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t s a r Cont

e n i z a g a M h out Y s ’ y e n k c a H Issue 16

Ny Ny tells us what it’s like being a woman making music in a man’s world



. Lil Simz . Ny . KIR . Alex Mills March - April 2010

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Editorial Team Contents


05 News

Bianca Manu Symone-Monet Codrington Shatoya MariĂŠ Rose Phoebe Ryan-Faal Rhasan Brunner Lara Akinnawo Gordon Adeyemi Merzan Roudette Abi OyĂŠwumi Elsa Mampuya Durelle Stevens Toyin Oni-Olusola Anne-Marie Oni-Olusola Charlie Day Chloe Mercier Chanice Browne K.I.R. Kristina Doda Shantel Cherebin

Youth centres for young people.

06 Introducing SOS Local rappers, Sound of the Streets.

08 True Colours Hackney-based singer, Alex Mills.

12 The Time is Ny Ny sets the record straight.

16 Keeping it Real Hackney poets K.I.R.

18 Lil Simz The princess of rap.

22 Reviews Books, film, theatre, music.

28 Poetry From local young writers.

Getting shirty Normally young people learn from their elders: however, a T-shirt printing project run by Free Form Arts Trust at the Hothouse has turned this idea on its head. In January, a group of 16 young Hackney residents between the ages 16 - 25 taught adult learners how to create designs and print T-shirts. The young people completed a Volunteer Print Design Assistant Training course before passing on their skills to adult learners on the Hothouse Inspirations programme. The training course, supported by V Inspire/Choice FM, has equipped the young participants with the skills to plan and deliver T-shirt print and creative design workshops. Sam, one of the young volunteers said: “Everything I’ve been taught is completely new to me. The teachers were so friendly and made me feel welcome and relaxed and now we are volunteer workshop facilita-


Photo: Marlon Trutzenbach; Sam Rasa; Kareem Francis HYPP participants with Kat B and Nyron Levy stars of Aladdin

tors, which is great work experience. This was a two-way process. We were taught screen printing, and now we can teach it to others in community silk-screen printing workshops.” The course seems to have been a success for both young and old. One of the adult learners commented: “It was great being taught by young people. They were very helpful and full of energy.” Fans of the Hackney Youth Print Project (HYPP) also include Kat B, star of Aladdin at the Hackney Empire. Kat popped into the Hothouse to meet the group between shows at the pantomime to congratulate them. Free Form runs a variety of art and design projects for young people at the Hothouse, just off Mare Street. To find out more go to:

Come over to myplace

Hackney Council, in partnership with the Learning Trust, has been awarded nearly £5 million to upgrade three existing youth centres and build two completely new ones. The programme is being funded through the Government’s myplace programme. There will be a myplace youth centre in each of Hackney’s four neighbourhoods, together with a flagship centre, which is being built at Forest Road, in the heart of the borough. Work has started on the centre at Milton Gardens, Stoke Newington, which is due to open in the summer of this year. Kristina Doda, 21, from Stamford Hill was part of the team of young people who helped to put together the successful bid. She said: “I have been involved in the project for two years. I talked to a friend, who said it would be a really good thing to do and that young people needed new facilities and I thought I could help.” “We visited youth centres across

The myplace team. Kristina on left next to Councillor Rita Krishna

the borough, because we thought it was important to hear young people’s voices. All of the information we gathered, we put in a report that went back to the Council, and we used it to make our presentation to the myplace funding board.” “Some of the young people we met said: “Why are we wasting our time? We’ve talked to so many people but nothing ever happens.” When the new centres open, hopefully, they will recognise that we didn’t go to the centres just for the fun of it, but we were doing it because we really wanted to help young people in the area.” “I’m very proud of the work that I have done in this project. Even if I’m not going to use the centres (as I’m over 19), I’m proud that I helped the Council to build them.” If you’d like to find out more you can receive updates, or send an email to: Put ‘myplace update’ in the subject.


