A talent show devised and organised by friends from school has created enough of a buzz to have industry bigwigs as its judges and offer a record deal to its winner.
Da Come Up, which staged its auditions this week, was created by four friends from Camberwell who had all worked on community projects supporting disadvantaged groups but also mentoring music talent.
They dubbed it The Urban fleX Factor – last year’s winner of 2018 is now signed to Island Records with her first single scheduled to be released next month.
A deal with Island is now on offer for this year’s winner.
The auditions in Poplar, east London attracted hundreds of applicants, which drew interest from the networks because it taps into talent which the likes of X Factor and The Voice cannot reach.
Radio 1Xtra and Brixton resident DJ Melody Kane and grime star Ghetts are among the judges on Da Come Up (DCA) – the others are Rob Bruce of Capital Xtra, founder of grime hit YouTube channel GRM Daily Posty Hagen, up-and-coming artist Merceston and Denise Dainty, who is on the management team of another big-hitter Ms Banks.
The group of Walworth and Peckham friends who devised the show include Michael “Buck” Maris, Juddy Mohammed and Dean Foster, who were all at Sacred Heart School in Camberwell together.
Buck is now the manager of another South London grime star Giggs.
Kads Needham, a former pupil of Alywin Girls School – now known as “Harris Bermondsey – said: “I’ve always been business savvy, and combined that with my passion for being a voice for the voiceless.
“I wanted more – more for the community, more for the youth, to highlight the gifts within urban culture. There was a gap in the market which I felt I could fill.
“My driving force was unfortunately the murder of a young aspiring teenage footballer.
After experiencing such a loss, I became an advocate for the youth and witnessed so much raw talent so my next move was a platform to showcase their talent.”
DCA is a cross-platform multimedia production company, working with urban talent to create programming which highlights the stories, struggles and successes of undiscovered up-and-coming artists.
Directors Kads, Judd and Fos aim to produce the UK’s ultimate talent competition for urban artists, bringing the voices and stories of young people to the forefront of the music industry and providing a platform to the incredible urban talent they have came across every day.
Juddy said: “Hanging with my friends, and listening to rap from the states, like Biggie, Pac, JAY-Z and Nas sparked my interest in music.
In 2004 a studio opened in Walworth Road, Unit 10. I used to rap until my big brother Mouk and Giggs told me to leave it alone – lol.
I’ve been supporting young and disadvantaged people for 16 years. “I’m always helping and supporting people as I want to see them doing great things.” Dean said: “Me and my mates managed to make our dreams come true for ourselves.
“I started making T-shirts for Giggs and the boys to wear on stage, which led to the creation of SN1 wear. “
I have also been supporting and helping my community for 15 years give or take.
My mum, dad, and the community believed in us even if the authorities didn’t, and we managed to create a music condominium in SN1, and Giggs is now is an international music star, proving if you’re willing to work hard, you can create your own lane.”