‘Refugee’ Artist Nadya Talks “Fighting The Fucking Power”

Interviews, Work

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Anyone who knows me well knows it’s been a long-time ambition of mine to wife M.I.A – there aren’t enough artists, in my opinion, who are comfortable acting out the true definition of living outside of the box. That’s fine because Lord knows I can get down to some Justin Bieber if the mood strikes, but a breath of fresh air, especially when it’s delivered by a woman (girl power!) is always exciting.

Enter Nadya. The Swedish-born artist who originates from Iran recently released her debut solo single ‘Refugee’ and as you can tell by the title, it’s a pleasantly blunt burst to the eardrums.

I asked her a few questions for MTV’s The Wrap Up and thought I’d post some of the interview – you can peep here alongside the lyric video for ‘Refugee’. Let me know what you think of her!

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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’). 

Throwback Interview: IISuperwomanII

Interviews, Work

superwoman

So I interviewed YouTube star IISuperwomanII earlier this year and it was one of the most interesting chats I’ve had in a while – I genuinely feel like I share something with this woman, I can relate to her in many respects. We spoke about her rap career before #LEH, her role in Dr. Cabbie which got her juices going for acting and eating ice cream with M.I.A BECAUSE SOMETIMES LIFE GETS REAL.

I’ve re-posted it from MTV right below – enjoy and that!

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Review – Watch The Throne (London)

Music, Work

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

Music, Work

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 – Nandos Secret Gig

Work

Walking through the bustling crowd and along the red carpet on Kensington High Street, you would hardly imagine all of the craziness before me was simply to get into Nando’s.

Shortly after the doors opened, the venue was already packed to capacity as the crowd watched the beautiful Cleo Sol get through her sound check. As DJ Melody Kane performed her magic on the decks, peri-peri chips, ice cream and wine was being served around the room with members of the crowd murmuring, “But where’s the chicken, though?”

Among the crowd, Stooshe, Master Shortie, A. Dot and Arnold ‘Snakeyman’ Oceng were spotted having fun on the dancefloor as we waited for the performances. Just before Cleo was about to take to the stage to perform ‘High’, the chicken burgers came out of the kitchen – probably not the best timing. However, Cleo’s soulful, sweet voice managed to get the room swaying, her strong voice being fully appreciated.

Next to hit the stage was Tanya Lacey, who performed one of her first solo tracks, ‘Letter To My Ex’. The song totally lacks that British grittiness, to her benefit; as she belted out the notes sounding as smooth and suave as an American R&B superstar. Dressed down with her hair rapped in a bandana, Tanya managed to look effortlessly stunning. The songwriter then sang Loick Essien’s hit single, ‘How We Roll’, of which she features on. She got the crowd hyped by leaving them with her version of will.i.am’s ‘T.H.E’, which the Bristol-bred artist actually wrote for ‘The Voice’ judge. Clement Marfo and the Frontline also took to the stage on the night, bringing a heavier sound with plenty of bass and guitars.

The closing act for the night was up-and-comer, Conor Maynard. He kicked off his set by asking if anyone likes Drake, a cleverly safe option. He then burst into song, performing his version of ‘Crew Love’, followed by ‘Marvin’s Room’. Getting the crowd singing along, he then went on to perform the hit that has given him comparisons to Justin Bieber, ‘Can’t Say No’. When the girls by the stage eventually stopped whooping and hollering (the sound is still ringing in my ears) Conor left the stage to join the dancefloor, leaving the crowd to shut down the club restaurant to heavy hip-hop.

This was originally posted at MTV The Wrap Up 

Maz Chats to Amy Childs

Interviews, Work

Amy Childs is only 21, yet after her rise to fame in The Only Way Is Essex, she became a highly-powered business woman in her own right.

Juggling a beauty salon, clothing line, TV shows and her new fitness DVD among other projects, Amy manages to stay down-to-earth, telling Flavour that she is still “a normal girl” – although she still maintains her crown as the ‘Vajazzling’ queen. Flavour’s Maz Khan speaks to the reality star-turned-entrepreneur to find out about her latest ventures…

Hey Amy! So, tell us about your new fitness DVD ?

Hey hun! Well, so many girls tweet me asking ‘Amy, how do you stay in shape?’

I’ve always been into fitness, going to the gym and for runs, and I eat sensibly. I won’t lie to you, I do eat sh*t food, but I balance it out. But I had so many women asking me what my routine was; I just thought I had to bring out a DVD.

What makes it stand out from the others?

