29 May 2020

Lewes FC Women's striker Jess King releases rap track ‘Raise Us Up’ targeting gender inequality in football

Lewes Women’s football star Jess King has demonstrated her talent off the pitch by recording her own rap single in a bid to battle gender inequality in football and pay homage to the pioneers who set the foundations for the women’s game.

The 27-year-old, who has been a striker at the Championship club since 2019, teamed up with music producer Max Mezzowave to create ’Raise Us Up’, which was released on Friday.

On the cover of the single, King is pictured in a re-creation of the infamous 1966 World Cup trophy lifting moment, but instead of the likes of Bobby Charlton, she is held aloft by women’s footballing icons.

Alex Scott, Kelly Smith, Mia Hamm, Rachel Yankey and Michelle Akers are shown ’raising up’ the footballer-come-rapper on her debut cover.

Speaking to The Times, she said: "These people are the ones that I looked up to and we couldn’t really see them as much as we can see players these days because of social media.

“I read Mia Hamm’s book, Michelle Akers’ book, I had a Hamm USA jersey."

A statement on the Lewes club website described the single by saying: "(It is) a song about women trying to break free and be heard and respected in a man's world’. That could be anywhere, but this story takes place in the male bastion of football."

In 2017, Lewes FC became the first and only club to fully equalise its men's/women's teams budgets, as well as both teams playing in the same stadium.

For King, this level of equality is something that drew her to the club after experiencing gender discriminations when attempting to become a professional footballer.

During a period when playing for FC Basel in Switzerland, a lorry of boots arrived and King was told they were not for her as they were exclusively for the men’s team.

King shows off her talent off the pitch with her new single (Jess King twitter)

It was treatment like this that sparked her desire to try and make a positive difference.

"I was really upset about that at the time as it was in front of some of the lads," she said.

"I wanted to speak about it then but I was so emotional I don’t think it would have come out in the right way. Now, this song is about everything I’ve experienced and it is a much better and positive way to express the negative and positive things I have seen.

“It’s almost like a peaceful protest than coming out with fire."

Despite her excitement, she remained realistic about the prospects of the single, assuring that she is not sure how people will receive it.

"It may stay within the football community, maybe it will be played at women’s football events, but it might get radio play as it’s very relevant,” she added.

"Music can reach people in a different way and different types of people and I wanted the song to give kind of a good vibe and an uplifting vibe.

"I didn’t want it to come across as if I am moaning the whole time, or digging people out, but I wanted to give a sense of reality and acknowledge the strength of persistence of people who just play football because they love it and don’t get a lot back in return."

King celebrates scoring for Lewes FC (James Boyes)

The rapping football star is hopeful her music can also help inspire young girls get into the sport.

“I want there to be a transition from that and for the kids to feel that there is a future for young girls in football still," she said.

"I want people that are 18, 19, to know that they can have a bit more than what we’ve got now because people keep pushing and fighting for a little bit more."

The single went on sale at midday on Friday with some of the proceeds going towards supporting Lewes FC and its campaign efforts as the club remains 100 per cent fan-owned and non-profit.

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