Rapper Kojey Radical believes young black artists could suffer the most as the live music industry struggles to bounce back amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Cashmere Tears rapper has teamed up with Kopparberg and Music Venue Trust for their #SaveOurVenues campaign, which is working to prevent small and independent music venues from closing due to the global health crisis.
The live music industry has taken a significant hit in the UK with concert arenas prohibited from opening during lockdown.
Kojey knows what it’s like to rise from humble beginnings as a new artist performing to smaller crowds and fears other artists won’t enjoy the same experience.
‘The main thing that made me want to get involved is what’s it for and how is it being done in the sense of do I have creative freedom to do what I want and how I feel?’ Kojey told Metro.co.uk.
‘Also, what is the end goal?
He added: ‘There are a lot of things in life that benefit me and they’re cool, I enjoy them. But sometimes, especially the world we live in today, what you can do for things that are bigger than you can help you get up in the morning.
‘One of the venues on my tour actually closed down because of not being able to survive the pandemic and that was a big eye-opener for me because it’s such a personal thing as to why it’s important.’
The 27-year-old rapper went on to explain one particular venue in Manchester that was on his cancelled tour schedule has since closed during the pandemic.
‘That was a venue at the beginning of my career – maybe 500 or 600 [capacity] – and I always wanted to sell it out,’ Kojey revealed.
‘I tried three different times and I couldn’t sell it out until this time – maybe even quicker than London. I was like, “Wow, I finally done it”. Manchester felt different to me than the 3,000 in London because I had to graft to be able to sell the venue out.
‘As soon as I did, it closed down because of Covid. It was a big eye-opener for me because it’s less about us getting back on stage, it’s so many memories lost with these venues closing down.’
The Water rapper noted that many black artists struggled within the live music industry before Covid-19 due to the Met Police’s Form 696, a risk assessment document which clubs and promoters have been asked to complete when hosting events with MCs and DJs.
Many artists feel the form has been used as a way of racially profiling musicians although the Met Police has denied this in the past.
Kojey said: ‘There’s a big difference between how black music is treated in the UK and how music is treated in the UK.
‘There’s been enough attempts to have some kind of socially distanced shows but they get shut down quickly.’
He continued: ‘As much as I think smaller venues will be taking a hit, I also think that the ability for young black artists to put on shows are going to struggle as well.
‘But with every struggle, you can’t kill music. It will adapt and there will be a new system and way of doing things.
‘Before Covid, we were the only ones getting our s**t checked with the forms and police.’
Kojey said it’s up to the artists and brands ‘and people who say they care about underground and independent music’ to make a change.
‘Kopparberg are one of the only brands that has stood up and said we’re going out of our way now to support live music,’ the rapper stated, adding: ‘It’s about putting it where your mouth is because the world is changing.
‘Everyone should buy the t-shirts but understanding what you’re buying and doing to help.’
Kojey has designed a range of limited edition t-shirts which feature wolves roaming the dark forests, inspired by Kopparberg’s new dark fruit spiced rum.
All profits from sales of the t-shirts, costing £30 each, will be donated to the Music Venue Trust, who are fighting to keep grassroots music venues afloat.
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