3Face - One To Watch

Check this very snazzy lil' player that Goldseal Recordings has put together for the release of 3Face's just-released single, Different World, which is more of an ep considering it features five or so tracks: Different World single; grime remix featuring Wretch 32 and Nolay (it's on the player), a bleepy gutter 'lectro remix and a couple of other extra tracks, I Remember's set to an acoustic guitar and Draw Dat's a cheeky, goodtime party banger.

What does this tell us? That 3Face's a versatile, broadminded cat who can bend his flow, lyrics and content depending on time, place and audience.

Adaptability and accessibility are very important attributes especially when allied to an ability to draw listeners into an alien world, and show them its sights and sounds too.

Personally, I'm feeling the original of Different World: it combines scorched/soaring soul (courtesy of the Four Tops) with 3Face's hopes for a world without jacking, shanking, grinding for money, where it's sunny 24/7, jobs are plentiful and life on road isn't so harsh. 3Face's flow switches from nice and easy to edgy and dark, depending on whether he's regaling us with reality or escapism. It might not be a life that all of us know or relate to but it's an aspirational message that's universal.

Whereas the Different World remix is pure dancefloor: The Four Tops become chipmunks the flows are doubletime and Wretch 32, Nasty Jack, Nolay and Tinchy Stryder bring the grimey fire and ire.

I Remember's a collaboration with Alisha Bennett (X Factor finalist no less), and is acoustic/soulful/nostalgic gold. 3Face breezily evokes those heady days of innocent youth - jokes on the back of the bus, playing kiss chase, MaccyDs' banana milkshakes, dates at the cinema, first holidays abroad... 3Face sucks you into a sepia-tinged world (think the rap equivalent of the Wonder Years), and puts an inane sentimental grin on your face.

3Face is that rarity in homegrown urban music, a three dimensional rapper who can switch from Klashnekoff style hard hitting consciousness to Sway style cheeky storytelling or do the sensitive thang. And the icing on the cake's his music is positive, progressive and meaningful. His buzz is building, The Fader (who infamously put MIA on her route to superstardom by putting her on the front cover), Touch, Knowledge are all supporting, already. Different World's out now, he's got an EP due in March and LP later this year.

Find out more about 3Face here: www.myspace.com/3face and



My dubstep - or dubbysteppy as my flatmate likes to call it - round up from Metro newspaper last Friday. This is the full fat, unedited version. Pinch is the man, definitely grab a copy of his LP, and of course Burial's. Both are next level electronic music bizniss.


2007 was another year of staggering growth for dubstep with regular nights becoming established in the UK’s major cities, as well as North America and Europe. Benga & Coki’s tumbling anthem Night infiltrated house, garage, techno, electro, grime and niche dancefloors, and was crowned single of 2007 at Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards this month. Producers continue to rewire dubstep’s DNA, delivering as vital music for dancefloors as artist albums – such as Burial - for home/iPOD/car.

Pinch’s 2006 single Qawwali is a genre cornerstone and its update – adding MC Duakali’s fierce patois to its bewitching sub bass, warped harmonium and off-kilter tablas - opens the Bristol-based producer/DJ’s debut LP, Underwater Dancehall (Tectonic). Underwater Dancehall (UD) refracts modern Bristol’s music - Massive Attack’s mystery, Smith & Mighty’s bass-philia, and Krust and Roni Size’s rhythms - through the prism of dubstep, while reflecting today’s troubled world: One Blood…’s sweet, electronic reggae celebrating humankind’s commonality (rather than differences) and Gangsterz lambasts gunman posturing. Discomfiting yet comforting, UD’s a double CD containing vocal and instrumental versions but it’s the first disc that triumphs as a cohesive, meaningful album that opens up infinite possibilities for song-based dubstep.

