I have always been drawn instinctively to Hiphop. From my early days of buying records before I even had a record player, cartwheeling into a ‘resting’ bboy cypher before I’d ever seen a bboy, scribbling my frustrations in notebooks and onto walls. When I moved away from my family home in the countryside of mid-wales, my ears continued to be opened to music.

I have always had close friends of the opposite sex – supportive, encouraging and finding their own way alongside me. I’ve always been around men who make and play music, and if I had discovered earlier on that I wanted to dj or mc, I have no doubt that they would have been fully supportive. But I never wanted to. Never felt the urge until much later on when a friend offered me his decks and I realised I too could actually play my records on two decks like all my dnb dj friends were doing. I now believe that this is because I had no womxn role models.

In going to hiphop nights I never even clocked the fact that it was only men on the stage, behind the decks, predominantly in the crowd. I was too busy soaking it all up. I got into breakin’, becoming a participant rather than just observing.

It was only when Ffion arranged the first Ladies of Rage jam that I realised that there were other womxn like me – going to gigs alone or with male friends, not necessarily participating but with a burning fire inside. And there were a handful of womxn DOING this thing – performing, contributing, lighting the way for LOR to grow. At the first ever battle rap I went to (alone), I saw Shawgz battle Rufus Mufasa. When Shawgz turned up to that first LOR jam I knew this would be something special! (The fact that they pitted the only two women in that line-up against each other is a WHOLE ‘nother discussion…).

So. Ladies of Rage was born. The first time I went to a gig at Gwdihw after having had a few jam sessions with LOR, my whole perception had changed. I felt safe (I never realised I had felt unsafe or ‘on-guard’ before). I felt like I belonged. I felt like the missing part of my family that I didn’t even know was missing had showed up! In a sea of faces, of which many of the men were my brothers, most of the womxn there were now my sisters! As time went on, womxn at hiphop gigs who hadn’t been to an LOR jam started vibing with us, started coming to jams and are now performing lyrics.

Photo: Kate Tempest Instagram

People wonder why we need womxn only jams. Safe spaces. Apart from the fact that many womxn are harassed and attacked on nights out, safe spaces allow trust to build and confidence to grow. Many womxn have suffered trauma caused by men. Many womxn are restricted by a male partner who doesn’t like them hanging out (creating) with other men. The support and encouragement that I have received from Ladies of Rage is phenomenal. I feel like I can be me, try out anything without judgement, and perhaps most importantly – I can turn up to perform at a gig and know that I will have a posse of LOR in the audience and on stage with me.

Roll on a time when we can all do this again xxx

When I started painting I didn’t take photos. I did it for fun, to get a buzz, to spend time with friends. I’ve just done my first piece which was planned around taking a photo of it. I’ve wanted to try this effect for a while but put it off – you gotta try things before judging them but it confirmed what I suspected – It wasn’t as much fun creating through a lens.


floating free?

My introduction to Instagram was through painting with Sofly – she kept checking her phone between painting, to see who had commented/liked her images. She told me I should get on there. People kept asking me what my Insta handle was. So I set up an account.

Insta has opened my eyes to a whole new world – it got me into exploring abandoned buildings, checking out different typography and painting effects, and I have linked with loads of people who aren’t on Facebook. In my early days of Insta though, I was around people who looked down on those with less followers, and I found this online popularity contest fairly disturbing. Recently, I’ve had to check myself for looking to see how many followers other ppl have and comparing my own number. Why???

Most of my painting related work is through word of mouth, and the most fulfilling feedback is face to face when somebody tells me they have seen a piece in real life. Particularly if that piece was in another city, or if it has impacted on somebody’s state of mind. Instagram broadens this feedback out though, and it is nice when somebody posts a picture of your piece as you know it has caught their eye. It’s made the world smaller, and the ability to link back like this is a new way of connecting with people.

