Toddla T new single Soundtape Killin

You can see I'm getting into this posting tunes bizzle. Here's Soundtape Killin, the second single from Sheffield bassline warrior, Toddla T. He's one of my fave producers and DJs of the mo' - since I first clocked him late last year he's worked with Roisin Murphy, The Metros and most impressively produced three tracks on Roots Manuva's new LP, so I'm not alone in thinking, this dude is heavy. I would be at the launch party for this single down at 3rd Base tonight but I'm ill, aka manflued up, and have to shake it, so I'm being sensible ALL weekend. Boring.

Fresh new music by Snoop/Morgan/The Roots

So it looks like I've finally got my head round posting tunes on this blog. At last. I've just got all my software updated on my 2003 powerbook, which basically refused to work with anything, til my mate Johnnie saved me £1300 on buying a new one out of frustration. I owe him a drink or ten! Brap, this is the most productive Saturday I've had in ages, and I've only been messing around with Divshare for an hour. You do not know how many hours of frustration I've endured trying to get this shizzle to work over the last year. Anyway, here goes!

Some info on Snoop's Pass The Dutch, it's from a mixtape he's done with Whoo Kid, where he raps over mostly classic beats like James Brown. I want some of this mixtape, and especially Snoop with no vocoders.

Morgan is a UK soul singer, who used to be in Spacek for those that know. Like a helluva lot of UK soul singers (Omar, Floetry, Steve Spacek who's recorded with JDilla goddam, Floetry), Morgan's getting loadsa love in the US of A. Love this track.

Here's the press release:

Morgan Zarate Ft. Eska & Ghostface

‘Sticks & Stones’

This London born and based producer and multi-instrumentalist has been refining his version/vision of soul music from the early 2000's.

As a member of the group Spacek he was signed by Mos Def to his Good Tree imprint with Universal US and Island Records UK in 2001. This resulted in the release of the now cult classic lps, ‘Curvatia’ (island) and ‘Vintage Hi Tech’ (k7) and won him many accolades from his peers including Dwele, Common, The Roots & J Dilla who remixed their seminal single ‘Eve’.

Recently Morgan has been collaborating with and putting in production duties on albums by Raphael Saadiq, Amp Fiddler, Sleepy Brown, Ty and Kory and more. He is now ready to step out on his own.

Morgan is currently putting the finishing touches to his album (due later this year) which see's him team up with vocalists from the UK and the US, some known and some new to put together an album of high quality, raw music.

‘Sticks and Stones’ is your first taster from the album and features the vocal talents of UK's finest vocalists Eska and the mighty Ghostface Killah of the Wu Tang Clan. Classic Business Basically.

The Roots - The vocalist on this is Chrisette Michel. Fab swinging, go go bizniss. Here's a link to a piece on them in the Guardian


Festival fatigue

The above is footage from Womud 2007 (where I'm going this year, eek, if it's anything like this I won't be). The below is a little opinion piece on festival saturation I penned for The End, as in the nightclub. You can find it in its original glory here. It's well worth checking out for interviews, footage of nights, music and all manner of clued up dance music 'content'.


It’s barely May and festival fatigue is upon us: you can’t flick through a freesheet, broadsheet, music weekly, style mag or scroll down a web ‘zine without a line up announcement or ad. And it’s going to be like this E V E R Y D A Y until September, festivals are like the summer version of Christmas – relentless, inescapable and exhausting.

This summer there are around 500 ‘festivals’ happening in the UK, which is quite staggering. On the one hand you can’t fault ‘consumer choice’: there really is a festival for everyone whether Download for punk rock moshers, Global Gathering for flouro ravers, folk festivals or Latitude for the polite, Port Eliot book festival for literary mash heads, humungous festivals (Glastonbury, V, Reading & Leeds), boutique festivals like the Big Chill for yummy mummies and their McLaren buggies, and family festivals with hardly any named bands (Shambala), but the event that confirms that no matter what your tribe there’s a festival for you, is a three day Jazz Festival for naturists in Kent.

On the other hand there’s little doubt we’re at saturation point – since when were festivals our new favourite summer pastime? Its all the more banal considering the one thing that all ‘festivals’ have in common is the great outdoors and the threat of dreaded rain. Can anyone even remember the last decent summer we had? Is there anything worse than being at a festival in the rain? Nothing dissolves festival cheer quicker than grey sky and the metronomic patter of raindrops on polyester. You can’t sit down, it’s literally a pain in the arse, thighs and calves to walk anywhere, you’re perennially damp, cold and never warm up, and you can’t chill outside with your mates. A wet festival is the ultimate test of British endurance and stoicism, where we forced to grin and bear it, like the Blitz, or get so high that we’re singing in the rain.

