Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Newham Generals – Bag Of Grease

September 8, 2010

Newham Generals are one of my all time favourite acts. Undisputed Grime legends, Footsie and DEE have honed their craft over a number of years, a journey which has taken them from pirate radio to sell out concerts and festival stages. They have set trends, blurred musical boundaries and are living proof that making Grime music with wide appeal is still possible.

All this despite only having one CD to their name. Well, that’s all about to change.

Newham Generals’ ‘Bag of Grease E.P.’ is soon to be released digitally and already it looks like it’s gonna be a stomper. Featuring five tracks (four of which have been produced by SKITZ Beatz), ‘Bag of Grease E.P.’ is short, sharp and to the point and will, judging by the samples, live up to its name in every single way. It’s special microsite leaves nothing to the imagination either!

The E.P. includes modern classic ‘I’m a General’ & the remix (featuring the late great Esco Bars), as well as ‘Like It Or Not’, a gritty Dubstep number that’s a nod to the Generals’ shakedowns at FWD>>. Out on October 4th, ‘Bag of Grease E.P.’ will breathe life back in the game. Or take it, depending on how you look at it.

Kristian

Opium – Opium (CD RELEASE 27th September 2010)

September 7, 2010

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Back Cover

Hailed by Wiley as a ‘don’ and held in equally high regard by many of the UK’s best urban acts (including Skepta and Tinchy) Opium is ready to step up as the UK’s next Grime star. His self-titled debut mixtape ‘Opium’ is an impassioned exploration of Grime – both lyrically and musically – and features production from Wiley, DJ Target (1xtra & Roll Deep), Chucka and Z Dot.

Released digitally on the 27th September through iTunes, Spotify and Amazon, Opium has delivered more depth and clarity with his debut than most artists can manage in a fistful of albums. Having learned his craft under the tutelage of Grime veterans Wiley and Godsgift he has steadily established his own sound and approach.

His ‘stream-of-consciousness’ lyricism breaks from the typical ego-driven MC fodder currently abundant in the scene, and is complimented on the album by consistently futuristic production.

‘My Dream’ sets the lunar tone, with mellow synths washing over Opium’s thoughtful verse. Emphatic title track ‘Opium’ is a version of the Wiley space-stomper and ‘Empire’ is the glossy lead single in which he muses over his legacy and future.

Being of Turkish descent and having lived in Munich for a number of years, Opium subtly expresses his own cultural experiences through music. The mixtape cover cleverly conceals his nations’ flag within world of his own making. As ‘My Dream’ says, it’s time to “scrap everything old and start feeling new.”

Opium ‘Opium’ is released digitally on 27th September via iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.

Big up Threefold’s Dre for the artwork, and myself for the words. 😛

Kristian

PSFK: The Future of Retail

August 15, 2010

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For many in the world of forward-thinking lifestyle and culture, PSFK is the last word in trend-led design and innovation. Established in 2004 by London-born Piers Fawkes, the company began as a blog detailing emerging ideas from around the world.

Soon, Piers had his first collaborator in Simon King (the name ‘PSFK’ is an amalgamation of their initials). Within 6 years, PSFK has grown from a simple blog to an international company that documents fresh design ideas and holds seminars and conferences for creatives all over the world.

On 30 June PSFK journeyed to London to hold a seminar entitled The Future of Retail; Piers delivered a presentation alongside Jeff Weiner, head of Business Development, detailing the way in which the retail sector will embrace new technologies and ways of selling to the newly ‘enlightened’, post-recession consumer.

Here, we look at the key trends outlined by the team at PSFK and how they are expected to enable retailers to boost sales.

World as Retail Experience
Given the ubiquity of mobile technology and smartphone devices, consumers are more empowered than ever to transform even the simplest of experiences into an opportunity to buy. Increasingly sophisticated mobile apps such as Stripey Lines or Amazon allow users to photograph barcodes, identify a product and engage in price comparisons amongst online retailers. Square, a new accessory and app for the iPhone and iPad, enables mobile credit card payments to be taken via a small attachment that plugs into the device’s headphone jack. After swiping, the signature is entered on the touchscreen with a fingertip and the receipt is emailed.

