Noname. Outdoor. Dubstep. Rave. Newcastle. Free. Tomorrow.

This is a track by Coki. One half of Digital Mystikz. He plays No Name in Newcastle tomorrow, which is a club night taking place outside a pub (The Tyne) underneath some railway arches over looking the Tyne river.

It's an example of how quickly dubstep has infected underground dance music heads. A year ago you would have struggled to find any dubstep in Toon. Now humungous d&b night Turbulence has dubstep in the backroom (Skream guested last time), producer/DJ Dynamix hosts Heavyweight, and No Name are doing nights like this (Benga to follow on August bank holiday weekend - and I will be there).

If I was Yoda I might say, 'In Newcastle, Strong is the force of dubstep.'

I also have to flag up and big up newcastle beats for being the one stop shop (forum) for anything breakbeat and bassline related. Dark Skies has connected all the d&b, breaks, dubstep nights, headz, promoters, ravers, producers, DJs and built a very impressive breakbeat/bassline coalition .

Here's my preview of Tomorrow's No Name, which appeared in Newcastle Metro today (hopefully).


Coki at The Tyne

Saturday’s No Name is the first of two free outdoor parties under the arches adjacent to the Tyne pub, the scene of last August’s notorious No Name with Berlin’s impish electronica upstarts Modeselektor.

No Name has again sourced the very best in contemporary electronic music with headline guest Coki (Digital Mystikz). The South Londoners who make up Digital Mystikz, Mala and Coki are hugely in demand DJs as the dreadlocked poster boys of dubstep, the epic sound that amalgamates dub, twostep, jungle, techno, house and rock, into deep, heavy bassline music that rattles your ribcage.

Born out of the dark garage scene of the early noughties, dubstep’s tipping point came 18months ago when Digital Mystikz’s intimate, bi-monthly club, DMZ was full to capacity with 1,000 people outside desperate to get in. In typically welcoming Digital Mystikz style, DMZ shifted to a larger venue mid-proceedings, where it’s remained since, and draws fans from as far afield as New York, Baltimore and Helsinki.

Dubstep continues the UK’s proud tradition of soundsystem culture that’s spawned dub, rave, jungle, and drum’n’bass. And just as these sounds caught the ears and imagination of the UK, so has dubstep with The End, Fabric, Subdub in Leeds, and Bristol’s Subloaded regularly hosting nights. Internationally New York and Berlin are hotspots, with Digital Mystikz wowing Francois K’s Deep Space earlier this year, with an audience including King Tubby’s son and Public Enemy’s Bomb Squad producer Hank Shocklee.

Yet if you were to ask gentle giant Coki, or Mala, what music they make the answer would not be dubstep, theirs is a sound that deals in progression, and it’s unlike anything you have ever heard before. Think monstrous sub bass-powered dub soundscapes, that vary in mood from eerie to warm, imbued with a depth, time and space, and fused with the dancefloor energy of rave, techno, jungle, ragga and house.

Coki and Mala’s humble, accessible personas recall roots reggae’s one love ethos and their progressive mindset has seen their sound conquer all tribes from avant-garde electronica fans to bass junkies, via ravers, A-list techno titan Ricardo Villalobos and tastemakers including Gilles Peterson.

Sat, The Tyne Pub, Malin Street, 9pm til midnight, free!!!


big up to Nik Barrera and Lee No Fi for all the info and most importantly hosting the event.

Don't Call It A Comeback

Suddenly everywhere you look conscious hip hop is back. Whether it's this very talented young lady Amanda Davis or Talib Kweli, Kanye West, Common, Kidz In The Hall, Consequence, Danny Swain (Def Jux) - check his update of ATCQ's Find A Way, 2007 has been the year that conscious hip hop has returned.

Thank god, US hip hop's been as dry as the Arizona desert for hip hop headz that like their rap to be conscious, positive and cerebral. All we need now is the voice of the unheard, fuck the establishment, Public Enemy style polemicists/revolutionaries to grab a seat at hip hop's top table and all sides of hip hop's broad church will be represented in the mainstram. It's unlikely this will happen,but I can live in hope, can't I? Massive thanks to Don-A-Mon for the Amanda Davis tip off.


