Sunday, 30 December 2007

New Sway Mixtape Coming Soon

According to (one of) Sway´s myspace page(s), there will be a free mixtape to download in January! This is something I´m looking forward too and so should you. Here are two tracks, one is a remix of Bashy´s ´Black Boys´.

Sway - My Sword
Sway - Black Stars

*Zshare link re-upped*

Holiday Snaps

Just to turn this into a travel blog for a hot minute (and to show off that I learnt to surf in 2 hours) I´m going to put these pictures up!

Happy New Year

Here I am, blogging from Brazil. Sorry if it seems like I fell off completely but I´ve been having a holiday, forgive me for that! I am flying back today and will be arriving in Britain tomorrow; New Years Eve. It seems best to post this up now so I don´t have to think about doing it as soon as I get back so apologies for the earliness.

Happy New Year Everyone!

To all my regular readers - thanks for the support. I didn´t think that this would get so big when I started it! Thanks to all the artists who have contributed music and interviews and the like; I hope my support counts.

This is Supar Novar´s track ´New Year Starting´and it´s got a real feel good, postive vibe. This tune will definitely see me through January as a favourite. It features Certified Banger favourite 10Shott, 2008 should be his year if everything goes to plan and he has more chan ce than anyone else to claim it. Support him; get the download of the first single, go to a show, buy the second single (but be prepared to be choked up, ´Tin Soldiers´is heart-rending stuff) and buy the album when it comes out. From what I know already I can´t see it being anything but my album of the year!

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Bashy - Black Boys remixes and video

One of the biggest tunes from this end of the year has got to be 'Black Boys' by Bashy. I've posted this track before but since then there has been an abundance of remixes and a video shoot. If you were to listen to all of the remixes you'd hear verses from the very cutting edge of UK Hip Hop and Grime. You could hear Ty, Wretch 32, Durrty Goodz, Skepta, Swiss, Sincere, Nolay, Chipmunk, Dynamite, Reggie Yates, Scorcher, Ghetto, J2K, Alaye, Big Narstie, Bigz, Mike GLC, Styla and more! Rumours of the inclusion of L.Man, Skinnyman, Klashnekoff and Lethal B are also flying around although I've not heard these ones yet!

According to Ed Strong of The IRS the video has been banned from MTV because it is apparently too racist. So it's focussed mainly on black role models but as a white person I don't feel like I'm being racially discriminated against. If I can say this, massive companies like MTV should be supporting stuff like this. Everyone is always complaining about the negative effect of 'Urban' music on the youth of our country. The basis of this song is that there are positive role models who aren't glamourising gun culture, drug peddling, misogyny and the like. Artists like this are who the youth need, it is ridiculous that they are banning this and still playing the Snoop vids, the G-Unit vids and the Dipset vids. Someone with absolutely no grip on reality must be in charge of the playlist at MTV. Is the word 'Black' still such a negative thing? Are ignorant people stilled scared of it?

support blackboys

Bashy also features on the excellent remix of 'Punctuation' by Wretch 32 alongside Shameless and Scorcher. It's so good to see young UK blood doing something creative. UK artists, especially young up-and-coming ones are still relying too heavily on the street narrative, grimey life tales kind of lyrics. Punctuation is an innovative way for Bashy et al to say "I'm great". The very nature in which they do this supports their message; they are great because they have come up with concept and pulled it off very well. This is one of my favourite tracks this year full stop.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Wretch 32 - Punctuation remix ft. Bashy, Shameless & Scorcher.mp3
Bashy - Black Boys remix ft. Durrty Goodz & Ty.mp3
Bashy - Black Boys remix ft. Wretch 32, Scorcher & Ghetto.mp3

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Interview - Inertia

Artists' name, involvement in the UK hip hop scene?
Matt Inertia. Been a rapper/producer for the last 7 years. In the process of setting up Lancaster based record label Cash Cow Records. Been performing in and around the North West for the last 5 years. Released first album in 2006 – Money and Soul. Used to be in “The Band that Time Forgot” and performed with them all over the North West.
Been producing tracks for various North West artists for the last 5 years.

What was your earliest recollection of being exposed to hip-hop?
My earliest recollection of hip hop was at about the age of 8, or maybe 9, when me and a couple of mates used to blast an MC Hammer tape. The first album I ever bought was Vanilla Ice “To The Extreme”, its embarrassing to mention it now but at least I was on the right track! After that the next tape I owned was a rap collection (I think it was “100% RAP!”). It had loads of cheesy pop/rap hits but also featured some legends like Tribe Called Quest and Run DMC. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I really got into hip hop. I was well into the skating scene when I was about 14 and all the skate vids we’d buy always had sick soundtracks. The first time I ever heard Guru was “Respect the Architect” on a skate video, loved it more than the skating!

