Sunday, 28 December 2014

Sting 2014 thoughts

Just gonna re-post my tweets here cos they sum up everything about Sting 2014.

"Sting was worse than I thought it would be [and that was bad]. Its the lack of professionalism and man taking on the war ting too far that kills it

Sting could be a great show on paper. Make the up comers work, reggae artists, clash vibes, then end it with the top man doing hits

Instead Laing gives us reggae artists, Capleton > EDHM > Tarrus > nobodies > clashes > nobodies > Demarco > Gully Bop > dead clashes

Killer, Cobra, Spice, Lady Saw and Ninja Man should be at Sting every year. They have Sting-friendly catalogues. I-Octane should be there too

Sting's problem is it no longer books headline artists to compensate for lack of worthy newcomers. That was a (lack of) new talent showcase

Capleton should've closed the show. I-Wayne penultimate performer/after the clashes. Would've softened the nonsense that came before it

In the end, we waited for nothing. Clashes are too unpredictable to have as the last impression so make sure you go out with a bang. Simple

Dancehall night at Sumfest is the best place for performances. Sting just has clashes, history + more cultural importance so stronger name"

Big up Sashae in the clashes against two women, Don Maestro against Likke Dainjah, Capleton, Tarrus Riley and Gully Bop. He isn't an artist to be taken seriously, he's there for fun and make us feel good. A man man would walk passed on the street and look down on, up there on the stage representing himself. He's like if Susan Boyle was a Jamaican dancehall deejay.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

JA influence on UK and world in 2014

Catch my review of dancehall in 2014 on Red Bull dot com

We can also start with Logan speaking similarities between grime and dancehall here and Sticky & General Levy talking early ragga raving experiences and Jamaican influences here. Absolute pleasure speaking with all three dons.

It's that time again; end of year reviews come rolling it. The time we all look at happened in the year while asking where has time gone? But seriously, I remember this time last year quite well. Anyway, as they say, time waits for no one. As Oasis said "You gotta roll with it!"

(Previous yearbooks can be found here.)

So let's have a butchers at what happened in the world of bashment-influenced music, mainly from a UK perspective (but not restricted to). Oh, and as much as I'd love it to be, it isn't in any chronological order. They just appear as they appeared in my brain, ya dig wah me ah seh?

Sunday, 21 December 2014

JA influence on the world's music in 2013

So, this is a bit late, but I didn't have the time to do it last year, nor find it suitable at any other point this year. I'm not even gonna write up because its a waste of both our times. Straight links, couple embeds and a sentence or few about the notable ones.

Amplify Dot - "I'm Good" feat. Busta Rhymes samples Buju Banton "Champion"
MO - "Hot"
Tanika ft. Sneakbo - "Hooker Heels"
Daley - "Silly Games" - Janet Kay cover
Show N Prove - "Zimmer Frame" (samples Prince Buster "Al Capone")
J Spades ft DVS - Live Life (dancehall style mic chatting)
Giggs - Yes Yes Yes (first four bars of each verse), "Cool Nuh" ft. Wretch 32
Shy FX - "Soon Come" ft Liam Bailey
Ms Dynamite & Shy FX - Cloud 9
Ellie Goulding "Burn" #1
Sean Paul and The Saturday's "What About Us?" - UK #1
Stylo G - "Soundbwoy" - #18 - first UK bashment artist to top 40 in 10 years
Sneakbo - "Ring a Ling" - #21 (someone imitated Shabba Ranks' "Ting A Ling")
Sean Paul - "Other Side of Love" - #7

Rudimental's platinum-shifting album had a couple Jamaican influenced stuff like the drums on Emeli Sande-assited "More Than Anything" and drums on certain parts of "Right Here" and their dub-inspired "Solo". They also covered Paramore's "Now" + Bob Marley "Sun is Shining" in a ska style and fashion on Radio 1 Live Lounge



Miguel on Jools Holland - "Do You" x Bob Marley "Stir It Up" - vid isn't on Youtube.

Diddy went to Jamaica to experience the culture inna him body.



Beyonce put a slice of "Limb by Limb" into "Baby Boy" and got "Dutty Wine" trending via her Superbowl halftime show
Bruno Mars traced his hit single's influences "Locked Out of Heaven" back to The Police then back to reggae via the Marley's and special guest Rihanna at the Grammy's. His explicit reggae song is "Show Me"
BET Awards had a reggae segment with Chaka Demus & Pliers, Dawn Penn, Beenie Man and Elephant Man. 106 & Park did something for Carbbiean Day parade
Rihanna dancing to Busy Signal

Beyonce ft. Mr Vegas - Standing on the Sun
Asap Ferg "Shabba" + Shabba on the remix
Selena Gomez - "Like a Champion" samples Buju Banton "Champion"
Busta Rhymes - "Twerk It" ft. Nicki Minaj + remix feat. Vybz Kartel

Busy Signal + Major Lazer - "Bumaye". Their best song so far. Absolute shellings.



Eddie Murphy ft. Snoop Lion - "Red Light" isn't as cringe as it looks on paper. It's actually ok, considering
Drake - No New Friends (blatant result of listening to dancehall), "5AM in Toronto" uses Popcaan's "Y pree"
2 Chainz - "Feds Watching" produced of Pharrell on a Jamaican vibe. Someone at the end chatting patois.
A$AP Rocky - "Wild For The Night" produced by Skrillex on the reggae side of dubstep
French Montana - "Freaks" + Remix feat. Mavado, Wale and Rick Ross
Jay-Z - "The Crown" samples Sizzla "Solid as a Rock" / "Versus"
Kanye West "I'm In It" feat. Assassin / "I Am a God" samples Capleton / "Send It Up" samples Beenie Man "Memories" / there's one featuring Popcaan but I can't be arsed to find it.

Musiq & Syleena Johnson released a reggae album called 9ine. Snoop Dogg played dress up and renamed himself Snoop Lion for album Reincarnated.

Popcaan - "Unruly Rave" vid directed by one OVO guy
Drake in Mighty Crown dance
Mavado ft. Nicki Minaj - "Give It All To Me"
Lady Saw ft. Flo Rida - Heels On

Some European hits
Phar Phar - La Mig Rulle Dig
TopGunn - 21 - album hit #21 in Denmark
Djames Braun -  Kvinder Og Kanoner - #28 in Denmark
MØ - Pilgrim - #11 in Denmark
Klumben - "Mit Hjerte" - cover of Wayne Marshall "My Heart" - #25 in Denmark



Cheek ft. Jukka Poika - "Jossu" - #1 Finland.
Nicholas Mayorca - "Mi Cancion" in Spain. Not sure on chart position but 4m views on YouTube.
Yandar - Te Pinaron Pajaritos - 7m views on YouTube.
Chaka y Rakata - "Raka Raka" this ran clubs in Havana, Cuba.
Prince Royce - "Darte un Besos" - 436m views on YouTube.

Burna Boy is basically a bashment artist based in Nigeria. His whole style. Explicit examples are "Smooth Sailing" and "Yawa Dey"(below)



Maleek Berry supplied Wizkid with a bashment-flavour for banger "The Matter"


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

That time I experienced a Protoje/reggae show in France

As much as I'd love to tell you all the stories and things I witnessed on my travels to a reggae show in Europe (except UK obviously) for the first time, please remember I have a biography to sell in a few decades. I hope you understand my rights to withhold certain aspects of my life until then. If not, tough innit. You won't know now.

So anyway, went to Boulogne for the first time in my life apart from those times I got dragged along on coach trips to stock up the alcohol in time for Christmas. And I'd like to add, none of the alcohol was bought for or by me nor consumed by me. My sole purpose was extra hand to carry bags. Some might call this child slavery, I just know it as "You ah di bwoy, ih!" as another carrier bag is shoved into my hands. Bearing in mind, I'm short and slight, I'm definitely not a contender for "People you can depend on when you need bag carriers" lists.

But we digress. So yeah, Boulogne. I don't recall meeting anybody that spoke English for starters - apart from security in the venue (not even the guest list person) - so for someone who learnt Spanish and says "gracias" before correcting himself to say "merci", this was a slight issue. Like, when asking for directions to the venue! Found it eventually, after walking around for about 45 mins. These times, it was about a 10mins walk from the train station.



