Writers block: get your creative juices flowing.

As a Media & Cultural Studies student I’m pretty much open to any kind of industry. This isn’t a promotion for my degree, although if you’re choosing what way you wanna go in the industry, it’s a good head start. Anyway, here are some collages I’ve put together of what music means to me.

Playing with graphics

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Wiley x south London estates

This piece is something I’ve put together to show what I think of grime music. I took my own photos of tower blocks in south London and placed distorted image of the God father of grime, Wiley.

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Chance the Rapper x Vapour Wave

Not exactly grime… but I thought I’d show my diverse music taste regardless. Chance the Rapper is probably the most innovative and inspirational rap artist at the moment. No label and he’s winning three Grammys, he’s pretty much a big deal. After listening to Acid Rap pretty much intoxicated, I delved into the Acid Rap trip and decided to create some of my feelings after my new spiritual passage with the album. Taking the style of Vapour Wave, another trippy genre but I’ll get back to you on that one, too diverse and open for now.

 

 

Promoting diversity: is it just the guilt?

Another year, another Brit awards, and more dead white men are winning awards. It’s becoming tedious, celebrating the dead over the living. When will we start putting a lot more effort into our current artists?

This years Brits has arrived. Glamorous entrances by many stars, such as Katy Perry, Little Mix, Robbie Williams and of course, the diversity acts this year (aka grime artists). From my previous posts, you can see the highlighted lack of representations of last years nominees with barely any UK black artists getting nominations, ironically the diverse acts were international acts, another diverse category.

Despite the addition of grime artists such as Skepta, Stormzy and Kano, to the nomination board, none have actually won any awards. Nominating black British artists doesn’t satisfy the need for more representation for our artists. From the depths of the council estates that are now being tarnished by gentrification of the city, city that is rich with different culture, especially the birth of grime culture. Despite the fact that the votes for these categories being public, allowing the majority to choose their winner, it feels almost unfair that these artists don’t win.

Stormzy, nominated for best new comer, lost the award to Rag’n’Bone Man. Congratulations to Rag’n’Bone Man, but I can’t celebrate the win as much. Now, let’s not take the fact that I am a fan of Stormzy to cloud my judgement. It doesn’t feel right to let Stormzy, a person who has literally started from the bottom, accomplishments become diminished. Sold out tours, touring Europe (and even the US), all the festivals he’s played and awards from award-shows that are more diverse. Not everyone is a fan of grime, that is just fact. You would have been expected to get more people cheering the fact that the genre is getting this amazing recognition, right?

The issue not lies with the fact that these artists haven’t won, no. The issue is that the nominations are 40% of the nominations are black artists, with Emeli Sande being the only black artists taking an award home tonight. Regardless, it is a massive achievement for the community and for women. With significantly less white acts being nominated than last years disaster, you’d think that it’d be less of a chance for them to win. Wrong. The effort of black acts working harder than their peers in order to get a signed onto a record label, just generally getting someone to recognise their talent, it goes to show that their more privileged peers will still win.

Performances from Skepta, and a surprise performance of Ed Sheeran x Stormzy definitely took the crowd by storm(zy). To start off, I was pretty disappointed by Skepta’s perfomance. Now, it’s not him. He was great. It’s the constant censoring of his song. The lack of enthusiasm by the audience was astonishing. Almost nobody knew the words, no single soul.  Pretty sure the producers were sweating when they found out Skepta was going to sing his most popular song, Shut Down, with all the censoring the song was almost unrecognisable. Even though one grime artist was ‘shut down,’  best new comer nominee Stormzy surprised us all with a collab with Ed Sheeran. Ed Sheeran is known to be a fan of grime, for him to get Stormzy to perform with him shows massive appreciation to our London culture. The thrilling dichotomy between pop music and grime was executed in the most exhilarating performance we have seen so far at the Brits. The great chemistry between the acts had created a room full of positive energy. Stormzy. once again proving himself the worthy winner of this years Brit Awards.

Let me know your thoughts on this years winners in the comments.

Brits month: is this the breakthrough grime needed?

February is a month of many events. Valentines day, Pancake Day and most importantly, my birthday. It is also the month that the annual Brit Awards falls on. For those of you that don’t know, the Brit awards is an award ceremony that has been running since 1977 and is in light of celebrating Britain’s pop music.

