BWe all know the feeling don’t we whether you experienced it yesterday or yesteryear school is dun kno’ and you don’t have to put up with your teachers, professors or lecturers asking for your homework or assignments you’re about to enjoy a long (hopefully) hot summer of nothing but friends fun sun and sounds and what better way to start your 6 weeks summer holidays than starting as you mean to go on and getting turned all the way up to levels on loud while you rave and get waved to the best up and coming talent your city has to offer, sounds like a perfect start to summer to me and that’s exactly what the social media enterprise `Bigga Fish achieved with their #Wavey end of term party.
The city of Manchester had Bigga fish to fry when they hosted their end of term event at the Manchester O2 Academy on Friday 22nd July to a crowd of gassed Grime and hyper hip hop hip hop fans ready to cut loose and leave any signs of study in the shade and start their summer with Manchester and Birmingham Rap and Grime artists – Mist, Burgaboy, Kay Rico and Keekz Bigga fish is an enterprise with a twist as they enlist 14 -25 year olds to join their 10 week street team programme which teaches young people skills in marketing, events planning and advertising enabling the young people across differing regions to learn media techniques and fine tune their creativity by giving them the end goal of hosting an event at the end of the training programme, the skills they learn with Bigga Fish can then be utilised in their adult lives and assist career progression. What amazed me as I watched the night unfold was this night was that the gig was planned by young people for young people who makes complete sense seeing as the young people are the best judge of character when it comes to giving other young people in their peer group what they want to see and hear.
I spoke with Bigga Fish youth engagement coordinator Latisha as she was running round breathlessly back stage looking after us, the artists and the Bigga Fish street team made of Manchester’s youth. Latisha informed me “People see an event and think that it’s all planned by us the coordinators, people don’t realise the hard work that goes on behind the scenes and it’s the young ones that do everything we just give them the skills and the steer to plan and organise, but they actually do all the hard work not us. We have a lot of young people join our programme for 10 weeks in other cities too like Liverpool, Birmingham and London and we encourage and inspire them. We support them in the planning stages leading up to an event but everything you see here tonight is down to the kids” hearing this made me even more eager to see the results of Manchester’s budding entrepreneurs.
Backstage I noticed a very relaxed and smiley Keekz, who we’d bumped into earlier outside looking like lost lambs stranded on the street! Keekz saved us from walking round in constant circles and pointed us in the right direction, good-looking out to keekz on that one! As he was preparing to perform alongside his friend and fellow artist Kay Rico he commented that he was in his element whenever he hit the stage and felt blessed to be doing something he is passionate about. Keekz has garnered much deserved hype as one of Manchester’s bright young rappers and has had underground success with his mixtape ‘Grove Street’ released via his very own indie label Grove street entertainment, he also has an EP under his belt and it’s clear that Keekz is kicking his way through the scene; his talent and business sense will ensure there are big things to come for him in the coming months.
Also on a shutdown business at the Bigga fish Wavey end of term party were Manchester’s very own 5 piece collective Peso Equipe, formed 18 months ago and making nuff noise with their tracks ‘Switching sides’, ‘Gone for good” and ‘We’ve got this’ which had the crowd shockin’ out and wanting more by the time they finished their set. Peep their fresh new video ‘Lil Bit Crazy’ released 14th July, on you tube if you can’t wait for their next performance.
While I was staring at the tray of food backstage and deciding whether I wanted to be the first one to pig out on the untouched feast or if I should wait for someone else to dive in so I didn’t look like a piglet, Kay Rico saved me from my stressful dilemma and agreed to a quick chat before he hit the stage. I asked the Manchester MC who is currently riding a tidal wave of hype, how he got into music and who his influences are? “I’ve always loved UK music, I grew up on it and from an early age I knew I wanted to be an MC. I grew up listening to More fire crew, Kano, Wiley, but for me Ghetts was the main one I looked up to. Ice kid and Chip were always artists I watched closely and admired. From the age of 11 when I wasn’t playing football, I’d freestyle over their beats just messing about but then people started telling me I was good, my friend who is also my manager (DJ Win who also performed at the event and dropped my favourite Grime instrumental by Rebound X, WINner!!) put me on properly and it felt right because the trust was already there, it all took off from there.” This led me nicely to the question of does he have a crew like AJ Tracey’s MTP or Mez’s crew 12? “More times I was doing this as a solo thing and then as I started to get well-known in Manchester and London I’d bring out the people I grew up with and spat bars with on stage, I brought the artist ‘time’ out with me in London and in Birmingham I brought out Keekz who is my day one, we’ve come up in this scene together.” Speaking of the home of the scene I was keen to find out how a Manchester artist is received in London? “When I’m in London I’m not just reppin’ myself I rep the city (of Manchester), when you hear my music I chat about Manchester, the people I roll with and my family it’s none of that gas talk I’m just truthful and I’m me.”