And after the wettest summer in living memory submerged half the country, we have the busiest festival season ever. Go figure, the country’s gone mad.

Festivals in 2008 seem an apt allegory for our times and microcosm of the state of the nation. The sheer bloatedness of our festival season seems to parallel the carefree spending, borrowing and ‘buy today pay whenever’ recklessness of the last few years. You have to be a hermit not to realise that payback time for this is upon us and compounded by a huge rise in the basic costs of living. In troubled times frivolities are the first things to go, and on that basis, there’s no way that 500 festivals can survive into next year.

Which maybe no bad thing: quality not quantity is a proverb for a reason. Let’s just hope it’s not the fat cat, corporate-funded festivals with the deepest pockets that survive, and kill off the little guys, especially not the ‘little’ guys at the naturist jazz festival.



Gracias to Burial-lover Grizzle for some much needed Monday afternoon mirth.


Massive Attack's Meltdown - BIIIIIIIG

Press Rlease for Massive Attack's Meltdown - it's got to be one of the first Meltdown programmes that's genuinely excited me. In particular Massive Attack (live), Grace Jones (live), Heritage Orchestra doing Bladerunner soundtrack, and the future hip hop night with Flying Lotus, that man's everywhere and for good reason - word is his wonky, future soultronica has seen Erykah Badu and Gorillaz enquire as to his availability.

Saturday 14 – Sunday 22 June 2008, Southbank Centre, London

Between 14–22 June, one of the most influential bands of the past 20 years take control of one of the UK’s most unique festivals. For eight days in June, SOUTHBANK CENTRE’s riverside venues and spaces will buzz with unmissable concerts, provocative films, hard-hitting talks, interactive sound and light installations and rocking soundsystems - all programmed by MASSIVE ATTACK, the first band to take the helm in this prestigious festival’s 15 year history.

MASSIVE ATTACK’s era-defining music has provided the soundtrack for a generation. Their instinctive embrace of technology, groundbreaking use of live visuals and distinctly dystopian vision has had a pervasive influence on contemporary culture. And, while they have increasingly used their international profile to draw attention to global issues close to their heart, their reputation for throwing a rocking party is legendary - sealing their credentials as perfect candidates to curate SOUTHBANK CENTRE’s annual MELTDOWN FESTIVAL.

The MELTDOWN programme for 2008 gives us a fascinating insight into the aesthetic, stylistic, thematic, political and musical influences that drive the band that emerged from Bristol collective The Wild Bunch at the end of the 1980s. From roots legend HORACE ANDY to hip hop futurists DALEK. From rising stars FLEET FOXES and ALOE BLACC to peerless international diva GRACE JONES. From firebrand punks STIFF LITTLE FINGERS to legal action charity REPRIEVE, with whom MASSIVE ATTACK have formed a close alliance in recent months. REPRIEVE provides frontline investigation and legal representation to prisoners denied justice by powerful governments across the world. (More information on REPRIEVE in Notes To Editors)

MASSIVE ATTACK will open and close SOUTHBANK CENTRE’s MELTDOWN FESTIVAL with two different concerts in the Royal Festival Hall on Saturday 14 & Sunday 22 June. Meanwhile, over in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, mythic, proto-trance collective GONG, make a very rare appearance on Saturday 14 June. The following night sees a performance in the Royal Festival Hall by revered Japanese ‘technopop’ pioneers YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA. This will be the first UK performance by the band (recently voted No. 2 in HMV’s list of Japan’s top 100 musicians) since 1980, and will feature the original line-up of Harry Hosono, Yukihiro Takahashi and Ruichi Sakamoto.

On Saturday 15 June, Meltdown Directors for 2008 introduce the REGGAE ACOUSTIC SONGBOOK, a very special night in the Queen Elizabeth Hall of unplugged performances by renowned roots and reggae artists JOHNNY CLARKE, EARL 16, PRINCE MALACHAI and long time MASSIVE ATTACK collaborator, HORACE ANDY. ELBOW, renowned for their uncompromising approach and thrilling live performances, play on Monday 16 April. On Tuesday 17 June, MASSIVE ATTACK live mix a unique performance in the Queen Elizabeth Hall by HERITAGE ORCHESTRA of Vangelis’ majestic, glacial soundtrack to dystopian classic BLADE RUNNER – a thematic and stylistic influence on MASSIVE ATTACK albums Mezzanine and 100th Window. On Thursday 19th June, in the Royal Festival Hall, ROBERT DEL NAJA and GRANT MARSHALL pay their respects to the returning queen of electro-soul and all-round international style diva, GRACE JONES, whose stunning turn as The Snake in Jarvis Cocker’s Disney tribute was one of the unforgettable highlights of MELTDOWN in 2007.

