YOU ARE HERE NOW / Hip Hop? In Worthing?

Hi, my name is Elijah. Although if you know me for my music, you might call me Nelson Navarro. Last year I released my debut EP Olive Boy, created and inspired by several of my closest friends.

Until pretty recently there wasn’t much hip hop coming out of Worthing, and quite a few of our town’s lyrical flag bearers are people I know and am proud to make music with. There’s not a whole lot of us. I don’t pretend to know all of the talented rappers in our area – but the ones I do know are absolutely smashing it.

I find it impossible to speak on any aspect of the music scene in Worthing without mentioning Northbrook College. Right now, nowhere else provides such a hub for creative people here, and one of the prerequisites for any scene is a melting pot where different talents and influences fuse together to form something coherent and new. People I met from Northbrook had a massive impact on me, as you can see from Olive Boy: 3 out of the 4 features were supplied by fellow Northbrook students. The one exception to this, is Lacy (aka Joe White), who stands out by pushing a movement and a positive message in his hometown. His message –  #YoungAndHungry – defines his hunger for success and a determination to achieve it in a town like Worthing, that can lack the opportunities for young people to do so. Professing his past on tracks like Snuff A Plate and bringing soothing vibes on Alright, Lacy is a rapper with a knack for telling stories and, with a collection of Worthing-shot videos already up on YouTube, is building a catalogue of straight bangers.

Another Worthing mainstay with relentless energy is Connor Curry, aka Levz, a solitary stalwart of Worthing’s minute grime scene for the last couple of years. Popping up online with freestyles on YouTube channels 1TimeTV and working with Apex on latest track Have Mercy, up on 2TokeTV. Proudly promoting the only grime nights I’ve ever seen in Worthing, he even teamed up with local band The Etcetera to do a remake of classic Gorillaz hit, Feel Good Inc.. Frequent collaborator with Levz, John Standen aka Kon has started appearing on Worthing’s burgeoning hip hop radar, with tracks up on Soundcloud, a freestyle on 2TokeTV, and a mixtape in the works to be released later this year.

The man behind 2TokeTV is Phobia aka Nathan Scotts who not only designs visuals and cover art for many South Coast MCs but also handles filming and editing videos to upload to his channel, while running newly established clothing brand ICON.

Not forgetting producers, CrateZombie aka Chris Bryan is making banging lo-fi beats and uploading videos of instrumentals and MPC performances every week, with a selection of top cartoon and anime visuals to boot.

For any scene to succeed venues are key and Bar 42, the go to venue for small and independent shows in Worthing, seems to be the only space for the new wave of artists to perform to their friends and fans. For hip hop – and any new music – to take root it is imperative that we establish enough spaces to rootgive variety and uniqueness to individual performances. We need more late night venues and an eclectic selection of nightlife to grab people’s interest and entice them into our fledgling culture.

The scope of hip hop across the South Coast extends both East and West however, with people like Kayne Warner aka K.A. spitting with dexterous flow in Littlehampton; iDP aka Warren Damerell crafting hip hop and grime beats that have been used by MCs across the country; Alex Goodger aka Guja releasing his debut LP Loud Mouth South out of Hove and Phonetic aka Sade Weaver making serious noise as a rapper who’s proved herself able to school anyone on the mic in Portslade.

Then there’s me. On 30 November I released my debut EP Olive Boy; The project features 3 MCs from Worthing, was produced, engineered and mastered by me in my hometown and has gained its prime listenership from Worthing (Soundcloud’s analytics). The launch night was held in Brighton but the crowd was a sea of faces from all over, with support from a huge amount of friends from Worthing, which I am forever grateful for.

In writing this article, it has become clear that as of right now, there is no ‘scene’ in Worthing for hip hop – yet. We’re just getting started. What we need now are more rappers, more DJs, more producers, cameramen and content creators to come to the fore and take our town and the world by storm. The time is now, so let’s build it. If there’s not a scene yet, then there will be.

Elijah Peart is a producer, performer and multi instrumentalist, born and living in Worthing for 19 years. Want to hear his music? Search for “Olive Boy EP” on Spotify.