Ralph Palmer, Arts Editor, meets with Sussex student, Oscar Berkhout, to discuss his ambitious plans for his new urban multimedia brand, theSTASHBOX.

After working for the likes of MTV and SBTV, Oscar Berkhout certainly seems to know what he’s doing. He’s determined, confident, knowledgeable, but also very humble. His new brand, theSTASHBOX is an ambitious project that broadcasts urban entertainment in the London and Brighton area, at least for now.

The Journalism student likes the idea of becoming his own boss and making this more than just a Uni project as this is a long-term goal for him. But is Brighton the place for it? He certainly thinks so, “Brighton is expanding”, he replied, “it’s so close to London and for The Great Escape, which we covered, there were grime artists like Stormzy, Skepta, JME, and the average age was about 15 which was crazy to see! Brighton has always had that urban touch to it and is second behind Bristol in terms of British hip-hop”. Not only is Brighton’s urban scene expanding, it’s also untouched. All the focus on urban talent is in London, so Oscar’s decision to capitalise in Brighton shows genius business acumen. I noticed there seemed to be a wider goal other than theSTASHBOX though. He outlined his plans to have a cypher (a rap battle) in Brighton and almost build a community of MC’s akin to what you see in London, a plan he’s equipped enough to tackle head on.

Having linked up with Raekwon, from Wu-Tang Clan, P-Reign, a close friend of Drake’s, Joey Bada$$, and Elf Kid, who has recently released a track with Jamie xx, theSTASHBOX is not one to be taken lightly. “When launching a brand like this, you really need to start off big”, he explains. His desire for success is obvious to see, and he seems to have a clear business strategy. His contacts with MTV and SBTV will no doubt be invaluable to him as he progresses but he seems confident without them for now as he cautiously says to me that there are “big link ups before Christmas”. In the long term, he tells me he is looking for something sustainable and recognisable, and he assured me that he “can’t see it dropping off”.

The urban scene is one on the rise, Oscar described grime as “a force” in UK music at the moment, especially after Stormzy made it in the Top 20 with a grime freestyle, which something unheard of in mainstream music. When I pressed him on the longevity of grime he seemed hopeful, but to a limit. What I learnt while speaking to Oscar was just how important culture is to grime particularly with the expansion of the Internet, grime has become more accessible, which has changed grime in many aspects. “Grime comes from oppression… so if someone turns up to a grime concert in all Hollister, people aren’t going to be impressed!” Nonetheless, grime hasn’t lost its culture and certainly hasn’t forgotten its roots.

Whether grime will change is an uncertainty for now, although it’s definitely undergoing a tremendous growth. One certainty is Oscar’s drive and determination that will get theSTASHBOX and the urban music scene as a whole going places, no doubt.

For more information about theSTASHBOX, visit: www.stashboxuk.com.

Ralph Palmer

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