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Monday, November 27, 2006
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Mercury Prize nominee, Sway made history this week when he picked up the first ever BET Hip Hop Award for Best UK Artist. He told BBC's 1Xtra: “I'm over the moon; it's a massive opportunity for me and hip-hop in the UK in general." The Hornsey-bred rapper was voted in by MTV Base and 1Xtra fans, beating out fellow Brits, Dizzee Rascal, Plan B, Kano and Blak Twang. The hip hop focused awards show, which aired Wednesday (15.11.06), is the first of its kind for the popular black entertainment network.
The R&B world lost a legend this week as American crooner Gerald Levert died suddenly on Friday from a heart attack at his home in Cleveland, Ohio. The Grammy-nominated performer, who has been likened to Luther Vandross, came from a long line of musicians including his father, Eddie, a member of the O'Jay's. Levert was 40 years old and is survived by four children.
Fed up with the corporate world's thievery of hip hop and all the “plastic players with false values and arid imaginations” who represent it these days, Akala is out to change the pace. And if you don't know whose brother he is by now, it's time to wake up.
Born Kingslee Daley, this North London MC has, by the age of 22, played some serious football, got straight A's in college, and opened his own jerk spot in Cyprus, that is, until he couldn't silence the call to music he's felt since day one.
With its insightful words, heavy electric guitar samples and anthemic tunes Akala's latest, It Ain't A Rumour (launched on his own label, Illastate Records) has been lauded by everyone from Mixmag to The Sun. Couple that with this year's MOBO for Best Hip Hop Act, a gracious and energetic live performance, some frenetic lyric spitting and you have a true innovator of UK hip hop today.
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Head on down to http://beerandrap.com where Mr. Serg Dun lives up to his excellent site's name by letting loose about respectable rap music and constructing “empires of drunk.” Decorated with the requisite youtube vids, photos and links - Beer and Rap's draw lies in Sergio's eloquent street prose which is nothing short of brilliant.
The San Francisco dweller admits he knew nothing about blogging when he started Beer and Rap in 2004, a site originally intended to house a record label that never came to be. “I just threw it up on the web for anyone to read,” he says via email from Cali. Adding: “Then I ran with it, using it as a place to express my thoughts on music, culture, politics, race, beers, or just what ever the hell I felt like,” which is exactly what he does. With four to five hundred hits a day - it's clear he's doing something right.For less about Serg, and more about hip hop, check his group ting at: http://somanyshrimp.com
Posted by Chloe McCloskey at 8:19 PM
Sunday, November 19, 2006
In spite of rain beating down and a queue around the block – the Friday night crowd at Fabric was buzzing in anticipation of Beatdown, an evening assembled by veteran turntablist collective, Scratch Perverts. Dodging the masses of 18-year-old suburban imports we headed straight for Room One where, Joe Ransom introduced the night with classic 90s hip hop.
By eleven the crowd was bumping to an Obie Trice/White Stripes mash-up, while Beatdown’s logo is projected on a screen behind the decks. Ransom keeps ‘em coming with Esthero and then Beastie Boys’ Sure Shot, as the vibe gets increasingly fervent. When MC Jojo climbs aboard to introduce the evening’s first performer – the hall was packed and fuelled for
Jumping on stage this
Strutting on, acoustic guitar in hand, hooded and angry, Plan B’s got haters – there was a smattering of boos amongst the roar. He sounds a like a kid talking shit on the bus – but with mad substance…get me? He opens with ‘Kidz’, which with raw and dirty, but honest lyrics, he politics about the problems of today’s yoot. There’s no denying Plan B’s seriousness – from songs about his “friends who died from heroin and crack,” to the one about the girl who got clipped in “Harvey Nicks,” the music is heavy and emotional, but no doubt being felt.
Not long afterwards, the Scratch Perverts came on and demonstrated their international rep is well deserved with party hip-hop to crazy mash-ups featuring everything from Rage to Blur to MIA to Missy. By the time they launch into an hour long D&B session, the room is so charged, it doesn’t mattered what they put on.