Pre-View Shopping
City centres can be very crowded and stressful places to shop, particularly at weekends and traditionally busier times such as Christmas. Developments in GPS and wireless internet can provide users with indoor maps of malls, pointing them in the direction of the stores they wish to visit, whereas apps like NearbyNow can furnish the discerning consumer with a complete list of targeted gift ideas that can all be found within one location. Google’s Places feature provides a Streetview-esque experience for its users but in a shop floor context, allowing customers to ‘visit’ the store without visiting in person. Pre-View Shopping concepts cut down on time spent getting from one place to the next, enabling more direct and focused retail experiences for the consumer.

Tablet Enabled Service
Apple’s iPad has taken the concept of tablet computing well and truly into the mainstream, where dozens of others have failed over the years. The sheer volume of uptake of these devices, as well as other touchscreen equipment, allows the use of rich and engaging assistance and visual presentations instore – Miele’s store in Vianen, Holland does just that. On entry, the customer is handed an iPod Touch in return for some basic information, which they can use to navigate the store. The MiBar in Johannesburg, South Africa features touchscreens in the tables which can be used to communicate with staff and other customers, as well as access the menu and order drinks.

Selling the Ideal
Brands have long been in the business of attaching desirable, if intangible, lifestyle connotations to their products. However, most consumers are now able to see past this technique while shopping to some degree, choosing to focus on how this product is going to fit into their lives. Forward-thinking companies are finding ways to utilise this method of shopping to increase sales; by using digital technology and high-quality consultation the brand can help a consumer properly visualise these scenarios, leading to a higher probability of purchase. One example of this is Trunk Club, a clothing website based in Chicago that circumvents many men’s lack of interest with shopping by offering a personal shopper-based system that sends clothes to customers’ homes based on fit, taste and style requirements set out in an initial consultation. If the customer likes the clothes they buy, if not they send them back,all free of charge.

Every Store as Flagship
Flagship stores are a brand’s ‘crown jewels’; the complete aesthetic embodiment of a label’s ethos. However, limiting oneself to just one of these stores per market can be a little counter-intuitive; what about those customers who can’t make it to London, New York or Tokyo? With this initiative, brands are re-imagining the concept of visual merchandising in a way that makes each store visit a rich and involved event rather than just a conventional shopping experience. Mellow Johnny’s, a bike shop owned by Lance Armstrong in Austin, Texas, not only sells and services bikes but provides a coffee shop, showers and bike storage to encourage commuting; ultimately, the store’s aim is to get more people out of their cars and onto bikes. Apple is another brand worthy of mention; amongst open-plan, minimal surroundings they exhibit iPods, iPhones, Macbooks and iPads, all available for people to use and with well-trained staff on hand to assist.

Complementary Curation
While developing brand loyalty is always an important facet of any marketing strategy, the idea that a consumer only wants to buy from one brand is naive. Retailers can overcome this problem by introducing other, complementary brands into their space, offering consumers a choice of other brands that fulfil other needs, keeping them in-store for as long as possible. J Crew’s concept Liquor Store in New York does just that; by stocking brands such as Converse, Barbour and Ray Ban alongside their own products, they get toboost their own brand value simply by association, making the store into a ‘one-stop-shop’ for a certain look.

Revolving Decors
Keeping a look fresh is important for many brands. Some, like Anthropologie or All Saints, have a clearly defined way of presenting their wares instore and so will invest heavily in creating a look that they can maintain for a longer period. Other brands, however, are more flexible and can alter their merchandising each season if they wish. This approach to decor treats the shop floor like a theatre stage; visually engaging yet easily and quickly adaptable. Gap’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue features a permanent pop-up shop next door that they use to promote seasonal and cultural events – this means that they can create engaging conceptual spaces while maintaining the look of the flagship.