So the sold-out show featured Protoje sandwiched between two French-speaking acts, Yaniss Odua - who's from Martinique (and everything else you can make out on this French wikipedia page) - and Parisian band, Danakil, who closed the show. It was proper interesting because I couldn't understand the artists either side, so it mainly the feeling of the songs, style of riddims and crowd reaction. I'm sure there were people in the building who didn't understand Protoje, so we were all together as one on that.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

RIPower Garnett Silk - 20 years today

One of Jamaica's greatest talents left earth in physical form on this day 20 years ago today aged just 28. It is reported that the fire started after a gun hit a canister in the house causing a fire. Dunno who or why the gun was fired, however, all that matters to me is he tried to rescue his mum from said fire in the house and they both died.



I was only young when he died so most of what I know about Garnett Silk are how his songs made me feel. And on that note, I'm just gonna post some of my favourite tunes.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

reasoning with Maxi Priest on 'Easy To Love', losing our culture, major vs indie, Shabba Ranks + more

"I'm on top of the world. I'm on fire right now," exclaims Maxi Priest when asked about his re-emergence. "I've been doing this thing for a while now and to have the opportunity to go around again... I am really appreciative, because at the end of the day we can't do this without the support of the people. Words fail me. I am on such a high with this album, the appreciation and support that we've been getting on this is just - thank God."

The famed reggae and lovers rock singer rose from the world famous London crew Saxon Sound International to transatlantic chart-topper - a rare feat for any reggae artist, let alone one from Lewisham, south-east London. Songs such as the aforementioned US #1 "Close To You" (produced by Soul II Soul),  (Cat Stevens cover) "Wild World".

2013 saw Maxi return on the scene in a big way via the Bulby-produced "Easy To Love". An album of the same name followed this year, and the domination of pirate radio stations has continued - you can expect to hear at least five cuts from the album blessing the airwaves at any given time. Maxi Priest is revered by the core reggae market for the first time in a very long time.

Marvin Sparks caught up with the Lewisham-born legend, Maxi Priest, about not getting his dues from black British music institutes, not liking the "lovers artist" label, major label albums feeling like foreign land and whether we'll get another Shabba Ranks collaboration.

You can catch where I spoke to him about Saxon Sound and their (under-stated) impact and importance here

Marvin Sparks: Easy To Love began hitting the airwaves last year. Beres Hammond "In My Arms" was first to hit off the riddim…

Maxi Priest: I wasn't really aware of the other track when I done "Easy To Love". The riddim was brought to me by Big Dread from out of Wolverhampton. He came to the studio for dub plates and stuff but when he played the riddim track, I was like "Yo, I love this riddim track!" I wanted to write a song for it. I wrote the song, he told me the riddim belonged to Bulby from Jamaica.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Dancehall > Jungle > Garage > Grime: The Rewind Is Everything [1Xtra sets]

Just gonna drop these videos here to show the line of UK mic chatting music.

Cos sets from these Jamaican's - Wayne Wonder, Frisco Kid and Lady Saw



And UK ragga deejay's: Tippa Irie (from Saxon Sound a.k.a. the first UK mic chatters to chart in UK top 40 a.k.a. the sound that popularised fast-chat/double-time "rapping"), Sweetie Irie and General Levy. Please note this is the foundation of UK mic chatting culture. Accept no rewording of our history. Thanks in advance.



UK garage MC's from So Solid, Pays As U Go and Heartless Crew



Grime MCs Lethal Bizzle, Dizzee Rascal, BBK, Tempa T, Footsie



Look pretty familiar, alie?

To quote this Skepta interview:
Hypetrak: Were people in Jamaica aware of grime? What’s their perception of the genre?Skepta: When we got to the airport, kids were outside welcoming us screaming "Boy Better Know." The internet has made everything so small. They understand of the grime beats because it’s similar to dancehall while other instrumentals are a bit too fast. Overall I think they like the lyrics more because we rap like dancehall artists in the way we formulate our lyrics to build the crowd. We work it to get that rewind, that encore. American rappers don’t really want that. They just want people to dance, they don’t want the interruption, the reload. In grime and dancehall, the rewind is everything!
 As we saw the difference between A$AP Flop and BBK at the Red Bull Culture Clash. Speaking of which, none of the above would be possible if not for Jamaican sound systems.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Culture Clash in my opinion [with first round vids/rest rounds audio]

First off, big up Red Bull. Bigging up the sponsors usually means this is a sponsored post. However, this isn't a sponsored post. They put on a big show and shoved 20,000 people into one place to experience Jamaican culture even if the music wasn't explicitly Jamaican. So big up Jamaica cos none of the music yesterday would exist in the way it does without it and there wouldn't be a format. Jamaica changed the way music was made and consumed. Both were on full display yesterday.

Keywords: 

Dub/dubplate/special = song cut specially to either big up your sound, kill another sound or both. Most "dub plates" are pretty much extinct - they're just specials - but everyone understands the term dubs.
A$AP Flop = A$AP Mob

First round = normal juggling/playing music
Second round = hosting
Third round = Sleeping with the enemy (playing other teams genres of music)
Fourth round = dub for dub/five minutes to play songs

I will update the post with videos as and when they come through.

Anyway, no real long talking. Just gonna summarise my thoughts on the sounds performances. Hindsight is a wonderful thing so obviously there will be a lot of that. But yeah.

p.s. my reading of it beforehand





So to the night...

First up the immortal Stone Love. Putting it out there from the beginning - we knew they were never going to compete let alone win. Some competitors (I mean "one competitor" but we'll get onto that) were there to expose it to a wider audience, Stone Love were there for credibility. There has to be a pure Jamaican music sound. Stone Love have a reputation for mixing the genres from day, but they're a Jamaican sound first and foremost. Plus, they are legends in sound system even though they aren't really a clashing sound.



Click "read more" to read more, innit!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

#tbt Summer 2004 Appreciation a.k.a When Dancehall RAN "Urb*n-Pop" Music

Came across this tweet today, (big up @MervinMartin_)




Memories. The date was week commencing 20/August/2004. I remember these times because I was in New York when these songs were everywhere. Took me back to the year Sean Paul was nominated for Best New Artist Grammy. When dancehall videos by the likes of Elephant Man, TOK, Wayne Marshall etc., were all over MTV Base and Channel U. When Elephant Man was on every remix. When hip hop videos had dancehall dances and dancers. When r&b songs had a  dancehall groove.

Number 1 on the US chart as pictured above, Fat Joe "Lean Back"

Dancehall-friendly groove + dancehall dance (the rockaway).



Elephant Man said "Them thief all me rockaway... cos we just dance it down [here]" referring to the above on "Father Elephant"



Number 4: Kevin Lyttle "Turn Me On"

This song is extremely high in the greatest Caribbean one-hit wonder ranks. Groovy soca with a dancehall groove is always a winner.

LargeUp spoke to Kevin about creation of the song: "I said to the producer Adrian Bailey, I want that sound from those old dancehall records by people like Little Lenny and Beenie Man, on the old Punanny riddim (sings) choon-choonk-a-choonk, choon-choonk-a-choonk." Can read the rest here


Number 5: Christina Milian - "Dip It Low"

Her highest charting single ever (written by Teedra Moses). Dancehall beat through and through with Chinese-sounding strings running on top. Peaked at #2 in the UK.



Number 6: Ciara "Goodies"

More of an honorary mention to be honest. This song isn't dancehall but I'm putting it here because I believe Lil Jon used techniques he learnt from dancehall - emphasis on drum and bass, and minimal production, plus versioning. For those who don't know, Lil' Jon was a dancehall radio DJ in Atlanta and made hip hop remixes of reggae songs like Capleton "Tour". And regarding the versioning, this was essentially the third hit off the same riddim; Usher "Yeah" (video included dancehall dances Rockaway and Thunda Clap, remember?) and Petey Pablo "Freek-A-Leek".

But ultimately, it's a snap song. And it eventually peaked at #1



Sorry, but can we take a moment to watch "Get Low (remix)" (from the year before)? Elephant Man murdered this. He made the ever-animated Busta Rhymes sound tame.



Also, you know Pitbull? His first charting single was a Lil Jon-assisted/produced dancehall song "Culo". It's on the Skatta-produced Coolie Dance riddim, which leads me on to the last entry…

Number 8: Nina Sky "Move Your Body"

The Puerto Rican twins delivered the biggest commercial cut on the Coolie Dance riddim. Peaked at #4 in US, #6 in UK.



Another song running television that summer was Elephant Man + guests "Jook Gal" peaked at #57.