5 Minutes with SOS Introducing Hackney talent, Sound of the Streets (SOS), Five MCs who’ve been making tunes together since 2008 and are set for big things Interview by Toyin Oni-Olusola

So who are SOS? SOS consists of Armzout, Scarzman, Coco, Frenzy and Sneako. We are also known as SOSTREET. Who started off SOS? The members that went to Hackney Free Secondary started the group and scouted other MCs from around Hackney to become SOS, there were over 10 people when it started, but that was wisely narrowed down to five very talented artists. If SOS went on with all the people we had at the beginning we wouldn’t be as known for what we do now.


Have you done any shows? We have done a number of shows off our own bats and with the help of Rising Tide. We have performed in a number of places from Shoreditch Festival to talent shows all over to meetings in Hackney town hall. Our aim is just to promote ourselves anywhere and everywhere no matter the situation. Who are your role models? We look up to a wide range of artists from people like Bob Marley to old school MCs like D Double E and So Solid Crew. They influence us to

make our music and in 2010 you will hear our new material is not just all grime; we will be releasing versatile music that appeals to all types of audiences. Any advice for up-and-coming artists? Our advice to other up and coming artists is to stick to your education because you may not succeed the way you want to in the music industry and to just listen too all types of music and not to make the same music as everyone else. Also if you’re dead serious about being

in the music industry be 100% on it; being half-hearted will get you nowhere. Is there anything for us to look out for? Our mixtape called ‘Do your research’ is due to be released early this year. Look out for that. You can also check us out on Myspace, YouTube and become a fan on Facebook.


True colours Local talent, Alex Mills tells us why she became a singer/songwriter and where she gets her inspiration from. Interview by Bianca Manu Did you always know singing was what you wanted to do? I used to say things like: singing’s the only thing I can ever do! I mean that’s pretty lame. To be honest, I would like to think I’m a complex person who has many talents. Singing is something that I want to do, and that I enjoy doing. If I can make a few bucks out of it, then cool. But I’m sure if I put my mind to it I could do anything. So what gives you inspiration when you write songs? I often write my best songs first thing in the morning. I kind of wake up singing and then just carry it on from there. Other songs inspire me too. I listen to a lot of old music. Who did you like singing along to? My favourite singer was Etta James. I love Etta James. I would literally listen to her over and over again. That’s what I did. I’d get one CD and listen to it and listen to it and listen to it. I love ‘Stormy Weather’. My favourite one is ‘Make Love to

I do think it’s very important to have your own identity, be your own person and embrace it You’. That’s one of the earliest songs I remember. Your lyrics are quite fun and true to life. Is that how you see things? Yeah. When I listen back to my songs, it doesn’t really sound like me. I listen to it, thinking is that me singing that song? It just sounds like some other bird. Have you always written your own lyrics? Yeah, when I was 16 I wrote my first song and obviously I’ve always sung.


My mum encouraged me from a young age, but said that if I wanted to earn any money I would have to learn how to write songs. You’re mixed heritage, did that inspire you when you wrote ‘Colours’? Yeah, definitely, especially the first line of it: ‘Some say that black and white makes grey, but I don’t really feel that way at all.’ My mum’s ex-boyfriend once said to me: “Mixed race people are mixed-up.” I thought it was really bizarre, just because you’re mixed race, people think you’re mixed-up, or confused or something like that. Occasionally people get asked: “Do you consider yourself black or white?” Do you ever put yourself in those categories? Definitely not, and I think it’s very important for mixed race people to consider themselves as mixed race. When I was a kid one of my uncles said: “Don’t worry Alex, ‘cause you’re black.” I said that to my mum and I was like, how rude! D’you know what I mean? I’m not white and I’m not black. I’d be disrespecting my mum to say I was black and I’d be disrespecting my dad to say I was white. My mum did a lot of things for black people’s rights and women’s rights. Me and my sister are named after people who fought for black people’s and women’s rights. So my