Taking the Store to the Customer
In today’s somewhat saturated and over-subscribed retail spaces, it can be difficult to get yourself noticed. One innovative way of solving this problem involves taking the brand to the consumer; mobile shops in the form of bicycle-powered coffee bars, double-decker bus restaurants and Twitter-equipped burger vans are all novel ways of communicating brand values to a potentially aloof audience and brings fun into the equation too. In Spain, gin brand Tanqueray is promoting the Private Cocktail Experience in which they stage cocktail parties in the homes of people who sign up on a microsite.

Instant Show & Tell
Many people like to take a friend or significant other along when they go shopping just to get a ‘second opinion’. However, other people are not always available to go when you want to – what to do? The answer is found in Instant Show & Tell, a trend based around the availability of real-time feedback through social networking websites and in-store technologies. Communities of ‘haul videos’ are already available on YouTube in which girls make films documenting new purchases, while the comment feature allows others to share opinions easily. Additionally, Levi’s has an online feature that can connect with a customer’s Facebook account, customising the options available to show only those clothes that their friends have ‘liked’.

Group Clout
A collectivist approach to shopping online is a method of buying that can drive down prices by employing discounts on group or bulk buys. Retailers also benefit by having access to a larger audience and therefore promoting themselves over a wider market than before. As well as this, in order for a single person to take advantage of such a deal, they typically ‘advertise’ the opportunity across social networks such as Facebook or Twitter; essentially, brands sit back while customers advertise for them. The most widely known example of this is Groupon. This highly innovative site advertises deals for groups of buyers, but only becomes viable once enough people have committed.

all images from PSFK; visit PSFK.com for further reading

James

Lights, Camera, AÇÃO!

July 29, 2010

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During the making of ‘O Divino, De Repente’ (2009)

Brazilian cinema, as an artform, is known for experiencing large fluctuations in terms of frequency of releases, due to the industry’s reliance upon the State for funding and incentives.

Despite this, the country has been responsible for some incredibly evocative and moving content over the past few years. Several key films have done much to lift the profile of Brazilian cinema overseas, showing the world an urban lifestyle far removed from the glamorous beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana.

In the 1940’s American genre films were very popular and many Brazilian production companies began to emulate them. The Cinematográfica Vera Cruz was one of the most prolific; established in 1949, Vera Cruz cinema represented the highly commercialized content that was beginning to characterize mainstream Brazilian cinema. Significant investment was made to these production houses, leading to large scale Hollywood-style studios that many felt produced films with high budgets but low on content.

As a result, many film-makers began to feel disillusioned and started experimenting with independent cinema. In the 50’s and 60’s a group of Brazilian directors began to practice a particular style and technique of film-making which became known as Cinema Novo.

Characterised by the Portuguese phrase ‘Uma câmera na mão e uma idéia na cabeça’, or ‘A camera in the hand and an idea in the head’, Cinema Novo was a retort, inspired by Italian Neo-Realism and French ‘Nouvelle Vague’ movements, against the output of the Vera Cruz, and aimed to authentically represent Brazilian life. Even today, with Brazil’s rise as a global economic power, the distribution of wealth is tremendously unbalanced; rich playboys party in the clubs of Rio de Janeiro while slums filled with the poor cover the hills overlooking the city.

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Cinema Novo addressed this by using Brazilian poverty as a main focus of the story-telling; a focus which, although the movement ended in the early 1970’s as a result of political oppression, can still be seen in contemporary works such as Carandiru (2003) and the Academy Award-nominated City of God (2002).

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Scenes from City of God (2002)

Brazil’s varied and engaging artistic output means that the country is constantly recognised as being a unique and rich cultural hub; for example, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, (MoMA), held a film exhibition between 15-29 July entitled ‘Premiere Brazil!’

