It was August 3rd, 1995. The second annual Source Awards was taking place, at the Madison Square Garden’s Paramount Theater in New York. The events that night would change the course of hip-hop forever. At the time, Tupac had been shot and was sequestered in jail, with a bitter rivalry between the East Coast and the West Coast reaching a boiling point. This boiled over at the Awards ceremony, with Suge Knight, of Death Row Records (West Coast), taunting his rival Sean ‘P Diddy’ Combs, of Bad Boy Records (East Coast), onstage. The nature of the attack didn’t go down well, and the night descended into a tit-for-tat between the rival areas, with Snoop Dogg confronting the crowd after getting abuse, and Diddy throwing shots back at Suge by saying, “I live in the East, and I’m gonna die in the East.” The rivalry ballooned into violence and ultimately culminated in the deaths of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G, a year later.
At just 20 years old, Dave has established himself as one of the UK’s finest talents. His debut album ‘PSYCHODRAMA’ has arrived too much anticipation, a culmination of his succesful EP’s ‘Six Paths’ and ‘Game Over’, a co-sign from Drake, who remixed his track ‘Wanna Know’, and an Ivor Novello Award for his single ‘Question Time‘. It’s been a steady trajectory to this point, and one that the London-born artist has seemed to take in his stride. Every collaboration, move and performance, perfectly timed, fluttering with mainstream attention whilst keeping his steely lyricism and feet firmly grounded. He hasn’t forgotten his childhood growing up in estates, his friends who have been and gone, the tales of sorrow and life pitfalls, Dave raps about it all. An unflinching look into his life and the people in it, society and politics, ‘PSYCHODRAMA’ is a great album, and just the beginning for this extremely talented artist.
Little Simz continues to show her enormous talent on her third full-length album ‘GREY Area’. The diverse subject matters, musical styles and the fantastic tempo of the album, switching from the ferocious ‘Venom’ – a full-throttle attack on how women are treated in a male dominated hip-hop scene, over a breathtaking trip-hop beat, to the beautiful and subtle sounds of ‘Pressure’, which is a politically motivated track on recent events in London, and life in an inner-city. It’s an album that is perfectly timed too, at 35 minutes it allows for the topics to be unravelled and the talents of Simz to bear fruit, but without the pace ever feeling like it’s slowing down or reaching a lull. Like a perfectly timed jab to the face, ‘GREY Area’ is an album that demands your attention, in a world where that is hard to attain.
It was a night of spectacular performances, shock appearances and plenty of important social/political comments, as the annual Brit Awards took place last night at London’s O2 Arena.
The annual Brit Awards takes over The O2, London next Wednesday 20th February, and here’s my lowdown on who’s been nominated and for what, who’s due to be performing on the night, and a look into some of the artists to watch out for, with my pick for each award.
As the rain began to fall, Monarchy took to the South Beach stage, and in-front of a sizeable crowd put on an incredible performance. They weaved in and out of new and old tracks, whilst covering the likes of Nirvana and Outkast, even producing a mosh pit in the crowd at one point. Despite slightly clashing with similar sounding band Pet Shop Boys and the rain persistently falling, the crowd grew and grew, getting more into the set as it went on. Here’s a few shots and a short video of the show:
Now in its third year Mad Cool Festival has already delivered some stunning line-ups, with the likes of The Who, The Prodigy, Foo Fighters and Green Day all featuring in past editions of the Madrid-based festival. This year was perhaps one of the most stacked line-ups to date, not only in the small history of the festival, but also compared to other festivals around Europe. Spanning across seven different stages this years edition featured some amazing acts, from Tame Impala and Arctic Monkeys, to Depeche Mode and Pearl Jam. But where most of the attention was drawn to the headline acts, and I guess understandably so, this year also featured a bunch of fantastic up-and-coming bands too. Both local and international artists took to the two smaller stages, called the ‘Mondo Sonoro Stage’ and the ‘Thunder Bitch Stage’, and it was here where I had the pleasure of discovering these five new (to me) bands.
Since 2008, National Public Radio have hosted an online live music series called ‘Tiny Desk Concerts’. Featuring artists from all genres, the show has starred musicians such as Chance The Rapper, Sampha and Cigarettes After Sex, to name a few. The format continues to routinely deliver, allowing artists to perform a few of their favourite tracks in an intimate office enviroment. After watching Jorja Smith‘s mesmerising performance in her latest Tiny Desk Concert, I decided to pick out five of my favourite sets from recent months.
Kanye West & Kid Cudi – Kids See Ghosts
Whatever your opinion of Kanye West is, you can’t deny that he has made some great music. The enigmatic figure, love him or hate him, loathe his manipulation of the media and outspoken personality, his relationship with Kim Kardashian, he’s an artist who has consistently released good music, whilst pushing boundaries and often changing perspectives. On ‘Kids See Ghosts’ he is joined by long-term collaborator Kid Cudi, who like Kanye is returning to music after battling depression.