TERRY CALLIER – hero to the 70s Northern Soul scene and 90s dance hall revival –received 5-star reviews for his recent gig at The Jazz Café. On Friday 20 June, the jazz, folk and blues guitarist, vocalist and MASSIVE ATTACK collaborator plays the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Given MASSIVE ATTACK’s genius at creating deeply affecting electronic textures, it is no surprise that the mighty alchemists of pastoral electronica, TUNNG have been invited to play on 21 June alongside Warp favourite LEILA in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, or that psych-pop eccentrics SHORTWAVE SET play a double bill with Mercury-nominated, fellow Bristolian MARTINA TOPLEY-BIRD in the Queen Elizabeth Hall on Wednesday 18 June.

Also on Wednesday 18 June, Belfast punk legends STIFF LITTLE FINGERS share a bill on the Royal Festival Hall stage with MARK STEWART AND THE MAFFIA - an explosive combination of Mark’s wayward genius and ex Sugar Hill musicians. While Nick Cave and Daddy G have recently stated that Mark is their all time favourite artist, Tricky tellingly says of the godfather of Bristol’s trip hop scene: “he’s chaos”. Add to that GANG OF FOUR, whose urgent delivery and defiant stance has influenced everyone from Red Hot Chilli Peppers to Franz Ferdinand, and the hugely influential TOM TOM CLUB, and it becomes clear that MASSIVE ATTACK’s MELTDOWN is as much about attitude as musical genres.

MASSIVE ATTACK’s idiosyncratic take on hip hop is well known. On Thursday 19 June, in The Queen Elizabeth Hall, the band present their pick of some of the most innovative hip hop around today, including DALEK, currently hot US sensations COOL KIDS, SHAPE OF BROAD MINDS and FLYING LOTUS.

MELTDOWN is renowned for showcasing emerging talents. The Polyphonic Spree, Fischerspooner and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in DAVID BOWIE’s MELTDOWN (2002). Brian Jonestown Massacre in PATTI SMITH’s MELTDOWN (2005). While the talk of this year’s SXSW, FLEET FOXES, support ELBOW on Monday 16 June, and the hotly tipped ALOE BLACC supports TERRY CALLIER, the Clore Ballroom Stage will be the place to see rising stars in pre and post show sets throughout the festival.

Between Thursday 19 and Sunday 22 June, there will be a series of MELTDOWN FILMS, including several screened at BFI Southbank, who partner MELTDOWN for the first time in 2008.The series includes the first London screening ofSHANE MEADOWS'Somers Town, an acclaimed film following the friendship of two young boys in North London due for release in the autumn;In Prison My Whole Life, William Francome’s remarkable investigation into the case of a death row prisoner Mumia Abul Jamal; BUG – Massive Attack Special, gives festival-goers a rare chance to see some of the band’s iconic videos on the big screen, including Unfinished Sympathy and the stunning Tear Drop, as part of BFI SOUTHBANK’s hugely popular music video strand. And, in a real treat for fans of Ridley Scott’s neo-noir masterpiece, BFI IMAX will be screening Blade Runner: The Final Cut.

Showing in the Purcell Room on 15 June will be Taxi To The Dark Side, the Academy Award-winning documentary on the controversial death of an Afghan taxi driver, programmed in conjunction with legal action charity REPRIEVE. This special event will include a post screening discussion with ex-Guantánamo Bay prisoner MOAZZAM BEGG and Reprieve’s director and founder CLIVE STAFFORD SMITH.

While there are issues of serious import to debate, let us not forget that MELTDOWN is also a week long PARTY, and the place to hang out by the Thames this summer. While the excellent TROJAN SOUNDSYSTEM will set up for several pre-concert sets, SAXON SOUNDSYSTEM and guest MCs will take over the Riverside Terrace on Sunday 22 June. And, for five nights during the festival, SILENT DISCO – a huge hit during SOUTHBANK CENTRE’S opening celebrations - will include sets by guest DJs including Fourtet’s KIERON HEBDEN, PEACHES and more to be confirmed.

MASSIVE ATTACK have commissioned long-time collaborators UVA (United Visual Artists) to transform the exterior of the Royal Festival Hall with a powerful and possibly controversial series of projections conceived in collaboration with campaigning charity REPRIEVE. UVA’s visionary, award-winning interactive light and sound installation VOLUME will be set up on the Riverside Terrace.

