Jasmine’s Juice – Kano in conversation with Hip Hop Podcaster Combat Jack .

CJ1
Photo Credit: Do It Cos You Love It Photography

Back in the day when American and British music acts collaborated, we the music fans didn’t always believe these miraculous musical marriages .
On the one hand, we loved that our acts were being recognized by their American peers, but the cynics in us knew that somewhere down the line there was money passing hands and possible payola deals to feature on each others records, which back then was the norm.

Most industry folks would assume it was a behind the scenes, record label staff concocted deal, to enable both acts to make an impact in each others territories. This would result in awkward, hastily thrown together songs and remixes featuring each other. I mean do we think that the following couplings of artists who collaborated were or are good pals that met randomly? P Diddy and Skepta, Low Key and Immortal Technique, Shystie and Azealia Banks, Lupe Fiasco and Sway, J Spades and Wacka Flocka, Dizzee Rascal and Bun B, D Double E and Snoop Dogg. Exactly.

However this past week a different anglo-American relationship began in London. Reggie Ossé, also known as Combat Jack (CJ), who is a former hip hop music attorney and executive, and also a former editor of The Source, came to London to record one of his podcasts for his well received The Combat Jack Show.

CJ2

In the past CJ’s line up of conversationalists has included Big Daddy Kane, Marley Mal, Chuck D, LL Cool J, and Spike Lee amongst many others. The show also highlights cultural icons, and behind the scenes movers and shakers like Kevin Lilles, Dame Dash, and Russell Simmons.

He’s just one of a few hip hop historians who have come to the forefront in recent years, with his knowledge from the early days of hip-hop culture, to modern day 2016. His enthusiasm to give a platform to the current day names as well as old skool legends is refreshing for his mixed Internet audience.

This week CJ flew into Brooklyn Bowl in London’s O2 dome, where he and British grime MC and actor Kano sat down for a chat in front of a London audience, who were all clearly big Kano and Combat Jack fans and the two-hour conversation revolved around Kano’s life behind the music as well as his latest, fifth studio album Made in the Manor released earlier this year.

MADE IN THE MANOR ALABUM COVER.
Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 15.33.21

In the UK Kano is a BIG deal.

1. He’s hip hop establishment. He started out on pirate radio in his youth alongside his peers like Jammer, Ghetts, Wiley, Dizzee Rascal and more.

2. His debut solo single ‘P’S &Q’s’ was a massive underground hit and is still a classic in grime and beyond.

3. He is a Brit Awards nominee and a MOBO Award winner.

4. He is such a champion of London that in 2005, Kano was announced as one of “London’s Heroes of 2005″ by Mayor of London Ken Livingstone.

Kano is well known for tracks that showcase his endz. His city. His environment. ‘Made in the Manor’ adds a lot of retrospection and nods to the East End state of mind. About his tracks that showcase his part of London, during his convo wit CJ, he referenced singles like “Ghetto kid” from his 2005 debut solo album ‘’Home Sweet Home. ‘’I always want to put London into my music and so we’ve been been known to record the actual traffic in the city and lay it down under my vocals. I gravitate towards these kinds of songs’’.
CJ 3

‎Kano was on top form as CJ questioned him about his Jamaican roots which he noted had led to him loving rappers like Biggie, Jay , Busta and Nas for ‘’their JA swag’’.

K ”My mum and bro came over on a boat from JA. It took six weeks. They docked at Southampton and went to Canning Town. You can imagine the cultural shock from Jamaica to Canning Town! The day they got here it was snowing. They thought it was sugar!
They came to east London. They were first black family in these parts. They had a hard time. They had to fight just to walk to school. My uncles were into music and played reggae all day. They – Eric and Everton (the wrong un). One was a dj, the other an mc and I took a lot of it on. You hear it in my roots Jamaica and East London.
My mum took me to Jamaica every year of my life. I saw acts like (dancehall musician) Tiger and was inspired by acts like him so that style of music was in me. But it wasn’t until I was older and I heard Heartless Crew that I got into it’’.

