No Signal’s [@theresnosignall] 80s vs 90s clash was a display of Black excellence

No Signal is the culture and has been one of the shining lights to come through an incredibly difficult time.

Whilst it has centred a lot around the clashes of musical titans, No Signal represents so much more. No Signal is Black radio, something that has been lost in the public sphere since Choice FM became Capital Xtra. That was a huge loss and is something a lot of people still feel a way about as the founder of Choice could have been in an amazing position if they had stuck things out. But that was a different time and No Signal are not Choice FM. Headed up by Jojo, the brains behind one of the most celebrated and well put together events brands in the country Recess. No Signal is at its core concerned with the idea of Black radio, it is for the culture by the culture, and it has done an amazing job of translating that.

I could get into some of the clashes that have made No Signal so special like J Hus vs Kojo Funds, Drake vs Rihanna, or even the highly controversial Vybz Kartel clash but I won’t. I have to instead focus on the last clash of Season 1 on No Signal’s 10v10 programming. In a battle between music from the 80s and 90s, we ended up having two of the greatest and most loved talents representing the eras. On the side of the 90s, we got Julie Adenuga, one of the premier voices of radio and one of the purest individuals when it comes to their love of music and being their whole selves. On the other side for the 80s we had Ian Wright, the Arsenal FC legend and renowned football pundit known for his jovial nature alongside his straightforwardness and passion.

This on its surface was already a great clash before a song had even been played. It was a moment of cultural importance just because of who was involved in representing each side, more so because we have rarely seen Ian Wright involved in our culture in this way as he is usually only seen within the football context. But there’s more about that, and we got some tragic insight as to why during the clash which only made the clash feel even more special and something that has to be recorded and looked back on with fondness.

As the show kicked off we had to be faced with something less fun. Despite being where he is, and so called progression amongst society Ian had faced open and repeated racism from a member of the public on social media. Ian had called it out on his social media platforms prior to the clash to let people know that he had to speak out against racism very publicly and that nobody should feel it was acceptable to do regardless of age. It is a sentiment that most of the audience tuned into No Signal could especially resonate with as racism is far from dead in the UK and it needs to be addressed and dealt with in a much better way. Sadly the beliefs of the troll aren’t all that few and far between as after his racism being made public the teenager gained almost 15 thousand new followers on Instagram. A sad state of affairs, but not surprising when living in a country that allows an open racist to stand as their leader.

But alas moving past that the clash kicked off and it was nothing but good vibes. The track selections on both sides were stellar and had everybody locked in and shaking a leg. It even drew in the older crowd with several parents and even grandparents tuning in, with some even making Twitter accounts just so they could engage in the clash’s public vote. It was a moment that united the generations and encapsulated what Black radio should be – something that unites, is fun, educational, and inclusive of all of our community without excluding those outside of it. This is something that Ian clearly felt as towards the end of the clash he was very candid about his experiences with agents and representation saying:

“It’s great to be amongst the culture. I’ve had a lot of agents, a lot of people that have kept me away from the culture. Now I’ve got a really cultured Black guy [who] knows his stuff and he’s just brought me back to the culture and I’ve missed the people. I miss the community, I miss everything, all of that. I’m never going to be away, never going to be away”

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This important bringing together of the community and having a key cultural figure from within that community living his truth within it was topped off with an incredible announcement. No Signal is a fully fledged radio station now, what started as a quarantine piece of content is now a radio station broadcasting from 10am to 12am 7 days a week. This is amazing and shows that we as a culture bring immense value and our voices should and can have a space. No Signal is one of the first steps towards building spaces specifically for us and it is something that can only be celebrated. With No Signal’s 10v10 set to return back on the 24th of May and shows broadcasting daily we can’t wait to see what else the team can do.

You can tune into No Signal here.

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