For fuller press information contact Miles Evans on 0207 921 0676, 07812 985 993

Or, contact Sabine Kindel on 0207 921 0917 or email:

Programme updates will be posted on Southbank Centre web site
Web address:www.southbankcentre.co.uk/meltdown
Meltdown number: 0871 663 2520
Tickets on sale to Southbank Centre Members 9am, Thursday 24 April.
Tickets on sale to all at 9am, Friday 25 April
For more information about joining the Southbank Centre membership scheme please visitwww.southbankcentre.co.uk/membership

Meltdown 2008 will be Partnered by Eurostar
The Observer is Media Partner of Meltdown 2008

Notes To Editors:

Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, occupying a 21-acre site that sits in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. The site has an extraordinary creative and architectural history stretching back to the 1951Festival of Britain. Southbank Centre is home to the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and The Hayward as well as The Saison Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection. The Hayward manages Hayward Touring exhibitions; and the Arts Council Collection on behalf of Arts Council England.

Reprieve uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. The organization promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA and now represents more than forty prisoners held in Guantánamo Bay.

Previous Southbank Centre Meltdown Directors are Jarivs Cocker (2007), Patti Smith (2005), Morrissey (2004), Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry (2003), David Bowie (2002), Robert Wyatt (2001), Scott Walker (2000), Nick Cave (1999), John Peel (1998), Laurie Anderson (1997), Magnus Lindberg (1996), Elvis Costello (1995), Louis Andriessen (1994) and George Benjamin (1993).The roster of artists who have taken part in earlier Meltdowns includes: Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Elliot Smith, Nina Simone, David Gilmour, Coldplay, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Macy Gray, Alan Bennett, Nancy Sinatra, New York Dolls, Tori Amos, Lee Hazlewood, Fuckhead, Rachid Taha, Yoko Ono, Sinead O'Connor, Beth Orton, Kristin Hersh, Billy Bragg, Steve Earle, Melanie, Roky Erickson, Pete Doherty, Motorhead, Iggy Pop and The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Saturday 14 June – Sunday 22 June 2008

Royal Festival Hall, Saturday 14 June, 7.30pm, Tickets£35 £30 £25
This year’s Directors perform songs from their wide-ranging career live on stage.

Queen Elizabeth Hall, Saturday 14 June, 7.30pm, Tickets£22.50 and £19.50
Gong weave their unique magic with an imaginative mix of psychedelic jazz fusion, Eastern world music, synths, loops and deep space funk. Forty years on, their underground influence is massive.

Royal Festival Hall, Sunday 15 June, 7.30pm, Tickets
£35 £30 £25 £20
Seminal Japanese trio, Yellow Magic Orchestra, brought synth-pop to the world along with Kraftwerk in the 1980s. Now they play their first UK show since 1980.

Queen Elizabeth Hall, Sunday 15 June, 7.45pm, Tickets £20 £17.50
Massive Attack host this special performance by renowned names in roots and reggae.

Purcell Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Sunday 15 June, 7.30pm, Tickets £7
This screening of Academy Award-winning documentary on the controversial death of an Afghan taxi driver while in the custody of American troops is followed by post-screening discussion with US-based civil rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith and former Guantánamo Bay inmate Moazzam Begg. (Further Reprieve talks TBA)

Royal Festival Hall, Monday 16 June, 7.30pm, Tickets£22.50 £20 £17.50
Top 5 album artists and critical godheads continue their forceful return to the UK scene with
this exclusive show.

Purcell Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Monday 16 June, 7.45pm, Tickets £7
This new documentary about James Brown’s Boston concert in 1968, which happened directly
after Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination, and is credited with quelling the riots around the city.

performed live by the HERITAGE ORCHESTRA, mixed by MASSIVE ATTACK
Royal Festival Hall, Tuesday 17 June, 7.30pm
£20 £17.50
The retro-future score for the iconic science fiction filmBlade Runner is played live by the Heritage Orchestra, with live mixing by Massive Attack.

Royal Festival Hall, Wednesday 18 June, 7.30pm, Tickets£20 £17.50 £15
Explosive Belfast punk band Stiff Little Fingers performInflammable Material. The darkly post-punk Mark Stewart & The Maffia perform their album Edit. Adrian Sherwood just confirmed.

Queen Elizabeth Hall, Wednesday 18 June, 7.45pm, Tickets £15
Sample-based popsters and self-desribed masters of Victorian funk, The Shortwave Set, bring their distinctive sound to Meltdown. Mercury Prize-nominated Martina Topley-Bird, known for her collaborations with Tricky, performs songs from her new albumThe Blue God.