Dubstep prodigy Skream’s weekly Internet radio show on Rinse FM is entitled the Stella Sessions, giving you an idea of his take on the sound. Rinse02 mixed by Skream (Rinse) is also a showcase for the 21-year-old Croydonite with 13 of the 24 tracks either his tracks or remixes. No one comes close to matching the intensity, depth and explosiveness of Skream’s sets or productions but what really stands out is the diversity of sounds he glides through - reggae, rock, ragga, garage, jungle, techno, glitch, jazz, dark indie (Black Ghosts) and new rave (Klaxons) - on this winding dubstep journey. Skream buffets you with suffocating sub bass, vocals tease and crank up the tension, before detonating the crushing pressure with rewind inducing, jump up dubstep.

Caspa & Rusko’s FabricLive37 represents the lairy end of dubstep. Initially it’s mellow allying Eastern strings and reggae chords to wobbly blines, but soon picks up with a remix of Matty G’s chest-rattling 50 000 Watts. The ‘wobbler’ assault is combined with a cacophony of sirens and bleeps, samples including ‘Stop Hammertime’, retro computer games, and Catchphrase’s ‘boing’. The mix tumultuously inches towards a thrilling finale featuring Rusko’s Cockney Thug (East End gangster sample, sirens, a jaunty horn and merciless wah-wah bassline). This is a high impact, devastating mix that doesn’t allow a pause for breath until its drifting rootsy outro.

Boxcutter’s sophomore LP Glyphic (Planet Mu), floats between dubstep and electronica (or intelligent dance music) and is an ambient, experimental delight. Boxcutter’s sparse productions allow incongruous elements to breath whether fluttering horns, choppy percussion, distant melodies and the inevitable bassline. Glyphic starts out taut with disorientating dub effects (echoes, reverb), glitches, and static arranged into beguiling dissonance, but evolves into warmer, multi-paced fidgety dubtronica, with notable highlights including glitchy twostep, and a bright and breezy polyrhythmic trip that evokes LTJ Bukem’s cosmic jazz.

DJ Krush @ Koko - A beat odyssey way out East

My review of DJ Krush at Koko, that appeared in yesterday's Independent newspaper

DJ Krush, Koko, London- A beat odyssey way out East
Four stars

By Rahul Verma
Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Fourteen years ago, the blunted, Eastern-tinged beats of DJ Krush's debut album on James Lavelle's Mo' Wax label, Strictly Turntablized, introduced us to the mysterious and seductive world of Japanese hip-hop. Alongside his fellow Mo' Wax "crate digger" DJ Shadow, Tokyo-born Krush personified the nerdish vinyl junkie who delights in ploughing through thousands of records searching for myriad elements to reconfigure into beatific, instrumental hip-hop. The pair catapulted James Lavelle's record label to cult status, pioneered the concept of turntables as instruments that could be "played", and redefined what hip-hop could be.

In today's digital global village, Brazilian, Angolan and South African hip-hop can be accessed in seconds, and music exists as intangible digital files. Vinyl now seems quaint and anachronistic, so perhaps nostalgia and sentimentality are part of the attraction for this show. Koko is heaving: the venue's balconies, spread over six tiers, are teeming with international hip-hop connoisseurs jealously guarding their vantage points of the stage. It's probably the most varied collection of retro tracksuit tops gathered under one roof, mirroring Krush's old-school-b-boy stylings: baseball cap, baggy jeans and over-sized white T-shirt with a crimson disc, representing the Japanese flag.

Krush (real name Hideaki Ishii), uses the classic DJ set-up of two turntables and a mixer that's been a hip-hop staple since Kool DJ Herc's Bronx block parties 30 years ago. Except that he has no record box – all the materials for tonight's gig are stored on a laptop and relayed to blank vinyl, a happy medium between digital and analogue.

Krush commits stylus to wax and a vocodered voice announces: "Hello everybody in London, welcome to DJ Krush". He seizes the moment and whips up an unsettling, brooding storm by scratching, shredding and distorting howling winds and wailing sirens. After what seems like an eternity (five minutes), a chugging beat balms the dancefloor's itchy feet. Soaring strings dance over this slowly unfurling mini-symphony and suck you into a meditative soundscape. This is music to get lost in – shut your eyes, head-nod and be transported to another dimension (it wasn't dubbed "trip-hop" for nothing).