The award show over the years had predominantly focused on only pop music, mainly focused on white acts rather than non-white acts in the UK. The awards ceremony nominations caused much controversy last year, with the hashtag #BritsSoWhite created by this years nominee Stormzy on Twitter. Discussed by many grime artists, the backlash of the awards ceremony was a protest against the lack of representation of black artists in the UK which deserved more recognition, as the UK is a multicultural island and should therefore focus on ethnic artists.

Grime artist Big Narstie had an interview with Channel 4 discussing what he thinks of the lack of diversity at the Brit Awards last year. Last year, only two non-white British acts were nominated for an award, and that doesn’t include international acts. The lack of diversity in last years Brits have caused many petitions to be signed, as organisers of the Brit Awards taken the backlash comments into account and decided to change the nominations of the Brit Awards this year.

 

This year, majority of the nominees are black. This gives a wider range of diversity, making the organisers learn a lesson. The most important nominees out of these are definitely the inclusion of grime artists. Artists such as Kano, Skepta and Stormzy have been nominated for more than one awards this year. Kano and Skepta, the MCs that have been considered highly rewarded in the grime scene, have been nominated for Mastercard British Album of the Year, British Male Solo Artist (including Garage act Craig David, who emerged back into the spotlight last year after years of chilling) and British Breakthrough Act.

Grimes popularity soaring over the years allows British artists who have worked in the industry for years to allow grime to move out of London and into the mainstream, even reaching countries like America and Australia. The significance of grime shifting from a niche genre into the mainstream allows more recognition for the artists. Grime artists literally started Started From The Bottom (a little Drake reference, since Drake has been spending all his time recently with our London guys) to get to the top and it’s been a journey which brings joy for those who grown up on grime and also just enjoy the genre.

Vote in the poll below and let me know your thoughts!

Big For Your Boots review

It’s finally here! The most anticipated artist of the year is finally back with his latest single from album Gang Signs & Prayer, Big for your Boots. Stormzy, who took his name quite literally and took the nation by a storm last night dropped his single from the album which already has hit 309,562 views and the 4th trending topic on Twitter, you can already tell February will be a big month for Stormzy as an artist and as a representative of grime music.

The beginning of the song reminiscence one of the most iconic grime songs by pioneer Dizzee Rascal I Luv U with garage-esque female vocals,  reminiscing his days of hustling the roads as he mentions the song being deer to him in Know Me From and even sampled the vocals. The song has a gospel beat remixed into the beat, something I have concluded is pretty much the sound of Stormzy. Clear flows throughout the song, Stormzy’s ability to rap fluently and allow the bars and the music intertwine wholly depicts his sheer talent and passion for what he does. The bars itself speak for those who doubt Stormzy’s friendly-image as weakness. The hook consists of the bars “you’re getting way too big for your boots / you’re never too big for the boot” implying that if you don’t know your place when addressed, you’re more than likely to get an ass-kicking. Throughout the songs he implies that he hasn’t had a flashy life-style most rappers portray in their songs, and that even if someone came mugged him he’ll still be harder than them. Stormzy mentions other artists in the song such as Adele, which everyone knows as potentially the best soul and pop artist in the UK, who Stormzy respects massively. He mentions his pal Krept from Krept & Konan as a play on words with the bar “I was covering Krept like a bootcut.” Kreps is a slang term for trainers in London, and bootcuts are the ugliest jeans you could have ever owned in the mid-2000s, wearing them in the streets could potentially kill your reputation and cause a lot of embarrassment for you.  The play-on-words works out that when Krept & Konan were out in the States for the BETs, he was maintaining the music scene out here in the UK.

The visuals for the song distinctly show how Stormzy wanted to make the song very personal. If you have been following Stormzy throughout his growth in his career, you’ll notice he had included his day ones, like Flipz who attends most of the events he goes to. He includes radio DJ girlfriend Maya Jama, at Morley’s chicken shop, notoriously known among South Londoners as the best chicken shop in south, but they really mean around the whole of London. He also includes London-based young professionals such as Vicky Grout (grime photographer), Gracie Francesca (life-style blogger) and Ray BLK (singer) to name a few. Stormzy presents some of the greatest professionals that London has produced, celebrating the cities rich culture that is not usually praised. Its the culture that isn’t a landmark, it is true and raw talent coming from real people who have lived in London.

