top of page

Follow The Sound of Handsworth Groove Syndicate

Rob Bailey's debut exhibition and the first retrospective of Birmingham's hidden musical hip hop scene is currently showing at Grosvenor Road Studios.

In the years which followed the Handsworth Riots in September 1985, a musical collective emerged producing the only Hip Hop sound in the city. These young Black Britons were confronted with unemployment, everyday racism and police harassment and turned to music to address social and political issues, as well as to celebrate their cultural heritage. Rob Bailey was at the centre of the movement, photographing and following Handsworth Groove Syndicate's sound through the late-80s and early-90s. 

"I grew up in Erdington but also spent a lot of time in Handsworth as was often the case with Jamaican families of that era. My dad was a keen photographer, always taking us down to the park at the bottom of our road (Brookvale Park) to shoot family photos of me, my two sisters and my mom of course. For some unknown reason to me, around age three, I had a serious phobia of my dad’s camera and would often out and hide away from the thing behind mom or dad anytime it was pointed in my direction...only coming out to face the camera after much coaxing by my mother.

I purchased my first camera back in 1986. It was a Nikon FM2 with a 50mm fixed lens. I then upgraded a couple years later to a Nikon F-301. I shot every thing that moved and didn’t move. From dogs to cats, birds to bees, cows to ants...bricks, stones, sand - everything my eyes could detect. During this period I was introduced to medium format cameras by my good friend and founder of Handsworth Groove Syndicate, Steve Anderson AKA Smurf Harambee. It’s at this time period, 1989, I shot the images on display now at Grosvenor Road Studios."


bottom of page