Brighton: The UK’s New Hip-Hop Capital?

Warning to all Brightonians: Beneath your feet lurks a volcanic Hip-Hop underground that’s multiplying by the day.

I sat down with local Hip-Hop artist JED to talk about the bubbling scene.

It’s no secret that Brighton’s Hip-Hop scene is gaining nationwide notoriety. As JED, Brighton based Hip-Hop artist and event coordinator said, ‘a lot of the people are seeing it as ‘Oh, that’s a little bubble for [Hip-Hop] now’ – it’s gone so viral’.‘There’s just like a real excitement around Brighton at the minute’.

While there’s a history of Hip-Hop in Brighton, it’s been a while since the genre’s enjoyed such local infamy. ‘For a long time Brighton has been a very old school Hip-Hop center – look at the likes of Fliptrix and The Four Owls’. For those ‘who were putting on events when they were twenty, like ten years ago, it was all Grime and Old School Hip-Hop’, ‘it was quite a big scene’.

Eventually, however, the Brighton scene ‘started to decline as that sort of music wasn’t popular anymore’ — ‘drill took over, Dave type stuff took over. It changed and it went away from Brighton for a bit’.

Since this period, ‘there wasn’t very much attention on Brighton at all’, but things are starting to change. Artist ArrDee is the stand out example, with his track ‘6am in Brighton’ currently standing at over twenty million plays on Spotify. ArrDee is just one of the new generation of Brighton rappers who are experimenting with new sounds and performing at new events.

‘It’s like any city’ JED said, ‘it’s sort of dead there, then one artist blows up and then one hundred artists blow up from that city’. He points to Atlanta as an example, a city that lulled after nineties legends like OutKast fell out of trend, only to become popular again ‘when Gucci Mane blew up. Now it’s the biggest Hip-Hop place in the world’. Brighton’s Hip-Hop renaissance has given the genre, as he puts it, some ‘new kids on the block’.

So who are these ‘new kids’? JED explains it’s ‘partly because everyone is reopening’ after the pandemic. ‘There’s a whole new generation of people my age, early twenties, that are starting events. They’re all new, they’re full of enthusiasm — there’s a real community growing.’ JED’s event, AGB, is one among this generation. He organised the debut night last October, with a focus on new artists – ‘there’s a lot of open-mic nights for indie artists, but there’s not many open-mic rap nights’.

Not only does the night give newbies ‘that first taste of performing’, but JED claimed it improves the energy of the event. ‘A lot of the time, you see these big established artists, their set will be amazing’ but ‘it just another day in their tour. Whereas, with these artists, they’re talented and they’re hungry for it. They want to impress everyone in the crowd’.

The next AGB show, coming up on March 11th, has an exclusively Brightonian line-up. ‘There’s so much versatility in the Brighton scene. It reflects Brighton as a whole —anything goes. You go to a lot of events in London and they may be good, but it’s mainly drill. In Brighton you go and it’s a complete variety.’

‘I think the Brighton scene gives people the confidence to do exactly what they want to do and to follow the music that they like, not follow trends’.

If you’d like to discover the artists that’ll be your next Hip-Hop obsession, find tickets to the next AGB night here.

Find JED on Instagram, where you can check out his latest release, Gin N Tonic.

Words by Kate Bowie

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