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The Story so far....

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

Vice beats (James Kennaby) is a Bristol, UK, based music producer, educator, branding specialist and events promoter. Whilst studying at college in Birmingham, his passion for poetry saw him win a national poetry award at Oxford University, giving him the opportunity and experience of an entirely different world.

Once at Lincoln University, studying Media Production, Vice beats met a wide range of like minded individuals, spending every possible second in the studio honing his skills. Upon graduation, he started Street Soul Productions, a record label where he worked with artists from the UK and USA to develop their skills, produce albums, and establish industry connections. Whilst at university James also began writing music reviews for Undercover Magazine and Hip Hop Connection.

The record label’s imprint remained the same for 10+ years, however its purpose evolved in 2009 when Vice beats traveled around the country teaching music production and lyric writing workshops, with clients including the BBC, Youth Music, Birmingham Symphony Hall, West Ham United FC, Bristol Beacon (formerly Colston Hall), The Police, and many more, including a wide range SEN (special educational needs) settings.

At the same time, Vice beats began developing branding links in different forms, evolving his skills from album covers and posters whilst building his label. His interest in design and branding culminated in the development of a youth project he started in Bristol in 2010 called the XLR Festival. This initially began as a week long youth hip hop festival, engaging young people within Knowle West and surrounding areas of Bristol. In addition to designing the initial logo, branding, and promotional materials, Vice Beats helped build the music studio, which gives young people 10-25 free access to music production classes and allows them to access performance opportunities.

The peak of VB’ work on XLR came in the form of a 6 month artist development programme called XLR Collective. A group of 10 young people aged 18-25 worked to develop a campaign against heckling called Hack A Heckle. This saw the students work alongside The Police to run a large scale survey, campaign, series of events and release an EP. In addition James supported the students to visit Barcelona to meet politicians, change makers, record 2 songs and be interviewed on one of Barcelona’s key radio stations. He developed the Hack A Heckle brand alongside the young people, utilising gorilla promotion techniques to support their campaign. His work on XLR saw him invited to the Houses Of Parliament by Youth Music (a UK based music charity).

Vice beats is a qualified and experienced teacher, having worked with people from the ages of 3 to 63! He currently (as of 2022) is a Lead Lecturer at BiMM university, teaching branding, media and supporting music students to develop their brands in line with their ethics and ambitions.

In 2017 Vice beats setup EQ Music, a community organization that supports artist development in varying forms. EQ Music has worked with UWE, Wordplay Magazine, Hip Hop Coffee Shop, Holsam Life Coaching and more to support Bristol’s upcoming artists, offering varying platforms for performance opportunities, talks and more.

In 2020, Vice beats worked alongside J Dilla’s family to create the first official UK J Dilla tribute entitled Dilla: The Timeless Tribute. The album officially reworked Miguel Atwood Ferguson’s Suite For Ma Dukes, creating new compositions with artists from around the world. The lead single, That Love achieved 1 million plays on Spotify at the beginning of 2022, and saw the single release as a limited edition 7’ record on J Dilla’s label - Vintage Vibez Music Group. In the same year James also launched the Diggin’ The Crates podcast alongside Find Mag, featuring in depth interviews with some of Hip Hop’s most respected lyricists, producers and contributors.

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