I thought it was really bizarre, just because you’re mixed race, people think you’re mixed-up, or confused mum is a bit of an activist, she was like: “Look, I can understand that your uncle probably didn’t mean it like that, you have to understand where people are coming from and where they get their opinions.” He probably did that to make me feel like I’ve got some sort of place. Which I can understand, but I do think it’s very important to have you own identity, be your own person and embrace it. I think it’s quite interesting that you can trace it back to a certain time when the first mixed race person was created. I’ve seen some groups on Facebook saying things like, ‘mixed race people are so different’. That’s not cool.That’s what causes friction. I think mixed race people do have it a bit difficult: I’ve got a lot of mixed race friends. With some of them, their white side have disowned them because they

The time is Ny

Contrast interviewed Ny in between brush strokes while she was painting her bathroom. Not only does she have great taste in interior design, she has a cracking voice too. Interview by Shatoya Marié Rose

I heard that you wrote poems before you started writing music. I started writing poetry about age 12 or 13, because I was really good at English. I’d get little melodies, I’d be sitting on the bus freestyling a poem in my head that I’d written, which then obviously helps when it comes to songwriting. And I do write all my songs. What inspires you to write? I’m inspired by everything: everyday life, the good, the bad, things that I go through, family friends, social is-

sues. Anything can be an inspiration. I’ve got a track called ‘Willow’ and I sing ‘crispy leaves seem to always blow my way’, so something simple like leaves blowing past can inspire you to write a song. What artists influence you? In the beginning it was Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. I grew up with a lot of roots reggae, so Burning Spear, Peter Tosh, Bob Marley, Beres Hammond – those kinds of artists and a lot of old soul. My parents were huge vinyl collectors, so we had loads of records from all different genres. When did you make your first track? I used to record myself and make little songs on my Dictaphone, but I think the first time I was in a proper studio was when I was 13. What are you working on now? I’m promoting my new track ‘Sea Sick’. The video is out and it’s going to be out for digital release on iTunes and Amazon in March. I’ve got a

Photograph: Ny and Eddie Kadi

How did you get into music? When I was really young I loved Mariah Carey. I listened to all her CDs and got all of her albums. I wanted to be a vet to start with but I was crap at science so I was just listening to Mariah Carey tracks and singing along and stuff. My family used to make jokes and say: “Oh, you can be a singing vet and sing the animals back to health.” As I got older, it became apparent that singing was more of a reality than being a vet.


track on Ironik’s album called ‘Love’ ly, really into animal rights and stuff and I’m writing an album as well. and love animals. Also, I travel a lot, not just through How do you balance your life around music, but through having family music? that are abroad. I visit Ethiopia a lot. My life is music and I’ve got to bal- So I’ve seen lots of different lifestyles ance everything else around that, be- and it makes me aware of limiting cause the music’s the main thing. I my consumption as an individual, go to sleep, wake up with a melody and also just being aware of the fact and I’m like oh, God, I’ve got to get that things are made by children up and think about that, or I’m sup- who work in factories. Obviously in posed to be focussing on something this industry it’s very glamorous and else, but I’m actually thinking about it always feels like you’ve got to be a song or what I need to do next in on top of fashion and have the latest my career. So I’m always absorbed in things. music. When did you first get into travelling, So what do you do when you’re not and where have you been? working? My dad moved to Ethiopia. He’s When I’m not doing music, I’m been there for nine and a half years. probably with my friends. I’m re- So I’ve been to Ethiopia every year, ally good friends with Tulisa from for the last nine years. Last year and N-Dubz so I’m usually with her in the year before I was on a European a session or, like the other night, she tour with The Count and Sinden, we came over and we played Scrabble ‘til did all the festivals, Denmark, Swefive in the morning. It sounds boring den, Paris, Belgium... and then we but it’s actually quite a lot of fun, you finished the tour in America. know, just chilling out with a nice I also did a project with the Britglass of wine and Scrabble. ish Council which was bringing UK artists and UK music together with What social issues are important to African music and seeing the simiyou? larities, the differences and what inSome of them are quite difficult to fluences we take from African music. write about and address but I’ve al- That was amazing because there were ways been asked to speak, especially 14 artists and they were all famous in in interviews, about different things. their own countries. They came here First of all, I’m vegetarian, so I don’t to the Roundhouse in Camden for think a lot of the food industry is fair a few weeks and we came up with a on animals. I don’t wear fur. I’m real- piece which was talking about social


issues like sexism, racism, commercialism, all kinds of stuff and they actually had them singing in Swahili in some of the parts and in English in some bits. Then we travelled to the countries the artists were from. We went to Cameroon, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zanzibar and Ethiopia. Do you have any musical influences in your family? Well both my parents are definitely frustrated performers. Although they don’t actually sing. We always had instruments in the house. I played the clarinet and a little bit of piano when I was younger.

