Posts tagged ‘Lowkey’

March 26, 2012

Review: Talib Kweli at HMV Forum

Talib Kweli came to London on Tuesday 20th March 2012 to HMV Forum for his first gig of his UK tour. With some new songs out from the legend, and the album ‘Prisoner of Conscious,’ on the way, anticipation was high as Flavour’s Shireen Fenner headed down there.

Mic Righteous the young UK rapper opened for Talib, performing tracks off his new mixtape Kampain, with his friend/producer/DJ on the decks Preston Play, providing Mic with the soundtrack to his performance. Opening with the track Kampain was perfectly suited, as the track gives a solid introduction and background knowledge about Mic, with him telling the audience, “that tune gets me gassed.” Next up was ‘On Your Ones,’ where he interacted with the crowd saying, “Let me see hands in the air,” and pretty much all the crowd were taking part, warming them up. My personal favourite track off the mixtape ‘I’ll Try My Best,’ where he raps from a fans perspective, was performed to the crowd, who were really starting to enjoy themselves now, with Mic dropping the microphone and leaving the stage, leaving the audience wondering what had happened. Of course after 30 seconds he is back on to perform the rest of the song with more passion and delivery. Talking to the audience again to explain his next track, ‘Look At My Balls,’ he said, “This is for the fake, the part time rappers. Make some noise for the real hip hop fans.” This track was delivered with such intensity; you could tell he was consumed by the passion of his lyrics. A freestyle was followed by the closing track ‘Winding Road,’ where the stage lights were turned off and everyone in the audience turned their phone lights on.

Lowkey the second opener for Talib Kweli was on next. There were plenty of Lowkey fans in the audience and when his second track ‘They Call Me A Terrorist,’ came on, hands were in the air waving side to side. ‘My Soul’ was also a winner, with Lowkey asking the crowd to sing ‘You can’t take my soul,’ and everyone singing along. Up next was his Fire In The Booth, with so many people knowing the words and the crowd starting to have fun and dance, accompanied by a freestyle at the end. ‘Hand On Your Gun,’ was next with everyone in the audience putting their hands up. Lowkey then talked to the audience asking them to say, “Hip hop ain’t dead, it’s in London,” and the gig turned into a chant. ‘Obama Nation,’ was next on the schedule for Lowkey. Singer Mai Khalil was brought out to perform, ‘Million Man March,’ showcasing her amazing vocal talent. The closing track, and in true Lowkey style, was ‘Long Live Palestine,’ with people in the crowd jumping up and down and pumping their fists in the air to these lyrics.

Talib Kweli’s DJ was up next to warm the crowd up for what everyone had been waiting for, asking ‘Y’all ready for Talib Kweli?’ He bursts onto the stage full of energy getting onto the first track of the night, ‘Say Something.’ “London how are you feeling?” he asks the audience, who replies with shouting, ready to hear more from the hip hop legend. He gets into track, ‘Listen,’ one of his most popular tracks. A few tracks in and he then asks ‘How many Beastie Boy fans we got in London?’ before rapping over one of their tracks, then mixing it into Drake’s ‘I’m On One,’ this bit got the crowd buzzing with the audience raving. One of the highlights of the night was Talib sampling “All The Lonely People,’ by Paul McCartney stating, “Paul McCartney denied the sample, but my s**t is doper than all the other s**t,” and when the beat dropped on the track the crowd again went crazy, enjoying the moment. The next track up was off his next album ‘Prisoner of Conscious,’ and his latest release, ‘Distractions,’ with him stating, “The first time I performed this track was at Occupy Wall St.” At the end of the track Talib gives us a freestyle highlighting why he is one of the best in the game, with the crowd clapping and cheering at the end. The DJ and Talib Kweli swap positions with him behind the booth rapping and saying, “hand in the air, say turn it up,” and the DJ at the front of the stage dancing, and then Kweli putting on Jay Z and Kanye’s track N***s In Paris. He then raps over Tyga’s ‘Rack City,’ showing us his versatility as an artist too. ‘Definition’ sent the crowd absolutely berserk from his Blacksmith days with Mos Def. The next section of the show was dedicated to his work with J Dilla, with the crowd moshing. It was getting towards the end of the night and Talib wanted everyone to remember the show as one of the best saying, “We gonna have a good old fashioned sing a long right now, clap your hands to the beat,” perfoming the track with him and Hi Tek, ‘The Blast,’ in between telling everyone to keep dancing. He leaves the stage and we think it’s all over, but the crowd want him back and are chanting, “Kweli, Kweli,” and stomping their feet. He bursts back onto the stage with as much energy as before, giving us some more classic tracks including ‘I Try,’ with Mary J Blige and the Just Blaze produced track ‘Never Been In Love.’

