Archive for November, 2011

November 30, 2011

Tinie Tempah ft Wretch 32 & J Cole – Like It Or Love It

After J Cole recently supported Tinie Tempah on tour, it was only right that the two with the help of Wretch 32 all jumped on a tune. We have already seen Tinie on tracks with US artists, and this shows that the bonds between US and the UK are tightening. This is a straight banger…

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November 29, 2011

J Cole: Life and Beats

Where creativity is realised and dreams come true, welcome to Cole World…Before we hit you with the interview, let us give you a bit of a history lesson on Roc Nation-signed rapper J Cole. Born Jermaine Lamarr Cole in Germany to a white mother and black father (who left when he was young), J Cole was raised in North Carolina by his mother. He was already rapping by the age of 12, and at 15 he had notebooks full of rhymes. Not having anything to rhyme over, his mother brought him a beat machine, which has turned him into the great lyricist and producer he is today. Cole moved to New York to get a degree, in which he graduated with honours, but also to place himself in the hub of the American music industry. Dropping his first mixtape The Come Up, which got him noticed by Jay-Z, who then signed him as his first artist to label Roc Nation. Known for his emotional and passionate lyrics and delivery, J Cole is a clear contender for the role of saviour of the hip-hop nation. Two mixtapes later The Warm Up and Friday Night Lights, and he now presents us with his long anticipated album Cole World: The Sideline Story.

Shireen interviews J Cole ahead of his UK tour and also discovers the hot music star’s great taste when it comes to clothes, food and women…

From listening to all your mixtapes and now the album we feel like you’ve let us into your life. Does speaking about personal issues come easily?
Sometimes and sometimes not; but I can’t do that all the time. Although that is my favourite type of stuff, I feel free, and people can understand me and feel attached to me.

Is there anything you can tell us that no one else knows?
Every time I sleep I have a dream, absolutely every time. I might have four dreams a night, but I will remember all of them.

You speak about both your parents in your music, especially your mum. How often do you see them and what is your relationship like?
Me and my mum are super tight. I don’t get to see my family that often and she lives in Carolina. I’m always moving around and travelling, but I get to see them at holidays and big events. Me and my pops are getting tighter now that I’m grown; I didn’t really grow up with him around. If I’m in the area where he lives, that’s Texas, I’ll see him.

How has your North Carolina upbringing influenced your music and in what ways?
Where I’m from is like a military camp, and people come from everywhere. It’s in the South but it’s also on the East Coast as well so you get all different types of music. I was largely influenced by West Coast music, like Dre, Ice Cube, Dogg Pound and all these West Coast artists. All the kids used to listen to Kris Kross, and then you had all the East Coast rappers like Jay B, Alchemist and Scarface. So it was like all this mixture of music. When I started rapping I would mash all that up and it would come out all these different styles.

Creatively, which part of your career has been the most fruitful – the many years of being unsigned or those since you’ve been with Roc Nation?
It depends. Both were super fruitful creatively for different reasons. The earlier part of signing with Roc Nation was way more fruitful than the past year. I just wanted to do songs where I was more giving, so the first year I had there was the most creative, but it was tough. This past year I was trying to make singles and get the chain rolling. I’m so glad everything got out there, and now I’m back to square one.

Is it harder to talk about the hardship and turmoil you faced as a younger artist now that you are successful and making money?
No, I don’t think so; it’s not hard to talk about that, it’s definitely hard to not talk about the current situation. I’ll always be honest. I wouldn’t be honest if I was rapping about what a lot of other rappers talk about, like guns or whatever.

In ‘Rise and Shine’ you say, ‘Game full of liars / turns out I’m the truth.’ Are you talking about anyone in particular here?
No, I guess not [laughs]. I’m not talking about anyone in particular; everyone knows when they’re listening to songs who’s exaggerating or not.

Your new album has an interesting title. What does Cole World: The Sideline Story mean to you, and can you break it down for us?
All my fans know I use that slogan (Cole World) in my mixtapes, and I wanted to bring that to the album. So Cole World is something I can relate to and something my fans can identify with. Sideline Story is where I’m at now and where my career is. It’s like I need to change, but I’m always fighting to not become something I’m not. All my fans are waiting for something, and this is before the next step in the game.

