Maz Meets Chipmunk

Interviews, Work

 

My colleague Cat and I went to London’s South Bank on behalf of Flavour Magazine to see Chipmunk perform a secret gig. The 20-year-old platinum selling rapper and songwriter hailing from Tottenham took time out to chat to us about his taste in ladies, future plans and getting mobbed…

Cat: So what’s going down in South Bank today?

We have some competition winners here; they’ve come to see me perform. The gig is in conjunction with Adidas and Footlocker. They picked me to be the face of their new campaign to help appeal to the ‘kids like me.’ [laughs]

Maz: A lot has happened in your career over the last four years. What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Honestly? Working with Chris Brown. Yeah, man. When I started music, he was already THAT guy. There are other moments, but I would say working with Chris because that was when I thought ‘Rah, this was what I dreamed of and its reality now.’

Cat: Were you star struck when you met him?

Na! I never get star struck. I think with artists you don’t get star struck because you’re all under the umbrella of music. Everyone has many different talents. He [Chris Brown] looked at me like ‘woah this guy is a sick writer’ and I looked at him like ’you’re some alien, the way you’re singing and dancing!’ It’s a lot, still.

Maz: How are received in America? Do they ‘get’ your music?

I haven’t put out any music in America you know. Everything I have done with American artists has been for my fans here who are also fans of Chris Brown and Trey Songz. I think a lot of people forget, but amongst the artists there is a high respect for me as an English rapper that they can actually understand me and I sound English! But swag wise, I’m just like them… We’re into the same things.

Cat: Have you got any plans to release any material out there?

I got plans to get a name in the US, you know. But everyone forgets that you can’t skip stages; I came from the BOTTOM. Unless you don’t mind having a song that is bigger than you, you have to start from the bottom. I don’t wanna go over there and have a big song and people know my song but I can still go to the mall, you know. I wanna do it properly.

Cat: So you wanna be mobbed, do you?!

[Laughs] Na, it’s not that I wanna be mobbed, but I never wanna have a song where people are like ‘who are you…? Oh, you’re him!’ Na. It’s gotta happen at the same time, I wanna do it from the ground up, just bars and gain the respect.  The respect is coming from the artists, you know. Tinie is doing well, but I don’t know another UK MC that has had the love simultaneously from so many different artists at once.

Maz: That being said, who are YOU feeling in the UK scene this year?

Umm… If I took myself out, as a fan, I think the best rapper word for word; forget about making a hit… I would have to say Wretch32.  He’s a sick rapper. I think the best all-rounder in terms of singing, delivery, character… it would be Dappy. I think N-Dubz splitting up has allowed him to gain the credibility that he has been dying for.  It’s amazing man. I like Dappy.

Maz: I didn’t know they had officially split up, I thought they were just on a break. But I guess you know them so you would know…

Yeah I know them… [Silence]

Cat: We’re gonna do some quick fire questions. Ready?

Always.

Cat: Kelly or Beyonce?

[laughs] BE-YON-CE; you mad!

Maz: Blondes or Brunettes? [the rooms is full of brunettes]

I just like pretty girl’s man, you could be bald!

Cat: In 3 words, what is your ideal girl?

Beautiful inside out. But if you’re talking looks, I do have a type.

Maz: Which is…

Pretty! No discrimination here…

Cat: Chips or Munks?

I’d have to say Chips.

Maz: Only Way is Essex or Made in Chelsea?

I don’t watch either of them! But if I had to watch one I would say The Only Way is Essex because a few of them have got their names out there. That’s when you know you are doing well, when you subconsciously be hearing their name. I respect that, that’s what I call hustling.

Maz: You’ve had many international collaborations. Are there any more we can expect?

There’s some coming. There are some certified ones that are gonna happen, but ones that I wanna make happen are with Wayne and Drake. That’s the two collabos that I want.

Cat: So what else is next for Chipmunk?

I’ve got my new free mix tape coming out, Spazz.com. It is gonna drop in the next three weeks. It’s just me MCing with my peers. Wretch 32 is on there, so is Tinie Tempah and Sneakbo, he’s doing well for himself. So yeah… Spazz.com. Then I wanna live some more and then start working on my third album.

Cat: You’ve dominated the music scene. What about TV, any plans for you being on a reality show?

