Why 2019 was Kano’s Year


WORDS BY: Max Cobain

As the BBC Symphony Orchestra closed the Proms festival of classical music at the Royal Albert Hall on the 14th September, it would’ve seemed absurd to suggest that within three weeks the iconic 150-year-old music venue would be filled not with sounds of Mozart or Verdi, but rather a packed crowd chanting ‘Suck Your Mum’ at the top of their voices, over a choral rendition of grime artist Kano’s track ‘SYM’. The Royal Albert Hall has hosted grime before, at the 2015 1Xtra Grime Prom, when an up-and-coming Stormzy joined Krept & Konan, Lethal Bizzle and others in a medley performance, but this was the venue’s first solo gig by a grime artist, and it can easily be argued that Kano is fully deserving of that honour. 

Kane ‘Kano’ Robinson claims that the performance was not a matter of him ascending his status as a subcultural icon and crossing into the realm of polite society, but an attempt ‘to bring the Albert Hall into my own world’. Despite the grandiose setting, this does not feel like Kano selling out, but rather in many critics’ words, a ‘homecoming’, with the East-Ham born artist transforming the West-London venue into a representative space for East London’s poorest boroughs. This promotion of Kano’s local area was evident when on the track ‘Class of Deja’, a homage to grime’s early years, he brought out fellow Newham MCs D Double E and Ghetts, neither of whom have been able to quite establish themselves as a mainstream cultural figurehead despite their abundance of talent. Kano, in being able to give them this platform, also drew attention to how far he himself has come as an artist.


Kano’s performance was the last stop of a tour of his most recent album ‘Hoodies All Summer’, which has received widespread critical acclaim. The album features dancefloor-fillers like ‘Pan-Fried’, but also ‘Trouble’, a lament of contemporary youth violence, which is accompanied by a short film which provides a compelling argument for the de-escalation of the postcode rivalries which can lead to tragic deaths, and also illustrates the crucial role which music can play in dealing with the grief such deaths cause. The song opens with a monologue by Darcus Howe, the West-Indian campaigner for civil liberties in the UK, highlighting that Kano’s musical voice has become a distinctly political one, which fifteen years on from his debut single continues to shed light on the social inequality which blights London, and provides, in his own words, a ‘voice to the voiceless’.

The power of the short film for ‘Trouble’ illustrates that Kano’s cultural relevance exceeds merely the world of music, with his role on screen, particularly in this year’s revival of the TV show Top Boy, highlighting his multi-faceted talent. In the series, Robinson plays Sully, a drug dealer who in the first two seasons of the show had little time for conciliation or remorse, but who in 2019’s Netflix-produced third season cultivates a more emotionally developed demeanour. This balanced portrayal crucially humanises those who are involved in the drug economy and the violence which often accompanies it, something which is paralleled in tracks such as ‘Trouble’. As Kano states, ‘I'm just trying to humanise situations and represent voices that aren't being represented’. He acknowledges that ‘great art poses questions and doesn't necessarily give answers and solutions’, but his regular multi-format questioning of how society marginalises certain individuals is a crucial step towards providing solutions.

Kano’s continued relevance then, is not merely the result of producing consistently high-quality content, and diversifying his brand across multiple platforms, but how he has remained authentically connected to the community which he came up in, both socially and musically. Other artists from the same early-2000s breakthrough era of grime, including Wiley and Dizzee Rascal, sometimes struggle to maintain a similar relevance. This proves Kano’s recent success is also not just the result of grime’s current renaissance, which was highlighted by Stormzy’s 2017 Gang Signs and Prayer becoming the first No. 1 grime LP since Dizzee Rascal’s 2004 Boy In Da Corner. To take the example of Dizzee, his last studio album, Raskit, received mixed reviews, and his recent announcement of forthcoming new music received relatively muted fanfare. Even when, on his 2018 EP Don’t Gas Me, he released tracks which harked back to the punchy, down-to-earth lyricism and iconic visuals which defined his early career, such as ‘Quality’, he did not seem to receive the same sort of acclaim Kano has for his most recent release.

Perhaps the reason Dizzee Rascal no longer seems to hold the same place in the nation’s heart as Kano does is that his image has never quite recovered from his stint as a pop artist, which is perhaps best exemplified by his Calvin Harris produced number one hit ‘Holiday’. Through this transition to tracks aimed at Ayia Napa instead of Newham, Dizzee became in many ways the palatable face of UK rap, illustrated by his performance at the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony. For a kid from Bow, East London, this is a huge achievement, but those from the area might have the right to feel that his newfound lyrical focus on champagne, Ibiza and money meant he had somewhat lost his ability to represent them. And then, as music journalist Kitty Empire writes, ‘while Dizzee Rascal was busy infiltrating the mainstream with chart-friendly fusions, grime came back’. As grime found its feet again, Dizzee returned to the genre, with most of the tracks on Raskit and Don’t Gas Me evocative of grime, and yet what should have been a triumphant homecoming felt hollow. His case was not helped by his continuation of a long-running spat with fellow grime originator Wiley, recently threatening to kill him. Public grime beefs have long been the lifeblood of the genre, but given Dizzee’s time away, this sort of bravado seemed more like an overcompensation for his perceived loss of authenticity. 

Dizzee’s dented legitimacy as a grime artist means that were he to attempt Kano’s Royal Albert Hall set-up, creating a semi-religious spectacle of gospel choirs, four-piece band and steel-pan orchestra reminiscent of Kanye West’s ‘Sunday Service’, it would likely have felt over-the-top and self-indulgent. Despite this, Kano’s unique mix of polished star-power acquired from the likes of Top Boy, combined with the authenticity which he has maintained throughout his career, meant that the performance felt more like a justified coronation as the ‘elder statesman’ of grime. As he rapped on his debut 2004 single ‘P’s and Q’s’, he was always destined to achieve success: ‘I’m too deep, how could Kano stay underground?’ And yet, his shift from the ‘underground’ to the stage of one of Britain’s most iconic music venues has not seen him compromise his artistic integrity along the way. As he claims on that same single, ‘I’m an East boy’, and his success this year not distanced himself from this identity, but cemented it.



Last week KRPT° Joined Asahi Beer, End Clothing and Japanese streetwear brand Sophnet for the launch of their fall collection.

Sophnet holds itself is under the concept of minimal design, focusing on creating a collection of functional casual clothes for daily use. They have collaborated with Vans, Stussy and Nike, as well as artists such as Julian Opie, Tatsuo Miyajima and Jack Pierson.

Alongside their custom built sound system, the WILDBUNCH’s x Massive Attacks iconic DJ Daddy G and DJ Milo provided a mix of 90’s classic breakbeat, house and dub sounds.

ASAHI’s partnership kept the event rolling which was made up of leading influencers, talent and figures within creative culture.

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5 Ways Augmented Reality Will Influence Social Media

Augmented reality (AR) has become a staple of a lot of industries. While the gaming industry obviously displays a lot of interest in this regard, for the most part the marketing business has started to take off by using this new technology. This is spurred by the incorporation of AR into their platforms by companies such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, offering companies and brands newer and better ways to advertise their products.

The main reason why AR has become such a resounding success in the world of social media has to do with immersion. The more immersive an experience is, the more likely it will be that it will translate into direct sales for a particular brand or company. In spite of the fact that AR is still a new field that is changing every day, brands have managed to boost audience engagement tremendously by leveraging it.

By 2022, AR based ads will be pulling in about $13 billion dollars a year, about 12% of all revenue that will be coming in from mobile ads and the like. And, according to a report by Business Insider, the number of global mobile AR users is expected to reach 2.5 billion by 2023. This is why it is imperative that ad revenue dependent organizations try to get ahead of the curve and make the necessary investments now so that the profits that are soon going to be coming in can be obtained without too much trouble.

Below are a few examples of how AR will influence social media in the near future. Brands really need to be aware of how social media tech is evolving and think about how they can adapt their marketing strategies to fir within these changing environments.


In the future, social media content will cease to be 2D and become completely 3D, using AR to make it all happen. With the usage of interactive content shaping social media, all channels will start to explore AR integrations. This means that product design trends and product development professionals will need to effectively change the way they approach the creation of their projects.

In the near future, the world of social media will move to an AR bonanza. The companies that fail to create engaging AR experiences for their social media following will lose tremendous potential value. Snapchat are the prime example of a platform that has adopted and thrived from AR this year:


AR on social media channels will basically allow users to share content on the fly. Using such devices as smart glasses, the phone camera or live social media features, users will be able to explore a brand-new world of possibilities.