Skinner's Crew Tours Scotland

Mike Skinner aka The Streets is one smooth operator. His label the Beats began a tour of Scotland last night to introduce audiences to The Mitchell Brothers, Example and Professor Green (who are all signed to The Beats).
How many homegrown rappers have done a five date tour of Scotland? Probably zilch. Yet this is exactly what homegrown rappers or grime artists need to do, make the effort to reach out to audiences, get to know them and give them something. The idea being that said audience will give rapper something back, by buying their record! Here's a preview of the tour for Metro Scotland.
Personally I'm a big fan of Example, and think he's got the right combo of being your cheeky mate, goofiness, self-deprecation, wit, depth, eye for everyday detail and seriousness, to make it big.


The Beats Tour

The Beats Scotland tour is a showcase of the ensemble cast of characters, the Mitchell Brothers, Example and Professor Green, signed to Mike Skinner’s imprint.

The Mitchell Brothers, Teddy and Tony, could be the hip-hop Del Boy and Rodney, with their cheeky, cockney lilt and raps on clothes, trainers, shopping, and football. Their sophomore LP, Dressed For The Occasion (due in October), features Mike Skinner on production duties, as well as Franz Ferdinand on single Slap My Face. New single, Solemate captures Teddy and Tony’s essence with a touching love story that’s revealed as an ode to trainers.

Example’s clever humour could steal the show. Debut single the operatic You Can’t Rap (chorus: You can’t rap, you’re white and you’re from Fulham) shatters every hip hop stereotype there is, while I Don’t Want To is the story of a lairy Friday night on the pull but when Example gets lucky he passes out from being too drunk.

UK battle rap champ Professor Green, completes the bill: the short, whiney rapper is the closest we’ve got to an Eminem, he’s prickly with a sharp tongue, but his wit is sharper – this is not a rapper to heckle.

The common element amongst them is we all know characters like this, they are as everyday as it gets, and self-deprecating and funny to boot. Emulating American rappers couldn’t be further from The Beats’ agenda. Who would you rather spend an evening down the pub with out of The Mitchells, Example and Pro Green or say 50 Cent, P.Diddy, Nelly, and their humungous egos and entourages?

Tonight (July 25) Aberdeen, tomorrow Dundee,Edinburgh (Fri), Glasgow (Sat), Wimbledon all ages (Sun), for more details visit www.exampleonline.com


So much to do so little time

It's one of the pleasures and pains of living in London. During the summer and November/December you could be going to three amazing things per night. Such as tonight - Terror Danjah, heavyweight producer is scoring a soundtrack to Blade Runner in Stratford, The Roots are playing Somerset House, and my sis invited me to DJ Shadow at that nonsense, soulless 02 venue.

If I had my choice this weekend I would be going to Dirty Canvas at Rhythm Factory tomorrow, to see Jammer (above) live, and Hot Chip play some UKG. Here's this week's Metro club column, highlighting what else is on. Of course there's shed loads more on including Lovebox, and Fabric on Saturday who have Ricardo Villalobos and Mala (Digital Mystikz), and considering everyone's at Lovebox the club might actually have enough room to dance without elbowing someone's drink out of their hand.

Metro Clubs Column July 19th

Dirty Canvas hosts the launch party for cult grime MC Jammer’s Are U Dumb? mixtape. Jammer’s a former member of Nasty crew (Kano) and producer for Dizzee, Wiley, Roll Deep and Boy Better Know. Murkle Man, with Jammer imagined as a superhero, is tongue in cheek genius that grime could do with more of. Tomorrow also features Hot Chip with an exclusive old school garage set, Digital Mystikz’s shyboy Coki’s rootsy basslines and Logan Sama (Kiss), DJing, as Newham Generals (signed to Dizzee’s Dirtee Stank) perform live.

Over recent years, Kinky Malinki’s bucked the house backlash and evolved to become a major London house night. Kinky continues to grow bigger and better, whether hosting nights in Puerto Banus or boat parties and Saturday’s Turnmills date is another notch with a launch party for their second compilation of ‘uplifting house music’. And that basically sums up Kinky Malinki’s vibe: feelgood house that leans towards the funky, Latin and soulful but also incorporates dirty, tribal, tech and electro house. DJs include Space resident Jonathan Ulysses, Soul Central’s deep vocal house and US-style garage and house from Grant Richards.