It’s a very cutthroat industry, very competitive. And for a female, it can be positive and negative.

then I just wouldn’t do it, because it’s a very cut-throat industry, very What’s been your favourite moment competitive. And for a female, it can performing? be positive and negative. I mean, it’s There have been a lot, but the most a very male-dominated industry on recent one was when I supported Nthe business side so sometimes it’s Dubz in concert at the Shepherd’s good being a female because you Bush Empire. That was really great stand out, and then other times it’s because a lot of the time my fan base not good because you might not be is quite old and it was a lot of under taken seriously just because of the 18s. It was a wicked vibe and they all fact that it is so male-dominated. had little glow sticks. I was quite surEven now a lot of the artists in the prised because I thought ‘Sea Sick’ UK that are at the top of the charts was kind of new, but they were all are all guys. It’s a very hard industry singing along. but it’s about making yourself unique and if you really do want to do muWhat is your advice to young girls sic then just go with it and put your who want to get up in the music busiheart and soul into it. If you don’t ness? give it your all then you won’t get it First of all, I’d say from a working all back. It’s just like what you put in, perspective, if you’re not somebody you get back. who likes to work hard, and if you’re not confident in your own ability,


went and slept with a black man, for example, so their white mum has moved to a black area, so then they identify more with black people and think that they’re more black, or I’ve got another friend who was taken in by her white grandparents and raised by them so she feels more white. One time I was sat round the Christmas table and I thought, rah! We’ve never felt any different. We’ve never been made to feel any different and I actually felt ashamed of myself for thinking that, because never once have any of my family made me feel like I was different or any of that. So I’m proud and I feel lucky and so blessed.

Tell us about your single ‘Colours’ It was gonna be a skit. We just started jamming and mucking about. Then realised, that’s a really good tune! I’d been singing the first few lines in my head over and over again, but had never written down the track. Then I sat with my guitarist and wrote the whole thing in about five minutes. I thought it’s so organic, it’s so me, that I’m going to take that track and write the rest of my tracks like that and just keep it real, instead of trying to jump on a bandwagon. I thought, let me just strip it all back and I’m very, very happy with what we’ve got.


Keeping it real

We are K.I.R., an upcoming female poetry group with five members all aged 15. We’re called K.I.R. because we keep it real: all our poems are to do with issues young people face and how it affects us; our poems demonstrate our opinions about the issues we see on a day-to-day basis. We also keep it real by the way we deliver our poems in terms of our body language and use of slang, which is aimed at a certain type of audience that the issues concern. Living in Hackney is what inspired us to write our poems to start with, issues that we are exposed to and situations our peers face on a daily basis.


It’s hard to put a level of importance on any of the issues we write about because they’re all huge concerns to us and most people, but the issue that affects us the most is gun and knife crime. The experience of losing people has made our poems more meaningful and come across stronger. We’ve not yet come across another female group who are doing what we do, however we have seen individual females perform poetry in various places. We like poetry that has a powerful message and is written to relate to specific readers and inspire them. We prefer poems that get straight to the point. Some of our favourite poets

are Maya Angelou, John Agard and Benjamin Zephaniah. We originally came together as a group in school and started writing poems. We were asked to perform for an achievement event and went on from there. Our first public performance was for our local youth club, Concorde Centre’s annual showcase at BSix College back in 2008. When we were on stage we were just pumped up and ready to go and deliver our message. However, we were all so nervous - nervous about what the audience would think of a group of girls coming on stage to do poetry but their response was really positive and it pushed us

forward to do more poems. Our favourite performance was at this year’s Boroughs United event at the Hackney Empire. We performed “Wah gwarn for these girls” poem and came first place in the MC/Spoken word category. We were very excited and pleased with our achievement. With winning this event and our performances to date it has increased our popularity and made us more well known. Also, the performance that we will always keep close to our hearts was performing at the Robert Levy Foundation event, in front of his parents and family as one of our poems makes reference to him. See page 28 for a poem by K.I.R.


