INTERVIEW: The Bridge UK Hip-Hop Festival | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Sandy Duff by Matty Watson

The Bridge is all about unity. It’s in the name. We literally want to build bridges within the hip-hop scene.” Artist, DJ and Method Lounge instigator Sandy Duff knows all too well the importance of community; a vocal advocate for the region’s hip-hop scene, Sandy’s unparalleled knowledge and unwavering passion have led to him curating world-class events and working with artists new and established to further the hip-hop scene of the region.

Hip-hop, particularly the rap scene, is often seen a divisive, aggressive or at the very least intimidating,” he says. “However our experiences couldn’t be more different. Hip-hop is inclusive, you don’t need to be rich to spit bars, beatbox or dance. It’s open to everyone.”

Intended to be a real celebration of the culture of hip-hop, the free entry three-day festival runs from Friday 30th June-Sunday 2nd July across six venues in Newcastle. “The Bridge celebrates hip-hop culture and its impact. It is an intergenerational event, covering foundation to contemporary innovators, exploring its influence on music, art and dance. On top of lots of live performances there will be workshops, talks, demos and film screenings giving attendees an opportunity to participate, learn and share.” Sandy explains.

The Bridge celebrates hip-hop culture and its impact. It is an intergenerational event

We have an unreal line-up including some brilliant breakers, dope emcees, DJs and writers. I’m particularly excited to be getting a couple of true legends up for this in the form of Blak Twang and Blade. These guys have soundtracked some important parts of my life and it’s a privilege to be working with them on this. I’m also buzzing to be having Shell Toe Mel coming down to lead some workshops and spin some tunes, she’s got such awesome vibes about her, really looking forward to seeing what she brings.”

The launch night at Zerox will be presented by NE Rising and UK rap legend Blade’s 05:21 hip-hop channel, featuring performances from Blade himself alongside local favourites Kay Greyson, Abi Nyxx, Reali-T, Sisi, Eyeconic, Fletchy, Donald Jenkins and more. Saturday at Star & Shadow Cinema will include workshops, film screenings and performances from Blak Twang and Shortie Blitz, Soul’d Out featuring Holly Flo Lightly, DJ ADS, Drop Dead Fred, Shell Toe Mel, King Fred and more. Food is also a key part of the event: on Saturday an all-day live graffiti jam at Biscuit Tin Studios will include a street food menu courtesy of Fed’s fried chicken; plus there’s a sketchbook session at The Tanners (aka ‘Scranners’) Arms; and on Sunday, legendary burger maestros Meat:Stack present live music from The Vinyl Vandals and friends.

Part of the catalyst for the event comes from 2023 marking the 50th year of hip-hop. Sandy’s keen that old and new generations come together to celebrate their similarities as well as their differences. “Sometimes it’s important to take the time to appreciate each other a bit more. That’s where local events like The Bridge, Just Jam and TUSK are vital as they not only provide amazing line-ups and awesome gigs but also create the opportunity for the people within the scenes to connect, share, learn and take an active part in their culture.”

The Bridge Hip-Hop Festival takes place at venues in Newcastle from Friday 30th June-Sunday 2nd July.


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