Nah, my music is for the public, I try and keep my personal life personal. I think that’s when people start falling off when they do them sort of things. I’m not really on that.

Maz: What direction are you planning to take on your next album? Are you gonna be hopping on the bassline thing like many other artists are doing at the moment?

I’m not even about to jump on the bassline! I like Ms Dynamite ‘Neva Soft’, but to me that sounds more like bashment anyway. It’s got a Caribbean flavour to it. If something like that comes up, I’m in. Otherwise, I’m not really that head banger kind of guy, it’s not really me man. I’m gonna stick to what I know but I am gonna try and branch out and do different stuff as well. But that Dynamite tune is my favourite song right now… it’s crazy!

 

* This article was originally published at Flavour Magazine *

Amsterdam in a Weekend- My Holiday Diary

Travel

I went to Amsterdam for my mate’s 21st birthday, and wrote a holiday diary on my weekend there – I hope it provides tips if you  Enjoy.

Friday 

We arrived at Schiphol airport after a smooth 45 minute flight and hopped on a double-decker train to Centraal station, just twenty minutes away. I instantly felt at home with the hustle and bustle, the clock tower, the Maccy D’s on the corner… Until I nearly got trampled on by a cyclist. I would recommend hiring a bicycle when out there, as they run the road, quite literally. It is dead easy to hire a bicycle for as cheap as €6 a day, which is cheaper than public transport. We went to our hotel, Floris France, a 4* beaut in the heart of it all with breakfast included, which we got on a great deal on Opodo. We ventured to our first coffee shop, Hill Street Blues. Dimly lit and covered in graffiti art, despite how it sounds, made it incredibly homely and cool. With large sofas, tasty but cheap drinks, pool tables and an outdoor area, this became my favourite place. We moved on to explore the town, which seemed very London to me, but if anything more multi cultural. I couldn’t help but stare at the variety of fascinating looking people who were visiting from all around the world. After walking around exploring for hours and stopping for ‘coffee’ breaks every so often, by time the sun set, we were pretty stoned. Feeling intoxicated and wanting a giggle, we ventured into Le Casa Rosso Palace. The Casa Rosso is a famous, well established Palace in the city of Amsterdam and we had been told by  locals that it was a unique experience, not at all sleazy. Thinking ‘when in Rome…’ we purchased our tickets and soon became quite nervous about what this show might entail. To my relief, it looked like a standard, legitimate theatre, so we took our seats and waited for the curtains to rise. All I can say is I was not prepared for the things that went down on that stage. Particularly the performance by a young lady who was very experienced in banana tricks. The thought makes me cringe to this day. Buying a reasonable price ticket into the theatre provides you with four drinks and a 60 minute show, which you will never forget. Ever.

Saturday

Dian woke me up at a ridiculous hour for our free buffet breakfast. Fighting the urge to shout at her (I don’t do mornings with ease) I managed to escape my fluffy duvet and got myself ready. After our short tram journey to Anne Frank’s Huis, we grabbed a homemade ice cream while we queued. Tickets were €8.50 which gave us a lengthy tour along with videos and artifacts, making it an emotional must see. Next door is The Pancake Bakery, also known as the best pancake house in Amsterdam – I can confirm that it is. We strolled down to Vondel Park next, the most idyllic part of the city; with food from the local supermarket. Vondel Park is free, fun and great place to sunbathe, read, picnic and play in the paddling pool. Behind the park is a lush restaurant (I gained a lot of weight on this holiday) with an outdoor terrace and next door is Amsterdam’s Film and Theatre museum, which has a spectacular open air theatre, which you can experience for decent prices with English subtitles. Keep an eye out for events on http://www.iamsterdam.com as they also hold free ‘party in the park’ like concerts there regularly. We returned to Centraal station for a canal cruise, where you simply turn up and pay €8 to be taken on the 75 minute tour. Amsterdam has been dubbed the ‘Venice of the North’ and it certainly was a spectacular way to see the whole town. We ended the night by ‘coffee shop/bar hopping’ – every place is so different it is like going from one adventure to the next.

