The channel that launched the careers of many, Channel U (Channel AKA), has shut down and in bidding the platform farewell, we spoke to Yomi Adegoke, journalist and the babe behind “The Lost Stars of Channel U” about her opinion on the evolution of the scene from 2003 until now.
What do you think about the death of Channel Aka?
I think its sad but it was inevitable. It had pretty much metaphorically “died” back in 2009, when it rebranded and the rise of online platform had already sidelined it as an influential platform. But it doesn’t make it any less sad, not only because it essentially launched the careers of so many and encapsulates our childhoods, but because had it caught on to YouTube as a platform slightly sooner it would be the leader in the field and still be here.
You made a documentary about people who had essentially launched careers off of Channel AKA, tell us a bit more about that? what inspired you to do that?
It was 2014, I had my first job in journalism at a ITN news venture called V Point News. There was a lot of freedom there do just write about what we wanted and I wanted to write about things that knew, but didn’t really see – I was really keen to try and write about things that were interesting to me and I didn’t see elsewhere.
I had always wanted to know what had happened to the people from Channel U who didn’t blow or left music, but were still icons in their own right, and shaped my childhood as much as those who did make it big.
Channel U isn’t something everyone watched, but for those of us that did, it was life and I knew if i was wondering about what happened to them, thousands others of people would be too… So I pitched the article originally to track them down and tracked down as many as I could over a few weeks and wrote it up. It did really well and I started floating the idea of a documentary and coincidentally, we were approached by one of the guys I wrote about in the piece, Jelluzz, about if we wanted to make a film, and a few months later we did.
It’s safe to say GRM is the new spot for urban entertainment but what do you think is next from the scene? What do you think we can expect? Are you banking on afroswing as the next big wave, are there any new artists bubbling?
It’s really hard to tell and I actually wrote about this recently – we’re in a place where “black music” is embedded in the mainstream in a way we’ve never really seen before and afroswing/afrobashment is unstoppable at the moment. A lot of people are saying they think it’s a temporary thing but I think it’s essentially sticking around for a while.
What I do hope we see in the future however is the same amazing success we’re seeing for young black male artists in the genre like Not3s, Hus, Funds etc to be replicated for black, particularly dark skinned women too, who are kind of missing from this moment.
What do you think of the state of the UK music scene right now? How do you think the scene has changed since say, 2003 when AKA was founded to now, 2018?
I think it’s great – people often say it all sounds the same now but I think it’s actually more diverse than ever if you look in the right places. The biggest change that has taken place is where Grime, UK rap and general black British music sits today compared to 2003 – it’s literally mainstream and dominating the charts on a regular basis, it’s effortlessly international. The future is bright!