Another type of content that you will certainly want to explore is reviews and ratings. Indeed, as people shop for their favorite products or try to book a hotel room in Barcelona, they get to see reviews and ratings magically appear in front of the specific window shop or hotel building.

This will allow social media sharing to become much more immediate and will put companies on their toes. In fact, businesses that fail to provide a great experience will be mercilessly attacked, since Augmented Reality will be fertile ground for negative reviews that pop up like a vision of doom.


Remember when you saw a social media ad for a sweater but couldn’t get the feel of what you would look like wearing it? Those days are over.

Now, with this impeccable and enriching experience, consumers can get to pass on visiting a brand’s physical, brick-and-mortar store.

Indeed, they can step into the wondrous realm of a virtual space, try on some products, and then purchase them online. Below is an example of an AR app that can change your hair colour live and is a perfect example of how seamless the experience could be to shop for a new item of clothing, furniture for the house and many more.


With AR and social media, users will be able to attend events that feel like they are happening right there, inside the comfort of their cozy living rooms.

This tech is already being implemented by different brands. Indeed, on the PGA tour, tennis aficionados could actually download an AR app, starting to engage with the event and the ShotLink data in different ways.

All they needed to have to enter this augmented scenario? The app, a flat surface, and their useful smartphone.


One of the worst challenges to face in marketing is the following: to come up with enticing brand awareness techniques that allow people to explore what a brand is all about. With this technological fantasyland, brands will be certain to provide highly-shareable AR experiences.

If they get to create something truly inspiring for their audiences, people will want to share that experience.

Is creating these experiences a step towards perfect brand awareness methods? Of course!

And that’s why this content - that can also be user-generated - will skyrocket brand positioning like nothing else.

The Evolution Of The Whiskey Drinker

From smoking jackets to dance floors, a handful of whiskey brands are starting to diversify their marketing strategy and align themselves with emerging platforms to authentically target new audiences. More and more brands are understanding that to truly have an impact you need to bring value to culture and help it grow. By supporting the right partners in the right way you can build something that supports communities, nurtures talent and as a result creates advocates that will buy into the philosophy of the drink and spread the word.

The whiskey market in general is getting more and more competition, with other spirits such as gin set to outstrip Scotch whiskey sales by 2020. In the UK, gin made it back into the inflation metric for the first time in 13 years, which represents it's growing popularity across the board. Other beverages such as beer have also seen a spike with craft breweries like BrewDog dominating bars across the country.

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In order for whiskey to keep up with this evolving market, they need to appeal to a younger audience and start to resonate with a wider variety of culture. But it is important that these brands actually contribute to the culture and don't just try to force their way into something that may not be right for them. Below are a few examples of brands that are doing it the right way and are making smart moves to make sure they resonate with a more youthful audience in a natural way by building a presence within that community.

Ballantine's & Boiler Room

Ballantine's kicked off their partnership with Boiler Room almost 3 years ago with 'Stay True Journeys', showcasing individual stories from local music scenes around the world. This partnership allowed Ballantine's to build a presence in new markets and to also create engaging content that was distributed to Boiler Room's 1m+ fan-base of taste-makers.

It's important that a drinks brand entering culture actually has a voice and a purpose, and does not just exist for the sake of it. Ballantine's activation has put on some great events but also supported them with a real narrative to discover new scenes and showcase some of the emerging talent across the globe. This representation of electronic music has helped to push artists' careers forward and has allowed Ballantine's to create an extremely strong presence within the culture.

Johnny Walker & NTS

Similar to the Ballantine's and Boiler Room partnership, Johnny Walker teamed up with London based radio show NTS to bring a selection of live streamed events across 3 key regions in Europe. Diageo have put together a couple of events with NTS and the results have not been too transparent, but there is undeniable value to partnering with a platform like NTS that has such a deeply rooted presence in underground music culture.

With any partnership, it is vital to look at the core values and see how they are aligned. For this, there is a lot of synergy with the brands which is why the campaign seems like a great fit even if it's slightly outside of Johnny Walkers comfort zone. Obviously the blend element of whiskey has a lot of synergy with DJ culture but the NTS audience is also slightly more mature than competing platforms and spans a wider range of music genres.

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808 Whiskey

What better way to enter music culture than being born out of it. 808 whiskey is the creation of legendary producer and DJ, Tommy D, who decided to create a Scotch whiskey that focuses on electronic music and it's audience. As a result the drink has seamlessly cemented itself in the extremely sought after Ibiza market and gained ambassadors from some of the most influential musicians in the world. 808 proves to be a great example of how being closely and authentically attached to the culture you are trying to enter will allow you to easily build a strong community that associate themselves with your brand.

These are great examples of brands engaging with new audiences in a subtle and indirect way, by either partnering with established platforms or having a strong presence in the scene. By having a clear mission and point of view, a brand can really share a voice that a community can get behind and support. More and more brands will need to follow this approach and collaborate with the people shaping culture to create mutually beneficial campaigns.

From The Network - Eri Yet


From The Network is a series of interviews that highlights some of the most exciting individuals within our network. Exploring the latest trends, insights and perspectives on the scene. In our second episode we sit down with Eri Ali founder of Yeti Out to discuss the state of the global street wear scene.

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At a metal table by the canal in King’s Cross, central London, Eri  — real name Erisen Ali, 31 — sits forward to explain what he does for a living. “It’s quite hard to say,” he says, wearing a smile of humble confidence underneath his baseball cap. “My main focus is Yeti Out, which has evolved over the last decade from a blog, to a party and a booking agency, to a fashion brand. I’m based at home in Wood Green, North London, handling things here, after spending the start of the year travelling with the crew. My business partners are based in Asia: Arthur in Hong Kong, Tom in Shanghai. Yeti Out was born when all three of us cemented ourselves in different cities. 

Over the last decade, Yeti Out has grown to become a multi-faceted, transnational brand, specialising in throwing events and creating products which allow people to experience the intersection of global music and fashion culture between the US, the UK and Asia. First, as university students, the trio started a blog called Yeti In The Basement. They would review music and DJ sets, and use it to get into shows for free. “We soon realised we’d been to enough parties to know how to throw one ourselves,” Eri says. “So we started throwing events in London, in what you might call the post-dubstep era. Our parties would have DJs playing grime, future garage, funky house...it was all quite electronic, dreamy music,” he says, in reminiscence.


“When we used to send emails to each other we would always sign them off with ‘Yeti Out’,” he continues, explaining why they eventually decided to change their name as demand for their sociable creativity soared. After several years of partying, networking, booking music acts and throwing events in cities all over the world, from Bangkok to Tokyo, between 2014-2015 they decided to start learning to DJ themselves, so that they could play at their own nights.

“That was a catalyst for touring ourselves,” Eri says. “We’d book an act and instead of bringing over one and putting them in this one show in Shanghai, we’d create a tour out of it, and get them going to different cities in Asia. Then it made sense for us to tour with them because we could be the support act, which led to us becoming actual DJs.” Now, when you book Yeti Out to play at your event, at least two of them have to be behind the decks, no matter where it is.

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“IRL is where you shake hands with someone, and make business plans, and have a drink and dance. It’s where you might meet the love of your life. Your head is fully present. That’s what music is about for us”

What has been so effective about growing the Yeti Out brand by throwing events? “When we first started, Facebook made it really easy to throw an event. Now, nobody attends events organised on Facebook. That means as a brand you’ve got to put love and money and effort to get your follower numbers up, and get people caring enough to turn up. It’s a whole different game. It’s understanding the distinction between being in real life and the internet; IRL vs URL. 

“URL can only get you so far. IRL is where you shake hands with someone, and make business plans, and have a drink and dance. It’s where you might meet the love of your life. You hang at the bar, you listen to live music, you have no signal on your phone so your head is fully present. That’s what events are for us. In today’s society, they are more important than ever: getting people to the club and getting them to have fun without instagramming pictures. We believe in having a genuine offline community which empowers your online community,” he explains passionately.


More recently, over the last two years, Yeti Out have started doing more work in the fashion world, building from their longstanding interest in producing original t-shirt designs which corresponded to parties they throw.

“We always sold t-shirts. Even at our very first party we did our own t-shirt, and we got loads of demand for them. We basically found that selling t-shirts almost as souvenirs for people to buy and take home at the end of their night was quite a clever way to leverage our brand. We would do collaborations with brands — Patta, for example. Patta are known for their clothing, but they also have an amazing sound system. So when we worked with them on their tour we did a collab t-shirt. It was just a flyer printed on the back, with Yeti Out on the front, and the demand was huge for that. Off the back of those two, we thought we should do more of the same and launch an online store.”