Which artists did you admire in the early days of your career?
In the early days of my career I focussed mainly on what I thought were well produces beats. I used to analyse anything by DJ Muggs, Dangermouse and Premo. I remember me and friends analysing the “fatness” of Premo tracks trying our hardest to figure out the dynamics of his beats and what he was doing to get things so chunky. I never knew who most of the UK tracks I listened to were produced by. I just knew them as tracks by rappers like; Skinny Man, Braintax, Mystro, Rodney P and Fallacy. As I became more clued up with the British scene I started looking at what UK producers were doing. People like Vadim, Skitz and Lewis Parker used to get analysed to hell and back.

How were you exposed to the UK scene?
My first exposure to the UK scene was the Mark B and Blade album “The Unknown” that was the first British hip hop album I heard, when I was about 18. Up until hearing that I didn’t even know there was a UK scene. That album pointed me towards artists such as Skinny Man and Lewis Parker. I listen to that album now and the standard of Mark B’s beats is still cutting edge. From there it was a fairly easy journey into the rest of the UK hip hop world. One artist leads to another, you hear a track, you like the guest performer or the producer and check them out as well, it snowballs.

Where do you think the UK scene is at the moment? i.e. Many argue that the Scene has been confused with the grime/garage genre etc.
I think the UK hip hop scene has been living in a grime / garage shadow for a few years now. I do think the genres get grouped together far too easily but there are some very big differences between them, with each having its own merits. I also think the US is having more and more influence on new hip hop coming through. I get at least 10 emails a day from wanna be artists who have found my site. They all direct me to a MySpace or a Soundclick site and 99 times out of 100 the music is overly mimicking US (mainstream) styles. They see Cribs, watch a bit of Channel U and think “I can do that!”, then they pick up a dodgy copy of Fruity Loops and think they’re Timbaland. There are some really good artists out there who have trouble getting noticed or cant make any sort of career from the scene. This is because too many people wanna be a rapper rather than support a good one. Sometimes I wanna send these people an email saying “you cant rap / produce, give it up and spend your time and money supporting someone who can!” I think the UK hip hop scene has lost a lot of its identity and integrity in recent years.

Do you think the UK scene could ever have as much success as the US industry?
If you measure success by payroll then no. If you measure success by standards in music then we are both a huge success.

As a figurehead of UK Hip Hop, do you think being from outside of London makes progressing in the scene more of a challenge?
Erm, yes and no. I think people do actually pay you a bit more attention coz you're not from London, a rapper with a Northern accent automatically sounds original, rappers like Asaviour and Spiller have proved that. But that benefit is far out-weighed by the difficulty in getting gigs and raising awareness. I know a lot of Northerners who spend time down in London coz there’s more opportunity but I don’t think its essential.

What current projects are you working on?
I'm working on my 2nd album “Little Big Man”. That should be ready in the New Year. When that's done I'm gonna get back into the gigs and try and push things forward with the label.

Where do you see the UK scene in ten years time?
To be honest, I really haven’t gotta clue! I think theres been some better music about recently, if that keeps on coming and we try our hardest to stay original and progressive then only good things can happen.

Inertia - Money N Soul
Inertia - The Colione of Muck

Go here for more downloads

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

The IRS interview, Friday 7th December 2007, Atrium Leeds

Can you tell me who we’ve got here first?
Ed Strong: Big Ed Strong. Big Producer, big MC, big producer, IRS family.
King Kaiow: Big King Kaio…or bigger King Kaiow and like I always say; I only need to MC and I’ll eclipse everything else that anyone else just said before me!
It’s Superb, butter with words, stuttering nerd, I heard I recite something like nuttin you ever heard, here with The IRS crew and my boy…Guide One.
Guide One: You stole my thunder man. DJ Guide One, brother of MC DV who’s not here today.

How did you get together as a group?
Basically from the very grassroots level it was me and D and my other boy started a little thing called AMS. Then I left my college and went to another college and that’s where I bumped into this miscreant…
DJ Guide One!
and his brother DV and then we started chatting and he was like ‘oh there’s this boy called Ed, he’s a DJ as well’ and I was like ‘Ah I met him…when he was skateboarding one time’ so we all met up and started making tracks and it just grew from there.
There was a lot more of us then. There were about ten of us.
Yeah, you lose the deadweight.
ES: Yeah, lose the deadweight and get on with the serious people. You can write that, they know it.

