|Life - In Memory Original 1998 12"|
|Life MC - the "Life" part of "Phi-Life Cypher"|
To summarise a long and complex story for those unfamiliar with the case - 18-year-old sixth-form student Stephen Lawrence was stabbed to death at a bus stop in Southeast London in April 1993. In the years following the murder the resulting metropolitan police investigation was lackadaisical at best and at worst corrupt. Despite no fewer than 39 tip-offs and a statement from a material witness, it took the interference of Nelson Mandela - putting the case on the international stage with a visit to Eltham to meet Stephen's family - before the police decided to make an arrest. Two of the five suspects named by witnesses were eventually charged but in July 1993 the Crown Prosecution Service decided to drop the charges against prime suspects Neil Acourt and Luke Knight due to insufficient evidence.
|Daily Mail 14th Feb 1997|
Such was the sense of injustice felt by the nation after the conclusion of the trial, the Daily Mail took the unprecedented step of branding the five suspects "Murderers" on the front page of their newspaper and challenged them to sue for libel if they were wrong. To further rub salt in the wounds, footage caught on police surveillance camera in David Norris' flat in 1994 was broadcast in a TV documentary which caught the suspects acting out their racist fantasies whilst "playing" with knives. Whilst brandishing a large knife Norris was heard saying: 'If I was going to kill myself do you know what I'd do? I'd go and kill every black, every Paki, every mug, every copper that I know. 'I'd go down to Catford and places like that with two submachine guns and I'm telling you I'd take one of them. Skin the black alive, mate. Torture him, set him alight. 'I'd blow their two legs and arms off and say "Go on, you can swim home now."
|Stephen Lawrence Murder Suspects|
Despite the general acceptance by anyone who followed the case that the five suspects were - without doubt guilty - to this day they have never been successfully prosecuted for the murder of Stephen Lawrence although there is hope that new DNA evidence may eventually provide Stephen's parents with the justice they crave. The legacy of the case lead to the Metropolitan Police force being labelled "institutionally racist" and resulted in double jeopardy laws (preventing UK citizens being tried for the same case twice) being repealed.
|Life "In Memory" Label|
|The flip-side featuring "Blinded Reality"|
In my opinion "In Memory" is a classic track purely because it does what hip hop should do - It provides a picture of the frustration felt by a disaffected community in the same way that "The Message" did when it was dropped all those years ago. As a historical document it reveals the feelings of persecution that to this day are still felt by minority communities towards elements of the police - this time as a result of their indifference to the Stephen Lawrence case. For this reason this record is to UK race politics what KRS One's "Sound of da Police" was to US politics in the wake of the Rodney King case. Trouble is, unlike the KRS effort - as usual not enough people outside of the UK Hip Hop community heard it!
|"Bring the education to teach |
the youth about integration"
Oh yeah, and for the record, there is also a b-side track called "Blinded Reality" that seems to be unavailable in any form anywhere else - not the highlight but tight nonetheless. And for those eagle-eyed individuals that noticed the CK002 catalogue number on the label, don't worry I haven't forgotten CK001 - the other Phi-Life venture on Compressed Knowledge - The Baddest Man EP and vinyl debut by the Phi-Life Cypher crew as a group will be covered in SP.O.T.S shortly. In the meantime check all of Life's debut offering below!
Life MC - "In Memory" (Original Compressed Knowledge 12" version)
Life MC: "Blinded Reality" (B-side of C.K. 12")
Life MC: "In Memory" Wordlab Vol.1 Version (also on the 2003 Solo LP "Everyday Life")