Having already organised tours and parties during Paris fashion week before, Eri, Tom and Arthur recognised that in recent years, as streetwear has seeped into traditional couture fashion spaces as a predominant style, an increasing need to differentiate from the masses has emerged. How does Yeti Out do this?

“The way we counteract the way streetwear is everywhere is by saying to people who are loyal to our brand: you can’t get some of our stuff unless you come to our party. Brands can control their vision and identity by doing stuff like that. The t-shirt itself doesn’t matter. What matters is the hype behind it: who endorses this t-shirt brand? Who co-signs for it? What are they doing that is good and cool?”

So, what is the key learning for brands to hold people’s attention?

“It’s really just hard work, but it’s also consistency. You’ve gotta be there. If you’re not telling stories that resonate offline, too, so you create that foundation of support, then you’re not doing it right. That’s what we’re learning along the way. We want to produce moments and stories that you can tell your friend. Say you’ve got this t-shirt, and someone asks where you got  it from, we want to make sure you’ve got a story to tell them because you’ve been to our event. You’ve got some social capital in that moment because you’ve been to a Yeti Out party and that means something. It gives you status. Fashion and buying is about status. Then the question is: how can you control that status? Because once you control it, you can make yourself and your brand desirable.”


“It’s really just hard work, but it’s also consistency. You’ve gotta be there. If you’re not telling stories that resonate offline, too, so you create that foundation of support, then you’re not doing it right”

Now, Eri says that Yeti Out throw “at least 30+ parties-per-year” between London, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and beyond. Have there been any special moments over the last year?

“We finally hit that point throughout 2018 where we felt Asian music was so good that we could export it back to the UK,” he says. Earlier in their careers, the trio had flown UK artists out to China — now, with music culture cross-pollinating at such unprecedented rates, the reverse became possible. “We were always the bridge from west to east. Finally the music in Shanghai, Bangkok, wherever, was right, so we started doing Asian-only events here in London, with our partner Eastern Margins. We put regular events on, and we had everything from Tokyo grime to Cambodian trippy trance playing. It was nuts, and it was completely offline.”

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What’s in store next for Yeti Out?

“Growing our events. There’s nothing set-in-stone, but we want to throw a festival sometime, hopefully in Thailand. And we used to avoid it, but we’ve found Spotify to be really successful because it’s access to listeners. Showing people music is easier via Spotify playlists than, say, being on radio,” he says. “We are taking a standpoint of thinking big. If someone asks us whether we want a residency on a radio station, we want to respond by thinking about how we can create our own radio station. How can we franchise “yours” here? How can we utilise Spotify to make ourselves bigger?”

Fake It Till You Make It: Influencer Marketing Costing Brands Up To $1.3 Billion Dollars A Year

A new report from Business of Fashion has calculated that influencer marketing is costing brands more than $1 billion USD per year. 

The study, which was conducted by cyber security company Cheq and the University of Baltimore, states that influences who pay for fake followers or engagement will cost advertisers $1.3 billion USD this year alone. This number is also projected to grow to $1.5 billion USD by 2020. The reason for this huge loss is due to influencers purchasing fake followers and engagement which is tricking brands into thinking they have a larger audience and engagement rate on content than is reality. 

Cavazos also conducted a study and found that 25 percent of followers of 10,000 influencers were fake, while another study stated that out of 800 brands and marketing agencies, two-thirds found out they had worked with influencers with fake followers. Following the research, Cavazos believes 50 percent of engagement on sponsored content is fake. Aside from buying engagement, Cavazos noted that some influencers post fake sponsored content “to dupe brands into believing they have a proven track record — and in order to get hired for a future engagement.”

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So how do brands navigate this minefield of fake influencers and make sure they are working with genuine influencers that haven't purchased fake followers and or engagement? Below are 3 different methods we use to make sure we are working with people that not only have not purchased followers but also have real, genuine influence on the scene they are attached to:


The first step is to use social data tools to analyse an influencers activity and see if there have been any dramatic spikes in followers or engagements in the past. If there are irregularities with activity you then need to look at those dates and see if anything happened to justify that leap in engagement or following. If there is nothing to justify a spike then it is more than likely that the influencer paid for engagement or followers over that period. Another way to see the quality of an influencers community is to look at the comment section on a few posts - if there are genuine comments with replies from the influencer then this is a sign that their community is engaged and responsive - also look to see how many of the comments are from pages that have been verified (the blue tick on a page that shows they are of celebrity status). You can get quite small pages that seem to not have a huge amount of engagement but their community is passionate and has true influence.



The exact size of micro/nano influencers varies but I would class micro influencers as anyone below 100k followers and nano influencers anyone below 5k followers. The benefits of working with smaller follower pages is that the audience is likely to be a lot more genuine and a lot more engaged. If someone has a mere 5k follower the chances of them buying their audience is significantly lower than someone that has half a million. Micro influencers tend to be attached to a specific niche which also means you can segment your audience targeting through the type of pages that you work with and make sure you choose influencers that crossover into other markets.



One of the best ways to ensure you are working with an ambassador that has genuine influence is to work with true creators that have honed a craft or skill. People that are artists, musicians, actors, designers etc are more likely to have a genuine following because they are creating value within culture and as a result commanding real engagement and emotion with their fanbase. It’s not to say that traditional Instagram influencers don’t have passionate audiences but the people with real influence tends to lie with the people that are shaping culture not just fitting within it. Instagrammers that post selfies for a living can only have so much penetration within culture and while they might be getting high engagement brands need to be careful to measure the impact these people are having - real creators not only have more passionate followings but also will bring more value to a campaign through their art.


From The Network - Jenk Oz


From The Network is a series of interviews that highlights some of the most exciting individuals within our network. Exploring the latest trends, insights and perspectives on the scene. In our first episode we sit down with Jenk Oz, one of the UK’s youngest CEO’s, to discuss what brands should be doing to engage with and access Gen Z

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Tucked on a peaceful mews in central London, in a studio decorated from floor-to-ceiling with the paraphernalia of his colourful life, Jenk Oz has been working on something. The 14-year-old, who self-describes as “half average school boy, half CEO”, founded his company iCoolKid, an online platform for ‘generation Z’ (people born after the late-1990s), when he was just 8. The site now receives 5000 hits per-day from young audiences spread over 190+ different countries.

“Lots has changed since we started,” he says, sat near me on some sofas in his studio. “And lots will continue to change, within the next ten weeks. We’re doing a full repositioning and renaming of the brand. Ironically, the name ‘iCoolKid” isn’t actually that cool” he continues, smiling. “We’re transitioning into our new name, “Thred.”. It’s the same concept but we’re moving more towards being an online magazine. Before, the platform was targeted at 8-13-year-olds, but like me, the content is growing up. It’s increasingly targeted at 15-year-olds, and shifted towards youth culture and social change. There are so many topics that need attention and support like mental health, teen LBGT community, teen suicide, teen employment, environment, social change etc…Instagram images is just not enough to be effective and drive real change. The name iCoolKid was never going to allow me to do that so that’s why we changed the name. Thred conjures up the idea of continuity, dialogue, community, involvement, inclusion etc…and that is exactly what we are aiming for’ he continues.

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Jenk has spent the morning shadowing Jack Parsons, the CEO of the Big Youth Group, a collective of youth-first companies, for which he is an ambassador. He says the most interesting thing he learned from the experience was that 85% of the jobs needed for the economy of 2030 have not been scaled yet. As someone who is spending more and more time providing consultancy to brands, and public speaking around the world — from a speech in Dubai about the next ten years of generation Z to one about young entrepreneurship at Brand Week in Istanbul — the young businessman carries himself with the intellectual confidence of someone who is constantly seeking a greater understanding of predictive trends like this.

Given that the dominance of social media platforms in particular are so fundamental the way people all over the world are interacting with brands, how would Jenk describe the way they are impacting young people’s social development?

“On the outside, it looks to other generations like generation Z are glued to their phones. From our perspective though, yes we are on our phones a lot, but that’s because social media is our main way of communicating” he explains. “Back in the day you would be able to catch up with one or two friends a week when you go home from school. Now you don’t have to go anywhere, and you can go on Instagram and catch up with 200 friends in an hour. That’s drastically changed things. And then there is this huge effect it has on marketing. If you’re catching up with 200 friends in an hour, and 2 of those friends are on holiday, and you see one is in Croatia and one is in Ibiza, that will influences where you and your family want to go. So then it’s about how social media influences how generation z spend money. A trillion dollars-per-year are generated by soft influence power, and you couldn’t achieve that without social media. Social media amplifies people’s opinions, and opinions are what drive people to go and buy something.”

