Tuesday, 30 September 2008

'Understanding The Way Mixtape' - GTA (free download)

Hotness from GTA, the two man Oxford crew who are joined here by the multi skilled Kid Fury on hosting duties.

Ineffable (one of my favourite words ever) is nice with the lyrics and Chima has that superstar presence making listening to this mixtape a pleasing way to accompany an hour spent.

The 'Understanding the Way Mixtape' serves as a sampler for the forthcoming album 'The Way' and although some material is a few years old and not recorded so well (and the boys have obviously come on since then) it certainly makes me look forward to the album proper. These boys have skills to match their grind.

'Starvin' Artist Movement Mixtape Volume 1' - The Unfriendly Neighbours (free download)

Click here for your free download of this cheeky midlands hip hop.

On tracks 1 to 9 The Unfriendly Neighbours have light-hearted fun with their clever lyrics, hilarious subject matter and very suitable beats.

The next few tracks turn a little more to the dark side of Joe Gutta and BiggaMan's minds and the last few tracks mix it up a bit.

Check 'Bam Bam' featuring Parly B for some roots dub reggae rudebwoyness. My only criticism of the mixtape is that inevitably, for what might be termed as 'lad-rap', there is a slight obsession with sex rhymes - boys, you've obviously got what it takes without resorting to talking about intercourse every few tracks.

'Tobacco Road' - Common Market (album review)

Having heard precious few US rap albums this year I hesitate to declare ‘Tobacco Road’ as the best one. But, hey, there must be some reason why I haven’t listened to that many.

A Baptist minister sets the tone for what could well be the only Hip Hop album recorded in the early 1900’s. Despite relying on the kind of leftfield southern sound a la Bubba Sparxxx and Brother Ali and more straight up boom-bap beats of NY, ‘Tobacco Road’ seems to jump back an entire century in subject matter.

MC RA Scion skilfully eases in-and-out of character as afflicted farmer working the seasons whilst he weaves morals and spiritual viewpoints into producer Sabzi’s tasteful audio tapestry.

RA Scion is easily one of the most entertaining and thought provoking MC’s around at the moment, especially if you like delving into lyrical meanings instead of being smacked around the face with the crude nursery rhymes of the moment. If you do get stuck he even unpacks his lyrics over on his myspace blog.

Sabzi knows melody. Whether upbeat or solemn the production reflects the mood flawlessly and many of the tracks seeming to come straight from the heart.

If you do buy one US release this year, make it this one. Get it at itunes or at Amazon.

Blogging: The Gift And The Curse pt. 2

Yo peeps, personal message here:

I've been properly inundated with free CD's and mp3's of late and for this I am grateful; big up to all those guys and girls who've been keeping my ears busy. As a result I've got really behind on my album reviews - something I hope to address. I also got married in July so I have a little less time to slob out with rap albums blaring (but by no means is my wife opposed to this!) so that's contributed a bit to the dip in album reviews. Work's pretty busy too so all in all the time I have to give is slimmer than before.

As a result, I've decided to make my reviews really concise - 200 words or so. This should make them easier to read and it also tests my abilities as a reviewer... I'm all about the self progression! I intend to make a dent in the massive pile of CD's this evening so hopefully over the next few days I'll have some reviews to upload.

The last couple have months have seen me questioning the motive behind Certified Banger. It began as a typical blog - I posted music I loved from all genre's - but has now been honed into a site very specifically dedicated to Hip Hop and particularly UK Hip Hop. Many artists and PR guys have reached out to me as the site has grown which has brought me to question my motives. The main question is: 'Am I here to get all UK Hip Hop out there or am I here to let you know which UK Hip Hop is worth it's weight in gold?'.

This is a question that could be re-worded to ask: 'Am I here for the artist or here for the listener?'. I'd like to think the answer is simply 'both'. I want to get UK Hip Hop artists known across the country and across the globe but I don't want to lie about it, if it aint hot, I don't want you spending your money on it and I don't want peeps to tar all UKHH with a bad brush.

I'm in a difficult positition - I want to help hardworking artists and promoters but I also want you to spend your hard-earned on the right stuff and I want everyone to know that the UK can produce the quality Hip Hop that the world needs.

I will always strive to be honest - finding good and bad in everything so that everyone knows the truth.

Congrats to Jack Flash - EOW Champ!

From Hip Hop Village (Cheers!):

On 20th September 2008, Huddersfield emcee Jack Flash took part in, and won the UK final of the End of The Weak rap battle against three other extremely talented English artists. Up against Dubbledge, Arkaic and M9, and with Chester P (Taskforce), Jehst and Reain as judges, it was always going to be a tough competition. Preceding a smashing performance from Immortal Technique, Joell Ortiz and DJ Kid Capri, all competitors showed the nature of the UK's ability to rock the mic.

After some hard fought rounds [including accapella, MC vs. DJ and the grab bag round], Jack Flash eventually took the title with his trademark ferocity and undeniable stage presence. Flash will be competing for the UK against the planets finest emcees in the world EOW final, to be held in London on a date TBC in December.

HHC Tour Leeds Cancelled

This will be going out tonight Blak Twang is 100% on and I'm working to bring some exciting acts up to Leeds for a Saturday night show at the end of Nov / Start December.

We tried, they failed!

So here you have it people, we've tried our damned hardest to bring Hip-Hop Connection and their 20th Anniversary celebrations to Leeds but, for a number of reasons that include a lack of communication, a lack of organisation and a lack of understanding from people who are in the game for only one thing, money. Being the kind of respectful trio we are and to appease others, we moved the date twice but it came to light that even this wasn't enough. So, as a final gentlemanly gesture we changed the date a third and last time (which again wasn't good enough).

We then received emails with threats of 'if I have to, I'll tell this artist and that artist not to play', below the belt childish bully tactics that did nothing but make us hungrier. So we started on a long journey down the winding road called hip-hop politics. Where the days of getting everyone together for a good old beat infused celebration seems to have been replaced with money hungry, self obsessed, child like people who enjoy talking out of their rear end.

Moving on now and we have the farce that is the Anniversary itself.

Just like all of you that kindly, and wisely, bought the event tickets in advance, we thought that this night was going to run rather smoothly. Oh, how wrong could we have been! The flyers have been re-designed twice & sent to print along with a mass of posters and other HHC related goodies.Then, we received an email that Baby J (who had arranged his album launch date to go off in London a good two months ago) was double booked and that Million Dan (who again had this planned a time before the HHC tour) was kickin' it with Baby J on the evening of the launch party which yes, you guessed it, was on the 17th October.

This would have put many a people's nose out of joint but we spoke to each other and decided to plough on through the turmoil and try work out the kinks, after all, we still had Stig of the Dump, Dr. Syntax, Jack Flash and the crowd puller that is Klashnekoff. So we made a trip out on Friday night to watch a good friend in Mr. Thing and his vocal partner Yungun. We gave out flyers to all that were interested and it has to be said, all who weren't. We left at 4am in a very positive frame of mind. Then we awoke to the final knife in the back, the one that has left a scar. We received an email that informed us that Stig and Syntax had pulled out of the Leeds date. Our feelings started with anger but quickly changed to disappointment.

So there you have it, we tried and they failed. We were like 3 hip-hop salmons swimming against the tide… out of pocket and out of patience.

We apologise to all who have been let down, we feel your dissatisfaction and we realise that you, like us, were really looking forward to this event. We have had to pull out now, we have spent so much time and money promoting something that was never meant to be that now we just want to get back to doing what we do best, staying in control and bringing you artists that really want to play for us and you.

Keep it real and watch this space,

Leeds Hip-Hop Scene

Sway Live (It's Back!)

Much thanks to Thomas, the little write up of Sway's appearance in Leeds is back:

Last night I caught Sway performing at the Mint Club, Leeds. After sitting through a couple of hours of mindless R'n'B 'hits' (seriously, I can't even recognise music in that genre as R'n'B now) I managed to get crushed up against the front barrier by a load of screaming girls when Sway hit the stage at around half past midnight.

