As DJ 2Kind launches a 100% urban radio show focusing solely on Merseyside acts, Getintothis’ Janaya Pickett caught up with him to find out more about this unprecedented show.
British urban music has played a blinder this year, there’s no doubt about it. Every subset from grime to soul to dubstep has enjoyed success on both sides of the Atlantic – and their influence seeping into the mainstream.
This is exemplified in the likes of James Blake writing and producing for Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Drake appearing on stage with Section Boyz in February. That such attention is being proffered by such colossal names in the industry shows that there is something happening within urban music in our tiny island.
When it comes to popular British music, Liverpool has never been short of advocates and urban or black music has always thrived.
As was the case in Harlem in the 1920s or Brooklyn in the 1970s new music is created in urban spaces as a response to marginalisation. Where communities are ostracised they will come up with their own sounds – creating their own good times. Of course then they’re eventually adopted by mainstreamers looking for cool points, but that’s another article all together.
Last week Liverpool based DJ 2Kind began the first 100% Liverpool and Merseyside based urban radio show on KCC Live. 2Kind has been a staple of the local urban scene for over twenty years, most notably for his part in First in Command (whose Pest Control is one of the greatest hip hop albums you’ve never heard) and his sought after sets at clubs and festivals including LIMF and Africa Oyé.
We spoke with 2Kind about L100 as well as his passion and dedication to promoting independent artists. He also gave us a list of local and national urban artists that we should be looking out for.
Getintothis: Can you tell us more about the origins of L100?
2Kind: “The idea came from a feature that I had on my previous show – The StreetBeatz radio show – There was a section where I would play tracks from three local artists each week. But as the scene has grown and the quality has improved – Now seemed to be the perfect time to Launch the concept as an entire show.”
Getintothis: Where does the passion for local music come from?
2Kind: “On a local level – I have been involved in every level of urban music in the city from being part of Liverpool’s first group to record a full album (First In Command) to opening Liverpool’s last urban record shop (Static Records) as well as a DJ’ing history which spans three decades from 1989 to present.”
Getintothis: Can you describe in a nutshell the Liverpool urban scene?
2Kind: “Liverpool has never lacked talent. The history of our influences in urban music – especially American and Caribbean music, has come from our history as a main port and the fact that so many American officers and West Indian seamen would pour through Liverpool in the late 60’s and 70’s. That global influence has given us a soulful connection which inspired early trail blazers like The Chants and The Real Thing.
“That influence never really went away and the talent continued to blossom with each generation. What Liverpool has always lacked with regards to urban music is the business side – management, A&R, marketing etc. However, I feel that a combination of social media and the thirst for something that is not just London-based is changing that.”
Getintothis: We’ve noticed a strong female presence in the British urban scene at the moment, what is your opinion on this?
2Kind: “I think that the last three or four years has seen not only an incredible amount of success for UK artists but also for UK female artists too. Especially in a territory that is still very ‘alpha male’ dominated. The success (and transformation) of Estelle in the late noughties opened the door for Lady Leshurr, Little Sims, Shystie, Lady Lykes etc who have all held their own down since, lets hope that this continues.”
Getintothis: We’ve noticed that Liverpool rap can be quite dark and lyrically deal with serious issues, specifically if you look at artists such as C Two and Rico Don. Is this representative of the Liverpool style?
2 Kind: “Without doubt… The strong voice of a disenfranchised and marginalised group is what pretty much sums up a lot of what being a scouser is all about. So it’s no surprise that serious issues can be found in most Liverpool urban music. When the door is continually shut in your face. You then have to think about how you break through. I think Liverpool is starting to realise that now.”
The timing of this new show couldn’t be better as we’ve seen an incredible rise of quality Liverpool-based artists over the past 18 months including RnB group MiC Lowry supporting Justin Bieber on the European leg of his world tour and blues singer/songwriter Jalen N’Gonda support none other than Lauryn Hill.
We’ve seen the highly rated (and often illusive) AYSTAR hit the stage in front of 6,000 people at Liverpool’s Echo Arena during 1Xtra Live and singer Taya signing a record deal with Atlantic Records. Yes, a whole host of Liverpool based urban artists are gaining a reputation on the national scene including TREMZ, Spokazi, XamVolo, Beyond Average and Rico Don, to name a few.
L100 goes out on KCC Live every Thursday evening from 8pm and 10pm, you lucky people. Tune in to 99.8fm (UK) www.kcclive.com (worldwide). In addition to the radio show we will soon see the launch of L100 TV – which is a collaboration with up-and-coming production company Sinseeya Films.
But for now, here’s DJ 2Kind‘s top 8 local and national urban artists, in no particular order.
Liverpool artist Rico Don started his musical journey as part of Liverpool’s super talented Star9’z crew which also included the elusive Aystar and the recently re-invented Aydoe. Rico has recently signed to C4 Ent and is rapidly rising as the next one to watch in the UK.
22 year old female artist Nadia Rose from Croydon burst on the scene with Boom in early 2016 which was quickly followed up by the infectious Skwod. Look out for this unpredictable female MC whose skills belie her years.
Versatility is rare amongst young artists these days but 19 year old Liverpool MC C Two has it in heaps. Grime, Hip Hop, RnB & production skills are just a few of the talents possessed by this rising star. C Two‘s 2016 smash Myth received a worthy pull up on Semtex‘s 1Xtra hip hop show and C Two‘s skills on the Mic during 1Xtra‘s visit to Liverpool also caught the attention of Radio 1‘s Charlie Sloth.
Without doubt Beyond Average are Liverpool’s best hip hop Group to date. Their 2014 Album GMTA introduced the world to their super talented lyrics, while supporting Ghostface, Mobb Deep, Method Man & Redman proved their demand for live shows and performances.
Representing Birmingham – Mist‘s strong underground support has brought him to the stage where he has now announced his first UK tour. With over twenty million online hits, its no wonder everyone is talking about Mist.
Whether it’s behind the mic, behind the production desk or engineering beats for other artists, Wirral based artist Rosh is always confident and comfortable. From his debut self produced EP Alien to his recently released full length album The Sample Life, we have seen this former grime artist grow into a respected musician.
2016 marked another successful season in Ayia Napa for MC A.M. SNiPER‘s NapaRocks festival and his music collaborations with the ‘Godfather’ Wiley have further cemented A.M. SNiPER‘s name into the future grime Hall of Fame.
With unbelievably catchy hooks, a super loyal fanbase and controversy never far from him and his crew, Liverpool Born Tremz has all of the elements to elevate him to the upper echelons of the UK’s urban scene.