CGuk | MADE Festival 2022
It’s that time of year again. As the infrastructure of the Midlands music industry continues to develop and grow, one of our annual highlights is MADE Festival. After originally taking over the heart of Birmingham’s creative scene, Digbeth, the festival has gone from strength to strength. Initially creating a multi-genre festival, blending the sounds of House, DnB with Rap and Grime with back to back stages on the industrial streets of Digbeth, MADE has gone on to change it’s dynamic slightly, but it has been welcomed by music lovers across the Midlands.
Last year it was not possible to hold the festival within the streets of Digbeth, and moved to Sandwell Valley. This change of location completely switched the dynamic to an open-field festival, and despite some initial skepticism, it proved to be a positive move. With the pandemic restrictions easing, many questioned whether we’d see MADE return to Digbeth, but again, we were caught off guard as they left the second city to go to Wolverhampton racecourse, Dunstall Park. Another move which was questioned, but the organisers did not disappoint as they created a festival site which allowed them to execute their multi-genre festival in a way which kept all attendees excited and packed with energy.
One thing which I always enjoy about the MADE Festival line up is the diversity in genres. Away from the main stage the site was packed with various dance tents which was home to some huge names. We had the likes of Shy FX, Andy C, TQD, Sammy Virji, TNA x P Money and many more capture that rave energy which thousands of people embraced over the course of the day.
Over on the main stage, this years headliner was none other than AJ Tracey, while the likes of Ms Banks, A1 x J1, ShaSimone and Bad Boy Chiller Crew made the trip to Wolverhampton to shut down the festival. But, it was the Midlands representation that really excited me. If you’ve been following the Creative Gen UK platform since our emergence in 2016 you will be well aware that we put a strong focus on supporting Midlands talent, this is where ourselves and MADE are aligned.
“MADE was beautiful, especially for me. The festival is usually in Brum, but this year it was in Wolves, and more so in Dunstall, which was my home from the the age for 3 to 14, I grew up watching and hearing the racecourse, and since then I’ve moved to London and now I live in California. In what felt like a flash, I’m back in Dunstall, performing in the area that raised me, full circle - such an amazing experience. On stage, I had my youngest brother (Jevzinoo), and my younger brother (ReadTheTile) perform and host the stage with me, alongside my childhood friend (Klepto), my cousin Hamadi, my friend and DJ, Kingpin, and so much more family and friends… it was surreal. Man came out to 'Cammy Riddim' and had to cut it at the “one time for Shak yeah that’s it… SHAKS WORLD”...I will never forget that performance, it meant the most!" - Vital Powers
Seeing our very own talent draw in large crowds, and shut down their sets shows the power and strength within the Midlands circuit. We had the likes of Pa Salieu, Bru-C, Reepa Of Wolves, nineteen97, Vital Powers, the Girl Grind team and the Boxout family all showcase their talents to the fullest, and bring the vibes.
"The festival was vibes, the Boxout DJ's smashed their sets. Big up MADE as they looked after us proper, it was proper stuff. There was a sense of collectiveness and everyone looked genuinely happy for each other. Our tent was jumping from start to finish!"- DJ Buxley, Boxout
Vital Powers returned from sunny California to his hometown of Wolverhampton to shut down the main stage. Executing a set which showcased his versatility from the dancehall anthems through to the heavyhitting Grime bangers, this served as the perfect homecoming show. Applying the finishing touches to an impressive performance, he topped it off by bringing out his youngest brother Jevzinoo. The young, fast rising Drill talent stepped onto a stage which charisma beyond his years as he raised the energy levels with a performance of his unreleased track ‘Bussdown’.
"MADE 2022 in Wolverhampton was history for me. Coming from Wolverhampton and performing in Wolverhampton this meant a lot, there’s something in the air at the moment and the wolves are hungry. The set was a shutdown, we had the whole city on stage and even a mosh pit was going down in the middle, that kind of thing doesn’t happen around here so hopefully it’s the start of something special and we can keep that energy in the city. Everyone should be proud" - Reepa Of Wolves
Another WV native that set the bar high with an energy-fuelled performance was Reepa Of Wolves. It’s been an exciting year for the long-standing artist after signing with Wolves Records and providing the theme tune to this years kit unveiling. Keeping up the momentum, Reepa prepared a huge set for the fans with performances of his smash single ‘The Pack’, unreleased bangers, whilst also bringing out special guests, Trill Troy, Fxring, Cas, Grim Sickers and more.
One man who has taken the UK scene by storm this year is nineteen97. After emerging with his popular single ‘I Got’ featuring Mayhem NODB and Jesse James Solomon, the multi-faceted creative has gone from strength to strength. He’s already shut down at ‘The Great Escape’, and he brought that exact same energy to MADE, along with a few friends. The West Midlands act had high energy from the moment he stepped on stage, which was upheld by his trusty collaborators Kea, Ninioh, and of course the 0121 legend Mayhem NODB.
Keeping up the regions representation MADE brought in Bru C from the East side of the Midlands. The Nottingham based talent has seen huge success in recent times, taking his sound across the globe, and he performed like an international talent. With the crowd in the palm of his hands, Bru C brought an action packed set which definitely set us up for the later hours of the festival.
“The festival was surreal. First time doing main stage anywhere and the support didn’t disappoint! Pure energy throughout! It’ll live with me forever" - nineteen97
The next artist I’m going to talk about is my favourite set. Despite going through on-going controversy with the Commonwealth Games and UK government, in my opinion, unnecessarily pulling him from the closing ceremony, Pa Salieu performed as an artist who is in the form of his life. After developing an incredible catalogue of music since taking the industry by storm, the Coventry based rapper showed us just how special his artistry is. Putting on a huge show with performances of his smash hits ‘Frontline’, ‘Betty’, ‘My Family’ and the recent Mura Masa and Skillibeng collaboration ‘Blessing Me’, Pa really did show us why he is one of the UK’s most exciting artists out right now.
Now, we’ve discussed how the Midlands talent took the shine, but we must talk about how the ladies really raised the bar. Female representation is vital when orchestrating an all-star line up, and this year we saw the likes of Ms Banks and ShaSimone set the bar, while the Girl Grind team put together an incredible line up of female talent.
After recently delivering her brand new E.P ‘Bank Statement’, Ms Banks arrived on stage with a well choreographed team of dancers to accompany her high energy performance which saw her travel through an impressive catalogue of music, whilst also giving us tasters of the new music which is proving to be popular with the fans. Similarly, ShaSimone had new music to share with the fans. Following the release of her latest single ‘Thug Affection’ just a day before the festival, Sha took the opportunity to show the fans what she’s working with alongside popular singles ‘Lock Off’, ‘Hushpuppi’ and a high energy set which saw her showcase her abilities on the mic over some more up-tempo instrumentals.
All in all, MADE 2022 was a huge success. The spectacle perfectly captured the energy of the Midlands on a major scale. The festival has continuously improved year on year in the build up to their 10 year anniversary in 2024, and if you missed out this year, do not make the same mistake for 2023.