Royal Festival Hall, Thursday 19 June, 7.30pm, Tickets£45 £35 £25
The statuesque and seemingly ageless Grace Jones performs, including songs from her as yet untitled new album.

Massive Attack Presents
Queen Elizabeth Hall, Thursday 19 June, 7.45pm, Tickets£15 £12.50
Dalek, Cool Kids and Shape of Broad Minds come together in this showcase of new hip-hop talent.

Royal Festival Hall, Friday 20 June, 7.30pm, Tickets£22.50 £20 £17.50
Fueled by radical politics and punk rock fury, Gang of Four is one of the seminal post-punk bands, their stripped-down sound going on to inspire and influence everyone from The Rapture to Bloc Party. Support comes from hugely influential New Wave band Tom Tom Club.

Queen Elizabeth Hall, Friday 20 June, 7.45pm, Tickets
£22.50 £20
American jazz, soul and folk guitarist Terry Callier has collaborated with UK musicians since the 1990s. His vocals feature on Massive Attack’s ‘Live With Me’ and Beth Orton’s ‘Central Reservation’ and ‘Dolphins’.

Queen Elizabeth Hall, Saturday 21 June, 7.45pm, Tickets£15 £12.50
Tunng are a musical collective, combining folk, electronica and underground art music to make darkly beautiful pastoral pop. Dreamy electronic popster Leila plays songs from her first new album in seven years -Blood, Looms & Bloomsis to be releases on 9 June (Warp).

Royal Festival Hall, Sunday 22 June, 7.30pm, Tickets
£35 £30 £25
This year’s Meltdown Directors close the festival with a special performance.

Riverside Terrace, Saturday 14 June – Sunday 22 June, Admission FREE
Meltdown curators Massive Attack have invited United Visual Artists to create an installation at Southbank Centre as part of Meltdown. Volume is a luminous array of light and sound emitting columns on Riverside Terrace. The facade of Southbank Centre is also transformed by light and the projection of a new collaboration with the charity organisation Reprieve.

Outdoors with guest DJs
Riverside Terrace, Friday 13 June, Saturday 14 June & Thursday 19 – Saturday 21 June
Following on from a successful New Year’s Eve Party at The Front Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Silent Disco returns to Southbank Centre for five nights during Meltdown. Guest DJs include Kieron Hebdon aka Four Tet and Peaches.

Thursday 19 June - Saturday 12 July, Level 1 Foyer at Royal Festival Hall, 12 noon – 8pm, Admission FREE
Day Of The Figurines is an SMS game set in a grimy English town by internationally renowned artists’ group Blast Theory. Sign on at Royal Festival Hall and choose a figurine, then explore the town day by day. Fancy the death metal gig at the Locarno, or will you hang out at the cinema? From the Gasometer to the Rat Research Institute, up to 1,000 players roam the streets.

BFI Southbank, BFI IMAX, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room
Meltdown screenings include Shane Meadow’s Somers Town, In Prison My Whole Life, BUG: Massive Attack’s Videos at BFI Southbank, Blade Runner: The Final Cut at BFI IMAX, Taxi to the Dark Side at Queen Elizabeth Hall and The Night James Brown Saved Boston at Purcell Room.

BFI Southbank 020 7928 3232
BFI IMAX Office 0870 787 2525

There will be a number of pre and post show DJ sets, including pre-show sessions with Trojan Sound System and Saxon Sound System on the Outdoor Stage on Sunday 22 June. Further details tba.

More artists and events to be confirmed soon. Check websitewww.southbankcentre.co.uk/meltdownfor programme updates.


Well worth checking out

Both of these absolutely rock. Particularly the former, outstanding and been on repeat on my stereo for a couple of months now.


Red Ken

Check this: a viral promo for current Mayor Of London, Ken Livingstone (formerly known as Thatcher baiting Red Ken). It's very well done: as I watched the footage of London winning the 2012 Olympic bid, followed by 7/7, it made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end... I'll be voting Ken and the Green lady. Not sure which way round. Probably the Green lady first, then Ken. But will never ever ever vote for that clown Bojo.

Ken has his faults but has been good overall and what he has to say about London in the wake of 7/7 really hits a nerve for me. It's what Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and our media should be saying rather than alienating and dividing Britain with this 42 day without trial detention law, and simplistic Muslims are terrorists message.
Makes me sick. Anyway slightly off topic for this blog. But important.

Thanks to future MP Sunny Hundal and Pickled Politics for bringing this viral to my attention. Check it for enlightened debates and opinion, on politics, culture, the world and beyond.