Much to the audience’s amusement Kano also revealed that he had never had a real job.
‘’I once convinced my local barbers that I could cut hair. He let me work there for a day. I ended up there for half a day!’’. Quick as a flash CJ retorted ‘’that was your grand opening grand closing!’’

Kano added that he felt the pressure in his early days of writing well and competitively ‘’I had to write well as I had to turn up on a Monday and meet my other MC mates and compete lyrically. I used to write in science classes. Sharky Major and I would just spend hours writing lyrics and making tapes and go to shows. I used to make tapes at a mate -Gingers – house. D Double E once left his notebook there one day. I looked after it for him. Lol. (I may have peeked) he really does write boo roo boop boop”. Writing well was important. I couldn’t sleep if I thought I’d half stepped it. I recall going to raves and feeling didn’t have enough lyrics that were simple enough for the crowd to sing along to. I didn’t think I was great. Lethal was the best. And Wiley. So I went back to the drawing board. I feel I never really had a club tune till this album till Garage Skank and Three Wheel Ups!”

CJ 4“>

Kano admitted that when he did (garage/grime music events) Sidewinder and Eskimo Dance, those raves were key to him and his peers breaking through as artists, but that when the defining term ‘’grime’ was coined ‘’At first we didn’t like it’’.

Garage and grime era’s are very different and Kano described the difference between the two genres like this; ‘’you’d get dressed to go to a garage rave and drink champers. Grime was a tracksuit hoody trainers thing. Like jungle was an off-key Moschino thing. The kids were on OUR thing’’.

Kano alluded to the fact that he has that certain magic touch if you wanna be a Grammy winner ‘’people keep working with me and winning Grammys after me”.

In hip hop culture; it always causes a debate when people list their top MC’s, so of course CJ went there. Kanos? ‘’Mike Skinner’s (The Streets) probably the most influential artist on my career. Going on his tour and watching showed me a whole new way of being a music act. It was the way he commanded the stage. It also helps when most of audience knows your songs. He was always in control and composed. The music was elevated to another level at his show and made me want to have a live band. And the level of professionalism was top. There was only laughter AFTER the show. He’s just a whole diff machine and I wanted to do it on that scale. The guy’s a poet with classic albums. He’s a super-supe!’’

Under pressure Kano cited his top 5 UK MC’s as D Double E, Wiley, Ghetts, Lethal B and Dizzee.“Not in that order, that’s just my top 5! – and that’s me not putting Giggs or Wretch32 in grime”
CJ5

Kano dropped classic stories of how the rest of his grime peer star’s strong armed him into recording his solo Fire In The Booth (a brand led by Charli Sloth- the UK’S biggest grime/hip hop name who has his own show on BBC Radio 1).

‘Let me tell you about our grime Christmas with Giggs… we were all out one night. Me, Giggs, Wretch, Bashy. Tinchy. Ghetts. Sneakbo and more. It was like grime Christmas. Ghetts ,who is my mate, says “aint it funny how one person here ain’t done a Fire in The Booth?!” Giggs says “yeayyy …man must be scared!”. I said “do u lot think I can’t spit on a beat?!”
‎Wretch came to my defense. But Giggs didn’t believe I hadn’t done one so he googled it! (Kano does a BRILLIANT Giggs impression). Then after I left it kept repeating in my mind until I eventually called Giggs and said “OK I will do one when the next albums coming” and I’m not one to give myself titles but that (Fire in The Booth) verse was alright though wasn’t it!’’ K
ano adds modestly to the audience’s delight.

About his LATEST BORN IN THE MANOR ALBUM kano revealed;

‎K I feel I’m being extremely true and honest to myself with this record. With Fraser (from his music team), and I making this album we got into the studio and we didn’t even make any music at first. We just talked for ages. Fraser said “you’ve travelled so much and your world has grown so much since your start so now we need to reflect that in your music. Also, the piano’s really important to the consistency of this record.

CJ questioned that fact that one of his new songs – T shirt Weather in The Manor- was an awkward, real revelation, about one of his broken friendships with one of his close old homeboys, who called him after hearing the song;

K He rang me when the album came out. We spoke for 93 minutes. We hadn’t spoken in years. I had to get out the story of our friendship going sour. Apparently his mum text him and said “you need to call your friend”. He sent me a pic of the Gold “Home Sweet Home” plaque on his mums wall. (To show he still valued our past friendship), so we put it aside and it was all love.