Sway performed 'This is my Demo' the lead track from his first LP of the same name. He dropped the news that he is now signed officially to Akon's Kon Live label in the US and performed, for the first time, the first verse and chorus of a new track recorded with Akon. The crowd, who are evidently Sway's target audience for collaborations such as this, went generally wild over the whole Akon/Konvict news. I didn't like the track but it'll probably smash in both countries if the adoring female fans are anything to go by.

Sway also performed a new track called 'Taxi' which sounded a little more promising but the best track performed from the new LP was 'Say It Twice' an entertaining concept that Sway pulls off with much aplomb.

Sway and Junior Dcypha also passed out a few physical copies of his new mixtape 'The Signature Mixtape' meant as a promotional tool for the forthcoming 'The Signature LP', now to be released on October 6th. You can get a download of this mix by going to http://www.sway.uk.com/ and filling in your details.

Monday, 29 September 2008

'The A Loop Theory Mix Tape' - Asaviour & DJ IQ (free download)

New hotness from the Hudd's Asaviour: 'The A Loop Theory Mix Tape'. It's mixed by UK Hip Hop wonderboy DJ IQ (who Asaviour is collaborating with on the forthcoming 'The A Loop Theory' album) and 'up and coming Brighton based super producer Hal 1200'.

They've messed around with a whole host of sounds ranging from dubstep (Benga and Skream) to Southern US rap ('Swagger Like Us'). It also includes one of my favourite tunes of this year; 'Beefy' and other tasters of the album.

Go here to see the tracklisting (it features Kyza, TB, Jehst and Apa-Tight) and is totally free. Get yours by clicking here.

for more Saving Grace gratuities check these beasts:

Asaviour - 'The Aim'

Tranquill - 'Deadly Winters' (Produced by DJ IQ)

Ebony Bones- 'We Know All About You' (T-Bear Remix)

Sunday, 28 September 2008

'Park Ranger' - Reps (video)

Saturday, 27 September 2008

How Old Is Estelle?

For all the strange people who type 'How old is Estelle?' into google (happy 10th birthday), here's your answer:

Estelle was born in 1980 (as suggested in her song '1980') on January 18th. This makes her 28 doesn't it?

But seriously, why do people want to know that? Are you thinking of asking her out and just checking to see if she's too old for you or not?

Friday, 26 September 2008

Free Sway Mixtape to Download

After the kind folk at Chilling effects notified blogger that my last post like this supposedly flouts the DMCA (Digital Media Copyright Act) I have no option but to post it again. Thanks for nothing.

So unfortunately the coverage of Sway's live appearance at the Mint club in Leeds is gone forever, sorry about that. If those American University toffs had looked into that post a little further they would have found out that all had been done under the watchful eye of Sway's own PR man.

Sway signs to Akon’s Kon Live label
After months of rumours and speculation, Sway has now officially signed to Akon’s Kon Live label. The multi-album deal applies worldwide with the exception of Europe and the UK where Sway retains his celebrated independence and will continue to release through his own Dcypha Productions outlet. Sway is the first European artist to be signed by five time Grammy nominee Akon and joins the star’s Kon Live and Konvict Muzik roster of talent alongside the highly successful T-Pain, famed for his collaborations with Kanye West and Lil Wayne, singer songwriter Colby O’Donis and Canadian rapper Kardinal Offishall who recently celebrated a Billboard Hot 100 top 10 with Dangerous. The Signature LP release date change

In related news the release of Sway’s new album, The Signature LP, has now been moved back to 6th October. The delay is due to the late addition of Silver & Gold – a collaborative track with Akon that marks the start of Sway’s endeavours with Kon Live and Akon and which was initially held back until contracts were finalised.

Free download – The Signature LP Mixtape
As a thank you to fans and followers for their ongoing support and patience Sway offers up The Signature LP Mixtape. The riotous collection of exclusive tracks, radio clips, skits, freestyles and bootlegs once again demonstrates the North London rapper and producer’s razor-sharp skills and creativity. Highlights include tasters of The Signature LP material (Stereo, Saturday Night Hustle, F UR X, Jason Waste), and collaborations with new British talent Giggs, Styles P, Kardinal Offishall and The Wire star Idris Elba (AKA Stringer Bell). The free download mixtape is available for a limited 2 week period from http://www.sway.uk.com/

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Another Way To Get a Few Free Tracks @ Amie Street

Click here this time and register to get $5 worth of downloads.

Amie Street is a little different to your normal download website. The tracks, when uploaded, are free but the more people download them, the more worth they are given. As the download count goes up so does the price, although each track is capped at 98 cents.

If you're in the US, count yourself lucky, you could download a whole host of albums from UK Hip Hop artists such as TY and Roots Manuva. If you live in the UK and want my recommendation as to what you should buy with your free dollars then look no further than Common Market's masterpiece 'Tobacco Road'. You won't be able to buy the whole thing but if you click on the Common Market link at the bottom of this post there a few tracks there, downloadable courtesy of me and the records label. Those tracks will set you off and you can then download nearly all of the rest of the album!

30 Free Hip Hop Tracks @ Beatsource

Fancy a few free but cheeky downloads? Well for a limited time only clicking here and registering at Beatsource will get you 20 free Hip Hop tracks from the likes of Sway, Showbiz & AG, Masta Ace, DITC, Jaydee, Madvillain, Kidz in the Hall and Foreign Beggars amongst others.

Then, if you're as lucky as I was, they'll send you a little email about getting yourself 10 more free tracks from man like Infinite Livez, Buckshot & 9th Wonder, Marco Polo, The 4orce and more. All that for the fee of zilch. Don't say I never give you anything.

Roots Manuva and The Streets on Jools Holland

So Roots Manuva, DJ MK and Ricky Ranking tore down the Jools Holland show this week alongside a few live musicians and did a fine interpretation of 'Again & Again' which seemed to go down well with the audience. Stick with me and I'll rip the audio cos it's worth a few more listens even without the visuals.

Mr. Safo and Mr. Smith must have made a really good impression; next week Mr. Skinner will be on the show. Now I know he's not strictly UK Hip Hop but he's as close as it gets...and that's three UK MC's on that show in three weeks. When will this madness end? Hopefully never! Hats off to Jools Holland for being consistently fresh!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

'Everything is Borrowed' - The Streets (album review)

Turns out Mike Skinner only pawned his soul sometime during the making of ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’. ‘The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living’ then went on to sell a few copies, leaving Skinner with enough cash to get his soul back from the pop demons. Sounds like he’s pleased with the reunion too; he’s ploughed it all back into his latest LP ‘Everything is Borrowed’, a title which complicates the metaphor further – maybe the soul wasn’t ever his, maybe he’s borrowed it back. Who knows? Just be glad he’s back on form.

His lyrics are introspective, his voice sounds humble once more and even some of the production is a la ‘Original Pirate Material’. Where production differs, Skinner displays punk, folk, modern electro-indie and 30’s Western bar music influences with some openly poppy leanings. The track titles seem to be taken from a phrase dictionary making for interesting subject matter.

'The Strongest Person I Know' doesn't do anything for me but sadly, it'll probably be loved by your everyday radio listener. Mike Skinner shouldn't do singing - he can't (apart from the bit on 'Love You More' when he sings about drawing).

A listening session is a joyous occasion; Mike is innovative 11 times. From the jerky strings of the title track, through the disco funk of ‘Sherry End’ to the anthemic ballad ‘The Escapist’, ‘Everything is Borrowed’ is a leisurely paddle through the cream of musical genres, albeit mixed with that original Streets flavour that we first tasted in 2001.

There seems to be a few videos too, go to The Beats' Youtube page for those.

More UK Rap on Jools Holland - Roots Manuva!

Say wha?! Two UK Hip Hop acts in two consecutive weeks on 'Later with Jools Holland' on the Beeb? Has some programmer gone mad or has some like minded fellow infiltrated the ranks? Maybe it's just Jools himself - a man of fine taste I must say.

