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.
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.
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.
I saw these guys whilst at All Points East festival in London last weekend and fell in love with them straight away. Their infectous grooves are undeniably influenced by the great Bee Gees and electronic duo Daft Punk, who they have recently worked with on their single ‘Overnight’. Originaly from Byron Bay in Australia, they’re now based in Berlin.
Mad Cool Festival presented the first of their ‘London Sessions’ events on Tuesday evening at the iconic Koko in Camden, and I was delighted to be in attendance. Fresh from announcing that Queens of the Stone Age will be the first headliner at Mad Cool 2018 (taking place between the 12-14 July in Madrid), the festival got to work to spread the word with the first ‘London Sessions’, a potential series of events to showcase what Mad Cool is about. The event was free with invitation from the Mad Cool website, and it was a great way to kick off proceedings. Featuring American artist Haux and London-based duo Monarchy, it was a night full of smoky electronic synths and eerie atmsopheric vocals.