Categories
Work

I spoke about love in the Guardian

Hello, it’s me. Last month (December 2019) The Guardian published a piece on the 1969 Divorce Reform Act, reflecting on how it has impacted and shaped families since. The piece was written by thee amazing Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, who asked me to take part after reading my work on the complexities of how your own family structure goes on to shape your personal relationships as an adult. You can read the piece here or scroll on to take a peek of it.

Categories
Work

Watch: My BBC Short Film

In May 2019, Muslims around the world fasted for the holy month of Ramadan. As someone who has experienced mental health issues, it can be a difficult time of year to stay focused and motivated, especially when you have no family around to encourage you, and work long hours.

Categories
Poems

Happy New Year

Categories
Thinkpieces

Charlie Hebdo: People, Not Politics

all is forgiven

As emotions continue to run high following the atrocious attacks in Paris last week the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo went on sale in the UK, with customers queuing overnight to get their hands on the Survivors issue. As I’m sure you’ve all seen the front cover maintained their brazen stance, with a cartoon of their depiction of the Prophet Muhammad, who is in tears, holding the slogan ‘Je suis Charlie’ (I am Charlie) alongside the headline ‘Tout Est Pardonne’ (‘All Is Forgiven’) – regardless of the diverse reactions, it’s a potent message.

The only thing I could be sure about in this situation was that the death of artists is heartbreaking and rage inducing. I’ve heard people of a similar descent as me comment that ‘they weren’t innocent …’ 

Categories
Interviews Work

Maz Chats to Charlie Sloth

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.

Categories
Music Work

Princess Nyah : ‘Destroy and Rebuild’ EP

Princess Nyah has been working hard in the studio to hit us up with a new EP, and it has now been revealed that it will be released on January 31. The Princess of UK funky has named the EP ‘Destroy & Rebuild’ – a short but sweet mix bursting with futuristic productions, smooth vocals, rowdy verses and dirty, dubby beats…

Production on the 5-track EP comes courtesy of ChampionIll Blu and DJ Wonder. Not only are there some promising productions on there, but also a couple of great collaborations. Wiley joins Nyah on the EP with their track ‘Soldier’, which you may have already heard bubbling on BBC 1Xtra.No Lay also features on the new offering to deliver some bold bars on ‘Artillery’, which makes the completed track an absolute frenzy of heavy bass with a strong, girl power vibe.

Other tracks include ‘Crazy’ and ‘Do What I Want’, which take us a little way down memory lane, reminding us why Princess Nyah was the vocal star of the UK funky scene. The EP ends with ‘Around The World’, a head-banging drum & bass re-work of Lisa Stansfield’s classic song of the same title. Whilst we soak up her fab new EP, Nyah will continue to work on her debut album, ‘Patience & Persistence’, which is expected to drop later this year.

Don’t forget to download ‘Destroy & Rebuild’ for free on January 31 over on the leading lady’s website.

4/5

Stay up to date with Princess Nyah on Twitter.

*This review originally went live on MTV’s website. Check out my MTV work here *

Categories
Music

Kano Showcases ‘Not 4 the A List’ at ILuvLive

I Luv Live hosted their biggest night of the year so far on Monday night, with Kano performing an exclusive set to promote his new EP, ‘Not 4 the A List’. It looked like it was going to be a promising night as I approached the XOYO venue in East London to see a queue was already spilling out onto the street – at 8pm.

I Luv Live was held in a smaller room that I imagined; or maybe that was because it was so heavily rammed to the brim. Holding onto our belongings tightly, we were skanking as soon as we hit the door, with a great mix of funky house, Hip Hop and Garage on spin.

First up, presenter DJ Ras Kwame introduced Manchester bred Ruby Ann Patterson to the stage. The 18-year-old used her soft, calming vocals to sing a song dedicated to her ex called ‘Goodbye’, describing it as a ‘big f*ck you’. After the jump, Rose Gabor grabbed the mic and literally tore up the stage performing her featured track with producers Redlight, ‘Stupid’.

After another skanking interval, Ghetts came out of nowhere and started spitting his verse from Wiley’s ‘She Likes To’. Finally, the several guys who had been leaning against the wall all night regained consciousness; the venue was buzzing. He then dropped ‘Who’s On the Panel’ and ‘Artillery’ – looking back at the whole night, I can definitely say that the audience connected with Ghetts the most.

