UK rap and grime music has seen a resurgence in popularity with artists like Stromzy and Dave gaining prominence and making headlines. However, media representation of these artists has not always been great, with many scandals cropping up including cases of misinterpreted lyrics and cultural appropriation. One entrepreneur who is making it his duty to change the landscape of British Media is Joseph Patterson, “JP” to his friends, the founder of TRENCH Magazine.
Patterson spent the early years of his life growing up in South London before moving to the small town of Wellingborough, in Northamptonshire. He initially had no interest in grime music but his friends in the town got him hooked in his early teens, and after developing a passion for it but not wanting to rap or produce, he fell in love with putting on events. He attended his first “rave” when he was 16, despite needing to be 18 to attend; shortly after, he decided to save money and start organising his own. His first major event, ChockABlock, was held in Northampton in 2007 and featured artists such as Skepta and Tinchy Stryder who are household names, regularly charting in the UK Top Ten today. “That first event is still mentioned by people I speak to today,” he recalls. His events that followed continued to sell out and after a few local ones, he was approached by London’s Egg Nightclub to put on a series there. ChockABlock grew month by month, but in 2008, Patterson found a new passion: blogging about the music he promoted.
Raving To Writing
Writing his blog made Patterson realise he had a passion for it and decided to branch out by offering to write for other publications. However, given his lack of training, he was rejected by most first the first couple of years. “I couldn’t even structure a proper sentence at the time,” he says, laughing. After multiple pitches, he finally got given a chance by the now-defunct nu rave magazine, SuperSuper. After this, he received more freelance work and in 2010 was hired as editor of MTV UK’s black music blog The Wrap Up. Patterson spent two years there, and a further two at global music site MTV IGGY, and then ironically received a call in 2014 from the publisher of SuperSuper, Steve Slocombe, who was heading up a new platform for the UK.
Slocombe had remembered Patterson’s work and mentioned that Complex, the New York City-based youth media title, would be launching in the UK and wanted to know if he was interested in heading up the music section of it. At the time, Patterson was living in Wellingborough, but with Complex being such a huge opportunity, he recalls calling his dad to see if he could find him a place as he would start at Complex UK the following week, working behind the scenes for another two months before its wide launch in the summer of 2014.
Since joining Complex UK, Patterson has been made music editor and then senior editor in 2016, which involves writing, overseeing content, commissioning content, evaluating ideas and working closely with the management team. If you ask anyone about Complex or writing about grime or rap in the UK today, Patterson’s name is synonymous. “I put it on my shoulders,” he says, “because all of the content that gets pumped out on Complex UK, I look at as my responsibility — the same goes for TRENCH. So every day, I’m making sure that the culture is being represented in the right way because we’re the last few editorial platforms doing that right now.”
In 2017, whilst Patterson was gaining prominence for his work at Complex, an opportunity came up to partner with an investor to start a UK-centred magazine that paid homage to black British music and culture, past and present. It was an idea he had conceived much earlier, with the help of fellow writer Laura ‘Hyperfrank’ Brosnan, as this period coincided with a rise in UK rap and grime music but the way artists were being represented in mainstream media did not sit well with him. The aim for TRENCH, Patterson says, is “to cover black British music and culture in the right way, and in a way that anyone who reads a traditional newspaper can appreciate it as much as the kid on a council estate. And thanks to our trusted team of editors, writers, photographers and all-round creatives — in particular Laura Brosnan — we’ve been able to really cut through and make an impact.”
The launch of TRENCH Magazine has had a great reception and Patterson has worked with well-known UK artists on a number of campaigns for well-known brands, such as Captain Morgan and Asics. In 2020, TRENCH will launch a series on YouTube, as well as releasing a music compilation and some merchandise. A new fanzine is also on the cards. With people like Joseph ‘JP’ Patterson at the forefront, music journalism is in good hands.
This article is part of a series featuring diverse people making a difference. You can find more articles here and if you have a story to tell or want to be updated as soon as new features are released message/follow me on Twitter @TommyASC91