The necessity of holding the vast, raucous audience's attention, though, means that Krush's live journey isn't as winding or deep as it has been previously. He veers towards Mr Scruff territory as jaunty brass and drunken horns meet swinging ragtime. On record, Krush is a visual experience, but tonight it's more of a physical experience, with occasionally mesmerising moments. There's lots of dancing. He punctures one period of hypnotic, drifting ambience with the title track of his 1996 album, Meiso, which features The Roots' rappers Black Thought and Malik B (aside from the intro, it's the only vocal in the set). Krush then delivers a virtuoso turntablist solo, chopping, scratching and kneading a piece of free-jazz drumming, first into a lumbering, off-kilter rhythm, and then into skittering drum'*'bass.

He doesn't look up once all night, a picture of studied concentration, constantly fidgeting, tweaking, nudging and adjusting his mixer, or teasing the cross fader with one hand while the other bends the vinyl to his will. He brings the transfixed beat zombies to life with his signature record (his first on Mo' Wax), 1994's Kemuri. Its horns, sirens, Eastern strings, skidding rhythms and noirish, melancholy mood sound as ground-breaking and timeless as ever. And with that, Krush exits, waving apologetically as he hurries off stage; there's not even a nanosecond of basking in wave after wave of adulation, let alone an encore.

There's a sense that the digital revolution has precipitated the decline of the turntable-as-instrument and DJs mixing vinyl records. But with hip-hop the dominant language of today's global youth culture, DJ Krush's postmodern performance – fashioning something entirely new from what already exists – seems as vital and compelling as ever.


Krush - Koko this Saturday!!!

Japanese hip hop auteur Krush plays Koko on Saturday. I'm very excited. I remember seeing him play at club night Traveller at the sorely missed venue, Scotland Yard in Newcastle in 2002. It ranks in my top 10 DJ gigs of all time (others include Masters At Work at Camden Palace in the mid-1990s, and Carl Craig at a Nuphonic Party in Caledonian Road in the early noughties). Here's an interview - done via email, his English ain't great but it's probably way better than my Japanese - that I put together and appears in today's London Metro...


DJ Krush

DJ Krush is sad. The ex-Yakuza gang member turned hip-hop DJ/producer/artist, who made his name in the mid-1990s as one of the beat scientists on James Lavelle’s cult Mo Wax label that expanded the definition of hip hop by pioneering trip hop and psychedelic rap, has used vinyl and turntables throughout his 15 year career but is switching from analogue to digital.

'I grew up carrying heavy records, getting back pain and playing scratched records on turntables so the transition to digital is a little sad, but it's fine as long as you can use the laptop to create your own sound and relay that to someone else's heart and make them feel something,' explains Krush. 'Ever since 9-11 luggage carry-on limitations have become strict so I can't bring all the records like I used to because it exceeds the limit and I get charged several hundred thousand Yen, and I've also experienced my record bag being stolen.’

No longer will a DJ Krush live show be a dizzying flurry of movement as he rifles through hundreds of records locating a specific beat, sample, traditional Japanese chord or drum, jazz melody to painstakingly construct - beat by beat, note by note, layer by layer – mesmerizing soundscapes rich in texture, detail, emotion and atmosphere. Saturday’s live show – to promote forthcoming History Of DJ Krush DVD - will see the keen night-fisher utilizing a laptop containing all of his samples and Serato software to transmit them to blank vinyl.

In technology terms Krush is moving with the times but he’s far from impressed with contemporary US hip-hop declaring ‘I’m not interested in commercial hip hop.’ He has, however, long been interested in music with a message and his LPs carry strong undertones: Zen captures the hope of a new millennium, Message At Depth’s responds to 9/11 and Jaku reflects a world ravaged by war and cruelty.