So was Beenie Man "King of the Dancehall", peaked at #22 in the US rap chart, #14 in UK. "Dude" reached #26 in the US Hot 100 pop chart earlier that year.



Couple years later, we were brought and NeYo on dancehall-flavoured "So Sick" and "Sexy Love" followed by future pop superstar Rihanna on dancehall-flavoured"Pon De Replay".

A while ago, I spoke with Sean Paul about these times. He said: “Don’t forget people like R. Kelly. He did stuff that sounded like dancehall [editors note: "Thoia Thoing,, "Snake," "Fiesta"...] and they gave him best R&B album. I was like wow. I respect his musicianship, but when we hear that it is straight dancehall. When Stargate hit with Ne-Yo’s “Miss Independent”, that’s a dancehall track; it’s just that Vybz Kartel and Spicestole it and did their thing.” Can read the rest herehttp://soulculture.com/features/interviews/sean-paul-dancehalls-influence-on-popular-music-culture-is-immense-interview/#ixzz3DgqXrFsL 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Bob Marley 30 year old Legend is top ten in US & UK right now

Yep, you read correctly. Bob Marley's thirty year old greatest hits collection, Legend, sits in the top ten both sides of the Atlantic.

"How?" I hear you ask. Well, that's mainly down to Google Play selling the album for 99¢ in US. Not sure what happen but I'm guessing 99p in England? "Oh, that's obvious then," well, kinda but not really. Two questions I ask, why Bob Marley's album and why now? Is it the "Rude" effect?

"We love to celebrate artists like Bob Marley whose music is timeless and beloved," says Google Play head of global music partner management Gwen Shen. "Our hope is that this promotion ... will introduce his music to the next generation of fans and continue his legacy."
For the record (pun intended), the set already peaked at #29 over here in the UK without any such promotion and has spent the last couple months in the top 75 (as it does every April to Sept/Oct when big guns come out). It is the 5th longest running album in the UK chart of all time. This is an album that costs £7.99 on UK iTunes. Most albums over 3 months old are lucky to be £5.99.

It also averages at around "3,000 and 5,000 copies per week, and has sold 11.6 million copies in the United States since 1991, when Nielsen SoundScan started tracking sales."

Bob Marley's legacy is one of, if not the strongest of any recording artist worldwide. His impact on music, life and culture is unrivalled. People across the world are inspired by the messages in his music to this day. Look at the amount of people wearing dreadlocks (whether their hair is made for it or not), even if they don't sight Rastafari, they're all aware of Bob Marley. And there isn't anybody in the world who listens to reggae and isn't familiar with Bob Marley. And reggae is a worldwide thing.

All of this from an artist who came from the ghettoes in Jamaica without assistance of mainstream media telling you it is what you need, or constantly reminding you of his legend like they do for rock and soul peers.

Source for UK album chart position

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Lucas DiPasquale performs with Popcaan in Jamaica

Remember Lucas DiPasquale "that white boy from Canada singing Popcaan songs" acoustically?



Well, he went to Jamaica earlier this summer on a promo trip but Popcaan was out of the country so they didn't get to meet. However, couple weekends ago, the dream came true at Dream Weekend. Popcaan brought him out to shell the Dream Live event.

So many artists still haven't got a reaction like this in their lives. Big up him. Look forward to hearing the official releases

Krishane ft. Melissa Steel & Beenie Man - "Drunk & Incapable" [audio]

As premiered last night by 1Xtra's don Mista Jam, "Drunk & Incapable" is the first official single by Krishane features Melissa Steel and dancehall legend, Beenie Man. Melissa's fresh off a top ten single of her own [click here to read more] and a dancehall legend in Beenie Man to seal it is a good look.

Little boy-girl singing duet and reggae-tinged vibes with the breakbeat. Hopefully this won't be judged on the summer season, but allowed to flourish in the post-summer settings.

FYI Krishane is the 20 year-old son of dancehall icon Barrington Levy. Born and raised in Jamaica, now living over here in UK. Harlesden a.k.a. Brixton if it was in northwest London to be precise. Recently signed to Atlantic so expect to see a proper roll out of this single in the not too distant future.



Check out the first song I posted last week, Typical. Lovers rock vibrations produced by KZ, nephew of Caron Wheeler (Soul II Soul)

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Krishane - "Typical" [Barrington Levy's son]

New name on the scene to watch out for: Krishane, recently signed to Atlantic records over here in the UK. He's the son of one of dancehall/reggae's greatest singers, Barrington Levy, and he has a set of pipes on him too.

Oh, and the song is produced by Caron Wheeler's (of Soul II Soul fame) nephew, KZ. Nice little reggae lovers bubbler.

So, Chronixx shelled London again! [review + two, two vids]

Now you may remember I reviewed Chronixx's debut London performance last year. Well, it's that time again. He performed to a sold out crowd in Electric Brixton (formerly The Fridge). Oh, big up everyone who turned up on the door. Unlucky. Now everyone who is someone should know the history of Brixton and Jamaicans. It may not be that way anymore due to fassyoles and their gentrification, but we still associate Brixton with Jamaicans. Whereas last year was in north London, this felt more like where Chronixx was supposed to be.

My expectations were a lot different time around. Last year, was more apprehension. Will he deliver? Will the crowd be into him as much as I am? Will it be some stiff, lame out crowd? All of that was dispelled in the first song. This time was more a "Will I be underwhelmed because the last was an other-worldly experience?" one. How does one top the best debut performance I've ever seen?

Well, good news guys. He bettered my expectation. I don't know if I'd say this was a better concert, nor do I think it's something that matters, really. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Walked in as Rootikal were running tunes. Healthy warmers set for the headline DJ and living legend, David Rodigan. I haven't seen Rodigan play at that sort of function before. Either festivals or clubs full of people who aren't hardened reggae fans which means he usually mixes it up more. His set was class. Full of anthems, top quality interaction, specials, 45s and the famous Rodigan jumping.

Shortly before 10pm, following a couple Bob Marley sing along's ("Is This Love?" and "Could You Be Loved"), he introduces the man we were all there to see. Band begins playing "Alpha & Omega" from the Dread & Terrible EP - a tune I've been rinsing recently so I'm fully vibsing already. Eye's shut, invisible natty shaking, the whole shabang. Chronixx appears )I see him through the sea of glaring screens recording the entrance), the place erupts, the show begins.

Second song is the song he began with last time, "Start A Fyah". Third song (I think) was "They Don't Know" followed "Ain't No Giving In" or vice-versa. A big sing-along ensues during "They Don't Know". All four songs are delivered without time for a breather so the intensity levels and vibes are high at this point just as any show is supposed to. Each song built the levels a bit higher than the one before.

Stripped back performances of "Rain Music" (the third song I heard by him) and "Somewhere" brought screams and sing along's from the ladies, before ending the chapter on "Smile Jamaica". Really clever part of the show. The stripped back songs brought energy levels down, showcased his vocals (while his vocals aren't pitch perfect, they're soaked in soul/emotion), "Smile Jamaica" turned the levels up a notch and is still a part of the lovers theme.




Chronixx then informs us that the performance is split into three chapters. I'd describe the first chapter as the uplifting segment, he says the second is about re-writing the distorted history we have been given, before launching into "Capture Land". Big forward in the second verse when he says "Now here comes the teefing [thieving] Queen from England."



Next up was a moment I wasn't I totally surprised by nor would I say I expected it. Protoje joined Chronixx on stage to perform probably the biggest reggae song in 2014, "Who Knows". Protoje's in Europe and said he'll appear at various things. Nobody wouldn't be interested in a sell-out show in Brixton, London. It was a great moment that produced the first wheel of the night. I think the two have only performed this twice before. See it below.



That took the night to another level. I'd say the levels had risen dramatically about four times so far. Right after that, he decided to raise the levels higher again. "Here Comes Trouble" went off tremendously well. Second wheel-up of the night.




 I know "Most I" and "Thanks and Praise" were in the mix somewhere too.

Introducing the final segment with a tribute to dancehall, he fired off "Spirulina", ska song "Rastaman Wheel Out" (sounded a lot better live then it does on record. Has a rougher sound) and getting lighters and phone torches in the air to "Like A Whistle" before ending on "Behind Curtain". The speech before "Behind Curtain" was real. Explained that dancehall and reggae are essentially one, but dancehall has been clouded by sensationalism and too many following the wrong aspect - insisting conscious lyrics has always had a place in dancehall. Third wheel-up came at this point.