Ed, you're in education as a job yeah?
ES: I was in education but I quit. I was a software trainer in a secondary school in South East London. I’ve just got a new job, doing the same sort of thing in tertiary education with people doing BTEC’s and that kind of thing. Education’s my career, man.

I’m a teacher too.
ES: Good, good. Help the yout’ them. (sings) ‘Teach the yout’ them, to survive, every time’.

You know that Rodney P track? The Future? That’s why I’m in education.
ES: Yeah I know what you’re talking about man. To be honest, from a Hip Hop point of view, working in education, it pisses me off hearing a lot of artists saying ‘What about the Kids?’ and I’m like ‘What are you doing for the kids?’. It’s a horrible thing, man. Understanding the kids is part of being a good…
KK: I’m one of those MC’s!
That’s why I hate you!
KK: To be fair, my mum was a foster carer so I have done something for the kids. I’ve helped more kids than a lot of people have... I’d just like to say that.

I find it annoying when you hear these rappers saying the schools are instilling bad morals in the kids ‘cause I’m not.
ES: You’re talking to them kind of people: ‘I work in a school’ and they’re like ‘ah you work for the man; you’re evil’. And what do they do? They sign on and get their JSA every two weeks and they blatantly pimp off the system. They don’t do anything for their community. There’s a lot of good hearts in education, it’s the people at the top who mess it up.
GO: At least you’re putting into the system instead of taking from it.

That was a bit of an aside but…
I like them kinda questions.

How would you describe your sound overall?
What we talk about, what we think about from day to day. You know, the funny stuff, the deep stuff. The album is almost like, if you sit in a room with us for one day and listened to what we were talking about, that’s what the album is like.
I’ve got one word for us…Greatness…hahahaha.
ES: Nah that’s it like…we don’t wanna say, yeah it’s real hip hop but at the end of the day it’s us. People that know us say ‘Yeah, I listened to your album. That is you lot as a sound’.
KK: I’ve gotta say…Anyone who’s literally just putting a real version of their life on record, I can appreciate that. Whether you’re a bum and you don’t earn anything and you talk about that or whether you make money and you talk about that…I can listen to that. If you’re 50 Cent yeah? You’re earning that money for real, I don’t rate him for talking about guns that much, but when he’s talking about money; that’s his life! That’s what he’s around and he’ll say it in a comical way. But when people talk about money when they aint got money or they talking about guns when they aint using guns or they talking about drugs and they aint selling drugs then that’s stupid. But if you’re talking about it and you’re doing it then that’s real innit?
That’s why when you’re listening to the album you might hear contradictions. You might hear us saying one thing on one track and someone else saying something on another track that kinda contradicts that but that’s what people are like, no-one’s perfect.

I was talking to someone today about what success is in Hip Hop. In the USA you’ve got success as being big earnings, big money. But in the UK, no-one gets big money for being in hip hop. It seems to me success is having your name on peoples lips. What’s your view on that?
KK: It’s good to have your name on people’s lips; we haven’t had a bad thing said about our album but at the same time it doesn’t put food in your mouth. Until British Hip Hop gets to a point where you can sell and be self sufficient off it, you’re not gonna get the best out of it. You can’t make the best possible hip hop if that’s not your life. At the same time it gives us more life experience. A lot of people make it and they’re not sampling real life because they’re separated from where they came from. That’s why British hip hop is at its real level because people are still living what they are saying rather than in a retrospective way.
ES: I aint gonna mention no names but I know for a fact that one of the biggest acts in urban music in this country…not N Dubz or Dizzee, we wont mention his name. All I know is I know a person that works at his record label and my man is in tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt and he’s got people screaming and shouting at his shows. What is success? I’ve put my album out and I’ve got mans coming up to me saying ‘IRS, you lot are sick’. My man’s got 15 year old girls he can’t even bang and tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt so what is success really? I’m not mentioning his name…
It’s Kano innit?!
ES: Nah, nah I’m just saying man…The thing is over here, what’s messed it all up is the internet. When we were growing up to get that Wu album you had to cop it off your boy which would take 90 minutes cos you had to record it onto a tape or you had to pay for it yourself. Nowadays 16 year olds can just download albums whenever they want and they’re spoilt for choice. If someone’s talking about shooting guns, they’re gonna want to buy it rather than us talking about what’s going on in a grown man’s situation. Success is hard to measure.