Myself and others have noticed that Ghetts has recently adapted a smoother flow; whether that is because he is trying to evolve or become more versatile, I don’t know. However, that night, he was Ghetto again. Maybe that was because he was drunk; therefore he let go and did what he does best.

Kano soon joined his friend on stage for their collaboration ‘House Of Pain’ (cue the screaming ladies). They were also accompanied by Kano’s musical sidekick Mikey J. Kano then performed some songs from the EP, which were, in honesty, slightly above mediocre. I say this because I wasn’t the only one who pulled out their phone to fiddle with during this time.

However, when ‘ET’ came on, it changed. The crowd went nuts again and I lost my view of the stage with all of the chaos around me. I started jumping manically when the screams became deafening and as the crowds shuffled I saw why – Wretch 32 was on stage, spitting his verse on the track.

After ‘ET’ we got taken back to the early noughties with some classic bars being dropped. The crowd got more hyped with every wheel up; gunfingers were all over the place. It was clear to see that Ghetts and Kano have a great chemistry; after the performance many people were talking about the 2 of them doing a joint EP.

After about 10 minutes of wheel ups, I got a bit fed up with waiting for the drop; I guess you could call it an anti-climax. In honesty, it looked as if the crowd would have screamed at them doing the alphabet and I think they knew it; therefore, they were just having fun towards the end of the set.

Therefore; it was time for me to go home. Kudos to the ILuvLive team; the event ran on time and it was well executed. I will definitely be attending the next one.

Make sure you don’t miss the next event by checking out their event listings here.

 

 

Categories
Interviews Work

Maz Chats to Midlands MC, C4

The lead up to the release for his official single ‘Off Track’ has caused a buzz of anticipation and impatience and 1xtra’s been giving him pull-ups-aplenty; Birmingham bred C4 is one to watch out in 2012. The artist released his debut EP ‘OoRITE Time’ back in November, performed at 1xtra live and his colourful clothing line ‘OoRITE’ is already on its way. I have a quick chat with the Midlands man himself.

What does C4 stand for?

It stands for the first letter of my birth name [Chanda] and my birth date [September 4]. I also have an explosive flow at times and an explosive character, LMOTO (Laugh My OoRITE! TEE Off – in case you wondered). A lot of expectation was also out there for me to “blow”, so I guess it’s all making sense now…

Where are you from and what are you repping?

I reside in Birmingham and I represent truth. The barrier between London and Birmingham has officially been broken and I’m very happy to be a part of this process. I represent my hometown all day, every day, but I don’t limit myself to my city.

Your song ‘Off Track’ has that fresh urban UK sound. What inspired it?

I am not very sure… it was just a vocal idea I had. I found a beat my brother made, I put 2 + 2 together and now you have C4 J. Most people say it sounds like old school garage, but that wasn’t part of the thought process for this song at all. I remember being on 1txra as part of the Midlands Grime Squad, [which was Trilla’s show] and it was my first time on 1xtra. The bar I did that got the best reaction was “I’m not perfect though sometimes I’m Off Track / but then I get back on / cos I’m tryna blow like a 1xtra bomb” and I got a wheel up! That spurred me on to make a song with those lyrics.

You have some great instrumentals. Talk to us about the producer, Preditah.

Lmoto! [remember?] He is my older brother and we make music together. We both have our own ideas and we can bring them to the plate, which is an exciting prospect… I also sing and he plays the bass guitar. We both LOVE grime music and have been fans of the whole scene growing up. We both have had respect in our City for many years now, but not a lot of people to this day know we are actually blood brothers. Crazy!

Who are your musical inspirations?

My main inspiration is gospel music and the grime scene as a whole. The way I think about life and my sense of humour is my foundation though.

You have a quirky dress sense. Talk us through it.

Quirky, wow! Lmoto. I love colours… what more can I say? My clothing brand (OoRITE!), was inspired by my infamous saying, “Is Ya Back OoRITE!” I like to dress differently to the latest fashions and trends because I believe in originality and individual identities.

What do you think of the quick evolution of urban UK music?

I think it’s natural and healthy. In terms of the worldwide recognition; we have a lot of pioneering artists and DJs to thank for that. The scene moves fast though and everybody skips from one genre to the other to keep up with the latest trend. I don’t like that; I like stability.

