3 weeks ago I learned I had been nominated for the title, Best Music Producer 2018. The newly launched Birmingham Music Awards (BMA’s) Is the Brain child of Dean Williams and Jo Jeffries who was in the group Atomic Kitten. Alongside their partners they saw and exercised on their vision of creating an celebratory event that recognized musical and associated talents past, present and future.
Birmingham is the second Largest city in the UK but far too often gets overlooked, it was the home of Black Sabbath, Led Zeplin, Napalm Death, Duran Duran, Ocean Color Scene, The Streets, UB40 and many more bands and artists too many too mention. A very working class city that was rich in Reggae culture, metal, punk, Soul, Jazz scene and later a Thriving hip hop scene. Today it boasts as the capital of Grime Music with some of its top artists hailing from the city that gave you the industrial revolution.
I had no idea what the BMA event was about and weather to even take it seriously until I was directed to the website and read about the people involved. Although I make music, produce and make records, shoot photography, create artwork and video’s I’ve never felt a part of the ‘industry’ I just do what I do because it needs to be done. Although I have been doing this since a child I really came into the scene as the music industry changed. Many labels folded and the record deals were not there, the teams of people who worked behind the scenes to make a artist successful were not there to turn too.
This opened the doors to people like myself who of a creative nature, who have the passion and drive to help turn projects into something MORE.
I really pride myself on my art and more so my integrity. I don’t swing to the left or the right, I’m all about Grass roots hip hop. 2 turntables a mixer, drum machine and a bunch of records. I’m not trying to re-invent the wheel. I see it one way and that is its either a good or bad record and i’m only about good records.
So when this event came I didn’t know how to take it, I thought just go along and enjoy the evenings proceedings and have the experience. Hip Hop in the city although it exists is often pushed in the furthest and darkest corner and often misunderstood and underrepresented. Not on this night.
For my 20+ years Ive worked independently without sponsors on the projects I like to be involved in, through hard work determination passion and skill i’ve attracted the attention and time from some of piers. Which has allowed me to work with the some of the greatest artists who fall under the banner of hip hop. I’m not alone there are many alike me but often we are forgotten.
So the day comes May 5th. I arrive at the event alone for 5pm. As I arrive Duran Durans John Taylor arrives and is sat at the table in front of me. I just sit there enjoying a few drinks just watching the industry mingle.
Quickly this venue fills up and a buzz with artists. They open the doors to ceremony and I decide to just sit at the back. By then I did met someone I knew and that was Adam Regan owner of the Hare & hound located in Kings Heath.
It started to dawn on me that this is big thing. Mid point of the event they announced the producer category. As the name were read out there was applauds for all respectively but when name was mentioned it was ghost town. I’m pretty glad now that I sat the back. The winner is, they named me..I didn’t clock at first and Adam said it you, go and have your moment. Walking through the middle to the front to get to the stage my mind was blank. I remember UB40 who were sat at the side of the stage were really happy for me and blessed me with some high fives.
On the stage didn’t know what to say but I remember I felt like I had to mention some of the acts Ive had the privilege to work with just so that those in the crowd could at least digest that I’m here and I have done something.
Returning to my seat it started to sink in, that Ive been living in a bubble, Ive never been part of group or a collective but still i’ve stayed loyal to this city. My relationships were based on individual basis’s. A lady from Sky came to me and asked had I really done these projects had I really worked on the project with Common. I said its there you can buy it, its got my name on it. It dawned on me that some of things I talked about to people in the passed were true. In this bubble of hip hop community its more often the people within it that are killing the scene and stifling genuine talent and halting growth.
I remembered a conversation I had with then Zulu Queen Incheye where I pointed out hip hop won’t be saved by the people within it, we live this and do it everyday it will take just as did when Malcolm McLaren exposed it to the world someone from the outside looking at it and unearthing to the world outside it the energy and creativity from those who are true to this artform.
Later at the after party I was still a little dumbfounded and asked how this happened. I was told 7 music professionals looked at my body of work and story and all agreed I deserved this award. Now 2 weeks later looking back at the event I can really say this was not just win for me or The 4orce who I must really credit for the project he worked so hard on Setting Standards, this was a win for Hip Hop Music and all those that dedicate their lives to it, endless searching through crates looking for the perfect beats and grooves, who practice on turntables all hours, programming and so forth. It’s a win for the underdog.. I really appreciate those that hit me up from people I went to school with and grew up with that saw me doing this as a kid but also The Chuck D’s and A.Gs Breakbeat Lous, The Legion who reached out to me straight away who fully understood and saw it the way I say it.
When is it the last time that in the UK has a British hip hop artist with a traditional sound won a industry award covering all genres. It goes to show that whatever we think, still people within the music industry can look at something pure and respect its artform and those who put their heart and soul into it.
Pogo and Bunny Bread both told me to work this award and turn it into something. Coming home to show my parents was the best thing, they understand my passion they have to deal with it, they are the ones who see their son working all hours for 25 years with very little in return. This meant more to them then it did to me. They saw a professional acknowledgement.
I promise this I will be part not just of the Hip Hop scene but part of this fine cities music legacy. I have that BBoy in me, the bar has been set, so take me on and beat me you have to be good and I take on and welcome any one that deserves this award. I’m not going to make it easy for anyone..The original art form is in the building!