Wearing My Rolex - official video and Wiley's scared of foxes, allegedly

The rather bizarre official video to Wearing My Rolex. Did some bright spark in marketing think ooh I know a 'wiley fox', eureka?! Or is it a sly dig at Dizzee for his Sirens video, where he's fetishished as urban fox, hunted by fox hunters... Probably not. But hey let's stoke beef! After all Dizzee's jumping on the bandwagon by collaborating with Calvin Harris. Yes it's true.

The Sun reported, yep the Sun online at least covers grime, that Wiley bottled the video shoot coz he's scared of foxes! Here's the text I've nicked:

WILEY legged it from the set of his latest video – because he’s petrified of foxes:

The promo to Wearing My Rolex gets its exclusive premiere here today, but you won’t see the grime pioneer in Wiley

Fox phobia ... Wiley refused to take part after spying dancers with animal heads.

The producer and MC has such a severe case of vulpophobia – the technical term for a fear of foxes – that he left the shoot before a single frame with him in it could be taken.

And I’m told record label bosses weren’t best pleased.

Nevertheless, what remains is a great promo.

And this has prompted this even more hilarious response from Eskiboy. Who proved the hardest man in the world to pin down for an interview on Wearing My Rolex. I finally got some answers back two hours before I had to file an 850 word profile of him and Bless Beats for Metro. It got done just, and very late. Keep an eye out for it in Monday's paper. While we're here big up Bless Beats, a fine producer (behind Wearing My Rolex, and just 21) and a young man with a very wise head on his shoulders.

He's making moves - Sam Sparro's a fan, and his dream hook up is Bjork on a grime beat. Stranger things have happened. Watch him fly.

This video/audio is BARE jokes.

'World music' is like so over

My New Statesman debut today. Zoop zoop!

International Front

The term "world music" has finally become redundant in 2008

"We don't do world music and think about the roots and what this sound has been like in the past. We think about the past, present and future. It's a new approach." Lil' John is one-third of the trio known as Buraka Som Sistema. They hail from Portugal but their music is an offshoot of kuduro, an aggressive form of dance music born in Angola, but now influential in youth culture across Europe and the United States.

Buraka Som Sistema are just one group in a wave of music that is confounding stereotypes of "authentic" African, Asian and Latin American sounds. They and other rising stars of dance and rock music, such as the British-born rapper MIA, Cansei de Ser Sexy (CSS) and Bonde do Rolê (both from Brazil), and the American producer Diplo, draw on urban culture in developing countries, where young musicians are more interested in bumping basslines than acoustic sounds, making their tunes for the dance floor rather than the concert hall. "The way African music is perceived in the UK, you had black music in clubs - hip-hop, rap, funk, reggae, dancehall and R'n'B - but no African music in clubs," says the DJ Eric Soul, who has pioneered African dance music in the UK. "Dialogue between the two was just not happening."

The new scene is distinguished by its global outlook, but it offers a marked contrast, even a riposte, to the conventional "world music" scene, which was born from the success of nostalgia-tinged acts such as the Buena Vista Social Club. "World music has been stuck in old formulas," says Lil' John. "There are African cities with McDonald's and H&M, big cities in Africa the same as Europe, and world music has presented one view of whole continents like Africa, mostly from outside of cities."

The BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards, presented this year on 10 April, represent the old guard, regularly honouring in the main acoustic, folk and jazz acts such as the Malian ngoni player Bassekou Kouyate and the flamenco group Son de la Frontera. The awards have been slow to move with the times, ignoring international rock and dance acts that do not sit comfortably in the "world music" box. The token "Club Global" category has for years been dominated by the same acts - in this year's case, the fusion veterans Transglobal Underground.

Initially, the world music scene created much-needed opportunities for acts from outside Europe and the US, argues David Jones, director of Serious, the UK's leading producer of world music events. "Seven years ago, when we were asked by the BBC to create the World Music Awards, our starting point was we wanted to take music from all over the world to people who weren't listening to it. In 2000, there was an awareness of important figures like Baaba Maal and Youssou N'Dour but there wasn't a constant sense of new names and artists being exposed."

Jones understands why artists are wary of the old categorisation, but defends it as a necessity. "It is a phrase many musicians absolutely hate: why should music from Africa be any more 'world music' than music from this country? On the other hand, I don't know how you would do without it. The fragile foothold it has created means that people like [the Malian singer] Salif Keita get their music heard."

