So I got sent this link and watched this short film, which is frankly fantastic. It's just an honest and human portrayal of life for some teenagers in London and across the UK. Top Girl follows a young woman trying to navigate her way in South London and make it into music - which I know from working with young people in Brixton, is a pretty everyday scenario.
Top Girl was made by Fierce Productions, a not-for-profit film company working with community groups, set up by the film’s director, Rebecca Johnson, and its Executive Producer, Victoria Lorkin-Lange.
So this is the video for Hudson Mohawke's Joy Fantastic. Hudmo is a early 20something Glaswegian who's killing it - Chris Brown aka Rihanna botherer is a fan, there's a post on this blog of him riding a Hudmo riddim.
Hudmo's a top lad. Very shy, I did his biography for Warp Records (his label), and then went upto Glasgow in February last year to check out Numbers and LuckyMe - two of the hottest collectives in electronic music right now - for Mixmag. One day I'll post the piece up on dis 'ere blog.
Natalie Storm from Jamaica hooks up with UK funky producer Footsteps for a massive funky bashment refix by UK's premier purveyors of bashment, dancehall and scientists fusing UK and JA, sounds The Heatwave.
You can download this banger for free here, or listen on Soundcloud, or watch on Youtube
Read more about Natalie - the Queen of Funky Bashment - on the Heatwave blog here
So this is RD, aka Ruff Diamonds, a girl band from Lahndan.Although I'm not the target audience, I like this single and their style, attitude and lyrics. It's UK and proud. RD are Chronz, Martika and Troy, three girls from London, ready to fill the gap left in the UK for a female urban group.
The girls have just finished supporting N Dubz on their UK tour at Birmingham, Manchester, Reading and Leicester dates. In between touring, the girls are hard at work in the studio. The girls co-wrote and sang on Fugative’s current single “Crush” and are busy working on their own material with producers such as Flukes (Crazy Cousins), Parker and James (Oopsy Daisy/Chipmunk) and Nocturnal (Ghetts).
Big shout to the secret lemonade drinker for the heads up.
Here's my review of Cypress Hill's new LP, Rise Up, which ran in Metro today. To be fair Rise Up is alright, but it's a little disappointing that they're doing exactly the same thing as when I first fell in love with them, 17 years ago. Tracks like Insane In The Brain, Hits From The Bong and all of the Black Sunday LP (1993), were the soundtrack to my days at University. This is going out the caning Liverpool crew - Knoxy, Dennison, and the ethnic house man dem Das, Payno and Boulis.
Cypress Hill: Rise Up (THREE STARS)
Los Angeles’ blunted-rap trio Cypress Hill’s first LP in six years, Rise Up, sees MCs B Real and Sen Dog, and DJ Muggs, rediscover their mojo. Despite their obsession with ‘smoking trees’, Rise Up is lively and in your face, and traverses fiery rap-rock, guitar-funk and Latino rap.
The contrast between B Real’s languid, raspy delivery and Sen Dog’s punchy, urgent flow, works as well as ever and the interplay is bustling. Highlights include Rise Up, charting L.A.’s ‘hood tensions, featuring Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine)’s blazing, unsettling guitar work, the swift psych-funk of Bang Bang, and Pass The Dutch, a reworking of Musical Youth’s Pass The Dutchie.
The weed-fixation becomes repetitive, especially when sombre moments such as Carry Me Away and Take My Pain strike a chord. Nevertheless Rise Up will satisfy existing fans and provides a new generation of stoners with a soundtrack to get high and giggle to.
So this is legendary d&b producer Blame, who seems to have gone all pop in an electro-y synth style. This is out next Monday. Go support. And good luck to Blame. This massive vocal cut - Because Of You - from last summer was a hint that he was going this way.
So Mr Plan B, aka Ben Drew,'s Defamation of Strickland Banks is currently the best selling album in the country. Well done. I've long been a fame of this super talented, intense young man - in fact I interviewed him for Metro nearly four years ago when the amazing Who Needs Actions When You Got Words LP was out.
Here's one of his songs from then, and compare and contrast with the above and his soul renaissance.
And here's my interview with him, which ran in Metro last Monday. This is the full unedited piece, and a little different from what ran in the newspaper.
It’s almost four years since Metro first met Plan B (Ben Drew) in a West London music studio to talk about debut LP Who Needs Actions When You Got Words. The scrawny 21-year-old’s passion, intensity and expletive-ridden straight-talking more than made their mark, much like Who Needs… an astounding rap record reflecting ‘broken Britain’ through the eyes of another tabloid obsession ‘feral youth’.
