Dubplate Drama - Finale

Mos Def - Shepherds Bush Empire 23.11.07

Here's my review of Mos Def at Shepherds Bush Empire last Friday. It appears in today's Independent newspaper.

Mos Def, Shepherds Bush Empire, London
four stars

The last decade has been thoroughly depressing for fans of "conscious" hip-hop. The mainstream has been taken over by cartoon rappers celebrating gangsta life, bling and strip clubs, while using hip-hop to sell, sell, sell: energy drinks, clothes, ringtones.

For some, Mos Def is the last great hope. He makes thought-provoking hip-hop soul, he's articulate (he recently interviewed Al Gore), and he was apprenticed with the revered conscious-rap collective Native Tongues (De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, The Jungle Brothers). He's also a talented actor who's as comfortable treading the boards (the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway play Topdog/Underdog) as on the silver screen (The Woodsman, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy).

The Clash's "London Calling" signals his entrance, and he opens with the nightmarish "The Boogie Man Song". He's soon rapping over a Bollywood score given a bumping hip-hop makeover by the maverick producer Madlib. Mos Def's easy flow deftly darts between mesmerising strings, offering a compelling glimpse of hip-hop's possibilities as Noughties Brooklyn meets Seventies Bombay.

Mos Def is diminutive and unassuming in a T-shirt, jeans and shaved head, with a simple two-DJ set-up. Any doubts that his almost mumbling rapping and gentle singing might be unintelligible prove unfounded. He's enthusiastic, charismatic and you can hear every syllable. He's made an effort to connect with the audience, with "London Calling" and The Specials' "Ghost Town", and he covers grime rapper Kano's "London Town" as "Brooklyn Town". Kano himself appears, his ferocious, hyperactive rapping contrasting with Mos Def's languid drawl as each delivers the chorus to the other's hometown.

Mos Def freestyles and sings/talks/raps a cappella with such poise, grace and punch – recalling his early years in poetry slams – that raucous onlookers are stunned into silence. His extolling of hippie themes – peace, love, unity and community – is refreshing, though he avoids more confrontational tracks such as "Dollar Day" (about Hurricane Katrina) and "The Rape Over" (about the major record labels' pimping of hip-hop).

The chorus of his uplifting black power anthem "Umi Says" – "I ain't no perfect man, I'm trying to do the best that I can" – is a fitting finale: for fans of conscious rap, Mos Def's best has restored faith, hope and belief in hip-hop.


Da Bizzle

POW remains one of the toughest homegrown street records of this decade. Bizzle's touring as we speak, I'm off to see him tonight at Islington Academy. This guy's been grinding HARD for all of 2007, so all power to him. Here's his UK tour dates, and a preview I did for all the Metros beyond London. This tour's also going to see the launch of the Myspace sofa, where people can win the opportunity to watch the gig from the comfort of a sofa on stage. The word 'gimmick' springs to mind.



Bizzle must be a contender for the hardest working man in music this year: the grime rapper’s barely had time to put his feet up following support slots on Jack Penate’s and Gallows’ tours, a summer on the festival circuit, and an autumn starring on the NME’s Rock & Riot tour with The Wombats and The Enemy.

Now he’s embarking on a 19-date headline tour, which is a measure of how successful this year has been for Bizzle: 18 months ago he was a grime rapper struggling to reach beyond a limited inner-city audience that shares its music, rather than parting with money for it.

Bizzle began grinding hard and broadening his appeal by reaching out to pop, indie and hardcore rock audiences, through collaborations with Kate Nash, Babyshambles, and Gallows.

Crucially second LP Back To Bizznizz, a rollicking romp through robbing cars, legging it from the police, and hustling, that also reflects on the realities ‘on road’, was well received. Combined with relentless touring and the impact of singles such as Babylon’s Burning Down The Ghetto’s revelatory grime punk, means that Bizzle has spent most of 2007 in our faces. Forget grindie, Gallows current firecracker single, Staring At Rudebois is further proof that grime and punk are a match made in musical heaven.