Upon exit stage left, Rodigan said "History has been made" before asking if we want more. Obviously Rodi! "Eternal Fire" kicked off the encore, before "Warrior" which segued into "Nuff ah talk 'bout buss!" Yep, "Odd Ras" lifted the roof off again. The toasting, tribute to Super Cat via "Ghetto Red Hot" and other bits ended the show higher than the first. An encore is all that was missing first time. Glad it was included this time.

While I wouldn't say it was better than the first show (first shows have sentimental value), he proved it wasn't a fluke. He's grown in confidence, improved his command and vocal projection. I didn't mind it first time, but there weren't anywhere near as many dub-wise versions. And the set list was spot on. Numerous peaks and brought it down in the right places. Everyone left wowed again.

To gauge what I saw/what you missed, below is Chronixx performing to 5,000 in Central Park, New York a couple weeks ago. Big up the good dons over at LargeUp.com for organising. We had singer Maverick Sabre, producers/DJ's Chase & Status + radio presenter Vanessa Feltz (lol!), NY had Mick Jagger and his family celebrating Mick's birthday.


Thursday, 7 August 2014

reasoning with Maxi Priest about Saxon Sound time

This is just a small section of a forthcoming reasoning I had with UK reggae legend, Maxi Priest. We spoke on a range of things including his time, the impact and importance of the world-renowned Saxon Sound. They're foundation to what many have unknowingly carried on in various MC-based scenes in England. Check out what he had to say below.

Marvin Sparks: I've heard so much about Saxon Sound. To me, I don't feel like people understand how big and the impact Saxon Sound had, and still have especially when considering the popularisation of the fast-chat style. What was it like being part of it? Could you sense what you were doing was special or were you just going along with the vibe?

Maxi Priest: Everything at that time was special. There wasn't a road map of what to do. You have to also imagine the climate at that time. We were cutting through racism. Just walking the streets, you had to walk with a crowd of people. Skinheads, greasers, NF's… All of these different people that thought we weren't supposed to be here. They just thought we were black and not supposed to be in this country.

Thank God we were able to cut through all of that racism stuff and still keep a focus. Or it helped us to stay somewhat focused, almost like I want to dig through this hole. It was dark, grey and cold. Home was the Caribbean. As soon as you stepped out the front door our neighbours were not into our culture. If the ball went over one side of the garden it would get cut up. If it went to the other side - there were some black people living there - the ball would come back.

It was silly things like that, and I say silly things like that now because we've passed that time, but we have to remember those times because if we don't remember those times we won't know where it is where supposed to be going. I think that's one of the problems now; they don't remember those times.

As you asked with the Saxon thing, we were writing the road. We were writing our way out of a situation because it was confusing. We were told we didn't belong here but Jamaica or the West Indies were saying 'You're English'. I remember sitting down thinking 'Well, what am I meant to be then?' We were always searching for a sense of belonging and that's the thing about the music and the sound system.

Music would - especially reggae music - gave us a direction or understanding of where we came from as black people. We would gravitate to the music to have a lifeline of a self-belief and belonging to something. When we would play the music it would create a gathering for us as a community. Even though we would bring our white friends into it, that was our refuge. Sound system was our refuge. This how our community moved. We could translate information. It wasn't about radio or TV.

The sound system was our haven. That was our sanctuary. That was our place. That was our church. That was our meeting ground. How we were gonna come together as a force and make people know we are somebodies. That's the foundation of sound system for me. What we created on top of that was a platform, a stage where we can now reinvent the wheel. 

We could create our own stage now with artists and performers. We created this live performance around spinning the b-sides of tracks and creating live entertainment in a party or a club. Now we became a unique situation because not only we were offering the sound system, we were offering a live  performance from a deejay standpoint or a singing standpoint. We created something that was blowing up north, south, east, west of England and then through cassettes would go back to Jamaica. From Jamaica into the United States. 

People were playing it in their cars just like how you hear pirate radio stations today is how we were playing cassettes. If you went to the frontline of Brixton it would be about the cassette you've got and he's got. A good six/seven times it would be about Saxon because we brought a live performance around the thing. 

From there we brought another page elevating sound thing to studio. I met up with a man called Barry Boom - Paul Robinson. My mum would always ask him to do something for me because I'd been singing from sound system. He then took me to the studio, taught me to write and structure songs. We produced 'Mi God, Mi King' with Papa Levi then we got major record company interest. We signed Levi to Island. That song took him to Jamaica for Sunsplash, 10-15mins standing ovation, number one in the reggae chart in Jamaica. Wow. I guess we thought we landed.

Giving us strength to say that we were somebody. We went through rioting and these things just for people to say we were somebody. After we achieved that success, various record companies were asking about me because I had a song on the b-side of that. I then chose to sign with Virgin records and stayed there for 17/18 years.


Marvin Sparks: Smiley Culture and Tippa Irie had UK hits, Papa Levi got the number one in Jamaica,  in addition to your UK success, you reached number one in America with "Close To You." I know you have American influences alongside Jamaican, so that must've been a really big deal for you back then.

Maxi Priest: Massive. I mean, before that, the success we had in the pop charts over here. We were Top of the Pops. Almost feeling at home on Top of the Pops because of the times we went there. It might be a little bit strange but I've always looked forward. Even to this very day, I look forward. I don't really look backwards until somebody asks me a question. That's just my nature, that's just the way I am. 

I'm very optimistic and I wanna look forward and keep going. Where there is hope, where there is life, where there is strength. I've always had an outlook that I'm not doing this for myself. There's a whole lot of people that have been brought up the same way I have. When you look at the teachings of Marcus Garvey and people like that, we're not here for ourselves, we're here for the generation that comes after. 

That's the way that I've always looked at it so I don't sit down glamourising myself about whatever success I've had. I appreciate what I've done. I appreciate whatever success I've had and I always remember that success wasn't just by me alone. There is a lot of people who are involved in the Maxi success. This wasn't done by me. There's a lot of people who have helped along the way and the fans who have gone out there and purchased the songs. Without the purchasing of the songs, we'll always be handed leaders and icons.

I've always been aware of that, whether it's through my mother's pentecostal teachings to Rasta, from being in a place that never really from like home and thinking there's better to come. That's just been my outlook. I walk with things like 'It's nice to be important but it's more important to be nice'.

Rest of the interview will be posted soon. Buy Maxi's latest (banging) album, Easy To Love from here.

Smiley Culture - "Police Officer" UK top 20 in 1984.


Tippa Irie "Hello Darling" UK top 40 in 1986


Maxi Priest "Close To You" US #1 in 1990


Saxon Sound in north London, 1989

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Tarrus Riley review in London on 3rd August

So after Brixton Splash, I travelled north to touch down at the Tarrus Riley 'Love Situation' tour. Upon walking in I was greeted by the crowd rocking to selections by Allan Brando and DJ Sir Corey aka Doops Squad. They were playing anthems-upon-anthems. Big sing along after sing along by a cross section of artists; from Freddie McGregor, Sanchez, Beres Hammond and Garnett Silk to Jah Cure, Richie Spice and Chronixx.

First up was UK reggae artist I've been tipping since 2012, Randy Valentine. Happy to see this guy picking up so much steam and support. But anyway, he delivered a short but sweet performance. Opening with Break The Chain's intro "Dear People", before raising the tempo with "Lock Me Up", couple other songs, before ending on my favourite from the EP, motivational "Carry On".



Alaine is a singer I rate but didn't expect much of live. I wasn't sure how her high vocals would carry live. Much to my surprise, her voice has a lot more depth than expected. Alaine is essentially a female balladeer, which can sometimes become a bit monotonous after a while, however, she added variety, whether mixing the arrangements of the song, holding powerful notes longer, three-part harmonies with backing singers sounding like a small choir or sitting by the piano (as she did with final song "No Ordinary Love"). Really good support set. Songs ranged from opener  "Rise In Love", to "Bye Bye Bye", "Without You", "Up" and "Deeper" before ending on the aforementioned "No Ordinary Love". All were well-received. Good debut London performance.

(Wish she did "Sacrifice" in full though instead of during "Deeper" because that's one of the first songs I really felt by her.)