Episode 2 in the 33rd series of the show will feature none other than UK don, Roots Manuva. He will be performing tracks (plural - more than one?!) on tonight's showing of 'Later Live...' on BBC2 and BBC HD and on Friday night's 'Later...' show.

Be sure to check it, let those BBC bods know that we want to see our own rap stars on our telly's. Another UK MC for my Dad to add to his database then.

Sway @ Mint Club Tonight (event)

Sway is at the Mint Club tonight (23rd September) in Leeds, not at Leeds University.

Blak Twang Album Showcase - 5th October (event)

Click on the pic to read all the info!

Monday, 22 September 2008

'Hip-Hop Connection Presents Recognition...' - Various Artists (compilation review)

Reviewing a CD without listening to it isn’t standard procedure (for me anyway). But when it’s a compilation CD supposedly containing genre-defining tracks it’s a credit to the compilers that listening isn’t necessary. And what more would you expect from the worlds original rap magazine?

‘Hip-Hop Connection Presents Recognition 20 Years Of Fire-Starting UK Rap Anthems’ is 20 tracks of…well; the title is pretty self explanatory. In roughly chronological order, HHC curates the annals of the art form done Blighty’s way and succeeds in drawing together some of the most influential specimens. (Click here for tracklisting)

As I hinted before, anyone interested in the UK Rap scene will have heard the majority of what’s on offer here, meaning this serves perfectly as an introduction or education to the un-schooled. It also provides perfectly for that car journey when you forgot to burn off your favourite UK tracks onto a compilation CD.

There are one or two surprises; Blak Twang’s ‘08 album cut, ‘How Long’ fills the gap between ‘91’s ‘Son of Noise’ and ‘01’s ‘The Unknown’ by Mark B & Blade - a gap that Twang’s ‘Red Letters’ would have filled perfectly. Or with a little re-sequencing ‘So Rotton’ would have been more than fitting. The last tracks, although good, are probably not the best representatives of the evident creativity of UK Hip Hop’s last couple of years.

If I didn’t have this I’d probably get it, A) for lending to ignorant friends and B) for an effortless stroll through some of the masterpieces of my collection. It’ll be released on 8th of October on the Hip Hop Village label and there’s no doubt everywhere will be stocking this.

'Do What You Like' - Illustrate (video)

If you liked what you heard when I reviewed Illustrate's latest 12" (his track 'Work' is still in the player over yonder), then check out this little video for the track he had on the HHC 'Rising Styles' compilation CD. This was the first time I heard the guy and he's refreshingly on form. This vid is getting serious love from the youtube users too.

Watch out for his album which will be coming soon. Check out Headcount Records for more info.

Dap-C Interview

Certified Banger: Can you tell us your necessary background details so we can build on basics for the rest of the interview? For example: who you are, projects you have worked on, people you have worked with…

Dap-C: My name is Craig Dalziel a.k.a. Dap-C, I’m originally from Newcastle but currently live in the Midlands. I have just released an album with producer Dirty Sweet called ‘Street Karma’ which also features Blak Twang, Skinnyman, Fallacy, Lewis Parker, Geejay, MC Beads, Kid Rad & many more big UK names.

CB: What are your current or upcoming projects? ie albums, singles, tours, guest spots…

Dap-C: I’m releasing the ‘Ma Money EP’ with Lil Wayne on 03/11/08, the EP also features Royce Da 5’9”, Professor Green, S.A.S, Big Cakes, Madnessity, Sabotawj, R.H.BLESS and many more. My solo album ‘Chasing The High’ is due for release March 2009, featuring some massive names from the US. I’m featured on many forthcoming projects such as the new single from Nasty Boi called ‘Wanna Buck’ track also features Madnessity, DJ Grind, Dreno & Drast. We just shot the video for that, the track is on a hype rock tip! I'm also heavily featured on the forthcoming album from producer Stealf, we just shot the video for the first single ‘The Music’ which also features Madnessity, Universon & Lunatrix – watch out for that!

CB: On ‘Street Karma’ you hook up with a nice selection of big UK names, how did that come about?

Dap-C: The whole concept of that album was a big collaboration project, so we reached out to as many UK artists as we could, my favourite track on the album is ‘Music Game’ which features Blak Twang & Geejay – Check out the video on youtube now!

CB: How would you describe your sound? Is there any one track that would best define your style?

Dap-C: My style is pretty versatile, so there isn’t really one track that defines it. On my ‘Chasing The High’ album you will get the full picture of Dap-C’s range, as there’s tracks on the album that aren’t even hip hop, there’s a rock track and even an acoustic ballad on there!

CB: Who have been your biggest musical influences and which Hip Hop artists have inspired you? Which are your favourite albums? What music were you brought up on?

Dap-C: My biggest influences have to be people like Michael Jackson, Axel Rose, Ice T, NWA, Snoop Dogg. Al Green, etc. My favourite albums have to be Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Guns & Roses Appetite For Destruction, both Dre albums, Eminem’s Slim Shady LP, the list could go on forever…

CB: What is your earliest memory of anything Hip Hop related? First rap track heard? First time you rapped?

When I was 11 years old someone gave me a tape, one side was Ice T, the other side was NWA, since that moment I have been addicted to hip hop. First time I rapped was just singing along to those tapes in the early years of high school.

CB: Can you tell us a bit more about the Hip Hop scene in the Midlands or in Newcastle?

Dap-C: I have no interest in the local scenes in either places. I’m more focused on talking about things on a global scale.

CB: On ‘Music Game’ you talk about having to work a normal day job, something most rappers in this country can relate to. What do you think about the Hip Hop scene in the UK, where do you think it’s headed? Are things good/bad? What are your current philosophical thoughts on the current trends in rap music?

Dap-C: There was a time when for many years I had to work a day job and rap in my spare time, but now music is my career it feels kind of surreal that I’m finally able to do this for a living. The UK hip hop scene is getting better and better, year by year, but is is in my eyes still just a scene and not yet an industry, I didn’t realise just how far behind the states we are as a ‘scene’ until I spent some time out there this year!

CB: What process do you go through when writing a track? Do you start with a beat, a concept, a lyric that you thought of in the shower? What happens next?

Dap-C: I normally start with an idea and write as much as I can in my head, then take the idea to a producer and see what they have that fits my idea best, then develop the idea from there. Writing songs to me is an art form and therefore no set formula to it, and if I had a formula that worked every time, there is no way I would share it with you.

CB: Like a job interview… Where do you hope to see yourself in 5 years, 10 years time? Is it an achievable goal?

Dap-C: In 5 years time I’ll be grinding as hard as I do today, but in ten years time I’ll be retired by then as I’ll be nearly 40, so I’ll be doing more stuff on the label side of things.

CB: Any last words?

Dap-C: Check out www.myspace.com/dapc and make sure to check out all the NGU family on my top friends list!

'Saturday Love' ft. Alexander O'Neal - Cherelle (video)

Here's the video and mp3 of 'Saturday Love' the track that Sway flipped for his single 'Saturday Night Hustle' from his forthcoming album 'The Signature LP'. This single was recently performed on the 33rd series of the 'Later... with Jools Holland' show; now even my dad name checks Sway when UK Hip Hop is brought up.

Get to itunes now and purchase the single, the Jukey remixes are nice too for a bit of a dance.

Friday, 19 September 2008

How's life in...Wolverhampton? LATE Interview

Certified Banger: Can you tell us your necessary background details so we can build on basics for the rest of the interview? For example: who you are, projects you have worked on, people you have worked with…

LATE: I grew up on a council estate in the West Midlands as a typical naughty kid. I released my first single ‘UK Sound’ in the group Villains which came out my own label Wolftown Recordings in 1999. I then went on to release the album Villains ‘Welcome To Wolftown’ in the year 2000 and have actively been releasing music ever since. I put together a group called Wolftown Committee with Tricksta and released the album ‘Legendary Status’ in 2002.