Seven Year Glitch versus Club Do It! at Elephant & Castle’s not-quite-a-club-but-not-quite-a-warehouse Corsica Studios, reflects the growing influence of DJs/producers such as Diplo, Switch, Aaron La Crate and Blaqstarr. Saturday’s Seven Year Glitch… celebrates rowdy and crude dance music from DJ Assualt’s lewd electro/booty bass, fierce rhymes and rhythms from grime posse Ruff Sqwad and bashment, baile funk, Bmore gutter and crunk from DJs including Prancehall and Faggatronix. You can see the attraction of hosting nights at off-radar venues when they’re hassle free and promoters can charge a bargain £7 on the door.

If you’re looking for a Lovebox afterparty and the official afterparty at Ministry (featuring Groove Armada) is a trek too far, then Fabric’s an obvious bet with the incredibly talented and equally revered Ricardo Villalobos conjuring an epic, hypnotic journey through contemporary electronic dance music, while in room two Mala (Digital Mystikz) creates widescreen, rootsy dubstep soundscapes, and Vex’d perform live.

Sat, Kinky Malinki, Turnmills, Clerkenwell Road EC1, 10pm to 6am, £15 adv, £20 door. Tel: 020 7250 3409. Tube: Farringdon
Sat, Seven Year Glitch… Corsica Studios, Elephant Road SE17, 11pm to 5am, £7, £5 concs. Tel: 0207 703 4760. Tube: Elephant & Castle
Tomorrow, Dirty Canvas, Rhythm Factory, Whitechapel Road E1, 10pm to 3am, £9.50 adv, £11 door. Tel: 020 7375 3774. Tube: Whitechapel
Sat, Fabric, Charterhouse Street EC1M, 10pm to 9am, £16 in adv. Tel: 020 7336 8898. Tube: Farringdon

A version of this appeared in London Metro on July 19th, 2007


Antiworld Festival: 070707 - An explanation

Be warned: If you don't like banging trance/techno do not press play on the clip above, it's of cult psytrancer Asterix tearing it up at Antiworld's 070707 festival on er, July 7, 2007.

We may be in the midst of a summer overflowing with music festivals (around 400 this summer in the UK alone), but all is not as fine and dandy as it seems. Pystrance crew, Antiworld have spent months if not years planning their debut festival - 070707.

And these guys have worked hard for years in organising huge 4500 people events at Brixton Academy and SeOne. I did fear for them trying to crack the festival market but was encouraged to see Ninja Tune hosting a tent and Mixmaster Mike of the Beastie Boys playing. However it all went tits up and the official explanation follows a few pars later.

All I can say it's becoming clear that without major sponsorship (alcohol, mobile phones) it is impossible to put on a festival with big names. A couple of years ago Tom Findlay of Groove Armada was telling me that most of the deals for which bands play at which festival (say Glastonbury, V, Reading, Leeds) are done on the golf course, and bands are required to sign exclusivity agreements, so they can't play at small festivals even if they want to.

The conclusion I came to was that festivals are as monopolised as your local high street - trying to do your own festival is something like opening a coffeshop and taking on starbucks. It's not impossible but it requires years of slowly building, step by step - perhaps like the Big Chill. But that too has had to accept sponsorship to survive and grow. Rob Da Bank has been quoted as saying you need £1m to put on a small festival, and had to be prepared to lose his home in order to get Bestival off the ground. The little guy suffers at the hands of multinationals obsessed with invading every last space on the planet to sell, brand and market to you. Rant over.

Statement from Antiworld regarding 070707 Open Air Festival

Antiworld and ES Collective would like to apologise to all festival goers, artists and crew who attended last weekend’s 070707 Festival at Rushmoor Arena and thank them for their support and understanding. We are very sorry about the early closure of the festival and the problems that occurred. We’re going to try and address some of your concerns below as we are well aware that there’s more than a few rumours being spread and we would prefer that people know the truth.

The festival opened around two hours late on Thursday afternoon after passing all its health and safety checks. We were scheduled to open at 3 pm but gates finally opened at 5 pm after a later fire inspection took longer than anticipated. We apologise to the people waiting at 3 pm, but we could only wait until the council carried out their vital checks to ensure the site was safe.