Sunday

After another excruciatingly early breakfast (thanks Dian), we hopped on the tram to The Van Gogh museum. Even if like me you are not particularly arty, just do it to hear the truth about why he cut his ear off. It is €14 but if you are 16 – 25 you are entitled to a discount. Result. A few minutes away is the Rijksmuseum of Art and History, which is simply a once in a lifetime experience. Check out Amsterdam’s most sought after photo opportunity outside the Rijksmuseum – the ‘IAMSTERDAM’ letters. Towering at 2 metres high and 26 metres long, I attempted to clamber on top to get our photos taken with no joy, but it was entertaining to say the least! We then went to the bibliotheek (library) for lunch. I was sceptical of how good a libraries canteen could be, but with a fresh buffet of iced mango juices, salads, pizza, cake and more, it was phenomenal. Another highlight of the library was the roof top dining area, which gave a stunning view of Amsterdam. There was also free internet available which was a huge saver, as the internet cafes in the town are VERY expensive. Next door you can see the Nemo Science museum, a funky looking building surrounded by water, which is definitely worth checking out. When it was time to go to the airport, I felt I was nowhere near finished exploring the vibrant city. Amsterdam maybe a small place, but it definitely holds many, many treasures.

Maz Meets Baby Blue

Interviews, Work

 

I’ve dug up another interview out of the NXG Magazine archives – check out what Baby Blue had to say when I spoke to her in January.

Meet the U.K’s female rapper of the moment – Baby Blue.

The Grime scene is definitely a man’s world. Females have come and gone, but ultimately, the dudes have been dominating the scene from day. Thanks to certain UK female artists, things are changing. This inspirational artist has traveled all over New York, collaborated with Estelle and John Legend, and gained respect from her male peers, even collaborating with some of them, such as Sway. Her new single, Paper Haters, is a monster in the music scene and everyone is waiting for the release of her debut album. Baby Blue is here with us today to talk us through her journey.

Hey Blue. How did you find your passion for rap?

When I was younger, I used to listen to Nas and Jay-Z, I have always loved rap. A few of my friends started a crew, but they had no females, as usual! They asked me to write some lyrics, as they wanted me to be like the Lil Kim of the crew. Initially, I thought ‘no way!’ But I gave writing a go and when it came to rapping for them, they said I had something. So I carried on practicing and got better. I felt I had finally found something that I genuinely loved. I then started a college course in film writing, which actually helped me write some raw lyrics.

What was your childhood dream?

I wanted to be a Hollywood actress! But when I got into music, nothing else mattered. I would like to get into acting one day, and I will pursue it when I have the time. I am too in love with music right now, and I wanna put all my energy into my album.

When did you receive your first big break?

I guess it would be when Estelle picked me up in 2005. She took me all around the world, and I was her hype girl on tour. It was incredible.  She took me to New York where I met John Legend and loads of other stunning artists. In New York, it was my first time in a proper studio, meeting with real producers… that was the first moment I felt like I was living the dream.

How did you meet Estelle?

My manager sent her some of my material, although I think she had already heard of me. I had wanted to work with her for some time, as she was really doing her thing. When she got back to my manager, I ended up meeting up with her and that’s when I became her hype girl. We spent a lot of time together; it was a once in a lifetime opportunity which has helped shape my career.

How was British Rap received in the US?

It is getting better now. Back in the day, most Americans said they couldn’t understand what we were saying! We rap quite fast in the U.K in comparison to them, so most of the time, they would say that they really liked it, but they simply couldn’t understand it… But now days, a lot of American artists are hopping on to grime tracks and dubstep, it is becoming more popular and accepted across the pond. Just look at Diddy’s grime version of Hello Good Morning featuring Skepta! That was a major step forward in the grime scene.

How difficult has it been for you as a female in the game?

You have to work ten times harder than a dude just to get to the same position as him. A lot of people will not take you seriously, you are criticised on the way you dress and how you appear, as well as your vocals. What I hate is that females often get put in a box. I do not want to be compared with other female artists. The media always have to turn women against each other. All I ever hear is, ‘who is the best female mc?’ I just want to be compared as an artist, not a woman. For me, I just concentrate on putting out hot verses. On the plus side, as a female in the game you do stand out, people listen more. There are so many guys in the game, that as a woman, if you play it right, you can really shine.

Who has been your favourite collaboration to date?

My track with Estelle and John Legend was a massive accomplishment to me, as they are both amazing artists.

Who is your dream artist to work with?