It’s been over three years since Krush’s last LP (Jaku) and he reveals that’s he’s working on another, but not its theme. The track he produced last year to support Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto’s campaign to highlight the use of nuclear fuel in a factory in Japan, betrays Krush’s current preoccupation, and quite possibly the theme of his new LP.

‘I have children so problems relating to the future of the global environment can’t be ignored – I recycle, use my own bag when I shop, reuse milk cartons as cutting boards, and reuse bath water to do laundry – I try to integrate what I can in my everyday life,’ he says. ‘One of the reason’s for Africa’s desertification is the cutting down of the rainforests and global warming: The so-called ‘advanced’ countries are the cause of this and third world countries will run into more problems. How do we stop destructive chain reactions? The cause is us.’

Sat, Krush, Koko 1a Camden High Street NW1, 9.30pm ‘til late, £15. Tel: 0870 060 0100. Tube: Mornington Crescent


Ice Cube - Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It

Ice Cube is back and is as on point and hard hitting as ever. This beats anything off his comeback 2007 LP, Laugh Now Cry Later, and bodes well for his rap future. Has the backlash against meaningless rap begun?


Rice'n'peas or chicken'n'rice??

The video for Toddla T's Fill Up Me Portion. God knows I've banged on about Toddla T enough these last few months - he's one sick producer and DJ, and a very nice guy to boot. The best way to describe his sets are: pure carnival vibes!

This is vocalled by Mr Versatile who filled in Lulu on Take That's December tour. Mr Versatile indeed.


Geordie Tin Tin

Geordie Tintin - as in the Tintin cartoon done with Geordie accents. More specifically it's Teesside Tin Tin as it's done by some lads from Stockton (that's Middlesbrough rather than Newcastle for Southerners) and builds on Geordie Star Wars (yep there's a whole version of Star Wars with Geordie accents for Yoda, Skywalker, Han Solo, well everyone really). Pure comedy - way funnier than the continuing saga of Newcastle United. Thanks to dubstep soldier Adika, aka Dynamix, for the heads up on this.

Buzzcocks Rap

Continuing the theme of regional accents being used out of context, this is Buzzcocks a cult comedy about a charver gangsta rapper. I'm convinced the root of the word 'chav' is 'charver' the term used to describe tracky bottom, baseball cap, Reebok classic sporting adolescents, and teenage girls with big ear rings and pulled back hair pushing their bairns around Gateshead.

'Charver' was around - and had been for years - when I lived in Newcastle in 2001. In Manchester and Liverpool they were scallies, now they're all 'chavs'. Nevertheless this series is fookin hilarious.

I digress this has been sampled by cheeky scamp Caspa for his refix of his own dubstep anthem Cockney Thug, Geordie Thug.

The Streets' Beats label is laid to rest

Mike Skinner's The Beats record label has been laid to rest this week. If the most well known rapper in the country can't get a record label off the ground it speaks volumes of how hard and tricky the current climate is for homegrown urban music, even for accessible, everyday rappers like Example (above), the Mitchell Brothers and Pro Green.

The question is what's gonna happen to these guys now? Mr Skinner's fine with his 679 Recordings deal - though maybe not if he records another egotistical LP prattling on about how hard it is being famous and rich. We'll soon find out - his fourth LP is due in the first half of this year. Thanks to 3BarFire crew for the info on The Beats...


Wino & Wasteman - Exclusive video

Charlie Sloth - who I've blogged about before - with a parody of the Wino/Wasteman collaboration. Much as I like Wino, or should that be Pinehouse for how much misses Blake awww, I hate the media/celebrity circus around her, and agree with Sloth's sentiments about her (and Doherty) setting a bad example to young people - what message does it send to the youth that society idolizes and celebrates smack and crack heads. Great.

I'll quantify this by saying I interviewed Wino back in 2003/4 around the release of her debut LP, Frank. She was candid and said what she thought but was in no way was she the drug fucked, publicity hungry, stick insect she is now. I firmly believe her transformation was part of a calculated strategy by her record label and the sad thing is it's worked. The people around Wino - label included - have a responsiblity for her well being (like Britney), but shifting units is all anyone in the music industry cares about. To hell with the consequences, whether it's setting a bad example to kids or viewing artists as cash cows to be milked for all their worth. Apologies for the semi rant.

