Podcast Corner: Fresh approach puts George top of the list

Podcast Corner: Fresh approach puts George top of the list
George the Poet’s podcast featured on many of the ‘best of’ lists of last year.

Have You Heard George’s Podcast was one of the big winners of the end-of-year lists, topping a number of critics’ polls as the podcast of the year.

You always know, with myriad art forms, when you see or hear something new, when it feels important.

This show from George the Poet is that.

A London rapper/MC whose spoken word pieces have soundtracked the likes of the opening of the BBC’s royal wedding coverage in 2018, George Mpanga, 29 today, studied politics, sociology, and psychology at Cambridge University and thought he was on course for a career in public life before he discovered rapping and performance.

All of this feeds into his podcast, the first season of which won gold in five categories at last year’s BritishPodcast Awards, prompting the BBC to sweep him up for his second season.

From the outset, it instantly feels fresh, exciting and influential, as George, speaking in free-flowing verse, melds myriad genres into a show that demands your attention.

“Telling your own story is the secret of survival,” he says on the first of the eight episodes that comprise season one.

He explores his train of thought, incarceration of black people in Britain, and the war on drugs — all in a matter of minutes.

Running throughout the series are snippets of songs, George acting as a tastemaker, explaining at one point: “There are two ways of listening to rap: you can focus on what’s missing or take a deeper look at what’s there.”

‘A Grenfell Story’, meanwhile, is like a radio drama that will stop you in your tracks. It’s one of the most affecting hours of audio.

Despite the heavy topics, the podcast is playful, breaking the fourth wall as George ponders if a topic is too tough, whether he should rerecord a line, talks with his producer, and preempts ‘#notallwhitepeople’ criticism.

Paul Carter, who works on the podcast, told the New York Times recently:

“We’re not podcasters. We’re making audio stories.

"There’s an emerging field in podcasting that is art, and art saying different things: That’s where we fit.”

Expect many copycats in the next year.

YOU’VE GOT TO HEAR THIS: That Peter Crouch Podcast is back after a hiatus in the second half of last year. It’s as irreverent as ever as the former Liverpool star discusses why he retired and just what makes a great captain.

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