Rinse | Born & Bred, one of the UK’s newest and most exciting hip-hop and electronica festivals, spanned the weekend of 4th/5th June. RAY BLK was the first act I saw upon arrival; her set timing was in the early afternoon which unfortunately meant there weren’t many people around to perform to. She’s a relatively underground artist; consequently, not many people (myself included) were familiar with her. Yet her talent was undeniable as she performed her tracks ‘My Hood’ and ‘50/50’ – the lyrics were raw and well deserving of a larger pool of listeners.
Next in my itinerary was The Square; I wasn’t aware of the group prior to the festival, but I quickly learnt that fellow performer Novelist used to be a member. Only 4 of them were on stage out of 7 members, so it was hard to decipher who was who – but the name “Elf Kid” stuck. This was most likely due to his natural ability to hype the crowd up with ease, and the aid of the solid bassline accompanying his rapping, especially the track ‘Golden Boy’. However, that was about all that stuck personally – The Square were crowd pleasers, but unfortunately nothing about them was particularly memorable to me.
Bugzy Malone, as I touched upon in my previews for the event, was a key source of excitement for me in the lineup, and his performance lived up to my anticipation. He performed alongside his hype man, both promoting their brand with the famous Mancunian telephone code “0161” decorating their white tees. During his set he performed songs ranging back from 2015 (such as ‘M.E.N.’ and ‘Pain’) to his more recent numbers (‘Gone Clear’, ‘Late Night In The 0161’) and his latest single ‘We Don’t Care’. To top things off, he started a mosh pit in accordance with his performance of ‘Mosh Pit Gang’. Despite the fact that some people in the crowd weren’t too aware of Bugzy – most likely due to him being from Manchester – he made a mark from a visual and performance standpoint, setting a good precedent for other performances; something that would have only helped to build his already extensive fan base.
Next up came the main highlight of the Saturday line up, Lady Leshurr; adorned in a white crop top/tracksuit ensemble, her 2 back up dancers bearing tops inscribed with ‘Queen’, she dazzled the audience. Before she launched into the her most popular tune ‘Queen’s Speech 4’ (so popular that it let her mother take out a mortgage from the earnings), she again proved why she’s the most popular female MC in the UK; after hyping up the crowd, Leshurr began freestyling and smoothly transitioned to performing ‘Queen’s speech 5’, ending with ‘Queen’s Speech 4’. Throughout her slot on stage her performance was seamless; her dancers moved in sync to their Queen and her music, her flow effortless (despite a confession that she was “a tiny bit waved”).
Atlanta-based rapper ILoveMakonnen’s intro was one of confusion and slight awkwardness. He had obviously lost a lot of weight and his hair was dyed blonde. For some reason these 2 changes in his appearance threw the audience off and it showed in their interaction with him, despite his dedicating a good 20 minutes to interacting with the crowd and hyping them up. He began with his newer songs; in hindsight not the best choice, as a significant amount of the crowd hadn’t heard them. Trying to compensate, he took some people’s phones for photos and/or snapchats from his point of view. Commotion began to rise as people wanted their phones taken, but there was still an air of uncertainty. For me, this was upsetting – despite being in a field of over 300, it seemed only I knew about the Californian rapper – but this atmosphere didn’t last too long. In the last 10 minutes he performed hit ‘Tuesday’ and clarity struck all those who were confused as to who he was, ending his set on a high note.
Slimzee was another major act which people were highly anticipating, partly because big hitter Wiley was supposed to perform alongside him. However, this duo never came to be; Wiley was a no-show, and no one could locate him. Before I realised that he was indeed not coming rather than simply late, P Money came on stage to large rounds of uproar, which swiftly grew into applause as he unveiled his “Fuxx Azealia Banks” top. P Money’s presence (let alone his performance) lifted the spirits of everyone present, but nevertheless the hype soon became stale; Wiley was still on everyone’s mind. Nearing the end of the impromptu set, fellow performer Cadell then admitted mid-freestyle that he didn’t actually know where his older brother was – a mystery yet unsolved.
