Being a part of the North East hip-hop community can be like living in a bubble. We live in our own little world secluded from local artists from other genres, and from hip-hop artists from outside the region. It’s always intriguing to see the results when something penetrates the bubble, or someone stretches beyond the bubble. Sam Wright has been working with the likes of Reali-T, Kay Greyson and NATO and achieving just that; breaking the bubble.
Speaking to TheRootMusic, Sam says “being a singer on the local music circuit doing covers etc., I never get a chance to see what’s going on.” In order to resolve this, Sam puts “on gigs to reignite my appreciation for local artists.”
Sam’s gigs take place all over the North East, usually around North Tyneside. He books an array of artists from singer-songwriters who play ukulele to hip-hop artists used to playing in clubs. The promoter explains “the line-up’s are varied because I like a variety of music. It keeps the night fresh and the audience interested. I also love it when different artists meet each other and vibe when they never thought they would.”
Even when local promoters mix up genres, it’s usually just an assortment of guitar led bands. Sam is one of the first to consistently book hip-hop acts on eclectic line ups. Admittedly new to local hip-hop and not necessarily typically a “massive fan” of the genre, Sam says “I know talent when I see it.”
According to Sam, “it isn’t just about how well they rap, it’s about how they hold up outside of their comfort zone. These guys are used to playing in clubs and seeing people bounce to their tunes! But how buzzed are they when they play a coffee shop and the place is bouncing, or they play a slot at a food festival at 10am and see people’s heads bopping.”
I’ve attended some of the coffee shops gigs and early morning food festival sets – and its true. The audience almost certainly isn’t used to local rappers, but almost always end up impressed by the artists Sam books. NATO is one such example.
Speaking on the eclectic gigs he is booked for NATO says “It’s totally different doing these kind of gigs. It’s weird for me because obviously I’m used to the club.” Its amusing to consider the difference in audiences NATO has performed for considering he’s spent summers hosting club nights in holiday destinations like Ayia Napa, and can now add venues like Tynemouth’s Barca Art Bar to his extensive list.
NATO tells a story about the first time he performed in a cafe, “there was fifteen girls just sitting, having a birthday party, having their tea.” Definitely a little removed from the young, rowdy, party goers in Ayia Napa.
The Stanley based rapper seems to love performing in smaller, intimate venues to alien crowds, however: “It’s good. I like the acoustic stuff aswell, so it’s proper entertaining for me to go and just watch the other acts. Then, show them something different.”
It is definitely something different, and that’s probably why Sam books NATO so often. Sam explains that he doesn’t “do things the way they are meant to be done”, so probably identifies with NATO’s idiosyncrasies. Sam finishes “I do it the way it comes natural to me and I have been blessed to have some amazing local artists join me on my journey.”
Sam’s always got gigs going on. If you’re interested in attending a live event of eclectic music, keep up to date with Sam’s gigs by following his Facebook page.