How does this insightful understanding underpin the work he does?

“We know where to target and how to target people. For example, we know on Snapchat we have to be raw. Instagram is more curated and more thought through. Twitter is also raw, but it’s less photos, and more words. There is a quote I read somewhere: “Snapchat is the life you have, Instagram is the life you wish you had — the highlights reel — and Twitter is your voice.” So through different social media you know how to target your audience” he continues, adding that there is an underlying philosophy to the advice he offers brands to engage with younger audiences.

“It’s the concept of you needing to go to the audience, and not have the audience coming to you. You shouldn’t be expecting generation Z to walk into your shop with a credit card, pay for the t-shirt they want to buy, and then walk out again. If they wanted to do that they’d do it online. Now, people go to a shop not just to get something, but to have the whole experience of getting something. There is a small area in London with Palace, Supreme and Champion and all the shops there are just really cool shops to hang out at. Fiorucci is another great example: they have music playing the whole time, and even have a milkshake cafe in the shop. That’s where you want to be at, making your space into a social hub. People my age will say to each other: do you want to hang out at Fiorucci? It’s a clothing brand, but they’ve somehow managed to turn it into a place where young people want to spent their time. Then customers think, well, whilst we’re here, we might as well buy a t-shirt, hoodie, hat. They’re taking photos for Instagram, and tagging Fiorucci. They’re meeting young people where they want to be.”


Given that 40% of all consumers across American, UK and BRIC economies will belong to generation Z by 2020, and will represent over $5 trillion dollars of spending worldwide, Jenk says, brands who don’t bother to figure out how to market to younger audiences in innovative ways are going to lose out. Most of the time, he adds, if you nail marketing to young people, you automatically do so for older generations, too: younger audiences set the trends; they get their parents to buy them stuff, which grows a brand automatically across age groups.

Some companies recognise that they aren’t doing well with generation Z and make sure they collaborate with brands who do have credibility. You know Rimowa? The luggage company? It’s not obvious what brand they are to anyone who doesn’t already know them. Then Supreme did a red Rimowa suitcase and young people started clocking it. So now Supreme fans are able to recognise Rimowa bags as the bags with the ridges” he says.

hype supreme.jpg

Another phenomenon that has risen out of the central position of social media in marketing and brand engagement strategies is the utilisation of influencers. A commonly held intuition is that the larger an individual’s social media following, the larger their capacity to sell a product. But there is growing evidence that having a relatively low number of followers, but a high proportion of whom are organic and properly engaged, is more important for converting content into proper engagement and sales impact than sheer numbers alone. In other words, Jenk says, it’s about “quality, not quantity”, and that honouring this insight is invaluable for any company wanting to use social media influencers to sell their products.

“Once you get to that amount of 2 million followers or over, people will start thinking: how many of these are actually fans?” he explains. “And how many of these are following me for the sake of following me? ‘Nano-influencers’ are those people have between 5000-15000 followers. They have super high engagement. They have the highest engagement out of anyone on Instagram. They don’t have many followers but when they promote a t-shirt, hundreds of people buy that t-shirt, which is better than having 2 million followers where only a few people buy it because people aren’t really that influenced by you. Nano-influencers have organic audiences. And this ties into how to use influencers with marketing: say you’re a sneaker company and you’re not doing well with gen Z, you should get a nano-influencer who might have a skateboarding following, for example. You get them to post a photo of them wearing your sneakers, you don’t say people should buy them, just have the shoes as the main thing and tag them. That will create high organic engagement because the influencer clearly in support of your company, and any followers support the influencer, so they’ll easily move to supporting the company, too. Then it’s also about finding the right nano-influencer. If someone is famous for make-up, you shouldn’t get them to promote your sneaker brand, and vice versa. You have to market by hobby and passion; you can’t just market by age group any more. Because someone who likes Supreme is now anywhere between 5 years old and 80 years old. And when you have the right influencer,, you can use them for incredible results: they say the return of investment on a nano-influencer is about eleven times, which is the highest of all users. Some influencers with millions of followers are negative. Celebrity and royalty endorsements have gone down because the believability just isn’t there.”

Jenk’s got other meetings to go to and we’ve been chatting for a while. Before I leave, I ask him what’s in store for the future? What does he hope to achieve as iCoolKid transitions into Thred.; as he enters adolescence as a pioneer of the next generation of business leaders?

“I want Thred. not only to be about reaching maturing audiences, but I also want it to be global. We’re reaching over 200 countries but I want to reach bigger and bigger populations in those countries, and make sure that we close the gap. So that young people all round the world are receiving the same content as young people in London like me are” he says, before pausing. “With Thred. I’m hoping to launch a global community of young people who are keen to learn from and contribute towards a conversation.”

Create Art, Not Ads


The agency helping brands Create Art, Not Ads

KRPT recently started working with Ciaran Thapar, a youth worker and writer, who has joined the creative agency as a freelance cultural strategist. He sat down with KRPT’s co-founders, Mitun Thaker and Tom Molyneux, to discuss the agency’s work to date, and their philosophy for engaging with youth culture to create great work for brands.


In the second half of 2018, the team at KRPT — pronounced ‘crypt’ — were working with Asics to come up with a campaign to promote their new Gel-Quantum Infinity range amongst 15-25 year-old men. “We started like we always do: by approaching our global creator network. We spoke to twenty people who fit the demographic, and asked them what influences their decisions about buying trainers” says co-founder Tom Molyneux. “These were cultural trendsetters: people at record labels, videographers, artists, events managers” adds fellow co-founder, Mitun Thaker. “The aim was to create a platform which would allow young people associating with the campaign to become more creative, and the theme was: ‘healthy mind, healthy body’.”

Having already had Mercury Prize-nominated MC Novelist as part of their network for a while, as a young, dynamic and respected member of the resurgent grime scene, “he was a perfect fit in terms of his mindset and what he represents” Mitun says. Novelist created an exclusive song, “When I Step”, and accompanying music video for the campaign, and was interviewed in HYPEBEAST off the back of the work.

Founded in 2015 as a passion project, the KRPT team is now a 5-person creative agency which specialises in leveraging musical and cultural partnerships to “create art, not ads”. Having worked as a social media lead, and having always had a passion for music, working in this space was a natural fit for Tom. “A lot of big brands try to come into the music space and mess it up. I knew we could do it better” he explains. Mitun started his career at a tech startup, where he grew to lead their global accounts and diversify their product offering, before honing his craft at Channel 4. He is now a proud adviser for the Conscious Advertising Network. The team have worked with a range of brands including WaterAid, GRM Daily, Lacoste, TUI and Lee Jeans, whilst growing their trusted global network of creators, and refining their unique approach to branding, events and artist engagement.

“The problem we want to solve is that there are a lot of agencies with older, out-of-touch men coming up with cultural strategies for 18-25 year-olds. But they can’t work out how to build relevance like we can” Tom explains. “Bigger agencies know brand strategy better than anyone. They can spend the most money on research, but the people calling the shots in these campaigns are too far-removed from the nuances and realities of youth culture to engage properly with young, fast, evolving audiences. We believe you have to collaborate with young people, creators, and cultural gatekeepers to create something authentic” he continues.

“We are always thinking about how to help brands stay relevant right now, but at the same time preparing them for innovation of the future” Mitun adds. “And we can do that because we sit at a crossroads of creative culture. So we have our fingers on the pulse, we can help brands be relevant, purposeful, and admired by the consumer. Traditional agencies are quite rigid in their approach to their campaigns. We’re fluid, and we have to be, because advertising has evolved. How brands have to communicate has evolved. All our target audience — young people — operate on social media, and we know that, so we try to create physical as well as digital experiences for people to tap into and feel a part of. So many brand events feel fake, but ours are….well, we make sure they are a vibe” he continues.

A perfect example of when KRPT created a vibe was last summer, at their event in collaboration with Paco Rabanne. “We did a guerilla activation in Covent Garden and Southbank with some of the most talented street dancers in the UK. The client had two weeks to do something around the Lucky Millions fragrance in line with a dance competition” Mitun describes, reminiscing on one of his formative memories of realising KRPT was here to stay. “We created great content from the day, we hit commercial objectives, but more than that we managed to tap into a sense of local community so that it wasn’t a flash-in-the-pan type of event. Our dancers made it real” he continues. “Shadow is one of the most respected dancers in the scene and is who we collaborated with to get other crews involved. It helped to tap into a layer of community as well” Tom adds, emphasising the importance of respectfully engaging with networks to understand how they borrow from and inform local cultures.