On the internet thing…don’t you think those 16 year olds downloading that stuff wouldn’t actually be the people buying it anyway. When I was 16 I wasn’t buying all the stuff I wanted. Are they actually taking any money out of it?
GO: I see what you mean. If you are putting out stuff on the internet then you’re reaching people who you wouldn’t reach other wise but I think at the same time you still do lose people who would have bought it. At the end of the day we want people to hear our music.
ES: At the end of the day, if you’re an artist, your career as a music musician is to make money off of live shows and selling records. That’s the truth innit. No-one in the UK sells records.
No, no, no…Spice Girls!
ES: UK Hip Hop. No-one in UK Hip Hop sells records. But success is another thing…as long as nothing bad is said about us then I think we’re successful.

Would you prefer to be in this scene than the US scene?
ES: You know what? I’d rather be making hard house and earning ten grand per beat, as a producer…but I don’t like hard house, I can’t get down to it. That’s the thing, I love Hip Hop.

Have you got anything else to say? Any funny stories?
Yeah, IRS are great. We’re great!
I’ve got a funny story…Kaiow was asleep in the car most of the way here with the biggest dribble dribbling down the left corner of his mouth.
And he farted.
GO: He farted in his sleep. What have you got to say? What’s your defence?
My defence is: I’m dirty and I like it.
ES: When’s this going out?

Soon as I can listen to it and write it out!
We got a show on Friday, Friday the 14th of December in Brighton. Beer and Rap with Task Force, Dirty Diggers, Mystro…Mystro’s album launch party, check out Mystro. Then on the 21st we got a gig in Guildford; Platform 9. Big up everyone. Big up DV who couldn’t be here, DV’s a laugh, he woulda argued all the way with me but this time I got to talk all the way through. Thanks for having us man. Big up Leeds every time.
Brap Brap!

These tracks are available from their myspace page:

Monday, 10 December 2007

9 Lives Clik in Leeds this week + more

If you're in Leeds, in need of Hip Hop and have a free night tomorrow (just free the night up) then get down to Trash (ex Mixing Tin next to Virgin (or whatever that freaky name is they've called it now) and JJB). Co-Exist, Dont Talk To Strangers and 9 Lives Clik are all performing and an irish band called Olympic Lifts (Indie Pop Hop) are headlining. It begins at 9 and finishes at 1, not too late for a Tuesday night is it? I can guarantee you a good show from 9 Lives and from what I hear DTTS put on a nice set on Friday night whilst I was outside interviewing The IRS (Stay tuned for that). Be ready to part with £2-£5 depending on how beautiful you are (not really, I guess it's child/student/adult/OAP prices).

If you can't make that one then be sure you make this one:

December the 13th, that's Thursday, Dr. Wu's is hosting it's last ever Hip Hop show. Back in 2000-2003 this night was regularly on there but it is unfortunately closing down. The first time I ever heard Cheif Wigz (of 9 Lives Clik) was there...I remembered that name. Sinical, Eliphino, Ephigy, Nine Lives, Double D Dagger are all on the bill and Chief Wigz is hosting too. There will be an open mic, 16 bar cypher for all other MC's. Be there cos it's free and it's nostalgic.

I'll also be bringing you a review of Cheif Wigz' new album/mixtape in the not too distant future!

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Hip Hop Producers - Beirut Interview

1. 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, where you are from, projects you have worked on, people you have worked with.
I'm Beirut Music from Los Angeles, CA. My family isLebanese-Armenian, and I was born in Beirut, Lebanon.Aside from the remix projects I've done, I produced Human's "Heavy Grounds" album, I'm working with an R&B vocalist from L.A. named Noelle Scaggs, and I have a project coming up featuring former Lyricist Lounge emcee Ali Baba.

2. How would you describe your sound?
Los Angeles funk! It encompasses all the elements of life in L.A., with a hint of Middle Eastern soul.

3. Who have been your biggest musical influences and which Hip Hop producers have inspired you?
Some producers who've inspired me include Dr. Dre,Timbaland, DJ Premier, Pete Rock, DJ Quik, & the lategreat Jay Dilla. As far as my musical influences, they encompass everything from classic composers, to jazz musicians, to the previously mentioned producers thatI grew up listening to.

4. I know you have a musical background, can you tell us a bit more about that?
I've played the piano since the age of 6. I was classically trained, and continued to play and study piano for 10 years until I was around 16. At that point, I started messing around with keyboards and samplers, and that was the start of what eventually became the path that I'm on right now. After dabbling in production over the years, I've picked up some guitar, bass, and percussion, all of which I try to incorporate in my own tunes.

5. How does that musical background figure when making a track?
Being able to read and play music at an early age gave me a general idea of how music was structured, as well as a great sense of rhythm. Once I started producing my own music, I knew exactly how I wanted a song to start, and where I wanted the hook, verses, etc.