Princess of rap Nothing is impossible for 15 year old Lil Simz who has already worked with some of the biggest names in music, bagged a part in new show Spirit Warriors on CBBC and has an album out this year. Interview by Shatoya Marié Rose and Gordon Adeyemi Don’t let the name Lil Simz fool you. The Princess of Rap is tall, confident and will one day rule over UK music. She was first crowned Best UK Unsigned Act in 2005. Since then she has stacked up performances alongside artist like N-Dubz, Chipmunk and Ms Dynamite. Where did you get the name Lil Simz from? Well, Simz kind of rolled off the back of my real name, Simby, and the Little, well, I used to be short and I started music very young. I began with that name so I thought it would be cool if I kept it even though I’ve grown taller. How does it feel to be in the spotlight at such a young age? Privileged, because not a lot of people get the opportunity to do this. A lot of people start at my age and don’t actually blow until they are older, like, a couple of years down the line. So it’s good being in the position I’m

A lot of people start at my age and don’t actually blow until they are older in and I’m happy where I’m at. Which artists have you worked with so far? I’ve worked with quite a few artists - the likes of Sway, a lot of singers, rappers, just been on a lot of people’s tracks and stuff, doing remixes. Yeah, and I’ve featured in a couple of music videos.


What artists would you like to work with? I’d really like to work with Drink. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I see myself being 25. Nah, I’m joking. But yeah, like, hopefully a sort of music icon, a role model to the younger generation. What type of role model? Someone that’s encouraging and someone young people can look up to and be inspired by what that person is doing. How do you see yourself achieving your goals? I see myself staying focussed and keeping my eye on the prize and set-


ting myself goals. Like, set yourself goals, weekly goals. Because what I notice is that when you set yourself goals in the long run, you lose momentum and you lose determination and focus. If you set yourself weekly goals and stuff then it’s achievable. What are your goals this week? Complete all my coursework. That’s my goal for this week. Get all my coursework out of the way. Is it difficult keeping up with school when you are doing so much other stuff? It’s a lot of work but you have to prioritise and really lock off certain things like, it’s hard being a teenager then doing music and balancing it, it’s a lot, like if my friends are going

I do love acting, but not as much as music. Maybe it’s because I started music before I got into the acting out, I can’t always be there. I can’t always be present due to either doing music or school work. So it’s a lot of prioritising. What are you studying? French, Drama and Sociology. Are you looking to go on to college? Yeah. I’d like to try and do law or photography. What are you working on at the moment? At the moment I just finished shooting my first official video, which we’re looking to bring out in March. That’s really cool. That’s for a song of mine called ‘Fall to the Floor’ and that’s gonna be the single. And also my CBBC programme, Spirit Warriors, has launched.

How did you get into it? Well I do acting as well and I have an agent, but I auditioned for it. I had to go through three rounds and I got call backs so I ended up getting the part. If you could choose rapping or acting, which one would you pick? Music, because I feel that’s my zone. I like to be acting on the side but music is my career path, something I definitely want to pursue. But acting is like a bonus. I quite like to be myself. Playing different characters all the time, I’m not too sure. I do love acting, but not as much as music. Maybe it’s because I started music before I got into the acting or I’m more advanced at music. I don’t know but I just prefer it. Who inspires you in music? I look up to people like Lauren Hill, take it way back to like Rock Shanté, Slick Rick, people like that like old school hip-hop. Out of the new school hip-hop I’d say like Jay Z. You can listen to Lil Simz spitting on the Contrast blog: If you’d like to find out more about her check out her myspace:


Film Review: Dubplate Drama Many young people are perceived as demonic entities with no moral ethics or common sense. How often do you read stories where young people are being praised - not punished? How many young people are recognised, instead of accused? The controversial film, Dubplate Drama, explores the reasons why so many teenagers are heavily scrutinised and portrays the lives of young people in and around London and the decisions they often have to make. It was first screened in 2009 but the special screening at Rich Mix in February gave the audience a chance to vote for an alternative ending. The film written and directed by Luke Hyams, creator of The Hidden City, narrates the life of grime group, The Fam.


