Anti-knife crime campaign brings rapper back to life

rapperRapper Joshua Ribera, aka Depzman, who was stabbed to death in 2013, has been brought back to life for an emotional deepfake music video commissioned by the charity set up in his name, in a bid to raise awareness of the devastating effects of knife crime.

Devised by McCann London for The Joshua Ribera Foundation, the video uses deepfake and audio technology to tell Depzman’s tragic story through a new song entitled Life Cut Short, describing his childhood, career and the night that he died.

The agency was looking for an authentic voice to talk to young people about knife crime and culture and decided that Depzman – who was a rising star in the UK grime scene until his death aged just 18 – would be the perfect choice.

The campaign has been created in partnership with British media company SBTV, with founder Jamal Edwards integral in the creative conception prior to his death earlier this year.

Midlands’ rappers ShadowCV and T-Roadz ghost-wrote the lyrics – inspired by Depzman’s life and music – with support from Depzman’s mum, Alison Cope, while the track was produced by music company Native Music.

The video is runnning across social media, and has already been shared by artists Jaykae, JME and Skepta; it will also be played in 65 prisons across the UK to send a powerful message about the consequences of carrying a knife.

McCann UK chief creative officer and co-president Laurence Thomson said: “In our business, we’re familiar with the value of a good pneumonic and ear worms for brands and their role in recall. But this project stretches beyond the normal conventions of ‘campaign’.

“When you have a chance to create something with a powerful message, one that can have such a profound effect on the audience it is aimed at, it’s humbling. To see how it’s been received so far – the tide of positive rallying support from the community and beyond – it’s evident it has struck a chord, starting a conversation that’s vitally needed.”

Alison Cope, who founded The Joshua Ribera Foundation as her son’s legacy, said: “I trusted the team to bring my son’s story to life respectfully and effectively. It makes me incredibly proud of what’s been achieved and the impact that it’s already had.

“I hope that this campaign will inspire the Government, especially the Education Secretary, to use this film as a tool effectively and make education around youth violence compulsory in the UK.”

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