Is anyone else still not over how sick Thursday night was?! Hilarious Vines of Skepta‘s imagined reaction when he sees Tempa T next are still on rotation on the timeline…
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, Wiley, JME, 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.
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 Champion, Ill 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.
Stay up to date with Princess Nyah on Twitter.
*This review originally went live on MTV’s website. Check out my MTV work here *
Meeting DJ Whoo Kid on a multi coloured barge in North London was a funny experience, to say the least. My Flavour Magazine friend Shireen and I went to meet the New York DJ, aka ‘the mixtape veteran’ and the creator of radioplanet.tv, DJ Whoo Kid and Wiley to talk about their new material. Wiley couldn’t make it and that may have been a good thing, as The Kid had a lot to say. Shireen and I settled aboard for a candid discussion on all things music… almost.
S: What was it that first brought you to work with UK artists?
I was touring loads and I saw the reaction that UK music received; people go nuts in the club when UK songs come on! I thought I could combine these artists with artists in America. I have access to almost all of them. I wanted to create a new movement, and gain some form of respect for the UK artists.
M: How do you think UK music will progress in America and do you think it has longevity?
It definitely has longevity because its progressing slowly, so it’s not just going to be a fad where it just pops up then disappears. It’s cool that it’s organically growing. You can hear it at the classy clubs now, where all the rich kids hang out; the sons and daughters of movie stars. When you go in there and you hear Tinie Tempah it’s not only because the song is hot, but because they feel like the song is their own and it’s for them. You’re not going to see rich kids in the regular clubs listening to Soulja Boy; they don’t want to be mixed with the same wave as everyone else. So when Tinie Tempah comes on in the club, it feels exclusive to them and they have their own exclusive lifestyle. The ‘Pass Out’ beat is so universal.
S: As well as Tinie, you’ve worked with Giggs, Skepta, Wiley… what other UK artist would you want to release a mixtape with?
I wouldn’t mind messing with Chipmunk and Wretch 32. There are a couple of other artists out there that were just figuring out details with. I like Katy B too. I don’t really like a lot of female artists because in America all we have is Nicki Minaj [laughs]. I’ve been hearing Ms Dynamite for years. With Katy B I see the reaction when her music comes on – girls be wiggling. I just like being involved with things that drive people nuts. I would like to work with Katy B; I like her swag and her style. Girls like her because she dresses like a boy or something, very dyke like. That’s what I like – girls on girls. Right?
S: So yeah… we have a few great female artists in the UK. Have you heard of Lady Leshurr?
I haven’t. See, I’m not really crazy about female artists. Out here they may be open and have other things to rap about, but in America the earlier rappers like Lil Kim just spoke about f**king and sucking d**k. But at the end of the day it’s like, ‘is there anything else?’ So many of them have come out wriggling and dancing on stage – but talk about nothing. If you’re not down with a team in the US, there’s no way you can be effective. Out here obviously a woman can be on her own and create her own buzz. In America, females need to be in a group, like Nicki Minaj. If she didn’t have influences from Lil Wayne and YMCMB she would still be hustling. She’s been in the game for around 10 years; before she blew up she had to find her way.
M: What is the mainstream reaction like to the artists you work with?
Now you see him [Tinie Tempah] on big TV shows like The View and The Late Show, so it benefited me because he was like, ‘I did a mixtape with Whoo Kid’.. I hooked him up with Chris Brown and Wiz Khalifa; he’s got records with them now; that’s what I’m here for. It also helps that Jay Z bigs him up. It’s happening slowly but surely, all the big guys are shouting him out. Diddy shouted out Skepta; Giggs always gets compared to 50 Cent. It has to happen this way because you don’t want to just come and go. I don’t want to say Dizzee Rascal came and went, but every time I’m here [in the UK] everyone says how he’s commercialised UK music. I like Dizzee Rascal, there’s nobody at home that doesn’t like him. Every actor I’ve interviewed on my radio show, every British one brings up Dizzee Rascal or Tinie Tempah, they’re the only two names they bring up.