The director, Daps, films in various locations in London which shows the contrast of London which only people who live here would understand. Scenes filming outside an estate with council houses to Westminster Bridge, which is your typical touristic eye of London. Through Westminster Bridge, Stormzy raps on top of a police car as it’s driving through the central. Its a paradoxical symbolism as it embraces the institutionalised racism towards police men and young black people as there is constant antagonism between young black men in particular in London with police men. Stormzy is very open about discrimination with certain people being racist towards him, and isn’t scared to call them out. The symbolism correlates the #BlackLivesMatter movement in America, although it is overseas, it’s very much an issue in the UK too with the 2011 riots starting from the shooting of Mark Duggan. The last scene with Stormzy against a group of white men could be seen as a potential hate crime, seeing as the video is very much not only a personal video, but can also be interpreted as a political message with the subliminal messages.

I reckon February will be a big month for Stormzy this year, the break from his 9-month-silence has definitely not led us to completely forget about his existence, 2017 is looking big for the grime star.

Let me know what your thoughts were in the comment section!

 

5 must-listen-to artists

I find myself constantly searching for new music to listen to, probably more of my time is spent on researching artists than doing my uni assignments (oops). I’ve come across some artists that have emerged in the scene recently who definitely deserve more recognition than they get. Here are my 5 must-listen-to grime tracks that I think everyone should stop sleeping on:

  1. Crooked .Bad — 808INK

808INK are a trio based in South London who embody the new grime wave movement. Their songs have a consistent wave throughout the pieces they create, even bending genres by sampling different songs in their productions. This song is probably one of my favourites by them, the cleverly devised art visuals to the consistent brutalist beat of the song. 808INK break the boundaries as they sample London Posse intro from How’s Life in London (1993)showing their groundbreaking attempt at sampling and mixing different genres. The new grime wave is experimental, the group indefinitely possess abilities to mix British hip-hop into the grime scene, giving it a blast from the past. The visuals themselves have dark colours, smoke and jerky movements, something which is seen in grime music, however, the trio clearly depict their creative side in the song, which many grime artists don’t usually do as they follow a certain routine throughout their songs. This group is most definitely slept on heavily, the clever sampling of different genres and influences is giving grime music a different sound.

 

2. Elevate — Othasoul 

Othasoul are a duo of producer and MC from North London. Just like 808ink, they show clear hip-hop sounding bars, possibly less brutalist but a soft, upbeat consistent track throughout their project The Remedy.  This song is my favourite one out of their project as it shows the futuristic beat in the beginning swiftly changes into a clear and traditional hip-hop beat that sounds like a record scratching, this is what to me defines the new grime wave. The weaving of rhymes through the beats in the song works so well, that the whole song is so harmoniously produced. The rhymes of the constant battle between people and their fight with the injustice system in the UK depicts their clear agenda, it’s not the typical grime song.

3. Wings — Little Simz

Possibly my favourite female grime MC, Little Simz has definitely opened the door for many female MCs to dive into the the grime scene. The Islington-born artist embodies the traditional grime, creating rhymes that show more of her political views than the typical concerns of street violence. This song in particularly has been written to empower herself and uplift her abilities, letting her be known not to be undermined. Little Simz is subjectively, and perhaps objectively, too, better than most male MCs in the game. For a female such as Little Simz to enter a male-dominated genre and rap better than most of her male peers really is inspiring, allowing more women to explore grime and help create a gender neutral genre.

4. Skwod — Nadia Rose 

Nadia Rose is an artist I will defend and be biased against, since she is a born and bred south London girl like myself. Nadia Rose came into the game with witty riddims and gun-finger funk tunes. Skwod was the first song that I had listened to by Nadia, it grabbed my attention with the upbeat flow, the choreography that not only complements the bars in the song but also embraces the current London culture of creating fun-choreography, a group of friends (otherwise known as a squad, or a more familiar term with Londoners ‘mandem/galdem’) all dressed in Adidas tracksuits.

5. Footsteps — Kojey Radical

Kojey Radical is a London based rapper who meets heavy-hearted soul with grime music. His songs consistently hold tones of anger against systems in power, expressing his raw passion for what he believes in through his visual art work of his videos and the profound bars in his songs. This song particularly strikes me with the religious imagery and the raw anger against how the religious and political system in London aren’t helping the youth, they are shutting community centres down which increases more and more gang violence rather than decreasing. His voice is ponderously raw, he manages to stress the resentment he has against these authorities that are detrimentally damaging to the youths growth.

 

Let me know in the comments below which one of these artists you think will blow up in 2017.