Prince Owusu-Agyekum and Ebenezer Ayerh AKA Ruff Sqwad talk about their event ‘Ruff Sqwad presents Lights Up’ playing as part of Certain Blacks’ ‘Heroes Festival’ at Rich Mix

The Hitrz courtesy of Annie Kruntcheva

Enjoying a resurgence, currently dominating the airwaves, Grime has taken the world by storm. Artists such as Stormzy, Dave, Little Simz, Headie One, Ms Banks amongst others engaging a new age of listeners. Having both been instrumental in the Grime scene, legends Prince Owusu-Agyekum aka Rapid, who has written songs for critically acclaimed artist Tinchy Strider and artist Ebenezer Ayerh aka Slix look to nurture the next generation of Grime talent – whether they look to pursue a career on stage or of. Their organisation, Ruff Squad Arts Foundation having supported the stars of tomorrow since 2017. Getting ready to host Ruff Sqwad presents Lights Up as part of Certain Blacks’ Heroes Festival on 4th February at Rich Mix, the inspirational duo tell us more about the artists taking part and what to expect!

Hi Prince and Ebenezer AKA Ruff Sqwad, you’ll be hosting Lights Up on 4th Feb which forms Certain Blacks’ 9th festival titled ‘Heroes’ at Rich Mix. How are you feeling ahead of the event?

We are so excited and can’t wait for 4th February to come, so much young, hungry talent under one roof is definitely a night not to be missed!

Lights Up will consist of spoken word, rap, Grime, dance as well as musical and performative surprises from yourselves. How have you approached curating the line up?

Our approach for the Lights Up showcase was to create an event which consists of young musicians with previous exposure to the music industry and Grime Pays graduates who are developing and starting to make a mark in the industry. This event will inspire not only the artists but also the young people in the local community who want to get into the arts sector.

Founded in 2017, Ruff Sqwad Arts was established to help young people reach their full potential in the creative industry, as well as in life in general. Having played crucial roles in the Grime scene, how have you both found guiding future generations?  

We’ve found it very inspiring to work with so many talented young people and as well, young people who have greatness within them but just need the self-belief to find it. We understand that if an artist is confident and works hard, but is not necessarily talented, they will progress in the industry quicker than a talented lazy artist!

Certain Blacks are renowned for supporting marginalised artists and giving performers the platform to showcase their work. What does it mean to form their ninth year?

We are honoured to work with Certain Blacks because they’ve done great things in the community for the arts and underrepresented people. We just hope this is a collaboration that can break barriers and continue to make an impact for generations to come.

What have you learned from curating the event? 

We realise that there are so many up and coming artists who would like the opportunity to regularly perform to showcase their talent but a lack of opportunities makes it very difficult to gain stage show experience especially when it’s paid.

What can audiences expect from the event?

BZ – Expect a high energy performance which includes sophisticated rhymes that translates his culture and upbringing.

BCK – BCK is an artist who will perform by using a mixture of clever toplines and edgy bars.

Queen Deekay – A singer / rapper who is very present and has a lot of bangers! She incorporates dancing into her stage shows so prepare to move!

The Hitrz- A highly energetic duo out of East London who deliver super smooth silky vocals alongside well-structured rhymes with intelligent metaphors on R’n’B and Drill music.

T Roadz – A rapper Straight out of Birmingham with explosive Grime lyrics and an interactive stage presence.

Lil Shakz – South London rapper Lil Shakz is one of the most versatile and unique individuals with expert flows and powerful punchlines.

Paradox – If you want to hear some authentic rap with well-structured productions and verses, Paradox is your man!

Cassie Rytz- Her Grime tracks detonate at stage shows, but her wordplay is very clever and always has substance.

Tofi the poet – Expect a very impactful, elegant performance by the king of words who always steals hearts wherever he performs.

Ariez Babyyy – There’s only 1 word that describes the south London female rapper and that’s HARDCORE! Prepare yourselves.

What would you like for audiences to take away from the show? 

We want them to go away knowing that there are young, hungry, talented people all over the UK who are always looking for guidance and opportunities to express themselves via music and we as adults / youth leaders should always try our best to support these needs of the younger generation by giving them a platform.

Questions by Lucy Basaba.

Ruff Sqwad presents Lights Up will perform as part of this year’s Certain Blacks ‘Heroes’ Festival on Saturday 4th February 2023. To find out more about the show, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop