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St Helens celebrates The 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop

Posted on 10 Aug, 2023

The 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop Culture

St Helens is not a place that anyone would typically associate with Hip Hop culture, it is a town associated with glass, transport links, rugby, football and Johnny Vegas. Its achievements and impact of Hip Hip often get overlooked, which is one reason why it should celebrate the accomplishments of its talented artists over the last 50 years.

St Helens Break Dancers in the 1980s

St Helens was like many towns and cities across the UK that followed the craze of Break Dancing in the 1980s, inspired by the movies Breakin and Flash Dance, which featured the legendary Rocksteady Crew (USA)

The videos and the thriving Break Dance created super crews of dancers from St Helens including Freeze Force Crew, Hot Foot Rockers and Boogie Street.

Freeze Forces - Break Dancers in St Helens

The late 80s and 90s were all about the music, with pioneering DJs like DJ Chrome from Rainhill and DJ Rasp who is now an 8 Times UK DJ Champion, specialising in Turntablism known as scratch DJing.

DJ Paul Mulhern from Rainford with his innovative tape mix, who was way ahead of his time and passed away in 1987.

DJ Paul Mulhern

Chad Jackson known for hit song Hear the Drummer Get Wicked (No 3 in the UK singles Chart)

Hip Hop and Rap Group - The Shakti formed from St Helens, Rainhill and Liverpool artists

and finally Rapper Philly Whizz

In the 2000s, UC Crew (Now Powered by Hip Hop) was founded to continue Hip Hop culture in the town with events and classes in Break Dancing, DJing, Beatboxing and Graffiti Art.

UC Crew representing St Helens in Stuttgart

St Helens has hosted numerous International Break Dance and Hip Hop events at the much missed St Helens Festival (known as the Sherdley Show to the locals), Church Square and St Helens Town Hall as part of the Eurovision Programme.

Hip Hop nights and DJ Competitions were popular across the town centre in the 2000s in Bar X, The Assembly and Bar Java with Dex Nelson, DJ Wispa, DJ Kula and DJ Lazy.

DJ Wispa - https://www.mixcloud.com/DJWispa/dj-wispa-b-boy-hip-hop/

Bar X

From 2010 onwards UC Crew put St Helens on the world map competing in international Break Dancing competitions in Germany, Turkey, Bulgaria, Estonia and the Netherlands.

Following on from the success of the 2010s, DJ Tommy P-Nuts became a 9 x UK Champion

Paisley Kerswell reached the Quarter Finals of Britain’s Got Talent in 2016 with her Break Dancing routine

St Helens Rapper/Emcee ‘The Surgeon’ makes waves with his Track ‘These Streets’ in 2017

A member of UC Crew joined Boogie Storm and propelled them to reached the semi-finals 2019  

and finally Tommy P-Nuts becomes World Scratch DJing Champion in 2023

whilst Graffiti Artist Sie Daly (Kingsyze) established his career by creating many murals and exciting workshops over the last 10 years, which inspired the Heart of Glass to invest thousands of pounds into commissioning Graffiti Artists from across the UK to create murals in Parr.

Victoria Park St Helens
Parr Graffiti Mural

In 2023 rapper, poet, performer and creative director Ashleigh Nugent (The Shakti), released his debut Novel ‘Locks’.

The Liverpool Literacy Agent says “LOCKS won the 2013 Commonword Memoir Competition for its early extracts and is now receiving rave reviews in magazines and blogs. LOCKS is based on the time the author spent his 17th birthday in a Jamaican detention centre. It is now being reviewed by major publishers, which would make Ashleigh the first black male writer from Liverpool to have a traditional book deal in his genre.”

You can pick your copy up from your local library, book shops or here on Amazon

Locks by Ashleigh Nugent

We will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop with

Free Break Dancing workshops at Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot on Friday 11th August from 1:00-2:00 https://shakespearenorthplayhouse.co.uk/event/five-elements-a-hip-hop-youth-project/

Free Hip Hop Holiday Clubs in Parr and Earlestown from 9th -24th August

Uploading archive photos, videos and mixtapes of the town’s hidden Hip Hop history to YouTube and the St Helens Community Archive.

Providing a sneak peek at our display for Heritage Open Days funded by Creative Underground

 To find out more or get involved, please get in touch with Tom Glynn at Powered by Hip Hop (UC Crew) by emailing Hello@uccrew.co.uk or visiting our Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/uccrewsth