6. From what I've heard, you sample a lot of old music. What process do you go through when writing a track? Do you start with a tune, a sample, a drum beat or a concept? What happens next?
When working with samples, it's always just a matter of hearing a certain sound or feel that you want to tranform into it's own song. It's like taking your favorite bits and pieces of one song that might have been released in the 70's and went virtually ignored, into something that can be appreciated in 2007. I haven't been doing much sampling in the last few years, where my focus was composing my own songs from the ground up. The reason people may not have heard many, is that I've heard too many horror stories from producers who've had their compositions stolen, and replayed slightly different by other producers. Even if your music is copywritten, it's just a matter of someone else changing a few notes and legally owning the rights themselves. The "Beirut Gangster: The Re-mixtape" project that I've been promoting, is what got me back into sampling. The concept of Jay-Z's record musically, was based on the 70's New York era, so it was only right that I try to emulate that sound by using samples that fit into the theme he was originally going for.

7. Are you an avid crate digger? How often do you buy old records and how many do you have?
I try and stop by record stores every chance I get. Even in the last couple of years where I stoppedsampling to compose my own music, there's no better inspiration for me than records from the 60's and 70's. I'm not at all a collector who would buy an LP solely because it's rare, but rather just a lover ofmusic who can't get enough. I'd say I have about a couple thousand records total.

8. Do you have any advice for crate diggers who want good music for samples but who don't know what's going to be on a record until they get it home?
Do your research and figure out what you're into. Basically, this means read the back of every LP you're interested in, and look for names of producers,arrangers, musicians, instruments, etc., that you're into. Buying records over the years gives you a sense ofwhat was going on in what era. For example, you can tell that a soul record released in 1978 will probably have more of an up-tempo slightly disco feel to it, as compared to a soul record released in 1968.

9. Your remixes have been going down a treat with my readers. So many remixes sound out of sync and as if a producer has just slapped an acapella over an existing beat. Yours sound like the MC's/singers have actually rhymed/sung over your beats. Do you build a remix around the vocals you have?
Absolutely. The fun part of remixing to me, is that you have someone's vocals which might be in a certain key and at a certain tempo, but once you match the two, you have room to create just about anything around it.

10. Are you or do you want to work with rappers on original material?
Definitely. I've been having music shopped around to both major and indie label artists, so hopefully you'll see me in the credits of your favorite aritsts' album soon. The project I'm currently working on with Ali Baba,should be completed around spring '08. It's Hip Hop fused with Middle Eastern music, in a way no one's ever before approached it. I don't want to reveal too much about it, but it's going to be an incredible record.

11. What are your three pieces of equipment do you value most when it comes to production?
Sampler, turntable, and mixer. Those are the three pieces I started with, and it's amazing what can be done with just those three. People are surprised when I tell them that certain favorite tracks of theirs were produced solely on those three pieces of equipment.

12. What other programs/equipment do you use?
I record, arrange, and mix everything in Logic Pro.

13. Have you ever been given some invaluable advice when it comes to producing? What tips would you give to an aspiring Hip Hop producer?
Work hard, period. That, and don't expect anyone to make things happen for you, but yourself. You've gotto be your own manager/agent/publicist, until you make a name for yourself to where you can find the right people to work with you.

14. What can we expect from you in the future? Are you currently working on any exciting projects?
I just recently finished the "Beirut Gangster"Re-mixtape, and I can proudly say that after weeks of hard work and long hours, it's the best remix project I've ever been involved with. I've been getting some great feedback so far, so my main focus is pushing that project as much as possible until Jay-Z himself catches wind.

15. Any last words or plugs?
Thanks to you and all your readers for the love and support, and stay tuned!

Download the whole album

or download it here if that doesn't work!

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Beirut Gangster (Jay-Z American Gangster remix album)

*If you are struggling to download because of a password then I don't know what to suggest. When I downloaded it there was no password. Have you tried both links?*
Here's what Beirut Music himself had to say:
The new Jay-Z "American Gangster" album, entirely remixed produced and arranged by yours truly (Beirut). Welcome to "Beirut Gangster: The Re-Mixtape"! A lot of time and hard work went into the making of this mixtape, so I hope y'all enjoy!

Beirut Music

Los Angeles

All remixes produced and arranged by Beirut Music.

01 Beirut Gangster Intro
02 Pray
03 American Dreamin'
04 Hello Brooklyn 2.0 (feat. Lil Wayne)
05 No Hook
06 Roc Boys
07 Sweet
08 I Know
09 Party Life
10 Ignorant S**t (feat. Beanie Sigel)
11 Say Hello
12 Success (feat. Nas)
13 Fallin'
14 Blue Magic
15 American Gangster

Alternate link

There are some really interesting retro sounds to be heard here. Beirut really sticks to the gangster theme; you could imagine all these tracks being the sound track to a Gangster film. He's got the blaxploitation funk fuelled chase music, the soul soaked head nodders and the Italian strings. Also on Ignorant S**t you get some 80's electronic sounding beats that remind me of the cinema.