I toured the UK with DJ and producer Juttla as well as featuring on hundreds of mixtapes worldwide. I was also the first person to record a posse track with fifty MC’s on it which came out in the UK in 2003. I have recorded with artists from The East coast, The West coast, The Midwest, The South, Canada, Jamaica, France, Germany and all over the UK.

As a DJ I have done official mixtapes with Chamillionaire, Trae, K-Rino, Papoose, Grand Daddy Souf to name a few and I’ve released three underground mixtapes projects; ‘The Villainous One’, ‘An English Man In New York’ and ‘2 Thousand & LATE’.

This year I am getting ready to release my first full-length solo album ‘Below Street Level’ which features Willie D from the Geto Boys, K-Rino, Dope-E, JT the Bigga Figga, plus a few more special guests. The whole album is produced by Tricksta. Both myself and Tricksta have done so much it’s hard to keep track of what we have done; I know when this interview goes live I will remember lots of other achievements!

CB: What are your current or upcoming projects? i.e. albums, singles, tours, guest spots…

LATE: I released my underground CD, LATE ‘2 Thousand & LATE’ at the beginning of 2008. I have also released my debut single LATE ‘I’m A Saint, I’m A Sinner’ which features K-Rino and KB Da Kidnappa, which also features on the Double CD compilation that HHC have just released entitled ‘Recognition – 20 Years’. My main release this year is my solo album ‘Below Street Level’ which drops on October 20th.

CB: You’re from Wolverhampton which has one of the most well known rap scenes outside of London in our country. Can you tell us a bit more about the Hip Hop scene there?

LATE: It’s just like any other city in the UK really, the club scene isn’t a vibrant as it was but there is a lot of talent here.

CB: You’ve worked with a load of Wolftown’s natives but you’ve also worked with quite a few American artists. How did those hook-ups come about?

LATE: I also along with Tricksta run http://www.ragomagazine.com/, so we have made a lot of links. The American artists really understand what we do out here. I love doing collaborations and also get asked to do a lot of collaborations. I guess they understand what I’m doing a lot more.

CB: How important is it that you are having an influence over there? What can you tell us about the scene you are involved in there?

LATE: I work with people all over on the East Coast and the West Coast and I get a lot of love in the South. I’m also a member of the legendary Houston rap organization Southpark Coalition (S.P.C.), and as an independent artist in the UK I think it’s very important to spread your fan base, as it’s very hard to survive in the UK market alone.

CB: How would you describe your sound? Is there any one track that would best define your style?

LATE: My style is Reality Rap. I rap about real life, and what I see, what I think about and situations in the world we live in.

CB: Who have been your biggest musical influences and which Hip Hop artists have inspired you? Which are your favorite albums? What music were you brought up on?

LATE: I love all aspects of hip hop from UK, East Coast, West coast, Midwest and the Dirty South. I don’t have a favorite album because I like different albums for different things. Some times I like deep lyrics sometimes I wanna listen to some hardcore stuff. Sometimes I wanna here some lyrical stuff! I listen to a lot of artists. I listened to a lot of SPC artists like K-Rino and Dope E, and the Geto Boys when I was coming up so it was an honor to work with them on my new album. I was also inspired by independent labels. I like what Master P did and I like how he exploded onto the scene and his whole marketing schemes. I liked labels like Rap-A-Lot Records and Suave House.

CB: What is your earliest memory of anything Hip Hop related? First rap track heard? First time you rapped?

LATE: I got into hip hop around 1983 when I saw the video for Malcolm McLaren ‘Buffalo Girls’. I didn’t really like the song but I liked the graffiti and break-dancing in the video. That made me start tagging and breaking. I wasn’t that much of a break-dancer so I focused on the graffiti side until about 1990 and then I started DJ’ing. I started messing about rapping after I heard the song Ice T ‘High Rollers’ around 1988 but I didn’t do it serious until around 1994/5. Before then I was mainly a DJ playing hip hop.

CB: You have long been a major player in the UK scene and are often named in top lists of singles and albums. What do you feel your role within Hip Hop is other than MC? What do you think about the Hip Hop scene in the UK, where do you think it’s headed? Are things good/bad? What are your current philosophical thoughts on the current trends in rap music?

LATE: Since I got into hip hop all I wanted to do was to promote and be part of the culture and take part in it. I can proudly say I have taken part of the four main elements of hip hop; Breaking, Graffiti, DJ’ing and MC’ing. I think at the moment majors are not interested in UK hip hop, and if they are they want the artists to have a dance floor hit that’s gonna rock the clubs. In any other genre they don’t look for that. Indie bands don’t have to make music that is club friendly and they can talk about the world’s problems and it’s all good but if we do it as UK hip hop artists they don’t want our words heard. It’s like we are a threat. Most UK hip hop is not aimed at the dance floor so we don't get a look in, we just gotta build a healthy scene. UK Hip Hop is mainly working class music, and as working class people we don’t have much money but we have to support the independent scene. If we don’t it will die out and we will have to listen to major label crap that don’t represent us.

CB: What’s your philosophy when making a track? Do you have a concept or a message to get across? Do you want your music to be accessible? Do you want what you’re saying to be clear or abstract?

LATE: Sometimes I have got something to get off my chest and sometimes I will just gel with the beat. Sometimes I will write a song without hearing music and wait till I get the right beat to fit the song. I write in loads of different ways. Of course I want my music heard by as many people who want to hear it, I’m not being abstract though, I’m just being me. I like my music to be understood worldwide, that’s the way I like it.

CB: Any last words?

LATE: Thanks to Certified Banger for taking time out to do this interview and to all my fans that have been buying my music since 1999. Check out http://www.wolftownrecordings.com/ to find out more about me and buy my music and peep all my videos at www.youtube.com/lordlate.

LATE ‘Below Street Level’ is out October 20th 2008 on Wolftown Recordings.

For more information check out www.myspace.com/latewolftown and http://www.wolftownrecordings.com/.

Certified Banger Remake Challenge!

Diddy - Swagga Like Puff

You an MC? You got a sense of humour and don't like P Daddy Puff Diddy Diffy Pudd Duffy Pad, or whatever he's called now?

Here's the instrumental, get composing those comedy lyrics! and don't forget to add one simple word to the title of Diddy's version: 'a'.

Ya get me?!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Sway Backstage Interview for Jools Holland's Later Live

...And here's the link to watch the actual performance. That French bird after aint half bad either.

'Let the Spirit' - Roots Manuva (video)

Easily the best track on 'Slime & Reason' and definitely my favourite, 'Let the Spirit' is choice for the next single from Roots Manuva. Don't let the intro fool you, sit tight for a few seconds and let the loveliness hit you.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Change to HHC Tour in Leeds - 17th October

Changes have been made to the Leeds leg of the Hip-Hop Connection 20th Anniversary Tour. The changes are mainly due to a Leeds promoter (who shall remain nameless) who threw a bit of a wobbly when he discovered what promises to be an amazing night of UK Hip Hop clashed with his night; a Belleruche gig. As a result, the date has changed t0 the 17th of Octoberbut stay tuned to get that confirmation.

Also, Jehst has pulled out of the night due to complications but will be performing at New Bohemia on the 11th of October.

So now, there is no Jehst performance, but in his place Jack Flash is playing alongside Million Dan, Stig of the Dump & Dr. Syntax, Klashnekoff and Baby J is playing host for the night.

Go here to see my original post on this event. Click on the artist's names below to get a taster of what you can expect from this night.

Monday, 15 September 2008

'Sick Day' ft. Craig G - L.G.P (video)

L.G.P. (Lidget Green Project) make the trans-Atlantic leap with the track 'Sick Day'. It features Queens legend Craig G, original Juice Crew member. L.G.P. hails from Boogie Down Bradford, West Yorks - right on my doorstep, and is on DMB records - Defying Musical Boundaries. The frantic hi-hats and the jump-up juddering sample suit the frustration of having to work a soul destroying day job in order to fund ones dreams; the subject of Craig's rhymes.

