Over the past 20+ years, UD has been committed to supporting and nurturing Black musical talent. We’ve played an integral role in the growth of Black music in the UK, acting as a conduit between the burgeoning underground youth culture and the music industry.
Rooted in east London, we have been honoured to witness and play a part in the growth and development of the area’s musical legacy and history. We couldn’t be more proud of every single young person who has come through our doors seeking guidance in maximising their potential and achieving their own ideas of success.
UD champions Black Music, and young Black Music creators – that’s contemporary music with its roots in, and leading exponents from, the African Diaspora. We won’t let our music be defined, limited or tied down because the cultures we champion are dynamic and ever evolving, so types of music that we unite around include (but aren’t limited to) gospel, jazz, R&B, soul, reggae, rap and grime.
Didn’t you used to be “Urban Development”? Yep, and we’ve always been UD too.
Co-founded by a group of hip-hop artists in the late 1990s, led by turntablist DJ Pogo, and starting with a small project grant of £4,000 from London Arts, UD have long discussed the pros and cons of the word ‘urban’, but more recently the issue has become clearer; Black music communities have expressed concern over the use of the word and it’s often been a misnomer and placeholder for the word ‘Black’. As a result, over the time, the word ‘urban’ has developed negative connotations. At UD, we’ve never been afraid to champion Black underground musical talent. Which is why we’ve taken heed, in an effort to better understand and serve the needs of the communities we interact with.
We must adapt and grow. It’s time for change.
Recognising the cultural and political implications of the use of the word ‘urban’, we have gone back to the drawing board to reassess how this messaging impacts the communities we aim to reach and serve.
U = United
D = Development
We will continue to bring communities together with Black music culture at the centre of everything we do, uniting young people who are inspired to create new pathways for themselves. Through the programs that we run, UD bonds a multi-faceted music industry, with the skilled, knowledgeable young people that the industry needs to continue to thrive.
UD will continue to serve young people through empowering them with the tools and skills they need to navigate and move upwards, with integrity. The music space couldn’t be more competitive, but with our guidance, the young people we work with will ultimately sharpen these tools:
Our vision still remains the same; we will continue to have the backs of the young people we serve. We are still passionate about the potential for excellence in young people and UD will continue to create space that will foster development through unity.
We are UD.
Words by Jesse Bernard