So the ultimate question I put to Kay Rico was Do you think London artists and Grime fans see Manchester artists as equal to them in skill and is Manny well and truly on the map and was it Bugzy who put us there? “Yeah Manny is definitely on the map, respect to Bugzy he saw what was going on and made it work for him and was like ok let me pick at Chip real quick, Chip is an O.G and is respected so for Bugzy to do that was a brave move but it was good for Manchester as a whole. I think people outside Manchester don’t realise artists were doing their thing before Bugzy, like artist shifty for example he was killin’ it in the game too” So it’s obvious that news of Kay Rico’s microphone mastery has spread from North to South, how does it feel to see your hard work pay off? “I put my tracks on Insta and I’ve just done a 1xtra street studio, it’s only been out a few days but it’s already got 50 retweets and likes. My manager (DJ Win) called me up to tell me who had liked the 1xtra session and It was Chip, I couldn’t believe that someone I looked up to all this time and still look up to saw what I’d done and it gives me even more motivation to succeed.” When asked who he’d like to work with he talks about putting local talent on which shows he’s a humble guy and not about to forget his roots but of course if given the opportunity he states he’d love to work with Ghetts, Kano, Chip and Wretch as they are lyrically talented. I have to agree with his choices and hopefully it won’t be long before we hear that.
After our chat it was time to see Kay Rico spit some bars and I could understand why his name was floating about over Manchester and beyond! His flow was fire, his energy was infectious and his lyrical ability was next level, after hearing Kay Rico’s name mentioned to me by people in the industry and fans of Grime I was already anticipating his performance and after I was told he shelled down at Manchester’s Mic check launch night last month, I was expecting him to hold his own but I wasn’t ready for the complex technical ability he possesses when he touches the mic, his set had the crowd spilling their own drinks while the artists on stage sprayed the crowd with drinks (anyone holding up a plastic cup would have got an instant refill and refreshment!) It was a moment to see the friendship Kay Rico had talked about beforehand between himself and Keekz as he was also on stage to drop a few verses, I could see that these two talents had come up together and had a close bond and couldn’t help but think about how their friendship will play out in their music in the future, I’m expecting a few collabos on the way.
After witnessing the stage being ripped off its hinges by Keekz, Kay Rico and Burgaboy I could hear “Is he here” , “I think he’s in the building”, “Can you see him yet” you could feel the surge of excitement backstage as Birmingham rapper Mist’s time was drawing nearer to bless the stage. With all the conversations taking place backstage regarding his arrival; I was thinking he was something of a MISTry as no one seemed to be quite sure where he was and then like the mist on a foggy day he seemed to materialise out of nowhere as if he’d been there all along and took off his invisible cloak to reveal himself to the crowd gathered around him who were gassed to see him. He stopped for a few pictures with young fans and politely nodded Hi to people backstage and I noted how low-key he seemed in his vibe but still had an extremely strong presence in the room and commanded the respect of the other artists with his quiet confidence. After he obliged his fans with picture requests it was time for the Mist to descend upon the stage; you could feel the hunger from the crowd who were supercharged to lose their shizz to the headline act and he did not disappoint, Mist opened with what is often termed – the beat that the mandem can buil’ to ‘Smokey’ Mist and smoke mixed well together when he went a cappella on the opening of the track and the audience became his back up spitters as they knew every word to the theme tune to get faded to. Mist’s bass filled tone filled the venue like an arena full of subwoofers as his voice carried strongly as he spat his absolute banger ‘Karla;’ from beginning to end the crowd screamed “Karla’s back with a bang.” The Birmingham rapper ‘made’ the crowd get ‘sick’ when he performed his autobiographical road anthem ‘Sickmade’ which has amassed 11k views on well-known hip hop platform P110; again the crowd rapped right along with him at deafening levels to the lyrics “Plus I go gym daily don’t f*ck with no steds, fresh home wavey…shut down Manny everyting blessed” which is exactly how we felt watching Mist do his thing, those shellings he came with on stage were coated with blessings before they hit the crowd sending them crazy with their camera phones and skanking skills.
All in all the Wavey party planned prepared and promoted by the youth of Manchester was the equivalent of my grandma cookin’ up a plate of mouth-watering fried fish served up with scotch bonnet peppers and a generous serving of Encona hot pepper sauce. We at UK Rap and UK Grime will be sure to look out for Bigga waves to come.