Many people are unaware that aside from writing your own lyrics you also make most of your own beats. Do you feel more inspired when rhyming over your own beats?
Yes, I wouldn’t say more inspired but I’m more connected. I feel more connected to the beat, being part of the whole process front to back. I’m connected because I see it all the way through. I pretty much produced the entire album. I want to get out of that now, I’m looking for beats now to expand and grow. I just want to rap over other people’s beats to practise.

Are you surprised that you have blown up so significantly in the UK and the rest of the world and not just in your homeland?
I’m definitely surprised. I remember the first time I came to the UK, I did Wireless and the amount of people that were there and the amount of people that knew all the words, it was such a shock to me. Wherever I go all across the world, people know who I am and all the raps. I walk around London and it can be a problem. I can go to Scotland or Manchester or Birmingham and everyone knows you, it’s crazy.

You will be supporting Tinie Tempah on tour. What are your impressions of the UK urban music scene and which artists really stand out for you?
I’m really impressed; I think it’s really dope. I think it’s a great sound, but I don’t really know the history of the music. For a long time a lot of UK artists were trying to sound like American artists, but it’s clear now they have their own sound, a very distinct sound. It’s great and it’s very progressive. I don’t know enough about the music at the moment to say who I like, but it’s definitely something that I want to learn more about. I know a lot of the songs, but I don’t know the guys who are on the songs. P Money is killing it, murdering it right now. When I heard him, he was just rapping for so long and just murdering it, I got a lot of love for him.

J. COLE’S HOT LIST
Get to know a few things from our hot guest…
Hottest crepes:
Jordon 11 red patent leather
Hottest women:
Rihanna and Beyoncé
Hottest clothing labels:
Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana
Hottest record:
J Cole new album
Hottest artist:
Lil Wayne – he sold like nearly one million in a week.
Hottest place in London:
I don’t know none of the names of the clubs I been to… so Nandos! [Laughs] We need to get Nando’s in America.

*published in Flavour Magazine

November 29, 2011

Yogi Mixes It Up

Yogi began to DJ from the young age of 12, was playing in clubs from the age of 16 and afterwards progressed to working as an intern for Marc Franc, as an assistant engineer on projects with the Black Eyed Peas, T.I and Jay Sean among others. Having completed a degree in Commercial Music, he left university and returned to work with Marc Franc full time, cementing his career in music.

How did Traktor with Wretch 32 come around?

When we made the beat for Traktor, we got a guy called L who does the vocals and did a session with him; it sounded really good. Wretch’s label heard it and said they loved it. They took it but it took so long before we got to see what was actually going to happen with it. We did that beat about a year and a half ago, and it only came out in January this year. It did really well, it went to No.5, and so we were really happy with that.

What happened after that?

After Traktor got to No.5, it was like we need a No.1 we need to take this to the next level, this is cool but you can’t live off this for the rest of your life. In December we had such a wicked creative run, and we did 3 beats. Tinie Tempah has taken one, RD has taken another, and RoxXxan another. We were developing her last year and she got signed to Polydor off a beat that I was doing that Tinie wanted but we gave it to her.

Why did you give it to RoxXxan instead of Tinie Tempah?

We gave it to her because it was more of a loyalty thing. It wasn’t a case of some bigger artist was just going to come and take it, and say yeah this is going to be on my album. This beat got RoxXxan signed to a bigger label. So now she’s signed to Polydor, we will be involved with her album a bit more. Hopefully this will be RoxXxan’s first single.

Follow U is your first official single. Tell us about it?

Aya’s manager came and said I like what your doing, can you come and remix this track for us, and then I heard this track and said cool I’ll do it. It’s kind of like dupstep, but it’s not. it’s slower than dubstep. Mistajam played it on Radio 1 and it was getting a little bit of hype, not crazy. Then Ministry called up and said they love it; and want to put it out as a Yogi single. After that Swedish House Mafia heard it and said we like it. They were really into what we were doing. I now have a management deal with ATM Swedish House Mafia.

You also have a publishing deal with EMI…

In January I did a deal with EMI with a company called Levels, which is Wretch’s label. They said we want to do a publishing deal, and it made sense because they supported what I was doing from nothing. Traktor was nothing and then it became something, then Wretch became something, and now he’s had a No1. It’s good because we made that happen, not being boastful, but Traktor helped him start his career in the mainstream. It was one of those tracks that was urban but it crossed over. So we did the deal with EMI Levels.

