SoCo Music Project has identified Urban Music (esp Grime and Hip Hop) as an under supported genre in the city, yet participation by young people is wide spread. Accessible music technology, bedroom studios and YouTube has allowed the genre to flourish, with access to music making needing minimal investment. Young people can download instrumental tracks from YouTube, write their own lyrics, and be creating/collaborating/performing with nothing more than a smartphone.

Grime has been around since the early 2000’s and with some artists having enjoyed some early mainstream success (most notably Dizzee Rascal, with a Mercury Music Prize winning album, Boy in Da Corner, 2003. Wiley, Skepta and Kano being other notable acts). Aside from this the genre has remained largely underground, with most exposure for artists coming on YouTube.

Seen as a genre made by young people for young people, outside of YouTube it has been championed by youth focused radio stations such as BBC Radio 1Xtra and pirate radio. It is a uniquely British sound, standing quite apart from its US equivalent. This gives young people in the UK a sense of ownership and a feeling of participation. Most YouTube videos show Grime MC’s performing on the streets in a group, with the focus being on the lyrical content and delivery (as opposed to the more lifestyle focus of popular US Hip Hop).

For young aspiring Grime artists exposure is key, with pathways to success and recognition hugely different to other musical genres. In rock and pop, artists acknowledge that the hard graft of regular gigs and building audiences (to guarantee income for venues) is the priority. For Urban artists, especially in smaller towns and cities these performance opportunities are rare, and so the priority is exposure through social media and YouTube.   

Urban Music Development in Southampton will focus on two key areas, what’s happening in the city, and the broader national picture.

A focus on the City

  • Establishing where there are pockets of activity within the city
  • Working with schools and youth agencies/provision to identify current audience and activity
  • An audit of facilities and skills, where is it made? Who supports the young people? Where are the champions?
  • Consulting with Young People – aspirations, pathways, progression

The national picture

  • Exploring urban music scenes in other parts of the UK
  • Finding areas of best practice
  • Developing partnerships with other Urban Music projects and initiatives
  • Sharing and collaboration using digital mediums
  • Pathways for young people in industry

We will share more on out progress, but in the mean time get in touch if you can help us support the development of urban music in Southampton.

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