As Ben Drew settles into the red booth of an American diner in Soho and orders Eggs Benedict and coffee, it’s apparent he’s filled out – his face is fuller and he’s broader of frame. He scrubs up well in a crisp, pinstriped shirt, dark blue suit jacket with a paisley handkerchief tucked into his breast pocket, and jeans, and looks like a young man rather than the hoodie-wearing boy of 2006.
Over the last four months the East Londoner from Forest Gate’s mostly been wearing three piece suits and spats, in keeping with the image and story of sophomore LP, The Defamation Of Strickland Banks (679 Recordings). It’s a startling, glorious Motown-inspired soul record, following the highs and lows of singer Strickland Banks who meets a woman and ends up in jail.
The Defamation…’s spawned two Top 10 singles already, Stay Too Long (No.9) and She Said (No.3), and opened doors (performances at Nick Grimshaw’s Radio 1 Christmas special, Friday Night With Jonathan Ross), that the ‘angry white rapper’ spent a couple of years futilely thumping on.
Did he find the transition from writing rap to crafting songs difficult? ‘No man writing songs is piss easy, for me anyway. I wrote three songs last night that are possible hits, if not hits then really good album tracks, songs just flow,’ he says explaining his bleary eyes. ‘With rapping, every word and every rhyme has to be on point. The words that go into one rap verse are the same as one song. I can freestyle sing but I can’t freestyle rap.’
‘For all the people who dismissed me as an angry white rapper, I’m showing them – I’ve made an uncompromising soul record, the same as I made an uncompromising rap record’, continues Ben as he tucks into poached eggs. ‘To me making a pop rap record would be a compromise and selling out, and I needed to reach more people, so I’ve done a completely different style of music and made an uncompromising record of that genre.’
Over the last four years Ben’s experienced highs and lows: he’s carved a promising film career, appearing in urban youth drama Adulthood and award winning revenge thriller Harry Brown with Sir Michael Caine, and is directing a feature film this summer. ‘I’m a storyteller, that’s what I want to be known as – whether that’s directing films, writing books, or music - that’s the most important thing to me,’ he states.
Ben’s also faced his demons: ‘After my first record I got into fights with fans after gigs. They would say you’re not like I thought you would be - on record you’re an arsehole and now you’re being nice to me. I’d get furious and was getting arrested and frustrated with shit festival slots’, he says with the same combination of brutal honesty and vehemence that makes his music so compelling.
‘I had counseling for a year, and realized I didn’t do this for fame or any other bullshit I somehow got wrapped up in. I was turning into one of those cynical bitter c**ts - what a cliché,’ he cackles.
‘The penny dropped – I made my first album for disenchanted kids that society has forgotten about, who’s parents were drug addicts or alcoholics and didn’t give a f**k about them and told them everyday they were a piece of shit, so they started acting like it,’ he says, fixing a stare with those intense, icy blue eyes.
‘No one stood up for them but they listened to hip-hop: rappers came from the ghetto where they come from, and rapped about making money. And all the disenchanted, angry kids and people who know people like that got the album. I achieved all I set out to achieve, because those kids became my fans,’ he continues.
‘As soon as the penny dropped I asked myself what I was going to do? I’m going to make a soul record then a hip-hop record. The soul record is Strickland Banks’ story and the hip-hop record is the Strickland Banks’ story narrated by Plan B, The Ballad Of Belmarsh.’
Ben’s clearly an irrepressible, creative tour de force, but before The Ballad of Belmarsh is The Defamation… an ‘album album’ that demands listening from beginning to end as Strickland leads you through falling in love, court, incarceration and loneliness. All of which is regaled through Ben’s sweet falsetto and band with heart-tugging string section reprising finger-clicking pop soul, rock’n’roll rap, dusty psychedelic soul, and soaring gospel (in typical Plan B style, the gospel track, Welcome To Hell grimly details Strickland’s prison experience).
‘I’d buy albums and the singles would be the only good songs, then you listen to albums like The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Slim Shady and Music For The Jilted Generation, where it’s song after song after song. I want every album I do to be like that,’ he says tapping his fingers on the table to ram home the point. ‘The album is more important than the single. Whatever I do and whatever style – expect that I’m gonna put fucking 100 per cent in and it’s gonna be fucking good. Other than that don’t expect nuthin’ or I’ll disappoint you.’
In short big up your bad-self Mr Drew and enjoy touring the festivals, it's been a tough slog but you've made that all important breakthrough.
Big choon from man like Redlight, aka Bristol b-boy Clipzy - this is kind of a funky meets electro-bass BANGER. He's clearly a very talented producer who knows how to push those dancefloor buttons. Equally interesting is it's out on Digital Soundboy which has stepped up incredibly as a label this year, with Donaeo's Riot Music single and Breakage's Foundation LP which is absolutely killer. If you don't know it, get to know. Infact I'm gonna do a short sharp post about it!