This tour sees Bizzle tipping his New Era cap to his urban roots with support slots from council estate-polemicist Skinnyman, grime MC Ghetto and R’n’B trio N Dubz. Once it’s over Bizzle will enjoy a well-earned rest before embarking on his ultimate challenge: uniting his original, and new, fanbase.

29th November - London - Islington Academy
30th November - Hertford - Marquee
1st December - Newcastle - The Cluny
2nd December - Glasgow - Arches
4th December - Nottingham - Stealth
6th December - Leicester - Liquid
7th December - Oxford - Carling Academy
8th December - Manchester - Roadhouse
9th December - Stoke - Sugarmill
12th December - Bedford - Esquires
13th December - Hitchin - Club 85
14th December - Hereford - Jailhouse
15th December - Tunbridge Wells - The Forum

Street Art 2007

A couple of friends Zeus and Solo One are involved in this. Might be an alternative source for some cool Xmas pressies and nowhere near as expensive as a certain Mr Banksy's Santa's Grotto. I was told on good authority that allegedly Banksy, or that should be his manager Lazarides, has been anonymously buying Banksy's works at auction to artificially keep the price of his work high. Clever or conniving? You decide.


Jammer signs to Big Dada

An old fave from 2005 in fact but deserves reposting, because I heard a rumour that man like Jammer's signed to Big Dada. RESPECKLE. It makes total sense in terms of Big Dada (Roots Manuva, Ty, Infinite Livez, Wiley) putting out totally distinctive, boundary pushing hip hop. Big up to the Murkle Man for perservering and showing hard work and dedication can pay off.

Durrty Goodz in Brighton

Durrty Goodz in Brighton. This weekend. Grime's getting more profile in clubs now than ever before. Goodz is the hottest grime MC of 2007, and is absolutely killing it with tracks like Reloadz and Switching Speeds. Check 'em out on Youtube: his Axiom EP is massive, and has smashed the concept of the mixtape in grime/underground hip hop. Why put out a 23 track mixtape with loads of filler, when you can put eight, yes eight, bangers and prick the ears of anyone and everyone that's got a love for homegrown street music?


Feeling Hot Hot Hot

This Saturday, the Hotplate Sessions launches with Eric Soul (Afrogroove), Dudu Saar (Momo) and Magrelo, dropping the finest global grooves including Afrobeat, Highlife, Soukous, Coupe Decale, Soca, Reggae, Hip Hop, Bossa, Samba, Batucada, Broken Beat, Drum&bass and salsa. I can vouch for Eric Soul and Magrelo, the only two DJs, to smash it at Lake Of Stars in Malawi. This will be a monthly a night from the New Year in.

Mark my words 2008 is the year world music loses its jesus creepers and cardigan image, and impacts on underground and mainstream British music like never before (Afrikan Boy, Bondo Do Role, Buraka Dom Sistema have just signed to Modular home of Gossip, Cut Copy and MSTRKRFT, Diplo's signed a band from South Africa).

The Great Grooverider - Nicked in Dubai

I have to admit to a wry grin, when reading the London Paper on the way home from Metro yesterday, and spotting a NIB (news in brief) on Grooverider allegedly being nicked in Dubai for possession of cannabis and hardcore porn. Nutter. Maybe now Radio 1 will have to end his near decade on the radio.
No disrespect as I have a huge amount of respect for Grooverider and Fabio and what they have done for jungle, drum & bass and taking it to a wider audience, but they have to be two of the most dry radio broadcasters ever. I don't know anyone that listens to their show now, when a in the late 1990s it was a must-listen. I don't believe they have their finger on the pulse of grassroots d&b.

Having said that I don't know anyone that listens to any of the specialist shows on Radio 1 or 1Xtra - Gilles Peterson's show excluded - coz it's well documented (and blogged on here) that 1Xtra has lost the plot (check out www.myspace.com/1xtrahaslostheplot). Kiss with Logan Sama, Sinden et al, is the place to go for cutting edge underground music, or of course Rinse, who's latest podcast has Warp's electronica-jazz-hip hop dude, Flying Lotus doing a set with Kode9. BIG. I'm gonna be downloading that in about 30 seconds time!