SCREEN WORK

Kano’s recent Garage Skank video had a lot of excitement as fans from all over the world, sent in clips to his personal e mail, which were then turned into the final video ….

K ‘’I’ve been doing a lot of work both in front and behind the camera, Garage Skank looked like a lot of hard work but we did it in my kitchen. It took me about 5 hours to write everyone’s e-mails in the box and it wouldn’t go so I sent every e-mail one by one! I got school classes; Polish people, a man and his dog, EVERYONE was sending in video slips of them lip-syncing to my song! Initially I thought it would just be a lil slideshow. But I got thousands of e-mails! I got to connect with my fans in a real way. It felt good”.

TOP BOY is a British TV series on Channel 4, that has enraptured the younger generation as well as American stars like Drake, who has been championing for a new series to be made.

‎K ’’ With TOP BOY it came after my forth album. I wasn’t doing anything. My manager told me they wanted me to read for the part. I never read it. I had insecurities. I wasn’t a trained actor etc…. I didn’t trust that it wouldn’t be bad. I’m protective of my brand. You have to prove to me that you’re in it for the right reasons. No gimmicks. It’s gotta be quality. In the second audition I was told in confidence that it was nearly my part and that they knew I was capable of being calm but could I also really lose it? A crew member whispered to me that “Everything in that room can be replaced”. So I went in there and did it. Smashing stuff up. Afterwards I wondered “did I just go too far?”

K Acting is about telling the truth of your character and I took that ethos to my latest album. I told the truth of who I really am. In hindsight Top Boy was good thing for me to do, and a highlight of my career. I hated the experience of acting though. Hated it. The eraly mornings, late nights, really, really hard work. But as Robert Di Niro once said, and I’m sorry to sound like a cheesy actor, he said “if it feels like fun, it probably no good”. (I sound like a real actor now right? Lol!)

About UK MC’s that used to rap with American accents;

K ”yeah, there was a time in UK hip-hop where we rapped in American accents. People loved it so much that they emulated it to fit in. but I don’t think an American wants to hear an English person trying to be American. I think you wanna hear about our authentic street stories. I think though that we got over that and are now proud of the music that WE make just being ourselves!”


And Kano is right. Now seems to be the most commercially successful time for grime acts that are headlining music festivals all over the world and cashing in on their own terms.

Regards the ‘’Combat Jack meets Kano’’ evening it was a fun and interesting moment, and obviously great for fans to hear their fave star speak in person in a relaxed surrounding, however I did feel there was some slight disconnect.

It’s a nice idea, but the first rule of media is to know your audience, and it’s always a teeny bit awkward for a media creator to be making content for two different audiences. This recording was for Combat Jacks global podcast audience, so he was naturally starting with the basic get to know your beginnings questions about growing up, environment, favourite early rappers and so on. Much of which, the live audience already knew all the answers to.

Similarly Kano had to break down the definitions and early history of garage, grime and hip-hop in the UK for CJ, and on a few occasions the audience had in a good-natured way, pick up CJ on pronunciations or facts. Overall however it’s a brand that can be tweaked and as a starter it ticked all the main boxes and that’s all that matters. Anyone shining a light on hip hop culture across the globe is a hero to me.

Jasmine’s Juice – London’s solo hip hop artists Shay D and Kingpin. Hip Hop Lovers. Literally.

Hip hop has not only impacted the world but has also brought people together globally. The visual of an MC with a mic in hand and that swagtastic fashion flair unites hip hop lovers worldwide. It also unites hip hop lovers. Literally.

KP & SHAY
Photo credit – The Cypher Lounge.

British rappers Shay D and her partner Kingpin are both rappers with their own fan bases. They are also a couple, united by their love of the culture. In a time when the focus on hip hop culture couldn’t be bigger with tv series, films, fashion, slanguage and more embodies popular culture, we caught up with a couple who are solo identities joined by the love of the culture that speaks for them.