What is a track of yours that you are really proud of?

I got this one Tinie track that I’ve done and Zilla is on the hook, it sounds crazy. I’m really proud of it because Tinie has taken that for his next album, but it will be a bit of a wait till it comes out.

Who is your personal favourite person that you have worked with?

They’re all good. Everyone’s got a different vibe, even writers. Zilla is really good to work with, because she can play and if I’m stuck we will write a hook together and that’s always fun. L was really good to work with because he writes a chorus so quickly. Like he’ll go in the toilet and come out and be done, no writing just recording. Wretch is wicked as well, he is very professional and his metaphors are crazy. There is a writer called Autumn Roe who wrote Leonne Lewis’ new single Collide, and all the Alexis Jordon single’s. You go in a room with her and you know your getting a hit. You will get a brilliant song done in half a day, and she’ll be like where’s the next one? I’m working with a guy called Frasier T Smith, he did the Adele song Set The Fire To The Rain and Tinchy Stryder and Taio Cruz’s Break Your Heart, he’s a producer and he’s like the nicest guy you will meet in your life. He just has the nice, positive energy, there’s something really calm and soothing about being around him. I was in a session with him and Talay Riley who’s wicked as well.

Is there anything your working on that Flavour readers would be interested to hear?

I’m working on RoxXxan’s album and a project with RD. I’m doing a second single as well; I might do something with Zilla or Steve Angelo or Wretch 32. I’m working on the Swedish House Mafia album, which will be crazy. I’ve got stuff with Tinie Tempah and Tinchy Stryder coming out. Zilla’s album will be out next year, we’re about 6 tracks in at the moment and we’re going to get some exciting people to come and work on the project. I want to start doing some live shows again. I just can’t wait for these songs to drop.

*published in Flavour Magazine

November 21, 2011

Rival ft Lioness – Plan A (Narration by Logan Sama) (Official Video)

Lord Rivz is out today and physical copies are available from http://www.majormusicentertainment.com or digitally from iTunes, Amazon.

November 18, 2011

Bigz feat Simon Barnard – Close My Eyes Forever (Official Video)

Taken from the Quantum Leap mixtape which you can download for free here – http://bigzquantumleap.bandcamp.com/

November 17, 2011

Money Matters – Kalenna

Kalenna was brought up in West Philadelphia as a military brat. Moving out of her house after graduating with nothing but a plastic bag to pursue a career in music. Singing gospel professionally from the age of 9, opening up large radio shows on Sunday mornings. By the age of 19 she was songwriting for Christina Milan, and since moved onto artists such as Charlotte Church, Aretha Franklin, Fantasia, Slim Thug, and 3 Six Mafia to name a few. Already bagging 4 Russian Grammy Awards, Kalenna is proving to be an unstoppable force in the music world. Talking big and small bucks, Shireen gets down to business with Kalenna…

Bringing In The Dough
I worked in a bakery for my first job. I was making bread and designing cakes. It was ridiculous, I had to get up at like 4am and do double or triple shifts sometimes. You’re like popping bread in these huge ovens, or climbing in the freezer, it was just crazy. I was 19, 20, sitting there to my manager complaining saying bitch I’m going to be on TV one day. She just laughing and thought I was crazy, so did my mum she thought I was bi polar. My last job ever I was a maid, a janitor at a YMCA, with a big trash can, cleaning floors and toilets. Everybody has to work. It was a nice little hustle too; I think I was making $20 an hour back then.

Mum Knows Best
My mum gave it to me. Your management or business manager, there speaking from more a business level. My mum though, she’s just like put your money in the bank don’t spend that money. If I can get it for you, or you can get it for cheaper, she will always find a deal somewhere, I don’t know how she does it. Just simple things like grocery shopping, using coupons, or a cheaper place to get it, she’s amazing. Between the two of them, Tricky and Tony, they are two of the smartest most brilliant people you will ever meet when it comes to just knowing peoples personalities. They know the business. They know the contract. One is just like a lawyer and one is just a people reader, so the two of them can just body up. They also good at giving advice, they think about things. They don’t do anything out of desperation; I don’t care how much money it is. It could be $200,000 dollars, it’s not about the money for them, it’s about the bigger picture. Sometimes you take a lot of money, but you get short results, and sometimes you take the little money and get longer results and more money at the end.