As soon as The Fam hit number one, an abundance of drink, drugs and obliging groupies follows. Each member of The Fam basks in their new-found glory, which unfortunately hits back at them. They become too concerned about themselves to realise The Fam are in turmoil. The Fam was co-founded by Devil, played by Charles Mnene, an upand-coming actor often recognised for his portrayal of gangsters. Still in touch with his roots, Devil plays the game and isn’t really too concerned about the music business, placing more importance on how he is perceived on the block where he grew up. Laurissa (Tulisa Contostavlos) is billed as the first lady of The Fam, but

singing isn’t truly her passion. Thrust into the limelight by her boyfriend, the group’s manager, Prangers (Ricci Harnett), Laurissa feels trapped but still manages to put on a good face for her adoring public. The girlfriend of late rapper Bones, Laurissa’s relationship with Prangers comes about when she is at her lowest point and he strategically uses drugs to control her. The pivotal point in the film comes when cocky front man of The Fam, Mikey (Darragh Mortell) is stabbed in the back - literally and the audience are left to decide his fate: should Millz (Isaac Ssebandeke), one of the co-founders of The Fam, stay and revive him or should he run and save himself. If he stays and revives him it’s likely Mikey will ‘never let him get away with it’ and report him for attempted murder. If he runs,

As soon as The Fam hit number one, an abundance of drink, drugs and obliging groupies follows. he can pretend he was never there but at the risk of Mikey dying. The audience is forced to feel empathy for the characters and live out the consequences of their choices with them. Overall, Dubplate Drama was interesting, at times the acting was questionable (and so was the humour) but it’s undeniable that the event appealed to its target demographic: young people. It was blunt and gave the audience an insight into the reality many young people face. The excessive swearing was not always necessary and occasionally took away from the intensity of the scenes. The plot was evocative of Fallout and Adulthood but still unique in its own right; personally I wouldn’t rank it as the top urban drama but it’s still worth a watch.


Theatre Review: Anna Fiorentini’s Variety Show On 7th February a spotlight was beaming down on Hackney Empire as Anna Fiorentini presented a fantastic variety performance that showcases young people’s talent through dance, singing, acting... and raving! The annual event is presented by the Anna Fiorentini Theatre, Performing Arts, Stage and Film School. The style of the show was a bit like a musical, with a selection of movie scenes played between performances. It was a perfect mix of high-brow drama and physical performances: some of the young actors successfully performed challenging pieces, such as extracts from Shakespeare’s Hamlet and others brought action in the form of stage combat. The performances were mindblowing. Everyone enjoyed them. Seeing so much talent proves what young people are capable of when they are confident and express themselves with their mind and soul. Seeing accomplished youngsters, some of whom were only six years old, perform so well, is overwhelming


and at times hilarious, especially when they played different, older roles. In fact, the best thing was that the whole show was so entertaining. I never got bored, and didn’t even think about a toilet break! The opportunity that the young people receive from the Anna Fiorentini School means they are blessed with the opportunity to experience the world of performing arts. That day was a time for them shine, to show the audience what they can do. They all defiantly proved their worth. The urban, fun vibe on stage was infectious. They had brought a flavour of Michael Jackson to the show and ended the performance with a choir singing his legendary music. What Anna Fiorentini’s Variety Show demonstrates is how talent and hard work can bring a range of performances together, unite different ages and appeal to a range of people. It was wonderful to experience such an energetic, youthful and inspiring evening. Shantel Cherebin