There is a sense, however, that the situation is now changing. Thanks largely to the democratising influence of websites such as MySpace, international sounds have been able to penetrate the mainstream without the help of unimaginative middlemen. As a result, ever-growing numbers of successful dance, pop and rock acts are emerging from outside the usual pop-cultural hubs of London and New York. CSS have performed on an NME tour as well as on Jonathan Ross's talk show. And their compatriots Bonde do Rolê are signed to Domino Records, home of the rock groups Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys.

Some American and British musicians have also actively been helping international acts gain exposure. The new single by the dance superstar Moby features a Nigerian rap group, 419 Squad. Damon Albarn, formerly of Blur, has collaborated extensively with West African musicians and has even set up a record label - Honest Jon's, in conjunction with the London shop of the same name - that is described as a purveyor of "sounds unlimited and outernational".

Alan Scholefield, an Honest Jon's co-founder, detests the world music label. "It's a nasty phrase. It made my blood run cold when I first heard it, it still does now and it always will," he says. "At Honest Jon's, we have long been aware of cooler, rougher and younger strands of music emerging. They are not perceived as authentic, but at the same time they're not deadened by the 'world music' tag. This music is interesting and difficult to pigeonhole. It's impossible to predict, but in ten years I don't think the term will exist."

None of this implies that events such as the World Music Awards need be redundant. As Jones points out, they "give a very important leg-up to artists in terms of international status. They make connections and go to festivals all over the world. Right now, it feels important that something exists which gives that weight and prestige of the BBC to this music." However, if the producers and promoters of international music want to avoid getting left behind, they will have to get to grips with the new world order.

The BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music are broadcast on 11 April on BBC Radio 3 from 7pm-8.45pm. For more details click here

The new wave: ones to watch

Bonde do Rolê Trio from Curitiba in southern Brazil. Fuse sexually charged lyrics and a punk attitude with baile funk dance music

Buraka Som Sistema Portuguese act blending Angolan kuduro with British grime and US techno

Cansei de Ser Sexy Electro-rock group from São Paulo signed to the legendary US rock label Sub Pop

MIA British-born rapper who draws on her Sri Lankan origins and other global influences

Diplo Philadelphia-based producer who brought baile funk to the British dance scene


City Hippy - touching down in Brixton

Pathaan's the self proclaimed City Hippy. At his Dex night he was telling me that he recently did a mix for doing yoga to, and only a hippy could do that, so I believe he's a City Hippy, who could probably run for London Mayor and win.

He's just cottoned on to dubstep too so I've been nagging him to come to DMZ, which should be musical manna from heaven with its spiritual, meditative vibes. Maybe he'll pull a few yoga moves in the dance :-0)

Watch out for this forthcoming Globetronica double CD mix taking in d&b, Coldcut, Injan electronica, and cool clicky disco by Trentemoller.

Metro - hip hop/grime round up

Bit late on posting this. This is from late March. Ghetto's album is just plain scary.


Homegrown hip-hop/grime releases

The urban underground, in particular hip-hop and grime, has proved a bountiful source of talent (Dizzee Rascal, Kano, Sway, Lethal B, Estelle, Wiley) in recent years. The success of these aforementioned artists means there are more British rappers and MCs than ever out there.

Sway’s a Mercury-nominated and award-winning (MOBO and BET) artist but it hasn’t stopped the North London rapper from releasing a free mixtape The Dotted Lines (via www.myspace.com/swaydasafo). Littered with comical skits (Ron Burgundy, spoof Ghana Airlines ad), radio appearances (including a terse chat with veteran US rapper Sway) and freestyles, the glue that binds it is Sway’s trademark sharp, dry wit.
Sway’s versatile, effortlessly switching his flow whether rapping over jaunty ska (Madness), dubstep, pop (Lily Allen’s LDN) or hip-hop (Dizzee’s Old Skool). His ability to combine poignant insight with humour (for example The Deportee Song with Sway as MC Charlie Boy an illegal immigrant) is what really grabs you. A tantalizing hors d’oeuvre for Sway’s Signature LP (May), that’s scheduled for release in America on Akon’s Konvict label, no less.

MOBO-nominee Tinchy Stryder’s currently touring with Jack Penate and Cloud 9 demonstrates he’s developing quite nicely. Grime productions often overpower the MC, but not here as Tinchy ducks and dives between hectic beats: Sick In The Head calls out desperate street hoodlums, while My 95s describes Tinchy bopping around Bow drawing inspiration from – and cleverly referencing - scene pioneers Roll Deep and Heartless with fake friends and enemies circling as his star ascends. Tinchy pulls off a respectable slow jam (Thump) and five tracks are three minutes or under, suggesting he’s packaging grime in a digestible, accessible format; perhaps the bravado of his debut LP’s title, Star In The Hood isn’t misplaced.

