Exodus/DMZ - Leeds tonight

A piece I did for Leeds Metro on Benga who plays at Exodus/DMZ, in Leeds tonight. Big up Benga, who actually said respect to me for being less than complimentary and critical (constructively) about Magnetic Man's first live show at Cargo earlier this year. I've got a lot of time for Benga as a person (he's straightforward, honest, what you see is what you get), producer and DJ.


We’re approaching the halfway point of year but dubstep prodigy Benga’s done more in the first six months of 2008 than many producers and DJs achieve in a decade: the stocky 22-year-old’s debut LP, Diary Of An Afro Warrior (March) was critically acclaimed, his and Coki’s cascading bleep anthem Night pipped Burial to the honour of the first dubstep track to be playlisted on daytime Radio 1 (as well as being rotated on MTV), and also scooped single of the year at Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards.

And that’s not all: Benga’s been busy pioneering dubstep in a live format and toured the UK in March as super group Magnetic Man (with Skream and Artworks), which has secured the trio a main stage slot at Roskilde’s festival in June, to an audience of 70,000.

Benga might be one of the most in demand DJs and revered producers on the planet, but genial joker Benga has no airs or graces, loves to laugh and is disarmingly honest. ‘I had a late night so I’m walking around my room because if I stop moving my brain will stop working. Me and Skream have a Thursday Club, we meet up every Thursday, and sometimes Plastician as well, and go out and have a laugh. Last night we ended up staying in at mine and had a late, messy one – you got to have your jokes.’

Hanging out with his childhood mates like fellow Croydonite and baby-faced dubstep assassin Skream, keeps Benga grounded as he’s increasingly living a superstar DJ, jet-set lifestyle. ‘I’m travelling and DJing loads, I’m off to Israel in June and just got back from Japan which was wonderful, I’ve never met more friendly people in all my life,’ he says. ‘The soundsystems were amazing, everything was perfect the lighting, visuals, they brought in extra sound, so the whole dancefloor was surrounded by sound not just speaker stacks at the front. Whether it’s dubstep or any other music, the dancefloor should be surrounded by sound.’

Which brings us to the impeccable sonics of Iration Steppas’ soundsystem: Benga will be putting it through its paces on Saturday at Exodus/DMZ alongside Digital Mystikz and Loefah, Skream, Appleblim, amongst many other premier dubstep selectors.
Iration Steppas’ soundsystem is talked about in haloed terms by dubstep soundboys, obsessed with low-end frequencies that rattle your ribcage and shake your core.

‘For the size and space Subdub’s definitely the best soundsystem in the UK - I’m building really bass heavy tracks specifically to try out on it because it’s such a heavy system,’ says Benga who despite being sleep deprived cannot hide the excitement in his voice. ‘The vibe’s immense, everyone’s shocking out to the very end, even at 6am, when the lights are on, people are going mad – as a DJ you couldn’t ask for a better night.’

Tonight Exodus/DMZ, West India Centre, Laycock Place LS7, 9pm to 6am, £10.


Free in London - World Freeriding Champs

Check it. Looks heavy. Who says you need money to go out in London?? What the hell is freeriding: Think BMX tricks on a bigger more er, stunt-tastic, bikes. You can sign upto have a go too.

Here's the press release - check the href="http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=10817072094">facebook group for more info, vids and to register.


Nissan will host the grand final of the Nissan QASHQAI Challenge 2008 in London, seeing the world's best freeriders compete for the coveted title.

The Nissan QASHQAI Challenge 2008 is the second annual Nissan mountain bike freeriding series and will culminate on Saturday 24th May with the grand final being held outside Tate Modern, on London's South Bank.

The museum will provide an exciting backdrop to the urban freeriding challenge, as the Nissan QASHQAI-sponsored Street Art exhibition, which features work from some of the most exciting street artists in the world, will be unveiled while the world's best freeriders compete in a variety of mountain bike disciplines.

