How rap music in Portsmouth is keeping youngsters out of trouble

STANDFIRST :MILLIE SALKELD meets a group of rap, grime and trap artists from Portsmouth who are are determined to change the genre’s reputation and help keep youngsters out of trouble through music. INTRO:Music industry professionals from Portsmouth have pooled their talents to offer young people the chance to make their own music and play gigs across the country.

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 12:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 5:11 pm

The sceheme is the brainchild of Zack Nailor from WR Studios, and David Farai and Kartel Derrick from APC Records/Visuals, all with skills in mix engineering, video making and music management.

Situated in Southsea, mix engineer Zack opened a music studio complete with booth, band room and chill-out area in 2015 and in the five years since has seen a wealth of talent walk through his doors.

The 28-year-old said: ‘There is so much talent in Portsmouth and we wanted to give people the chance to do their passion and raise the profile of rap and grime in the city.

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WR Studios in Delamere Road Southsea. Rapper Haze (aka Helio Costa), studio owner and music producer Zack Nailor and music video creator Kartel (aka Paul Mapfumo). Picture: Vernon Nash (010220-068)

‘There are lots of fans of the genre because there are artists in the main charts but people need to give their local artists support.’

The group also wants to give youngsters a place to go and a focus to stay out of trouble.

David, also 28, said: ‘When I was growing up in Portsmouth, there were places for young people to go and hang out and also record music.

‘But due to funding cuts, there isn’t as much of that around and now there are financial barriers in the way for people to follow their passions.

WR Studios in Delamere Road Southsea. In their podcasting area, music video creator Kartel (aka Paul Mapfumo), studio owner and music producer Zack Nailor and rapper Haze (aka Helio Costa). Picture: Vernon Nash (010220-064)

‘We wanted to remove that and make sure people had a place to go as well so they aren’t hanging around the streets and going down a certain path in life.’

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Former salesman Zack added: ‘One of the boys we record with has been a lot of trouble in his life but I said to him that this is a place he can come and and feel safe and now he is doing really well focusing on his music.’

The studio currently sees more than 50 people coming along to record and has even played host to rapper Ramz, known for hit single ‘Barking’, and who was a University of Portsmouth student.

WR Studios in Delamere Road Southsea. Rapper Haze (aka Helio Costa) recording in the sound proof booth. Picture: Vernon Nash (010220-065)

‘The studio isn’t finished yet but I want to add more of a kitchen area so even if people aren’t recording it is somewhere they can just come and hang out,’ Zack said. ‘It also means they hear each other’s music and can collaborate.’

Rap artist Kidcrayy, whose real name Kingsley Sokari, is one of the artists who is recorded and managed by the group, after a mic battle held in the city.

The 27-year-old Nigerian came to Portsmouth in 2012 and also got free recording for a year thanks to taking home the trophy at the mic battle event.

He said: ‘The free recording has been amazing and even now it is still way less than other places.

‘When I first started rapping I was using my phone and it sounded terrible but here you get a professional sound and help with videos and management.

‘It can be stressful doing it on your own so to have that support from everyone here is great and it is like a family.’

Another artist who has had success due to the joint work of WRS and APC is Helio Costa, who is originally from Portugal but grew up in Portsmouth with David.

Under the name Haze, the 28-year-old has released music on Spotify, Tidal and Apple.

He said: ‘I went along to an open mic event and won a year of free recording and it has just gone from there.

‘The lads are so supportive and last year I got to play Victorious Festival which was absolutely amazing.

‘To play live in my hometown and get such a great reaction was so good. Hopefully I can do more gigs and concerts this year.’

There is hope for more of their stars to grace the city’s stages in festivals across the summer and venues across the south with the creation of 023 Charts - the group’s events name in Portsmouth and Southampton.

Kartel said: ‘There is a reputation already for the type of music and so venues already pre-judge what kind of people we are and the fans of music.

‘They call it underground music but we want to show that it isn’t so we went with 023 Charts because it relates to Portsmouth and Southampton and isn’t just about grime.

‘We are just a genre of music like any other and we want to work with other people.’

The music studio has a band room where city groups play including Colour of the Jungle, who won runner-up for Best Band at this year’s Guide Awards.

Zack said: ‘You have rap artists listening to the bands rehearse and that is how collaborations come about.

‘There is a lot of support for small bands in Portsmouth and we want that for us as well. You have Icebreaker Festival which is absolutely amazing so we want to see that but for other genres across the city.

‘Supporting each other is how everyone does well in the industry.’

Podcasts and more music videos are on the cards for the group who are aiming to make this their best year yet.

Zack said: ‘It has taken a lot of work in the last five years to get where we are now and we aren’t giving up.

‘We have put our hands in our pockets to build what we have now and we want to keep going and grow the popularity of local rap music and show people what we are about.’