A Love Letter to… the Mozart Estate
I grew up in a place called Mozart in west London, which is basically the ‘bad boy’ side of the lovely area that is Maida Vale, Paddington. I moved to Harrow Road (Mozart’s main high road) when I was five or six years old and lived there until I moved to Victoria around the age of 15. West London is known for its lovely buildings and great parks, but obviously this is London – there are two sides to every area.
Mozart has had a long history of problems with its surrounding, opposing areas (Ladbroke Grove, Harlesden, Kilburn) meaning regardless of whether you were involved in the beef or not, you had to watch your back just in case things ever got sticky.
But the area wasn’t just pain and paigons, it’s a place where you could have a good time with your lads, whether it’s playing football in the cage at Ashmore Park, or swimming at the now-closed Jubilee Centre. We also had a park funded by the National Lottery called Paddington Recreational Ground where I used to play five-a-side footy every week. That’s what I really loved and appreciated growing up in my area – how easy it was to access activities and sports without spending money. The good old days! I even remember going rock climbing in the Westway Sports Centre on Latimer Road, which was a mad ting.
“Mozart has a mad sense of community. It’s taught me that it’s okay to be myself”
I went to school in the Kilburn area, people there didn’t get along with people from Mozart. There were a couple of issues of course, but we were young so stuff wasn’t that deep if you weren’t directly involved, you could really just be a normal school kid, regardless of how mad the ends was.
The area has produced a lot of MCs. Fredo is the biggest name in terms of music to come out of my hood, Ratlin and Belly are also some names you may recognise. You have the ER movement which has C Bizz, M Lo, Hurricane (last two went to my school funnily enough) and you also have Labroke Grove, home to the amazing AJ Tracey, who is also my cousin – hence why a lot of people think I’m from Grove. I don’t scream to the rooftops that I’m from Mozart ’cause of all the problems it brings. But I’m a grown adult now, I can say I’m from there and even if you’re an ultimate evil paigon, you know the difference between someone who lives in an area because the government put them there, and someone willing to risk it all for their post code.
Harrow Road really does have a great community spirit, regardless of the issues that always come to the front. Things like Notting Hill Carnival, the little market on Harrow Road and Portobello round the corner add that sick, diverse culture vibe in the ends. There are Arabs, blacks, Asians, whites. It’s very unlikely to find any racism in Mozart, because most of us ain’t really from England – so how can we diss each other? – and most people in the area are working class, so we’re all in this together.
The area needs more initiatives, whether that be through sports, youth clubs or other community activities. For example, the area has two sports centres and loads of local parks – let’s put them to good use. The council and government could help by promoting these spaces for young people to develop themselves in, and not charge crazy prices for their use. Maybe, just maybe, they could invest a little more into the real things helping people in the area instead of these new apartments for students!
The media seems to focus a lot on the bad side of Mozart, all the things that come with gang culture – knife crime, drugs etc. It’s not about that. There’s so much more to the area. It has a mad sense of community which I think you only fully understand when you live there. It’s taught me that it’s okay to be myself. You don’t have to try and fit in anywhere, just be you.
Big Zuu’s mixtape Content with Content is out now