Introducing the Ladies of Rage

Today we welcome Hannah Weiss to introduce the Ladies of Rage, a new Cardiff musical collective. All images here by Aiyush Pachnanda. Enjoy!

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The Cardiff collective Ladies of Rage (LOR) was established by radio DJ Ffion Wyn Morris, to unite women in the Welsh music scene. The group is 80 members strong, the group welcomes anyone interested in learning to mix tracks or take their turn on the mic. Whether you’re into D’n’B or old-skool hip hop, writing lyrics or beatboxing, there’s a place for you here.

There’s a LOR showcase for International Women’s Day in March – it will be held on 9 March at The Moon, and we’d love to see you there!

The LOR had a showcase at The Moon in December, which was a real success. The ladies had honed their skills through a series of monthly jam sessions and workshops, ready to take the stage for the first showcase.

The Moon is Cardiff’s prime space for up-and-coming indie acts and the perfect place for the Ladies of Rage to make their debut: large enough to pack a solid audience, small enough to allow each performer to connect with the crowd. There was a mix of men and women; a healthy cross-section of supporters in the scene, people looking for a good show and a handful who wander in throughout the night, drawn by the music to find out more.

Stella Marie and Trishna Jaikara Shan kick-start the showcase. Both DJs are here to demonstrate their skill on the decks, and each brings her own flair to the hip hop mixes they’ve come to play. People drift from the bar to the stage, as the hype builds for the first emcee.

First on the mic is Becky Cee, a new rapper who found performing through poetry. This is evidenced by the compelling lyricism of her words, as she explores anger and anxiety. At times her delivery is backed by music, at others she lets the timbre of her voice fill the space. Each of the trio of tracks is deeply personal, a timely reminder of the purpose of the night: enabling women in music to make their voices heard.

Following her is Judy Price, the leading lady on tech for the night, who blends her words with a self-composed mix that gives her set a smooth, bluesy vibe. There’s a steady confidence in her delivery that matches the evocative self-awareness of her lyrics.

Amelia Unity is up next, an OG in Cardiff’s hip hop scene. The spoken word poet, graffiti artist and B-girl takes the stage to give The Moon a taste of the talent that won her first place at the Swansea Poetry Slam last year. She’s ready with an arsenal of talking points, from the personal to the political.  Quoting the ‘colour war on the high street’ and ‘a gambler who couldn’t play her game’, Unity flips from uncovering cracks in Cardiff’s hip hop community to smoking public discourse on beauty standards and aging, taking her audience on a vivid ride through her experiences of life and art.

Lyrical depth is a clear strength these women share. Leah Hutchinson shifts into a more introspective tone with her mix of singing and spoken word, showcasing her flair for flow and a unique vocal tone. She welcomes the audience into her world through four tracks that unfold in a gorgeous string of metaphors referencing nature, poetry and religion. Framing both her fellow performers and the audience in the statement ‘we are all an expression of infinite art’, she encapsulates the purpose of the night in one beautiful turn of phrase.

Building on Leah’s tentative step through the divide between poetry and music, singer-songwriter Asha Jane dives into a soaring R&B set of self-penned tracks. ‘If you fall in love with a storyteller, you might be in love with the stories’, is the haunting refrain of stand-out track ‘Oyster’. Asha spins a soulful tale of love and loss, while the hype of the audience around her stills to rapt attention.

Asha stays on stage to collab with battle rapper Shawgz, who transforms the crowd’s focus into a flare of energy with a rapid-fire salvo of tracks from her new BLK Tape EP. The pair play off each other’s strengths, letting the tempo rise and fall as they shift flow in perfect sync. Shawgz owns the stage with flair, demonstrating her freestyle chops as she ribs with the audience.

The vibe stays at a simmering high as Lady SP hits the stage with a flow so fast it ricochets around the venue like gunfire. If the first half of this showcase drew the audience in through the ladies’ lyricism and exchange of shared experiences, the latter sets are a performance of sheer power.

The strength of the collective really hits home when Tasha, better known by her moniker TT, rallies for her first time on stage. The other women gather, ready at her back, while the crowd before her chants their collective support to welcome her onto the scene.

The full roster of emcees, singers and DJs share the stage to swap verses in a friendly-fire cypher that rounds out the night with a display of unity and mutual respect. Every women takes her turn on the mic, the hype of the others around her never letting up.

Lubi J and Stella shift the showcase from performance to party, taking turns on the decks to play some D’n’B, with emcee Missy G stepping up to the mic to freestyle over the mix. Before the night comes to a close, the ladies present founder Ffion with a birthday present as she thanks the audience for their support, giving a shout out to each performer’s tenacity and talent, and a nod to Amy Farrah’s photo exhibition. Headshots of the performers line the walls, accompanied by words, as each gives her voice to the need for this new era in music.

The Ladies of Rage showcase is a clear demonstration of the treasure-trove of talent among women emcees, DJs and musicians in Wales. It’s not just a performance, but a call to arms. This is the first time several performers stepped from the edges of the underground scene to go onstage. How many women in the audience, you wonder, might be inspired to pen lyrics and experiment with mixes after watching the skill on show that night?

It’s those women in the crowd the Ladies of Rage came for. The ones who haven’t yet dared to test their skills. Now when they do, there’s a full collective of women ready to share their experiences and stand alongside them.

This is just the first step.

JOIN THE LADIES OF RAGE!

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