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Going back to the roots of Black British music

Posted on 18 November 2016

We supported Punch Records to take four UK-based artists back to their homelands to discover their musical roots. These are their stories.

Homelands artists
Homelands Artists. Image © Punch Records.

Punch Records received £200,000 from our Exceptional Awards programme to turn an ambitious idea into a reality. This idea has taken four UK-based artists 50,000 kilometres around the globe to their homelands of Dominica, Jamaica, Senegal and Suriname.

In each place, these artists explored the cultural roots of Black British music. Back in England, they worked with young people to produce major participation programmes centred on each country’s musical influence.

Shakka

Shakka has two MOBO nominations and millions of YouTube views to his name. His career has seen him work with artists including Angel, Basement Jaxx and Wretch 32. Raised in Notting Hill, his journey took him to his home country of Dominica. Shakka collaborated with Local Dominican kings WCK, who helped to push the local carnival sounds globally.

I want to discover more about myself and shine a light on the true origins of UK music.

Saskilla

Saskilla began MC-ing at the age of 15. Discovered by Wiley he played a major part in the UK’s Grime scene as a member of Roll Deep, later forming Nu Brand Flexxx. Born in Leeds and raised in South London, Saskilla’s journey took him back to his roots in Senegal. Saskilla collaborated with Senegalese hip-hop stalwart Nit Doff who regularly performs to sell out stadium events in Dakar and Louga.

I’m hoping to advance as an artist and I’m excited to experience the cultural clash.

Terri Walker

Terri Walker is a Mercury Music prize and four-time MOBO award nominee. Signed to Def Soul in the UK, her career has seen her perform with garage artists including 187 Lockdown, Shanks & Bigfoot and TNT. Her journey takes her to her homeland of Jamaica. Terri worked with local legend Winta James - keyboard player to Damian Marley, producer of Chronixx & Protoje.

I really want people to see where my influences come from – it will make me grow.  

Diztortion

Signed to Universal Records, Diztortion has his own recording studio in London. He’s worked with artists including Lethal Bizzle, Stylo G, Tinie Tempah and Wiley. Born in Amsterdam and based in the UK, his journey took him back to his roots in Suriname. Diztortion worked with local reggae hero Tjatjie and songstress Adika.

I want to show people what the culture is about, and how it blends with my music.

UK music owes much to the black diaspora.

Speaking about Homelands and why projects like this matter, Punch Records’ CEO Ammo Talwar MBE said:

"Homelands matters because we have collectively started a conversation around influence, connectivity and how artists need to unpack history and heritage to understand their own creativity.”

Future sounds

Each artist worked with youth groups in Nottingham, Liverpool and London to create major participation programmes inspired by their international residencies.

The young people worked with Diztortion, Shakka, Saskilla and Terri to reinterpret compositions made by each artist, taking on new influences from each homeland country.

At events in Birmingham and London, these young artists joined the four artists on stage to perform.

Find out more

Follow the Arts Council and Punch Records on Twitter. 

Read more about Homelands