One Step Ahead: A photography tribute to Caribbean music and The Heptones




It’s been over 70 years since the Empire Windrush docked in Tilbury, Essex; a landmark in time and core to the genesis of Black British culture that we all know today. Despite promises of prosperity, Caribbeans were confronted with intolerance and racism from many of the white population when they arrived in Britain. Music became an essential element which fostered community, a sense of identity, and created safe spaces for expression - whilst teaching important cultural & historical lessons to black youth.


One Step Ahead sets out to capture the essence of the unique, musically-influenced styles from the later Windrush era in the heartlands of London’s first Afro-Caribbean neighbourhoods. Titled after Jamaican Rocksteady/Reggae group The Heptones’ 1981 album (of which the cover was photographed in West London), the project showcases a snippet of the remarkable vibrancy of a pioneering generation faced with a multitude of hardships.


Heptones singer Naggo Morris recalls location scouting for their album cover in a 2017 interview with Al ‘Fingers’ Newman:


“We were down on the town, taking pictures all over. We even went to Buckingham Palace and a policeman wanted to take away our camera. We explained to them, ‘We are singers from Jamaica, we are The Heptones’, and they gave it back.”

The Windrush Generations’ impressive resilience to hostility only strengthened their resolve to adapt and mould a brand new definition of what it meant to be Black & creating a life in the land of their oppressors. Their trailblazing trends in fashion & music forced Britain to make space for a people that would change the fabric of the nation forever.



Credits

Female model: Danniella dee

Male Model: Shaun flores

Photographer: Michael Aji

Female Stylist: Tayla Gordon

Male Stylist: Sidney

MUA: Shola Gordon