As a celebration of London’s bass culture, from D&B heroes to grime newcomers, Rinse | Born & Bred is testament to the strength and breadth of the scene. This year, the second edition of the Haggerston Park event saw the programme expanding to two days.
Understandably, grime was particularly well represented over the weekend. The Lord of the Mics tent was where the new school got to show off, with Jammz, Big Zuu, AJ Tracey, Jay Amo and YGG all doing their thing. AJ in particular seems possessed of all the elements required to be a great MC, effortless stage presence being chief among those.
Some of those guys also pitched up during Jammer’s Lord of the Mics mainstage showcase on Sunday evening, along with a whole host of other guest MCs including Discarda and President T. D Double E was on double duty, having already turned in a fire Newham Generals set with Footsie the previous day.
Nadia Rose also took the mainstage by storm, kicking off acapella due to technical problems (shout out to the beatboxer!) before sending the crowd wild with ‘Big N Serious’. Later on, P Money held it down for London by turning up in a ‘Fuck Azealia Banks’ t-shirt and going in hard over Slimzee’s pitch perfect selections.
Novelist’s charisma and stage presence is undeniable (not to mention that white tracksuit), but right now he still has some work to do as a live act. His “no tunes, just bars” approach is commendable in a sense, but it results in a stop-start set that never builds enough momentum, even when Visions Crew pack the stage for a demonstration of his new ‘Ruff Sound Movement’. His former crew The Square actually fared a lot better, bringing the energy but also bringing tunes, not least Elf Kid’s fizzy ‘Golden Boy’.
Now no festival is perfect, and there were definitely a few organisational issues. I don’t want to speculate over the extent that Azealia Banks’ dismissal (handled with some class by the festival, I might add) might have been disruptive, but suffice to say it can’t have been easy for a small festival to deal with losing a headliner at such late notice, whatever the circumstances.
Of course, the ever-elusive Wiley also missed his own headline slot, but honestly by this point I think I’d actually have been more surprised if he showed up. The set times not being released until the last possible minute, the bar tokens system – both of these were minor issues, but the main problem was the volume levels on Saturday, especially in the Lord of the Mics tent. Thankfully this was rectified on Sunday.
Ultimately the music was where Rinse | Born & Bred won out, as it was always going to be. Saturday headliner iLoveMakonnen stood out not just as the only non-UK act on the lineup, but as one of the most endearing end energetic performances of the weekend. He seemed genuinely humble and honoured to be topping the bill at this celebration of UK music, and leftfield hits like ‘I Don’t Sell Molly No More’ and ‘Tuesday’ went down a treat.
Kahn & Neek played a set full of dubplates and dark bangers from the likes of Commodo and Zomby, before finishing up with some ridiculous grime megamix. The biggest reception was saved for two unreleased tunes – Riko Dan’s forthcoming collaboration with The Bug, and a Kahn & Neek version of Sir Spyro’s ‘Topper Top’. Overall it was a strange contrast with the strong midday sun, but difficult not to get swept along with.
For me, the absolute highlight of the festival was the Swamp 81 All-Stars set on the mainstage. Klose One, Benton, Lamont, Cousin, Mickey Pearce and Jonny Banger all on deck, with Loefah overseeing proceedings like a cheery uncle. It struck the perfect balance between heaviness and summer vibes, and had me desperate to ID about half the stuff they played.
I can’t help but think that doing a more concentrated, one day festival might have been a better option. But for Rinse | Born & Bred to get this many great acts together, especially at such a low ticket price, was a great achievement. It was impossible to escape the feeling of togetherness and collaboration across the weekend, with so many acts turning up for each other’s sets. This summer seems plagued by identikit festival lineups, but the same definitely can’t be said of Rinse | Born & Bred. More next year please.
Images: Chazino Suban
Words: Cosmo Godfree