PITCH Scotland 2022: The Report

PITCH Scotland have achieved an impressive amount in a short space of time and it’s clear they’re only just getting started

Feature by Anita Bhadani | 07 Sep 2022

PITCH Scotland – Scotland’s conference of hip-hop and underground culture – returns for its second year, and for its first-time running hybrid online and in-person in Glasgow. Across the last Saturday of August, a variety of events take place across St. Luke’s, BAaD, Many Studios and The Space – from live dance performances and spoken word, to panel discussions on the successes and future of Scotland’s hip-hop and music scene. 

The Skinny makes its way down to catch some of the events on offer. Entering St. Luke’s, we catch a live performance, The Evolution of Hip Hop by dance group THREE60. With considerable skill and artistry, the young dancers pay brilliant homage to the roots and contemporary expression of hip-hop, showcasing the wide diversity of styles and movement across eras. 

Interspersed with the dance, Divine Tasinda talks us through the historical and contemporary significance of hip-hop as resistance and expression – tracing its roots through various forms of African movement, to its formation as a movement in communities of African Americans in 1970’s New York City.  “Movement, dance, hip-hop – from rap to the dance styles, to the graffiti to the DJs – a lot of it comes from pain. Which is something we never want to look at because it may take the beauty of something, or we look at the fun side of it and we don’t look at the deep side of it or the spiritual side of it”, she tells us. 

“They started developing the styles to express themselves, to find a place where they can speak the things they felt within that they couldn’t speak. A platform that sees them for who they are, not who they think they should be.”

Also at St. Luke’s, a gallery of images from the hip-hop scene in Scotland across the years, curated by artists Shelltoe Mel and Mobolaji Agoro is on display. The images chosen encapsulate the life and vibrancy flourishing across Scotland’s hip-hop scene, through underground performances to art and dance. These sit near a wide variety of trade stands from organisations like the SAMAs (Scottish Alternative Music Awards) to Creative Scotland and the Musician’s Union – available on the day for one-on-one slots – providing opportunities for emerging talent within the scene to make essential connections with industry insiders.  

The commitment to creating opportunities for young people and emerging artists is clear throughout the curated events in this year’s programme;  elsewhere at venue The Space, free workshops for 16- to 21-year-olds on rap and music production take place, providing, for some participants, their first foray into creating their own music. This is also evident in the wide array of talks and panel discussions on offer, which strike a balance between exploring the historical and cultural significance of hip-hop (Mic Talk: What Hip Hop from Scotland Means to You) to the practicalities of making it as an artist (Exploring and Understanding Funding). 

Bee Asha performs in an outside courtyard; a staircase is visible behind.
Image: Bee Asha performing at PITCH Scotland, 27 Aug by Keep It Creative

Later, a particular highlight is found in live spoken word performances at BAaD's Outdoor Yard, featuring Bee Asha, Fiyin Fakunle and Texture. Raw, immersive and captivating, they speak, sing and rap on themes from living through and surviving the aftermath of violence, to mediations on the nature of autonomy, to even the extraterrestrial. It's a welcome nod to the centrality that the power of spoken word has always played within legacies of hip-hop from inception to present day.

Rounding off the day’s events, a live showcase takes place at St. Luke’s, featuring some of the most exciting names making waves in the Scottish and UK hip-hop scene today – from AiiTee to LOTOS and Mace the Great. 

The wealth of emerging and established talent present here and across PITCH Scotland shows clearly that Scotland’s hip-hop scene is thriving, and it’s especially exciting to see new structures being put in place to support young upcoming talent here today. In only its second year, PITCH Scotland have achieved an impressive amount – and it’s clear that they’re only just getting started.

PITCH Scotland took place across various venues in Glasgow on 27 August; for up-to-date news from PITCH Scotland keep an eye on their website: pitchscotland.com