I recently joined somebody’s ‘live’ on Instagram for the first time – good in these times of social distancing, but no kind of replacement for being together in real life. This format doesn’t bother some ppl, but I wonder whether being judged on appearance and the fear of negative comments is what puts me off. Filters are a way for some people to hide but this just adds to the weirdness of it all. I’d be interested to know what other people think about this, and whether the attitudes of men and womxn are different…

During this time of ‘lockdown’ I’ve not engaged with the online gig world yet, as my whole reason for performing lyrics is to connect with others. In fact much of who I am is based around connecting with others in real life, and encouraging people to do the same so this situation has whumped me sideways. I’m interested to see how my thinking towards ‘living life with a screen between’ changes over the next few weeks/months/years…

For many of the people I know who write graffiti, it’s a life-line. When I see somebody is painting I know they’re okay. Sometimes if a writer is painting prolifically, I have an inkling that maybe they are not okay.

I’m hoping to find out more about ‘art on prescription’, trying to be open minded but with a nagging feeling that it won’t include our artform because it wouldn’t fit into the ‘mould’ that is often put on arts projects.

My hope is to influence policy so that people could be prescribed paint cans, and that Cardiff Council might one day follow through on their promise (made over two years ago) to include a tick-box on all forms for contractors erecting hoarding in Cardiff, to give permission for artists to paint the hoarding.

I am massively grateful to Matt Wakelam (Cardiff Council) for always supporting what I’m trying to do in our city – without people like him and Councillor Sarah Merry in positions of power, it would be much harder to make change. I am trying to remain hopeful that more and more people will see the benefits of adding colour to our concrete city, and understand the wider impact that this can have on the lives of those who make their mark with a spraycan.

It’s important to get out and do something that makes you happy, something that allows your brain to switch off from everything for a while. Clear space to process your thoughts and de-clutter from all the negativity that can start to seep in through the cracks in our fragile state. In the process of doing this, if you are creating art or music, don’t forget that what you actually create could bring a glimmer of joy or understanding to somebody else’s life too.


I was asked to paint a Cuban themed mural including portraits of both Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. I already had some knowledge about Guevara, from reading and watching the film of the Motorcycle diaries, which I loved. The diaries of his travels through South America in 1952 as a 23 year-old medical student captured not only the country, but his shift towards becoming the iconic revolutionary regularly pasted on t-shirts and posters today.

Castro, the Cuban nationalist, paired up with ‘El Che’ when they met in 1955, and the two immediately clicked through a shared optimism. They went on to lead a guerilla army, toppling the Batista dictatorship in the Cuban revolution.

photo: @fuzzylogic75 (instagram)

‘Stop whining and fight’

The close friendship between Castro and Guevara took many twists and turns, eventually turning sour.

Arnold worked on the mural with me, putting up a Locos piece in the centre of the two men’s portraits.

In researching for the piece I wondered ‘but what about the women?’. Che was married twice, first to Hilda Gadea – Peruvian economist, Communist leader, author and mother of his daughter Hilda Beatriz “Hildita” Guevara Gadea. His second wife and mother of four children was active in the urban underground movement, and first met Che during the revolutionary war in Cuba. Fidel Castro had relationships with a number of women, resulting in at least ten children. Much of his private life was censored by state media.

photo: @sheweararmani (instagram)

When a girl reaches 15 in Cuba, her ‘quinceanera’ is a sacred rite of passage. An elaborate, expensive affair where the girl dresses up for photoshoots and a party. Outfits often involve lace – trims, gloves, ruffles, fans and resemble wedding dresses or ballgowns.

Lace patterns pull the piece together.

Welsh graffiti writers have been getting up since the early 80’s, when films like Wildstyle and Style Wars were finding their way into the UK’s video players. Henry Chalfant’s Subway Art and Spraycan Art, as well as original photographs of New York trains and Homemade zines provided inspiration for young Welsh artists.

Trefforest Industrial Estate, Webbs timber yard in Rhydyfelin, the old Nelson’s garage in Swansea and walls in St. Mellons, Cardiff all became playgrounds for youngsters with spray cans, including an 11-year-old Skroe. Skroe noticed Coma written on the wall in St. Mellons, and eventually realised it was his uncle!

Cardiff busses, trains, the Valley line and mainline tracks were also hit hard, with names like Jesus, RonOne, Eaze and Cam attracting the attention of budding writers. Over is the only writer still active from the early 80’s in Swansea, and he remembers seeing FINA (Funky Individual No1 Artist) and Coma up on the Cardiff lines. Resh started painting in Swansea and is still active now on the streets of Cardiff. Unfortunately there are not many photos left from the early days of Welsh graffiti as ‘Operation Anderson’ in 1989 meant that police confiscated them.

