I can’t be the only person who checked out on HipHop when the sincerity of the genre’s pioneers gave way to the commercially driven era of thongs and booty. The music lost its edge when the dollar became the creative driving force – the razor sharp authenticity of the message blunted by the money men’s desire to reach a wider audience.
Although mainstream Hiphop has rediscovered something of its soul in recent years, the grassroots remain one of the best places to find the telling-it-how-it-is social commentary that HipHop does better than anyone else. The local scene here in the North East may not get much exposure, but away from the attention of the media there’s a growing community of rappers, musicians and producers committed to the cause.
Joining me at ArchSixteen to talk about their music and all things HipHop are Newcastle based Kay Greyson and Rex Regis. Kay is a talented songwriter making a name for herself beyond the confines of the Hiphop scene, with an accomplished performance at this year’s Evo Emerging and a recent support slot with Pharoahe Monch marking her out as one to keep an eye on. Her brother, Rex, is an established writer, performer, producer and promoter currently working on his third album. Together they had a lot to say and I hope you are as absorbed as I was with their insight into a form of music that is often misunderstood and undervalued. Throw in a few acapella rhymes and it made for a entertaining evening – not always what you might expect and certainly not devoid of colourful language.
Having had an opportunity to talk with Kay and Rex I’m motivated to take a greater interest in what our local Hiphop artists are up to, and would encourage our local music venues to do likewise. HipHop isn’t always the easiest form of music to understand, and the culture / language can be a little intimidating for the uninitiated. However, scratch the brazen veneer and you will find an amiable crowd who are passionate about their craft.
There’s something a bit different about the energy of a live Hiphop gig, a more personal connection between performer and audience perhaps. I could theorise further, but you’d be far better off checking out some of our local rappers for yourself than reading my ramblings about a genre I’m only just rediscovering.
Video and photography – Matt Flynn