So whilst KRPT see culture more generally — film, television, art — as vital for reaching audiences, why do they deem music as such an important tool for their work with brands? “There is such a big following attached to music culture. So by engaging with artists properly, you tap into their audiences. And it’s a medium which evokes emotion. You can use music to create a connection with your audience. If you’re doing a custom track, for example, you can create a real emotional attachment to that song and brand through that medium. If you were to just do an ad which included their face and voice along it wouldn’t have the same effect” Tom says.

“We truly understand the music scene from a grassroots level. Through our network of gatekeepers and creators — not just musicians, but photographers, skaters, designers — we always know which artists are bubbling. In that sense we stay ahead of the curve. Brands often say they want to work with the next biggest talent…”

“But often agencies don’t want to take that risk” Tom interjects. “What we also do is educate clients about what stage artists are at in their career and what they mean to people. It’s not just about how many followers artists have. It’s also about what they represent and stand for, and whether they’re the exact right fit or not.”


KRPT x YMS x 2019

It’s been a year and what a year it was!

We’re heading back to YMS on the 16th and 17th April at The Old Truman Brewery to showcase some of the latest work, our newest tech and of course our amazing team.

At YMS you will be able to Discover the latest trends, and youth perspectives. You’ll leave with the insights, tools and contacts you need to win over the most diverse, influential and ambitious generation of young people yet.

Vans Overtakes Nike as the Fastest-Growing Brand Among Female Teens

Vans continues to gain popularity among teenagers, becoming the demographic’s fastest-growing footwear brand, according to a Piper Jaffray study.

The investment banking firm today released its semiannual “Taking Stock With Teens” survey, finding that the iconic skate lifestyle brand not only is consistently the No. 2 footwear choice among teenagers (second only to Nike) but also hit an all-time high among upper-income female teens. (The survey included results from about 8,600 teens averaging 16 years old across 48 states in the country.)

Vans has time and again served as VF Corp.’s hero brand, which reported this month that third-quarter sales advanced 15 percent to $3.9 billion, driven by a 27 percent gain at the Costa Mesa, Calif.-headquartered company. (The firm is also parent to The North Face, Timberland and Reef.)

Last month, Vans chairman, president and CEO Steve Rendle announced plans to boost revenues to $5 billion, from $2 billion, by fiscal year 2023, expecting the bulk of sales to come from a direct-to-consumer business model.

Other key findings from the study include


Overall Spending Behaviour

  • Overall spending is down -5% vs. Spring 2018, but up 1% from a year ago.

  • Food continues to be teen's No. 1 priority - remains around 24% peak.

  • Shift in male wallet allocation towards video games (new survey peak) still ongoing.

  • Seeing rotation of female spending out of fashion accessories and into personal care.

  • Preference for online over department stores and legacy formats continues.

  • Digital video game downloads higher - now 59% vs. 55% in Spring and 37% Fall 2015.

Brand Preferences

  • Streetwear and 1990s themes building - Vans reached a new peak, while Supreme, Champion and TH/CK increase.

  • Nike declines ongoing, but solidifying upper-income trends could indicate bottoming.

  • Intent to buy iPhone at new high; 86% of Generation Z will choose iPhone next (84% last Spring).

  • Instagram now top social platform for teens (edges above Snapchat); FB still declining.

Read more about Vans hot streak!

Vans Is Having a Hot Streak — and the Proof Is in the Sales

How Vans Plans to Hit $5 Billion in Revenue by 2023

Bedroom Musicians: 001

The Bedroom DJ/Producer

Once upon a time, being a DJ or music producer meant that you belonged to a very niche and somewhat elite-ish group of people. Equipment was expensive and upgrading to the latest gear – a necessary purchase to make in a competitive market – was a big investment. Furthermore, lugging around hard-copied vinyl collections and heavy masses of equipment to perform a gig at a different venue every night was very inconvenient.

With the evolution of technology came a huge change in the dynamics in which DJ’s work. The affordability of powerful home computers, the accessibility of the Internet, and the invention of pocket-sized hard drives that can carry thousands of tracks, have made it easier for aspiring DJ’s to get hold of music equipment and software, to produce music straight from their bedrooms and to eventually make it to the big stage.

As music changes, so do the musicians –  Music these days can be found in any form, and this has allowed for a new type of musician to step forward.


• DJ Gear sales increased by 25% from 2007 to 2014

2013 was an interesting year for connoisseurs of electronic music. The resurgence of vinyl (buying and releasing in the form) continued, as the 90s New York and Detroit vibes made their strongest comeback yet. In house music, a more commercial push was made, with strong performances from Disclosure and Duke Dumont seeing house music become arguably the most popular genre of all.

What are the key characteristics that have come to define the rise of bedroom music?

The Desire to Create versus Search for Success

Most "bedroom" DJ's/producers don't necessarily have a desire to become global superstars but rather focus on the joy that is gained from creating and performing. 

The rise of DJ culture and EDM has however created a new wave of young fans that are determined to succeed with the likes of Martin Garrix and David Guetta inspiring the wave.

Experimenting versus Emulating

When segmenting different bedroom musicians it's very easy to identify their inspiration and individuality. This can be seen in a number of ways.

DJ's: typically DJ's that are inspired by other acts will emulate their style, copying the songs they play and their techniques as opposed to finding their own approach.

Producers: will also follow a similar approach when it comes to following inspiration, emulating the sound and feeling of their favourite acts.

More advanced & individual bedroom musicians will be more likely to experiment with new techniques and may draw from numerous influences.

James Blake, nominated for “Best new Artist” at the Grammy Awards in 2014, confesses to making all of his music out of his one-bedroom flat, while Skrillex – who won three Grammys in 2013, talks of “making records on laptops and blown speakers” with some pride, and this summarises the notion that people can produce music of exceptionally high quality, through taking a minimalistic, modern approach.

Key Brands

  1. Pioneer DJ

  2. Denon DJ

  3. Serato

  4. Traktor

  5. Native Instruments

  6. Ableton

  7. Technics

  8. M-Audio

  9. Numark

  10. Xone

When Music Meets Science: Innovative Culture

We're working with some of the leading scientific institutions, helping them engage the next generation by connecting science and art culture. 


We're living in a time where scientists are learning how to simulate aspects of the universe in the most unique ways from super-computers to the particle accelerator in CERN. What is more exciting is that institutions like CERN realise the value of art and through new initiatives like ARTS@CERN, this vision of connecting the art and science community is being realised whilst still protecting the scientific integrity of the each concept. 

A great example is the latest project by Ryoichi Kurokawa, hosted at the very credible FACT in Liverpool. Ryoichi is an exceptionally talented artist who blends audio and visual to create a seamless experience. He worked with a leading Physicist and key data from CERN to create the Unfold project shown above. 

Unfold is a synaesthetic, immersive audio-visual experience. Through a complete unison of sight and sound, Kurokawa has created a beautifully abstract (but scientifically based) expression of the beginning of the universe.


Recently, a NASA mission encouraged musicians to look to space as inspiration for creative expression. This isn’t the first time a composer has turned NASA findings into art.

As the Juno mission prepared for insertion into orbit around Jupiter, NASA announced a collaboration with Apple designed to stimulate synergies between musical composition and interplanetary exploration. Highlights of the collaboration, which inspired several pieces of music, are on view in the documentary “Destination: Juno.” The video includes commentary by Juno principal investigator Scot Bolton and can be accessed via iTunes.


Jeff Mills has spent the past 30 years living in the future. In his ongoing adventures as musician, DJ and filmmaker he combines the gleaming optimism of Golden Age science fiction with the protean tumult of the warehouse party. He is forever hurtling forward, an innovator inhabiting a space-time continuum of his own imagining.

Mills was one of the primary instigators of Detroit techno (he was born in the rustbelt metropolis in 1963). He established the avowedly nonconformist Underground Resistance collective with fellow mould-breaker "Mad" Mike Banks and, under his alter-ego The Wizard (now retired), laid down many of the founding principles of a movement that gene-spliced Kraftwerk's digital utopianism and the hedonistic clamour of the early house scene.

A highly regarded techno album inspired by the Cassini-Huygens space probe


What is the future of art and science? How can we reach a stage where art can fund the sciences? Both are incredibly important aspects of society and the common discussion is based on investing in one or the other. This is shortsighted and ignores the vital link between the two. 