On Saturday at 2.45 pm the company responsible for waste disposal pumped raw sewage into a pipe near the top of the festival site. We would like to stress that this company had been paid a substantial deposit to provide the portaloos around the site and dispose of the waste at a facility nearby, and given their many years of experience at other major UK festivals, there was absolutely no reason to doubt their ability, nor that they would take shortcuts. Unfortunately however the pipe the sewage was pumped into exploded and the sewage surfaced in the backstage area, specifically the artist and crew kitchen and catering area, which was immediately shut by the council.

On Saturday evening we managed to deal with this situation by arranging meals for artists and crew through the various stalls on the site, and with so many of the public already on site waiting for the main headliners, the decision was taken that it was too dangerous to evacuate at this time with little or no public transport and not much chance of it being safe for people to drive.

We’d like to thank all that helped out here, especially the Veggedelic stall who saved the day and provided great wholesome food throughout and all the other crew who did more than their fair share. We can only apologise for the stress and extra work this caused. We appreciate that you all worked far more than had been agreed and will be in touch with you individually about your refunds. We would like crew to know that we had actually spent thousands of pounds on food and supplies to get us all through the festival, but due to regulations we could not actually cook or start fires on the site ourselves once the kitchen had been closed.

By Sunday it was evident that we couldn’t feed all the crew and the environmental health issues were growing. There were concerns that if it rained the sewage would get into the water table and contaminate the festival area, putting the health of festival goers, artists and crew at risk. The festival was closed around midday on Sunday after a council inspection showed that there was no way that the environmental safety issues could be resolved in the time we had left. We couldn’t feed the crew we had left and the medics had walked thanks to the health and safety issues, so the police recommended we close the site or else they would be forced to take further action. However with so many party-goers still in festival mode it was impossible to evacuate the entire area in a hurry, although we couldn’t start cleaning up or doing any work until the public were off the site.

If we hadn’t shut when we did Skazi and Talamasca would have played. They were waiting and were just as disappointed as the rest of us that they didn’t get to play in the end. Whether artists play or not, they still need their flights and hotels paid and it’s a long way for so many of these artists to come and sit in a hotel room.

Another point that should be addressed is that we placed too much expectation on our ticket sales when planning the festival. Originally our plan was to stage a 5,000 capacity camping festival, but we then found out it needed to be bigger if wanted to use the awesome Rushmoor Arena site. The licence was granted for 15,000 campers — another mistake, because there was no possible way for Antiworld to sell that many tickets in today’s current climate, despite the great efforts of the many promoters, artists and crew.

By April 2007 sales were still slow and the festival should have been cancelled and tickets refunded, but we still felt we could move forward with the help of sponsorship and more advance sales. By June 2007 sales were steady but not in the numbers we had hoped and sponsors were not available due to commitments made to other festivals. By this time, we had spent a lot of money in advertising and in fees toward artists to secure the dates. Many of the artists who didn’t turn up to perform had already received 50% of their fees in advance but decided not to turn up because the remaining 50% due had not cleared into their account on time. We know this was also a big disappointment for some of those who came to the festival hoping to see a favourite act; again we can only apologise.

After years of planning and preparation we are devastated by the outcome and can only apologise to the many festival goers, artists and crew who were as sorely disappointed as we are after losing out on the final seven or so hours of the festival. We’re also aware that there were some organisational problems with the festival itself and due to there being lower numbers than expected, some artists and stages were cancelled. The cancellation of the stages/artists was down to agreements between the specific artists and promotions involved: as explained above, deposits had been paid.

We’d like to thank the council for making sure the festival opened in the first place and for helping us provide a safe yet beautiful venue for people to party in. We all had the welfare of festival goers at heart and did our best to make sure things were as safe as possible at all times, especially given the extreme recent weather conditions. We’d also like to thank the police for their help closing the festival on Sunday afternoon. Closing a busy festival at its peak was always going to be a challenge and the police made sure festival goers and crew were informed and able to stay on site until they were ready to move — leading to many saying that Sunday was their best night of the festival, with so many groups of chilled out festival goers and crew making the most of their time left.

Most of all though, we’d like to thank the 5000 party-goers, artists and crew that made this such an incredible event. Yes there were a few things that went wrong, and the people involved will be contacted over the next couple of weeks to discuss their individual situations and try and make amends. Overall however the crowd, site, stages, music and production were fantastic.