Urban freeriding is an exhilarating form of mountain biking which sees riders take on challenging man-made terrain to perform extreme stunts. The riders will perform physically demanding tricks while airborne, taking on drops of up to 30 feet high, narrow platforms, jumps and landings.

The London event is the final in a series of four challenges across Europe, with events being held in Milan, Madrid and Munich in late April and May. Four weekends will provide Europe with first class mountain bike action in the heart of its most exciting cities.

Thousands of spectators, including riders and enthusiasts, are expected to attend the grand final of the Nissan QASHQAI Challenge in London, which demonstrates Nissan's passion and commitment to adventure sports, as part of the Nissan Sports Adventure Programme.

In total there will be 30 of the world's best mountain bikers showing off their unbelievable skills in a bid to become the Freeride Champion of the year and win the overall prize of 100,000 euros.

Course builders from all over the world will work together to create individual dirt and wood tracks for the event, setting a new standard in the sport.

Darren Berrecloth, Canadian winner of the 2007 Nissan QASHQAI Challenge series said: "Nissan's support of the mountain biking scene is fantastic! Last year the QASHQAI Challenge provided me and the other tour riders with some of the most insane courses to ride, and add to that the incredible prize fund that was on offer, that just proves that the QASHQAI Challenge is a serious mountain biking fixture."

Urban freeriding is the most progressive discipline in mountain biking and illustrates the changing trend of focus from open woodland areas into urban city centres.

Andy Connell, Nissan Motor (GB) Limited's senior manager for marketing communications, said: "The Nissan Sports Adventure Programme is committed to adventure sports and aims to inspire hundreds of thousands of people by bringing freeride mountain biking from the slopes of the mountain to the streets of the city.

"We're incredibly excited about staging the second Nissan QASHQAI Challenge, particularly following last year's success. We're expecting thousands of spectators to

attend the event and watch as the world's best riders take part in the grand final of the Challenge.

"The partnership with the Street Art exhibition at Tate Modern also enables us to maximise the sense of 'urban adventure' and provides the event with the perfect location by using an art form that re-interprets the urban environment in the same way the QASHQAI does."

The 2008 format has undergone a series of changes with feedback from the Nissan QASHQAI Riders Committee, including the addition of open events.

By splitting the series into two opens & two challenge events, Nissan has opened up the contest to a wider range of riders. Five winners from each open event will have the chance to compete against the 15 professional riders at the challenge events. The winners from these challenges will then compete in the grand final in London.

Visit the Nissan QASHQAI Challenge website for more information on the competition at www.nissan-qashqaichallenge.com

Sincere feat Natty new video

Sincere ft Natty Once Upon A Time

Here be the press release:

Once Upon A Time is the brand new single from SINCERE, and the first from his highly anticipated album NOW OR NEVER. Production duo FIRSTMAN have forged Reggae, Jazz and Hip Hop to create an infectious summer anthem. Featuring NATTY, Atlantic Records hot new signing, Once Upon A Time is already set to become the Hip Hop smash of summer 2008.

Already a favourite with urban Dj’s nationwide Once Upon a Time definitely has the potential to cross over.
As well as being play listed by BBC radio 1XTRA, it’s also receiving regular rotation on the UK’s top radio stations – GALAXY FM, KISS FM, RADIO ONE (Tim Westwood, Rass Kwame, Dj Semtex) and is also one of the most frequently requested tracks on London’s premier underground and internet stations.

Twenty four year old North Londoner SINCEREmade his first humble steps into the UK hip hop scene with a guest feature on a track with Brit rap legend Skinnyman. This was a move that symbolised SINCERE’S desire to establish himself as an artist with real integrity, one who could gain the much sought after respect of the underground, whilst meeting critical acclaim and ultimately commercial success.

You can’t mention SINCERE and not talk about ‘THAT’S NOT GANSTER’, when the Young Entrepreneur released this his first video in 2005 at the tender age of Twenty-One. It basically changed the game and ushered in a new generation of artists that where hungry to express their own angst in a uniquely London centric way. It was an instant hit premiering on Channel U and receiving immediate rotation on RADIO ONE, CHOICE FM, XFM, 1XTRA, all the pirates and the MTV network.