L.G.P. obviously aim to make the record label's name their mission statement as previous single 'Trusted (Lying B**ch)' featured Guilty Simpson on mic duties. The next release on the label also features Guilty Simpson on a track called 'Guilt Trip' so watch for that.

Both tracks are available on itunes; 'Sick Day' and 'Trusted'.

'The Wizard of Oz' - Ozmosis (free download)

Yes! Someone has done it! Not that I'd ever had the idea but now I've heard it, it seems so right. What am I on about?

Well, this summer, after my wedding, I went on the customary honeymoon. We went to Greek and it was all lovely. Anyway, pretty much every taverna there, every time we ate, played 'Zorba The Greek' and it was unofficially the honeymoon anthem (that and UB40's 'Red Red wine' which previously I was not a fan of). And now Ozmosis on some 'Alphabet Aerobics' type stuff uses 'Zorba The Greek' as a beat as he raps as it picks up pace. Awesome stuff.

The rest of the mixtape sounds pretty awesome too - you can download it free here. He raps over a load of recently famous beats and tunes in true mixtape fashion. But it's not just Hip Hop - Blur's 'Song 2' is in there, a bit of Gnarls Barkley, possibly some Arctic Monkeys and also some Linkin Park. Oh, some Coldplay too. Solid and interesting - one way to get yourself heard.

Ozmosis - Zorba The Greek

'1999' - Infinite Livez vs. Stade

So it's 9 years late but it's flippin' hilarious! Infinite Livez, the charismatic/strange UK MC performs here with his latest partner in the sublime, Stade.

This cover of Prince's classic '1999' is just the perfect tonic for a boring day at work. Get a load of it in the player to your right!

Together Infinite Livez and Stade have recorded two albums: 'Art Brut Fe De Yoot' and 'Morgan Freeman's Psychedelic Semen'. On his own (assissted by hand puppet Barry Convex) he recorded the classic 'Bush Meat' in 2004.

Hows Life in...Birmingham? SonnyJim Interview

Certified Banger: Yo SonnyJim, can you give us the low down on yourself? Tell us who you are, where you're from, what you're about. How would you describe yourself?

SonnyJim: Yaggo yo. I’m a vocalist/producer from Birmingham UK. I’m signed to Dented Records, own another label with a few other people called Eat Good Records, I’ve put out bare music in the past and im often off the radar, but not for long. I got a mix CD out on 22.09.08 and it’s the dog’s bollocks.

CB: …And can you give us a brief summary of your achievements in Hip Hop so far. It can be your discography, your guest spots, your favourite shows or even the best thing someone's ever said about you!

SJ: Discog is too long to list and grows daily, literally. Check the Dented website for a full discog. I’ve done all sorts of s**t, did a track with ex-gangster Mark Chopper Read in Australia, shouts to my boy Wayne Lotek for the link. To be honest I haven’t done half the stuff that I want to do, yet but I’m slowly getting there. Features wise, I’ve worked with Chopper, Lotek, Mobo winner Soweto Kinch, Foreign Beggars, Stig, Jehst, Moorish Delta 7, DJ Woody, the list goes on. I’m lucky to have linked some seriously talented heads.

CB: At what point in your rap career do you consider yourself to be? Have you achieved everything you want to yet? What's the business plan if there is one?

SJ: The plan is too build the label Eat Good Records; we got a very solid team right now. Were putting in the ground work and once we got our foot in the door everyone is going to be forced to fall back. No big talk, I just believe the people I got, in the right setting were pretty unf**kwithable. At what point of my rap career do I consider myself to be at? I don’t know, when you’re coming up you think that there will be one point that will change everything. It aint really been like that its just constantly keeping things moving and slowly but surely getting closer to doing what we do full time, one day. Hopefully. Not holding my breath though.

CB: What's the transition between battle rapper to recording artist like? Does it give you the chance to explore new areas of creativity? Does it require a different mindset?

SJ: I never considered myself a battle rapper, it was just another side to my repertoire, and it was something else other people decided to tag me with... but coming back to the question, yes it requires a different mindset. To be completely honest, I’m not a fan of the studio, I mean we got our own lab and I spend at least half the week of every week there, recording, so yeah it takes its toll, im a perfectionist so when I cant get s**t right in the studio I get irritated mad quick.

CB: What's the Hip Hop scene like in Birmingham? Do you consider it to be an area bursting with talent? Are there any names you can recommend?

SJ: It’s got a massive talent pool but everyone’s on their own thing; there is no rap community. Artists wise we’ve got Malik, Lost Generation, Soweto Kinch, MSI and obviously the Eat Good roster; Kosyne, Redbeard, Taharka, SK. We got some serious producers as well; Kelakovski, EyeBS, R2thebeatz... lots of talent but no outlet.

CB: Your mix-CD 'Trading Standards' is out soon. On it you clearly rally against what is considered by the uneducated masses as Hip Hop. What exactly is it that you don't like about the 'Hip Hop' that misguides these people?

SJ: I mean, there’s a market for everything y’know, but for me the situation’s f**ked when I feel to not bother telling people outside of the music that I’m an MC, ‘cause if they don’t know the coo the first thing they do is some funny hand movements and go “yoyo, yoyo” or some s**t - we are really badly stereotyped and its a problem.

CB: Keeping things up-to-date and topical, what do you think of the recent success of Lil' Wayne? Do you like the moves he's making? Do you like the music he's making?

SJ: Yeah I’m a Lil’ Wayne fan. ‘Lollipop’ is a bad tune, I don’t give a f**k. I think Wayne is one of the best in the game right now and he’s a far better lyricist than people give him credit for. But I can see why people be hating on him. Some people want music with a message that’s all good but I like ignorant music as well... but yeah, Wayne is one of my favourite rappers right now and I think as far as a rapper in the mainstream goes he’s really keepin it real. Dude does interviews high on sizzurp with a f**kin’ foam cup in his hand - that shit is real - goin’ on to Westwood mashed out of his box, I mean that shit is not only funny to me but its a breath of fresh air when you got other rappers in the mainstream who are far too worried about their precious image being tarnished.

CB: 'Trading Standards' clearly shows you have some big names supporting you. How does it feel to be alongside some of today's UK Hip Hop heroes?

SJ: It’s good but I really knew it was only a matter of time before I linked certain people, its just a case of real recognise real y’know. There was a few people that I wanted to work with so I got at them and that was it - no one was really on a long ting as far as the features went. But it wasn’t like I decided to make a mixtape and get all these different rappers on it, a lot of these songs were just music that I’d made over a period of time and they ended up being used for this project. But yeah, some of these artists are really sick, so yeah, back to your question, yeah it’s good, but most of the rappers on the CD are my bredrins.

CB: Who are your influences, musical or otherwise? What are you favourite rap tracks or LP's? Which era of Hip Hop do you consider to be the best?

SJ: Influence wise I just draw shit from everywhere, anything and everything. LP’s, maybe, Common ‘Like Water For Chocolate’ - I mean I got lots of old s**t that I still bang on the regs but that Common record - I remember that point in my life when I was doing some madness and I was always on foot and I had that CD playing everywhere I went, so yeah, when I bump that s**t it brings back alot of memories, I thinks Common is probably my favourite rapper off the back of that LP. Era in hip hop for me? Probably like ‘98 – ‘02.

CB: What's the best thing about being an MC? Which thoughts keep you going when things get you down?

SJ: For me it’s an outlet. A release, something to occupy my mind. Well that’s what it was, it ends up taking over and ruling above all else so, I don’t know there’s not really a best thing about being an MC, everyone thinks they’re an MC nowadays.

CB: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Is there anything else you'd like to add? Any plugs, thank yous? A funny rap related anecdote perhaps?! Any important advice for anyone?