Held every year in conjunction with the Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival, the event provides a platform for both new and established Brazilian film-makers to have a chance to premiere their works to American audiences.

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An image from Waste Land (2010) Directed by Lucy Walker. Image courtesy of moma.org

Over on the West Coast, the Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival (LABRFF) has just finished its third edition, running from 27th April – 2nd May. LABRFF aims to provide a link between Brazil and Hollywood, raising the profile of Brazilian film-makers in the industry and promoting their films to a wider audience.

February saw the 2nd annual Hollywood Brazilian Film Festival, held over three days in the heart of Hollywood. HBR FEST is, according to their website, ‘a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting the cultural and commercial exchange between Hollywood and Brazil.’

Much like LABRFF, the aim of the festival is to raise the profile of Brazilian filmmakers in Hollywood and elicit production and financing opportunities for international filmmakers; the first edition of the show in 2009 was held at the Egyptian Theatre and Mann Chinese 6 Cinemas, and was reportedly a great success for those involved. A total of eight feature films, documentaries and shorts are all given an enviable platform from which to air, many of them premieres.

Such cultural exchanges are very important; with the majority of the world’s cinema emanating from Hollywood it would be very easy for content to become homogenised and repetitive. By bringing in influences from countries such as Brazil, the industry can be sure of plenty of inspiration from a variety of global cultural capitals.

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With a landscape such as this, it is little wonder that Rio de Janeiro has inspired generations of Brazilian film-makers

In London earlier this year, Nike Sportswear premiered the release of Cadência, a major new film documentary and exhibition by director Daren Bartlett at Shoreditch’s Rich Mix exhibition centre. According to a review in Don’t Panic magazine, “Cadência sets out to articulate the ambiguous essence of Rio de Janeiro’s symbolic identity through its people, passions and traditions by exploring the underground phenomena of traditional kite culture, the masquerade of Clovis and of course, football.”

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In addition, an exhibition inspired by the film took place across the road at Nike’s 1948 store, featuring large-scale visual and audio projections taken from the film, a selection of art stills by Jiwon Park and catering by Brazilian restaurant Raizes.

Elsewhere in London, the HSBC-sponsored ‘Festival Brazil’ at the Southbank Centre runs from 19th June – 5th September, and celebrates Brazilian heritage in a vibrant and dynamic way. Although the event does not specifically feature cinema, it is an incredible celebration of Brazilian culture, from food and dance to literature and art.

Brazilian culture is unique in that its inclusive nature makes it feel accessible by people all across the world; the energy, vibrancy and richness of picture-postcard beaches and festivals juxtaposes with the gritty romance of the Cinema Novo favelas, providing beauty for those of all tastes. Given the ‘A camera in the hand…’ philosophy that underpins independent Brazilian cinema, there are arguably fewer places in the world where you’d rather be holding a camera.

James

MPD Insight

July 23, 2010

Some spreads from a magazine I design and write for at work. Click the images to enlarge!

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James

D Double E Interview

July 17, 2010

I caught up with D Double and the Dirtee Stank crew at the BBC as he was about to perform on the 5.19 show. After filming was done we went to the pub and, over a Bacardi and coke (double measures of course!) had a chat about Street Fighter, Newham Generals and the many upcoming projects he’s involved in. Bluku Bluku!

So, ‘Street Fighter Riddim’ is doing the rounds at the moment, Swerve produced it, are you two going to work together in future?

Yeah really want to do another tune with Swerve. Right now he’s got a lot of fire for me.

The collaboration seemed to come a little about out of the blue…

Yeah I’d never heard Swerve’s production – I never knew he produced until Laurence said ‘Ere listen mate, got a beat ‘ere’ and I was like ‘alright then let’s have a butchers.’ And yeah, I’m here! Big up Laurence, big up Swerve!