Winding down around 3.30, the hard clubbers sought the heavy bass, while others headed home with their ears ringing. The Scratch Perverts and Fabric have done it again – proving that there’s nothing wrong with leaving it up the professionals.
We wondered because it’s been three years since South’s ‘Paint the Silence’ was included on the first OC Mix – the definitive soundtrack to the American teen drama – a ticket to the top for many indie acts. Chatting with fans at this homecoming gig gave confirmation when they were asked, ‘how did you discover South?’ “From the OC,” said Jack, a student from
Openers, The Brian Jacket Letdown quietly took the stage, “Hello?” asked lead man, Will Harper. Equipped with a ukulele and harmonica he launches into ‘Too Late’, a sweepingly sunny tune, romantic, in that riding-a-carousel-in-a-park-in-the-summer kinda way. They carried on, with tight and well rehearsed music, but don’t embrace the crowd in any way other than with their skilled music making – which, we suppose is what it’s all about, but still…
By the time South hit it, the Academy was comfortably full. They were clearly home with fans and friends lovingly chanting, “South! South! South!” Commencing the first tune, the audience was immediately seduced by Jamie MacDonald’s vocals over this emotive and energetic acoustic rock. Joel Cadbury, responsible for lead vocals, guitar and bass, then embarked on ‘Up Close and Personal,’ with a pulsating, intense guitar, this sexy song sent an undeniable energy through the room. There was no warming up – the audience was already feeling it.
From ‘Loosen your Hold’ (once featured as Zoe Ball’s Record of the Week), to ‘Safety in Numbers,’ South keep their stature by playing with a maturity that can be attributed to their substantial live experience. This gig follows a tour in the States during which they supported The Strokes with Scouse psychedelic rocker Pop Levi.
When Cadbury introduced ‘Paint the Silence,’ the response is so great that by the time they played ‘Colours with Waves,’ little groups of dancing devotees popped up throughout the venue. They exited in a wave of cheers, only to encore explosively with ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ before finally shutting down with ‘Run on Time.’
The next evening South played to in
Posted by Chloe McCloskey at 1:00 PM
Monday, November 13, 2006
South London hip hop collective, Breaking Bread brought the pain to Camden on Saturday as they shifted their legendary club night to the Jazz Café for the first time. The successful night’s been running eight years strong and the recent move was made to accommodate the incorporation of more live music.
Base was a little tardy due to mix ups and unfortunately missed hearing funk man Robert Moore – who crossed the pond from Miami to perform. But everyone said the live acts were sick - which also included Speed Meter and The Haggis Horns.
We weren’t too late however, to see UK b-boy rivals, Bad Taste Cru and Soul Mavericks battle it out on the floor. Meeting for the first time in nine months, these crews haven’t banged it out since BTC took the title at the UK qualifier for the world champs. Breakin Bread co-founder Rob Life provided the breaks while Mr Dylan Sage kept the crowd aroused on the mic, occasionally adding to the rabble rousing by spitting a lyric. Heads couldn’t tear themselves away as the Soul Mavericks fought to put BTC in their place. In the end the crowd went with the reigning champs, although it was pretty hard to tell with both sides throwing down so heavily.
Coop Dog, of Soul Mavericks – tells us his crew has beat BTC three times, but there was some mysterious judging at the UK qualifier. And what distinguishes them from their rivals? “We jam, we disco, and we like to party, those guys will dance to any old crap.” “But it’s all good,” he adds, in spite of the chatter, “all the drama is peaceful.”
Speaking with P from the Bad Taste Cru confirms this. “We have a lot of respect for each other,” he says, cooling down at the end of the night, adding, “Tonight was a good confidence builder, especially after our World Championship defeat.”
Around half twelve, Skeg (BB’s other founder) set the dance floor on fire, with a funky remix to Amy Winehouse’s latest, Rehab and then took it back with Public Enemy classic Fight the Power. The crowd, kept it moving up till almost 2 am when the Jazz Café finally called it a night.