SJ: No doubt, thank you for your time too and safe for doing a review of my new CD on your site. Plugs: Dented Records/Eat Good Records, check the websites - bare s**t on there, check the Eat Good youtube profile - bare videos on there of me and the team. Just want to give people a quick heads up on the other ish I got dropping soon, an EP with my boy Apa-Tight, an Eat Good compilation album out before the end of the year and a 12” produced by Illmind and M-Phazes plus my album will be done next year, featuring Prince Po, Foreign Beggars, Kyza, Jehst and many more. That’s it folks. Thank you for reading and remember to cop the ‘Trading Standards’ mixtape 22.09.08 in all good record stores and online.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Blogging: The Gift and The Curse pt.1

Since Sitemeter is moving house and I couldn't get my ego-feeding hit of how many people are coming to my page I was just checking out how I'm doing on the Music Blog Toplist. I'm currently 218th. Not bad considering it runs all the way to 2387 - that's top 10% innit?

Anyway, I went through the listings, looking at all the Hip Hop blogs charting higher than me. I was expecting to find some quality sites - after all they are 'beating' me stats wise. What I found was 20 or so clone blogs peddling stories of Gucci Mane's incarceration, T-Pain and Ne-Yo's latest mp3's and free (illegal) album downloads.

If I was interested in providing the people of this world with the same thing that someone else was providing then I suppose my blog could be more 'successful'. If I wanted to read stories on other websites only to recycle them on my own blog then I guess my blog would get more hits. If I posted every single mp3, video, news item, album that littered my inbox everyday then I could be reaching the heady heights of the first page of the Music Blog Toplist. But to do this would be a compromise.

I, as a fan and a blogger, am 'tarred' with the very same brush as the music I seek to expose and represent. Take a look at those top sites again (or don't, you'll only give them more hits), what do you see with their Flo-Rida free downloads, their Lil' Wayne mp3's and their identical links to some R'n'B bird featuring Ludacris track? What is evident in their news stories of Kanye's Bail, their Skull Gang exclusives and their horrific advertising? I don't know your answer but mine is this: I see conformity, I see blindness and all in all, I see drivel.

These bloggers are relying on the fickle minds of people fed radio hit after mtv video by some higher power, a higher power who dictates what will sell. If something gets that much exposure, of course it can be pumped into the minds of the masses. The fashion industry works in much the same way. Somewhere, some weirdo's in a room decide what will be in in which season. They design the stuff, they put it in the shops and people have no choice, no choice but to buy it - there is nothing else! Most people who don't actively seek music are force fed what someone else deems suitable for their auditory diet. Of course it sells, there appear to be no other options.

Obviously there are other options, which is where blogs like Certified Banger come into play. We present other options, we don't give choice, we provide an alternative. Certified Banger gives you the chance to listen to something else, namely Hip Hop and specifically, more often than not, UK Hip Hop. Which is a problem. Despite the fact we offer this music, there are not sufficient amounts of people actively seeking this music. And why? Because they're not told to.

The Hip Hop bloggers holding up that first 10% of the Music Blog Toplist are not offering anything of much worth to the internet user. Sure, they offer all the latest downloads, but at the end of the day the only reason they offer them is because they've been conditioned to do that by demand. They don't do anything out of the ordinary.

These bloggers, groupies in a Hip Hop world of high life, want in some way to gain what their 'heroes' have - fame, their name in lights. I know this myself - I like to see the hits my blog gets, I like to know someone came searching for something and found it in my provision - it gives me a sense of reward. At one point I was very obsessed with getting more hits and constantly posted mp3 links so as to be featured on the Hype Machine as often as possible. This is why they do it - it's their bit of recognition in this world of superstardom - but recognition for what?

I'd rather be recognised by a few than by the masses who simply take what they want and leave. I can safely say that through honing Certified Banger to what you see now, I have begun to feel a different fulfilment, a better fulfilment. People who also love what I post come here and enjoy it. It becomes a name they will (and do) return to. I've gained contact with like-minded people. I've been privileged to receive music from the artists who I listen to and respect. I've been welcomed into the UK Hip Hop community (well, I feel I have) as a (very small, admittedly) part of it's workings. Have those top 50 Hip Hop bloggers gained that honour in their area of reportage? I very much doubt it. And by posting their samey posts devoid of commitment and belonging, they'll get their hits, oh yes, but they wont ever be more than simple spectators in their chosen field.

The proof is very much in the proverbial pudding. Look at that list, look through the blogs. Which specialist Hip Hop blog is the highest in that chart? Certified Banger. Despite limiting myself to a sub-genre, a sub-genre created in a country the size of a ten pence piece CB is up there. It's the highest-rating UKHH blog out there. I'll stick to my corner, thanks. I'll continue to represent my niche because there are evidently people who appreciate and need what I provide.

Whew, who needs stats when you can blow your own trumpet like that? Sorry! Leave a comment and totally harangue me - I probably really deserve it!

Friday, 12 September 2008

'Go Hard' - Sway (free download)

Get yourself over to that man Sway Dasafo's myspace and grab this freestyle for yourself, taint really a freestyle and is probably all the more better for that!

He chats about shopping his music round loads of US labels and not getting anywhere with them. Hope they kick themselves pretty hard sometime soon.

'Go Hard' is Sway back on fine form and showing support for some of the more Hip Hop Grime acts floating around in the UK nowadays.

Check it in the flash player to the right or go download it yer sen.

Sway Update

Sway’s musical magic will be beamed into the front room of millions next week thanks to a performance on the BBC’s flagship music programme Later With Jools Holland. Sway’s debut on the show will see him ably assisted by fellow North-Londoner Lemar for a live version of current single Saturday Night Hustle. Later airs live at 10.00pm on Tuesday, and again at 11.35pm on Friday.

Sway is also set to return to the live domain in full effect with the UK dates listed below. The shows will be the first chance to catch Sway performing material from his forthcoming album, The Signature LP, and include a special one-off launch party on 2nd October at London’s Embassy nightclub.

In other news, Sway picked up his fourth MOBO nomination in 3 consecutive years this week with his inclusion in the award’s Best UK Male category. To vote for Sway, click here.

Live dates:

Sat 20th Sept. Carnival, Stoke on Trent.
Tue 23rd Sept. Leeds University, Leeds. 

Wed 24th Sept. Manchester Met University, Manchester. 

Mon 29th Sept. SOAS University Freshers Party, London 

Thu 2nd Oct. Embassy nightclub, London. ALBUM LAUNCH PARTY. 

Tue 7th Oct. Fez Club, Cambridge. 

Thu 9th Oct. The Old Fire Station, Bournemouth. 

Mon 13th Oct. Loughborough Uni, Loughborough. 

Thu 16th Oct. Junk Club, Southampton.
Thu 23rd Oct. Westminster University, London. 

Fri 24th Oct. Route Nightclub, Colchester. 

Tue 28th Oct. Matter, o2, London. 

Fri 31st Oct. Norwich Arts Centre, Norwich. 

Fri 21st Nov. Warwick University, Warwick.
Mon 24th Nov. Matter, o2, London.
Fri 28th Nov. Stealth, Nottingham

Thursday, 11 September 2008

'Baby Food' - Baby J (album review)

From the opening out-of-tune bars of ‘If I Could Do It All Again’ through to the rambling ‘Midlands Anthem’ one can’t help feeling disappointed with ‘Baby Food’. Sure, the album has its good moments, but for someone considered a pro, it’s awfully amateurish.

The ‘100% Sample Free’ approach was an admirable idea but, you know, if it aint broke, don’t fix it. Some of Baby J’s usual vibe is captured on this new record; his ear for a catchy tune and his ability to attract good guests are the evident remainders of his past work.

Singles ‘Lies’ and ‘Wake Up’ have obvious crossover appeal and are the more polished fruits of Baby J’s labour. ‘Love and Peace’ featuring Task Force’s Farma G and some school kids suit the low level production whereas other tracks come off at best as sounding ‘homemade’. Belfast MC Jun Tzu provides a welcome stroke of genius madness with ‘Wee Jonny’.