Headliner didn't disappoint. When does Tarrus Riley ever disappoint? Let's think about this properly. He's the ultimate showman, band's tight and creative, and Dean Fraser is a sight in itself. Awesome saxophonist. Tarrus, dressed in all black three-piece-suit + darkers (before switching to his spectacles) delivered a ;engthy and varied set; ran through the tempos, styles and influences that range within reggae and dancehall showcasing the versatile catalogue. Rifled through the first (maybe) 15 songs in medley fashion. One verse, chorus, move on. It didn't feel as though we were being short-changed on our favourite songs.



Like Alaine, Tarrus brought through various elements such as a Buju Banton tribute including the "Untold Stories" collaboration with Dean Fraser on sax,  lead guitarist playing a solo before "Sorry is a Sorry Word", even a little sing-song of the Jamaican national anthem. Oh, and if the duet/classic covers clash with Alaine wasn't enough, an appearance from his father performing "Love and Devotion" almost flattened the building. What a roar of approval.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Reggae song tops US & UK pop chart. 1st time since 2001

So, this week is a historical week in the UK singles chart. A reggae song (Magic! - "Rude") moved up a spot to #1, dancehall song (Melissa Steel ft. Popcaan "Kisses for Breakfast") enters the chart at #10,  and an afrobeats song (Fuse ODG ft. Sean Paul - "Dangerous Love") with a dancehall feature co-produced by a Jamaican producer (Stephen "Di Genius" McGregor and, Ghanaian, Killbeatz) is #31. They go on like a reggae song can't be pop anymore.



I don't remember the last time there were so many Jamaicans and explicitly Jamaican-influenced songs in at one time so this calls for a post. A time to remember. Maybe it's the beginning of things to come, could just be a flashpoint, either way it's a moment to note.

That's not even counting pop boy band, Rixton, with their reggae/ska influenced "Me & My Broken Heart" at #12. I don't count the Will.i.am & Cody Wise song "It's My Birthday" (at #9) cos of the samples (Aidonia's 2013 club smash "Fi Di Jockey" and a Bounty Killer), but its just something worth taking note. Last year was the year of sampling dancehall for some reason. They were all over the shop, from Kanye West to Jay Z, Beyonce's (literally) show-stopping Superbowl performance to Justin Bieber's ex, Selena Gomez, sampling Buju Banton.

Going back to the original point anyway, a reggae number 1. PLEASE NOTE, THIS IS THE FIRST TIME A REGGAE SONG HAS TOPPED THE UK & US CHART SIMULTANEOUSLY  SINCE SHAGGY "IT WASN'T ME" in March 2001. AAAND, IT'S THE WEEK OF JAMAICA'S 52ND YEAR OF "INDEPENDENCE". AAAAAAAAND 50 YEARS SINCE JAMAICAN MUSIC'S (ska) FIRST CHART ENTRY IN THE WORLD (#2 in UK), MILLIE SMALLS "MY BOY LOLLIPOP". MOMENT!

Bajan band CoverDrive reached the peak of the UK charts with "Twilight" a dancehall take on pop in 2012, Sean Paul helped girl group The Saturday's achieve their only #1 (dancehall-infused electro record What About Us?) last year but this is the first reggae song to top the charts in years (probably Shaggy "Angel". Someone on Twitter told me I shouldn't call it reggae because its watered down. Told him/her(/troll) those same accusations were thrown at Bob and to do one (I didn't say the "do one" bit). Just because it's a love song, has a lead guitar and isn't made by Jamaicans/Rastafarians, doesn't mean the song isn't reggae.

I  wonder if he'd've said the same thing had this been a Jamaican band or artist…



Which takes me onto another point; I know we'll get the buzzword of the year - "appropriation" - attached to it. Those people definitely need to do one - promptly. Hear why; I highly doubt the artists making the music are cynical enough to think "I'm gonna do black music because I can be more successful than black people doing it." My doubt is even stronger where reggae is concerned. Reggae isn't classed as popular music, it's more on the fringes, so to suggest they're exploiting the music over it being something they like is quite silly to me.

If you know Canada's history and connection with Jamaican music and culture, it's easy to understand why Magic!, Snow, and Drake like/make Jamaican music and culture. Big up man like Kardinall Offishall, Exco Levi and all the others representing.

I mean, are we going to say UB40, The Specials, Madness et al appropriated Jamaican music? Especially when they did more for bygone eras of Jamaican music (namely ska and rocksteady) when many Jamaicans had moved on? And members of these groups continue to do works for Jamaican music through off-shoots projects and DJ sets where they demonstrate their extended knowledge? Once again, when a lot blacks had moved on? Don't get offended, its the truth. If the shoe fits, moggle! ("Model" en Ingles/wear them.)

It's misguided. The people who are more likely to appropriate and exploit the music are the opportunistic record labels who haven't signed or backed a reggae song by a Jamaican artist in years. The creatives are creating. The labels are leeching. But you know, history has shown white people doing reggae music has helped the leeches see there can be a market for reggae in their world. Hopefully



Next song is Melissa Steel's "Kisses for Breakfast". Vocally an r&b song, except it's a dancehall song with a soca bass pattern. Originally pushed to radio (but never officially released) in 2011, this song proves what I say about dancehall songs. Many within the Jamaican music and media industry say there's a lack of good songs and this is reflected by charts globally. That's inaccurate. Good songs alone aren't good enough to chart; money and team (management and label) behind take it to where it goes. They have to see it being viable. They see this by seeing if anybody else is doing it. (You can read more on that in a previous post here.)

Also, I swear this is the first lead black British singer to chart this year? Definitely female-wise. I always ask people why they feel we need an r&b scene, and by that, they mean one which sounds like the American one. R&B is just black people singing about love. Ok, well mane not just that; R&B style vocals are unique too, but essentially its about vocal delivery. Why not bring back lovers rock, ay?

In my opinion, Britain would be better if we took our own way of making sounds. Our dance floors are like no other. The most successful UK r&b-equivalent singers made something different to Americans, whether it was Soul II Soul and Maxi Priest fusing reggae with new jack swing, or Craig David mixing it with garage etc. Even looking at the British charts recently, Angel fused d&b drums, rock guitars and some pop stylings for "Wonderful" and, erm, that's the only example I have because more choose to make American sounds (Rough Copy, couple of Angel's other singles, M.O).

But anyway, give thanks to Jamaica, 'cos without them none of this would even be possible. Not bad for genres nobody likes anymore, ay?

Oh, and let's not forget Chronixx made an entry on the Billboard charts at #179 following his appearance on US TV show Jimmy Fallon. For a bit of perspective, it sold more than Rick Ross, Shakira and JLo's latest albums last week. While the chart position isn't a blockbuster, it's an independent project. Let's remember business is about black and red. Make more than you put in is a win. Oh, and Bob Marley's 30 year-old album, Legend, moved up to #44 in the UK album chart. Give Jamaican reggae and dancehall a try next year, maybe?

Friday, 25 July 2014

I revisited Mavado's debut album this week and decided it's a classic. Here's why...

So, I revisited Mavado's debut album, Gangster for Life: The Symphony of David Brooks, this week. Released seven years ago this month (how fast has time gone?), the album is exactly what it says it is - a quintessential biographical gangster album. One of my favourite albums of all time. One of the greatest dancehall albums of all time. In fact, there hasn't been a dancehall album this good ever since.  I'm not sure this is certified and celebrated the way it should be. This is probably due to dancehall not being an album-driven genre, but also because we're a silent culture when it comes to celebrating classic music moments.

At the top of the album, the narrator announces "This CD is rated G for Gangster, it' audio contains graphic lyrics manifested and inspired by authentic ghetto experiences. Served with infectious melodies." Really and truly, I can end this post here. That is exactly what this album is. Gangster lifestyle anthems, introspective gangster anthems, aspirational gangster anthems, gangster anthems about girls… Everything is a gangster anthem.

Alas, I won't stop there. The next interlude is great anticipation builder. Some triumphant sounding shit with Mavado saying his catchphrases "Anywayeeee" and "Gaaangsta for lii-ife" with a couple gun shots and explosions thrown in for good measure. Then what happens? In kicks the punchy synths on the Anger Management riddim. This just carries on the build. All gun fingers are in the air now.

"Real McKoy" is the song which brought the young singjay Mavado to prominence. Anger Management is one of the last riddims featuring the Bounty Killer-led Alliance at their peak - including Vybz Kartel who delivered four cuts on the riddim.