You performed at 1xtra live. How did that opportunity come across and have things changed since?

DJ Target (1xtra/Roll Deep) put my name forward for the show but I found out later on! Trevor Nelson’s producer actually phoned me and told me various DJs and youth had selected me from my City. I was shocked and very excited! This whole period of my career has really kick-started my music life and I feel like I can achieve whatever I put my mind to doing. I now also have a lot of support from various industry giants, which is overwhelming to think about. I now know I have potential to take my sound to the masses so I’m just focusing on my music – not the hype.

Who would you like to collaborate with from the UK scene?

I’ve wanted to work with a lot of people before and it is more possible now. The way I work is always about what I can offer though, so I’m not seeking collaborations until my sound is classed as “my sound”. I like work to happen naturally. Labrinth would actually be my dream collaboration right now, as his sound is current and he understands music. He reviewed Off Track on Nihal’s Radio 1 show and he guessed straight away that Preditah and I go to church because of the chords used in the song. With his knowledge and shared ideas I believe we could make something special.

What can we expect from C4 in 2012?

More C4! That’s just it… Look out for my debut single ‘Off Track’, I hope you like it and buy it!

Chat to C4 on Twitter or visit him website to keep up to date with the all the latest ‘OoRITE’ occurrences…

Categories
Interviews Work

Maz Chats to TOWIE’s Jess Wright…

In the autumn of 2010, a ‘dramality’ (reality-drama for those unaware) began on ITV1, based in Essex. Most (or just I) would assume that if a reality drama like that was to happen it would be in London; after all, Essex is just a dreary county near Greater London. Or maybe not.

The show picked up a BAFTA and the Daily Mirror called it “Britain’s answer to The Hills and Jersey Shore.” I hate being wrong, so it was to my dismay that now, quite literally, The Only Way Is Essex. But what makes the characters so watchable, so addictive and so entertaining?

As I put this across to Jess, she says “it’s because we’re real people with real goals. We don’t live our lives just for the cameras.”

As a star on a reality show, I find this quite a funny statement; but I know what she means. The cast are true to who they are; they aren’t stuck up, pretentious or fake about their intentions and desires. And they certainly haven’t forgotten where they came from. Jess’s Essex charm is still very present in our conversation; she is effortlessly easy to talk to, bubbly – but with a business head.

The 26-year-old brunette isn’t just a lingerie lover, she actually a degree in business and marketing. The reality star left her office job to pursue her career in singing, when she was in a girl band called Lola. Although the band didn’t work out, Jess sounds content with the idea of now going it alone. “I’m enjoying being a solo artist. I’m writing my own music now, so yeah, I wanna be on my own for now… I think.”

Jess also recently led the vocals on the TOWIE Christmas track, a cover of Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’…

“I’m really flattered that I got to sing the Christmas TOWIE single. People thought I was miming but of course I wasn’t! It was great to have the chance to sing it. We’ve shot the video and it was really fun.”

Holding onto fame with both hands, Jess also saw her opportunity to build a business when she got her TOWIE pay cheque and purchased a lingerie store called ‘With Love, Jessica xx’.

“My lingerie shop is going so, so well. I’m so pleased. We have loads of amazing underwear, accessories and swimwear. It’s a really cute shop, very pink and girly.”

She also revealed that she will be back for the fourth series of TOWIE in 2012. The show has received almost as many negative reviews as it has positive, making it TV marmite. The brunette star admits the show wasn’t what she expected initially…

“When I watched TOWIE back for the first time, it wasn’t exactly what I expected. It was so candid and I found watching myself back quite mortifying. I did think ‘what have I got myself into?!’ But I got used to the exposure and seeing myself on screen. It really is an amazing show and I’ve loved every minute.”

We went on to talk about the pros and cons of fame. It must have been hard, the transition from a normal civilian to a nationwide talking point.

“Being under the spotlight… I’ve always enjoyed performing; I liked dancing, from ballet to tap; as well as singing of course. Because of that I experienced a lot behind the scenes before-hand, so I thought I’d have an idea of what it would be like. Of course when I was under the spotlight myself it was totally different…”

Many TV producers have tried to emulate the magic of TOWIE, bringing us shows focusing on places like Chelsea and Liverpool. However, they haven’t managed to emulate the ground breaking success that TOWIE has enjoyed. Jess doesn’t seem bothered by the ‘rival’ shows; she hasn’t even watched them.