Posted by Chloe McCloskey at 10:41 PM
Ty is getting closer. Closer, he says, to being a leader in the hip hop race - rather than chasing behind the rest to catch up. Speaking over the phone from New York City, where he’s been invited to perform in the CMJ Independent Music Marathon, the Vauxhall based MC tells Base: “I started rapping when rapping with a UK accent was not appreciated, when people in my country were so brainwashed that they weren’t happy to see you on stage or to have you rapping.”
At this moment, however, he thinks that he and his are slowly becoming more than a novelty, which is why he’s titled his third album Closer. “People are starting to understand, they’re thinking ‘I need to create a new section on my shelf for Ty, and the UK and then Germany, and then Switzerland and maybe then for Tanzania.”
Born in the UK and brought up by his Nigerian parents in South London, Ty’s youth in the predominantly black 1980s Brixton helped shape his music today. He’s since spent the last ten years developing his sound as an MC and producer. In 2000 he signed with Big Dada, (home to belowground big boys Roots Manuva and Diplo), releasing the LPs Awkward (2001), and Upwards (2003). With these releases Ty strayed from the rule by avoiding the bravado inherent to so many hip hop artists.
With UK artists making blips on the US radar, we wonder if Ty attributes this to a growing fascination with Grime? “No not really,” he replies “I’ve noticed that every now and then, people pick up on whatever is pushed at them. Which is exactly what’s happening with Lady Sovereign in the US,” he claims. “Because she’s signed by one of the greatest tastemakers of the moment – Def Jam and Jay-Z - you can see that the interest is spearheaded by record companies who think this is gonna be the next thing.”
Ty prefers any awareness of his music to develop organically. “I’m more interested in the gradual, but solid infiltration, and I think it’s happening,” he says excitedly. The excitement is due: Ty spent the previous evening jamming at Rich Medina’s Rib Shack night in the Meatpacking District’s APT where he watched the crowd go crazy to Inner Love, an instrumental joint from Upwards, a tune he had no idea was remotely successful. “It felt good,” he says, “because sometimes you make music and you don’t know where it’s going or why you’re doing it. It’s just one of those things – nice to see a record you’ve made be appreciated four years later.”
This growing appreciation to Ty’s work is further demonstrated by the collabs on Closer with De La Soul and Arrested Development’s Speech. Working with De La, evidently, was one of the high points of his career. “De La Soul have been in my midst for years,” he says, “Obviously they are legends and I know nearly all their lines, so it was good to see how they work. And nice to see that my way of getting a song done is just as professional.”
In terms of getting songs done, Ty’s approach has changed over the years, he no longer puts value on being the illest MC – an outlook he perceives as being slightly juvenile. “If I was to just focus on the rapping I’d be a lot more vicious.” he says. “I’d rather make a song that works than show an MC that he should respect me – impressing people has nothing to do with you fixing up your house and feeling happy inside of it.”
On return from NY Ty’s UK/European tour commences in Bristol and will continue for the next month and a half. And after that? “Babies,” he announces, “I’m ready to grow up, it’s time for real life.”
Posted by Chloe McCloskey at 10:30 PM
Saturday, November 11, 2006
it's a million o clock in the morning and i think i'm drum and bass' newest fan. Suddenly I understand what all of those retards at bluedog were on about when we used to stumble around like the drunken hobags we were. i went to fabric tonight on presslist which is so much better than guestlist and chilled to akala, plan b, scratch pervs and dilinja to name a few. it was f#cking ill. i'm now sitting here stinking up my tiny room with disgusting cigarette smoke while my homegirl sleeps in preparation to work for weekend tabloid hell at ten AM. my other girl stayed at the club eating mdma with some mediocre indie dude who said: "may as well stay till it's over...you know?" no i didn't know. It was 4.30 AM and dudes with sporatic gold teeth were hitting on me. it was time to go! but seriously - check plan b and akala. these boys are doing it for rap team england.
Posted by Chloe McCloskey at 5:20 AM