Review: Dalston Songs Dalston Songs is a brilliant and wellexecuted experiment by songwriter and composer, Helen Chadwick. She used interviews and voice clips from refugees living in her town, Dalston, as inspiration for this piece. It was not so much a play with a linear story line, but more of a collection of songs with the aim of inciting reflection within the audience. The structure was this: a heavily-accented voice clip would be played (with the voices of people from across the world, including a Palestinian, an Italian, a Kurd and a Turk). Then four men and women would sing and perform a harmonised piece that reflected on the clip. Sometimes the songs would use purely the words which were heard on the clip, sometimes using Chadwick’s own original words.

was explored visually with the help of choreographer Steven Hoggett, whose direction seemed at times a little stifled and subdued, yet was befitting of the topic.

The effect of this was quite haunting. The stage was set as a dark, brooding café in the midst of Dalston, which brought together the melting pot of cultures that define the area. The sensitive subject of cultural identity

If you are into abstract plays and enjoy touching issues being delivered to you in a refreshing way, then this is the play for you.

The voice clips left by refugees touched on a range of subjects, all centred on the confusing notion of ‘what is home?’ The atmosphere created by the stage set, lighting and haunting music was quite melancholy; however, parts of the play were given comic relief, for example when the women sang a song depicting a refugee’s confusion using lots of ‘ummmmm’s , ‘ahh’s and ‘I mean’. The audience also chuckled when the men sang a short song about preferring mashed potatoes to a friend.

Lara Akinnawo


Review: Boroughs United

Boroughs United is an annual talent show that aims to bring people together and help break down the barriers between neighbourhoods. Young people aged 5 to 21 from across all London boroughs come to the Hackney Empire every year to show off their talent and hard work in an event packed with tight dance routines, and notes Mariah Carey would be proud of.

The main aim of the show is to highlight young talent, as in the past their talent has often been overshadowed by crime statistics. Young people who take part in the event are on a ‘protest’, a protest against how people discriminate against the areas that they live in. Hackney has recently received bad press due to its crime levels, but shows like this allow young people to venture away from the streets, as


they feel pressured into wanting to become part of a positive movement, rather than negative activities. The show, without doubt, was spectacular: every act had a unique style and rhythm. There was poetry, dance groups and budding songwriters - all of them were truly good at what they did. However, there was one act that stood out for me, and that was Evanescence dance group. The dancers were aged between 5 and 10, but sure could shake what their mama gave them! They did a tribute to the late King of Pop Michael Jackson, and danced to hits such as Thriller and Dirty Diana. Their moves were smooth and well choreographed, and you could tell that they put 100% effort into their routine. The idea of the dancers being so young showed that they too are trying to make a difference, and they want to change the way that young people are perceived. If you would like to get involved in the next show please contact the Hackney Empire 020 8985 2424, and from here you could make a difference.

Tskenya Fraser

Book & Film Review: The Road Who needs to watch the film, when thanks to Cormac McCarthy’s vivid descriptions, reading The Road is like imagining your own movie playing out in your head. McCarthy’s style of writing is so effective because there is no use of dialogue, just embedded speech and this helps to create meaning and a mood of unhappiness. The story is about a man and his son trying to escape a deserted, postapocalyptic world to find hope. It’s hard to understand how they got there and neither the book or the movie reveal how and why the world

is like that. It is kept as a mystery and may leave you confused when you watch the film. But when you read the book, it has a different effect: it makes you curious; it makes you want to find out more. Unlike the novel, the film doesn’t give you a proper insight into what is going on and it misses out some parts of the book. There are some exciting and dramatic scenes in the film adaptation, but unfortunately it doesn’t live up to the book and so some people may find it disappointing. Anne-Marie Oni-Ulusola


Boys Put down your guns and knives.

We don’t wanna see people lose their lives. It’s all tears and suffering in pain. Everyday it’s the same old thing

People are losing their lives out there.

You say you’re a bad man who don’t care! You’re giving us youths a bad reputation. Carrying knives we know is temptation. Money, postcodes and girls! Wait - postcodes?