SHAY D
Raised on a diet of Garage, Grime and Hip Hop, North London Hip Hop artist Shay D carries a fiery young woman’s persona. Influences of Persian poetry through to 90s rap can be heard in her content and delivery and she’s an authentically underground artist who tells it like it is. Her journey of gritty music and philanthropy can be heard in her music with social commentaries of growing up in the city and a passion for encouraging a positive mentality in her message to her listeners.

Shay – Get Money

Shay D lives Hip Hop, basing its ethos in all her work from workshops for young people she mentors across the UK to co running a successful Hip Hop and Poetry event Lyrically Challenged, promoting Women In Hip Hop to the fullest. In 2012, Shay D won the peoples vote for Best Female Rapper at the UK Unsigned Hype Awards and was recently featured as Top 5 UK Female Rapper by certified blog, Hip Hop Connection. Shay D featured in BBC 1Xtra’s Radio Live lounge for Spoken Word Vs Grime Programme this summer and features in a Channel 4 documentary about females in rap ready to air next year. Shay D released her debut album, “A Figure of Speech” in March 2016 and is currently touring the album and taking bookings!

KINGPIN

London born and raised Hip Hop Artist Kingpin, made his mark on the underground music scene with his thought provoking social content, explosive rhythmical delivery and high-energy stage presence. Born in the inner city environment of London, amongst a backdrop of council estates, deprived communities, drug abuse and gang culture, an environment that has provided endless inspiration for his lyrical content. At a young age he discovered a passion for music and literature, which progressed into a talent for writing and performing.

Kingpin – Capital Punishment

Kingpin started his career as a Hip Hop artist by performing on the London underground Hip Hop scene. He then founded a creative company called Underworld Konnect, through which he masterminded the independent releases of his own debut album ‘The Initiative’ and an award winning collaborative project under the guise of Caxton Press entitled ‘Shame the Devil’. Both of the these projects were critically acclaimed following their publication, receiving praise from Hip Hop legends such as De La Soul and Chuck D (Public Enemy).

With written coverage from N.M.E, Metro Paper, and SBTV, radio support from Capital Xtra, Kiss, Reprezent, FM and Itch FM amongst others, Kingpin finds himself working among Hip Hop’s elite which has presented him with the opportunity to perform in the USA and across numerous countries and cities in Europe where he has established a large and continually growing fan-base.

Eagerly anticipated by his audience, “Art of Survival” is Kingpin’s latest album, loyal to the boom bap sound, catchy hooks, and immaculate lyrical finesse yet touching the ever-important mindfulness of social observations, which he cares so deeply about. This rapper certainly does not shy away from being proud of caring about his community, recently on Channel 4 News encouraging young people to grow their own food and look after their health and screening his debut short anti gun film at the Camden Roundhouse, which resulted in a Sky News, live interview.

==================================================================
A conversation with a couple who live, breathe, love hip hop.

Did you meet each other through Hip Hop?

Yeah, as you would expect for any true Hip Hop couple, we met through Hip Hop. Before we were introduced we had a lot of mutual friends and we shared the same DJ (DJ Shorty) so it was inevitable that our paths would cross eventually. The moment that we actually linked up and were first introduced to each other was at Secret Garden Festival, where DJ Shorty who knew and worked with us both individually, seized the opportunity to get us in a photo together while we were chilling backstage, and then introduced us to each other.

We really began to form a relationship about a year later, on a summers afternoon, when we were coincidentally lounging in the same park. We were both checking each other out from a distance trying to establish where we recognised each other from and then soon realised that we knew each other through music. We reintroduced ourselves and then we discovered that we lived in the same area and after a bit of chit chat we arranged to link up to collaborate on a song. About a week later we linked up in the same park and we sat in the car listening to instrumental and talking about which beats we should collaborate on. This conversation lasted so long that we actually fully drained the battery out of the car and ended up waiting for breakdown service to come and get the car up and running. While waiting for breakdown service we decided to go somewhere to eat and ended up having quite a romantic dinner at a greek restaurant.

KP & SHAY 2
Photo credit – Vaya Media Photography.

How has being a couple in the Hip Hop scene had an effect on your music careers?