Bomb It

Not literally of course, I don't want to be locked up for 56 days without trial for inciting terrorism (some alarm in a government database has probably just started ringing, very loudly). This is bombing in the graf sense, and there's a screening of a documentary, Bomb It, tonight at the NFT tonight, and Q&A with director John Reiss. This is organised by Blacktronica, an organisation I've got loads of time and respect for. Goddam why does Mos Def have to be tonight as well, and the FWD Warehouse rave? So much to do, so little time. That's London life! Thanks for the info Dean @ Watchmen.

Blacktronica Special Preview: Bomb It NFT1 followed by Blacktronica club night 10pm - 1am. Free with ticket to film screening DJs Charlie Dark, Acyde, Tic, Paul Rapscallion

Bomb It

USA 2007. Dir Jon Reiss. 93min.
An explosive documentary investigating the most subversive and controversial artform shaping international youth culture: graffiti. Through the interviews and guerilla footage, Bomb It tells the story of the art form from its cave-painting origins to its NYC explosion in the 70s and 80s, and then follows the flames as they paint the globe. Featuring old school legends and current favourites, director Reiss tracks down today's most innovative street artists as they battle for control over the urban visual landscape.
Fri 23 Nov 20.45 NFT1

We are delighted to welcome director Jon Reiss to this screening to take part in a Q&A. Plus live painting from 6pm. Blek le Rat will do some stencils and Chaz from the London Police is also coming to do some work in addition to Inkie, Sickboy and Will Barras.

National Film Theatre, South Bank, London SE1 Box Office: 020 7928 3232 www.bfi.org.uk/nft

Do U Know????

I shouldn't really be posting this, as it's a shhhecret, but no one reads this blog so it don't really matter. Virtually everyone I know is LOVING Toddla T's Do U Know mixtape. Watch this lad go.

It was a pleasant surprise to discover he's part of Small Arms Fiya, coz Pressure with Ayah, was one of the few singles out of the many I get sent, that pricked my ears this summer: warm, fuzzy, bumping broken bassline business. Nice to know that these ears can still spot a talented producer and distinctive sound.

Anyways you can catch also him at the Thugs & Hugs at The Legion, Old Street next Friday with residents Patchwork Pirates, at a night of 'gully hip hop, riddim'n'bounce, dancehall, baltimore club, miami bass and future bumps'.

I'm saving myself for Man Make Music vs Bruk at Corsica Studios (December 21st) with Toddla T and N Type.


Global Grooving

Continuing the theme of global ghetto sounds taking over... Thanks to Eric 'Citizen of the Global World' Soul for the info, and apologies for not linking since Malawi. It will happen soon, you have my word.


Mos Def - extra London date added

Yes yes, the mighty Mos Def has added another London date, and it's at the 800 capacity Islington Academy on November 25th. Hotdam! I'd be screwing if I had bought a ticket for Shepherds Bush Empire as I'd much prefer to see him at a smaller venue. But you can't be fussy when you're on a freebie (this one's legit, I'm reviewing it for the Independent). This is the live hip hop date of the year, the buzz has been building for weeks. He better not flake out!


MIA & Afrikan Boy by Spike Jonze

From VICE's relatively new online TV/T'internet thing. Afrikan Boy plays Madam Jo Jo's next Tuesday, look out for a Metro preview.

Crank Dat - Afrikan Style

Jokes! Thanks to Afrikan Boy's myspace page for this! African hip hop's gonna take over, mark my words.


I Don't See Nothing Wrong With A Little Bump'n'Grind

Well obviously there is something wrong with a lil bump'n'grind when the person you're bumping and grinding (and the rest! And the rumours of what R Kelly got up to are pretty twisted) is under 16 and you're over 30. Anyways we don't want to get into the under-age sexual preferences of pop stars as that's a whole can of unopened worms (Michael Jackson, Gary Glitter, Jonathan King). Let's just say R Kelly made some great music, mostly a long time ago, and that should be celebrated, while his ridiculousness should, well, just be ridiculed. Big shout to the friendliest PR in London, Danna Fabric, for organising the night.