Have Capcom said anything? Do they want you on the next game?!
Yeah man, hopefully all that stuff will come after the tune. It’s in the pipeline, I mean we had to holla at them for the legalisation, so they know about us, but we re-did the sounds and FX anyway and I don’t think anyone can tell the difference! HADOUKEN! Hahaha!

After releasing your ‘Woooo Riddim’ version and ‘Street Fighter Riddim’, anticipation for the forthcoming DEE solo project is high. What can fans expect?

Boy, you can expect pure heat. If you liked the ‘Woooo Riddim’, ‘Street Fighter’ or ‘Hard’, then know what sort of avenue I’m taking.

Guest spots?

Producer-wise there is a couple of guest spots there. Footsie’s there, I’ve got a couple of tunes from Cage, Swerve, Swindle, Noah D and Skream. It’s an A-list roster…It’s gonna be live!

You produce as well as MC, can we expect any of your production efforts on there?

Definitely in the future, but at the moment I’m trying to pump out my vocals on the best beats and get my levels up in the background. Production is more of a hobby for me.

Part of the Newham Generals ‘Bag of Greeze E.P.’ is being produced by Skitz. What was it like working together?

Skitz has been about for time and he lives around the corner from my house so I’ve known him for a long time. Skitz is bless and used to work with Slew Dem a lot back in the day who are like my family.

The ‘I’m a General’ tune featuring the late Esco must have been a lot to record. Was it an emotional experience?

Erm…It was kind of, but at the same time it was a good feeling to promote and showcase his talent again. We wanted to show love. He never got his chance to shine so we helped out a bit.

I read an interview you gave with the Guardian back in 2004 where you said you were tired of listening to 14 year olds chat about guns, and that you wanted to go lyrically deeper with your music. What does Grime say to you today and do you feel able to express yourself fully on it?

Grime has got a lot lighter, it’s still dark, but it has definitely lightened up. Stations like KISS, 1Xtra and Radio 1 are starting to play us now so we all have to straighten out a bit. It’s getting more professional and the production is levelling as well.

Does Grime still give you the same feeling as it did back in the day?

Definitely man, I can listen to Grime beats all day. It still hits me and I like the way it’s getting wider. Tunes like ‘Rescue Me’ by Skepta [for example] aren’t strictly ‘Grime’, but they have that element. It has that home base. I like anything that has that home base in there.

Talking of success, Chipmunk, Tinchy and Tinie are finding high chart positions, and Jammer, Skepta and yourself are starting to position yourselves for the same. However, whereas they made their music a bit sweeter, you guys have been able to stay true to your sound and still find new audiences. Did they ‘open the doors’ for you in that sense?

I think they have made it easier, but not because of what they’ve done. People are moving away from the scene, so the people like me left at the core are able to represent more fully. They aren’t repping what we come from. You hear a mixtape and there might be a couple of hard tracks on there, but their core fans don’t get Grime.

They are helping in the way that, if they have an interview they will talk about what they’ve done before and who we are.

You have been noted as being ahead of your time, and you’ve said that you still perform lyrics still you wrote at 15. What lyrics were they?

Err…yeah, you know “If you you, you you/ Wanna come against I-I, I-I” that was from then, “me nah ramp, me nah skin/” Ah there’s so many, I’ve got a big selection of lyrics.

Your lyric repertoire is big, but how do you keep going on sets?

It’s natural for me. I don’t really need to make that much of an effort to lift-off as I used to. It’s just there bruv. I could be here mucking about and say something and I could make it into the deepest thing.

Has that happened recently?

Yeah man, it happened with ‘Hard.’ We put that together quickly! ‘Street Fighter’ was so quick, all I need to do is feel free, have the beat playing and bubble.

How would you say you’ve developed since the Jungle days?

I’ve got more professional with the lyrics. On Jungle I couldn’t really go into depth ‘cos of the tempo, Hip Hop was a bit too slow and Grime was just right. I found I could go in more. Now I can spit at 140 (bpm), 160, whatever.