Back to "Real McKoy," what a statement of intent this is for the first song on the album. "Dem nuh real McKoy/ They just some baby boy/ Them ah talk me nah've time fi chat bwoy/ Gun in a mi hand, prepare fi shot bwoy, yo." That's the chorus. First line is "You can't come pon man ends and tell me 'bout gun down/ You musty want your tabernacle get bu'n." (Slightly translated.) Quotable's like "No knowledge, no wisdom/ Tell him say fist-to-fist done." Yeah? "You can't charge badman pon no house bruk ins. Can't charge man for no  car scrapings." Weaponry shopping? "15 million mi bring go gun shopping/ You can't take 9 cah mi nuh fire small strappings." Punishment? "Last bwoy diss the big man we kidnap him/ Tie him round a light post, ah same place me gas him. Who tell him fi see Mavado and try fi test him/ Hollow point and black blunt laid fi rest him."

Man. That second verse is fire. Then as if that wasn't enough, they blend in "Full Clip" which featured fellow Alliance member Busy Signal. These two gelled so well. Better than I feel two singjay's are supposed to on paper. They both pick up where the other left off, really fluid interaction between them. Busy adopts a more hyper-aggressive stick up kid role, whereas Mavado is the laid-back head honcho.

"Full clip gonna stick when we run out/ Mi three-star me use and cut your fuxking tongue out."

"You want see how the youth weh step out inna black work/ When man a take it to the street just like a clockwork/ Push mi hood inna ya gal ah so mi cock work/ Bakka! Bakka! So mi block work, no stop work."

The second verse which Mavaodo uses more as a bridge "Do the crime not the time/ Mark Shields say these guns amaze him," is such a serious lyric.



So you're fully hyped right now, right? Thinking ok, let me calm down for a second cos that was too much. What do they hit you with? The international breakout anthem, "Weh Dem A Do" that put Mavado on the map everywhere. What is there to say about this song? One of the greatest builds in dancehall this decade. Great in its simplicity of rolling drums, some synth stabs provided by a 16-year old wonder kid, Stephen "Di Genius" McGregor. Mavado hollers the catchphrases "Anyway, gangster for life. Anywayeeee. Anyway, yeah." Dazzitt. But it gets everyone hyped. It drops and what does Mavado have the nerve to say?

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

So Chronixx was on Jimmy Fallon… My thoughts on what this MOMENT means

Please note: this will go off on tangents. Work with me though.

Firstly, I don't give too much of a damn like everybody else about American approval, but for what it's worth, this is a step in an interesting direction. A) Jimmy Fallon is a big American chat show and B) Chronixx has no rights being on there when you evaluate his stature in the grand scheme of things.

Now let's get into the hype. Chronixx DELIVERED!!! He performs his most popular song in America (based on the #2 US reggae iTunes chart position), "Here Comes Trouble".



When he kicked into Jesse Royal's "Modern Day Judas", gun finger in the sky. Chucked in a little of Jah 9's "Reverence" too.

I'm guessing the success of "Rude" opened the door for something like this to happen, and having a popular song, good social media numbers, touring schedule and credible press talking about you will clock these things into your favour. Plus, people in the right places. All of that comes from being a talented artist with songs that connect.

I've seen some questions on the song choice, saying he should've gone for "Smile Jamaica", his most pop song. Not to draw comparisons, because I don't think they are completely the same thing, but let us not forget Bob Marley's first performance was on The Old Grey Whistle Test where he did "Concrete Jungle" and "Stir It Up". Everyone remembers "Concrete Jungle" as the moment though.



Different kind of show in that it wasn't an chat show, however, going in right away with the most pop appealing song is the sprint game. This game, especially in these days, is a marathon. He goes with the most pop one, people will look at him like just another smiley, Rasta singing your typical sunshine songs.

This puts him as a credible artist with something to say. I see parallels to the Tessanne stuff. I was gonna blog about that but it was around Christmas time. (I had better things to do with my life like eating mince pies.) Too many Jamaicans on the timeline were saying she should stay away from reggae because the general American public don't get it, and that it true. But you know what? Eff them! Take the promotional opportunity to further yourself.

We live in a time where we can see an artist on TV (or hear them on radio, in club/coffee shop...), check out a few more bits on YouTube and become a fan. Follow artist on social networks to keep up to date with their products and support shows, merchandise and music. Not like the old days when artists had to keep in the public eye via media or fans wouldn't have a clue what they were up to unless they were in the fan club.

Back to Tessanne, her last album had no money behind it for promo and didn't do well in the album chart. What do you expect? It's like the Jamaican people don't understand the contract is just the lamp at the end of the tunnel for the show. The label don't care about the artists. They've never made a successful artist in the history of their show. Will work against them in the long run, but that's just what it is.

To make matters worse, her and her team were sold the dream because they made an adult contemporary album with a few reggae + dubstep hybrid (who does that for older people?) songs. Those songs/albums will always under perform without the right money. However, if she kept true to her roots, made songs for her base to embrace so even if the label don't support and it doesn't sell, there's still a bag of tunes for her to take away to perform to those who liked her before the show.

Here's her first single:



Funniest thing is the number 1 single in America when Tessanne's album release was/is Magic! "Rude". Ironic considering how many were saying she shouldn't do reggae.



So what I'm saying is, reggae artists don't have to be so quick to sell to the mainstream audience, give it a steady build for a longer lasting career. Build the base because it'll usually be something to come back to. We live in a different times.

To paraphrase what the coach said to Dereese in Cool Runnings, "Why you wanna be like someone else? Nobody can be Jamaican better than you." Dereese probably gave a "Yeh mon, irie!" type response but forget that. It's about the sentiment.

Anyway, if you want to know more about the '010's reggae revival movement happening right now, check this breakdown of my opinion + artists I recommend. Oh, and check my review of Chronixx's show in London last year.  It is what broadsheets would class as the closest thing to a punk rock movement. However, we know reggae was punk rock before punk rock. That them fi know.

Big up Chronixx said speed. Catch him in London next month, 10th August, Electric, Brixton. Truss me, it's going to be another one of those moments. Tickets from here

And today is Haile Selassie's birthday.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Melissa Steel ft. Popcaan - "Kisses For Breakfast" [Music Video]

I've written about Melissa Steel's debut single featuring one of dancehall's finest exports, Popcaan, here. Watch the video below. Proper nice video to match the song. Shot in Jamaica. Obviously.

Really think the song suits here to a tee.


Monday, 9 June 2014

Some recent Jamaican videos fi di i-dem

Quick updates on some videos for songs I'm feeling

Keznamdi dropped a well shot video for acoustic jam "I Don't Wanna" for the ladies them. Catch this one on the 'Bridging the Gap' EP.



Kabaka Pyramid reverts to a more hip hop vibe with "Liberal Opposer", but importantly, retains his Jamaican identity. Video shot during his time in London. Can't go wrong with fire pon babylon.

"Pon di battlefield, I'm a rebel with a cause.
Never pause
Babylon ah devil"



Mavado "Tie Yuh" on the impressive Sex Mate riddim is one of the best gal songs Mavado has done in a bit. Wicked melody on the chorus. Second half of the video is the best Mavado gal song in recent time for me, "Friends With Benefits". Same speed as "fire pon babylon" songs, you can't go wrong with sexy dancehall.



Busy Signal demonstrates flows upon flows on "Bou-Yah". Ok, so its a Mavado diss subliminal, but ignoring that because we don't want another Alliance war, the way he abuses the Khona riddim is disgusting.



Kranium's anthem for the summer. The way this is gonna lock the little segue from hip hop to dancehall jugglings. "My Lifestyle". Should be able to make a few change from cutting dubs too. This New Yorker is gonna have a good summer what with "Nobody Has To Know" already burning up the gal section.



Major Lazer finally got with Sean Paul to lace something and it's fire. Sean Paul delivers a vintage performance with melody and lyrics.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Melissa Steel ft Popcaan "Kisses For Breakfast" / Kano ft Popcaan "Alien"

Seems like the #TeamUnruly King is in demand amongst English artists. Last year saw him on a track with north London rapper Sincere, this week saw two releases of audio boasting a Popcaan feature.

First up, Atlantic records recent signee, Melissa Steel "Kisses For Breakfast". The Yorkshire lass cut a version of the Wundah-produced should've-been-a-hit single by Lea-Anna in 2012, however, this obviously has more flavour with the unmistakable Popcaan assistance. Check it out below and look out for the video.



