Newcastle based charity Chat Trust is under threat of closure. As a breeding ground for North East hip-hop, Chat Trust has launched the careers of Kema Kay, Kay Greyson and latest phenomenon Gypsy Lipstick. Veteran rapper Rex Regis has been an avuncular figure for many within the North East hip-hop scene, a role he’s grown into as part of his work within Chat Trust.
As Rex explains: “U Call Me Sir, Max Gavins, Smooth Jezza, Rick Fury, A.D.S, Just B, H-Man, Davey Blast, Zico, this list is massive who’s passed through. Whether it was just a feature on a track or if it was to do something more full-on, like a lot of people have passed through, 90BRO, Thomas Harriott. It’s a shorter list who hasn’t been through,” he adds.
For eight years, Rex has been a youth worker for Chat Trust. He’s been instrumental in the development of young artists such as Slovakian girl group Gypsy Lipstick. Rex’s sister Kay Greyson “evolved” through Chat Trust, according to Rex and is now a volunteer for the charity. As I spoke to the siblings about their work for Chat Trust, they joked the biggest difference between their roles is felt “at the end of the month.” Kay did however acknowledge that she loves Chat so much, she would pay to work there.
It’s beginning to look like they’re going to both be working on a voluntary basis however as Rex has already been forced to take a pay cut. Chat Trust has failed to secure funding. This means that a cornerstone of North East hip-hop could face closure by 2018. As Rex told TheRootMusic, Chat Trust “don’t chase glory or accolades, what we’re doing now, asking for donations is the most self-promotion we’ve ever done but it’s because we have to.”
Whilst they’ve not actively sought out recognition for their work, Chat Trust’s impact on North East hip-hop is substantial. It’s not the established acts that will be effected by the potential closure of Chat Trust though. It’s the kids who are coming through.
Kay explains the importance Chat Trust had earlier in her career. “If it wasn’t for Chat I would not be rapping now, I wouldn’t be making music and have all of these amazing opportunities because they provided me with the studio time at no cost since I was 11 so I could make music.” Past that, Kay cited the mentoring and “steering me in the right direction and away from things that would have been detrimental.” The ‘Morning After Music’ MC credits Chat as the “force behind the Kay Greyson machine.”
It’s not just Kay, Chat have proved to be a force for however long. Kay says this year’s work with Gypsy Lipstick has “inspired” her. “I started volunteering with a group of girls that were wanting to perform but didn’t have the confidence and even cultural barriers were setting them back and Chat basically lit the fire underneath and unleash them.” Thanks to Chat Trust, Kay tells TheRootMusic, Gypsy Lipstick have become “bouncing balls of confidence” before proclaiming the group her “favourite North East rappers of all time.”
Rex explains: “Everyone’s went on a journey” that has been a part of Chat Trust. “If it’s just someone who’s coming in just to freestyle off the top of the head to vent or if it’s someone like wanting to get to someone like Kay’s level, it’s all a journey.” Rex admits that Chat Trust are challenging of the young people, but “not in a way which puts them off.” The Geordie rapper told TheRootMusic, “We like for the young people to think about what they’re doing, think about where they wanna be, how far they wanna take it and what they need to do to get there.”
One of the current shining examples of the work Chat Trust does for young people is Gypsy Lipstick. Rex explains: “With Lipstick, I was never even supposed to meet them when they first came into the building. It was girls only and I got called in one night to sort out the Playstation so they could play it. Fast forward less than a year and they’re in the studio rapping, thinking about doing mixtape, albums and shows.”
The Gypsy Lipstick mixtape is “literally eight bars away from being finished. It’s only because a lot of them went away back to Slovakia for the holidays, and they’re slowly starting to comeback. The one that needed to comeback is back now and she knows that I’m going to be pulling her in to record her eight and then it’s done.”
It’s not just Gypsy Lipstick making moves in the North East hip-hop scene from Chat Trust. A trio of teenage boys, Zombie Killerz have been building a buzz too and according to Rex whilst they’ve also been away from Chat Trust for a short while, “they’ve got enough stuff to
Regulars at Arch Sixteen Cafe’s ObSceNE open mic night will know of SD. Speaking on SD, Rex says the young MC has “the passion and the heart and the work rate.” Rex proudly describes the growth in confidence he’s seen in SD. “At the ObSceNE’s because the first one he was at, he was attached to me, which I don’t mind, like, it was his first ObSceNE,” he says, “but now, he does his own thing, he mingles with the other artists, he’s sending messages out, he’s doing the right things. He just needs to keep it going as well as keeping the progression.”
Rex promises these artists’ mixtapes will be released regardless of Chat Trust’s closure but they would prefer to have more time. The ‘Faith Restored’ rapper explains Chat Trust have “got a handful of artists who are ready it’s just a case of trying to stay open at the minute everything is a bit rushed. We still have enough time to finish Lipstick and Don’s, and Zombie Killerz stuff but we’d rather not have that, we have to rush type feeling and that’s what it’s like at the minute.”
Kay Greyson and Rex Regis are amongst acts performing on a Chat Trust showcase at the o2 Academy Newcastle on Tuesday 5th September.
Check out Chat Trust’s Go Fund Me: https://www.gofundme.com/savethetrust