Initially we didn’t like the idea of being in a relationship with someone who is involved in the rap game as we were aware of the fact that it might be hard to escape the world of hip hop and we would always be in a working mindset. Relationships are a great way to escape the day to day grind and having a partner to share down time with is so important, but our fear was that if we were both involved in the same industry we wouldn’t be able to ‘switch off’ from the work we do and just relax.

However, the reality of being in a relationship with another artists is actually so much better than we anticipated. There’s a mutual understanding of both the highs and lows of having a career in music, we can motivate each other creatively. We give each other feedback on what we are doing and we enjoy networking and going to events, as it’s mutually beneficial. It could be difficult to be in a relationship where our partners might find it hard to understand why we dedicate so much time to Hip Hop, why we’re always out at events, why we’re always in the studio or writing bars, but we don’t have to explain ourselves to each other, we just understand and really put the wind in each others sails to help us along the journey. We encourage each other to work hard on our music because we understand the importance of nourishing our creative sides, and know how soul destroying it is to neglect our music careers.

It’s also really benefited us in a practical sense as we have merged our fan base and so our material is reaching further with more people are engaging with our work. A lot of our fans who knew our work as individuals have now discovered the work of our partner. We receive really positive messages from people who like how we operate in music as a couple and support each other and we definitely feel like it has made our network stronger. We have been able to join forces and put both of our releases out under our independent label, Underworld Konnect, and we have developed a street team that circulate our Hip Hop Promo Packs (a pack full of event flyers, postcards, stickers clothing brands and hip hop related literature) which we distribute all over London. We collaboratively organised both of our album launches as live events through the brand. It’s a real example of power in numbers and we both share the same goal, so merging our individual networks to work toward the same thing is key and has proved a successful strategy so far.

What music do you listen to together?

Although we both love Hip Hop, it is such a diverse genre with so many variations that we often notice our differences in taste before we recognise our similarities. As a result the car journeys are a constant battle over who controls the radio, or who’s iPod playlist gets airtime, which CD shall we listen to, these are the ongoing conflicts of two artists on a long car journey.

We find a lot of common ground in listening to some chilled out Jazz and so a lot of the time ,to avoid any crazy arguments, we leave the radio on Jazz FM. Anytime we do listen to Hip Hop we inevitably get into some debate about the state of the music industry, the effect of media on youth culture, the mainstream media and the hip hop they choose to play, the lack of music with a conscious message, the use of the ’N’ word in music, are women in Hip Hop being disrespected and the list goes on.

To generalise, Shay D is more down with the contemporary stuff and likes the club bangers, plus she is a fan of London’s very own ‘Grime’ scene and very supportive of female rappers that carry themselves in a positive way. I am more down with the 90’s boom bap sound and music with a chilled and jazzy influence.

How do you separate your working life and your personal relationship?

Sometimes we find it really difficult to have a boundary between normality and working as independent artists. I think a lot of fellow musicians will know that being an artist doesn’t stop, the self-promotion, looking after your own bookings, managing your diary, answering emails, making sales as well as creating the music and producing music videos. It’s all very time consuming and can take over your entire life! KRS did say ‘Hip Hop is something you live’ and it really is, but when it becomes your sole method of making a living, it is hard. Sometimes we find all our discussions throughout the day have been about music, how we can progress or new business ideas and it gets too much so we have to remind each other to take a chill out moment and spend some quality time together.

How has being raised in London influenced your music?

We have our own relationship with the city and so it has influenced us in different ways.

Kingpin: I’m a Londoner, my Dad travelled here from Gambia, West Africa as an illegal immigrant in the late 70s and my my mum was born and raised in London. They both separated early into my childhood and so my single mother raised me in a council estate. My music is always a reflection of my experiences and my environment so I think London lifestyle has an integral influence on the music I make. I discuss a lot of Socioeconomic issues in my songs, and this is all based on my experiences as a Londoner. One song that typifies how London influences my music is called ‘Capital Punishment’ and its about the pitfalls involved with living in England’s Capital, London, hence the title ‘Capital Punishment’ which is a play on the word Capital as a financial term and a geographical term. I have always lived in London and so this reflects in my cultural practices, Its in the slang and language I use and its in my physical demeanor. Also, London is such a multi-cultural environment and so we are exposed to so many different influences, which manifest themselves in ways that it’s hard to quantify or explain.