Writers eventually started walking the tracks again and there was a resurgence of graffiti in the late nineties with crews such as IAU, B52 and HSG forming. Skroe, Hoxe and Rmer became Cruel Vapours a few years later. Cardiff’s first legal Halls of Fame were springing up in Hailey Park, Richmond Road and Elm Street, and RonOne started selling paint as Oner Signs (est. 1996), which has become a central meeting point for writers. Inkspot was the first shop in Cardiff to sell Buntlak, when RonOne was working in a sign company on Clifton Street nearby. Sadsak remembers seeing RonOne’s pieces in Webbs timber yard and bought his first paint from Oner Signs.

Ceres got into graffiti after noticing various Rmer pieces around the city. He painted his first train in 1999 after stumbling across Canton train yard by accident while track walking with Best. He vowed to return to paint it, which started a love affair with painting trains all over the world, that hasn’t faltered even after various arrests and jail terms.

Best went on to set up Peaceful Progress, and the Boiler House, Cardiff, which has held exhibitions and events since 2010, supporting writers to sell their work on canvas, making that crossover into graffiti as ‘art’.

Compass Point festival and the Oner rooftop jams provided opportunities for writers to come together. In 2007, a young writer, Roxe, sadly passed away. His family used £400 from a collection taken at the church service to set up the infamous Roxe jam, which took place in Sevenoaks park. The jam was self-funded, with up and coming writers News, Karm, Rens and others working together to make it happen. In 2008 Arts Council funding, along with sponsored bike rides etc. meant the jam could also include dancers and music. Another writer who passed away young was Gorf – his piece from the 2009 Roxe Jam still remains, with people painting around it rather than over it.

More recently, the Millenium Walkway has provided a central space for events, and some of my previous blogs document the process of saving it from being sold for advertising. The Hold Up have provided a soundtrack for many jams over recent years, giving a platform to up and coming MC’s and DJ’s. Writers don’t all have a strictly Hiphop musical taste however – many early writers were hippies, into rock and house music. By the 80’s though, the link was made with bboying and rap, and graff became more known for being under the Hiphop umbrella.


This is a work in progress. If you have more information to add, or suggestions of people to contact, please drop me a line. Thank you for reading!

Thank you to all those who have contributed so far: Peaceful Progress, Oner Signs, Sadsak, Resh, Ceres, Skroe, Over, Enta and Sion Kisby.

This was the question put as a conversation starter for the first of a series of ‘What’s up with Hip Hop’ discussions as part of the Festival Of Voice.

9th June 2018

As with anything in Cardiff Hip Hop, there was apparently a ‘hoo-haa’ in advance of the event, because either people mis-read the original promo, or they felt that the panel should have been different. Unfortunately, I think this meant that some people that would have benefitted from being there, weren’t there. I have to say massive props to Dregz for arranging this, and for providing an extremely important space for people to have this reflective discussion. If we can’t reflect on our scene, how can we progress in a productive way?

The ‘panel’ was there as a snapshot of Cardiff’s Hip Hop community (because yes, of course we have one). The discussion was open to everyone there, and not focussed on the panel. Cookie Pryce of the legendary Cookie Crew, was there as our host and her insight as an outsider to our scene, as well as her knowledge of wider Hip Hop culture added an extra depth to the discussion.

It was great to see so many faces in the room, everyone with different experiences and backgrounds and I particularly valued the contributions from Oort Kuiper and Asha Jane.

There was a lot of discussion about social media, and about promotion/promotors. Social media can work in our favour but it has also fragmented things – when I first started breakin’ there was one website to find out about all events across the UK. Now everyone has their own event page on facebook, and people often miss out on things if they aren’t in the loop. I also find, as some others in the room did, that social media can put an unwanted pressure on us to ‘do’ social media posts etc. taking away from the joy of being together and creating. I would say though, that everyone I knew in that room was not via the internet – I’d seen them perform or attended gigs and events with them. The process of getting to know and meet somebody has been speeded up with Instagram and Twitter, but physical interaction is what cements relationships.

