The North of England has long been lacking behind the rest of the UK on the Urban music scene, not everything is as accessible here as it is in the south and music from the unsigned artist is harder to find. This also makes it harder for the artists here to find their path to stardom, yet one organisation has started something incredible called CRUNK aimed at under 18’s and we decided it was only right to provide some well earned exposure!!!
First of all being from the North East myself (Newcastle Upon Tyne) this interview is close to home so lets blow the door wide open and find out what CRUNK is all about.
For those unfamiliar give us a break down of what CRUNK is all about?
CRUNK: CRUNK aims to provide a monthly social event for under 18s. CRUNK provides a safe, drug and alcohol free, social space for Black Minority Ethnic and white young people to come together; communities of young people who would not normally come into contact with each other.
• To provide a non commercial under 18 event supervised by youth workers
• To give management to young people
• To keep admission fees low to enable young people to attend from financially disadvantaged backgrounds
• To allow young people from various backgrounds to mix, for example race, religion, economic status, from all parts of the city and political status (ie Asylum, sexuality etc)
All young people living in the North East have the opportunity to attend the events. This enables young people to meet and make friendship links with young people they would not ordinarily come in contact with. CRUNK Newcastle gives them the space and opportunity to develop their own opinions about other young people from different backgrounds.
CRUNK Newcastle particularly benefits young unaccompanied Asylum Seekers and Refugees who have little in the way of an extended social and friendship group. It also benefits the young people involved in the planning and management of the events.
For over 25 years Newcastle upon Tyne has had various under 18 events in the city but many young people have felt excluded from these events on the grounds of racism therefore they have traditionally not attended.
CRUNK is one of a kind in our area, it is almost like a youth club. Do you have your own resident DJ’s, dancers and MC’s?
CRUNK: The beauty of CRUNK Newcastle is that it is run by young people for young people. It is overseen by Youth workers who work along side a group of young people who call themselves CRUNKERZ. The CRUNKERZ group recruit their peers to perform at CRUNK Newcastle events. The resident DJ is a young person themselves and there have been performances from young people that have included Beat Boxing, Rapping / MCing, Singing and Street Dancing.
Those that attend CRUNK recently released there own track, tell us about that? What reaction have you had from it?
CRUNK: The CRUNKERZ had wanted to make a CD showcasing their talents but could not afford the studio time. Then the opportunity arose for youth groups to do peer education around the issues of drugs and alcohol use of young people. So the CRUNKERZ decided to make a Rap / Song about these issues to educate their peers. They also made a DVD to accompany the song. The song has had a great effect on attendances at CRUNK Newcastle events ever since, with the number of young people checking the song out on myspace and then coming to events.
What are your plans for CRUNK in the future?
CRUNK: This year CRUNK Newcastle took part in the Leeds Carnival and is planning to do so next year. CRUNK Newcastle has linked up with Show Racism the Red Card to make an Anti – Racism Mix-Tape with many different young acts on from across the North East.
Some of the CRUNKERZ and CRUNK attendees are making their own Mix-Tapes. Watch out for rapper Silver, his Mix-Tape Day Dot is hitting the streets as we speak, Hip Hop crew B-Town hailing from East Newcastle’s famous Byker area are putting the finishing touches to their Mix-Tape. Watch this space for R & B Divas Pure Harmony, Bubz Street Dancer n and rapper, rapper K.C.2 Fresh, 3 piece rap crew The Projeck… There is more young talent waiting in the wings.
What do you think the kids benefit most from within the event?
CRUNK: Many of the young people tell me they do not go to their local youth project for fear of bullying or racism. They like the fact that they get a say in how CRUNK Newcastle runs. Many parents I speak to like the fact that we run our events in the afternoons at weekends. As apposed to other under18 events that run on school nights finishing late at night. At other events young people get ejected from the event for fighting without the cause being resolved. At CRUNK Newcastle youth workers are there to help young people settle their differences.
CRUNK brings together everyone regardless of social background, race and sex. It is through and through an event totally blind to anything other than people coming together as one, do you think we could benefit from more events like this within our society?
CRUNK: I believe we can all learn from the lessons learnt at CRUNK Newcastle. Young people need a safe young person friendly space to explore their peers. Many young people from black minority ethnic communities have expressed to use their concern of the lack of opportunities to mix with their young white British peers. Some white young people I have spoken to have also stressed that they have used what they read and see in the media as their reference point for them to make opinions about black minority ethnic communities.
CRUNK recently had some exposure at home, a two page spread in the local evening paper, tell us more about that? What areas did it cover?
CRUNK: In a nut shell it covered racism and isolation that some of the young people who come to CRUNK Newcastle have experienced. It also looked at how positive it has been for those young people going to CRUNK Newcastle has been.
We have to represent everyone that attends the event so now is your time to do some serious name dropping… lets go, any shouts?
CRUNK: RESPECT & Thank you’s go to all the young people who come to CRUNK and CRUNKERZ and all performers. Streetwise Youth Project who run CRUNK and CRUNKERZ. RPM Records Newcastle who have supported us from day one. Tyne and Wear Connexions, especially Margaret, Jane and Khalid. Legends Night Club and Blu Bambu Night Club and we can’t forget Underground Promotions.
Long live CRUNK Newcastle and all who sail in it. Sorry if I forgot you catch you next time.
Interview for British Hip Hop courtesy of Underground Promotion UK.