Birmingham: A playground for young creativity
Ammo Tamar MBE, CEO Punch Records
Ammo introduces the Europe's Young Cities: A New Beat Generation? briefing...
When we see a butterfly spreading her wings in the sun, how often do we think of her struggles to escape from the chrysalis? But those long, lonely endeavours are the story behind every success. That’s the journey you can only take when you’re young. When your talents are being fully tested and taxed, so you can emerge ready to chase down your dreams.
The concrete cocoons of Birmingham’s post-war, post-blitz, post-industrial urban landscape have hatched out generation after generation of creative caterpillars – and still they keep coming!
Birmingham is where young people come to develop a new identity, as a DJ or an MC, a rapper or a poet, a guitarist or a graffiti artist.
I’ve always believed that Birmingham – once called ‘The City of a Thousand Trades’ – is really the city of a thousand stories. And because I’ve worked with musicians all my life, their stories are the ones I know best. We’ve all heard about Ozzy Osbourne – “Straight Outta Aston” to “Welcome to LA”. But there are so many others. Stories about The Streets, Jamelia, Musical Youth, UB40, Steel Pulse, Editors, about Apache Indian, Joan Armatrading, Malkit Singh, Napalm Death, Benjamin Zephaniah, Ocean Colour Scene, about The Beat, Fuzzbox, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Duran Duran, Pato Banton. All hatched here in Birmingham.
But why? Birmingham’s size and scale meant it could become – and still is today – a playground for young people from across the region. Every day, young ambitious rule breakers travel in by bus, train or metro from all over. This is why Birmingham is the secret Nashville of the West Midlands! Birmingham is the place for anonymous exploration. Birmingham is where young people come to develop a new identity, as a DJ or an MC, a rapper or a poet, a guitarist or a graffiti artist.
This is a city full of hired backrooms in pubs that are ‘off the beaten track’, and dance floors in alternative spaces where reputations can be won and scenes can be started. Birmingham is where the rebel beats kicked off first: 2-tone, UK Ska, the New Romantics, UK Garage, Bhangra, Heavy Metal and Dub. Birmingham is proof that the city where things happen is not always the hippest city in the world, the biggest city or even the city that always gets things right. But it must be the place where the young people come to make things happen in spite of it all. Because youth is the future, and the future is nearly here!
Ammo Talwar MBE
CEO, Punch Records
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