There was discussion about promotors needing to work more closely together to ensure that they don’t clash. We can’t support everything, but if we support each other, including sharing events on social media, rather than only driving forward our own brand/agenda then we all benefit.

Dan made an interesting point when he said something along the lines of letting go of Hip Hop. Now I’m not going to do that but it has definitely changed from what it once was and I understand what he’s getting at. I would add to Jaffa’s explanation of Hip Hop purists recognising experimentation, play and mistakes as being the basis of the culture, to say that for me community is also the essence of what it’s all about. People like Rufus Mufasa are leading the way, smashing boundaries at Hay Literature Festival and drawing in new audiences across Wales. In our pre-discussion preparation there was quite an intense conversation about what we actually mean by Hip Hop, and this is perhaps a question for a future debate.

Including younger people in these discussions was raised a couple of times, and this is something which we all need to be mindful of. There were young(er) people in the room, but the very nature of a formal discussion is not inclusive, so we need to be taking this conversation out with us. Myself and Magugu were speaking on our way up to the room about the change in the younger generation, whereby they are creating music at home, but not putting on events to share their music. This is a complex situation, which also feeds into the discussion about social media, which is the norm for young people now. It is vital that we support new artists coming through, in whatever way they want us to.

There is a disconnect between the elements of Hip Hop and the Hip Hop community as a whole. Many of our Bboys only train for fitness or to battle, rather than to party or exchange. Graffiti writers aren’t necessarily into Hip Hop music. Is this necessarily a bad thing? I don’t think so, but if people want to be a part of a wider community, which some of them do, then we need to make sure that we’re open and inclusive, and people that want to be a part of this conversation need to make themselves known.

Some events coming up:

June 15th: Four Owls/Three Wise Men/ Jaffa & more, Cardiff
June 15th: Voices on the Bridge, Pontypridd, feat. Rufus Mufasa & Unity
June 23rd: Rhythmically Applied – Mr Woodnote/Skunkadelic/Rap Battle
Last Saturday of every month – The Hold Up Open Cypher  at Oner Signs.
June 30th: Hip Hop festival at Cinema & Co, Swansea including a showing of Style Wars.
First Thursday of every month – The Smooth Guide curated by DJ Veto
July 7th: Sure Shot – Analog Africa
July 12/13th: Blue Scar Hip Hop theatre
July 14th: Graffiti jam in Sevenoaks Park from 2pm
Local Produce – @bluehoneynightcafe on facebook
Rap battles – Pryme Cut Ent

Radio Cardiff:
Sunday afternoons: Boodikah’s Basement
Tuesday nights: The Rapture
This, that & 3rd


I’m not sure if I’ve lived a sheltered life, or if my head is too full of other things, but I somehow missed the hype around ‘Hamilton’ – a majorly successful piece of Hip Hop Theatre.

Following our installation piece ‘Landmarks’, for Made in Roath Festival, Rufus Mufasa kept drumming into my head ‘you’re a set designer’, ‘you’re a theatre designer’… I just smiled and nodded. But then I had to come with something for her ‘Fur Coats from the Lion’s Den’ album launch. I ‘dressed’ the set with record sleeves, fairy lights, silk scarves and a red carpet, and loved creating an intimate space for the event.

Now we’re working with Rachel Pedley, thanks to development funding from National Theatre Wales. It’s allowing us to work together, also with Tommy Boost, Maple Struggle, Jamey P and Jamie Berry, to create another Hip Hop theatre piece.

So ‘what is Hip Hop theatre?’. I went to see a piece billed as Hip Hop theatre at Wales Millenium Centre years ago – annoyingly I can’t remember the title of it, but I do remember coming away feeling let down. It wasn’t Hip Hop in any way related to my understanding or experience of Hip Hop, but then nor are many ‘Hip Hop dance’ performances. My experience of Hip Hop is that it is immersive, participatory and circular. What we went to see was simply theatre – I was an audience member, and the people on stage were performers, separate entities.