Look out for an interview here soon...(Tonight!)

R.I.P. Pimp C

Pimp C, of Southern Rap pioneers UGK, died yesterday. He was found dead in his hotel room after a 911 call. Cause of death is unknown. Pimp C recently featured on Dizzee Rascal's latest LP on the track 'Where's Da G's?'. Thoughts and prayers to the family as usual.

Read the billboard news report here

Yea Big + Kid Static

Are you a fan of Parkour, fun Hip Hop and geeky producers getting chased by dogs? Of course you are! So watch this video you donkey!

Sorry for calling y'all donkeys, please don't stop reading for I would like to tell you about Yea Big + Kid Static. Yea Big (Pronounced 'Yay'...and, erm, 'Big') is a nerdy producer who makes beats that vaguely resemble Hip Hop. Kid Static is an MC who kindly makes Yea Big's beats a little less wonky and a little more Hip Hop with his rapping. Oooh, don't get me wrong, I love Yea's beats; they're cool and fun and happy. Their album, released last month on Jib Door is called (blink and you'll miss it) 'S/T'.

'Geek-Glitch-Hop' might sum up the sound of this album but so might 'Comic Book-alt-rap'. If that doesn't give you an idea then you're just going to have to listen to it aren't you? As you do I'll say these things:

- Some of the beats remind me of the Beastie Boys (a good thing in my books).
- Kid Static is a good MC who sometimes reminds me of De La Soul but with a different vocal tone.
- 'We've Built a Time Machine That Runs on Beats. We Shall Only Use it For Good.' is a great song title, possibly one of the best, if not it's definitely one of the longest.


Also check out Yea Big's mashup of the entire upcoming album HLLLYH by spaz-rock band The Mae Shi. Big's reinterpretation is entitled HLLLYEA. Big explains, “All of the material used to make the beats is off of HLLLYH, hence the punny title, HLLLYEA, which in hindsight will probably only further perpetuate the false notion that my name is pronounced ‘yeah’ instead of the correct pronunciation, ‘yea’”

Yea Big v.s The Mae Shi MP3: “RUN TO THE FACTS

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

The Building Aint Big Enough

Me: There's a rapper called Kel Spencer who has a single out today.
You: What's up with all these 'real name no gimmick' MC's at the moment?
Me: I know. But this MC isn't actually called Kel.
You: So what's this Kel Spencer like? Is she good?
Me: It's a bloke, he's alright actually. He Co-wrote/ghost-wrote Switch by Will Smith.
You: Oh, I remember that track. It was pretty big in the charts and the clubs and that. But that's not exactly a good thing is it? I mean...Will Smith?
Me: Well, no. But this dude does obviously have the knack for writing a attention grabbing smash hit and it means he's sold a good few records!
You: So has he done anything a little more credible? Y'know, something I can be down with?
Me: Yeah fo' sho. He was on Jazzy Jeff's latest album on a track called 'The Definition'. Jazzy Jeff also said he's "The best rapper you've never heard of" and DJ Premier stated "Kel Spencer is Hip Hop". Can't mess with Premo can ya?
You: Oh. No.

'The Building' is definitely a club banger right down to the fact he's talking about being in a club. This track could easily be played alongside 'Pump it Up' by Joe Budden, 'Right Thurr' by Chingy and 'Tipsy' by J-Kwon. Make of that what you will. The track revolves around a Lil' Jon style chorus (the title of this post), a bassy kick andsome synthy claps.

Kel employs a funny little way of pronouncing his rhyming words ("I'ma turn it ud der du up//I'ma stutter der du der//See me push that whip through the hood der du der") that will have loads of girls drunkenly trying to imitate when it comes on. Spencer is on a 'this-is-how-great-I-am' trip here so expect to hear him compare himself to a pair of fancy kicks ("Im the latest edition, Limited der du der") amongst other such braggadocious metaphors.

By now the conversation between me and you is probably something like this:

You: don't usually like this sort of music.
Me: No, I don't but you must understand this is a club track and it's a good club track. I mean, most clubs aren't gonna be playing Jehst or Braintax at their Hip Hop/R'n'B nights. No, those nights are made for music like this and therefore this music has it's place.
You: OK then, you have a point. I'm not going to deny I've never been on a night out to a place like that so I wont argue anymore!

