Live Report: Born & Bred Festival 2016

London's bass showcase continues to impress...

East London is always changing, yet always the same. Winding our way to Rinse | Born & Bred, the route to Haggerston Park is marked by boutique coffee shops and cut-price chicken shops, often separated by just a brick wall. It’s a sharply juxtaposed scene, but one reflected in the festival itself, in which London’s bass culture lineage is fused with new generation grime fans, curious onlookers, and more.

While the build up to Rinse | Born & Bred has been rather rocky, the event itself seems remarkably laid back. The site is compact, and easy to navigate, with each tent handed over to a different promoter. Lord Of The Mics showcase some ferocious new talent, with AJ Tracey’s set underlining his status as an MC to watch. Over on the Livin’ Proof stage the London promoters showcase some of the finest hip-hop around, while the main stage acts as a platform for some of the scene’s biggest names.

Lady Leshurr seems to gain more hype with each passing day, and the Midlands MC certainly underlines her status with a taut, attitude-laden set. Back by two dancers, Leshurr is at her cheeky best, shouting out her Birmingham crew while remaining respectful of her E2 surroundings.

Mikell Pane brings the fire over on the Livin’ Proof stage, while his compatriot iLoveMakonnen emphasises the shared roots between London and Stateside scenes. Benga’s main stage appearance is one of the weekend’s more emotional moments, with the dubstep pioneer battling back from severe health issues to resume his place in the bass pantheon.

Aiming to reflect the pirate nature of bass culture, Rinse | Born & Bred never feels entirely under control – line up switches are common, with some high profile acts (step forward, Wiley) failing to turn up. P Money’s slot is switched, and the grime don seems to revel in the atmosphere of the main stage. Backed by Slimzee, his ‘FUXX AZEALIA BANKS’ tee gains one of the weekend’s biggest cheers – and his set more than matches the couture.

Newham Generals have spent more than a decade shelling in raves, and they’re not about to stop now. D Double E and Footsie are on supreme form, with the former’s signal sign of ‘Bluku Bluku’ echoing across the field all evening.

With Wiley remaining AWOL, it’s left to Congo Natty to lead a crack crew of junglists on the main stage. It’s both a history lesson and a vital cross section of the new breed, with Iron Dread spitting over a set that ranges from vital hardcore to 2k16 grime. Making sure to give the current grime crew a shout out, Congo Natty nonetheless drops some prime jungle to keep the crowd on their feet – who’da thought UK Apache was big in the jungle? Some sounds will never lose their potent appeal.

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We enter Haggerston park via Hackney City Farm for day two of Rinse | Born & Bred, where there’s a nice juxtaposition of kids pointing at donkeys and quacking ducks, and a guy in a Palace tee chucking up into a bush nearby. The sun’s out, it’s 26 degrees and it couldn’t be a better day to soak up some of London’s homegrown sounds.

Narrowly missing Murlo on the buttons (should’ve woken up an hour earlier…), Clash navigates through the Burberry bikinis and lobster-red shoulders in the crowd to catch Kahn and Neek doing what they do best. The pair deliver an sub-rattling set packed with dubplates (including this one (!) and Spyro’s ‘Side By Side’). Josey Rebelle takes over from there and drops some acid in music form, but we head into the Big Top to catch a rare-ish set from Mssingno. Unfortunately the sound in there is pretty poor, but that doesn’t stop the crowd going wild to cuts from his XL-released ‘Fones’ EP and his rework of Cashmere Cat’s ‘Adore’.

It feels criminal to be sheltered from the sun in the tent, though, so instead we lounge in front of the main stage with jerk and frozen margaritas. Crazy Cousinz hit the decks with Kyla, and it predictably goes off when they play Drake’s sample of choice ‘Do You Mind’, while Katy B emerges later as the special guest. Youngsta makes way for Swamp 81 Allstars – with Mickey Pearce, Loefah, Klose One and Jonny Banger all churning straight fire to Haggerston park.

Novelist and Vision Crew ensure that every Rinse | Born & Bred attendee leaves with a copy of Nov’s Ruff Sound manifesto: his new sound that’s a descendent of grime but at a faster 152 -160 BPM – and their energy is huge. The festival’s climax is a big one, and a grime fan’s wet dream: Jammer, Footsie, Prez T, D Double E, and more storm the stage with Logan Sama on deck duty.

Though there’s a couple of things Born & Bred could improve on – all the set time switch-ups and slightly poor sound in places – but for its second run (and with all the Azealia Banks-related troubles the organisers have faced), here’s hoping it goes from strength to strength in years to come.

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All-star cast assemble… @bornandbredldn #bornandbredldn

A video posted by Clash Magazine (@clashmagazine) on

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Words: Robin Murray / Felicity Martin

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