Collaborating on ‘People-Picture-Power-Perception’ is a totally new experience for me. Training for battles and jams is very different to training for a performance. Creating visual work to be part of a theatre set is totally different to painting on a wall. What is really refreshing though, is the collaboration process – sharing ideas, experience and knowledge to come up with something ambitious, as a group. Working through things together, which may not on the surface relate to an end product, but it all feeds into what we are producing.

Unity and Boost taking a break from creating new work in an abandoned hospital.

We have put out a questionnaire to gain a wider input on ‘Perceptions’. Many of our discussions have been around gender, barriers and relationships, and this is a theme running through the piece. We wanted to take these discussions further, asking the public to input their ideas, some of which are already being used as inspiration.

We’ve also been researching the roots of Welsh Hip Hop. Talking to our mentors, who were there at the beginning, asking for their input because our culture comes from what they were doing in the eighties. These conversations are shaping ‘People-Picture-Power-Perception’, because how can we not pay tribute to those who came before us. What we are saying with this production is ‘this is where we came from, this is where we’re at, where are we going now?’. People like Lil Miz (aka Pyklops), Skroe and Oner, DAJ and Haylstorm, who hold that knowledge and freely pass on their learning to myself and so many others along the way.

Fina, Coma, Seco (Skroe), 1986

I’m excited to see what Welsh Hip Hop theatre is, and what it could become. I hope that it’s more fulfilling than my first impressions of it, and will be keeping an open mind…

Research questions 1

Research questions 2

People-Picture-Power-Perception is on at Chapter as part of Cardiff Fringe Theatre Festival, on Thursday 31st May at 7.30pm. Tickets £10/£8: Book early to avoid disappointment.



Hip-hop is all about community. Supporting each other, working together, pushing each other’s boundaries and growing together. It’s also about competition – against each other, against another crew, against the world. You have to be extremely humble, honest and brave to set yourself up to battle, to put yourself out there and potentially fail so publicly. But by failing we can learn, we can develop, grow and accept our weaknesses, to build on them, and become stronger and more creative. Here is where it’s vital to have people around to nourish and to be honest with you, to encourage your growth and help you lick your wounds.

I was lucky enough to be a part of the Cardiff Bboy scene at a time when it was strong – when a regular training session once a week, brought together bboys from different crews, to train together, sort out their differences and build. Over the years I have, for many reasons pulled back from training, and my focus has been more on painting. Recently though, I have more of an urge to dance again, thanks to Rachel Pedley (Avant Cymru). It’s refreshing to train with somebody whose approach is so different to mine. Her background is in theatre, ballet, contemporary and Hiphop dance and so there is no pressure for my movements to be strictly ‘bboy’. My focus has also moved away from battles which has also taken away that pressure.

Cardiff has a reputation for its Hiphop scene being well integrated – bboys, dj’s, writers and rappers all rubbing shoulders at nights out. Again I’m slightly removed from this scene now, but somebody who is pulling it all together again for me is Rufus Mufasa. She has somehow managed to get me to perform lyrics publicly – something I never thought would happen, even though I’ve been writing since I was a teenager. Her solid reassurance at pushing boundaries has given me the support I’ve needed to create in new ways, and to trust my instincts and follow my heart. I’ve also felt brave enough to try new things in public without being scared of messing up – my foray into loop pedal use has been bumpy, but we’re getting there. Hiphop is so much more than any of us realise, we just need to be open and allow the culture to be open – Hiphop is based on play and experimentation.

Collaborating with other people is truly important to me at the moment. As well as linking to paint walls, I’ve also started linking with other artists on canvas. This gives a bit more time and headspace to think things through, and work more closely together, which can translate to a closer creative partnership on the wall. As well as working in this way with Sadsak, I’m collaborating with Rosie Skribblah, who is also schooling me on the ‘art’ world from which I have always felt so far removed.

Opening up more as an artist has brought me so many more opportunities. The next few months I have loads coming up – new collabs, shows and performances, and so many wonderful people to meet and share with.

