After looking through some of my old work, I stumbled across the disseration that I wrote for my final project at university back in 2016, and decided to give it another read. Lockdown boredom may have reached new heights, and brought me to an educational read which I enjoyed more than I thought I would. Perhaps as it brought back the memories of writing it, which with the benefit of time and rose-tinted glasses seemed great, but the sleepless nights and Red Bull driven researching weren’t. Whilst I’ve ditched the Red Bull, and seem to be sleeping fine, going back down memory lane and the same rabbit holes as I orginally had, seem like the perfect distraction to another stressful time, as we are in now. As you may have ascertained from the title of this post, my disseration was about European hip-hop, in particular the development and impact of the genre in France, Italy and Germany during the 1980s and 1990s. In that, I waffled on about Globalisation, Americanisation and the history of hip-hop, but I’ll save you from the academic jargon, and dive right into the various scenes themselves.
Continuing to look back at some of my favourite albums released earlier this year, this time I’ll take a look at the month of February. A month where everything seemed normal, it was the calm before the storm, as the full impact of COVID-19 lurked around the corner. Donald Trump was being impeached, Parasite won Best Picture at the Oscars, Storm Denis hit the UK, and the world was still in self-destruct mode. But alas, there was new music. This month saw the return of The Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne, Tame Impala coming back after five years, and a blisttering second album from Liverpudlian band Loathe, not to mention new albums from The Amity Affliction, Grimes, Green Day, and King Krule, just to name a few.
What feels like an eternity ago, when COVID-19 was a distant viral illness beginning to spread throughout Asia, when Harry and Meghan’s decision to step down from royal duties ‘split the nation’, when we were all left realing from the heartbraking scenes of the Australian bushfires, before many other tragic events, including the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter; new music was released, which was a brief respite from the tsunami of bad news and conflicts brought in with the start of a new decade, 2020. Whilst it’s not hard to understate that there are more important things in life than music, music can provide an escape from reality, and provide an outlet to release negative emotions, as well as provide joy and something to look forward to, especially in times such as these. Little did we know, that January was just the start of things to come, and these albums are fresh from the context of now, providing a brief respite as they did then, and now.
Last night, Fever 333 performed a live demonstration to support the #BlackLivesMatter movement, with all proceeds of the livestream going towards the Black Lives Matter and the Minnesota Freedom Fund. Further to the performance, the band shared the below message:
Like many, I’ve been following the news of the shocking and appaling murder of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, by police in Minneapolis, USA. The consequential outrage of his killing has not only sparked protests there, but spread to other cities in the United States too and across the world, with demostrations in Auckland, Berlin, London, and more. George Floyd’s death, and the circumstances surrounding it, is one of many examples of police brutality and racism towards the black community in America. As things began to boil up over the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and Breanna Taylor in Louisevill, and the consequent investigation (or the lack of), things have now boiled over to the point where enough is enough, and things need to change. The worldwide response shows that this sort of racist behaviour isn’t just succluded to America, the insututional day-to-day injustices and the things we don’t see, are happening all over.
The current situation with COVID-19 has left the world in lockdown, with venues closed and tours cancelled or postponed, a lot of artists have been forced to find new and innovative ways to stay connected wth their fans, such as live streaming performances from their home, going back through the archives and releasing footage of previous shows, or hosting Q&A’s and listening parties. Like many, I’ve had the extra time on my hands to watch a lot of these performances, and found it interesting to see the various ways in which bands and artists are approaching these difficult times.
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.
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.