Ricky Belgrave is
Chairman of the British Association of Static Sound Systems (BASS) &
was also the 1st Chair of ECCA (Executive Committee of Carnival
Arts) representing the Static-Sound System Arena.
A DJ of 24 years
experience, he still DJ's at the London, Notting Hill Carnival on
the 'Rapattack' Sound System, and enjoys this immensely. Priding
himself in being a sound system owner (painstakingly put together at
great expense over 20 years) and also an avid record collector of
over 5,000 records.
Aged 40, & born on
10th January1965 in Mile-End, East London; He currently works for UK
Trade & Investment (UKT&I) as Country Manager for all export
development from the UK to Canada, North America & Japan. Further
more, Ricky is a key member of the DTI's Advisory Group for Racial
Islington, Ricky's parents moved to Battersea when he was aged 5,
where he attended a mixed primary/secondary school (Bolingbroke &
Battersea County), and left passing '0' levels in; English, Maths,
History, Sociology and Biology; then went on to South-Thames College
in Wandsworth/Putney to study 'A' levels in Psychology and
Sociology, before leaving to join DTI.
LNHC : What and when was your
first Carnival experience?
It was in 1976 at the LNHC, when I was just 11 years old, I was
brought down to the Notting Hill Carnival by my mother & Step
Father. My Step Father being Trinidadian (though my father, now
deceased was Jamaican). It was the year of the riots, and I remember
my Step Father picking me up and us having to run when bottles
started raining down from the fly over down onto Ladbroke Grove. The
riots happened (in my opinion) because of the deliberate targeting
and harassment of the West-Indian community in general by the police
(& in particular young Black Males) throughout the year. The
community was on the receiving end of this harassment, and Carnival
became a battleground where there were enough of the West Indian
community to fight back. Historically static sound- systems were
always partially blamed for this type of trouble and also the
trouble caused by gangs of young 'steamers' during the 1980's, but
let me set the record straight; these riots were an accumulation of
tensions between the community and the police throughout the year,
fuelled by police polices such as SUS and Stop & Search and not
instigated by the Sound Systems. In fact Sound Systems were always
instrumental in stopping and trying to avoid the build-up of
trouble, because sounds can only operate where there is peace. The
now infamous & historic riots were the result of social issues in
society at large during that time. BASS through the work of its
executive has developed a highly cooperative working relationship
with the Metropolitan Police and other Statutory Agencies such as
RBK&C and Westminster.
LNHC : Have you ever taken part
to other carnivals?
LNHC : How did you get involved
in London NHC?
It is really from attending, as a child every year, then later
playing at Carnival as a DJ with the 'Rapatttack Roadshow'. My
involvement with BASS started by attending meetings, because it was
mandatory as a sound system to be a member in order to appear at the
Notting Hill Carnival'. BASS having been around for about 10 years,
evolved substantially by forming an executive 2 years ago and, at
the time I became 1 of 2 Vice Chairman, then later Chairman, five
weeks before 2003 Carnival. (The previous Chair, Lewis Benn, became
the BASS nominated Director of LNHC Ltd). In addition since April
last year, Ricky was also elected as the first Chairman of ECCA,
representing BASS for a 6 month term. ECCA is the new advisory
committee to LNHC Ltd, which is made of all the executives and
chairs of all five Carnival Arts Arenas.
LNHC : I would like to get your
testimony about the NH Carnival, as you have seen its development
from its beginning till today?
I have seen the carnival evolve and change from being; a
predominantly West-Indian festival, to presently becoming; an
international festival, celebrating West-Indian culture.
LNHC : What do you think about
the new company, NHCL, compared to the Trust?
I formally joined the carnival organisation when there was an
interim trust that successfully took us through Carnival 2002, with
the clear understanding that this arrangement was purely interim and
elections were planned post carnival 2002, to form a new, more
democratic company, based on the wishes of the carnival community,
represented through the Arenas at ECCA.
LNHC : Who are the main
personalities of the Carnival?
I would say a majority of people involved in the present day
carnival organisation have a unique personality and are driven by
passion, based on pride in their discipline and its
achievements/contribution to the Notting Hill Carnival down the
LNHC : What is the role of the
Carnival within the African diaspora, according to you?
If you consider the rise and influence of static sound-systems in
the UK - following the migration of Jamaicans to England during the
1950's, which had a major influence on main stream society, i.e. the
rise of urban music and culture today. The basis of music whether it
be; Reggae, Soul, Hip hop / Rap, Latin, Funk, R'N B, Garage, Drum N'
Bass (and all the beat driven music) that the many and varied sound
systems play, can each be traced directly back to African roots; for
example the basic ragga drum beat is directly taken from a
traditional African drummers beat! The Notting Hill Carnival
highlights and perpetuates a multitude
of traditional art forms.
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