All in all, the show was definitely one for the hip hop lovers, full of intensity, passion and love for the music. The delivery and crowd interactions from all the performers were on point, showing that all of them had thought about their fans. I couldn’t have asked for better from the legend that is Talib Kweli, even after years in the game and being one of the most respected hip hop artists, he still performed throughout the show with as much energy, vibrancy and passion as ever.

March 22, 2012

HAZE FT. LOWKEY – WINTER DREAMS

Haze releases the video to Winter Dreams featuring Lowkey, taken from Haze’s forthcoming Album, Loyalty, Honor, Respect out March 25th.

March 13, 2012

Talib Kweli

Talib Kweli is one of the few rappers making music that speaks volumes and is still commercially feasible at the same time. The Brooklyn rapper came onto the music scene in the late 1990’s as a member of Black Star, educating and entertaining people with his music, which is perhaps why he was named by Jay Z and 50 Cent as their favourite rapper.

After the release of many albums and singles, himself and long time manager Corey Smith launched Blacksmith Music, signing an exclusive deal with Warner Bros with artists such as the highly respected female rapper Jean Grae, and super group Strong Arm Steady which includes Xzibit, Krondon, Mitchy Slick and Phil The Agony. Talib Kweli’s new album ‘Prisoner Of Conscious’ will be out this year, with the first song off it ‘Distractions,’ released two months ago.  Talib will be back in the UK this month on tour, with support from Lowkey and Mic Righteous.

1. Your first name in Arabic means ‘student’ or ‘seeker’. Do you feel that you have lived up to this name, and if so what would you consider that you are a student of?

I strive to live up to my name. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. I always study details so I am a student of everything I see. But mostly of music.

 2. How would you order money, power, and respect if you had to list them in order of importance and why?

Respect, Power, Money. Success is measured in happiness not paper. The power that a respected man commands trumps the power a rich man commands. It’s in the long run, so it’s hard for people to see.

3. Do you think that it is possible to achieve money, power and respect without any compromise?

Depends on what compromise you mean because everyone compromises something in life even you and I, but if you mean without compromising integrity, then certainly yes.

4. Do you feel that your educated background ever made it harder for more impoverished listeners to relate to your content?

Yes, I feel that there are times when my lyrics may get too nerdy, but I feel I’ve learned how to embrace it without alienating the listener who may not get it. This took time, and it wasn’t easy.

5. What do you feel your position and role in hip hop is?

I feel like I’m a connector. I connect with like-minded artists like Yasiin, Hi Tek, Kanye, Mad Lib, Jean Grae, Common, The Roots etc and I feel I somehow keep these artists connected. I also find a way to connect with artists who do different genres of hip hop than what I do, and newer artists as well.

 6. What section of society do you think your music appeals to most?

Those who appreciate quality. Regardless of age, race, creed or region.

 7. You are often described as the most underrated artist in hip hop. Would you agree with this appraisal and why do you think this is?

There are artists more underrated than me. But I certainly ain’t overrated I know that much.

 8. As your career has progressed and moved forward your content has naturally evolved. Do you feel any pressure or constraints to stay true to the style and content that people first fell in love with?

