Bringing London Beats and Female Artists to Senegal: Raw Material Artists Reflect on Festa2h Festival

May 07, 2013, 02:00 ET from Raw Material

LONDON, May 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

When Brixton's Raw Material Music Studio sent musicians and producers to Senegal for the Festa2h Festival last summer, two things struck them: the demand for their producers to give local rappers a London beat, and the locals' joyful amazement at seeing female artists onstage at a hip hop festival.

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FLOetic Lara and 'Tagz' Chambers were the only two female performers that many of the male Muslim audience had seen on stage, but their style of music and the different subjects covered by their lyrics went down well. "We gave Festa2h that real element of surprise. It felt like we really inspired the girls in the audience, and inspired the guys to be more aware of female artists," says Tagz. "Only one girl came to the workshops we ran as part of the festival. Hopefully next time, there will be more."

JB, an accomplished producer currently working with singer-songwriter Andrae Bentley, also found his London-grown skills were in high demand as Senegalese rappers relished the chance to work with a London producer. "If I was making a reggae track, and I had the chance to work with Jamaican producers, I'd want as much from them as I could get-I wouldn't care how they did it. So it's the same for rappers in Senegal when London producers go there; they just want us to give them a beat for them to rap to," JB said.

JB relished the chance to take his experiences from Raw Material, where he has been helped and in turn helped countless youngsters, to Senegal - a completely different culture altogether. He was met by a "calm and gracious society", that is "hardworking and enthusiastic about new things". JB feels that the Senegalese music he heard relies too heavily on American influences. "In Senegal they need to embrace their own culture, and use that more in the music, so it sounds more African, more real to them," JB said. "There is too much hip hop, too much trying to be like an American rapper."

Events like Festa2h, and innovative young artists from the Raw Material stable are geared to encouraging musicians to develop their own identities and sounds, with the aim of empowering them to find roles inside and out of the music industry. Raw Material artists perform in some of London's most prestigious venues, including Royal Festival Hall, and most recently at Tate Modern's Hyperlink festival, where, along with FLOetic Lara and Tagz, Potent Whisper and Wu-Lu presented live music, electronic sound programming and visual arts to delighted crowds.

Wu-Lu (aka Miles) is now on his way to New York City on a DJing and production sabbatical for several months. Meanwhile Raw Material's current UK tour, Raw Roadz Turning Tides project, is travelling to Southend, Ramsgate, Folkestone, Hastings, Brighton and Portsmouth.

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SOURCE Raw Material