Had Baby J stuck to sampling for this release, whilst refining his new formula for future ventures, I’m sure my words would have differed. As it stands, traditional ingredients are out of the window leaving not a sour taste, but one lacking in flavour.

SonnyJim Update & Links

Click here to download a SonnyJim mixtape snippet.

Click here to download a SonnyJim radio slot with Sarah Love.

To pre-order your copy of the Trading Standards CD click this link:

SonnyJim - Trading Standards pre-order

Click here to remind yourself about what I said about this release.

Click here to find out about the release party if you're in Birmingham on Saturday the 20th of September.


Wolftown Update

As usual the Wolftown crew are on their grind. The latest offering from their midland camp is the '100% Exclusive Mixtape & DVD'. It features tracks from everyone you'd expect: 10Shott, Tricksta, Late, Size8, Conman and Jai Boo. It also features tracks from artists recently taken uner the Wolftown wing and other up and coming UK artists. This essentially is the latest in the 'UK Runnings' series and so far they've all been fire.

As the name suggests, it also comes with a DVD featuring interviews and music videos by Blak Twang, Million Dan, Conman, Jabba Tha Kut, Late, Jai Boo, Size8 & 10Shott and more. Check back here to find out more about what I think of this CD once I hear it.

Meanwhile, you can be checking out the plethora of other recognisably presented Wolftown releases from this year:

Hip Hop Kemp Mixtape (free download)

Hip Hop Kemp, the 3 day Hip Hop festival in the Czech Republic is over now and if like me, you didn't go (thinks: Summer Hols next year?) then you can download a mixtape that features a load of the big tracks from it, some being Certified Banger favourites. Favourites namely being Jack Flash, Skreintax and Stig of the Dump.

You can visit the website to find out more about what went on and who performed. There are all sorts of photos to look at, quality photos I must add and you can check out the low ticket prices as a means of tempting yourself next year.

Download it here. The tracklist goes a little something like this.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Hows Life In...Huddersfield? Jack Flash Interview

Jack Flash, West Yorkshire's newest star, took time out of a seriously busy schedule to answer a few questions on his music, his hometown and himself:

Certified Banger: Can you tell us your necessary background details so we can build on basics for the rest of the interview? For example: who you are, projects you have worked on, people you have worked with…

Jack Flash: I’m Jack Flash; MC, producer, performer, intellectually dope artist from Huddersfield UK. I just released ‘The Union Jack Album’, my debut joint! I’ve previously been featured on DJ IQ’s ‘Live From The Sofa’ and Jehst’s ‘MengiBus Mixtape’, I released my own mixtape ‘Calm Before The Storm’ and I got a live band called Extra Curricular as well!

CB: What are your current or upcoming projects? ie albums, singles, tours, guest spots…

JF: Currently I’m promoting ‘The Union Jack Album’, there’s a single we are pushing off that at the moment called ‘Intoxicating’ featuring singer Thabo. There will be a video available shortly (actually been shooting today) and I got a nice little tour sorted. I’m part of the Hip-Hop Connection 20th Anniversary tour and I’ve got some dates with my band as well. Check my myspace.com/jackflashgroundwurq to see where to be!

CB: You’re from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. What has the Hudd got to offer Hip Hop wise? Can you tell us a bit more about the Hip Hop scene there? How important are people like Jehst and Asaviour (who feature on ‘Sleepy Little Town’) for the heads in Huddersfield?

JF: The scene is close to non-existent sometimes. Not to say that there isn’t people MCing or breaking or DJing but there’s a lack of unity between Hip Hop lovers in Hudds as far as making a scene happen goes. The nights are few and far between and when they do happen you would expect everyone who says they are into Hip Hop to turn up but not everyone does! Those that do in my eyes play an active part in giving a scene life, But I don’t want to be negative about it so id say there is a good MUSIC scene up here and as Hip Hopppers it benefits us to integrate into that and broaden our horizons.

Jehst and Asaviour are influential and were to me especially but the UK is such a small place it really makes no sense to draw boundaries in between towns and cities that are so close, the scene should spill out up north and id love to see Manc heads and Sheffield heads at one of our nights and visa versa.

CB: As an MC from outside of London what do you think about the Hip Hop scene in the UK? How do you think the rest of the country fits into the London-centric nature of the scene?

JF: End of the day people respond to good music regardless of where it’s from. Perhaps the biggest problem in the scene is not where the music comes from but everyone’s obsession with where it comes from. London is dope, and if that’s where you have to travel to get the best reviewed shows or the best business links, so be it! That doesn’t change where the artist originally came from. In Britain everywhere isn’t that far away from everywhere else.

CB: What made you want to get into Hip Hop in the first place? What have you been through to get here?

JF: It was a love that got me straight away and something I connected with so much in my teens. As it grew it found a way into my daily life, as I backtracked and learned about the culture I found Hip Hop (when practised correctly) to be one of the only honest things in life! MCing is a marriage of intelligence, rhythm, vocal expression and music which seemed so raw and real I had to do it! But I could write all day about why I got into Hip Hop!

CB: Jack Flash seems to be a very human person, displaying a range of emotions and thoughts. For example, you have quite vicious battle type raps and more reflective tracks. How important to you and your musical output is it to be so multidimensional?

JF: Yeah, very important. It’s something I considered consciously when collating the tracks for my album. I didn’t want it to be an album with 15 versions of the same song, I feel like if you’re a true MC, you should be able to display a range of verses and moods of tracks and there shouldn’t be a topic you can’t handle. If someone me what id consider as one of my strongest points id say ability to be diverse in concept but consistent in quality.

CB: Who have been your biggest musical influences and which Hip Hop artists have inspired you? Which are your favourite albums? What music were you brought up on?

JF: I am a big fan of the production from DJ Premier, Pete Rock, J Dilla, HiTek, Large Pro, 9th Wonder, Mr Porter, and the MCing of Talib, Mos Def, Black Thought, KRS, Jehst, Blak Twang, Big Pun, Big L, nothing out of the ordinary but its such good s**t! Really influential Hip Hop albums have been Gangstarr – Moment Of Truth, Reflection Eternal – Train Of Thought, Fugees – The Score. I was brought up on wide range of music, my mum was always into soul like Diana so there was a lot of that growing up. My dad had more rock influences but they always met in the middle, I guess that’s kind of reflective in my choice of beats!

CB: What’s your favourite rap style – Wordplay? Battle? Boast? Metaphorical? Punchline? Life lyrics? Do you think the choice of rap style and lyrical content has an effect on the audience a rapper gets?

JF: Yeah it probably defines that audience a rapper gets. You don’t get too many people who have a Jedi Mind Tricks CD next to a Souljah Boy CD in their collection. Not to say that some rappers don’t bridge gaps in their audience and have two or more demographic of fans bumpin their shit! I don’t really have a favourite style, my rule for what im writing is whatever come up, comes out!

CB: Your crew, Groundwurq, are also getting noticed, especially Apa-Tight as he is producing for a few current UK MC’s. Who is involved? What can we expect from you and them in the near future?

JF: Groundwurq is a collective of MCs and producers that is growing. At the heart of it is myself, Apa-Tight ( who is absolutely crazy wi’ the beats!, and it nicely getting his name out with some MCs, check the new Sir Smurf Lil album) and J Simple. Micall Parknsun is affiliated as well as Jaisu. Everyone’s doing their solo things at the minute, J Simple is looking to drop an EP in the coming months, apa-tight is working on his own LP and a collective album will happen when its ready to do so!

CB: You also tour with a live band. What is your motivation for making that happen? Do you think that aesthetic is lacking in Hip Hop? Do you think you might do a full album with them? Maybe a remix of ‘The Union Jack album’ since their remix for ‘Intoxicating’ is so excellent.