Jay-Z all the way, every day! I absolutely love him and have always looked up to him. I think he’s always consistent, he is a great business man, and he delivers sick bars. I love Nas as well, but my dream collaboration would be with Jay Z.

So what is next on your horizon?

My main task at the moment is finishing my album. I have done a lot of features and mixtapes, so I definitely think it is time my album came out, so I can give my fans some real material. I have recorded so much. I was due to release my album last year, but it has been pushed back to 2011, as I wanted it to reek of perfection…

Finally, what advice do you have for up and coming female artists?

Work hard, be persistent, and do not let the knocks you receive hold you back, keep trying and you will win. Make sure you have a good team behind you, a team that support you and let you make your own choices. Never let anyone steer you away from your instincts, always do what feels right to you.

Maz Meets Arnold Oceng

Interviews, Work

 

Interview with Arnold Oceng – aka Snakeyman

With his track Making Moves causing serious airwaves and several new film ventures on the way, Arnold Oceng, aka Snakeyman is one to watch for 2011.  You may have caught Arnold in the innovative British blockbusters Adulthood and 4.3.2.1, not to mention the classic teenage show, Grange Hill. I chat to the young star about his many ventures, his advice to up and coming artists and what we should expect from him next…

Hey Arnold, or should I say Snakeyman. How are you?

Sup Homie! I’m all good, thanks. I am having a wicked day, the video for my new track Making Moves has just been showcased exclusively on MTV. It has a great buzz about it and there are lots of familiar faces that you should recognise in the video.

The track is banging, I will definitely check out the video.

Thanks. Yeah make sure you check it out! My first release of 2011, it is the start of many great tracks to come, you know.

You must get this a lot, but I have to ask – what do you prefer, acting or music?

I get this one a lot, yes!  Acting and rapping are so different; it’s hard to put them up for comparison. I guess ultimately, acting is what I’ve been on since I was a kid, so it was the first dream that I fulfilled.

What was your first big break?

Well, I had a few small gigs before I even hit secondary school. But my first real dream job was my role on Grange Hill when I got the high school. It was weird, because Grange Hill was so big back in the day; I wasn’t used to people recognising me! It was a great gig and it really helped me with my career. Things really blew up for me when I got my role in Adulthood though.

What is next for you in terms of acting?

There is a lot going on this year. You will see me in a few films this year, one of them being Suicide Kids. Watch out for me and check my updates on Twitter. This is my art and it means so much to me. I wanna show my diversity and I want my name to stand for more than one character. Why can’t I play a serious character, such as a lawyer or a doctor, or even Superman if I want? Most roles I get are sort of ‘gangster’ or I get the ‘joker’ role. I can’t wait to get my hands on some more diverse roles.

We hear you have your own clothing store.

Yes, the store is in Chichester, where I went to university. In Chichester, there are no urban clothing stores, so we got some money together and got a lease for the store. We do not stock our own clothing yet, but as I am sponsored by a lot of brands, such as New Era and Boxfresh, so we stock a lot of their stuff. We also give a platform for other UK brands to sell their clothes. The store has an amazing location; it is something I am really proud of.

You also are a partner in the talent management company, ARG. It seems you are quite the multitasker…

Yeah, you could say that! ARG isn’t just music based; we have a sports player and DJ’s, as well as rappers. I really believe in fresh UK talent and I want to give people a platform to showcase all kinds of talents. It’s a good feeling man. I am doing a lot at the moment, but that is because in the music game, longevity is rare. You are only the ‘in thing’ for a certain amount of time. So I want to secure my legacy.

As a rapper, what is your advice for people trying to break the scene?

Musically, things have massively changed. Most people are independent now, you can do it all yourself, you know. The internet really is amazing. You can upload a video and start to build your own fan base. Even making a music video is so much easier these days. I would definitely recommend setting up a Twitter and a YouTube page. You can create your OWN buzz; you don’t need to wait for someone to do it for you. You can even release your own music independently on i tunes. Keep dropping your music, keep persisting and keep interacting with people to get your fan base growing. Trust me, you will start to gain a following.

What about any wannabe actors?