I like the sound I’ve developed over the years, I enjoy it. On top of that I feel that I owe something to the people who have invested in my sound over the years. So I will always have an album or mix tape or something out that represents that style. But as an artist I get bored easily and have to try new stuff, whether fans like it or not. It’s always about striking a balance.

9.  Jay Z formerly shouted you out on ‘Moment Of Clarity,’ and you responded on ‘Ghetto Show.’ How did it feel to have your lyricism appreciated and publicly praised by arguably hip hops most successful artist?

It felt right. Jay Z has always been one of my favorites from Original Flavor days, and I always looked to him as an example. Still do.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JlWDgOe_Is

10. What were the reasons that led to you selecting Lowkey and Mic Righteous to support you on your UK tour?

I didn’t select them; I usually am not involved with the selection of openers. But I am glad they were chosen. I’ve heard great things from them and I look forward to sharing the stage with them.

11. You will be touring in the UK soon. Where in the world would you next like to go on tour that you haven’t been to yet?

Iceland. Or the Middle East.

12. What single character trait or attribute do you most respect in another artist?

Honesty

13. What are you liking about the UK hip hop scene at the moment?

Not really up on the UK scene. But Low Key and Mic Righteous are both ill, and I’m not just saying that because they are on the bill. I rock with Kano too, and my man Sway.

14. Any plans for a future collaboration with any UK artists?

I get down with whoevers nice and serious about getting down.

 15. Following ‘Prisoner of Conscious,’ what is next for Talib Kweli?

San Juan. I want to move to Puerto Rico.

Quick Fire Round

  • Artists you respect the most?

Bjork

  • Most powerful person in hip hop?

Kanye West

  • What would you prefer money, power or respect?

Respect

  • What can’t money buy?

Happiness

January 24, 2012

MTV Best Of The Best: UK MCs 2011

The 10-6 best UK MC’s were announced a few days ago for 2011. Last night on MTV Base the last 5 were revealed by Joseph JP Patterson, Charlie Sloth, Posty, Morgan Keyz, Nardene Scott and Hyper Frank. Here is the full list…

10. DVS & Blade
9. Krept & Konan
8. Skepta
7. Lowkey
6. Ghetts
5. Giggs
4. Chip (Chipmunk)
3. Professor Green
2. K. Koke                                                                                                                                       1.Wretch 32

Well done to Wretch who fully deserves the No.1 spot, and K Koke who is one of my favourite artists who made the No.2 spot. The other 8 were also well deserved and all of them have worked incredibly hard. In my opinion I would have put Joe Black, Mic Righteous, Benny Banks and P Money in there, but this is always a hard one to think of only ten top MC’s so big up to the panel for making the hard decisions.

What do you think of the list, and was there anyone crucial you think was missing?

January 11, 2012

Mic Righteous – The Mike Tyson of rap

Mic Righteous, real name Rocky, oh yes, is one of the most talented and honest rappers in the UK. His music speaks volumes and takes rap music back to its grassroots where it’s about oppressed people having a voice. His mixtape Yob Culture comes with a hard and passionate delivery of lyrics – hear his anger and hunger as he take us deeper into his world…

His parents fled Iran in the early 80s, moving to Margate to begin what they hoped would be a better life. This was not to be. By the time Mic was 10, both parents were not around, so he and his sister faced maybe going into foster care. His brother looked after them for a few years, but at the age of 14, Mic was left to survive on his own again, this time without his sister who had gone to university. He left school and his seclusion from the world took his writing to new heights; it became a form of escape.

On Yob Culture, in ‘Tied to the Tracks’, he says, ‘Mic Righteous is back, the Mike Tyson of rap.’ The former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world is where Mic Righteous he got his name. ‘I used to be called Mr Reid because my brother was called Mr Blitz. Eventually I thought that name’s kind of whack, so I decided to change it. Mic Righteous was kind of like Mike Tyson, and I was really influenced by Mike Tyson at the time; I love boxing. I just thought of Mic Righteous, it just My manager said, ‘That’s it, we need to take over now, were ready to go.’ The name suits him well as his raps are packed with punches.