Don't Watch That, Watch This: Don't Sleep Tour

Secret Wars who pioneered live graf battles or jams in cities all over the UK in the last couple of years, have teamed up with the Daydreamnetwork, and are rolling out the concept across Europe, with this tour beginning on Saturday!
The idea's simple, local graf writers get together of an evening and do what they do, in a loose battle styleee, with an audience deciding the winner. Like so (below)

And the end result is this (aswell as a free party, like-minded souls gathering and netwoking in the REAL WORLD and of course, watching a graf artist 'get up' before your very eyes). Follow how it evolves here

ps: semi-finals of the UK Secret Wars takes place at Juno on Shoreditch High Street, this Saturday


Dirty Canvas

Grime's gradually making a comeback in London. Hurrah. After a virtual shut down of grime events such as the lady like Fiddy's Straight Outta Bethnal at 333, Dirty Canvas has flown the flag, long and hard at venues including the ICA! And now after some trouble free nights we're getting plenty of grime at Cargo (A Night Of Rinse, Skepta's LP launch party) and with Urban Nerd at 93 Feet East.

Ok so it might be mixed up with dubstep or niche, but hey who wants to listen to the same music all night long? (Ok, I do, only if it's DMZ at Mass though :-0))

This is the video to T2's Heartbroken. T2's the headliner at Dirty Canvas and it's gonna be interesting to see if niche - northern bassline UKG - is gonna crack London. I think it will. It's lady friendly and good fun dancefloor music. Simple - much like last year's anthem Fish Go Deep by Cure & The Cause. All that really matters is that it's been blowing up in clubs oop north for most of this year and a generation of new ravers love it. I can certainly imagine a a rave going off big time when this tune drops.

And let's face it neither grime or dubstep are much fun for silly dancing and are hardly female friendly sounds (sorry to stereotype).


Black Boys - Bashy

Big tune. Huge on the underground, with over 100K views on youtube. Remixes are starting to filter through - first up is Chipmunk, Tinnie Tempah, MS Dynamite and PDC. Chipmunk's one to watch, 16 years old, and taken under Wiley's wing, plus he's just got his ten GCSE's all As and Bs too. And this I guess is the perfect example of what Bashy's talking about. Respect to Bashy for namechecking Jazzie B and knowing the roots to British urban music.

Remixes part 2, 3, 4, 5 coming soon featuring DURTY GOODZ

Carl Cox Statement

Following on from last Monday's post regarding a shooting at a Carl Cox gig in Caracas, Venezuela on November 2l3rd.


Carl Cox has issued a statement after a horrific shooting incident on Saturday night at the Red Noise club in Caracas, Venezuela.

Cox was 45 minutes into his set when multiple gunmen opened fire on the 7000-strong crowd. 4 people have been confirmed dead, and 9 injured.

Carl says:

“I am deeply shocked and still stunned by the events of Saturday. My condolences go out to victims that were caught up in the horrific act that took place at this gig, and also their families. I am informed that it was gang related, and feel so sad that anybody would act in such a manner when the event was full of 7000 people having fun. I find it such a sad moment in electronic music as this was probably one of the best set up shows I had played in South America – a sign of real progress yet utterly hijacked by this mindless act. Again, my heart goes out to those that have died or been injured. This is NOT what the dance scene is about and is a million miles away from what I want to do or promote.”

Oakenfold Bombs

I got this in my inbox - thanks to Tambo for the email. But really is this that surprising, the last thing I can remember Oakenfold doing was the theme tune to Big Brother.

Oak Felled in Newcastle

A TOP DJ expecting to play in front of a sell out university crowd was left red faced when only 52 people bought tickets.

Paul Oakenfold, who has had success across the globe, was expecting to play to a sell out crowd. Newcastle University Students' Union needed to sell 900 tickets for the event to break even.