Acting is totally different! The difference with music and acting is that you cannot really do anything independently as an actor. You know, my friends tell me they wanna hop on the acting game, but it is not that easy! Some people I know have gone to drama school for years, but when they come out they can’t get an agent and they don’t work. It can depend on luck. There is no direct avenue for acting, but what I will say is you need A LOT of drive. You have to be prepared for doors to shut in your face, as that is what auditions are all about. You are not going to get every role, and you will hear the word ‘NO’ a lot. But you have to keep pushing doors and eventually a door will open and someone will say yes.  If you can, go to drama school and keep working on perfecting your art.

Last words?

You will get people saying stuff about your acting or your music. The bottom line is you just have to deal with it. That is life and not everyone is going to like you. But keep persisting and you will get to where you want to be, in the end.

Maz Meets Gemma Cairney

Interviews, Work

 

If you don’t already know about this chick, you must be living under a rock. She is the presenter and official style expert of the channel 4 show Frock Me, radio presenter for BBC 1xtra and stylist to the stars. Yup, you could almost call her superwoman.  I spoke to the gal herself about her latest ventures.

You are a lady of many talents. You have been a TV presenter, stylist and a radio presenter. But what was your main ambition as a youngster?

I went to the BRIT school, as I wanted to be an actor. I did a lot of theatre there which was great fun. But I soon realised that I couldn’t really play any other character but myself! Shortly after my drama experience, I moved to London, where I found myself highly inspired by fashion. It inspired me to get involved. I gained a lot of valuable experiences, meeting loads of wonderful people. But even at that stage I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I thought, ‘how can I combine all my experiences to create my dream career?’ I decided to do a short course in Radio, where I found my niche. After my course I got myself out there on a mission, and radio became my 9 to 5. With radio jobs coming in, the TV followed. That led to my show on channel 4, Frock Me.

What do you prefer, fashion or radio/TV?

I am in love with fashion. It is a great way of expressing yourself; I think it tells a great story. It influences me immensely. But I find that my passion for people over rides that. If you listen to the BBC 1Xtra breakfast show, you will know that I absolutely love to talk! So whilst I adore wearing silly clothes to make a statement, I love interacting with others more, so people win hands down for me. I feel so lucky to be on the radio, doing what I love the most.

How did you get your name out there?

First, I have to say, I feel really lucky for everything I am doing. I honestly never believed I would be in this position. The best advice I have is to always keep an open mind. Do not limit yourself to one genre, one idea, or one goal. There is so much going on in the TV Industry, radio and media in general. There are so many wonderful people involved in all sorts of projects and collectives. So I find if you have an open mind to try new things, it helps you develop your craft and you meet new and fabulous people. The experience also helps you decide where exactly you think your destiny lies. And do not forget about networking! Hand out as many business cards as you can and build up those contacts.

What else have you been up to on the TV front?

I have been everywhere! I have produced some plays; I have set up my own shoots… I remember on one shoot, I had to lug suitcases around Richmond Park, it was crazy! But all those efforts when I had no one else to help me paid off tremendously. I find the way to get into TV is to brave but not pushy. There is a fine line between the two, but you have to get the balance right. Also, you have to have a sense of humour, as life can be ridiculous! Be open minded but never, ever, lose your own values.

So January 2011 is a big look for you, as you are starting your new radio show, leaving Trevor. How does that feel?

It feels majorly exciting! I will have my own slot from 1pm – 4pm every weekday. As I’ve been doing the breakfast show with Trevor, I haven’t had a lie in in years! I have loads and loads of ideas for the show. I’m a random person, so I have loads of random ideas, but we’ll see what ideas will materialise. But I will definitely be changing the afternoon slot up. It will be new, exciting and filled with lots of chatter by me! Not forgetting the amazing music exclusives either, of course…

What is it like working with Trevor Nelson every morning?

He has become a life-long friend to me. He has 15 years in the game, so I learnt from the best, truly. We may bicker in the morning, we may disagree, but ultimately he is like family to me now. I have untold respect for him. It will be very sad not to have him by my side on the radio. He gave me the best introduction to radio that I could have ever hoped for. He is a strict mentor, but a great one. I mean, working at the BBC is rewarding in itself, I have seen so many amazing things. I absolutely love 1xtra, and I do not see myself leaving any time soon.

What is next for you?

I hope to be climbing mountains… I mean that literally! I will be setting up something physically intense next year. I hope to do some presenting at Glastonbury next year. Festivals are a great love of mine. I have been in talks with some TV heads about some shows that I want to do in the near future, I want to do something unique, and not something that has been done and redone, like so many other shows on television. So you’ll have to wait and see…

Check out Gemma’s show on BBC 1xtra from 1pm – 4pm every weekday.

