KAPTIN'S BLOG: GOING BACK TO MY HIP-HOP ROOTS
Even though I’ve not lived in Cardiff for a number of years now, I’m still very much excited when events like Festival Of Voice happen in my hometown. Looking at this year’s line up and seeing artists such as Tank & The Bangas, Angélique Kidjo and Ibibio Sound Machine makes me even happier, and that’s before we even start on the Hip-hop shows which I’m proud to be a part of this year alongside my long time compadre Jason Camilleri aka Dregz, both as a DJ and guest programmer. Back in 2000 Dregz and I, along with a good friend called Ruffstylz (now Flameholder) started the Higher Learning nights in an effort to bring some of our favourite Hip-hop artists to the city and shine a light on the incredibly vibrant Welsh scene that was going on at the time. We couldn’t have foreseen events such as the Breakin' The Bay mini Hip-hop festival at Wales Millennium Centre, or that a festival such as FOV would have so readily embraced our music. Children Of Zeus, Chester P, Ty and NoNameDisciple is a particularly dream line-up also.
Chester P performed at Higher Learning in the early days as part of his seminal group Task Force, I really can’t overstate how unparalleled their influence on the UK Hip-hop scene has been, they provided the sound of a whole generation and Chester P remains one of the most active, outspoken and poetical voices the UK has ever seen.
One of the very few truly groundbreaking UK Hip-hop acts that never played Higher Learning, Ty’s accolades include a Mercury Prize nomination and the guest collaborators on his 5 excellent albums include De La Soul, Tony Allen, Talib Kweli and Arrested Development amongst many other legends, I think it’s fair to say that Ty himself is a legend. Probably as beloved within British Jazz circles as much as Hip-hop, he has put a talented live band together to join him for this show.
It’s easy to view Children Of Zeus as one of the hottest new soulful Hip-hop acts around right now, but Konny Kon and Tyler Daley have been putting in some serious work for a while now. Kon was a third of Mancunian Hip-hop crew Broke ‘N’ English alongside Strategy and DRS, both now important figures in the Drum N Bass scene. Tyler gained recognition under the name Hoodman with an appearance on Channel 4’s Dubplate along the way, he has also worked with the likes of 50 Cent, Goldie, Lisa Mafia, Bugsy Malone and Soul II Soul's Caron Wheeler. The buzz around their new album has been incredible with tracks played on BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra and 6Music, such is their wide appeal.
I first came across Reykjavíkurdætur (Daughters Of Reykjavik) whilst at Iceland Airwaves, they have a very strong rap scene there and I’d already been checking out the likes of Úlfur Úlfur and Emmsjé Gauti, but when faced with an 11 strong all female rap force such as these, nothing else really comes close. Although I can’t claim to understand all of the lyrics,some tracks are in English and I can certainly appreciate the flows.
I think it’s important to have local representation on a night like this and NoNameDisciple is an exciting talent emerging from Cardiff, right now. She’s also been gaining radio support on BBC Radio 1 and 6Music, as well as BBC Introducing, Rinse FM and Radar Radio. She carries a fully positive vibe and brings a neo soul flavour to Hip-hop, in other words if you’re digging COZ then you should definitely check her out.
Then lastly of course there's AAA Badboy, that’s me! The alias is fairly recent so people might not know that. The name comes from the festival world I’ve been immersed in for the past decade, both as a DJ and as head of music for Boomtown festival. It’s what many people call an Access All Areas band, which kind of fits me musically as I cover many different genres, but for this one I’m going back to my Hip-hop roots for sure.
I’ll hopefully be around for much more of the festival however, I’m keen to catch the Four Owls again and all of the Hip-hop acts on that night, Breakin' The Rules at Clwb Ifor Bach. Plus all of the acts I mentioned earlier: Tank & The Bangas from New Orleans are easily one of the best bands I saw last year. They manage to blend everything from Soul and Hip-hop to Jazz and Prog Rock into an incredibly powerful performance.
Although anyone taking on Talking Heads classics should be treated with suspicion, I’ll be totally honest I really love what I’ve heard from Angélique Kidjo’s interpretations so far and I’m super keen to see her perform them live. She’s an incredible musical force so I kind of guessed those songs would be in good hands.
I’ve seen Ibibio Sound Machine many times now on different stages around the world and I can never get tired of them. They are sheer infectious energy, not only a super tight band with great music, but Eno Williams is a force up front on vocals. She always looks so damn stylish too.
Of course there are many other things I’d love to see at Festival Of Voice but I’d say all of these are unmissable in my eyes.
Kaptin Barrett is Head of Music at Boomtown, one of the largest, truly independent festivals in the country.
Kaptin also performs as a festival DJ around the world as AAA Badboy.
And he's a real nice chap.