Ghetto’s Freedom Of Speech, exposes the brutal environment, tough choices and socio-pathic characters that some inner-city youths face. Ghetto veers between detached, ice-cool menace and intense anger as he puts ratchets, car boots and flick knives to multiple uses. Ghetto’s ‘aggy’ souped-up patter is bewilderingly impressive, as he explores his mind’s nihilistic recesses, but it’s only towards the end you realise he’s not glorifying thug-life but reflecting his reality. It’s discomfiting, disturbing listening, and middle England’s worst nightmare. British rap fans have helped make global superstars out of American gangsta rappers - the question is when it’s as close to home as Ghetto, is it too close for comfort?

Griminal’s a part of NASTY Crew (alumni include Kano, Jammer) and free mixtape Its Not Just Barz [sic](via www.myspace.com/griminalmc), is a retrospective of his work. The bouncing, celebratory Dance sees Griminal thrillingly rouse the dancefloor over Prodigy-esque ravey-breakbeat, though the highlights are two ferocious ten minute plus radio freestyles, one of which has the ever-excitable Westwood proclaiming ‘It’s a problem, it’s a problem!’ The off-the-cuff freestyles (‘I’m from a bad manor/that’s why I have a bad manner’) and clashes are so raw and vivid it makes you wonder whether aspects of grime can ever be truly captured and represented in a proper album format.

Clubs in pubs - the new DJ bars

Clubs in pubs, well sort of. It's the new London trend, don'tchaknow? Here's a story on The Star of Bethnal Green, opened by Rob Star, aka Rob Hives, that appeared in that there London Metro on Thursday. Rob's a London clubbing geezer who does premiere warehouse rave Mulletover!


The Star

If 1990s club culture gave rise to the ubiquitous ‘DJ bar’, then the noughties has seen the emergence of ‘clubby pubs’, or pubs like Camden’s Lock Tavern programming hip bands and credible DJs in pubs also serving good food. The Lock Tavern’s spawned outposts in Shepherds Bush (Defectors Weld) and New Cross (Amersham Arms), while the Old Queens Head (Islington), and The Westbury (Kilburn) are further examples of the trend.

Rob Hive, 29, an established clubland figure through promoting Mulletover, is bringing the concept to Bethnal Green with The Star: ‘These pubs have come about because people don’t necessarily want to pay £10/£15 to get in to a club but maybe want to go somewhere with DJs you might hear at Fabric, in cool, comfortable surroundings,’ explains Rob.

As Rob mucked in with the builders (friends from his hometown, Leicester), he discovered features that add to the sturdy East End boozer’s individuality. ‘We stripped it back and found original wood panelling, bay windows, corniced ceiling, a fireplace and thick wooden doors with engraved frosted glass and a bullet hole,’ he says.

The Star’s also preserved London club history by making use of the Cross’ and Canvas’ mirrors, sofas and tables. Finishing touches including hand drawn wallpaper, LED lighting that changes according to time of day, fibre optic stars in the ceiling and a strobe, enable the 240 capacity two-floored free house to transform from a relaxed daytime hang out with wi-fi and bites, to an atmospheric comedy, gig and dance space by night.

Rob’s paid particular attention to the programming as he doesn’t want The Star to be a banging sweat box: ‘You’ve got to look after everyone who is going to come and that’s a wide cross section of people,’ he says. The Star hosts comedy on Mondays, quiz and darts on Tuesdays, bands on Wednesday (Martina Topley Bird headlined yesterday’s opening), Thursdays look to the weekend with nights from Hannah Holland and Tayo, Fridays and Saturdays have a 2am license and lean towards disco/house and indie-electro respectively. Sundays are poptastic.

The Star’s a realisation of Rob’s long-held dream: ‘I’ve wanted my own place since I worked at [now defunct superclub] Home in Leicester Square in 2000/1’, he explains. ‘I had a five year plan and found this place: it’s perfect - it’s got a late license, a reputation for live music and everything’s spreading this way with the T Bar, Shoreditch House and Beach Blanket Babylon, so it’s a prime location.’

Rob’s not just targeting moneyed young professionals, but the area’s creatives and locals too. ‘We’ve introduced a card so locals will get a discount and I’ve invited residents and businesses in for a drink to let them know I’m here to stay, and live upstairs,’ says Rob. ‘We’re just a local pub with good music and good food.’

The Star, 359 Bethnal Green Road E2, Tel: 0207729 0167. Tube: Bethnal Green www.starofbethnalgreen.com