Does Manchester Have a Collaboration Problem?

“Here in Manchester… If we’d support each other, like London does, then we’d be up there. But [instead] it’s like every man for himself.”

Pretty startling comment isn’t it.

It belongs to JE, a member of Manchester-based rap group, TTS. I had the pleasure of filming an interview with them (see below) last night ahead of their performance at this month’s Mic Check, two weeks from now.

They had plenty of compelling stuff to say but what really grabbed my attention were the thoughts they expressed on Manchester’s burgeoning grime and hip-hop scenes – which are more or less summed up by the quote above.

Now, here’s the thing…

JE is a ridiculously talented MC, (we filmed a freestyle with him and fellow TTS member, Rebz, following the interview. See below), at 20, he’s still young – both literally as well as to the art itself – and yet what he had to say about the scene in Manchester was, to me, so familiar it’s become troubling.

For the last few months, whether speaking directly with artists or hearing from them via other means, this problem has been all I’ve heard about.

It seems grime music in this city – one of the most vibrant, creative and diverse cities in the world – has a serious problem when it comes to collaboration and unity.

Artists are reluctant to support one another’s music. Reluctant to promote and share the scene as a whole.

The question is why?

Ego? Competitiveness? Short-sightedness? Practicality?

And as importantly, might this reluctance to work together be hampering the progress and growth of the scene as a whole?

They’re questions I’m still trying to figure out, and ones I plan on writing about more in the future.

In the meantime, if you have an opinion on it, or the reasons behind why people sometimes fail to come together in general, regardless of the context, then please feel free to share it in the comments below. I’d love to hear your views.

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