Profile scoops Bernard's history of Black British music

Profile scoops Bernard's history of Black British music

Profile Books has scooped music writer Jesse Bernard's "pivotal" history of Black British music and culture.

The publisher bought UK and Commonwealth rights including audio for Escaping Babylon from Suresh Ariaratnam at Sprung Sultan. The book is scheduled for publication in 2023. 

Escaping Babylon looks at homegrown Black music genres across a 30-year period such as grime, UK rap, hip-hop, soul, R&B, funky house, garage and jungle, and asks how it is that a group of people representing just 3% of the British population have been able to leave such a deep impression on Black music and contemporary pop across the globe. It explores the impact of Black British music culture at the local, community level, tracking it to its apex through icons such as Shola Ama, D Double E, Lynden David Hall, Kano and many others. The publisher said: "Over the past few years, a Black cultural renaissance has developed in Britain following the rise of artists such as Stormzy; but the story begins years ago, before many of its main actors were born."

Bernard has written about Black music in US and UK publications and platforms such as Bandcamp, the BBC, Dazed, the Guardian and the Independent. He is also a DJ and last year presented the "Gospel of Grime" BBC Radio 4 documentary.

Bernard said: "Escaping Babylon is essentially the culmination of all the stories and experiences I’ve soaked in over a 30-year period, and it’s an honour to be given the opportunity to be the one to immortalise them in this form. Having lived with the archives for the majority of my life, I believe that this book is one of the many ways I can bring untold stories about Black music in Britain out into the wider community."

Ariaratnam said the book "promises not only to be a long-awaited narration of the story of Black British music but also to tell the story of Black British culture through the prism of music — and in doing so to acknowledge its pivotal contribution to Britain and beyond" while Profile editorial Ed Lake said the book will be "an indispensable tribute to the visionary creativity of generations of British artists".