Last year NTS Radio put on an event with Four Tet, Floating Points and Gilles Peterson all performing. The concept was to send all proceeds to a Syrian charity. A few months later we saw DJ EZ perform a 24 hour set, raising over £50k in 24 hours, also for charity. Concepts like this unite society in a way only music is able to and as a result focus the attention on important subjects and action. 

How could this ethical music model be applied to the world of science?

1) Museums as record labels and facilitators

When Tate Britain decided to let Kurupt FM bring their Champagne Steam Rooms rave to the infamous halls they we're making a statement, not sure they knew what they in for.

Many forms of contemporary music have always had subtle links with the art world but it's not typical to experience what might be defined as "underground" in these spaces. Institutions like Tate and other museums around the world have the ability to showcase new talent unlike many other entities and with the recent demise of the UK club scene it's logical for new facilitators to give artists the space to grow and exhibit their talents. 

2) Enlightened Art - Partnerships & Commissions

Too many talented artists lack the investment to truly realise their potential or take projects to the next step. At the same time there is a world of established musicians that can experience a lack of inspiration leading to meaningless music.

Institutions like CERN have very specific research and data that underpins everything they do. By commissioning artists to explore these data-sets and interpret them in new ways you start moving closer to more experimental and potentially meaningful work. There should be more collaborations between science and music organisations that lead projects that have purpose.

3) Self Sustaining Art

The real value will come down to the commercial models that make up these new deals.This is the ability to not just invest in art programmes but to have them generate awareness and revenue as well. 

We believe new immersive shows will be the future of the music industry and they will present a perfect platform for large education and scientific institutions to finally inspire the next generation in the most effective way. Imagine when NASA or CERN are able to share their ideas through visual shows that are experienced at festivals and in clubs, performed by leading artists. 


Instead of this being a debate around the Arts vs STEM it should be about how they work together. It's frightening to think that many children won't have the chance to explore music but equally so that they might not even find a passion in science either. 

There are a few key pillars that we can all agree will need to be addressed for our long-term future and they revolve around sustainability, ethics and innovation.  


Brands like Google, Microsoft, Facebook & even Spotify sit in an interesting space; balancing a cultural role with technological vision of the future. We believe they have an important role to inspire the next generation to find an interest in art and science.

Google and Boiler Room used VR to transport people to a Berlin techno club, imagine what the evolution of this is could be when NASA also get involved and take you from a club to a planet.

Keep up to date with this series to see the latest examples on how these brands are connecting art and science in new ways. 

Underground Music in Indonesia: 001

The fourth most populous country in the world, comprised of thousands of volcanic islands between Southeast Asia and Australia, is home to a committed music scene.


Spending on entertainment and media in Indonesia has grown rapidly in recent years, driven by the country’s expanding middle class and rising disposable incomes. While the country’s entertainment and media market remains relatively small compared to other leading Asia Pacific countries such as China, it is set to be the region’s equal fourth-fastest growing market over the coming five years.

PwC’s Global entertainment and media outlook 2014-2018 projects that overall spending on entertainment and media in Indonesia will rise during 2013- 2018 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.1% — a pace of growth that will be exceeded in Asia Pacific only by India (11.6% CAGR), China (10.9% CAGR), and the much smaller Pakistan market (10.6% CAGR).

Read more here


Population: 261.1 million (2016) World Bank

Life expectancy: 69.07 years (2015) World Bank

Population growth rate: 1.1% annual change (2016) World Bank

GNI per capita: 11,220 PPP dollars (2016) World Bank

Official language: Indonesian

Age structure: 0-14 years: 25.42%
15-24 years: 17.03% 
25-54 years: 42.35%
55-64 years: 8.4% 
65 years and over: 6.79%


Djarkata Warehouse Project is an enormous electronic music festival in Jakarta, Indonesia's capital city. For two days, the city's international exposition centre plays host to global megastars of dance music from the world over.

EDM, house and techno comprise the majority of the music on offer across the festival, with the likes of Martin Garrix, Axwell^Ingrosso and Nicky Romero among the hundreds of DJs who have performed in recent years. 



Ultra Bali is an outdoor electronic music festival that is a part of Ultra Music Festival's worldwide expansion, which has now spread to twenty countries. Having officially SOLD OUT within a week of going on sale and without announcing a single act it is clear the demand for electronic music culture is huge.



  1. Spotify on Stage

  2. We The Fest

  3. Sunny Side Up

  4. Ultra Beach Bali

  5. Djakarta Warehouse Project


For most of the 1990s, Indonesia was still under the authoritarian New Order regime, which ended after 33 years with the fall of the military dictator General Suharto in 1998. But despite censorship and bans, Indonesia's underground music scene thrived as a youth subculture, allowing itself to become an alternative medium for artists and activists to express rebellious voices against the regime.

Musician, anthropologist, ethnomusicologist, and assistant professor in the Department of Popular Culture at Bowling Green State UniversityJeremy Wallach just launched a book titled Musik Indonesia 1997-2001: Kebisingan & Keberagaman Aliran Lagu, written in Bahasa Indonesia.

It tells about the Indonesian music upheaval in the era of the New Order transition towards the Reformation Order. Jeremy was in touch with the music communities from punk, metal to dangdut in documenting part of the pop culture in Indonesia at that time.


With their heads covered with Islamic headscarves, the three members of the Indonesian band VoB (“Voice of Baceprot” or “Noisy Voice”) do not look like your typical heavy metal group.

Formed in 2014, the band of teenagers met at school in Indonesia’s most populous province of West Java, and use their music to combat the stereotype of Muslim women as submissive or voiceless.

The relationship between Islam and music is an ambiguous one. Often, Islam and music are perceived to be antagonistic, while for many Muslims music is an integral part of their religion. This relationship becomes even more difficult to define in Indonesia where many different forms of Islam exist, from fundamentalist to liberalist. There is not a common stance among Indonesian Muslims towards the role of music; some find it to be haram (forbidden by Islam) and regard music as a potential medium to distract the listener from worshipping God, while others find it halal (permitted by Islam) and feel that music can help bring a listener closer to God.

The surge of Muslim pop culture shows that religious obedience and modernity are certainly not contradictory in present day Indonesia. It also allows a wide range of Islamic popular music to emerge.


In the past fifteen to twenty years, Indonesia has been characterised byunprecedented transformations in both political and cultural life. One of those transformations was in the music industry which thrived as never before. As the authoritarian regime of president Suharto came to an end in 1998, new political leaders adopted a much more democratic system, allowing freedom of the press and political parties with new orientations that were largely suppressed before. A growing Indonesian middle class has a clearer view of what lies beyond the nation's boundaries through modern technologies, such as the Internet and mobile phones. The rise of pop culture went hand in hand with the expansion of national and local TV and radio stations, and the emergence of many new magazines. As a result of these changes, where political aspirations were free to be expressed and debates about social issues reached the public sphere, Indonesians may have reconsidered their place in society and expressed their identities in new ways.


There are over 300 ethnic groups in Indonesia. 95% of those are of Native Indonesian ancestry. The largest ethnic group in Indonesia is the Javanese who make up about 40% of the total population.


Muslim 87.2%, Christian 7%, Roman Catholic 2.9%, Hindu 1.7%, other 0.9% (includes Buddhist and Confucian), unspecified 0.4% (2010 est.)

Music in China: Hip-Hop 001

Hip hop has been getting a bad rap in China.

Last year, the genre was having something of a heyday, but since then, the bubble has burst.

In the wake of new rules from China's media regulator, songs have been blacklisted; rising Chinese rappers, such as Gai and VaVa, have been dropped from shows; and another artist, PG One, even apologized for lyrics that came under fire for glorifying drugs and sex.

The crackdown has had a chilling effect on a genre more commonly associated with blasting rebellious opinion.


That's the buzz phrase in China these days. The catchphrase came from “The Rap of China”, the country’s first talent show that centers on hip-hop artists, many of them previously underground.

With hundreds of millions of views since its launch in late June, the show has quickly put these artists, as well as the music genre, into the limelight.


Ever since China's underground music and art culture started to really emerge in the 1980's, artists have had to release their work while maintaining a delicate relationship with authorities. Even today, the government still cracks down on what they consider vulgar culture.


The first and most obvious challenge is censorship, which is hardly news in China. Most young people use VPNs to connect to overseas private networks that circumvent China’s so-called Great Firewall, which prohibits Google, Youtube, SoundCloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. The majority of young people’s music sharing remains on Chinese platforms like Weibo, the Twitter of China, or Xiami, a SoundCloud-like service that isn’t even available outside the country. While most young people now consider the Great Firewall a mere inconvenience, its long term effect on music in China is significant.