We hope that festival-goers, artists and crew and anyone else who has suffered as a result of this event to please bear with us over this difficult time and ask you to please understand that we are not doing this for the money: we have lost everything — the income from many successful events, years worth of planning and hard work and any goodwill we may have built up over the years from party goers, artists and by no means least, our crew.

Please direct any feedback to e303power@hotmail.com or 0779 321 9497. Don’t call or leave a message but text and we’ll get back to you over the next couple of weeks. We need to hear your suggestions and concerns, especially if anyone has any video footage of the waste that ultimately led to the site being closed as we will need as much evidence as possible for our legal proceedings.


Mr Bizzle

Lethal B's never got much credit beyond being a hype MC and making killer club bangers such as Oi and POW. However he deserves huge props for new LP Back To Bizznizz and breaking out of grime's self-contained bubble and reaching out to a new audience. Here's an interview profile that appeared in Metro newspaper yesterday. More interview excerpts that didn't make the story to follow, including the Bizzle waxing lyrical on his beef with Wiley.

Lethal Bizzle

It’s the middle of the afternoon in an empty, pitch-black club, and grime rapper Lethal Bizzle is wearing super-sized shades. Perhaps it’s to dull the blinding gloss of his yellow and sky blue Nike/BAPE limited edition trainers.

Bizzle looks every part the superfly rapper and for good reason: he’s established himself through two of this decade’s defining garage and grime anthems, 2002's Oi! with More Fire Crew and Pow! (Forward) in 2004. However, Bizzle’s sophomore album Back To Bizznizz is a radical departure for the 24-year-old East Londoner, enthusiastically splicing hip hop and grime with rock, punk and pop.

Back To Biznizz features guest turns from Babyshambles and rising indie starlet Kate Nash; Bizzle has also recorded with young hardcore heroes Gallows. His relentless gigging schedule (since Glastonbury, he’s been supporting singer/songwriter Jack Peñate and will join The Enemy and Gallows on their respective tours, as well as headlining his own), aims to bring together a broader fanbase.

He's steadily making his mark. ‘I did a date with The Enemy and thought people wouldn’t know who I am, but when my DJ walked out they were chanting "Bizzle, Bizzle",' he says relaxing on a sofa in the Scala, just ahead of his Peñate support slot. ‘We're doing a joint tour in October because it was so well received.’

If new British music is in exciting genre meltdown, then the crowd that Bizzle warms up for Peñate further demonstrates that crossover. It's a mix of androgynous late teens/early twentysomethings in skinny jeans and lank-haired indie kids, with a sprinkling of hoodie and high-top-trainer-wearing hip hop heads. The response to Bizzle’s support set is overwhelmingly positive as they sing back the words to Oi! and Pow!

Bizzle’s no longer surprised by that meltdown. ‘When I saw indie audiences recognised my lyrics, that made me realise they have been fans since way back,’ he explains. ‘But because I wasn’t in their faces, performing at venues where they’re comfortable, they weren’t really a part of it. Now I’m touring venues they know, with artists they’re into, and it’s building up rapidly.’

These performances, and the experimental new album, also showcase Bizzle's personal development. ‘I’ve done enough with pioneering grime; now I’m in a position to grow and revamp the music,’ he says. Some of the results are stunning, particularly the high impact and intensity of punk-grime combo Babylon’s Burning The Ghetto – an update of Southall punk quartet’s The Ruts’ Top Ten hit - and forthcoming Gallows single Staring At The Rudeboys (featuring Bizzle) that reworks another track by The Ruts. Both are breathless, spiky songs that reveal grime and punk to be kindred genres.

‘The energy of punk reminds me of grime, especially – the crowd reaction, the beats, the guitars and even the way punk singers sing is similar to how grime guys rap, really aggressive and energetic,’ explains Bizzle. ‘There’s the f**k you attitude, too - we’re creating it, we’re controlling it and it's not manufactured - that’s why the collaborations work.’

Bizzle is a trailblazer for a brave new world of young British music, where artists sticking to single genres and tribes seem increasingly irrelevant. ‘It makes sense for me to explore something British, like rock and punk that people can relate to and support. So it’s only right that I hooked up with different artists - it might be a different sound, but it’s all the same movement.’