JF: Thank you, I’ve only flirted with the idea of doing a remix album, we have a couple of the other tracks on there prepared, but it has run through my mind! Extra Curricular happened as a sort of lets get a few good musicians together in Huddersfield that all feel Hip Hop and have a jam. Everyone has their own projects going on outside of this, hence the name Extra Curricular, but then we worked songs out of the jams, and got a couple gigs and then decided to integrate my album in with it seen as though I’m promoting that now and before you know it we were taking it as seriously as every other project we are doing. I think it opens a live show up as far as ability to jam a bit but I wouldn’t really say its missing in Hip Hop. It does kind of legitimise a rapper to a different crowd though, as fucked up as it is, more people who would have never checked you before will do because you have a band there!

CB: Any last words?

JF: RIP to Daniel ‘Wize’ Cox. Peace to the listeners and the reader!

'Judgement Day' - The Thunderclaps (video)

Here's the video to the apocalyptic 'Judgement Day' featuring Orifice Vulgatron, Ghetto and Shameless. It features loads and millions and then some more clips of your favourite films. You should watch it and spot them all. I think even the guy off the anti-piracy ad makes an appearance!

'Saturday Night Hustle' ft. Lemar - Sway (video)

Here's the video to Sway's poptastic new track, the lead single from the forthcoming 'Signature LP' ("out very soon", or so he said in January!). It features Lemar, pretty much the UK's biggest male R'n'B voice and it'll be criminal if this doesn't find itself pumping through housewives' radios up and down old Blighty.

If you get mixed up whilst you watch the video, Lemar is the one with thinner eyes. Remember Sway's lyric on 'Harvey Nicks' by The Mitchell Brothers? "A little girl with a pen ran up to me and said I know who you are//But when I gave her my autograph she said 'mum, is this how you spell Lemar?'".

Sway remains his good entertaining self, true to form despite the bubblegum leanings of this track. I'm not too cool to hate on this and neither should you be. Get gearing for the album!

Check his myspace, especially for the Jukey remix, better than the original? Maybe.

Rappers Prepare For Picnic

GZA, when not dissing 50 Cent, it can be exclusively revealed, loves taking a ride into the countryside with a wicker basket strapped to the back of his classic motor. Once his chequered cloth is spread in some shady spot and once he's taken out his 'Paper Plates', he'll ring fellow rappers and ask them to bring along items to make his picnic better.

This week GZA will be mainly inviting Rapper Big Pooh, Joe Scudda and Chaundon to his little outdoor feast. They'll be bringing the 'Plastic Cups'. The video is produced by the late great J Dilla and the track is off of the highly anticipated mixtape Rapper's Delight which will be available Thursday on URB.com for FREE!

Disposable crockery y'all!

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Regional Accent Awards

Check out my man Tom's new blog - http://theraas.blogspot.com/.

It seeks to correctly recognise those Brits who have an accent, are proud of it and champion it all across the world in the media.

The categories are as follow: Best male accent, Best female accent, Best newcomer, Biggest flip-flop, Fakest/Most put-on accent and Best overall regional accent.

The big award is:

The Sean Bean award for outstanding achievement in the field of regional accent promotion.

Get yourselves over there right now and innundate him with nominations of Brit rappers with broad accents.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Stig Of The Dump, Dr Syntax, The Last Skeptik, Marvin the Martian and Akira the Don To Play New London Festival

Shoreditch Shuffle is a new event covering all sorts of interesting things like 'old, current and new talent across the realms of music, fashion, art, short film, comedy and poetry & literature'.

You, the reader will possibly be interested in Akira the Don and Marvin the Martian both being Hip Hop acts and you'll be also interested to know that Stig of the Dump, Dr Syntax and The Last Skeptik will playing - those would be the shows I'd get to.

The Shoreditch Shuffle takes place on the 13th and 14th of September 2008. Tickets are £20 for one day and £30 for the weekend from these dudes: http://www.ticket-text.com/ and you can keep up-to-date on the happenings at the Shoreditch Shuffle blog.

Event - 17th October 2008 - HHC 20th Anniversary Tour, Leeds

Hip-Hop Connection magazine are celebrating their 20th anniversary this Autumn.

For the first time ever, the world's longest running hip-hop magazine Hip-Hop Connection will go on tour. With a line-up designed to attract all spectrum's of hip-hop fans, this tour is set to be one of the most historically important events in British Hip-Hop. Leeds Hip Hop Scene have teamed up with the longest hip hop magazine in the world to bring a special one off gig at the Wardrobe in Leeds on 17th October 2008.

The night will feature an all-star team of UK Hip-Hop artists, Million Dan, Jehst, Stig Of The Dump, Dr Syntax, Klashnekoff and hosted by Baby J.

The night is guaranteed to have crowd participation, featuring an open mic emcee battle hosted by Million Dan and product giveaways (free artist merchandise, free copies of Hip-Hop Connection, free CDs, free Puma goodies, free LHHS gear and much much more).

50 Special Advanced Tickets for £10 from here will be available from 9am Monday 8th September 2008.

Further Tickets will go on sale later in the month via Jumbo Records in Leeds, and if that wasn't enough for you we have Blak Twang performing at the Wardrobe in Leeds November 2008 look out for more info!!

See you there!!

Saturday, 6 September 2008

'It's All Love' ft. Micall Parknsun - Joker Starr (free download)

After posting a link to his free mixtape Mr. Starr himself got in touch with me with this exclusive track.

Anyone who wants this spaced out, thumping slice of classic-but-new, Micall Parknsun featuring, love-praising UK rap can just email Joker at jokerstarr@hotmail.com and ask him for it. He'll send it to you alright.

Now excuse me whilst I go play this track, kick back, close my eyes and think about how awesome real love really is.

'Work' - Illustrate (12" review)

First off, big up to Headcount Records for being the first to send me vinyl to review - that's the realness right there.

Illustrate is a one man music machine; producing, rapping and scratching in varying combinations. Having already released his EP 'Bedroom Production' and the mix CD 'Get the Picture' he has dropped this quadruple A-side 12" as a taster of what's to come on his album 'The Stuff' to be released this October. He also featured on the Rising Styles compilation, free with HHC, with his excellent track 'Do What You Like'.

'Work is what this song is about' says Ollie Bates on the chorus to 'Work'...so he gave it an apt name then. Over a slightly melancholy guitar-picked but lively-drummed beat Illustrate spits verses that you can hear and understand. With natural delivery and seemingly effortless rhyme patterns Illustrate speaks to the masses. 'Work' sees a classic story rap interweaved with thoughts about the world of 9 to 5ing and being an aspiring musician.

'My Hat' follows the theme of giving tracks obvious names; it's about Illustrate's cap. You may think that's corny, you may think it's a refreshing serving of genius - either way, I've never heard another track like it. Over a classic Premo-ish beat Bates raps lyrics like 'It's been snatched and grabbed, packed in bags//Stamped and hanged you could say this hat's had it bad//Manufactured in a factory then wrapped and crammed in box then sent to a shop in the back of a van//Then I bought it and snapped off the tag...". Fresh.

'Sweet Dream', produced by DJ Tigerstyle, is a broken beat led track with a scratched K-Os vocal on the chorus. Illustrate outlines his ideal world, so highlighting all the evil that is actually present on this sphere. 'Winter Lady' is a slow paced obituary built upon Mike Hostile's snare rolls and phased piano chords and synth choirs. Illustrate tells the sad story of a down-and-out junkie, and with real emotion in his voice he demonstrates his ability to affect the listener.

Above all this 12" exhibits Illustrate's all round versatility. The beats differ, the topics differ vastly and as a result the mood differs from track to track. If Illustrate's (also an apt name; this guy paints the clearest pictures) forthcoming long player follows this pattern he'll have a highly lauded piece of work on his hands, I'm sure of that. The 'Work' 12" was a satisfying listening experience - Illustrate harbours the energy and ideas of someone willing to do what they like - this is the Hip Hop I love.

'Work' is out now on Headcount Records and is available at places like Suspect Packages.