The Union management team attributed the confusion to a lack of communication and bad timing.


Last Night: Flying Lotus & Jneiro Jarel

Last night I went to Shepherds Bush Hall for a gig: the headliner was Jneiro Jarel, responsible for the Shape Of Broad Minds project and LP out on the ever-dependable Lex Records this summer. Support was psychedelic hip hop producer Flying Lotus, who's signed to Warp.

The lanky Flying Lotus - wearing a ghostbusters t-shirt teamed with a hip hop style gold chain - was jamming on his laptop and what looked like a Kaos pad. After a brief listen of the Flying Lotus EP, I was expecting trippy instrumental hip hop in a Dilla styleee. Instead Lotus layered a dense melange of electronix, beats and warm soul/jazz melodies - in a not too disimilar a fashion to techno/minimal king pin Richie Hawtin - and built towards a crunching electroid hip hop soul finale.

Flying Lotus' one man live show, with laptop and knob twiddling (ho ho ho) is a staple of dance music, but I ain't ever seen it in a hip hop environment. And it really worked - Flying Lotus seems to be the point at which hip hop soul meets messy Warp style-tronix and banging beats.

Jneiro Jarel has to be one of the sunniest happiest characters to take the stage. The Brooklyn rapper, crooner and punk rocker beamed from start to finish and it's impossible not to be magnetised when a performer emits such a positive aura.

Beginning with some messy soultronics with his guitar man riffing and noodling, Jneiro's flow has an easy fluidity that evokes Q Tip and some of the warm electronix recalled Midnight Marauder-era A Tribe Called Quest.

Jneiro's one of those cats that doesn't like to be boxed and switched to gorgeous gurgling subaqueous soul (Underwater) with Deborah Jordan (who starred on stellar nu jazz/soul LP Silhouette Brown with producers Bugz In The Attic's Kaidi Thatham and 4Hero's Dego) before a bout of rapping over free jazz. A quick explanation of Shape Of Broad Minds - this is music for the broad minded rather than the boxed - was rapidly followed by rock'n'roll soul, spiky punk rock, and conscious Philly hip hop. If eclecticism is the order of today, there can't be many like Jneiro Jarel in bringing together hip hop soul jazz punk rock electronica so naturally, especially with such an infectious smile.

Big shout to Ben Run Music for the invitation. It was good to see some dedicated headz out in force - Charles Zzonked (aka dubstep soundbwoy who within 30 seconds of arriving complained at the soundsystem), DJ No Name (Foreign Beggars) who'd just returned from an East to West Coast tour of the US with UNKLE, and Melissa House 'Smoking Permitted' Party. And no thanks to the ijut on the N2 bus home who took up one and half seats and couldn't stop tutting and screwfacing.

On The Up - Charlie Sloth

This is Charlie Sloth, a very real North London rapper. I've been keeping an eye on him for a while and his rhymes are tight. He's had a lot of attention and currently has three label deals on the table, but is remaining independent. Brave man, but I'm inclined to agree it's the right move.
His new single, the very clever and hard-hitting Come Back To Me is out on December 3rd. I'll post the video when it's up. For now, here's Charlie Sloth's guide to his endz. One word of caution though, this angry young man style is already well trodden with Plan B, to a lesser extent Shameless and also of course the granddad of grimey, estate rap, Skinnyman. Do we have room for another? New Era hat tip to Ara Jump Off, the hardest working man in the UK 'game', for switching me onto to the Sloth like Charlie.


Essien & Drogba - Sing Live?!

I received this yesterday: Superstar Chelsea footballers Michael Essien and Didier Drogba will be performing their new anti-racism charity single 'Skins' live on stage this Wednesday 7/11/07 with Wills and the Willing at XXXXXXX in Soho.

The doors open at 7:00PM and a number of players from both Chelsea and Arsenal who are coming down to lend their support.

Wills and the Willing will then take to the stage with Michael and Didier at 8:15.

An aftershow party is also taking place at Chinawhite with 15% of proceeds from the night's take going to Chelsea's charity CLIC Sargent.

