Joshua Owolabi is planning a rap battle event in Walthamstow to help give talented young musicians a platform
Young musicians can face a daunting challenge navigating their way through a sprawling and complex industry – or simply finding a way to stand out from the crowd.
Nineteen-year-old Joshua Owolabi is determined to help give talented local rappers a platform to perform and put them in front of industry professionals, as well as guide them through the musical maze on the way to long-term success.
As a student last year at Big Creative Education (BCE) in Blackhorse Lane, Joshua pitched his business idea in front of judges, Dragon’s Den-style.
“My idea was to host a rap battle event in Walthamstow,” he says. “I wanted to create something where people can go on to get recognised, to create a platform for them and increase their exposure – helping them to become musicians. I want to help young people to build something for themselves.”
The first rap battle event, called Battle Clash UK, is set to be held at Yonder in Hooker’s Road. It will be open to young people aged 16 to 21 years, with 15 places up for grabs via auditions.
Joshua says: “It is about giving people a belief in themselves. They can get used to performing in front of people. It is about getting recognised and creating a space for the next generation of artists in the UK.
“I want to create that platform for them. I want it to be a yearly event and I’d love it to be on TV or Netflix one day. I have been networking and have been in touch with record companies about getting them to send people down to the event.
“I am not a rapper myself – I am a business-minded person and a creative person and I am a networker; someone who likes to help other people succeed.”
What is it about performing at live events that can make a difference for aspiring musicians?
“I think it is one thing to have talent, but it is another thing to know how the industry works. You see a lot of people with talent making good music but they don’t know the business side of it and they might make deals with record labels that don’t work very well for them in the long-term. You need to have knowledge of how the industry works.
“With live events there is still a big market for it. It is one thing to be able to post a video on Instagram but to be successful you have to be able to perform at live events – it shows your real character.”
The winner of Battle Clash UK will get a small cash prize and the chance to get their music produced professionally.
“We will have auditions at BCE. There are at least 100 people there who are into rapping. The winner will get a small cash prize and they can get their music produced professionally. I am going to do some outreach with other colleges around Walthamstow as well, such as Sir George Monoux and Waltham Forest College. I will come in to talk to music students there.”
Joshua won support and funding from UnLtd, the foundation for social entrepreneurs, with Cheryl Ndione acting as one of the judges when he first pitched his business idea. “Cheryl and UnLtd have been really helpful, the advice they give is really helpful and through them I have met other entrepreneurs.”
This article is supported by William Morris Big Local in association with UnLtd, the foundation for social entrepreneurs. To find out more about UnLtd:
Call 0207 566 1100