Throwback Interview: Skepta on Kanye West and ‘Konnichiwa’

Interviews, Music, Work

skepta

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.

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)

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.

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.