Hip-hop raises the volume on Human Rights
With the symbolic green hand of change hung up at the front of the Rhythm Factory in Whitechapel, it was evident that the Restless Beings had landed and occupied the venue! Hip-hop was about to drop some beats to raise the volume and shine the spotlight on human rights all around the world. With the audience and supporters armed with Restless Beings signature lollipops and human writes goodies, the stage set, and artists eager to perform - Human Writes 2 - our annual Hip-hop for human rights gig was to finally begin!
The biggest names in the hip-hop scene, a group of like minded artists with the most conscious and positive music bought the show down and inspired the audience to creatively act and make change for what they are Restless about. DJ Snuff, the groundbreaking DJ and Co-founding member of the Peoples Army movement, well famed for his Speakers Corner sets was dedicated on the decks warming the 300 change-makers with old school hip-hop vibes. Opening up the show was up and coming rapper and poet Kayne Anthony, followed by the talented emcee and singer Melissa Melodee, poet Lorianne - part of the Hip-hop Shakespeare Company founded by MOBO award winning hip-hop artist Akala - and incredible and long standing Restless Being supporters - Poetic Pilgrimage - who performed with guitarist and singer Santiago to stun the audience with their set. Quest Rah also performing with Haan bought lyricism to the forefront and Native Sun consisting of Mohammed Yahya and Serena Leah then followed, performing 'Legacy' with their melodiously rhythmic African hip-hop tones. Jimmy Jitsu, young but quickly rising to success, performed two brand new tracks from his new EP to be released in January 2012. The night continued to move the audience, both the beats and the message behind the music. Caxton Press made up by Manage, Kingpin, eMCee Killa, Amy True & DJ Snuff bought the house down their track 'The Press'. Mangaliso Asi, along with percussionist Kensaye, got the audience feeling 'On Top of the Globe'. The crowd were then enthralled to be blown away by Nathan 'Flutebox' Lee & The Clinic performing 'Night Rider' alongside two other compilations. Lovelle then performed her set followed by the greatly anticipated Black the Ripper, recognised by The Guardian, as one of the top ten rising stars of 2011 and if everyone wasn't moving by the time Ty was on stage, then they certainly were with his performance!
The open mic competition gave the opportunity for the biggest boxfresh and young talent to take the stage. On the night six contestants, selected from hundreds of applications performed for the chance for an amazing prize, an exclusive video directed and produced by Global Faction, and a one day studio session with rapper Nolay, as well as a set at the next Human Writes gig in 2012 and a free ticket to all Restless Beings events for the year, not to mention promotion to over 100,000 Restless Beings supporters. Poet Curious set proceedings and showed exactly why he won the first Human Writes open mic competition last year. The open mic featured some real talent in the youth scene, varying from emcees, rappers, singers to poets, with the likes of Trigga Tanna, Akillez, Rain Freedom, Emerge MC, Sean Yelo and Salaam Jones, who all performed with passion and a desire for change through music. Rusharr, a 17 year old beat boxer from Tower Hamlets, astonished the audience with a 5 minute set of several hip-hop tracks with various rifts. Based on delivery and content, it was then up to the audience who raised the roof with cheers and screams to decide on the winner... It was a close call, but Rain Freedom came out on top! Just 24 hours later, with shout out's from BBC London Radio, Rain Freedom was also then interviewed on Revolution on Reprezent Radio!
The promotion of human rights, peace for all and the demand for an end to the marginalisation and persecution of communities can be achieved just as effectively, if not more powerfully through music and poetry, and this was ever more evident with the unity that results in the gigs. Throughout the night videos of the Restless Beings projects were played on loop and explained by the Restless Beings directors on stage; Rahima Begum and Mabrur Ahmed, another reminder of why everyone was gathered together. Through entertainment, the Human Writes audience are certainly taken through a learning experience. One hip-hop fan in the audience, Farhana, had said that she was "previously unaware of the Uighur community, let alone the issue of bride kidnapping ala kachuu - tonight has opened my ears to some great artists and my eyes to some horrific issues in the world."
The excitement was also felt and visible to see online. Our Web & Social Media Team set into motion a tweet-a-lot competition which having run from midnight Friday 25th November to midnight 27th November, resulted in thousands of tweets with #HumanWrites hash tag. All in all over 90,000 people were reached through this campaign, and none of that is including RT's! Ty the day after the gig tweeted: "I've never done a show anywhere in the world and the day after, the audience and the artists are all speaking on twitter. NEVER." In fact the gig is still being talked and tweeted about now, and has lead to more support and calls for a monthly gig with DJ Snuff and Speakers Corner uniting with Restless Beings to be held at D'Gaf in Maryland to start in January 2012 to continue to raise the volume on international injustice!
Our hip-hop gigs primarily raise awareness of our projects and human rights issues throughout the world, however on the night just over £1,700 was raised bucket collections from our generous supporters! As a grassroots charity we appreciate that it's often difficult for little ripples to make big waves of change, but on Saturday night and since, together as collective, some pretty awesome creative waves were made and are continuing to be made. That being said, it's easy for the spot light on human rights and struggling communities to be dimmed and continue to go unheard once again. The 'unfashionable' human rights issues of the Uighur kidnapped Brides in Kyrgystan or the Rohingyans persecuted by the military Burmese Junta may not be in the mainstream media but together we can keep trying to raise awareness, funds and hope for marginalised people across the world.
There is still yet a lot to be achieved, as Mohammed Yahya pointed out "Who knew about the riots in Mozambique?" We must continue and struggle to make it our responsibility to learn more about the world and look to alternative sources to do.
Images by Warwick Lowe Photography and Cre81ve Clicks Photography.
Event summaryHuman Writes 2
Explosive lyricists come together to ignite your conscience. Hip-hop turns up the volume on Human Rights.
Event scheduled on: Saturday, 26 November 2011 at 17:00