You can read the full Jan/Feb issue of NXG Magazine here.

Maz Meets Wretch 32

Interviews, Work

 

Wretch 32 has had a crazy year: He was nominated for MTVs ‘Brand New 2011’, and BBC’s Sound of 2011 before releasing his breakthrough single Traktor. The rest is history in the making. The NXG crew and I sat down with the Retro Boy to find out what he will be doing next…

With your new singles, you are in a good place right now. How do you feel about it?

I am feeling really good. I don’t want to plan for too much. I would rather put my stuff out, see how it goes and if it goes well, it means it was meant to go well, you know.Traktor set us up nice for a good year and I think Unorthodox is doing similar things. For me it’s just like fingers crossed, you know. What will be, will be. You are only going to do all you can do, nothing more than that, nothing less.

Urban music is in a great place right now in the UK. How do you feel about people such as Dizzee and Wiley who paved the way?

I think every generation of artist are as important as the last. You know, I think So Solid are as important as Wiley, who are as important as Chipmunk and Tinchy, who are important as Tinie and Plan B… you know what I mean? Without the ones before, there almost is no one after.

We are all learning as we go along, it is a learning curve for every generation of artist. When someone is up before you, you can watch their mistakes and see where they went wrong. I think that is what each new generation should do. Dizzee is a total legend, Wiley has opened a lot of doors… it is just time that people get their heads down and work. The other day, when I found out Tinie Tempah was doing the o2, I nearly fell off my chair! That is MASSIVE! I phoned his manager and said: “I just want to congratulate you on everything that was done previously, and whatever is about to happen.” It is phenomenal; the o2 is a big move. It is definitely a good time right now in UK music.

You came out several years ago and a lot has happened since then. What have been the stepping stones that paved your way to mainstream success?

I think everything has played a massive part. I think being in the crew I started in (The Movement) was a big part of it. We were like brothers, its not that we broke up, we just don’t do music together. They taught me so much. Being in The Movement helped to keep me on my toes so much, it sharpened my skills.

I think you got to learn something from everything, even your mistakes. It is hard to put a pin on specific thing, because it was everything in one, as a whole. Every time I messed up a lyric on radio, I learnt from it, times when I recorded material and heard it back and it was wrong… I learnt from everything.

How do you find performing live?

I try to come out on stage at the last possible moment. My song intro will be playing and I try to wait until the last possible second. I like that suspense. I try and take you through a whole load of emotions. If you catch me in a club, expect to hear a club set. If you catch me at a jazz café, expect to be touched.

Of course we would still do Traktor as well, but I have a completely different set to what I do at a festival, as I cater to wherever I am performing. But I am still giving them me as I will only do stuff that I like or wrote, you know? At a festival, expect it to be hyped! I might give you a little emotion so you know to expect when you come to one of my shows.

What did you hope to achieve with Unorthadox?

We were in a predicament after Traktor. It was like, what do you do now? Do you show your emotional side, or do you do Traktor again? We wanted to do something different that would capture a different audience…

 

Review: Wireless Festival 2011

Music, Work

On the tube down to Hyde Park Corner, the excitement mounted as I thought of the acts I was yet to see. This year was different. For once, there was a strong presence of British artists and not just ones who were ‘fillers’ for the ‘real acts’ i.e – the American artists. British music has had an amazing time over the past few years, which has led to our own sound being spread and eventually accepted across the globe. Although the festivals first headliner was The Black Eyed Peas, I was more pumped to see Example and Plan B.

Fellow NXG team member Emma Knock and I arrived fashionably late, only picking up pace after my sister called me screeching “The queues here are ABSURD, Maz! Hurry.”

Arriving in somewhat of a fluster, the queue had completely vanished, so we walked straight in. Phew. It was my first time at Wireless and I was surprised to see how relaxed it was. Its location told me to expect pure mayhem, constant barging and other typically London mannerisms.