I wanted to make it very different, not the same as the normal fitness DVD’s. It is really hard, but once you get into it, you really enjoy it. It gets you working hard. I’ve tried other DVD’s and I thought they were too easy. Mine is easy, but it gets harder. That’s what I wanted; something where you are actually working the body and you actually see the difference.

I’ve also put a bit of Essex in there as well, all the catch phrases, I’ve made it entertaining! What I like about the DVD is that even I struggle to do it. I watched it the other day, and yes it is hard, but you feel really good after you’ve completed it. I noticed a difference in my arms after a week.

Out of all of the cast members on TOWIE, you gained the most success. Why do you think that is?

I hate saying this because I don’t want to be horrible, but in TOWIE I was totally myself, I never put on an act, the banter was real. I never bitched about anyone, that’s not me. You know, it’s also about who is managing you.

I left TOWIE in season 2 and everyone was like ‘Amy, it’s the worst thing you can do’ but when I went on Big Brother I got loads of endorsements. My manager Claire told me that once I left, I was offered so much more work than what I did when I was in TOWIE. I’ve always been normal and I’m still a normal girl now. But all of the other cast members have done so well, not just me. It is probably because I left first… who knows.

Do you ever think of returning to TOWIE?

I would maybe like to return to TOWIE in 5 years’ time, the best thing I ever did was leaving. There was a lot of things they stopped us from doing, like I was asked to present ‘This Morning’, but I wasn’t allowed. But the show made me and I will never forget what it did for me, I still love TOWIE and I still watch it. I just think that it was my time to go.

Your new fashion line is amazing. Have you always been so glamorous?

You can ask all my friends, before TOWIE I was a beautician. Even if I have a hangover, I would always put my make up on! I’ve always, always, always been glam. I just do it to feel good about myself. Every morning, I can’t wait to get up and glam myself up. It might sound weird, but I love the eyelashes, the lipstick… it’s just about feeling good about yourself. Even if I am sitting indoors on my own, I have to put my make up on. People say to me ‘OMG Amy, you’ve lost the plot!’

Who or what inspired your fashion line?

I’ve always loved fashion and I’ve always liked to look different. I’m girly, sometimes sophisticated, I like to try a bit of everything.  I love Victoria Beckham, her dresses are amazing and she inspired my long, fitted dresses. I would love to send her one of my dresses. I think she would like them because they are very her. There are some really fun, girly bits, like sparkly playsuits. There are items you could wear to Ascot, a wedding, a festival… so there is variety.

I heard you are in talks about a new TV show, is that true?

It is true, yeah, there is a lot going on. I can’t mention a lot, but me and Harry [her cousin] have got a project coming soon which we are so excited about and there may be another show with me and Harry. There is a lot happening with me and Harry because they see the banter – when we were in TOWIE, everyone loved me and Harrys’ energy, it was entertaining. So we are in talks about what kind of show we want to do, but we are not sure which channel to pick as yet.

So we should look out for you on our screens around summertime?

Definitely! Maybe a bit later, as I launch my perfume in September, so there is quite a lot coming up!

How do you cope with your personal life being splashed in the papers?

[Laughs] I’m still a normal girl. Even though the paparazzi are always waiting for me, in London, outside my house, I still do normal things. I still go out for dinner with my family, you know? Sometimes I want to go to the cinema on a Saturday night but you can’t… but look, I’ve got some lovely fans and I have a lovely life, I’m still really close to my family. They say you change when your life is under the public eye but I haven’t changed one bit.

Do you read what is written about you?

When I first came under the spotlight, things I read really made me laugh, like ‘Amy is going out with Peter Andre’ – I was associated with everybody! You just gotta laugh. I was constantly reading ‘Amy was caught with blah blah’ and it’s like ‘what?’ I was indoors last night! In this life, you just gotta get on with it. If you can’t laugh about it, it will just tear you apart.

You are only 21, where would you like to be when you are 25?

I’d love to just be doing what I am doing. The clothing line… I love beauty so I’d love to have salons across the country. I’d also love to launch a beauty training academy, as I’m so into my beauty.

How is the salon going?

OMG the salon is lovely hun! I literally have an 8 week waiting list so it’s really mental!

Is vajazzling still popular?

OMG on a Saturday, no joke, we have a girl in and she is the vajazzle QUEEN! We open 9 – 6 and she vajazzles throughout the whole day. It’s a big thing still; people come down from everywhere to get it done. It’s still mental! I am the vajazzle queen, I am!

Since you have so much going on, where can we find out what you’re up to?

