Knife crime, mental health, and social despair: Brixton poet Telixia Inico’s hard-hitting EP

By Madeleine Coffey
April 6 2020, 15.50

Brixton-born spoken word artist Telixia Inico released her first EP at the end of last month and each song is as politically potent as the last.

P.O.E.T’s four songs explore a range of sensitive and under-discussed issues, such as mental health, knife crime and accessibility to education.

Art as an escape

Growing up surrounded by poverty and tempted by gang culture, Inico, 29, now uses her art to discuss such issues that devastate communities.

She said: “Where we come from the options are limited and some may say that our paths are already written.

“The art gave us hope, the art gave us a feeling that only a few will ever understand.

“I believe music gives people a feeling that anything is possible.”

Rooted firmly in the south London music scene, Inico spent most of her youth around Thornton Heath andy Gipsy Hill – home to Gipset, the now infamous gang of aspiring lyricists who went on to become some of the most influential rap giants of our generation.

One of whom is her late friend, Cadet (Blaine Cameron Johnson), who she tributes a song to in the EP, ‘Everybody Wanted to Know Cadet’.

Inico highlights the link between suffering and great art throughout her work, with lyrics such as ‘your artistry was birthed from the very pain Blaine endured’.

Alike her peers, she faced adversity and trauma throughout her childhood and used art as an outlet and learning resource.

Struggling with dyslexia and trying to meneuvoure through gang life, Inico was one of many who fell under the radar in the education system.

It was only through poetry that she learnt to read and write.

“I felt alone and felt misunderstood and it was writing poetry that helped me express myself,” she said.

“Poetry was and is my therapy now. It truly saved my life.”

Education as a solution

The track ‘Importance of Education’ has a title that speaks for itself.

But it also underlines the paradoxical inequality woven throughout the education system: unequal access.

“The tool that is used to win battles when the odds are against you, it is the very thing that is used globally,” she added.

“But not everyone gets to experience the classroom.”

Inico said that although education is overwhelmingly pointed to as the answer to social woes, continuous government cuts have left the system, and those in it, desperate.

Social despair

Such desperation is transparent in songs H.E.L.P and Blades and Roses.

H.E.L.P is an honest portrayal of the personal and societal devastations of mental health issues.

And even more so, of the ignorance surrounding it.

“Mental health in our community is real, also amongst our young boys and girls, we can’t sweep this under the carpet¬†anymore,” she said.

Inico argued the affect of ignoring such issues is that children are suffering and growing up with lack of understanding, accountability and confidence.

And she called for fast action through widespread education and transparent discussion.

Similarly, Blades and Roses serves as a cry out for social attention and change.

Shining a light on the the dark reality of so many families destroyed by knife crime, a lyric says ‘I guess society would rather film it and post it online‚ĶTheir kid’s name turned into a hashtag’.

An artist’s responsibility

In line with the growing trend to favour vulnerability over machoism in UK rap and grime, Inico acknowledges her duty of care to her listeners to address such issues.

She pairs her art with a range of community projects across south London seeking to educate and inspire people throughout the community.

The EP, produced by Push The Frequency, can be downloaded from all main streaming platforms.

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