Will Smith - Switch

Kel Spencer - The Building

DJ Jazzy Jeff - The Definition ft. Kel Spencer

Monday, 3 December 2007

The IRS - The World is Theirs

If you like Hip Hop that really has something to say and is thought provoking and you haven't yet checked out The IRS then there is possibly a small compartment in your life which feels empty. If you like Roots Manuva but never really knew what he was on about but still loved his sound then you need to hear this. If you like Hip Hop with beats that are slightly leftfield, but not so much at that they aren't Hip Hop any more then get yourself a copy of 'The World Is Theirs' by London crew The IRS, out now on Merciless Records.

With a thought provoking variety of topics including laziness, the devil's negative impact on life, parenting, the love of money and hard times, your brain is well catered for. But so is your sense of humour. Droll observations, sarcasm and irony make light work of the heavy themes. The beats compliment the witty but serious lyrics. Ed Strong has carefully selected samples that provide The IRS with 'a sound' despite the differing genres that have been plundered - there is definitely something to be said for in-house producers.

Check out their video for 'Day with the devil'. It's a complementary-to-the-track stop-motion job with a message that can be quite powerful when listened to with the right frame of mind:

"Spent a day with Devil, saw him play, saw him fiddle//With our lives, realised all the ways that he meddles//He told me greed was, one of his greatest achievments//It's man's greatest weakness and the reason for most bereavements"

If you around the Leeds way on the 7th of December at 10pm then you can get yourself up to the Atrium to get down with The IRS for only a fiver. That's a bargain.

The IRS - Big Day In
The IRS - Windy Weathermen

Gideon Conn has a funny accent

Is this a reaction to the overuse of overtly British accents in music at the moment? Gideon Conn from Manchester seems to have just invented a totally new, weird accent and this is an infectious slab of hip pop. Thanks to Rob Da Bank for always finding strange new music.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

What's going on Klashnekoff?

This was reported in NME last week:

Pete Doherty is a quarter of the way through recording his debut solo album and plans to release it next summer, NME.COM can exclusively reveal...South London band The Thirst, who visited Doherty at his Wiltshire home to demo with him, will also contribute, along with London rapper Klashnekoff.

This appeared in The Guardian in March and is a quote from Klashnekoff:

"Why does this system promote people like Plan B, Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty?" he asks. "Plan B was on the cover of RWD magazine stabbin' himself with a pencil and blood comin' out of his face. Amy Winehouse talks about how her dad wanted to send her to rehab but she said, 'No, no, no'. Pete Doherty gets mad press for f**kin' smokin' heroin and bustin' cases. But when I rap about s**t that's real to me, mo'f**kers say I'm a thugged-out rapper or I'm tryin' to be aggy [aggressive]. I'm tellin' real-life stories!"

Is K-lash wanting to buy into Pete's press? Or does he just have an open mind? If the latter is the case then why has he apparently forgotten his old feelings and thoughts? I suppose people can change their opinions but I guess the question is: What has made him change his mind?

As Blackalicious are currently saying right now: "Don't let money change you".

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Hip Hop Producers - L.G. Interview

For a while now I've been thinking over the role of producers in Hip Hop. Rarely do they get the same status as the rappers for whom they produce. When I listen to Hip Hop music the initial indicator of whether or not I like the track is based on the production. It's the beat and the melodies, the samples or the instrumentation that is immediately important to me. For most of the tracks I absolutely love, a natural requirement is that the production matches, or in some cases outshines the rapper.

When I got the chance to interview UK based Hip Hop producer L.G. I decided I'd put some of my thoughts to him:

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, where you are from, projects you have worked on, people you have worked with.
I’m from London. I started Sit Tight Records with Lopez a good few years back and we put out:
Rocket Fuel feat Jehst & Skriblah / City Breaks featuring Yungun 12" (which I produced)
Micall Parknsun - Tha Shit,
Wordsmith feat Jehst and Skriblah - Life After The Apocalypse
Micall Parknsun - The Working Class Dad album (which I produced half the tracks on)
LG & Biscuit - Smoke Rings album
LG & Biscuit feat Dubbledge - Sonshine,
Conspicuous - Family Photo album (I produced about half of it)

I’ve also produced:

Party Animals 12" with Tommy Evans, Doc Brown and Usmaan,
Falling Down and ESP on Jehst’s Falling Down album,
Jehst - Psychadelic Phlegm 12",
Suki Suki, Neckbreakin Remix, Souls Of The Unborn remix with Kashmere and Who’s That with Micall Parknsun on The Mengi Bus Mixtape by Jehst,
Dubbledge - Rice & Peas / Imagine That 12"
Dey Ain’t Ready and Scram on Dubbledge’s Richest Man In Babylon album
Terrafirma - My Brothers Keeper on their mixtape
Smurf - Timothy 12” and on 'my alpha' album,
Kashmere - 'In The Hour Of Chaos' I did 'Souls Of The Unborn', 'Opium Foetus' feat Verb T and 'Have Faith' and some other stuff which I've forgotten

How would you describe your sound?
That’s hard to answer. In my head my sound changes all the time but to answer the question it’s old-school-but-new-school-psychadelic-hiphop-space-jazz ????