The album, ‘NOW OR NEVER’, is due around October 2008 and already features guest appearances from Skinnyman, John Blood, Natty, Sway and fellow Young Entrepreneur Mark Henry.

Production duties are being dealt with by P Nut [Dido / Amy Whinehouse / Faithless], Firstman [Hi Tek / Talib Kweli / Skinnyman / Lemar], Blak Jak, the man behind ‘THAT’S NOT GANSTER’, [Miss Dynamite, Akala, Scorcher and Nathan], Res [Akala, Miss Dynamite]and Young Entrepreneurs very own in house beatsmith Godson [Sway / Scorcher].

Also look out for the sinceremusic.co.ukdownload mixtape available soon and featuring the mighty King’s of Leon. There’s more remix action with fellow N2 resident Natty on the remix of Cold Town.



Heatwave & Warrior Queen/Baby J refixes Ronson

Ok so I'm super late on Heatwave & Warrior Queen, but better late than never, and it is a bad tune. Cheers to dancehall don dada Gabriel Heatwave, for the MP3.
Check The Heatwave's website, for nuff free music, mixes and fascinating info.

Second tune here is UK hip hop producer extrordinaire Baby J actually improving on a Mark Ronson and Paul Smith (Maximo Park) track by injecting it with some rowdy MCing. Baby J has done his own remix version of Ronson's Versions, which is probably going to come out via SonyBMG in the not too distant future. A remix of a remix or reversion album: how very post modern. In this day and age nothing is original, it's all about the REMIX. Big shout to Matt @ Dat Sound for the Baby J info and music

Dirrrrty Canvas & Bling comedy

Mr Wiley's supposed to be playing The Great Escape in Brighton that night too. Will he make both? I'd hope yes, as The Great Escape is early doors (8pm). If anyone is heading down to Great Escape in Brighton - it's supposed to be our answer to SXSW - holla at me, coz I'll be there...

Great value comedy in the totally unique and slightly scary Masonic lodge/temple of Andaz - formerly Great Eastern Hotel in Liverpool Street - which is where Mark Ronson stays when he's in town.


Flying Lotus remixes Madvillain

Just about two of my favourite artists of the moment - rapper Madvillain, aka Doom, and Warp's hiphoptronix don, Flying Lotus on the remix. Flying Lotus has been in the UK in recent weeks and loves my South london hood, namely Brixton and er, East Dulwich, where he's been hanging out with Kode9. The nephew of Alice Coltrane has good taste, ya dun no.

Next Friends & Fam

Addictive TV remix Iron Man

VJ collective Addictive TV remix Iron Man, find out more about them here


London For Free

After a heavy night meditating to immense bass at DMZ on Saturday night, yesterday I dragged my sorry arse (note to self, tequila is never a good idea) out of bed and went for a wander to check out Cans Festival (Banksy, 3D's street arm jam in a disused road/railway arch underneath Waterloo station). Except half of London under the age of 25 did the same and there was an hour queue to get in, so off I wandered onto the South Bank proper...

Where I found the spirit of hip hop alive and kicking: these guys were performing street dance and breakdancing with a one speaker set up and enthralling the masses with a combination of theatre, panto, street dance set to hip hop, pop, and disco. I happily gave 'em a nugget for their work.

The boarders and bikers were out in force too, turning the brutalist concrete of the South Bank into a buzzing arena for physics defying, self expression, against a backdrop of graffiti. This dude is actually travelling the other way - as in he's going this way >>>>>>>>>>>>>> at high velocity - I managed to get him as he's doing a 360 mid air, or a pirouette on his BMX.

After a couple of freebie exhibitions at NFT and Royal Festival Hall, and signing up for a campaign to commemorate soldiers lost in Iraq on postage stamps (great idea!), and a quick refuel at the Slow Food festival I went back to Cans Festival, where the waiting time was five minutes. Reeeeeesult.

