Throwback Interview: Skepta on Kanye West and ‘Konnichiwa’

Interviews, Music, Work

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Watching the artists you root for on the road to achieving their aspirations is an inspiring thing. The 2015 BRIT Awards were aired last week (February 25) and Kanye West’s performance was certainly a highlight.

Albeit largely muted live, ‘All Day’ saw ‘Ye rap surrounded by around 50 dudes in all black everything – including the likes of Skepta, Stormzy, Novelist, Krept & Konan, Jammer and other notable faces from the grime / UK rap scene.

It took me back to when I caught up with Skepta in the autumn of 2013 for MTV. “If there was one person I could work with it would probably be Kanye West,” he told me.

5 Minutes With The Lovely Shystie

Interviews, Music, Work

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I’ve been a fan of Shystie since she catapulted herself onto the scene with her remake of Dizzee Rascal‘s ‘I Luv U’, subsequently releasing heartfelt and hard hitting tracks that are unlikely to be forgotten, from ‘One Wish’ to ‘Make It Easy’. Around 10 years later, I got to have a real quick chat with the rapper, actress and sometimes model about her latest track ‘Stop’ featuring Jalissa for MTV‘s The Wrap Up.

Peep an excerpt here…

The Time I Met Lauryn Hill

Interviews, Music

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I went to the Brooklyn Bowl at the O2 in London on Sunday (September 28) to see the one and only Lauryn Hill perform – obviously, I had heard people moaning about how it was sub par – the sound wasn’t right, she performed her songs in a weird manner – i.e not the way we hear it on the album – which made them unrecognizable… she was also late. However, I walked into the venue with none of that in mind – can I also just say that the venue is pretty awesome; I will definitely be getting my wave on and bowling there in the near future (picture me rollin’). 

Kanye West’s ‘Yeezus’: ‘It Gets The People Going!’

Music

yeezus

Last night (June 14) Kanye West’s sixth album ‘Yeezus’ was leaked four days prior to its official release of June 18, and whilst most blogs didn’t dare to post the download link that was circulating online, Twitter had less mercy. The social network was packed with mini reviews; some appalling, some glowing, but all strong in their opinion; #Yeezus quickly began to trend worldwide…

Review – Watch The Throne (London)

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This weekend, the UK finally got to witness the most highly anticipated tour of the year – ‘Watch The Throne’. The concepts for the show were clear; minimalism, sharp visuals and pure quality were key on what Jay-Z called this “glorious occasion.” Kicking off their minimalistic approach, the show did not feature any supporting acts. We saw the pair grace the stage clad in “all black everything” at 8.30pm, starting off with ‘H.A.M’.

The rappers started off standing on two different platforms a fair distance opposite each other, which then elevated them above the audience. They went on to perform ‘Who Gon’ Stop Me’ and ‘Otis’ together on the main stage, which displayed a huge American flag.

Visuals throughout the show absolutely reeked of Kanye. As the friends performed ‘Welcome to the Jungle’, we saw wild animals attacking their prey on the big screen, an obvious reference to the one thing that was made clear at this occasion – they are the Kings of the rap jungle.

The show was primarily a showcase of the ‘Watch The Throne’ LP, however it could have also been classed as a Greatest Hits tour, as the Jay-Z and Kanye both performed their own sets.

Rap peers should bring pen and paper when viewing the show as many of them could learn something from the Roc Nation businessmen; the rappers both managed to project their characters and charisma to the audience in an overwhelming manner.

Jigga kicked the solo sessions off with ‘Where I’m From’ and ‘Jigga What, Jigga Who’. A professional performer, the 42-year-old put on a polished, controlled performance, with his reserved energy giving him the superiority of a big brother to ‘Ye.

On the other hand, Kanye was snarling, screeching and rapping on his knees at points of the show, giving us a raw performance that you could feel across the dome. Although they both had a strong solo playlist, Kanye prevailed in his showcase of his contribution to pop culture as he performed tracks such as ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’, ‘Flashing Lights’ and ‘All Falls Down’.

The Chi-town rapper also revealed his inner-diva during his performance, cutting a track off and reloading it as he wasn’t happy with the camera man’s angles, correcting him before telling him “I know what I’m doing. Sorry London, I want you to have the best show.”

Catering across the board, Jay-Z made the rap fiends happy as he performed hip-hop classics such as ‘I Just Wanna Love You’ ‘Big Pimpin’’ ’99 Problems’ ‘On To The Next One’ and more. Kanye made the ladies smile with a quick set from his ‘808’s and Heartbreak’ album, which saw him perform ‘Heartless’ and ‘Runaway’. It ended with the 34-year-old looking pretty emotional as he sang “If I told you I don’t like the way your hair looks tonight, don’t listen to me baby, cause I’m an asshole…”

A powerful moment came when Louis Armstrong’s ‘What A Wonderful World’ blared through the speakers as images of riots, the KKK and general destruction were displayed. The rappers kept their backs to us, watching the images themselves and letting us soak up the unspoken statement on the irony of America’s patriotism as ‘No Church In The Wild’ began.

Of course, the encore couldn’t have been anything else but ‘N****s In Paris’.  The pair reloaded the track 5 times, although the audience probably would have been happy to hear it 10 times.

The pair graced the stage for over two hours and I was pleased to see that they seemed to have put their blood, sweat and tears into it; there was a preconception that because of how high-profile they are, this might not be the case.

Overall, Jay and ‘Ye gave us a phenomenal exhibition showing us why they have dominated the music scene over the past 10 years, performing more hits than I can name. They successfully gave us a clear insight into their world, letting us feel their potent power and their strong connection to not only each other, but their audience.