Congo Natty and his family ended the Saturday’s events, and suddenly the field filled up again. With his flag and incense sticks, he began his set by paying homage to Muhammed Ali (he had sadly passed that morning) with a snippet of Bob Marley. After this sentimental start, jungle music began: regardless of whether people knew the genre or not, the crowd tapped into all the energy they had left within them to dance out his set. Soon, though, my own was used up, and I made my way home against the backdrop of his songs.
Paigey Cakey was the first artist to perform on Sunday, well into the afternoon. The backstage crew and the festival-goers were less excited compared to Saturday – no doubt due to the various afterparties which followed the last night’s performances. There was a consequent lull to the crowd, a large obstacle for Cakey to go against given her status as a relative newcomer to the scene. She was very petite in person, obviously young; despite her stylised hairdo she didn’t seem to look overly distinctive. This, along with her lack of mainstream presence, meant that she didn’t have the warmest crowd to perform to. She came out performing her song ‘Na Na’, and it soon became obvious it was only me who knew the lyrics and or the song. However, she didn’t dwell on this awkwardness, and moved on to another freestyle whilst trying to hype up the crowd. Unfortunately, her small stature made it easy for her to get lost in the crowd if you were standing away from the front line, and so it wasn’t all that successful. Yet at the end of her very short set, she performed a new song with heavy trap influences which fuelled the crowd; but the minute the beat stopped, she was gone.
Nadia Jay was the next performer after Paigey Cakey and similarities could already be drawn; both had the same hairstyle. This wasn’t really a massive issue, but comparisons were already being made by the festival goers, and some in their drunken haze thought Cakey had returned to the stage. However, Jay had a bigger and slightly more active crowd to interact with, and she made herself stand out. In an interesting twist, her set was solely composed of freestyles alongside someone beatboxing. This simplistic set allowed her talent to shine brightly; whoever this girl was, she had bars, and the crowd quickly picked up on it. Noise from the audience grew, encouraging Nadia to go in even harder – but she was soon stopped. The crew had told her to wrap it up for the next performer to the crowd’s dismay, and so her performance came to an abrupt halt. Nonetheless, Nadia Jay instantly joined my list of ones to watch.
Sadly, I feel the intro to Crazy Cousinz’ set (featuring Kyla, Katy B and MC Versatile) wasn’t deserving of the calibre of the performers. Kyla came on with a DJ, and began to perform with no memorable introduction. It was only as she sang the line “do you mind” (from her song of the same name) that people realised what was going on. The crowd erupted into dancing and singing, the track enjoying renewed popularity thanks to Drake’s sampling of its hook in his song ‘One Dance’. After she performed, she blew a kiss to the crowd and left – but MC Versatile was there to sustain the high energy atmosphere created. Alongside part of Crazy Cousinz, he began playing funky house classics (‘Pow’ being played was a pleasant surprise); along with the crowd I danced, smiled and sang along. Soon, however, Versatile’s talking over the songs wasn’t cutting it with the crowd. Katy B suddenly appeared on stage to his rescue, performing ‘Lights On’. After she thanked the audience, showing gratitude to the MC and DJ and reminding the crowd of the classics they had produced, the set ended. Then came a true highlight in rising grime star Novelist.
Visually, Novelist’s set was similar to the music video of Skepta’s ‘Shut Up’; it was as if everyone from his home turf of Lewisham was with him onstage. All of them were adorned in either a jean/tracksuit set or a plain white tracksuit, embellished with the word “Joyride”. With a toned body and his bright white jumpsuit, Novelist wore his newfound success well. He came on hyping the already excited crowd and gave a shout-out to “all the sexy ladies” before he performed his hits. During his performance his Joyride merchandise – specifically handkerchiefs – were thrown out to a lucky few in the crowd. Along with his pleasing aesthetic and the popularity of his music, the atmosphere of pure energy made him the stand out performer of Sunday.
On the whole, Rinse | Born & Bred was simply a nice festival, and an excellent warm-up to the summer. Wiley’s presence was sorely missed, as it meant that the lineup was largely made up of up-and-coming artists – not by any means a bad thing, but it perhaps gave the atmosphere a slight feel of anti-climax; it only means that Rinse | Born & Bred will likely come better and bigger next year if they want to cement themselves as the excellent newcomers to the festival scene that they truly are.
Photo by Chazino Suban.By Adaobi Nezianya