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

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Opium – Opium (CD RELEASE 27th September 2010)

September 7, 2010

Front Cover

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

Introducing…Malic

September 4, 2010

Sorting through my inbox recently I came across a Twitter notification that ‘k1malic’ had started following me. I clicked through to his profile page and although it said he was a Grime producer, I couldn’t for the life of me find any links. I asked if he could send me some links and right away he sent me some showreels; three in all which I nonchalantly downloaded. That was about 15 days ago. I have not stopped listening to them since.

Malic aka Kitt Bevan has only been producing for a matter of months but already he has honed his own sound. Like Z Dot, he utilises strings to great effect – albeit not as sparsely. Malic’s music evokes that Eski Beat sound whilst still sounding relevant and fresh. While many imitators merely sample ‘that’ Wiley snare for an Eski Beat effect, Malic has a much broader approach; layering polished orchestral strings, deadpan brasses and driving basslines on top of current drum patterns and tempos.

As Logan told me in one of many interviews, it’s always better to rework and edit existing Grime formulas than attempt to ‘widen’ the sound by incorporating nuances from other rap-based genres. In most instances, ‘widen’ is just copying what’s in vogue.

Listen to the below and see what I mean. These beats have an Eski texture to them without sounding like imitations. I tip Malic for big things over the next coming months, he has some projects on the way and I hope to hear him collaborate with some other artists, not just MC’s. His instrumentals are beefy enough to stand on their own. Big up Malic.

Malic – Dont Try It by Threefold_Media

Malic – Bally by Threefold_Media

Malic – Negative Actions by Threefold_Media

Kristian

Sofi Soap

August 27, 2010

Artwork I just came across for Sofi Soap, thought it was pretty nice!!

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James

Friday Feeling #11

August 20, 2010

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Old Fashioned

Seeing as the entire world and his wife seem to be loving off Mad Men at the moment – from a backup for pseudo-feminist statements of empowerment by MPs to style inspiration – I thought I’d include this ode to Don Draper’s favourite tipple. If only you could still smoke indoors…

1 sugar cube
3 dashes Angostura bitters
club soda
2 ounces rye whisky

Place the sugar cube (or 1/2 teaspoon loose sugar) in an Old-Fashioned glass. Wet it down with 2 or 3 dashes of Angostura bitters and a short splash of water or club soda. Crush the sugar with a wooden muddler, chopstick, strong spoon, lipstick, cartridge case, whatever. Rotate the glass so that the sugar grains and bitters give it a lining. Add a large ice cube. Pour in the rye (or bourbon). Serve with a stirring rod.

Courtesy of Esquire.

Hammer – Explosive (produced by Royal-T)

August 20, 2010

After a brief foray into cheesy eurodance with ‘Mic Check’, Hammer is back with new release ‘Explosive.’ Employing the talents of Southampton-based producer Royal-T for the beat (1Up, Mega, Damn It etc), Hammer is back to what he does best – vocalling hard, fast-paced Grime.

This record has a touch of nostalgia about it with a skippy, 2003-era beat and a mellow breakdown that’s more in keeping with bubbly 2-Step than Grime. It is an enjoyable stomper nonetheless that Hammer laces with monotone ease; his vocals commanding the beat much like a Garage veteran:

Royal-T has told me a remix is on it’s way featuring a BIG guest MC…

‘Explosive’ is out October 4th from all major digital outlets.

Enjoy

Kristian

Mr Lexx & Congorock – Babylon

August 19, 2010

Mr Lexx

Listening to the recent Heatwave Rinse show (big up Benjamin & Gabriel) I came accross this tune. It is massive. Not usually a fan of this type of chainsaw-bassline stuff, but something about this makes it different. Mr Lexx’s deadpan vocals suit the evil synths perfectly, leading the listener in like he was shepherding lambs to the slaughter. This will undoubtedly have crowds reaching for the ‘saws – the drop reminiscent of ‘Pon Di Floor.’

Enjoy!

Kristian

Gza – Wu-Tang Revealed Trailer

August 18, 2010

Trailer for the new ‘Wu Tang Revealed’ documentary, made by the GZA, showcasing what life is really like on the road with the Clan. Should be a sick film!

James

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

i-D Magazine 30th Birthday Issue

August 10, 2010

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30 years is a long time in fashion. Long enough to see trends come, go, come back again, go again and return in an endless cycle that may make you wonder what the point of it all is… ahem, sorry, I digress.

This month, venerable fashion and style bible i-D hits that big ol’ three-oh milestone, and to celebrate they have commissioned a special issue with three different collector’s covers, featuring Kate Moss, Lady Gaga and Naomi Campbell respectively.

Editor-in-Chief Terry Jones had this to say:

“30 years – whoosh, more than an instant in i-D’s lifeline – it’s a generation. Three decades to be celebrated and contained in this special issue. The whole issue was created by Nick Knight 200 portraits that SHOWstudio made at the close of 2009 in Somerset House – once the home of British passports, now the central location for British Fashion Week. Nick’s celebration of identity was also a commemorative project inspired by the 5th birthday issue of i-D, where 100 portraits were featured in The Grown Up Issue. 25 years on, the gallery selection grew to 200. Happy birthday!”

Happy birthday indeed.

James