As the concert ended, Yeezy said “If this was your first concert, it is all downhill from here.” For once I would have to agree that this isn’t his ego talking, it’s the truth.

Review – Eskimo Dance

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Last Friday, hundreds of grime fans travelled from across the country to the Proud2 venue inside of the o2 Arena to witness the second ‘Eskimo Dance’ of the year, the second since the event was last a regular fixture in the early noughties. Although grime has been remained the rebel of UK music over the past decade, frowned upon by the media and government figures, the event proved to be a powerful statement showcasing how valuable and everlasting grime is in the British music industry…

Featuring some of the best in the scene, WileyJME, Jammer, Newham Generals, Big Narstie, Flirta D and many more took the stage on the night. The event featured The ‘Smirnoff Light Fusion Show’, which saw a giant man in an electric robot suit doing the robot to funky house music, ice cannons and lazers – which gave the venue a real rave feel. BBC 1Xtra’s Target and Cameo, Kiss FM’s Logan Sama and others truly delivered by giving us an authentic grime experience, dropping tracks that took me back to my teenage years from artists like Crazy Titch, Donaeo and Gods Gift. However, newcomers such as Preditah also had their tunes rotating throughout the night, which gave the playlist a depth that showed the past, present and future of grime.

Kozzie and countless others began to flood the stage past midnight, just before we saw the heavyweights take to the stage, which included Wiley himself, along with Boy Better Know. BBK did a great job and the audience definitely appreciated Skepta’s appearance, which was not expected. However, the main set seemed to be over very quickly in a whirlwind of pull ups, but perhaps it just felt this way because I was enjoying it so much.

I couldn’t help but feel that because the event is a rarity in itself, we were expected to lap up whatever was dished out – which we did – but I smelt complacency. It should have been the other way round – they should have made the most of every second of this epic hour. Grime may be a loved, solid fixture in this country, but it has a lot more to prove if it wants to evolve into something more recognized and respected. In this sense, I felt the bar could have been raised in terms of the performance, which seemed to lack structure.

On a more positive note, it was nice to see the myth that grime events are “too rowdy” diminished. The audience seemed genuinely united and elated for the love of the genre. At around 3am, the room was still buzzing with undiluted tension from the main set and the party was far from over, as the crowd continued to blow their horns to the amazing playlist. The previous ‘Eskimo Dance’ finished at 6am, so it was a bit disappointing to see the lights come on at 3.30 am. Annoyingly, the staff also came out to mop the floor at this time – I can tell you, there is nothing more humiliating than tripping over a broom when you’re skanking!

My criticisms of the night felt minuscule compared to the positives, as nothing could take away to the 100% pure energy that vibrated throughout the room. The audience (including myself) were clinging on to every word, unconsciously pushing themselves closer to the stage and involuntarily screaming out the lyrics. The event proved that grime is stronger than it ever was. Wiley tweeted after the event with news that the next one may be in Birmingham. I certainly think it will be worth the commute from London just to experience it all over again.


Review – Labrinth Live at One Mayfair

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In celebration of the release of Labrinth’s debut album, ‘Electronic Earth’, the singer/super-producer hooked up with Sony Xperia for ‘A Night Of Imagination’.

Held at the stunning One Mayfair venue, I walked into the glamorous ballroom to be blinded by pink and purple flashing lights and thumping dubstep sounds. With mojitos flowing like water and the crowd thickening, it looked set to be a grand night for the Hackney star…

As the music faded, the crowd exploded (too many mojitos, perhaps?) as Labrinth jumped onto the stage. Looking dapper in a white shirt and red waistcoat, the singer kicked off his set with ‘Climb On Board’. The stage setup was pleasing to the eye, set up like a church with flashing lights and smoke machines – it certainly made the whole arrangement look extremely epic. He swiftly moved on to ‘Express Yourself’, which was carried out with so much soul and energy that the audience couldn’t help but wave their hands with ecstatic smiles. His version of the Madonna classic took us back to the ’80s and made us feel a part of something timeless and classic.

Labrinth then slowed the pace down to perform the swagged-out track, ‘Sundown’. With a tremendous grin on his face, the singer happily went straight into ‘Let The Sun Shine’ before allowing the dance crew, iLuminates, take the stage. The group claimed their fame when they featured on ‘America’s Got Talent’, and this was their first UK performance. Dancing to a club remix of ‘Last Time’ in light-up superhero-style suits, they were a fitting support act for the night, with phenomenal choreography.

Labrinth then burst back onto the stage, donned in a light-up jacket to perform the original version of ‘Last Time’. But there was one song that everyone had been waiting for. When “Labrinth, come in” sounded through the speakers, the crowds cheers reached deafening levels. As he jumped around the stage performing ‘Earthquake’, his vocals didn’t falter and his energy only increased. He finished the song by strumming on a guitar before smashing it on the floor and before we knew it, Jay-Z and Kanye West‘s ‘N****s In Paris’ tune blasted through the speakers and Labrinth was gone!

Leaving the crowd whilst they were at their ultimate high, the man of the night later appeared on the dancefloor, warmly hugging fans and friends and having a dance. In support of their friend, Etta Bond and Josh Kumra were also spotted on the floor, alongside Labrinth’s proud family. ‘Futuristic Earth’ was clearly a well-thought through title and does exactly what it says on the tin – Labrinth is bringing back classic sounds with a futuristic twist. His album surely will become a staple in the new generation of quality, innovative British music.