You and Footsie together with DJ Tubby have forged a niche spitting over Dubstep, and have become known for it. Is it more exciting to spit over than regular Grime?

I prefer to ride Grime because it gives me the time to do what I need to – maybe a bit too much time sometimes! You know, if a DJ’s playing for two hours it’s like ‘Rah I might run out of power’ on dubstep though, there are tunes there that you can’t ride, they’re too big. You’re still ready to leng, but you’re also a host.

With Grime it’s flat out. You can spit your heart out for half an hour with hype and then the tune you love best comes in and you’re like ‘shit!’ So yeah, I think Grime is better to practice and MC to.

What do you think about other MC’s jumping on it?

It’s alright, it’s a good move but I think Dubstep is slightly different. You can’t really do too many deep songs on it; the instrumentals have as much power as the vocals. With the beat already there, as an MC you need only add a couple of spicy lines and it’s gone, maxed out. With Grime you have to add your own energy and build on the beat.

Some people sound good on it, some don’t.

As a FWD>> veteran, what has performing there done for your repertoire?

FWD>> was my introduction to Dubstep. Tubby and Footsie brought me in on that, I was all Grime-d out, whereas they were into their Dub. But FWD>> was a time where I got to see another world and build on it. Now, Dubstep is massive and it’s cool man.

You’ve worked with Breakage and Skream, are there any other people you would like to work with?

Yeah, I’m working with Noah D, I want to do a tune with Chromestar, Caspa, Plastician…anyone that has the bangers. They know what I can do!

Let’s talk about ‘Generally Speaking.’ I heard you spit on DJ MK’s kiss show and you said ‘Generally Speaking means a lot to me.’ What does that CD mean to you?

It’s a benchmark. It was the first official release and there will be a lot more to come. That was number one…

What was the recording process like?

It was long – over quite a stretch of time. Some of the tunes that were on the finalised track listing were some of the last ones we recorded. We had so many to consider, it was like a puzzle trying to fit it all together.

Will any of the off cuts make it onto the new CD?

Nah man, that’ll all be fresh stuff. We got some tunes that we’ll pump out in the meantime but the next album from New Gens will be all brand new material.

How do you think ‘Generally Speaking’ was received?

I think that album is timeless. If you listen to it, you keep surprising yourself. It’s quite deep. It’s different, but looking back, at the time I thought it was really different from what we do. Now, I can see it fits in with what we do – it’s us and fits our sound.

After releasing ‘Generally Speaking’ you embarked on a huge tour supporting Dizzee, what was it like spitting for crowds that aren’t as ‘Grime-savvy’ as your usual audience?

We found them quite receptive man. The ravers we played out to were there for a good time so we played to that. We were surprised the youngsters got in ‘cos there’s a fair amount of swearing in the shows but they were easy to get involved, especially when me and Foots get them to go against each other like ‘This side make noise, that side make noise’ ‘where’s all the girls in here?’ ‘who’s got money?’ ‘who knows about Facebook, Twitter, C‘mon!’

Will the experiences you got performing live form the shape of the new album?

Definitely, that is the way we go about music at all times. Every piece of music we write is something we can go and perform. It’s lively, always about making straight bangers. A lot of Grime artists do what they think will work but going to Dizzee’s show, you can see it’s electric. It’s like a D’n’B rave. I wouldn’t want to go to a live show and hear some bloody R’n’B. I want everyone to go maaaaaad!

Both you and Footsie feature on ‘Bad Mind People’ one of the stand-out tracks from Jammer’s debut album, released this week. What was it like hooking up for that?

It’s always fun hooking up with Jammer, we have bare jokes – Jammer’s a mad man! It was vibes recording that tune, Likkle J had already laid down his chorus so it was just us man vybzin, big up Jammer! We’ve known each other since 2000, I was the one that introduced Jammer to Nasty Crew, he was coming up on the production tip and then one day I went over to his house with Sharky and then it formed in front of me.