The Real Deal
My mum and my dad were pioneers. My parents always taught us to shoot for the stars and that we could be successful, and to always take your time and know what your next step is. I have horses, I have children that have to go to college, and have a good education. It’s not about partying or drinking or losing yourself. Being a businesswoman comes from being a realist.

Living Off The Land
Some haven’t all been great. I’ve brought real estate and property, but just land mostly. Dirt is my favourite thing. Some other investments have been other artists. The most profitable and solid investments have been my houses and land that I’ve brought. I want to buy as much land as I can possibly buy. I’ve got a good 60 acres at the moment spread out, and 5 properties between Texas and Georgia. In Texas I have a whole ranch, which is ridiculous. We have three properties in Texas.

November 16, 2011

K Koke ft Emeli Sande – Last Train Home

K Koke is up and back on his feet again after his 7 month imprisonment for attempted murder. The Roc Nation signee from Stonebridge, has got together with Emeli Sande on what is the best collaboration in 2011 for me.

November 15, 2011

Mic Righteous – I Know (Behind The Scenes)

Avit Clothing go behind the scenes for Mic Righteous’ new video ‘I Know,’ taken from his new album Campaign. He also spits a freestyle for us. I interviewed him on the day so watch out for the interview coming soon….

One of the most talented rappers to emerge in the UK, Mic Righteous is fast, steady and on point with his lyrics and sound. His lyrics show us his world, and his delivery proves he is hungry, but ready for it.

November 15, 2011

Review: Lowkey ‘Soundtrack To The Struggle’ album launch

As I approached The Garage in Highbury & Islington for Lowkey’s album launch, ‘Soundtrack To The Struggle,’ at 7pm, there was already a massive queue of fans outside. The bouncers tell us that even though we are there to work, we have to get in the guestlist queue. It was never going to happen, as myself and the photographer for the event make our way round to the back of the venue, and into the backstage area.

The first DJ is already playing with host Jonzi D. We go outside and talk to Iraqi born, 18-year-old rapper Crazy Haze, one of the supporting acts for the night, who tells us what he’s been up to at the moment and that he has just come back from a tour of the Middle East. At 8pm the legendary Charlie Sloth graces the stage to gear up the crowd, who to be honest, don’t really need much hyping up. As he comes on stage he announces, ‘I was walking down here and I saw the queue and I nearly cried, it was emotional. Real talk.’ That’s kind of how I felt when I saw the support for Lowkey, who’s video’s and songs have been blocked from most airwaves.

While Charlie Sloth is in the background playing the best in UK and US hip hop, I’m introduced to New Jersey rapper Hassam Salaam, who gives me his album ‘Children Of God’ – which I’ve now listened to and am blown away by. He tells me, ‘I met Lowkey a few times, he told me he was having an album launch tonight. I haven’t heard the album yet, so that’s why I’m here to check it out. I know what his work is about and I know what he’s about and I respect him.’ I also hear him freestyling later and he is not a rapper anyone should sleep on, with Haze remarking, ‘where did this guy come from?’

Camden rapper Awate came on the stage to perform some tracks, including some acapella performances, which got an amazing response from the crowd. After this DJ 279 came back on, with Logic’s performance up next. Logic performed tracks from Freeman and Listen including ‘Price Tag’ and ‘Begging You.’ Special guest Jody McIntyre came on next to perform his ‘War Poem.’ One line I remember strongly from this poem is, ‘fight with a pen, but write with a sword.’ For those of you that don’t know, he is a journalist and political activist, and a very inspirational character. The last supporting act of the night, who comes on to rapturous applause, is Akala. Host Jonzi D comes on the stage and announces, ‘who told you conscious music does not fail.’

It was now time for Lowkey to come on. As he touches the stage he exclaims, ‘I feel like I’m Michael Jackson.’ He performs a whole list of songs including, ‘Obama Nation,’ ‘Obama Nation part 2’ with Black The Ripper joining him on stage, ‘My Soul,’ ‘Terrorist,’ ‘Voice Of The Voiceless,’ ‘Alphabet Assassin,’ and ‘Too Much,’ with Shadia Mansour. ‘Dear England,’ ‘Haunted,’ and ‘Cradle of Civilisation,’ which all feature singer Mai Khalil, when Lowkey performed, ‘Long Live Palestine,’ he got the crowds involvement, chanting, ‘Long Live Gaza, long live Palestine,’ before he performed the track. He also dropped a freestyle during the night, and was joined by another special guest Ghetts at one point. All in all this was a great night for political and conscious music, and one of the best albums of the year by far.

