Contrasts and Questions
This past weekend was a weekend of contrasts for me.
Straight from the HipHop M1X Show on Friday morning, we hit the road and drove across the country to Southport for the 39th Southport Weekender.
If you’ve never been to the Southport Weekender before, imagine an English Holiday camp being completely transformed into the home for all genres of black soulful music for an entire weekend. 5,000 ravers travelled from across the WORLD to be there to check out some of the biggest deejays and acts in the scene; and I was there to broadcast the Friday night show from there.
Being a Southport virgin myself, we decided that travelling around the camp & chalets before the camp to get a feel for what Southport’s really like would be a good idea. I saw and spoke to the broadest spectrum of people I think I’ve ever encountered at a single event: from the 51 year old hedonist woman in pink wig, pink fluffy socks and with a tub of stimulation gel in her hand trying to find someone to help her use it to the 18 year old Southport virgin brought to the weekender by her best friend’s mum. From the 35 year old muscle man from Brum who’s been to every weekender with all his crew ‘to catch gyal’ to the 23 year old wannabe deejay who’s been to the last 2 weekenders to network – they were all there.
Checking out the 3 main arenas after the show, it seemed that everyone was having a really good time. Jazz dancers battling the northern soul dancers in the Connoisseurs’ Corner; the beautiful people ‘aving it to funky and soulful house in the B-Bar and the HipHop & R&B lovers getting down in the Funkbase. Every kind of person, every colour, many ages – no trouble. I’ll say that again: NO TROUBLE.
I wished I could stay for the whole weekend but I was off to Liverpool to represent at the first Anthony Walker Foundation Music Fest. For those who don’t know who Anthony Walker was, he was a young black man from Liverpool in England who by all accounts was a good kid.
Into his music and basketball, his life was cut short by a senseless racist attack which put the nation into shock that such a thing could happen in today’s society. You may have seen Young Kof’s tribute video on Channel U or heard the song on 1Xtra. Since that tragic day, his friends and family (instrumentally his sister Dominique) have worked hard to make sure something positive comes out of the tragedy by setting up a foundation in his name to instigate and set up free programs for youth in Liverpool around sport and music. The music fest was set up by the AWF and Liverpool’s Urbeatz to not only showcase local talent alongside more established talent such as Akala, Skinnyman, the Aftershock Camp and Sadie Ama but also to raise some much needed cash for this worthy cause.
Halfway into the night, things were bubbling. Some of the local talent had represented, Bruza and Tinie Tempa had smashed it, Sadie Ama was halfway through her first song when the unthinkable happened at a charity night in the name of someone murdered in a violent and despicable attack.
A fight broke out.
The music was cut off.
The lights were turned on.
The night was pulled.
Why can’t people control themselves – especially at a night like the AWF Music fest? The night was supposed to be about peace and unity and raising money for a worthy cause started in the name of someone who’s life had been taken away by a disgusting and unprovoked attack but some people instead decided to blatantly disrespect the memory of Anthony Walker, Anthony’s family and what the AWF and Urbeatz were trying to achieve.
Dominique’s heart was broken. Yaw from Urbeatz incandescent with anger that some people, those same people that the AWF was set up to help would be so disrespectful. All the artists who’d either travelled from down the road or from over 200 miles away were disgusted. Big shout out to the AWF and Urbeatz – I hope that the action of a few disrespectful people doesn’t mean that future Music Fest’s can take place.
As a deejay and promoter of Black music forms (or Urban music forms if you prefer), I’m forever being told by people outside the scene that my kind of music attracts violence and crime. I always defend it by saying that people have misunderstood – that it isn’t as bad as the media will have you believe. That it’s the small minority of people who ruin it for others, that the majority of people into my scene are people who’s last idea of a good night out is one that ends up in either casualty or the cells. The uncomfortable truth is that as long as events where nothing kicks off like the Southport Weekender or the UK Takeover are the minorities, those people outside the scene will always have a point.
Where has the respect gone?