Do you still keep in contact with the other Nasty members?

Erm, not really. I don’t see Sharky much anymore. I still see Mak 10, Kano and Ghetts every so often but that’s it. I haven’t seen Stormin or Armour for a while…One person I do see come to think of it is Hyper. When he heard my ‘Woooo Riddim’ he phoned me up and was like ‘Double man I heard your Woooo. I need that beat!’ and he met me and got the beat. I told him that he better go mad on it and I tuned into Logan’s show to hear that he did…I think it might be the second best version man.

There is a lot of promo for ‘Bluku Bluku’ at the moment, what can people expect after it drops?

Once the release is done, we’ll get promoting that and then get ready for the ‘Bag of Greeze E.P.’, the second Newham General album and then pick up on my solo project that’s already in the making. We’ve got quite a few things on the go that should take us nicely into the new year.

Shouts?

Watch out for the ‘Street Fighter’ single released July 26th, the ‘Bluku Bluku E.P.’, the ‘Bag of Greeze E.P.’ and also watch out for ‘Bluku Bluku T.V’ coming soon to Dirtee Stank TV. I’ll be hosting the show, doing a load of stuff. We’re talking pranks, the whole shebang. There will be a few Punks in there, and hopefully we’ll be on BBC4 by the year 2012!

‘Street Fighter Riddim’ drops July 26th

Follow D Double on Twitter here

Kristian

Street Fighter Riddim Review

July 12, 2010

D Double E SFR cover

I reviewed D Double E’s forthcoming single ‘Street Fighter Riddim’ for MTV’s The Wrap Up.

Read it here

Kristian

Paris Couture Week A/W 10-11 Highlights

July 9, 2010

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This month Sarah indulges us with her personal highlights from Paris Couture Week.

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Christian Dior Haute Couture, autumnwinter 2010/11 and Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture, autumnwinter 2010/11

Now ready-to-wear is more my bag, but if I were cohabiting with a Sheik or Oligarch (sorry boyf, no offence), Haute Couture may be more so. Paris Haute Couture Week is one of those fashion occasions that combines the most dazzling displays of design, craftsmanship and luxury with theatrics, entertainment and unadulterated glamour.

Giving the world’s most skilled designers platform to unleash their inner imagination, Couture Week often sets the trends for seasons to come. This season, a few such trends emerged – notably black, black and more black, injections of acidic lime green and a running Middle Eastern aesthetic.

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Jean Paul Gaultier

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Jean Paul Gaultier

My highlights include John Galliano for Dior’s vibrant, ostentatious extravaganza; complete with dip-dyed fabrics, tiers, frills, ruffles and lashings of botanical inspiration. Jean Paul Gaultier also wowed with simple yet effective takes on wardrobe staples such as the trench and twinset, while his 1970’s-tinged floating silk-satin gowns and draped little black dresses left me particularly enamoured. This, paired with the turban-esque headpieces left me imagining a nostalgic, seriously wealthy, Upper East Sider expatriated in the Middle East…

Both Dior and Gaultier favoured thinly veiled faces, adding to both the mystery and drama of the occasion, and perhaps echoing just a little bit, the conservative nature of Arabic inspiration.

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Elie Saab Haute Couture, autumnwinter 2010/11

Leave it to Elie Saab, this time inspired by La Fenice, Venice’s legendary opera house, to come up with a perspective myriad of gowns to grace the red carpets and church isles. This particular taupe creation caught my eye, with its frilled, open-backed bodice and full layers of rich chiffon skirting… and yes Dad, you will be needing to find out if they do it in ivory, and familiarise yourself with the swing tag.

Sarah

Artist Feature: Skurge

June 10, 2010

Logan’s belated May blog post pointed me in the direction of this Bay Area MC. I’m always intrigued to hear Yank MC’s respective takes on our sound and after doing some stealthy google work, I found his facebook page. Full up with Music clips and downloads, I got to hear what he’s got to offer and may I say now that Skurge is sick.