I was massively disappointed to see that we although we had dodged the queues, we had arrived towards the end of Example’s set. I managed to glimpse a regrettably small portion of his performance of Changed the Way You Kissed Me, which was electric. We also managed to have a little groove to Far East Movement’s performance of Like a G6, which was undoubtedly one of the best high energy performances of the Friday. Although I previously doubted their longevity as artists, I could not doubt their stage presence. We then went to explore the park, which was filled with food stalls and bars of extortionate prices. I instantly regretted not smuggling a bottle in my bag as I reluctantly purchased a plastic glass half filled with rosé for £4.

Emma and I then tottered along to the main stage to check out Tinie Tempah’s highly anticipated performance. This was our second time seeing the Plumstead born rapper, after initially seeing him at the Hammersmith Apollo earlier this year. I had expected that the Pass Out star would have perfected his performances with the amount of practise he’s been having. I was disappointed to say this was not the case.  I was taken aback when Tinie freestyled over several current pop chart instrumentals and the DJ set was exactly the same as when he has performed at the Apollo, several months ago. Was he playing it safe or was he simply lazy?  Who knows, but it did not impress me. The rest of the set lacked charisma and confidence, but was overall acceptable. First time Tinie Tempah attenders would have been more than satisfied with the set; perhaps I expected too much.

Dressed all in black, I was boiling. Emma had a spare white t-shirt, so after a change of clothes right in the middle of the park (“Rock n Roll behaviour – thus totally acceptable at a festival” Emma promised) we went to find some munch before the next set, David Guetta. We grabbed a tiny portion of chips for £3 to share and sat down on the eroded grass for supper. David’s set began earlier than I realised, so we hastily finished our humble meal and tried to get a good spot in the ‘rave tent’ which was dazzling with lights, confetti, occasional fireworks and unbearable body heat. We were unlucky in this pursuit (which suited me, I was hot and my new pink shoes had been trampled on enough) so we watched from a distance. With his large audience, I was surprised that he was not on the main stage, but the rave tent was perfectly suited for him; it was almost made for his vibe of music. Mass amounts of bodies grinded, swayed and jumped about to When Love Takes Over, Sexy Chick, I Gotta Feeling and many of his other dance floor fillers.

Restless, we moved along to witness the remainder of Plan B’s set on the main stage. Dressed in his signature black suit and tie, he looked, sounded and acted the part. His song choices had a slight alternative music/rock edge, which prompted me to question which genre his future album will reflect. Although I prefer Plan B’s urban sounds, it was clear that he knows what he can get away with in terms of diverse music and he also knows what he is comfortable with and it works for him. Witnessing his set was to see a true artist perform, one with as many layers as an onion.

Next up was the headliners, what most people were here to see. The Black Eyed Peas.

For the rest of my review, please go to the NXG website where the original article can be found: http://bit.ly/obZ1Ux

Maz Meets Talib Kweli

Interviews, Music, Work

Talib has been standing strong in the hip hop scene since 1998, when he and fellow rap genius Mos Def released the classic album Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star. Since then, the Hip Hop general has released four albums, worked with the legend Mary J Blige and with Hip Hop’s favourite rapper, Kanye West. I chat to Talib to find out what he has planned for us next.

Hey Talib. What have you been up to recently?

My focus at the moment has been all about Gutter Rainbows. I am about to work on the album Prisoner of Conscious for Blacksmith. I am excited about the group Strong Arm Steady’s new album, Arms and Hammers. have also been working on Jean Grae’s Cake or Death LP and some more Idle Warship material with Res.

You have a loyal but exclusive UK fan base. Do you plan to try and break the mainstream UK market?

I do concerts in the UK at least twice a year. I sold out at two concerts last year; I did Roundhouse in Camden in October. I am not sure when the next one is, but I will keep you guys in the loop for sure!

You have worked with major artists, such as Kanye West. How was that experience?

I happened to meet Kanye when he came to my recording sessions looking for Mos Def. Back then, he was just a producer making beats for everyone. Nobody knew he had it in him to rap. It was great to work with him, we had and we still do have a lot of mutual respect for one another.

You also worked with Mary J Blige. How was that?

Mary was one of the most gracious, professional artist’s I have ever worked with. I would love to work with her again.

You quite a socially conscious rapper. What influenced you to take that alternative path?

The music I make is not alternative hip hop, it is REAL hip hop. All that other stuff they play on the radio is the alternative…

 What advice would you give to up and coming rappers?

Ignore the industry and create your own legend.