Afropunk has been part of the London festival landscape for a while now, bringing a welcome array of acts rarely found on a lot of UK line-ups and a diversity that’s as welcome as Afropunk’s core message of inclusivity – long story short: no bullshit will be tolerated. This year they mixed things up with a week-long takeover of Brixton. We’re talking art shows, workshops, panels, club nights, films and, of course, live shows and DJ sets from artists ranging from classic names to newcomers. With all that in mind, we asked BBZ (whose Afropunk appearances included a night at Electric Brixton and a panel with gal-dem) to talk us through five of their defining moments for black British music and damn did they ever choose some classics…LiS
SOUL II SOUL – Back To Life
SOUL II SOUL ‘Back To Life / However Do You Want Me’ is a turning point in the evolution of Black British Music, artistry and ownership. It was a huge hit over here, as well as in the states, it got to number 5. Soul II Soul had their own label, their own shop, own merch – they evolved. As far as Black British Music and Soundsystem culture, they are the ones who turned it into an empire.
GIGGS – TRACK 9 aka ’Talking the Hardest’
Giggs’ ‘Track 9’, more commonly known as ‘Talking the Hardest’. It’s insane what this track did as a mixtape track that didn’t even have original production, it was a Dr. Dre beat. I don’t think it even had a title, it was a freestyle, we called it ‘Track 9’. The whole year you could hear it everywhere; walking down the street it’d be coming out of a car. At carnival it was insane to hear a London rap track be the biggest tune of carnival. It was a turning point for the genre: its own thing, rather than US rap.
WOOKIE – STORM
Wookie’s ‘Storm’ was definitely a moment in Black British Music, especially in London. It’s a really dark garage track that was a bridge into grime music, it saw garage going to a new darker place, something new – wasn’t just the same 2-step and UKG sound as before.
DIZZEE RASCAL – I LUV U
Dizzee’s ‘I Luv U’ comes from the Boy In Da Corner album that won the Mercury Prize – huge for grime music especially in its early days – it’d only been around for three or four years. The album got to number three in the charts, won awards, and was the first album to take grime fully to the masses.
MISS DYNAMITE – BOO
This is an institution of a song. The language and the raw, garage, grime sound that penetrated every dancefloor encompassed the intersection of being Caribbean/British in the late 90s/early 2000s. To this day it’ll come on in the rave and shut tings down. That is why Miss Dynamite sits where she does in the esteem of every DJ and music head who loves black British music.