If you mention Blackpool to the majority of Brits, you’d think of sea, sand & stag dos. In its heyday, the seaside town was the ultimate stay-at-home holiday resort, with millions of holiday makers visiting its bustling seafront every summer. However, in the last decade or so, Blackpool has fallen on hard times, whilst the cheaper, all-inclusive resorts abroad that are drenched in sun are seen as a much more enticing option for families. This has led to some parts of the town becoming derelict & run down, with nothing for the natives to shout and be proud of. Step forward Grime music; an unlikely source of hope up north. The genre has given a new lease of life to the town, and a renewed sense of ambition for the many young people within the surrounding area.
It’s Grime that brings Clash magazine to Blackpool, as guests of Channel 4, we’ve been invited over to take a real look into the talent that bubbles beneath the surface here. The broadcaster is wrapping up the brand-new documentary that they’ve been filming all over summer, picking up where Noisey left off over a year ago. That was the first glimpse we got into the viral sensation that was the Blackpool Grime scene, with Little T (Josh Tate), Sophie Aspin & Afghan Dan the main focus of all the attention. This time round however, Channel 4 are taking a different approach, still maintaining close working relationships with Sophie & Josh, but giving more exposure to some of the towns less noticed artists.
The event, cleverly dubbed ‘Seaside Shutdown’, is taking place in a working mens club, with a very ‘Phoenix Nights’ feel to the interior of the building. As the punters filter through the doors, the atmosphere inside starts to intensify, with tv cameras panning around capturing the crowd starting to build up with anticipation.
The first acts of the night are a trio of friends; Alex, Brad & Jordon, all three of whom are all still in high school. What they lack in stage craft, they certainly make up for with enthusiasm and passion, as they plough their way through their set which sees solid delivery and tight flows from all three of them, and even when one microphone cuts out, they persevere and pass the spare one between themselves so they can all be heard. Soon after, we’re treated to arguably the most anticipated performance of the night as Josh Tate, aka Little T (not so little anymore hence the name change), including a skank inducing rendition of his latest single “Fresh” which has the crowd moving to his every word.
Blackpool kingpins L.O.E offer the rowdiest set of the night, with Shelton, Damo, Ricko & CallyManSam all showing their experience and poise on stage. Their explosive energy has the crowd hyped and reloads ring around the room as they come with their best bars, and at one point even blowing the speakers! After a quick technical break, they roll out the rest of their set with the same passion and vigour they began with.
The latter two performances of the night come from two acts more known for a laid back take on rap music, more akin to the boom bap era. Both Mr Mind and Hybrid are more Slim Shady than Stormzy, with their usual bread & butter coming at a far slower pace than the in-your-face Grime that’s been circulating all night. Hybrid’s set sees him having to adapt to the Grime instrumentals laid before him, as due to technical difficulties, the DJ doesn’t have the instrumentals he had been sent. He perseveres however, making use of his stage time to showcase his rhyming abilities, with a slick flow and clever wordplay coming to the forefront of his raps. Mr Mind gives us another dose of fresh, nostalgic hip hop, as he grabs boom bap instrumentals and lyrically puts his own twist them. Both of these performances leave quite the impression on the mainly Grime driven crowd, and shows that Blackpool’s music scene can be diverse and inclusive.
Words: Mike Wood
Photography: Kenny Brown
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