Anyway on a more positive note, how about concentrating on Charlie Sloth a clever, funny (and very dark), passionate and dextrous lyricist. Cheers to Colbi for the link.

Wet Yourself - This Sunday

press release:







Anyone using Facebook SHOULD watch this

If you've ever valued your privacy I advise you to watch this and read the summary below. Thanks for the heads up Theory and Rachel - I've copied and pasted their message here:

I even checked this out in their privacy and terms and conditions - it's ALL there.

Scary stuff huh.

For those that can't be bothered to watch the video, I'll summarise it for you.

Facebook collect, store and pass on (sell) ALL your information to 3rd parties and most worrying the US Government (!!). Where it is stored and collated for ambiguous purposes....

In addition to this upon creating a facebook account you agree to them also collecting information about you from other sources, such as and not limited to your use of the internet (including credit card activity) medical records, political affiliations, newspaper stories, instant messenger services, photographs and much much more.

Review: MIA at ICA

The video for MIA's Paper Planes, I'm really feeling this. Here's my review of MIA's gig at the ICA on December 8th. I'm kind of gutted as I missed her Coronot gig which I'm sure would have gone off BIG TIME, as the ICA was a typical industry and press thang - most peeps were too cool for school to let go and have fun (I've got an excuse: try balancing a beer, pen, notepad and writing notes in the dark, and anyway it's not like I'm shy when it comes to dancefloors when I ain't reviewing). But if I had gone to the Coronet I would have missed the best Christmas party in the world ever (see right) so in the end I did good to see MIA and do the best Christmas party in the world ever (TM).

By Rahul Verma
Published: 28 December 2007

The Sri Lankan-born, London-based, agit-rapper MIA's success seems to be built around confounding expectation: her abrasive, ghetto world-music beats are more than brainless dance music; rather, they are barbed insights into rarely heard countries and voices.

"Bamboo Banga" is a case in point, as MIA shouts out to "Somalia, Angola, Ghana, India, Sri Lanka" over snappy dancehall beats. It's followed by "World Town", a clarion call to dance, with the chorus "Hands up/Guns out/Represent the World Town".

As a frustrated film-maker, it's no surprise that MIA's show leans heavily on visuals. At times it's like looking at a super-sized version of her MySpace page, a non-stop flurry of colours and imagery: machine guns, CCTV footage, satellite maps and street kids.

With MIA creating sirens, gunshots and handclaps from an effects box, and the audience blasting horns, it's a thrilling rave-cum-gig. MIA is a bundle of energy, urging the audience to follow her lead, and demanding noise ("Turn up the heat or get out!").

"Pull Up the People", from her debut LP Arular, sounds like a cheeky mission statement as she declares, "I got the bombs to make you blow". She reveals that she wrote "Sunshowers" (about bombs) before London's Tube attacks, and in this context it finds new depth and relevance.

She invites girls from the audience on stage for "20 Dollar", and 40 boys and girls oblige; like MIA's music, it's chaotic – but it works. "Hussel" sees Afrikan Boy – a Londoner who raps in a Nigerian accent – offering illegal immigrants an insight into making money.

An extended intro leads to the riotous baile funk anthem "Bucky Done Gun", and the stage invasion happens again in "Boyz", with Afrikan Boy leading the "row the boat" moves while MIA demands that the volume be turned up. "Paper Planes", a moving, psychedelic lull, is shattered by the till ringing and gunshot of the chorus sung by kids, "All I want to do (bang bang)/Is take your money (kerching)".

MIA is often derided as style over substance, but there is no denying that she's a distinctive figure in modern music: she's taken hip-hop's defining principles and made them relevant again by cobbling entirely new music out of what already exists. What she's created is an audio-visual lingua franca, or supra-national music, which communicates directly to a generation that has only known the world as a global village. And for this generation, she's a star.