single “Cat D” in February 2015.[30] His first collection of poetry in book form, ‘Search Party’, was published by Virgin Books in 2015.[31]

In March 2018 it was announced that Mpanga had been elected as a Member of the National Council of Arts Council England.[9] Shortly after, in June 2018, it came to media attention that Mpanga was stopped and searched by police in an incident which was video recorded.[32] Mpanga opened the BBC coverage of the royal wedding, between Prince Harry and Megan Markle, by reading a love poem.[6] He has also appeared twice on Question Time.[8] In 2019, Mpanga turned down an offer to become an MBE, citing the British Empire’s treatment of his ancestral homeland, Uganda.[33]

As of July 2021, Mpanga was studying for a PhD in economics at University College London, focusing on the potential for black music to catalyse social power and economic progress.[34][35]

Artistry[edit]

Mpanga’s influences include rappers Nas, Dizzee Rascal, and Tupac Shakur, and poets including Maya Angelou, Black Ice, and George Watsky.[28][29][36]

Discography[edit]

Extended plays[edit]

  • The Chicken and the Egg (2014)

Singles[edit]

  • “It’s Yours” (2014)
  • “My City” (2014)
  • “1,2,1,2” (2014)
  • “Cat D” (2015)
  • “Wotless” (2015)
  • “Search Party” (2015)
  • “Search Party 2” (2015)
  • “What Do You Reckon?” (2016)
  • “Wake Up” (2016)
  • “Follow the Leader” (2018)
  • “Make a Change” (2021)

Guest appearances and collaborations[edit]

  • “Young Kingz Part 1” (2013). Collaboration with Krept & Konan
  • “The Lucky Strike EP” (2013). Collaboration with Mikill Pane
  • “Act I” (2013). Collaboration with Naughty Boy
  • “Act II” (2013). Collaboration with Naughty Boy
  • “Epilogue” (2013). Collaboration with Naughty Boy
  • “In The Quiet” (2014). Collaboration with Nick Brewer and Max Marshall
  • “My City” (2014). Collaboration with Bodhi
  • “Spoken Word” (2016). Collaboration with Chase & Status
  • “Royalty” (2018). Collaboration with Dun D and Tiggs Da Author
  • “If I Gotta Go” (2021). Collaboration with Skrapz

Podcast discography[edit]

Have You Heard George’s Podcast Chapter One (2018)[edit]

  • Episode 1 – Listen Closer[37]
  • Episode 2 – Popcorn[38]
  • Episode 3 – A Grenfell Story[39]
  • Episode 3.5 – Grenfell II[40]
  • Episode 4 – It’s On Us[41]
  • Episode 5 – Press Play[42]
  • Episode 6 – The Journey Pt I[43]
  • Episode 7 – The Journey Pt II[44]
  • Episode 8 – Sanyu’s World[45]

Have You Heard George’s Podcast Chapter Two (2019)[edit]

  • Episode 9 – Sabrina’s Boy[46]
  • Episode 10 – A Bedtime Story[47]
  • Episode 11 – Writer’s Block[48]
  • Episode 12 – A Night to REMember[49]
  • Episode 13 – A North West Story[50]
  • Episode 14 – A Hard Taskmaster[51]
  • Episode 15 – Who Am I?[52]
  • Episode 16 – Loose Ends[53]
  • Episode 17 – The Bag[54]
  • Episode 18 – Concurrent Affairs[55]