The other is on a hip hop-based beat with co-mic controller Kano. As K-A mentions, he's done songs with Kartel, now here he is with a protege.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Fuse ODG = best black British artist right now*

Yeah I said it. That statement may come as a surprise to narrow-minded folk that believe it's impossible for someone who loves bashment (like me) to give an afrobeats artist that accolade. Maybe that's the case for some, but I have no qualms, mate.

Here's why:

He makes the truest music of any black artist in the UK on a known level right now (no bedroom guys/girls). His music is relevant to what's happening here in the UK - with the proliferation of house music in charts and dance floors - and his home country, Ghana, at the same time. There's very little compromise in what he's doing too. He's still the same guy we first knew to now - both lyrically and musically. And it works across generations. Kids love it, teens do and grown ups too.

See, the reason why what he's doing stands out a whole lot more is mainly due to the rest of these guys out here replicating what goes on in a country we're already exposed to. Not to cuss 90s babies, but criticising 90s babies, they lack understanding of their own identity. Majority aren't offering much different to the regular import we've got in abundance. I often think "Why listen to you when I can listen to the guy you're copying?" when I watch videos.



Fuse is in a lane all by himself. He's the only afrobeats artist in a major label deal over here. I'm sure Wizkid will be signed soon (my money's on Atlantic. Don't ask me why), but as it stands, Fuse is able to offer an accessible version of music that's really popular in certain sections of the country to people none of his peers can.

But let us not get it twisted, he's on par with most of elite as evidenced by his popularity on the continent itself. D'Banj was the first through the door with major label-assisted "Oliver Twist"mainly  because everyone really wanted it to work. It was a popular song, good floor filler but everyone really wanted it to work. The Kanye co-sign and novelty factor really helped push that song. Ministry-assisted Atumpan "The Thing" (equally as massive in clubs) barely scratched the surface.

"Antenna" on the other hand is afrobeats' first genuine smash-hit. I'm not saying this after the fact (it sold over 200,000 copies), I stated it will be the surprise hit of last summer prior to Radio 1 even playlisting it. Partially ignoring "Azonto" (novelty record that charted at #30 because Fearne Cotton hates it), dancehall-inspired and highest charting single "Million Pound Girl" (UK #5) is another genuinely good song and credible pop. A search against the name of any his songs + "dance" brings up videos of amateur dancers having a crack at showcasing their choreographed routines racking up thousands of views. You can't buy those genuine feelings for a song.

Or 6 million views in the case of this video below



Anyway, his new single is out. It's the coming together of two worlds; afrobeats and bashment. You'll find stupid people pitting them against each other all the time just because majority of London's black population are either Caribbean or African so you have that rivalry. Fuse ODG not only features Jamaican artist Sean Paul, Jamaican Stephen "Di Genius" McGregor is on production duties alongside Ghanaian producer Killbeatz. And don't think Sean Paul is washed up; this will be the fourth time he's fronted or featured on a UK top 10 single for the past three years (including The Saturday's only #1).



Fuse is an example of the artist I said people should be like in 2012; dance floor fillers about females that males don't find cheesy. Well, I actually said "gal tunes man dem rate". Infectious melodies, lyrics upgrading females and home-away-from-home inspired music (soca, afrobeats, reggae/dancehall etc.) are always win in my books. And it's always won. And I won't stop banging that drum.

Fuse is encapsulates everything we actually need right now. We don't need a hip hop or r'n'b scene. Trust me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against it; they can do it if that's how they feel to make music, but we definitely don't need a UK-imitiation of an American scene. What we need is original music. One that (excuse the pun) fuses genres. Like Lovers Rock, 80s UK reggae & UK dancehall, jungle, UK Garage, grime, UK Funky. Contemporary with our traditions. That's what we need.

Get it off iTunes here

p.s. this is the third time Fuse has worked with a Jamaican dancehall artist. Elephant Man features on Azonoto remix and Konshens features on Million Pound Girl

*subject to change when Skepta, Chip and/or Wretch drop some material.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Sean Paul latest features > Sean Paul latest album. Why?

Can we all just rejoice at this fact please? I say fact cos it isn't mere opinion. Also, I'd like to say it's an achievement in itself that he's still popular after 10 years since bursting into the mainstream that wonderful 2003. 10 years ago he was nominated for best newcomer at the Grammy's alongside Heather Headley (last I heard she was in theatre), Fountains of Wayne (WHO?), 50 Cent (who cares anymore? recently split from label), and winners Evanescence (where are they now?). So big him up for that. 1st Jamaican-born, third reggae(ish) (Musical Youth and Ace of Base before (do they count?) Maybe fourth if you count Culture Club too. They won it in 1984.)

Hoowwwwever, if you were thinking about buying Full Frequency - in short, do so at your own risk! Maybe I shouldn't say that. Let me rephrase: please don't listen to it if you have a high respect for Sean Paul's music + good taste because it will taint your opinion of him and his music. And I'd rather you not do that to yourself or him. It's easily one of the worst albums I have heard this year for so many reasons; it's lazy and strays too far from not only good dancehall music, but from good music. It's easily the worst album of his discography (big word!). Easily. I can't complain enough about how bad it is. The producers are rubbish and most of the features are worse. I want to have a word with whoever advised it.

I mean, someone thought this was a good idea? Well, the Konshens feature was. But the rest of thing as a whole? I can't even bring myself to call it a song. It's a thing that (barely) exists.



And as if you didn't like Juicy J that much, the last person you want to hear on the same song is 2 Chainz! And I'm partial to Nicki Minaj sometimes, but not this Nicki Minaj. See, this is a "Let's make something for US urban radio spins. Sean isn't hot with them anymore so let's get every rapper who does the most features for the right price." Throw that together with an abomination of EDM and you have a song that's definitely shitter than my description makes it sound.



I suspect it wasn't his fault though. Looking back, the writing was on the wall when his third major label sponsored album, Imperial Blaze, failed to match success of the previous two. It also marked the change in strategy; he went from trusted dancehall riddims to creating things on his own and aiming for a mainstream audience who were interested in Lady Gaga type artists.

Follow-up, Tomahawk Technique, saw him step away from Jamaican producers for the first time, probably because the label had more say in the making of the product (aka "Why don't you go in with [insert proven pop chart hit-makers]?"), but part of me thinks Sean wanted to branch out (check the video below). I'm not gonna lie, the album wasn't terrible for what it was. It had quite a few bangers including smash-hit "She Doesn't Mind". Album still under performed (did well in certain territories I believe) so they put him back in with pop producers but couldn't attract the names they did the first time (smaller budget? People didn't want to be associated with an artist not pulling in numbers?) and it definitely sounds like it.



At this point, I'd usually tell you about a song I liked on there. This won't happen today. Actually, the first single "Other Side of Love" is listenable. Good song lyrically, but beat is a rehash. Benny Blanco got the big hit on the previous and here too. The rest is incredibly bad. However, if maths serve me correctly this was his last album on Atlantic.



But on a positive, he has putting in some work as a featured artist on some quality/better songs and a non-album single. All of which have been a million and forty times better than his album. I recommend you get stuck into these instead. Had this been the work he was doing last year, life would've been a bit better for this album I reckon. Let us raise our heads and pray the label doesn't get involved (at all) with the creativity again so we can get the proper good Sean Paul back.

No this The Saturday's song isn't good, but its an example of an electro song better than his album. And he got a #1. Then he got a #7 in the same year with "Other Side of Love" yet no album dropped until he was cold. My money's on the label's American side messing up the base (or maybe the album wasn't ready). A EU released album would've capitalised on his success. In the end, it was dropped into a vacuum of space.



First up is a nice and easy reggaeton song for the ladies hips with a top reggaeton artist called Farruko produced by Jamaican producer Rvssian. Those of you familiar with SP's rise to fame will know the Hispanics embraced "Gimme The Light" helping him turn into the star he became. He catered to them on Tomahawk Technique (both "Got 2 Luv U" and "She Doesn't Mind" are very close to where reggaeton is now), lacked that factor on most recent.



Next up is Enrique Iglesias (yes, the lucky bugger who still goes out with Anna Kournikova) recruited Mr Sean Paul for the Spanglish version of current smash-hit Bailando ("dancing" en Ingles.)



So you've got the Hispanics on board. Who else will make Marvin a happy guy? Africans!

