The Live Box
The Live Box is a regular performance arts event, run by Nu Century Arts, embracing live music, poetry, hip hop and dance, offering both emerging and established artists the opportunity to develop and perform their work. For seven years, The Live Box has successfully broken down barriers between high art and street culture, providing a relaxed and informal atmosphere for people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. The event itself has retained its own signature style of delivery: every Sunday evening, starting with a performance of rehearsed material from the main artist, The Live Box offers audience members the chance to participate in the jam session. Whilst jazz underpins the majority of The Live Box sessions, a unique feature is that impromptu poetry recitals sit comfortably alongside straight-ahead jazz, and hip hop MCs feel as at home as reggae musicians. The meeting of alternative genres has encouraged many exceptional performances, and defied stereotypes.
Nu Century Arts, and its directors Don and Soweto Kinch, are dedicated to the development and promotion of performing arts in the African-Caribbean community. Based in Birmingham, the organisation embraces an interdisciplinary approach to arts and education and, since its formation in 2000, has established an international reputation for producing groundbreaking, influential work. In addition to The Live Box, the company’s pioneering work encompasses theatre (in the shape of a professional theatre group), literature (Wired Up magazine), and education (jazz workshops, youth theatre and group trips abroad). Nu Century Arts has a commitment to alternative forms of black expression, and its continual advocacy of these forms, coupled with its pursuit of excellence, makes it a valuable resource for all communities.
Sunday 23 March: Pentalk plus Battle in the Box
Pentalk, a stalwart of the Birmingham hip hop scene for over ten years, performs its first ever set at The Live Box and with a full live band; Pentalk also hosts Battle in the Box. Formed in the mid-90s in the B19 area of Birmingham, the collective now spans several countries with members living as far afield as Canada and the US. Despite this, Pentalk has retained its core love of hard hitting beats and rhymes, and continues to astound audiences at appearances such as Newport’s B-Boy Championships and support slots with the likes of KRS One.
Sunday 30 March: The Live Box Crew: Tan, Francis, Nehemiah and Cherelle
Tonight is a showcase for four of Birmingham’s newest leading players. Brought together especially for this show, these young artists have each been regular participants at Live Box events in the past and are each making a name for themselves in different disciplines. 20 year old Francis Mott is an extraordinary vocalist with a timbre and maturity beyond his years. He has previously collaborated with Soweto Kinch, most recently in the staged work The Midnight Hop. 22 year Nehemiah Smith is one of the city’s best-known b-boys as part of the MDK crew, and is also an accomplished jazz drummer. 19 year old b-girl Cherelle Skeet is rapidly becoming an established solo artist, and for three years has run and promoted her own dance company, CRC. Nottingham-born 20 year old MC Tan has been carving a niche for herself performing at the Scratch Club, and supporting rapper David Banner.
Sunday 6 April: GTA
GTA has the exuberance of the O’Jays, the grandeur of Mozart, the swagger of Jay Dilla, the sound of Al Green, the sentiment of Elton John, and the golden tone of early Stevie
Neill Timms (aka Ineffable) and Chima Anya met at school in 2000, quickly created a vibe that excited anyone with a vague musical interest in the Oxford vicinity. Despite Chima moving to Birmingham for five years to complete a medical degree, and Neill staying on in Oxford to study business, the duo continued, and was invited to support legends such as KRS 1, Amp Fiddler, and Flavour Flav, also releasing its debut EP, Love is Here, on Blunted Records. Now a fully qualified practicing doctor and assistant accountant, Chima and Neill, respectively, have embarked upon their debut album, The Way, with the hope of adding some much needed charisma and sophistication to the UK’s urban scene. Drawing influences from the aforementioned hip-hop legends and their ilk, GTA has the substance of old school hip-hop spliced with the cutting edge swagger and charisma of what hip-hop is evolving into.
Sunday 13 April: Z-U led by Neil Charles
Z-U is a three-piece outfit pushing forward the boundaries of improvised music with a homogenous world sound, reflecting the eclectic range of its members’ influences. By taking the raw elements of jazz and allowing generous use of electronics, loops and effects, a symphony of sound is created in which fragments of melody are spontaneously imagined. The band has performed in many venues in London such as The Vortex, Spitz, Notting Hill Arts Club, and it also plays the festival circuit across Europe. The trio – Neil Charles on bass, Shabaka Hutchings on clarinet, and Tom Skinner on drums - recently supported Polar Bear at the London Jazz Festival and has an extensive tour scheduled for 2008.
Sunday 20 April: Tor plus Battle in the Box
Outta east London, this young lady is one of UK black music’s definite future stars. Recognize! - Ras Kwame, BBC 1Xtra
Tor is without doubt one of the strongest new MCs to emerge from the UK. After landing a weekly slot MCing on Mission FM alongside 1Xtra’s Twin B, she notched up a series of impressive collaborations on both sides of the Atlantic, including Kevin Mark Trail, Black Twang, Terri Walker, Gerald Levert, Twista, and Flying Lotus. Both as a female role model in a male dominated genre, and as a innovative performer, she has a genuine mass appeal yet always retains her credentials as a true MC.
Sunday 27 April: Ty and Soweto Kinch
The US hip-hop fraternity could learn from Ty’s third outing: there are 12 tracks, all of pop-song length, no skits, and it lasts under an hour. It is also low on braggadocio and high on ambition… his rhymes remain razor sharp, thought-provoking and often hilarious. [A] bling and fat-free approach to hip-hop - The Guardian
Rapper/producer and Mercury Music Prize nominee, TY has been instrumental in British hip hop since the early-90s. Born in London to Nigerian immigrants, he has evolved an uniquely British sound, consistently pushing back musical frontiers with challenging lyrical content. TY has appeared on tracks produced by IG Culture’s New Sector Movement, MC Mell ‘O’, DJ Shortee Blitz, and DJ Pogo. His third album, Closer, featured the likes of Eska Mtungwazi, De La Soul and Bahamadia. Ty and Soweto have staunch views about the distortions of ‘urban’ music and hip hop’s commercialisation; both also consistently push back the limitations of genres: don’t miss this rare opportunity to catch both artists together in what will be a thought provoking, original and, most of all, entertaining show.