Mic Righteous first came to people’s attention shortly before he turned 18, when he featured on English Frank’s album The Hardway, then on Lowkey’s LP Dear Listener, which put him at the forefront of conscious rap and brought him to the attention of hip hop’s underground movement, gaining him a fanbase worldwide. About Akala, Lowkey and English Frank he remarks, ‘All them guys, they’re my dawgs.’ What does he think about people comparing him and Lowkey, even though the differences are obvious? ‘I don’t know why people say it. I don’t think I sound like Lowkey in any way; but if I do, it’s because I listen to a lot of his music, so it’s probably rubbed off. I’ve acknowledged that people have started to clock that, but it’s not like I try and copy him, he’s just one of my friends. Lowkey took me under his wing at one point when I was young. He’s taken me to the side many times and been like, ‘This is your future.’

The two discuss politics and religion in their songs. ‘I have beliefs,’ says Mic, ‘I believe in a higher power. I don’t know about religion, but I believe it’s a basic skeleton to live your life by. Everyone knows you shouldn’t steal, you shouldn’t kill, you shouldn’t do bad things. My parents were religious and moved here – nuff said [laughs]. My mum still prays and that, but she does a lot of things that contradict her religion at the same time; but we all do, don’t we? That’s why I don’t label myself as anything; I just have my own beliefs.’ Wise for his 21 years, likely down to an emotional and turbulent life, he is also sweet, charming and open despite this.

Things are looking up now he has signed a publishing deal with Sony ATV/Naughty Words. Naughty Boy is the producer behind Emeli Sandé’s hit ‘Heaven’ and new song ‘Daddy’; he has worked with Wiley, Chipmunk and Professor Green, among others, and previously with Mic, Dot Rotten, Griminal and Sneakbo on the single ‘F**kery’. ‘I signed a few months back, so Naughty Boy is my publisher. Shah’s one of my good friends and I love Emeli Sandé, she’s like my sister.’
As we’re there on the shoot of video ‘I Know’, Mic talks about the new track and the album follow-up to Yob Culture. ‘The new track is “I Know” – Charlie Sloth and DJ Semtex have been spinning it; we’re going to put it out soon. It’s the first off the album Kampaign, and every single beat is produced by Preston Play. It’s kind of like Preston Play presents Mic Righteous’ Kampaign. This is the new thing I’m trying to bring to the table, the pain, the essence. Kampaign is the new movement, Yob Culture is the movement, Mic Righteous is the movement.’ And the next big thing.

Back to the Future
Favourite childhood memory?
Probably leaving school. Yeah, my last day of school.

Favourite childhood film?
Terminator 2.

Best food:
My mum used to make this dish called ‘subsi’, but you won’t know what that is.
We do actually…
[Looks excited] You know what it is? That’s sick! Do you like it? Oh I love you!

If you could bring a memory back from the past what would it be?
That’s quite hard… I remember one time, my brother took me out and we emptied out Coke bottles, cut them and put them on our arms so it was like we had guns on our arms…
[Anyone else confused?]
Cos the bumps at the end look like a machine gun.
[Of course…]
We took them out and pretended there were aliens in the field – then we shot them.

Favourite album?
The Marshall Mathers LP.

Favourite old-school tune?
[Ponders for some time] Tupac,
‘Hit ’Em Up’ or ‘Holla At Me’ or
‘Dear Mama’

What’s your most embarrassing
childhood moment?
Probably when you’re out and about and a bird just squats on ya. In Margate there are a lot of seagulls and one will just decide to squat on ya and it will land on your face or something. That’s pretty embarrassing.

Worst childhood telling off?
One time I had a fight, my first fight, and I got told off because I didn’t win it, so I wasn’t allowed home. I was so pissed off I went out, found the kid and slapped him. Then I went home and my dad was alright!

Follow Mic Righteous on Twitter @MicRighteous or visit http://www.micrighteous.com

* published in Flavour Magazine

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