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Yacht Rock afterparty celebrates 50 Years of hip-hop at The Stables in Cromarty on Saturday

By Margaret Chrystall

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Kojo Agyei. Picture: Christian Banfield
Kojo Agyei. Picture: Christian Banfield

A unique music event coming to Cromarty on Saturday is testament to the resilience of one of the main organisers recovering from a shock life-changing diagnosis and emergency operation.

The Hip-Hop Yacht Rock Afterparty celebrating 50 years of hip-hop with guests and DJs is dedicated to raising funds for Highlands Youth Development (HYD), a non-profit organisation launched in 2022, aiming to build purpose-built sports, fitness, and dance facilities on the Black Isle.

But while planning the event, after a lifetime in professional dance and sport and fitness, Kojo Agyei was stopped in his tracks by a phone call out of the blue from a neurosurgeon...

Q What happened when you got that phone call?

Having come from a professional dance, fitness and sport background, that had left its mark with osteoarthritis. I had already had my right hip replaced and have been told I will need the left one done too. But out of the blue, a neurosurgeon phoned me – you couldn't make this up! – and said to me: "You have to have an operation on your neck in two weeks or you will be in danger of being paralysed from the neck down." I live in Cromarty and she was calling from Aberdeen. I had recently had a scan and it turned out she had sent me for that and said she was looking at the scan as she spoke to me. Two of the vertebrae were pressing on my spinal cord, but I hadn't had pain just pins and needles. I had the operation, cervical laminectomy. But I wasn't allowed to do anything for four weeks afterwards, so that delayed our event which has gone from being my friend and hip hop legend K-Gee (Karl Gordon) coming up to DJ, to what we are doing on Saturday!

Q I think you set up Highland Youth Development after you came to live in the Highlands which is what the event on Saturday is fundraising for – so what is HYD all about?

I set it up a couple of years ago. Since I came up here I have seen a lot of talented kids but not the same opportunities for them as down south. I was brought up in Brighton and had lived in London. I was trying to do something myself and was doing that with football and dance and am a coach with Inverness Caledonian Thistle. One of the boys I started working with progressed to the football academy and I was asked to coach there as well. And I noticed when coaching the lack of facilities for football – especially in the winter. On the Black Isle there are no full-size artificial pitches of indoor pitches. We set up a foundation in three stages, first it was setting up classes that we have been doing, starting to raise money to find a suitable place and the third stage is to get all the money to build it. I booked this night in May, then I got the news about the operation.

Q Has it been difficult getting the event back on track after having to postpone for your operation and recovery?

Cameron Jay.
Cameron Jay.

I lost six weeks of preparation so I've been playing catch-up. But from posting and getting the news out there – I already had KG lined up to come and DJ. We also have Cameron Jay – her story is insane. I used to live in Aberdeen and her mum was one of my personal training and yoga clients and she told me about Cameron's amazing voice and asked me if I would meet up with her when I was next down in London where Cameron was at the time, And I think we met up in a coffee shop and she sang there and then and I was shocked it was a great soul voice. We became friends – she had cancer as a youngster from Aberdeen and was pregnant with her second child when the cancer came back and she lost her liver. But when she saw I was putting on this event, she wanted to come and sing at it. It will be the first time she has sung since losing her liver, so it is a bit of a comeback. And we also have DJ Butterscotch from Dingwall. The event is to raise money, but it's more about putting on a good night and showcasing Highland talent.


Q Tell us about KG?

KGee (Karl Gordon).
KGee (Karl Gordon).

I met him when he was 18 and had just signed a record deal, and we have been friends ever since. He was successful as a solo artist in rap, he was one of the first successful rap artists and it is 50 years of hip hop this year. He worked with lots of big stars including All Saints. After releasing two critically-acclaimed albums he remixed for acts such as Gang Starr, N.O.R.E, Pras (Fugees), Queen Latifha and George Michael and has been round the world as a DJ and touring with Busta Rhymes & Snoop Dogg and is a lecturer at a music college and does a degree in hip hop.

Q This is the first event for 8 Arms?

There are four of us in a company 8 Arms, KG is the music side of it, I'm the creative talent, Napthana a Puerto Rican graphic designer and marketer from San Francisco married a local girl and they lived in America for 14 years and came back. Napthana and me talked on Zoom during lockdown. The fourth person Jamie Miller is from Thurso but now lives outside Cromarty and has a commercial film company in LA. KG had planned a hip hop festival for his degree, so when we set up the night in May originally it was as a tester for that. We wanted to use the Stables in Cromarty rather than Invernes, which is lovely but people coming up from London will find Cromarty magical.

Q You came up because your mum came from here?

My grandad was called Hector Macdonald and my mum was brought up up here. My dad was Ghanaian. It was their dream to come back to the Highlands.

Q What kind of dance were you involved in in your career?

I started off as a street dancer and then went to ballet school and became a ballet dancer and then I did West End musicals and pop tours and things like that and did that all around the world and was a choreographer and a personal trainer and had a production company putting on events. But I had to give it up when I came up here because I didn't have a team to work with.

Q What is the ‘yacht rock’ mentioned?

A regatta is on in Cromarty this weekend! And hip hop often sampled yacht rock!

The fundraising event on Saturday.
The fundraising event on Saturday.

The Hip-Hop Yacht Rock Afterparty is on Saturday from 8pm at The Stables in Cromarty: 8arms.co.uk/hip-hop-yacht-rock-afterparty

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