Who have been your biggest musical influences and which Hip Hop producers have inspired you?
Marvin Gaye, James Jamerson, James Brown, Miles Davis, Coltrane, Bootsy Collins, Jimi Hendrix, Jaco Pastorius Etc Hiphop Producers - DJ Premier, Pete Rock, J Dilla , Madlib, Beatminers, Extra P, A Tribe Called Quest Etc.

Do you have a musical background? Do you play any instruments?
I’ve been learning to play the bass, I’m practising when I get time now as I wanna be in a band. I can also play a very small amount of keys, just to get by as a hip hop producer.

How did you find out that you were handy when it came to crafting beats?
I just enjoyed doing it, I had a passion for it and people started using my beats, I had records out so I just kept doing it.

What three pieces of equipment do you value most when it comes to production?
Turntable, MPC3000, Logic Audio

What other programs/equipment do you use?
Akai S950 sampler, I’ve got loads of software synths and plug-ins on the computer I also use a keyboard and bass guitar.

Do you feel like many producers are overlooked or overshadowed by the MC's that rap on their beats?
I think the UK has some of the sickest hip hop producers in the world, I hear so many people’s beats that just blow me away. It depends on what the producer’s intention is when making a beat though. Most hip hop producers make beats with MCs being on their track in mind, so the MC can be the final part of the completion of a song. If you are making a beat that doesn't need an MC you are probably gonna have other things or different arrangements going on in it, in which case an MC wouldn't sound right on the beat, but part of being a producer is to find the balance and make it work whatever’s happening in the track.

What process do you go through when writing a track? Do you start with a tune, a sample, a drum beat or a concept? What happens next?
A lot of the time I start with a basic drum beat, then start chopping some breaks or playing synths or bass over it, when I get something I like I might change the drums to work with the music more and then start adding other things that sound good until I feel its kind of finished…which sometimes it never is.

You've worked with some big name UK MC's but you've also worked with singers and musicians (most notably flautist, Biscuit). How does it differ working with each kind of artist?
Some people you know well and are friends who you hang out with, like Biscuit, which can be good because you can be more experimental or sometimes do stuff on the spur of the moment. Sometimes I don’t really know some one very well at all but have given them beats which they have written to and they come in the studio and smash it, which always brings new energy. It’s good to change it up, the best music always comes unexpectedly.

How do you prefer to work when collaborating with rappers? Do you both get in the studio and write together or is there a separate process?
Again it varies. When me and Jehst had the studio in Old Street there would always be people around so I would be making a beat and Jehst or Parke or whoever would be writing the bars then and there. Sometimes they would even spit them on the track before I was even finished, like on the Guns Of Naverone on Parkes album. Other times people take beats away, write at home and then record on another day.

Have you ever been given some invaluable advice when it comes to producing? What tips would you give to an aspiring Hip Hop producer?
If you’re sampling drum sounds off records, try leaving the air on the drums.

Tell us what it's like being a part of the YNR famalam. Do you spend a lot of time with Jehst, Micall Parknsun, Sir Smurf Lil et al? Is there a lot of touring involved in being a producer?
Yeah we spend time together as we are all friends, we mostly link to do music but we chill as well. We've been touring recently all together but we haven’t got a lot of time to chill on tour, cause we are all trying to balance our normal lives at the same time.

What can we expect from you in the future? Are you currently working on any exciting projects?
There’s some stuff I don’t really wanna say, but there will be an album with me, Jehst, Micall Parknsun and Kashmere, we are called Arkham Asylum.

Any last words or plugs?
LG Presents 'The Mission' with Jehst and Micall Parknsun / 'What Would Happen' with Kashmere 12" is out now on YNR. Go buy it, it’s sick (trust me I'm a doctor!)

A lot of people don’t know about the LG & Biscuit 'Smoke Rings' album. It’s a beautiful album, even though I'm biased, check it out on Sit Tight Records.

Asaviour - Be Careful
Yungun - City breaks
Terra Firma - My Brothers Keeper
Tommy Evans - Revolutions remix
Micall Parknsun - Somehow