Ernie Paniccioli and hip hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa launch Liverpool Sound CIty

LIVERPOOL Sound City kicked off in impressive style with a night of entertainment from two of the biggest names in hip hop.

American photographer and author of hip hop culture Ernie Paniccioli and hip hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa curated the night, starting off with the UK premiere of The Other Side of Hip Hop: The Sixth Element, a film which documents the life, art, politics and works of Ernie, and which also stars Afrika, Chuck D, Flava Flav, MC Lyte and Russell Simmons.

Afterwards, the pair hosted a question and answer session, before Afrika ended the night with a DJ set at The Masque on Seel Street – his first in Liverpool for 15 years.

“It's been an amazing night,” said Festival Director Dave Pichilingi. “Afrika and Ernie have been fantastic. The Q&A was really interesting, raising debates about hop hop's role nowadays and looking at why gangster rap isn't representative of what's going on in the rest of the scene.”

The event proved to be so popular that dozens of people were turned away at the door.

“It was a lock out,” explained Dave. “We had more people than we could ever have expected. Everyone was vocal in the debate afterwards too. It was great for us to see how passionate people were about the music industry.”

But the event almost didn't happen – both artists had been stuck overseas and up until flight restrictions were lifted, there were concerns that the opening night would have to be cancelled.

“It wasn't just the opening night,” said Dave. “We've got 400 bands playing, hundreds of conference speakers and delegates, a massive group of people, many coming from around the world. We've been so lucky that the ash cloud lifted. I think there's someone somewhere looking after us.”