BY MICHELLE DELREY
A spike in gang-related activity has prompted an aspiring musician to write a song pleading with young men to end a deadly cycle of crime.
Calvin Brown, of Pendrell Drive, Brockley started making music when he was 16.
With influences like Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg, Bob Marley and Tupac, it is no surprise that he is trying to tackle similar topics in his own music.
However, it is his newest single, Knife on your waist, that features him crying out to teenagers who have adopted a reckless lifestyle.
With lyrics like “Knife on your waist bro, what ya doing? Killing your brother, who does that?”
To this musician, the error of his target audience’s ways seems fairly obvious.
Driver Calvin, 34, said: “I’ve always done positive music and songs about reality. I try to think outside the box.
“I’m trying to explain to these youths that their mums, dads and siblings are the ones that are going to suffer.
“I want to open their eyes to what they’re doing. Stop walking around with knives and stop getting involved with crimes. There’s another option. Go to university or play a sport.”
Calvin says the appeal to joining a gang is strong, especially for naive teens wanting to emulate their favourite rap stars.
“When I grew up my friends were involved and it was like getting the new Jordans or Gucci. You see your friend doing this and he has two girls and you want two girls too.
“Some want to go to jail because they think it is cool. Some would rather live in jail than live outside.
“J Hus got arrested a few months ago with a knife so the young ones think that’s what I need to do.”
The artist said referring to an incident that happened last December when the rapper, J Hus, had been caught with a blade after police stopped a car near the Westfield Shopping Centre on June 21.
Nowadays, Calvin spends a lot of his time at the TNG Youth and Community Centre in Sydenham bonding with teens.
He tries to demonstrate that there are other ways of reaching success.
“Most of the kids there are 13 to 16 and a lot of them have friends or family that are related to some sort of gang.
“The stabbings that are going on are among black people and black youths.
“I’m just taking up my initiative and talking to those that are gang-related to stop walking around with knives and stop stabbing and killing each other because they are going to end up in jail.
“I’ve spoken to a few police officers. It’s not just for them to do the work, it’s for people like us, everyday
people, to help in some sort of way.
“Knife crime is getting worse. I was doing some research and you can see around 2008 it keeps going up and up. People keep getting arrested with knives. People older than me are walking around with knives because they feel threatened by the youth.”
Calvin believes that parents need to intervene if it looks like their children are starting to get caught up in the violent cycle.
“It has to start with the parents. Mostly it is single mums.
“When the kids reach a certain age they stop listening to their mums. They go to school and their friends become their parents.”
Calvin said youth centres are helping the problem but wants bigger artists to go and perform.
“They need to get famous artists and singers to perform and speak. “Everyone is talking about shooting
and killing and the youths idolise them.”
Calvin’s flatmate Nor Waller, 27, aka Dipop Skull, who is also featured on the single, said: “I’ve been here for a few years.
“At first I wanted to go home but now I want to help black people as a musician.
“I just want to go down to the youth club and help the younger generation and make sure these kids don’t get caught up in knife crime.
“I started making music when I was 14 then left it. Then I met Brown and I picked it up again.”