Taken from his facebook page:

“Skurge is a member of Sammie Award Winning Hip Hop Group, Righteous Movement. He is all styles. With a sharp delivery and lyrics that often find their mark, Skurge has been effective at giving the listeners what they want to hear. Real, Raw, Hip Hop”

Whilst he doesn’t  jump on what we call ‘Grime’, his music has that same raw element.  He has an infectious drawn-out delivery which slides over some rather tasty, weighty production. The mastering is perfect – an area Americans have always excelled in. They can make a Lil Jon record sound ‘full’ FFS!

Take a trip to his Fan Page and listen to ‘Nobody’, ‘Goose’ or ‘Open Container’ all of which are available for download. Disgusting!

Facebook
Twitter

Kristian

Klashnekoff – ‘Back to the Sagas’ Review

June 5, 2010

Back to the Sagas album cover

With a celebrated music career that has spanned over a decade yet gleaned only a handful of releases, UK rapper Klashnekoff (a.k.a. Darren Kandler) is a figure that commands both love and frustration in equal measure.

His elusiveness and steadfast refusal to participate in industry politics has undoubtedly prevented him from wider success. However, in an age where bland, do-anything-for-the-fame urban acts dominate the media, his outspoken character and honest music is admirable.

Sagas of Klashnekoff album cover

After a three year hiatus fraught with clique divisions and label worries, Klashnekoff is back with his third album ‘Back to the Sagas.’ Working closely with rap producer Smasher, ‘Back to the Sagas’ is a weighty effort that aims to recapture the raucous, Rasta-infused essence of his debut, 2004’s ‘The Sagas of Klashnekoff’.

Indeed, the Hackney-based MC wastes no time in establishing a conceptual link between the two. Album opener ‘Church (intro)’ immerses the listener once again in a Babylonian world of struggle and tussle as Klash sets out his nihilist agenda, punctuating rousing electric guitar and synth riffs in that trademark multi-syllabic yap.

Klashnekoff

Title track ‘Back to the Sagas’ continues the candid lyrical theme and, in some detail, describes conflicts with management and Kyza’s surprise departure from Terra Firma. The rolling snare drums and orchestral stabs lend a military theme to the production, evident in varying degrees on ‘Get it Too’, ‘Repping Hard’ and the excellent ‘Soon Come’.

Not only does the dramatic instrumentation provide real depth to the music, rekindling the warm, analogue feel of his debut, it bolsters Klash’s combative tone and revolutionary sentiments. Nowhere is this more prevalent than on ‘Keep It Moving’ whereby the buoyant, summery beat gives real motion to a flurry of gritty observational prose.

Klashnekoff

Soviet sing-along ‘Klash Anthem’ offers some respite from the serious tone, adding a vein of boisterous humour to proceedings, even if its playback appeal may dwindle over time. The same can also be said about CB4-sampling ‘Music Game’; an 8-bit analysis of the music industry that, whilst cheery, seems at odds with the rest of the album.

Protest song ‘Raw’ brings ‘Back to the Sagas’ to a neat conclusion, and serves a poignant reminder of what Klashnekoff is capable of when in his niche. Whilst ‘Lionheart’, in its attempt to capture a clubbier, more accessible sound obscured the MC, ‘Back to the Sagas’ foregrounds his lyrical talent with layered, soulful and arguably more traditional Boom-Bap production.

Yes, some of the features and speech samples are superfluous, but these are significant of an artist that wants to say something through music, not merely spit for the sake of industry props or fleeting internet praise. ‘Back to the Sagas’ is a reaffirmation of Klashnekoff’s talents and although the ‘Sagas’ bar may not have been raised this time round, it has certainly been nudged.

Buy ‘Back to the Sagas’:

Play.com
Amazon.co.uk
Junodownload.com

Hit Klashnekoff up on Twitter:

@Klashnekoff

Kristian