On his recent track “Stupid Foreigners,” rapper Cai Zhenhong — better known as “Xie Di” or “Fat Shady” — rails against arrogant and entitled expatriates living in his homeland. Although it drew attention primarily for its provocative subject matter, the track is also notable for being entirely in the Chengdu dialect, part of the family of Sichuan dialects spoken by over 100 million in China’s southwest.

Rap music in Chinese dialects started to emerge in the 1990s, around the same time as Mandarin rap. While some dialect rappers regard their art as an avenue to fame and fortune, for others, it is a tool for promoting and protecting local language and culture.

Online, hip-hop fans debate whether Mandarin or dialects are better suited to rap. In a discussion on Q&A website Zhihu, a commentator claims that Mandarin has less colorful slang and a monotonous flow, owing to its four tones. By comparison, the Changsha dialect — from central China’s Hunan province — has seven tones, and Cantonese has nine. Yet using Mandarin to make music gives artists a wider market for their songs and a larger vocabulary to draw from: Most rappers, educated after Mandarin became the primary language of instruction in schools, have a stronger command of Mandarin than their local dialect.


Hip hop fashion and streetwear culture, though popular in the West, have never gone completely mainstream in China. But that may be changing owing to a popular online reality show and rap competition called The Rap of China, which features four celebrity producers tasked with training and guiding a rotating cast of young competing rappers.

The first episode of the show, which is produced by China’s largest online video platform iQiyi, launched on June 24, drawing over 100 million viewers within the first four hours, according to local Chinese media. The average viewership of each episode is currently around 200 million.

One direct result of this wildly popular show is that a series of high-end streetwear brands, including Off-White, Vetements, Supreme and Raf Simons, have become household names among China’s millennials.


Rap music in China seems like a paradox at first glance. How did this music genre borne out of the stories of struggle, joy, and life of black Americans find an audience in China? Like other subcultures, is China simply rap’s latest home and playground? Or is there a deeper connection (intersection one might say) between rap’s history and China that makes it more appealing?

Much like the everyday stories told during the golden age of hip-hop, Emcees in China are using rap as an outlet to talk about their frustrations, triumphs, or apathy towards society. Without delving deeper, one can easily misrepresent rap as a subculture transplant that gave the first form of spoken poetry over a beat and influenced oral storytelling to Chinese people.

To understand the appeal of the golden age of rap, one needs to go back in China’s history to see there’s a closer link between rap and Chinese culture.

Storytelling over instruments in China has been common for centuries, most notably in Fuzhou Storytelling (福州评话) delivered over a cymbal or wooden block and the more modern Kuaiban (快板) (dubbed “the original Chinese rap”) where a rhyming verse was spoken rhythmically over bamboo clappers. Even the Chinese term for rap (说唱 | shuōchàng, which literally means ‘speak and sing’ ) predates hip-hop; and up until the late 20th century 说唱 was used as an umbrella description for all forms of traditional Chinese storytelling.

Traditional Chinese storytelling was used for a wide range of reasons, from social commentary in the dynasty eras to keeping family ideals and morals alive for next generations – paralleling many of the same themes in the golden age of hip-hop. Chinese youth, perhaps unknowingly, are actually continuing a long lineage of traditional folk shuōchàng, drawing inspirations from the clever lyricism in the golden age of rap to create their own unique Chinese spin/cultural asset.

For Chinese rappers, identity is expanded beyond the ‘hood’. Unlike in the US where a specific neighbourhood reflects your socioeconomic class, there’s no equivalent in China. So instead of pride in “reppin’ your hood” (e.g. NYC, Compton, Detroit, Atlanta, East v. West), Chinese rappers state their identity with regions and local dialects. It’s common to hear Chinese rap referencing well-known local gems/trademarks and rapping entire songs in local dialect.

So while hip-hop can seem like a paradox in China, an oddity even – it’s worth a closer look, to see it has a snugger fit and closer connection than what first appears.


Population: 1.379 billion (2016) World Bank

Life expectancy: 75.99 years (2015) World Bank

Population growth rate: 0.5% annual change (2016) World Bank

GNI per capita: 15,500 PPP dollars (2016) World Bank

Growth rate: 0.47% (2009 est.) (159th)

Official languages: Mandarin Chinese, Standard Mandarin

Age structure: 0-14 years: 17.1% 
15-24 years: 13.27%
25-54 years: 48.42%
55-64 years: 10.87%
65 years and over: 10.35% 

Brands and Business Incubators: Incubation 001

Innovation: The process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay. To be called an innovation, an idea must be replicable at an economical cost and must satisfy a specific need.  

Innovation is one of the most overused buzzwords in business and marketing. Most companies that want to “innovate” aren’t willing to take the risk and want a guarantee of results. This mentality can be counter-productive and restrict the development of great ideas. In this series we will explore different ways brands are trying to develop their innovation strategies. 

From incubators and accelerators, to hosting hackathons and creating new job roles, welcome to the modern world of innovation.

The Lean Startup

The lean startup is a book by Eric Ries which provides a scientific approach to creating and managing startups and get a desired product to customers' hands faster. It is a principled approach to new product development. A core component of Lean Startup methodology is the “build-measure-learn” feedback loop.

The first step is figuring out the problem that needs to be solved and then developing a minimum viable product (MVP) to begin the process of learning as quickly as possible. Once the MVP is established, a startup can work on tuning the engine. This will involve measurement and learning and must include actionable metrics that can demonstrate cause and effect question.

Innovation doesn’t neccesarily have to focus on new product development but can also be focussed on making processes more efficient, usually through technology but not always.

The most popular approach to drive innovation at the moment is based on brands setting up incubators and accelerators.

Here are some notable examples of large brands launching their own incubator programmes.

Sky Betting & Gaming - With over 1.6 million customers, SB&G want to tackle key business and customer challenges by building relationships with small businesses, with the potential to develop longer term commercial partnerships.

L’Oreal Founders Factory -  L’Oreal announced a strategic investment in the Founders Factory, a leading global multi sector digital accelerator and incubator. L’Oréal and Founders Factory will invest and scale five early stage startups and co-create two new companies from scratch every year. The in-house team of experts at Founders Factory, many of whom are successful entrepreneurs themselves, will provide hands-on support and advice to participating startups, as well as working with L’Oréal to jointly build and launch new products and services.  

L'Oreal StationF - L’Oréal is the official sponsor of the exclusive beauty accelerator within STATION F, the 366,000 square foot Parisian campus designed to host a startup ecosystem under one roof.The L’Oréal beauty accelerator will welcome up to 20 high potential early stage startups starting in January 2018 and accelerate their development by bringing them strategic mentoring and operational support. 

Sephora - Sephora Accelerate is dedicated to building a community of innovative female founders in beauty. The months-long program begins with a one-week bootcamp where founders acquire the necessary skills to create a successful business.

Unilever Foundry - The Unilever Foundry is Unilever’s platform for start-ups and innovators to engage, collaborate and explore business opportunities with Unilever and their 400+ brands. Through the Unilever Foundry, start-ups can view and apply to address new briefs from our brands and functions, apply for mentorship through one of their partners, and register to attend events across the world.

P&G Connect - P&G’s Connect + Develop program helps initiate partnerships to meet today’s needs across the P&G business: for products, technology, in-store, ecommerce and the supply chain. Whether you are an individual inventor, a small business, or a Fortune 500 company, Connect + Develop is designed to help innovators and patent-holders connect with P&G.

Nike FuelLab - A partnership program designed to connect Nike with industry leading companies who share our commitment to using emerging technologies to create better solutions for athletes. In the first ever Nike+ Accelerator, 10 start-up companies moved to Portland for 3 months and collaborated with Nike and mentors on their company products and connections to NikeFuel and Nike+.

Under Armour Idea House - dea House was designed to give you the tools and information you need to develop that great idea and bring it to market.

Arsenal Innovation Lab -  The Arsenal Innovation Lab is the latest step in Arsenals desire to be at the forefront of the game on and off the pitch. They are looking for smart-thinking businesses to help identify ground-breaking ideas.

Abbey Road Red - Building on a legacy of more than 80 years of groundbreaking technological advances at the Studios, Abbey Road Red is an open innovation department designed to support the endeavours of the brightest music tech entrepreneurs, researchers and developers. They run a unique music tech start-up incubation program – they claim it's only one of its kind in Europe – to support the most promising music tech start-ups, as well as collaborating with  the brightest minds in academic research. The white lab coats are long gone at Abbey Road but the spirit of adventure is still as present as ever.