Lowkey briefly talks to me about the album, ‘the album is a culmination of all of my last few years of my life and the last few years as an artist. The main issues I talk about in it us being human. The experience of being a flawed human being in a world where we have clear currency on human beings. Some human beings are worth less and some human beings are worth more, and that’s something I want to change. That’s what the album is about, that’s what my life is about, I try to even the score.’

‘My favourite tracks are Dreamers Or Haunted because they’re both about very personal matters. When writing them I went on the longest journeys. A good song is where when your writing it, it takes you on a journey. You’ll be writing the chorus, and it will take you to a place emotionally.’

*published at Flavour Magazine

November 15, 2011

Marlon Roudette: making music solo

Some of you may recognise his name from being the frontman of Mattafix. Now Marlon has embarked on his solo career and has just released his 4 track EP, ‘Riding Home,’ which he previewed for the tough crowd at Yoyo’s in Nottinghill last Thursday. Shireen sits down with him in a coffee shop off High St. Kensington to talk to him about his time in Mattafix, St. Vincent and this exciting new period of his life.

Your parents are both in creative industries how influential was this to your music career?
It’s been very influential. Mainly because I grew up with the idea that expressing yourself is a normal thing creatively. It was never like I was rebelling against parents that wanted me to become a lawyer or a doctor or anything like that. At the same time they weren’t very heavy handed with it, so fortunately for me, that’s what I chose to do.

You were living in St. Vincent why did you decide to return to London at the age of 17?
Mainly for A Levels. I thought I’d probably have a better chance of making a living if I did film. I came back here and studied film and photography but I was working in studios at night. The music took over after a while, I got my first publishing deal and that was that. London is probably the best town to be doing it in. I love St Vincent, I escape home after a tour or to visit mum at Christmas and stuff. It’s a great refugee for me, but London I like big bad towns and for songwriting London seems to fit the bill.

How did this environment inspire your path?
Going backwards and forwards between the Caribbean and St. Vincent has been a huge inspiration. Tracks like ‘Riding Home,’ or ‘Brotherhood of the Broken,’ they all have a sentiment of not home sickness exactly, but the fact there is another location where you’re able to be creative. Two of the things the Caribbean has an abundance of are rhythm and melody. The tracks that make it there in the clubs are very hard judges of songs that move them. It was front-page newspaper headline when we got to No.1 in Germany the other day. The Prime Minister rang my mum at work.

How did it feel becoming an ambassador for Save Darfur and will you ever do anything like that again?
It was mad, they heard a song that I recorded in South Africa, and said ok we’d like to use it leading up to the UN Convention. We got on a tiny UN plane, and they dumped us in the middle of nowhere.. It was nerve wracking but incredible at the same time. Darfur people, Sudanese people welcomed us all, I was blown away by how they could go through something like that (genocide) and hold themselves together. It was an incredible experience.

How different is your sound now from being in Mattafix?
I thought it was loads different and I thought I’ve sold out to the demons of pop. I think feedbacks come back saying I’ve still got the same vibe really. Maybe I was more of a driving force of Mattafix then I thought I was. Mattafix was more political, there were a couple of personal songs, but it was mostly how we felt as young Brits going to war in the Middle East, having our tax money spent on the invasion. It was stuff like that that motivated us. Then I got my heart broken, and much more of a personal vibe ended up on the tunes.

You seem to have a big following in Europe. Where do you find you have the biggest support?
Germany is my biggest market. You can never tell why a record or an artist touches a nation at any one given time. It’s probably a culmination of reasons. We’ve had the best set up there in terms of labels, were on Universal Europe. It’s what they call an uber hit out there, 8 weeks at No.1, platinum straight away. It’s been absolutely mad. I’ll play a stadium TV show and come back here and get on the 52 bus, it’s a weird transition but it’s a great one especially for songwriting.

Read the rest of the interview here