Bizzle is notorious for causing dancefloor mayhem (Pow! was banned at Notting Hill Carnival). He’s done it again with the bouncy summer vibe of new single Bizzle Bizzle and dancehall banger Mr. But the crucial undertones beneath this album's surface are bitter political commentary and cutting social observation.

The cover of Bizzle Bizzle portrays a gleeful Tony Blair shooting the MC in the back; elsewhere our former leader is described as a ‘prick’ and David Cameron a ‘f**kin arse’. Bizzle is obviously angry and frustrated with the establishment. Is this new voice down to Cameron’s attack on Bizzle for violent lyrics in a national newspaper last summer?

‘On this album I really grew, both musically and lyrically: before, I was just making music but after the Cameron thing I realised I had a voice and people pay attention, so I really wanted to say something on this album,’ he explains. ‘I wanted to talk about the realness in my life, what goes on in the streets, and say to the kids: "I’m from where you are on the estates, I got up to no good but have come up through hard work", and give them some belief.

‘Cameron went to Manchester and that kid [who gave Cameron the gun finger] was telling him to "f**k off" – young people can’t relate to politicians but we need to listen to them and find out why kids are carrying knives and guns,’ he says, visibly fired-up. ‘There’s a problem with knives and guns that needs to be solved and there are so many young people that can relate to rappers. So use us.’

Back To Bizznizz is out on July 23.


Graffiti & Street Art Auction

The clever people down at Cargo have organised a free street arm jam every Friday night in July that's perfect for post-work drinks. You can buy the pieces too by submitting sealed bids for pieces being painted/sprayed while you drink.

Last week, established graf writer Xenz's pieces went for a very affordable sum in graf terms, especially considering it's a piece of one off art from a known name.

Tonight's it's Part 2, who's also part of Big Dada's rumbling bashment, grime, rap, dancehall crew, New Flesh and Aussie illustrator, Stormie.

Next week - July 20 - it's Lady Pink from Wild Style fame with Nick Walker, the Bristol boy who taught Banksy how to stencil. This is BIG.

July 27 is acclaimed German duo Herakut, and a writer dubbed 'the artist's street artist', Mr Kern.

So get googling and check out what you like and get down to Cargo to support. On second thoughts don't coz you're gonna make the art to expensive for me to buy!

On a more serious note, it seems the graf/street art scene is kicking right now, there's also Secret Wars at Juno round the corner... live graf battles, knock out stylee.

While some good friends in Newcastle, the Ghetto Method, have been organising improv art jams, and weekends away for like-minded illustrators, graf writers, designers and animators get together and jam.

And thanks to Joe 'I don't write for DJ' Roberts for the heads up.


Beautiful Girls

Sean Kingston's Beautiful Girls is Mistajam's (1Xtra/Lovedough/UK Takeover) tip for this year's Notting Hill Carnival anthem. It is a lovely tune, but is it rowdy enough for Carnival? And would it be anywhere near as popular if it didn't have the Stand By Me sample?

50 Cent at Hammersmith Apollo: Review

How homo-erotic is Fiddy with his shirt off? That's a question for another day. Here's my review of Fiddy's Hammersmith Apollo gig on July 2nd. I do have to say that I might not like his music and believe he personifies everything wrong with mainstream hip hop today (conspicuous consumpution, materialsm, mysogyny, style over substance, promoting the gangsta stereotype, gloating), but I DO respect him and his approach to the BUSINESS of hip hop.


50 Cent at Hammersmith Apollo
3 stars

Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson, who turns 32 on Friday, is the most recognisable and bankable hip-hop star on the planet. Since announcing himself in 2003 with Dr Dre produced global hit single In Da Club, 50 Cent’s (aka Fiddy) sold over 20 million records. His third LP Curtis, scheduled for simultaneous worldwide release in September, looks set to consolidate his position.

Last year Forbes magazine estimated Jackson’s take home pay was $33m, and Rolling Stone placed him second to P Diddy in the rap rich list of 2006 (Diddy’s been in the rap game for a decade and a half and Fiddy half a decade). As the music industry has struggled to fathom how to remain profitable in the era of downloading and file-sharing, 50 Cent’s approached rap as a business with all the determination and acumen of a man who’s apprenticeship was an adolescence selling crack on Bronx streets.