Cans Festival was inspirational and teeming with slogans and images that show people are peeved and care about what is going on around us: whether Boris Johnson, war, rampant reckless consumerism. At times I despair if anyone cares, this restored my faith in people, humanity and London. Not everyone's obsessed with shopping, material goods and trapped in a bubble of conspicuous consumerism.

The Pope literally meets Marilyn Monroe.

Half of London's original graf writers are in their late 30s with kids, so suddenly this makes sense...

My pix capture about 2% of what was going on at Cans Festival... It's more than apparent to me that there's a DIY creative revolution happening, facilitated by the internet, social networking and cheap technology. This festival was all about stenciling, easy, straight forward, lo-fi art, that speaks volumes. Warhol might be considered the father of 'pop art' but in the truest sense of the two words, we're experiencing it right here, right now.

All of the above cost me nothing, and is why I LOVE London (despite fellow Londoners either not bothering to vote or voting for that racist cretin, Boris Johnson)!


Carl Cox - the smiliest superstar DJ ever?

An interview with Carl Cox that I done for Newcastle Metro. He appears at Shindig's 16th birthday celebrations this weekend. I went to his first London date in three years a few weeks back, and he smashed it. It was proper arms pumping, foot stamping, driving hard dance music - tech house, and techno. Took me back to Bugged Out at Nation, Liverpool in my uni days in da mid-1990s, and raving in the annexe with The Birds, while most of Liverpool got down to fluffy house in the main room.


Superstar DJs are so last millennium. Yet Carl Cox is as popular now as in the superstar DJ era a decade ago, and when he started in the UK’s acid house revolution 20 years ago. Why? Because Cox’s a supreme DJ, purveying pummelling techno and tech-house who’s moved with the times; he’s charismatic with a perma-grin and hasn’t bored us into submission by turning out every week. Cox’s current UK tour are his first DJ club dates in Newcastle, Liverpool and London, in three years.

In 1988 ‘Coxy’ (dancefloors often chant this in a football-terrace style), was famous for mixing across three decks. Twenty years on and turntables are almost redundant in clubs, what does the ‘three deck wizard’ think of this? ‘I’ve gone from DJing with one turntable to using CDJs, which enables me to DJ as I’ve always DJed but with 50 hours worth of music. I’ve always enjoyed having a massive selection of music, and the choice is so immense that every single record is of the highest order,’ says Cox

Cox feels CDJs have put the emphasis on music and stimulated creativity: ‘The focus has shifted from the DJ to what’s coming out of the speakers, which is always what I’ve wanted - stop looking at me and get dancing,’ ‘Many years ago you’d have trainspotters standing at the front not dancing and writing down every record- you don’t get trainspotters any more,’ he explains. ‘It’s very creative - before people would go to the studio and remix, now you can do that live which is amazing, that new beat, or sound, you’re going to hear it in a club for the first time - I’m really looking forward to what the next generation does with it.’

Cox believes the next generation experiments’ should ferment organically on dark club dancefloors away from the harsh mainstream glare: ‘Our movement has gone underground, which is no bad thing, when it was over-ground the expectation was too high: where’s the next Prodigy, Moby, Leftfield? Actually what we had was what we had. Now we’re going back to the underground to find these people - it’s a transitional phase and it’s going to take a few years before we get a Prodigy or Leftfield.’

Cox, who’s spent the last three years DJing across the globe and every summer in Ibiza, thinks dance music’s next big thing the next could well come from one of its new frontiers, such as Eastern Europe or Asia.
‘I played in Romania and Bulgaria two weeks ago, in Bulgaria there were 7,000 people and the lighting and sound was better than anything I’ve seen. They’re having the time of their lives and only started five years ago, whereas we’ve had it for 20 years,’ he says. ‘Their ears are 21st century and they’re making music for now, not what it used to be like back in the day. This is where it’s really interesting, and where a lot of the refreshing, exciting music, DJs and producers are coming from now.’