“I haven’t watched them, just because I haven’t had time. I’m sure they are good in their own different ways, but I’ve heard they are quite different to TOWIE.”

So what is it about Essex?

“I think it is relatable to a bigger audience. We are real, but the girls are glamorous. The audience seem to find the way we dress, the way we look and the way we talk fascinating. Not only that, but it really does shows real life; real life situations are always the most entertaining to watch.”

Jess sounds excited when we discuss what she has planned for next year. “In 2012, you’ll see more TOWIE of course; it is always fun to film. I will continue to promote my lingerie store; I have considered opening more of them, one day. I will also be working on my singing career; that has always been my ultimate goal.”

Get the latest on Jess by following her on Twitter.

Categories
Interviews Work

Maz meets DJ Mo Beatz

DJ Mo Beatz has been on the grind since school days. His devotion to music kept him climbing the DJ ranks until he was the most sought after disc jockey in most of Detroit; with artists like Gucci Mane and Wiz Khalifa calling him for his services. The DJ from Motown is now Big Sean’s official DJ, mixing for the biggest events in the world and generally living a sweet (but busy) life. Myself and my Flavour Magazine buddy Shireen met him at the bar of his grand old West End hotel to talk about his journey, from making beats on tables to mixing at Lil Wayne’s party.

S: So you’ve been called DJ Mo Beatz since school days. How did the name come about?

Every day at lunch I would make beats on the table; this was before I was DJing. Some dude who was rapping was like ‘rah!’ and my boy said ‘that’s my boy Mo Beatz, he can make beats with his hands’ and then eventually I started DJing and it kinda stuck.

M: Is this your first time in London?

No, it’s actually my third time in London.

M: So what do you think about the music scene here?

Umm, I don’t know too much. The first time I came out here I had a tour of the city and the second time I was out here with Big Sean; we met Semtex and Tim Westwood and they put me up on [pauses] how do you say it, Wretch 32?

M&S: Yup!

Yeah so I heard him, Tinie Tempah and others.

M: How was meeting Tim Westwood?

He’s very funny… very very very funny, he’s definitely a comedian. I was surprised; I didn’t think he’d be that silly, on and off air! He’s real cool… But as far as the music scene, I’m digging some stuff, I have to do some research and find more, but the stuff I’ve heard so far is cool.

S: You’re from Detroit, aka Motown. How has growing up in such an exciting place musically influenced you?

Detroit is known for Aretha Franklin… soul musicians. It influenced me to a certain degree, if I had wanted to become a singer it would have had a lot more influence, but my influences came from different areas. Motown music made a big difference in music, but not as hugely to me – I’m a different kind of musician I guess.

S: Who’s your favourite artist from Detroit?

Big Sean of course! J Dilla, Dwele… Those guys I really rock with.

M: What inspired you to be a DJ?

I was in 8th grade and I already played drums, saxophone, clarinet, piano by ear… I would DJ for different parties at school in the gym. That’s when I realised I wanted to do this. But my mum never took me serious! I wanted to do something else to manipulate music as opposed to just playing an instrument and I realised with DJing I could do that.

M: Equipment is expensive and you started so young. How did you get by?

I begged my mum for a year straight! I had a magazine and I’d take it to school every day, I had what I wanted circled! She eventually saw that I was serious and then she surprised me for Christmas. It was the best thing ever.

S: Best event you’ve played at?

Man… I would say it was when I went to Cape Town, South Africa. It was just crazy. The energy and the location just made it amazing for me.

M: If it was your party, what would you want the DJ to play?

Personally, it would be Ludacris, Chris Brown and stuff like that. My musical tastes are all over.

S: What makes you individual as a DJ?

I guess you could say I’m a real DJ, cause a lot of guys now just push buttons or use iTunes [laughs]. There are no songs mixed or any scratching… I can’t call them real DJs.

M: It’s a competitive job, being a disc jockey. What tips would you give to get yourself noticed?

DON’T UNDERCUT OTHER DJ’s! [laughs] that would probably injury a career very quickly. Other than that just promote yourself; think of yourself as a brand. You almost have to sell yourself as a product, do your promo on Twitter and Facebook.

@djmobeatz