You mean that thing you write letters to Rahhh!

Is that all you think about in your world? Most dead youths are innocent ones.

Mothers out there keep losing their sons. Why waste your time in bins or hell

When you can grow old and have good stories to tell? Look at our young loved brother.

He died on my birthday the 16th of September. A friend we shall always remember: His name was Robert Levy.

The amount of family and friends that were left to cry. No-one deserves this pain.

This pain that comes again, again and again.


What gave him!

The boy that killed him

The right to use a knife?

The guts to take our young brother’s life? He wanted to be an architect.

A young man at sixteen, you would never expect. These boys say they can’t simply resist. They entitle it as an everlasting bliss.

But killing someone ain’t no walk in the park. How many mothers are left in the dark ?

We talk of street war like it’s the only one of its kind. Emotional distress, not in the right frame of mind. Domestic violence, many suffer in silence. Verbal bullying, including name-calling.

Physical abuse leads to numbers of youths reduced. They say forget and forgive,

But how do you forget someone you’ve lived with? Many think revenge is the way,

But you have to understand life ain’t no X-BOX game to play Playstation 3, Nintendo DS that’s good for now, But it will never replace a long lost pal.

So we’re gonna sum this up with a powerful message To all you youths this is dedicated!



London Eye Poem As I stand in the eye of London All my troubles fly away: the fights at home, the shouts and fear lift as I’m rising, higher and higher with not a care in the world. The ants I now see crawling along, I smile, imitate the giant I’ve now become: stomping and roaring as they fall one by one, being crushed the same way they crushed my emotions and confidence. Making me feel so small - worth nothing. As I stand in the eye of London. Moving anti-clockwise, right at the top, I’m now queen of the world, my ten-year-old imagination soon fading as I am coming back to my nightmare. Back to the ground where I started. I feel the butterflies in my belly come back, the bad butterflies, that make me scared. The type of scared, whenever daddy comes home. I can taste the salty air, makes my mouth water. I close my eyes and see mummy smiling back at me, holding her arms out and calling me. I open them and see nothing just another little girl run to her mother. I step off the platform of the eye Thinking why I didn’t jump into the river where I can flow to happiness, feel free.

Chanice Browne


How to find us: Every Monday 5:00 - 7:00pm The Blue Hut 49 Provost Street, N1 7NZ For more details visit our blog: Contrast is published by Social Spider. Social Spider is a Community Interest Company registered in England, No 4846529. The views expressed in Contrast do not necessarily reflect those of Social Spider or Hackney Council. © 2010 Social Spider Community Interest Company ISSN 1754-0623 Contrast is printed on paper that comes from sustainable sources and is monitored by the Forest Stewardship Council, an international organisation that promotes the responsible management of the world’s forests. Advertising: If your organisation is interested in advertising, please call Stephen on 020 8521 7956 or email: Download our media pack from for information on our rates and specifications. Printing managed by: Ten Alps Publishing, 9 Savoy Street, London, WC2E 7HR Tel: 020 7878 2300. Contrast team: Anne-Marie Oni-Olusola, Toyin Oni-Olusola, Abi Oyéwumi, Elsa Mampuya, Rhasan Brunner, Lara Akinnawo, Phoebe Ryan-Faal, Bianca Manu, Symone-Monet Codrington, Shatoya Marié Rose, Merzan Roudette, Charlie Day, Chloe Mercier, and Gordon Adeymi. Contrast assistant designers: Merzan Roudette and Gordon Adeymi. Contrast photographers: Charlie Day and Chloe Mercier. Contrast staff team: Mark Brown, David Floyd, Stephen Gardiner & Anna Selby. The Contrast team would like to thank: Hackney Council and SkyWay. Contrast is funded by Hackney Youth Opportunity Fund, which is managed by young people in Hackney Youth Service. Contrast is supported by: SkyWay, Hackney Libraries and Exposure Organisation Limited.

Contrast issue 16  

New interview with Contrast magazine packed with interviews with SOS, NY, Lil Simz, Alex Mills and K.I.R.

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