Timaya's "Bum Bum" was one of my favourite afrobeats songs last year. Ok, so Machel Montano's remix is a lot catchier, but hey, it's better than anything on Full Frequency.



Not just one song, there's two. UK's very own Ghanian, who's currently on a spree of chart hits, only went and bagged an SP feature. This is better than the above. Not gonna say much on this because I have another post lined up for this. Listen below. (And pre-order please)



Last but by no means least, the crossover-"EDM" crowd is sorted with this Major Lazer feature. Similar to last year's Busy Signal-assisted "Watch Out For This (Bumaye)" with the moombahton/electro-reggaeton/dancehall vibe (and we know reggaeton is heavily influenced by dancehall/Poco Man Jam riddim).



To me, this is what Sean Paul should and hopefully wants to do. Not too much of this EDM stuff. I can tell the features are just him and management choosing what's right as opposed to falling victims to major label pie charts and graphs. I could've helped him make a much better album than what he produced. There were enough Jamaican riddims for him to touch. I would've hooked him up with people like Rudimental and other UK producers too to give him bangers. Got man like Kill Beatz and it's orn end poppin' san. Why didn't he link with Rvssian for his album? Anju Blaxx? C'mon. Popcaan feature? Denyque? Get Di Genius to give him some dancehall?

So yeah, if you don't like anything Sean Paul has done in the past few years, I hope/reckon you'll like at least 3 of the above 5. And please, preserve your mind of good Sean Paul. Get Full Frequency at your own risk innit. That's your "Marvin's Advisory" e-sticker.

Other features:

There's this with a Haitian artist, this with Wisin (of Wisin y Yandel fame) and this solo song which is awesome, produced Rvssian (again), on the Rvssian riddim, which sounds like another Hispanic-friendly riddim. Vintage Sean Paul on form here. Not as good as but definitely close to the levels of the peak. And his best dancehall song since "Turn Me On" on Smokin riddim.



Here's hoping for a bright future.

p.s. check my post on why dancehall hasn't produced another Sean Paul here.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Kabaka Pyramid - "Never Gonna Be A Slave" [Music Video]

We (I) posted the audio on here a couple days after it dropped, today I post the video. Quite simply the music the world is missing. True rebel music. I'm telling you, there;s no movement like the reggae revival movement right now. Large up Kabaka Pyramid in every aspect. I mean, how can you hate this sentiment? That's right. You can't. Video's shot really well too.



Witnessed him perform it live at Hootananny in Brixton surrounded by Rastafarians and reggae lovers alike who respect the same livity and viewpoint. Pree an accurate review here. Definitely something everybody should experience. Hear how the music touches people.



If you like the mood of the above, my thoughts on the Reggae Revival movement and some recommendations on more here

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Jesse Royal ft. Sly & Robbie + Earl "Chinna" Smith - "Little Did They Know" live studio performance

Put three legends in a room with an artist making incredible headway in Jamaican music at the moment and it's gonna be great. And it's quality.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Some more tunes I'm feeling atm

I kinda got a bit annoyed with the length of the previous post so here's a part deux of my favourite songs at the moment. The last had commercial house and d&b, afrobeats and a helluva lot of bashment.

First up

"German Whip" by Meridian Dan featuring JME and Big H

This song is awesome. This has top 20 written all over it. Meshes US trap sounds with British drums and London accents. Sounds so refreshing. Dan shows it doesn't matter if you weren't the most talked about MC previously, a big tune changes everything. Club tunes are much easier to convince radio. As I've said for the past 2-3 years. Out tomorrow. Get on iTunes and buy the tune. We need it.



Moelogo (ft. Giggs) - "The Baddest"

Bayoz Muzik laced Moelogo something Giggs should've or would've had circa Let Em Ave It. That undeniable club flavour which made Giggs incredibly popular beyond UK rap fans. Them beats which merge a few influences, but ultimately BANG! Thankfully, Giggs jumps on the remix. Don't get it twisted though, Moelogo more than delivers.



Machel Montano featuring Boyz II Men - Can't Let Go

As far as unexpected collaborations go, this has to rank quite high up there. Boyz II Men doing groovy soca isn't something I ever imagined I'd hear. It's a pleasant surprise though. A nice little evening on the balcony with a drink and nice conversation. White furniture, rugs, champagne bucket with a bottle of Sprite in there. Sorted, guv.



Chris Brown featuring Lil' Wayne & Tyga - Loyal

R&B has crept back into my playlist of late. Producing some sexy dance floor songs. Headed to a really good place for people who don't want to jump and shout to the latest hip hop anthems. Something you can skank and scout the local talent on display, may be buss a little two-step facing a member of the opposite sex while singing "There hoes ain't loyal!" You know them playful banter ones? Just me then?

Anyone who knows me or follows me on Twitter knows how overrated and boring that "Fine China" song was. This is definitely where Chris Brown need to go. Some real thug r&b that bounces in the club without man thinking I need to actually be able to dance.

Oh and dropping Too Short and French Montana out for Tyga was a good move. He delivers. And I don't even like the geezer.

p.s. I hate the Americans reducing Bob Marley's legacy to some metaphor for marijuana.



Tinashe - "2 On"

Banger. DJ Mustard is vibsing up the r&b club stuff. I wouldn't be surprised if Tinashe's live voice leaves a bit to be desired, her tone is awesome. Proper seductive tones. Big up Schoolboy Q but I'm not really here for you, still, my don. The fact she interpolates Sean Paul's melody on We Burnin' just helps compound that this is a banger and woman worth watching.



Yandel - Déjate Amar

Don't ask me what he's saying, just know the song is a vibes. Definitely matches the sexy dance floor vibe I'm feeling at the moment. I can just imagine the piping hot Latina's dancing to this. I used to despise reggaeton once upon a time, now I'm loving it. The "Dem Bow" type aka PocoMan Jam riddim-influenced is so infectious. And Spanish sounds sick.



Bunji Garlin - Carnival Tabanca

Everybody should be familiar with Bunji after last years breakout success of the mid-noughties dancehall-sounding "Differentology" equipped with its rap feature from the man on every single Caribbean crossover song, Busta Rhymes. I think it's still on rotation over on Hot 97 after winning the Battle of the Beats contest.

This sounds a lot like Differentology, but tell me you wouldn't believe this is an Afrobeats song if you didn't know he's actually Trini.



Vybz Kartel "Addi Truth"

Can't remember which song the Teacha samples but its either Little Lenny or Baby Wayne. Either way the song a shot. Old skool flow with a new skool vibe. This sound is prevalent in dancehall right now and I'm not complaining.



Mafikizolo ft. Uhuru - Khona

Dare you to keep still this one. I believe it's South African. Everything about this song is perfection. I don't understand the lyrics for obvious reasons but the way the ride the riddim satisfies my needs.



DJ Djeff ft. Nacobeta, Agre G, e Game Walla - Mwangolé

Pretty similar to the last one, don't understand a word they are saying but try keeping still to this one. This one is from Angola according to my little Google search for more info. Could be mistaken though.



JP Cooper - "What Went Wrong"

Not even heard a studio version of this, but it's awesome. Listen to that voice. Been watching this guy for a while now, keeping an eye on how he develops cos the future looks bright. The falsetto.



Justin Timberlake - Not A Bad Thing

JT finally records and video for the only song I like on 20/20 Experience part 2. This is a great song.



Mr Williamz - Miss Brown

You see when it comes to riding the riddim, Mr. Williamz has that skill mastered. Similar to Super Cat but is that a bad thing? I don't think so. Cat doesn't record much so it's minor. From the UK. This jungle-friendly dancehall riddim suits his vocals perfectly.



Kranium - Nobody Has To Know

This youth is from New York, delivered a nice little jam for the females them who appreciate their dancehall. Bit raw. Here's the clean version cos I think it's cooler than the original



Can purchase all these songs on iTunes. Here's the link to the above

Mr Probz - Waves (Robin Schulz remix)

Heard this song a while back on Spotify as part of my "what's hot in the world" search, seen it's getting an official release now in UK (and unavailable on Spotify). This is a tune



Raheem Bakare - Portrait of Love

This song is absolutely beautiful. UK r&b as it can sound. Dancehall drum and bass pattern provide a twist on the general contemporary atmospheric emo r&b sound of the riddim. We are the best at taking various influences and mashing them up into wonderful creations. English accent on deck too. Wicked lyrics for the ladies too. Wicked voice too. Definitely gonna keep an eye on this guy.