That’s the question isn’t it? “Have You Heard George’s Podcast?” is a BBC Radio podcast created and hosted by rapper, spoken word performer, and artist George the Poet. It’s entirely unique, almost experimental, meditative, and gilded in gold (as in, it’s won a lot of awards, including a Peabody, Ambie, and multiple British Podcast awards).
George describes his podcast as an audio scrapbook of random diary entries, although we’d say it’s anything but random. It is meticulously crafted in a way that feels so free, but the immaculate flow and musical immersion shows an incredible amount of dedication and hard work. George’s works hone in on political and social issues, and this podcast is no different. Through storytelling (both fictional and nonfictional), poetry, and music, this podcast explores inner city life, the Black experience, and love.
“Have You Heard George’s Podcast” is (currently) 28 episodes long, spread out over two seasons. Episodes are typically 20 to 40 minutes long, each one exploring different themes around law enforcement, education, music as a tool for anything from reform to finding peace, and many more of George’s musings. While the first eight episodes don’t need to be listened to in any particular order, George highly recommends listening to the later 20 episodes as they were intended. Storylines begin to intermingle, and character arcs span multiple episodes, so why run the risk of not hearing those stories as they were meant to be heard?
Inspired by the world around him and the world inside him, George tells us that he recognized a need for a place to have deeper conversations about his community. His original idea in 2017 was to create a current affairs audio magazine, where listeners could absorb information in the most approachable and enjoyable way possible. In 2018, he teamed up with musician Ben Brick to create this podcast, complete with an ethereal and immersive original score sandwiched between genre-bending sound design and Ambie-award nominated music supervision.
He begins this podcast with a meandering train of thought. Well, meticulously crafted meandering, an overarching theme of this entire podcast. He’s watching his nephews play with their friends and picturing their futures. Only, he knows they won’t all be pretty futures. He says some will be dead, some in jail, some in his exact position watching their own children. This episode actually focuses on crime and music in his community and how the two feed off of each other. It’s instantly compelling and deeply emotional. He switches between pondering about the future these children will face in their community and how music (rap music and musicians especially), can maybe change that outcome.
Rap is a multi-billion dollar industry, but George says that rappers today and the Black communities they came from face the same issues NWA and Black communities did nearly three decades ago. He says that rappers are their main storytellers, creating songs that transcend genre and have broken into the mainstream in recent years, but why does it seem that so little has changed? They’re still rapping about the same things, the same issues plaguing Black communities in London and America and around the world.
He muses on all of this, analyzing songs in both their cultural context and musical context to show his thoughts. It’s hard to put into words that aren’t his own. “Have You heard George’s Podcast?” is rhythmic and flows like any good rap song or piece of poetry should. Reading this is nothing like just listening to George.
The third episode is guaranteed to stop you in your tracks. While the first two episodes are emotional and point out infuriating injustice, the third episode will break you. It’s about the Grenfell Tower fire of 2017 that killed 72 people. He switches to a documentary-style narration to tell the story of Grenfell from multiple perspectives, weaving together the experiences of multiple characters who offer unique insight. It’s not just about the fire but the neglect of London’s inner city and the resilience of a community that endured.
“Have You heard George’s Podcast?” is art. It’s the single most unique podcast you may ever hear; even the most seasoned of podcast listeners will be surprised and utterly charmed by the format, the style, the creativity. It blends spoken word, music, and soundscapes into an instantly captivating work of art. No one’s words besides George’s could possibly do this podcast justice, so go check it out as quickly as you can.