Hammersmith Apollo’s only two-thirds full and we know Fiddy’s arrival is imminent when the DJ repeatedly plays a gun being loaded, locked and fired. On the second bang 50 Cent bounds on stage singing Thug You Up and emptying his water bottle on the first few rows. Fiddy looks like an average hip hop fan in a baggy red-t shirt, blue jeans and white hand towel hanging out of his back pocket and a red New Era Cap (worn back to front) over a white bandana.

Despite it’s crass gloating, new single Straight To The Bank (chorus: ‘I’m laughing all the way to the bank, ha-ha ha-ha, ha-ha ha-ha’) is received like an old favourite. Superproducer Timbaland (Missy Elliot, Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado) joins 50 Cent for Shake That Ass, strutting around the stage and contributing a few ‘yeahs’.

50 Cent’s an animated performer, his arms constantly move, directing the audience to bounce, dance, clap and raise the middle finger, and he gets momentary respite when leading a sing-a-long of club hit Outta Control.

Fiddy briefly stokes his ongoing beef with The Game, by skewing the Compton rapper’s biggest hit Love Me Or Hate Me. He strips down to a white singlet, revealing thick, shiny arms like a boa constrictor for the R’n’B-flavoured 21 Questions. Before the ode to a gangster’s moll is finished he’s bare-chested with a bulging upper torso reminiscent of Lou Ferrigno in the Incredible Hulk.

Live, it’s obvious that 50 Cent has established two personas: the softly spoken, almost shy rapper with melodic, sing-a-long choruses that enable him to conquer daytime radio and MTV and infiltrate global markets. The other is the thuggish rapper who spits lyrics and doesn’t sing, and maintains his gangster rap fan-base with a stream of fiery, no-holds-barred mixtapes. Tonight we’re mainly in the company of the latter.

50 Cent’s lyrics and delivery are straight from the keep-it-short-and-simple school of rap: there’s little complexity or depth, making for nursery rhyme choruses that feed a hysterical atmosphere, and means Fiddy never loses hold of his audience who sing or mouth the words to every song, verbatim.

50 Cent delivers his biggest hit In Da Club stood tall on top of a table and chest puffed out, as his upper body, bejewelled Jesus piece (crucifix), thick bracelet, watch and earring, glistens. He cannot be faulted for effort, energy or effervescence.

Jackson’s entrepreneurial spirit is what Alan Sugar dreams of discovering through The Apprentice and is why 50 Cent in 2007 is about so much more than just music: he’s a multinational lifestyle and entertainment brand encompassing a record label, clothing and footwear range, ringtones, energy drinks, film company, book publisher, computer games and condoms.

In these terms 50 Cent is the ultimate capitalist: his only concern is making mountains of money, and spending huge amounts of it as conspicuously as possible. His meteoric rise from drug dealer to global pop star is the embodiment of the American Dream. With Jay Z in retirement, it’s hard to see who’s going to challenge Jackson as the undisputed CEO of hip-pop.

Rahul Verma

A version of this appeared in the Independent newspaper on Wednesday July 4th



A bit of background: I mentor at LIVE magazine in Brixton, a magazine for 13-21 year olds, put together entirely by 13-21 year olds, with guidance from professional journalists, photographers and designers.
Another element of the project is Documovie, which teaches said young people how to use cameras and shoot films like this.
T.P.C. is a brilliant satire on gang violence, and its futility, made by Mario, Toni, Gareth and Danielle. Mario the throne scene is absolute classic. Mario, Toni, Gareth and Danielle, BIG UP yourselves.
For more info on this, or LIVE drop me a line. And spread the word, this deserves wider coverage.


Descent Malfunction

50 Cent suffered something of a major embarrassment a couple of weeks back when performing new song Amusement Park at the BET Awards.

His explanation is he was knoccked into while being lowered on stage and lost concentration, forgetting the words to the single. Which in turn revealed him as a mimer. To be fair he styles it out quite well. But there's no excuse for forgetting the words, most of which are to the effect of 'hey girls, come and have a go in my amusement park, my rollercoaster ride goes up and down, and round and round...'.

I discovered all this in my research for a review of 50 Cent's Hammersmith Apollo gig last week. Review to follow. I know many of my hip hop head friends aren't very happy with the review as it doesn't kick 50 to the kerb. All I can say is I tried to understand why he's the best selling rapper and most well known rapper in the world at this moment.