Suffolk

Rapper Piers James urges Black Lives Matter to 'keep up pressure'

Piers James
Image caption Rapper Piers James said he hoped anti-racism protests would bring about change

One of the UK's rising hip-hop artists said the Black Lives Matter movement should "not slow down the pressure" for change.

Like many artists, Piers James delayed the release of his latest single to support the anti-racism protests across the world.

Can't Be My Girl debuted on BBC 1Xtra earlier this week.

James said it was important to "keep having these difficult conversations with people".

Last week, radio stations and TV channels changed their programmes to mark "Blackout Tuesday", reflecting on George Floyd's death in police custody in May.

Record labels and music stars stopped work to observe the initiative.

Protests were also held around the UK, including about 1,000 people in James' hometown of Ipswich.

Image caption Piers James supported Ed Sheeran when he played Ipswich last year

James said: "I think it's sparked something around the world that me as a black man, and we as people we will no longer stand for.

"But I'm so glad looking around and seeing my friends, seeing my family and seeing all people on social media coming together in such a unified form, it's so positive to see."

The musician, who has been described as Britain's hottest up-and-coming hip hop star, was chosen by Ed Sheeran to open his 45,000 capacity homecoming show in Ipswich's Chantry Park last summer.

James, now based in London, said: "Every single time one of my songs goes on national radio I think back to when my Mum would put on the radio and the songs I would hear."

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Media captionBlack Lives Matter: About 1,000 people gather for Ipswich park protest

The 30-year-old said he hoped the recent Black Lives Matter protests were not "just a reaction" to current events.

"It's important to not slow down the pressure and to keep applying these processes and keep having these difficult conversations with people so we can really go about change," he said.

"Not just go and do a protest and that's it done for the year."

James added: "We as a whole need the mentality of 'we can go about change'.

"But not until we all get everyone on board with wanting to educate themselves can we go forward."

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