Vivienne Westwood has always been a punk provocateur, never shy to voice her political beliefs. In recent years, she’s become an outspoken advocate against fracking and climate change, with IoU—an acronym for “Intellectuals Unite”—appearing all over her spring ’17 runway as a call to arms. Once, she even tried to deliver a Christmas present filled with asbestos to former British Prime Minister David Cameron, in an attempt to raise awareness for the issue.
Now, the Dame can add MC to her ever-expanding resume. On “Be There,” a political track by British rapper/producer Mic Righteous, from his upcoming album, Dreamland, Westwood spits a verse about the horrors of climate change and the dishonesty of mainstream media, encouraging people to stand up.
“Intellectuals Unite,” she urges. “Everybody’s talking but only our map gives the complete picture. The ice is melting, fracking releases tons of methane, water is more precious than oil.” She finishes, “Speak with one voice. Culture not consumption. […] Red is uninhabitable, green is all that’s left.”
Righteous met Westwood at a climate change march last year, where she told him she’d been working on an emotional poem. From there, the rapper rented a studio and brought the legendary designer in to record her verse.
“To be honest, when I thought of collaborations, Vivienne wasn’t the first rapper that came to mind,” he told i-D. “The album doesn’t feature any other rappers but with the topics discussed in the project—from the refugee crisis, to the state of Britain as a country, to what the title and concept Dreamland is representative of as a whole—we wanted to make a statement and remind people the album should be about the process of art.”
On their collaboration and Intellectuals Unite, Righteous said: “We must collaborate, put our minds together, and move the power from the greedy to the needy. Fight climate change, start at the top of our long list of global issues, and work down and work together. In life we have three choices: be part of the positive change and fight the good fight, do the opposite, or do nothing at all. […] The only way we will change the world for our grandchildren is to be smart and work together.”
The ‘Godmother of Punk’ is lasting proof that punk’s not dead, it’s what you make it—even a hip-hop track. “We are building a movement,” she said. “If you care about the world join IoU.”