You can catch me and/or my work at:

1×1 Art Exhibition (Aures London), 23rd February – one night only! 6pm-12am, Leake Street Arches, Leake Street, London
An expanded view of drawing (Arts and Education Network), 5-26 March, Riverfront, Newport
International Women’s Day Swansea exhibition (Women’s Arts Association), 8-19th March, Cinema & Co., Swansea. I’ll be showing a collaboration with Rosie Scribblah. For the opening event on the evening of Thursday 8th, Myself, Rufus Mufasa and Rachel Pedley (Avant Cymru) will be performing.
International Women’s Day Cardiff exhibition (Women’s Arts Association), 3rd-23rd March, Llanover Hall, Cardiff. Myself and Rufus will be opening the exhibition on Friday 9th 6.30-8.30pm.
International Women’s Day Barry exhibition (Women’s Arts Association), 3rd March-28th April, Art Central, Barry. Opening event Saturday 10th.
Piano’s for High Street/ Station to the Sea (Higher Street International & Volcano Theatre), 28th March, Swansea Station. This collaboration with Mark and Nazma (Higher Street), will see the decoration of a piano and a new performance with Rufus, based around the history of the pottery used to decorate it.
Tongue Tied (Write a note), 6th April, 7-10pm, The Talking Heads, Southampton. Me and Rufus will be performing extracts from our ‘Landmarks’ installation.
Affordable Street Art Fair (Peaceful Progress), 7th April, 5pm-12.30am, The Boiler House, Cardiff. I’ll be showing new work alongside Sadsak and other contributors to Cardiff’s Street Art and Graffiti scene.
Landmarks (Maindee Library), 21st April, 4-5.30pm and 7.30-9pm, Maindee Library, Newport. £5/ £3 concessions. This installation, by myself and Rufus Mufasa, was first shown at Made In Roath Festival, with thanks to Articulture. ‘Landmarks’ explores ‘nature’ – words including acorn and ivy that have been removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary. For this edition we will be collaborating with Marion Cheung, whose ‘Lost Connections’ paintings also inspired the content for ‘Landmarks’.

As we approached the ‘Palm Mar’ archway in our taxi from the Airport, I was struck by how separate the town was from the next built up area. It feels isolated and unfinished.  I convinced a security guard for one of the incomplete apartment buildings on the outskirts of Palm Mar to let me look around one of the blocks, which had been started in 2007, and who knows when it will be finished – apparently the lack of movement is due to money and politics.

There are empty buildings all over the island, not only half-built, but ones which had once been in use and fallen on hard times, now left to crumble. Yet alongside these, there was a flurry of new building work happening elsewhere in the town, a strange juxtaposition.

The only bars and restaurants I came across felt as though they were only for tourists. This strange atmosphere isn’t something I’ve experienced before, usually holidaying in our camper van on the coast of Wales, or visiting family in Spain. My wandering uncovered no local shops or culture, but lots of abandoned buildings, both in the town and on the mountain.

A week wasn’t long enough to fully explore, and I’m leaving feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, but uncomfortable about the unsustainability of this kind of tourism. I believe there have been some changes to laws around development here, which may impact on the ‘vibe’ of the tourist resorts, but for now, the German Tapas and British pubs reign free.

10 years of concrete dropped onto the rocks,
Endless rocks watch.
Soft dates crushed underfoot,
and you avoid eye contact with my awkward other-ness.

For whom do the pine forests store their wealth?

Complex crumbling concrete counter-culture,
Arab architecture and foreign food.
Sun-seekers dipping their pork-pink toes, and the sea breathes deeply,

Check out the walls page to see some pieces from this holiday here.

When I first moved to Cardiff in 2005, I was super excited to discover Cathays and Central Youth and Community Centre. I got involved in the music youth club, quickly progressing to work in the open access club as well as the inclusive youth provision and a project for young people not attending school.

This background in youth work has instilled a strong belief that young people are vital to the health and wellbeing of our community. Too often the views, actions and abilities of our young people are not taken seriously, and they are unable to contribute in a meaningful way, to shaping the world in which they live.

LCS Creative Collaboration Project with Radyr High School.

I have been a Creative Agent and Practitioner for the Arts Council Lead Creative Schools programme, working with schools to develop creative projects with young people at their heart. I have also worked with youth organisations including Voices From Care, Autism Puzzles, Newport City Council Youth Service and Cardiff Youth Offending Service.