S: So you know who’s hot and who’s not…
Yeah, me being a mix tape guy, I always want to know who’s new and who’s fresh because I blew up all the guys you see now like Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, Big Sean – he’s killing it now. These guys I knew when they were like little kids and now there out here, so it’s good that I have a view of what is in the future. I’d rather work with people that have done their homework. Giggs and Skepta; they did their homework already. I don’t want to find someone that’s totally new and be out here hustling a new guy. [For example] Skepta’s porn video got him talked about A LOT in America…
M: How is working with Wiley?
Wiley’s on his own spaceship level! Drake called Wiley without me even knowing. I wish he would have f**king told me that. He was just like ‘Drake called me’. I was like ‘He’s going out his way to call you all the way in the UK to thank you for covering ‘I’m On One’!’. Everybody did ‘I’m On One’, but Drake actually liked Wiley’s version. With Wiley, he’ll send me shit but I can never tell if it’s a freestyle or original. I keep thinking its original, like ‘Don’t Go’ but it was a Wretch 32 song done over, he does it so perfect that I can’t tell it’s a remix! I’m not out here so I don’t know all the songs…
S: You worked with Giggs on ‘Take Your Hats Off.’ How was working with him?
Giggs has a hardcore attitude, I’m probably the only one who can get him to laugh and act stupid on radio; he really doesn’t do that with anyone else. When he came to America I got him out of his gangster shell. I do it to everybody. He had my mix tapes when he was in jail, so he respected me from a while ago. It was kind of weird that I had to look for him, when he was already a fan of Whoo Kid way back when.
M: And you worked with Skepta on ‘Community Payback’?
Yeah, Skepta’s just out of control! Tank tops, women… throwing oil on girls – he’s out of his mind. He’s mad cool though. You’ve got to have a relationship first before you start working. We all clicked and everything was cool. These guys all come to my parties if they’re in town. Tinie Tempah is the best homeboy though. We did unlimited parties in New York and I introduced him to Chris Brown.
S: How did he react?
I called Chris Brown and was like ‘Tinie’s here’, so Chris came. Tinie said ‘Ahhh!’ I’m like,‘you’re Tinie Tempah, why are you worried about Chris Brown coming in the club? You’re Tinie f**king Tempah!’ He was so amped. I think in America he has this nervous attitude towards other people, but he needs to figure out that they are all aware of who he is. If you have a name that comes out in America, people call their label like ‘who is this guy, why is he big?’ Once you tell them this guy is No.1 in 27 countries and he’s won all these awards, they get that generic recognition and people respect him. It’s Chris Brown though, he be smacking Rihanna… So he was nervous, he’s a nervous guy.
M: Aside from your UK projects, what are you up to in the states and what can we see from Whoo Kid in 2012?
Right now I’m debuting a Dr Dre record. Dr Dre was on my case last week. I think I’m going to give it to Tim Westwood so he can air it out here at the same time. I know I’m not giving it to him today because he might act stupid and air it early; because he thinks I’m out here like I’m f**king dumb! It has an NWA feel. It’s not like ‘Kush’ or the other records he put out. This is like him spazzing out; that NWA sh*t is back.
My radio show is still going strong. I don’t interview a lot of rappers, just movie stars mostly. I’m just trying promote myself and sh*t, [laughs] touring the world and balancing that with the radio show and mixtapes. We’re also launching a clothing line; we just did a t-shirt collaboration with Bruce Willis.
Now I’m in the UK with Wiley for a ten day tour. I don’t know how I’m going to survive that with the UK women out here; because there all amazingly soft and smoothed out! It’s like a lot of the girls are all mixed or something? They’re all mixed up with white people; the white must smooth people out? [blank stares] Black girls in America don’t look like this. It’s like they are a thousand of Beyonce’s out here.
M&S: Where’s Wiley?
It’s my fault Wiley’s not here, he’s in the studio right now. He was talking some grime sh*t with me – I don’t know what he’s talking about. I don’t understand that language. He’s always says [pauses hesitantly for the first time] ‘Jheeez’. That’s what Giggs always says. Monster Man is my No.1 joint. You like that song?
M: Yeah, it’s crazy.
Does it turn you on when it comes on? He’s talking about an anaconda, he talking about the monster. That’s the reason you like that song, right? [laughs]
M: [flushes crimson] No. I just like the beat. I haven’t met the monster, so I wouldn’t know…
[laughs] I hope not, Jesus Christ!
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…