Check out Amy Childs Official to see what I’m up to, or say hello on twitter.

Amy’s DVD, ‘Fit In 30 Days’, is out now on Amazon.

 

 

Maz Chats to Charlie Sloth

Interviews, Work

Charlie Sloth is The Man when it comes to UK rap. With his new radio show and his fresh involvement with The Hub Entertainment, I speak to the “sexiest fat guy in the universe” about his plans for the future…

Hey Charlie! What you been up to?

Hey Maz! I’ve just been working hard, doing shows, in the studio, stuff for the BBC…

Let’s talk ‘Fire in the Booth’. Did you think it would ever be this popular?

Um… would it sound like I have a big head if I said I did?! I was very confident that by using the platform I had been given at 1xtra and the presence I already had on YouTube, that I could make a great success of it.

For sure! So that being said, can you tell us about the upcoming ‘Fire in the Booth’ tour?

I’m gonna be doing an 8-leg tour here in the UK. I will be inviting along previous guests who have been to the show. I haven’t actually nailed the name of the tour; obviously it will ‘Fire in the Booth…’ something! There will be artists like K Koke, English Frank, Black the Ripper, Political Peak, Lowkey… all the guys that have been successful on the show. They will get 20 minutes to do their thing, and at the end there will be a cypher with everyone who performed on the night, doing real freestyles.

You are giving underrated artists their chance to shine; but do you think they will ever get the success that they deserve?

I think we’re in that transition period now where it’s a lot more accessible; it’s more in demand than it has ever been. People are really paying attention to what is going on in the rap world over here. Even people in The States… like when Drake came over, he reached out to Sneakbo… People ARE paying attention.

You were independent before you joined The Hub entertainment. How have things changed since?

I’ve always had a team, but I like to do things myself – I’m very hands on. I like to make myself accessible where business is involved. It was a big step, me getting involved with The Hub, but I think it was a great move as they are a very young, fresh company.

They’re very hungry and it represents what I’m about. I feel like I’m in the same position as them; young hungry and with a point to prove. I’m a bit of a control freak, so it’s hard to let go of the reins, but I know I’m never gonna get to the point that I wanna get to on my own, I need a team and people I can trust.

Your new rap show debuted this month. Tell us what we can expect from the show.

It is on BBC Radio 1 and will be similar to my show on BBC 1xtra, but I’m just taking it to a bigger audience. We will be travelling to a new city at least once a month and doing the show from there. My plan for the show is to make the scene a UK scene, rather than a London-centric one. I think in the UK we are so behind in terms of development…

10 years ago in the US, if you weren’t from New York, it weren’t happening for you. It is very much the same here, if you aren’t from London, you ain’t getting that airplay. But now in the states, everyone is united and that is how it became a global business – it was a big massive cake that everyone could eat from. I feel that over here we are very close to reaching that stage; I wanna help through that transition period and be the guy that takes it there.

As the music expert, which up and coming artists are you rating this year?

Black the Ripper is one of the most credible MC’s, Political Peak, Youngen, DVS, English Frank, Mic Righteous… I think they are names that will become a lot more popular this year.

Tinie Tempah broke a lot of boundaries. Who do you think will be the next artist to do that?

In my opinion personally it would be K Koke. He has the ability to be appreciated and respected by the American street audience. Tinie Tempah is accepted by the mainstream world and celebrated as an artist. But we are yet to have an artist who has really captivated the streets.

Giggs came very close; he has a lot of heat out there in certain parts of the states. But I think K Koke has that appeal where he can tap into the street market over there. They are calling out for something new and fresh, they’ve heard it all before. He has the depth, substance and edge – for me, that is what is missing right now.

There is no real rebellion on the charts, someone who says “f*ck you and f*ck society” and I think it has got a bit boring because of that. I think people want that though and I think that is what is next, to be honest.

Fingers crossed! But what is next for Charlie Sloth?

I hope to be the guy that was known and is known for taking UK rap over the line. I’ve got a lot of things happening this year that I wish I could talk about, but I can’t yet. A lot of things are happening Stateside; I recently got my US work visa! I got a situation with one of the biggest film companies out there and we’ve been working on a project for the last year. The next few years are definitely going to be very exciting… And there is gonna be a lot more Charlie Sloth in everyone’s faces!

Catch Charlie Sloth on Radio 1 every Tuesday from 2 – 4am.

Don’t forget to follow the man himself on twitter for the latest.

Review – Labrinth Live at One Mayfair

Music, Work

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.