For any humans out there prone to leaving the house and travelling on any given vector around London, there’s a reasonable chance that you’ve passed by or stopped to listen to a certain homeless microphonist…
I first stumbled across Amp Medley (currently living in a campervan he parks on the outskirts before missioning inwards to bust bars) post rush-hour at Piccadilly Circus. With a reasonable crowd of tourists zoned in to him, the roaming freestyler was rocking a mic plugged into a cheap amplifier, blasting golden era beats in front of the Shaftsbury Memorial and dropping some pretty competent freestyles. In a city saturated with street performers playing some variation or other of recognisable mainstream anthems, seeing someone in central who’d clearly just showed up, plugged in and diverted the soundtrack to hip hop was refreshing enough that I went to a cash point specifically to have something to donate.
Beyond the wandering lyricist’s dope angle on busking for change, the countless hours spent flooding street corners with bars from South Bank to Brixton form a cornerstone of guerrilla promotion for a multi-faceted crew on the rise. Flyers on hand at every spot, the hustle has a larger hustle.
With Amp as the key host tying the strands together, And What? are a genre-bending collective of lyricists, producers, DJs and instrumentalists making serious moves through some widely different events and initiatives. With a bunch of bare socialist, charitable and community focused projects in their early phases (which we’ll go into in a later article), the ethic of the group is overwhelmingly inclusive and for the people. While throwing sick events (almost all of them free) is only part of that, in the name of UKHH Summer Sickness; here’s our rundown of the what, where and when to catch the collective getting live this summer…
Enter the Dojo – Every other Thursday @ Chip Shop Brixton
Formerly known as ‘Rise of the MC’, And What?’s nights at Chip Shop are where to catch the brand most focused on a classically hip hop format. A key point of difference from other events on the scene that runs through all of the collective’s events is the centrality of cyphers. Hip hop nights that have an open mic for anyone to step up to when doors open from 8pm to 9pm (before anyone has really arrived) are pretty common. The standard approach of putting the most inclusive section of the line up right at the start though, means that things never really pop off. And What? have resurrected the cypher and put it at the forefront of proceedings. So, rowdy back and forth cyphers open to anyone with the nuts to get on the mic in the middle of the small, rammed out venue are the norm.
Add to this performances from a steadily growing, impressive list of names, including; Maseo (of De La Soul), Sonnyjim, Shumba Youth (Reggae Roast), Oracy, UK Principal Roots and UKHH one to watch C.A.M and you’ve got a recipe for some serious Thursday night vibes.
Coming up: Catch C.A.M, James Sativa, Alex Michael Taylor, Slippy Skills, Elder Buffalo, (Channel DoJo) on decks + THE CYPHER this Thursday (12.07).
Following a short break after their August 7th Show, the Collective will return with an MC Competition at the end of September.
And What? Grow Events – Roughly Every Month and a Bit @ Grow Hackney
In their own words; ‘Grow, Hackney is an independent canal side bar, kitchen and creative space in Hackney Wick.’ Supporting local music and community arts projects and priding themselves on an ethic of sustainability, the space, which incorporates an indoor dance floor for when shit gets live and an outside area next to the river for balmy sunset vibes, is a pretty dope spot to spend a summer evening.
With different themes resonating through And What?’s appearances at Grow throughout the year, these are events for hip hop heads looking to diversify their ears with eclectic styles and Amp Medley hosting live music showcases with a hip hop mentality. Expect live bands, DJs straddling genres, cyphers and the crew of And What? MCs collaborating with whatever comes up.
Coming up: For the next And What? event at Grow show up for FREE on Saturday 14th July for their Summer Showcase.
Later in the summer their August 26th event is likely to make for a pretty solid choice of after party spot for Sunday Notting Hill Carnival goers.
CONGREGATE BRIXTON – September 1st @ Windrush Square Brixton
Come one, come all! Plugging into the community spirit at the heart of And What?, Congregate events to date have staged takeovers of Brixton’s Windrush Square come rain or shine. With market stalls from local vendors, a celebration of music and food from around the world and line ups spanning a range of different styles but still incorporating the rock-up-to-the-mic-and-kick-some-flows dynamic of cyphers, these events are one to jump at late this Summer. (Particularly if you happen to be at the point in the season where you’re struggling to string together noodle based dinners let alone considering bare expensive holidays and raves.) Fresh outdoor vibes, genuine love from the area and eclectic beats and bars!
Acts to have stepped on to the square before include Kirk Diamond, RDK Hifi, MC Solomon, GW Jazz, Shumba Youth and Pato Banton.
In Amp’s own words Congregate will be; “Covering music of black origin across the spectrum with hip hop being the overriding theme. From live Senegalese Blues, Soul & beatboxing to DJs playing Reggae. Dub, Jazz, House, Electronica, Jungle & Bass Music.”
Coming up: September 1st sees the collective’s return to the square with DJ Snuff & Guests amongst a range of others. Beyond that, weather and planning permission permitting, with any luck these will continue to be a Brixton staple.
For more on the crew’s movements add them on Facebook here. To check out Amp Medley’s latest project, you can check his 10 track album Amp Medley and Satoshy ‘Mosaics’ here.