This is highly weird but Drogba's always guest of honour at the annual BBC World Music Awards, and is an ambassador for African music, and especially the Ivory Coast where he is the most famous person in the country and even has a style of dressing named after him, 'drogbacite'. Apparently it's tradition in the Chelsea dressing room for new players to sing a song as a fraternity initiation type thing (it could be worse), so maybe this came out of that.


Breaking News

I stumbled across this while researching this week's Metro clubs column. At first I thought it was a publicity stunt, but it's not and it's pretty horrific. This is a Carl Cox gig at Caracas in Venezuela, on Saturday November 3rd (ie last Saturday), when a gunman randomly opens fire, reportedly killing four people and injuring nine.

UPDATE: Nov 8 - unsurprisingly this footage has been taken down by Youtube. You might be able to get a look at it by googling it and clicking on the cache, rather than the actual link.


Marchin into Two double oh eight - The Best Rave Ever?

Underground music heads who like their sounds electronic, experimental and tough, Bloc Weekend is for you. These kind of Pontins weekends are also the perfect festival half way house for the tent and portaloo phobic.Check the dubstep bumrushing the esoteric electronica massive. BIG.

BLOC WEEKEND 14 - 16 March 2008
Pontin's Holiday Park, Hemsby, Gt Yarmouth, Norfolk, UK. 

BassBloc, Red Snapper (Reformed) – LIVE, Amon Tobin
Underground Resistance presents Interstellar Fugitives feat. ‘Mad’ Mike Banks, Ray7, Atlantis, DJ Skurge and Frankie Fultz – LIVE Rephlex Records Present: Bochum Welt – LIVE, Lory D – LIVE, Luke Vibert, EDMX, DJ Rephlex Records, Ceephax Various Productions, Milanese – LIVE

FWD presents: Bass Fiction aka Kode 9 and Spaceape – LIVE, Skream, Oris Jay aka Darqwan, Ntype

Therapy Sessions present: Stakka and Skynet – LIVE, Current Value – LIVE

Dave Clarke, Joey Beltram, Juan Atkins, Ben Sims, Phuture 303 – LIVE, A Guy Called Gerald – LIVE, Monolake – LIVE, Sleeparchive - LIVE, Cristian Vogel and Ben Pest aka Black-E – LIVE, Subhead – LIVE, Convextion – LIVE, Claro Intelecto and Andy Stott – LIVE, Dynamix II – DJ Scratch-D, Radioactive Man – LIVE, Legowelt – LIVE, Mr Velcro Fastener - LIVE, Detroit Grand Pubahs (Mysterious Mr. O), Manasyt – LIVE, Ed Chamberlain – LIVE, Syntheme – LIVE, The Dexorcist, Mesak and Claws Costeau – Skweee set

The Black Dog – LIVE, Bitstream – LIVE, LA Synthesis – 1st LIVE show in 10 years, Transparent Sound – LIVE, the wee djs – LIVE, Bass Junkie, Digitonal – LIVE, Ochre – LIVE, Christ – LIVE, Boxcutter – LIVE, Komonazmuk

Skull Disco Presents: Appleblim, Shackleton, Peverelist

BLOC is a two and a half thousand capacity underground electronic dance festival held in an off season holiday park over three nights of a long weekend.

BLOC is a powerhouse of dynamic, forward-thinking underground music. Featuring rare appearances from Dave Clarke, Amon Tobin, Kode 9, Joey Beltram, Red Snapper and many more, BLOC is set to demolish a generation one more time.

BLOC evolved from a Brighton club night into the biggest and best UK festival of its kind for its Year Zero event – BLOC 07. This sold out six weeks in advance, raising the bar for music programming in the UK and proving that rumours of the death of the underground have been greatly exaggerated.

Tickets are £110 and are available online from our website. They need to be booked in groups of 4,5,6,7 or 8 according to the size of apartment required. All arenas and accommodation are indoors and heated. Tickets here

Lip Gloss - Lil Mama

Lip Gloss by Lil Mama - 17 year old MC from Brooklyn.