Awards and nominations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Dionne Grant (22 January 2013). “George The Poet: By Royal Appointment”. The Voice. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  2. ^ a b “Rare Rising Stars 2012”. Rarerecruitment.co.uk. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  3. ^ Ian Youngs (1 December 2014). “BBC Sound Of 2015: George the Poet interview”. BBC News. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  4. ^ Arts, Lanre Bakare; correspondent, culture (30 November 2019). “George the Poet: ‘If I accepted an MBE, what would my descendants think?’. The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 7 December 2019.
  5. ^ “Series 3, Episode 11: George the Poet”. Channel 4 News. Retrieved 7 December 2019.
  6. ^ a b “From rap to representation with George the Poet”. Financial Times. 27 August 2019. Retrieved 7 December 2019.
  7. ^ “The big themes shaping culture in London and New York”. Financial Times. Retrieved 7 December 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ a b Thapar, Ciaran (21 October 2018). “George the Poet: ‘My manifesto was in poetry when I ran for student union chair’. The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 7 December 2019.
  9. ^ a b “Introducing our new National Council Members | Arts Council England”. www.artscouncil.org.uk. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  10. ^ Sturges, Fiona (26 May 2019). “Why George the Poet swept the board at the British Podcast Awards”. Financial Times. Retrieved 8 February 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ “George the Poet on why ending racism shouldn’t be on ‘special’ Black people | CBC Radio”. CBC. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  12. ^ “Podcast award winners revealed”. BBC. 19 May 2019.
  13. ^ a b “Peabody Awards 2020”. Peabody Awards. 2020. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  14. ^ Williams, Tommy. “Meet George The Poet: Spoken Word Artist Partnering With Leading Investment Firm Sweet Capital”. Forbes. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  15. ^ George the Poet (31 December 2019). “31/12/2019”. Today. Event occurs at 2:17:45. BBC Radio 4. We’re gonna meet my grandma, Joyce Mpanga, who was the first Women’s Minister of Uganda.
  16. ^ “A very happy new year for George the Poet”. Qebarnet.co.uk. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  17. ^ “Security Verification | LinkedIn”. linkedin.com.
  18. ^ a b Kate Mossman (3 February 2013). “George the Poet: ‘Rappers have so much power to do good and they squander it’. The Guardian. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  19. ^ Raymond Antrobus (17 October 2012). “Q&A With George The Poet”. Raymondantrobus.blogspot.co.uk. Shapes And Disfigurements Of Raymond Antrobus. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  20. ^ Rebecca Diamond. “Interview: George the Poet”. The Tab Cambridge. Archived from the original on 5 December 2014. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  21. ^ Sam Parker (1 June 2012). “George The Poet’s ‘My City’ Reminds Us There Is More To London Than The Jubilee (VIDEO)”. The Huffington Post UK. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  22. ^ “George The Poet delivers Monaco Grand Prix inspired poem over James Blake’s “Retrograde” [Video]”. SoulCulture. 28 May 2013. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  23. ^ Coral Williamson (16 July 2014). “Which? partners with Jakwob and George The Poet for Government campaign”. Music Week. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  24. ^ “Bodhi VS George The Poet – My City”. #5 Magazine. Archived from the original on 6 December 2014. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  25. ^ “George The Poet – ‘The Chicken and the Egg’ EP – SB.TV – The UK’s leading online youth broadcaster”. Sbtv.co.uk. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  26. ^ Luke Morgan Britton (24 September 2014). “PREMIERE: Listen to George The Poet’s Latest EP”. Noisey. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  27. ^ Nesta McGregor (27 November 2014). “Brits announce 2015 Critics’ Choice shortlist”. BBC Newsbeat. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  28. ^ a b 5. George The Poet, BBC Music – BBC Music Sound Of, 2015.
  29. ^ a b Hannah Ellis-Petersen, “‘I’m from a community that doesn’t often get to represent themselves’”, The Guardian, 14 December 2014.
  30. ^ “News”. Clash Magazine.
  31. ^ “George the Poet pens poetry collection | The Bookseller”. thebookseller.com.
  32. ^ Siddique, Haroon (29 June 2018). “George the Poet is strip-searched by police after gig”. The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  33. ^ Rawlinson, Kevin (25 November 2019). “George the Poet: I rejected MBE over ‘pure evil’ of British empire”. The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 7 December 2019.
  34. ^ “George the Poet”. Profile. 24 July 2021. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 24 July 2021.
  35. ^ “George the Poet: Live from the Barbican”. Barbican Centre. Retrieved 24 July 2021.
  36. ^ “George the Poet on protesting with poetry”, The Guardian, 11 April 2015.
  37. ^ Listen Closer. [1], aCast, April 2019.
  38. ^ Popcorn. [2], aCast, April 2019.
  39. ^ A Grenfell Story. [3], aCast, April 2019.
  40. ^ Grenfell II. [4], SoundCloud, April 2019.
  41. ^ It’s On Us. [5], aCast, April 2019.
  42. ^ Press Play. [6], aCast, April 2019.
  43. ^ The Journey Pt I. [7], aCast, April 2019.
  44. ^ The Journey Pt II. [8], aCast, April 2019.
  45. ^ Sanyu’s World. [9], aCast, April 2019.
  46. ^ E9. [10], aCast, December 2020.
  47. ^ E10. [11], aCast, December 2020.
  48. ^ E11. [12], aCast, December 2020.
  49. ^ E12. [13], aCast, December 2020.
  50. ^ E13. [14], aCast, December 2020.
  51. ^ E14. [15], aCast, December 2020.
  52. ^ E15. [16], aCast, December 2020.
  53. ^ E16. [17], aCast, December 2020.
  54. ^ E17. [18], aCast, December 2020.
  55. ^ E18. [19], BBC Sounds, December 2020.
  56. ^ “Critic’s Choice Winner Announced”. Brit Awards. 4 December 2014.
  57. ^ “Krept & Konan Crowned MTV Brand New For 2015 Winners!”. MTV. 2 February 2015.
  58. ^ “BBC Music Sound Of 2015 longlist revealed”. BBC. 1 December 2014.
  59. ^ “British Podcast Awards 2019”. BPA. BPA. 2019. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  60. ^ “Lovie Awards”. Lovieawards.eu. Lovie. 2020. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  61. ^ “Webby Awards 2020”. Webby Awards. 2020. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  62. ^ “Visionary Awards 2020”. Visionary Arts. 2020. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  63. ^ “Broadcasting Press Guild Awards 2020”. BPG. 2020. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  64. ^ “NME Awards 2020”. NME. 2020. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  65. ^ “Audio Production Awards 2020 Winners”. Radio Today. 2020. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  66. ^ “ARIA Awards”. 2021. Retrieved 22 April 2021.

External links[edit]