John Lewis JLAB - Helping startups shape the future retail experience.

IKEA Bootcamp - IKEA Bootcamp is about collaborating and co-building with startups. They are looking for startups to help solve the IKEA ‘Big Problems’ around being truly affordable for the many people, reaching and interacting with the many, and enabling a positive impact on the planet, people and society.

PepsiCo Nutrition Greenhouse - PepsiCo has launched a new incubator scheme, designed to nurture emerging nutrition and wellness brands. The new programme focuses on products aimed at European consumers and seeks to identify up to eight breakthrough brands, with successful companies receiving a €25,000 grant and entry into the six-month incubator programme. They will benefit from both in-person and virtual events, including being paired with executives whose industry expertise can help them address their immediate market challenges and accelerate growth.

BritVic Wisehead - Britvic has launched WiseHead Productions, an incubator company setup to create drinks for adults who seek quality drinking experiences.

Diageo x Distil Ventures - Diageo partnered with Distill Ventures to  support entrepreneurs who want to create the global drinks brands of the future. 

Volkswagen Transparent Factory - The Transparent Factory from Volkswagen is starting a new chapter: six innovative mobility teams will today begin the new start-up incubator programme in Dresden. They now have 200 days to take their innovative ideas and develop mobility products or services which are ready for the market. Alongside Volkswagen mobility experts they will be supported by Group It's Ideation:Hub as well as experts from the SpinLab – The HHL Accelerator-Programm of HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management – and with financial support from the state capital city of Dresden.

Mercedez Startup adVANce - Opportunity to work with Mercedes-Benz Vans and help you turn your transport idea into reality. Support as a fair partner, granting up to €500,000 to co-develop prototype with shared IP rights.

Grime Music, Politics and Ethics: 001

"For the first time in my adult life there is a chance to elect someone I would consider a sane and decent human," wrote rapper and poet Akala on Twitter soon after the snap election was announced in April.

Grime music has reached new heights over the past few years as artists like Skepta and Stormzy raise the profile and have helped the genre go global.

Attendance for grime events has increased by 34% over the last three years, with Ticketmaster selling more tickets to more fans than ever before.

In this insight piece we explore the relationship between Grime, Politics and Ethics, looking at key examples that highlight the synergy.


Dizzee Rascal

Grime has been a style music that above all describes poverty and alienation, as a teenage Dizzee says on Boy in da Corner: “Queen Elizabeth don’t know me so, how can she control me when, I live street and she lives neat?”


"When it comes to the articulation of politics and grime, the lyric that is often quoted is Skepta Shutdown's 'We don't listen to no politician. Everybody on the same mission. We don't care about your -isms and schisms.'


After some fans told Stormzy to shut up and stick to music instead of politics, he responded in his next track, Hear Dis: “They said I can’t tweet about the government, why can’t I be free any more? / I’ll expose these racist clubs and feds who can’t move me any more.”

Novelist is another leading artists who has a clear message.

He started 2016 with the instrumental David Cameron Riddim which was followed by Street Politician. Novelist’s depiction of violence and “black boys stuck in the system” was juxtaposed with swirling sirens and a repeated sample of the prime minister assuring a post-riots Britain that “keeping people safe is the first duty of government”.

He followed it with another new track, Break in Your House, on which he said: “Not enough man like me are voting / But man are on the blocks, chatting shit, moaning.”







JME x Corbyn: #Grime4Corbyn

A major conclusion from the latest Ticketmaster report on Grime include the impact of the #Grime4Corbyn campaign. With 58% of grime fans voting for Labour during the 2017 election, one in four said that the campaign directly influenced their vote.

It became clear on June 9 that Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election was ill judged. This election has highlighted the disregard for the “many” that government should serve, and after an election in which the youth turnout was around 72% of those aged 18-24, the impact of the youth in Labour’s surge of popularity is obvious.

Of particular note is the role of a series of influential grime artists, who are not traditionally known for their politics yet came out in full force, working to galvanise the youth to vote and specifically supporting Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. In a 2003 radio interview, then MP Kim Howells laid into the grime scene, calling its artists “macho boasting idiots”. In the aftermath of the election, who are the macho boasting idiots now?


Occasionally, grime MCs have been persuaded by the authorities into more serious musical preaching. Roll Deep’s 2006 song and video Badman, a cautionary tale about gun crime, was produced in aid of Stop the Guns, a campaign organised by the Metropolitan police’s Trident division, which is charged with tackling gun crime.



Mayor Of London Sadiq Khan has spoken up in praise of the city’s grime scene, declaring that it is ‘here to stay’. 

“My girls are 15 and 17 and big grime fans,” Mr Khan told NME. “Skepta’s one of their heroes, Stormzy, Wiley, it’s great. We went to Drake last week and he had Section Boyz on stage – they’re a big grime act from London.”


Over the past year there have been a number of events hosted under the #GrimeAid banner where artists perform for free and use all funds raised to support important causes, for example the crisis in Syria & Sierra Leone.

Sports Sponsorship Trends

Technology to drive more activity

Gone are the days when sports sponsorship was restricted to jerseys, equipment and stadia. Digital technology means that social media, which now dominates fans' lives, will play an increasing role in sponsorship over the next few years.

Supporters are now quick to like or follow a brand on social media that sponsors their favoured team or player and it's reported that 30% who connect with a sponsor in this way buy one of its products.

They clearly prefer the new ways that brands seek their attention – such as radio frequency identification wristbands and facial recognition – and so do the rights-holders.


“Sports is a people business, so we’re looking for ways to use technology to further engage with people,” said John Abbamondi, vice president of the NBA’s Team Marketing & Business Operations division. Recently we've seen Nike develop their "connected" jerseys for the NBA and at KRPT we're having numerous conversations with UK Football teams about developing their own connected strategies, whether that is the stadium or otherwise. 

There will be less use of physical sponsorship activation in 2018 – for instance at a major sporting event – and more digital sponsorship because of the number of social media platforms. That sponsorship could include digital video and LED boards as leagues and teams upgrade their facilities to provide increased connectivity to their fans.

Data to drive higher value deals

Sponsorship is set to become the latest area of the sports industry to use data more effectively as rights-holders seek to attract more fans.

Brands have started to work with rights-holders to create interesting content with their data and this is likely to increase massively in 2018 due to the resultant increase in revenue.

Mars have already worked with the Australian Football League (AFL) to launch a fantasy competition, in which around 10,000 players participated, delivering 1.5 million page views on desktop and mobile, and engaging over 50,000 fans.

Increasing role of influencers

As sport's principal social influencers, athletes remain a key vehicle for companies to enhance the reach, popularity and influence of their brand.

But as Puma's $10 million-a-year deal with nine-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt demonstrates, the cost of getting elite athletes on board can be incredibly expensive. This has seen companies looking for alternative strategies and 'guerilla' endorsements.

'Accidental' endorsements see a celebrity athlete using a product or service 'by chance', instantly boosting its popularity. To the general public, it appears more genuine than a commercial sponsorship as it's perceived that the celebrity actually uses and favours the product, as opposed to being paid to appear as if they do.

Savvy sports brands have cottoned on to this merging of the sporting, lifestyle, fashion and music worlds already. It’s this trend that led Manchester United kit sponsor Adidas to team football star Paul Pogba up with grime singer Stormzy in a music video, which quickly went viral. Reflecting on the campaign, the brand explained that sports marketing activations which combine influential social media personalities like Stomzy with its signed players will be its focus going forward.

Sports fans demand more immersive experiences

Brands are realising that plastering a logo over a stadium or shirt isn't going to deliver a truly engaging message. Fans are looking for more interactive moments and sponsors are having to deliver through new experiences. 

Esports to continue playing an important role in wider strategies

Big football clubs have been signing up eSports players and teams and it won't be long til we see sponsors and clubs combining in this space to develop new strategies. 

Since Wolfsburg signed two FIFA players in 2015, football clubs around the world have invested in eSports. Paris Saint-Germain and Schalke have League of Legends teams, West Ham’s number 50 is a FIFA player, while FC Copenhagen own a Counter-Strike team.

With eSports predicted to reach 600 million viewers by 2020, it’s easy to see why sponsors & football clubs want to get involved in the scene.

Music will be used a medium to develop campaigns between clubs and sponsors

Pogba x Stormzy

One of the most effective music campaigns in football

Pogba & Stormzy, AJ Tracey & Tottenham and Gorillaz & Chelsea were all campaigns that achieved success this year. 

Sponsors will continue to explore how music can be used as a way to collaborate with their partnered clubs and engage new audiences.