Hip hop begun for me around 1984 with the influx of the new craze break dancing. Around this time there were a few music videos being shown on top of the pops, unbeknown to me the scene had already begun in Derby on a very small scale. Through the influence of robotics, electro pop and blues nights the small subculture had begun to take root in the youth of Derby. During the early years it was predominantly b-boys that harnessed the movement and recruited the foundation of hip hop in Derby. Crews formed around the city and they showcased their skills through battles between rival crews. Some crews battled on the streets some at school some travelled to Nottingham, Sheffield, and Wolverhampton.
Music was a big part of the scene and most b-boys would go to great lengths to get the music and would trade it around on cassette tapes often taped off pirate radio stations. The music coming in to the country at them times was expensive and was pretty much for the older generation therefore kids had to be creative in getting their music. A lot of B boys became bedroom Dj’s and turned their hands to scratching and mixing music. So the scene now had expanded to b-boys and dj’s , wasn’t long after this B-boys started to rap and this became the springboard for expression. It soon became a theme in youth clubs and some exclusive nights put on by the older generation. Hip Hop music was becoming more popular each year with the influx of new artists coming out every week.
The scene in Derby was divided up in to different communities, there was mutual respect for each other through the love of the scene that encompassed its own language to go with it. Hip Hop was always a show of skill and prowess and everyone spoke the tales of local legends. Graffiti came to me around 86 but in it primitive form through TV shows and occasional music videos. I began adorning my cloths and hats with basic graffiti some would do the same. The first real piece of graffiti I saw was in Normanton around 85 but I was totally taken by it when a guy came down from London in 1986 and painted a piece on a local school. Graffiti started to pop up more often after this. I managed to meet a couple of older guys who was painting and they showed me a book called subway art. I borrowed the book and began to teach myself. I later joined his crew and soon began painting walls around the city. Through graffiti many relationships were formed and added to Derby’s Hip Hop scene. Through films and books and national contacts the scene matured and so did its participants some fell by the way side as some continued to pursue their mission.
Derby crews put on events and began to bring artists over from the states. Rappers were being formed and Hip Hop continued to stamp its way through Derby. Everyone has a different story, some intertwine some stand-alone but the one thing that comes through is how hip hop has influenced peoples lives and continues to do so. Derby’s hip hop scene nurtured its share of successful artists from dancers to djs; MCs & artists that have not only gone on to achieve great things but continue to develop the growth of hip hop in our city.