Culture

How It Felt When a Grime MC Slut-Shamed Me During a Clash

My personal life was weaponised in a "Lord of the Mics" clash between an MC and my then-boyfriend. The abuse since has been unbearable.
07 September 2020, 10:06am
Lord of the Mics clash with Tana
Tana showing the pixellated photo on Lord Of The Mics. Photo: Lord Of The Mics VIII

When I started a music mentorship scheme in London in 2016, I was 21 and very excited. I’d been selected as one of 40 young people on One True Calling – an initiative set up by ex Beats 1 DJ Julie Adenuga and Radio 1Xtra DJ Sian Anderson to give insight into the world of radio, music journalism, PR and events.

I worked as a healthcare assistant at my local hospital in Norwich and travelled back and forth to London to go to events, get work experience and immerse myself in the UK’s grime scene, which I had so much love for. When I could, I’d stay in whoever’s bed was free at my sister’s uni house in Kingston and go to radio sets and raves all over London, diving headfirst into grime just as the genre rode its second wave.

By the end of 2016, I’d landed a show on Reprezent Radio – a youth led digital station based in south London which reflects “The Sound of Young London” and plays everything from reggaeton to dancehall. My show was a bi-weekly Tuesday morning (1-3AM) specialist grime show playing songs from artists such as Capo Lee, Merky Ace, YGG and P Money.

Like any human is free to do, I had sexual relationships, but it didn’t take long for me to realise my “personal” business wasn’t personal anymore. MCs, DJs, producers and fans of grime were adamant on slut shaming me for sexual encounters I had, posting about them on Twitter or including reference in grime sets on radio stations.

The friend of an MC I slept with recorded a freestyle on Reprezent called “Amber Alert” where he spoke of making my mother's bumcheeks clap, as well as other things about myself and my family – all because I'd called him out for mocking me and calling me a jezzy on Twitter for sleeping with his friend and then being left in the middle of nowhere in an area I didn't know in the early hours of the morning.

Lots of the shaming took place because it could be used in bars toward my then-boyfriend, Ten Dixon, a grime MC. The biggest of these happened in a clash between Ten and another grime MC named Tana – who, for context, I had sexual relations with after ending up very intoxicated on the final night of a girl’s holiday to Ibiza in 2018.

It all happened during the Lord Of The Mics video series – a long, iconic grime compilation where two up and coming MCs battle rap against one another to thousands upon thousands of views each year.

First, in a “Hype Session” promoting the event, Tana referred to me by first name then rapped “Meantime Crafty was beating your girl in Mode FM toilets, blud that’s ridiculous” – referring to another grime MC and another radio station – “Mum’s life I could never share a mic with Ten / if I do that blud that’s syphilis”.

Once again, my personal business became public. Tana slut shamed me and insinuated I had sexually transmitted infections, all to try and get one up in his clash.

Then, when the official Lord Of The Mics event came around, Tana brought out what he purported to be an explicit image of me, beginning his rap “Yo Dixon, how does it feel / I’ve got your girl on camera sucking my dick” before then showing an explicit picture to the audience and triumphantly waving it around.

The clash then stopped, only for Tana to wheel up his verse and show the photo to the audience again.

[Editor’s note: When VICE reached out to Tana for comment, he told us that the image he produced was a printed screenshot from PornHub which he had produced as a prop for LOTM.]

To this day I have not seen the image, nor do I want to. What’s important is that the image shown was intended to be me, resulting in a barrage of abuse.

The events that followed were traumatising. Again, my “personal” business had been shown in a room full of people. LOTM blurred the image and removed my name from the published footage of the final clash, but the damage from Tana had been done. It didn’t take long before I was a hot topic on the Twitter timeline again.

The victim shaming I have received because Tana brought my name and that photo into the clash has been truly heinous. I have had fake accounts message me and make comments about my father’s – and consequently my own – struggles with addiction. I’ve been told I deserved it because I consented to being filmed, even though I don’t remember what happened on that night in Ibiza. Many of my achievements have been downplayed and my credibility has been questioned.

After consulting some peers and friends, I decided to report the incident to the police, stating that I had been a victim of revenge porn. However due to the initial incident happening in Ibiza, the Metropolitan Police said they couldn’t investigate the case. There was ambiguity over whether revenge porn had been committed too, since this is typically aimed at ex-partners whereas what happened at Lord Of The Mics was supposed to have been aimed at my then-partner, Ten Dixon, rather than myself.

[Editor’s note: Tana’s representatives told us that revenge porn hadn’t been committed as the image was not of Amber.]

I have been gaslit, frowned upon, laughed at and interrogated, which led to me being stepped down from my Reprezent Radio show for my own mental health, and suicidal thoughts taking over me a number of times a day.

To know that radio stations and record labels are still happy to support Tana in spite of all this is something that triggers me. Producing an explicit image of a woman during a clash between two men is not OK, regardless of context. Continuing to support artists who abuse women is not the way to do this.

At present, I do not see that enough is being done to protect women like myself. I could be somebody that works at your label or your station – I’m somebody’s daughter, sister and friend.  There is a complete lack of support for women who have been through traumatic events like this, hence why many wouldn’t want to go to police and relive it all again in court, if such processes were relevant.

We expect alleged abusers to stay silent, but big companies with global audiences should be putting their foot forward. The lack of care around such pertinent and sensitive issues impacting myself and thousands of women is worrying. In 2018 Lily Allen released her book My Thoughts Exactly, which touches on various topics including being sexually assaulted by a record industry executive, whom last year she still believed to be working at Warner Music.

The music business is run for profit but this generation is not willing to stand for abuse victims being silenced for the sake of monetary or industry gain. The music industry needs to be accessible, safe and enjoyable – not only for men, but for the women who will go on to fill very powerful positions within it.

A year on from Lord Of The Mics, triggered by Tana being signed to a label and playlisted, I want more than ever to discuss these incidents and highlight them. Having done a lot of work within myself, I also know and understand these incidents do not define me.

They exacerbated my mental health conditions, took things away from me that I loved and really made me want to turn my back on radio and “the scene”.  But the passion and drive I had before applying for One True Calling is still within me. I was mentored by two Black women who have fought very hard to become successful despite all the hurdles and this inspires me to combine both the worlds I know – health and social care and now, radio/music to raise awareness and support others.

@NotStrictlyAmbs