Shay D: I was born and raised in London with fully Iranian parents. My dad left when I was six years old so my grandparents and single mum raised me. I am very close to my Persian roots. I identify with my mothers culture, speak the language, eat the food, and brought up on a diet of Rumi and Hafiz so poetry has always had a heavy influence in my life. Being an only child to my mother I was alone a lot to keep myself busy and really identified with Hip Hop and its dialogue. Growing up, I had to defend my mother in a country where racism is passively quite rife and English was her second language, and seeing the struggle of poorer families in communities really pushed my passion for justice and I hated seeing people suffer. My mother and I were victims of gentrification, being evicted from our property that led us going through the homelessness system (covered in my song ‘Not The Chicken Shop Man’) Gentrification is at a peak right now in the capital and causing a lot of communities coming together to fight the system. I developed a very opinionated view of social flaws as well as a love of the multi-cultural aspect of the capital, which embraces races and religions highly compared to the rural regions of the UK. I do love London and it’s art scene, the city doesn’t sleep and is constantly reinventing itself, which I appreciate. This contrast is clear through my music where I highlight my environment from youth violence, poverty, class issues but also a love of where we are from and how it has shaped us to who we are today. I also have uplifting angles on personal stories and tackle things on single parents, misogyny and female empowerment through my music.

What’s the key to being a successful Hip Hop artist in the UK?

We feel like there’s more to being a successful artist then putting out music. People want to know more about the personality of artist and social networks have offered an opportunity for artists to share more of their personality, whether its through video blogs on YouTube, or sharing moments via Snapchat, and twitter is a great tool to engage with fans and other artist as well as promoting videos and releases, and both of us frequently use Facebook as a way of engaging with fans as well as sharing our opinions on the industry, and we often get booking requests and messages of support through these mediums.

Also with streaming music now becoming so common among fans, its hard to rely entirely on sales so you have to be ingenious about how you generate income. Getting bookings is a great way of making extra dough, but we both do a lot of rap workshops with young people in schools and have found hip hop as a powerful tool to engage and educate young people and we have made money through and gained a lot of new fans through workshops. Both of us have put on Hip Hop events where we give artists a platform to perform and audiences an opportunity to come and party and discover music they have never heard before. Throughout experience as promoters we also developed a business where we have a street team that promote events so if promoters need support in getting the word on the street about their concert or party, we have the people in place to make it happen.

Also, music videos have been a great way of promoting our music to an international audience and we generate so many sales and new fans though the music videos that we upload to YouTube. Audiences seem to find visuals more engaging than just audio files so we put a lot of emphasis into getting as many videos from our albums as possible.

The imbalance of content on mainstream channels is vast, with gatekeepers constantly pushing drugs, alcoholism, sex, misogyny and violence on our screens and radios even during the school run time! Our aim is to bring the balance back, bring some mindfulness and chant some real talk into the ether to remind people to strive to be successful and become change makers and not victims of capitalism. It’s all about balance.

What is your future looking like?

We both have more work in the pipeline and are always thinking about the next creative project. Our latest projects `Shay D – Figure of Speech’ and ‘Kingpin – Art of Survival’ have barely been out for a year so we haven’t neglected our fan base for too long, and over the forthcoming months we will be releasing more music videos from those projects. We have been fortunate enough to travel around Europe performing shows together and will no doubt be doing more of this in the future. At the time of writing this we are about to travel to perform some shows in Norway and we are also looking into promoting and staging our own events in London through our brand Underworld Konnect. Shay D and DJ Shorty have their weekly underground Hip Hop radio show on ITCH.FM which continues to grow, gaining new audiences week by week. We are producing more Hip Hop Ed projects for young people, through workshops and mentoring. Everything we do is Hip Hop!

=============================================================
Shay D released her Figure Of Speech album in 2016 and headlined the Southbank Festival featured in BBC3 Fresh and a Channel 4 documentary on the event she co-runs all within a year. The recognition for her work with words landed her a BBC 1xtra Radio Live Lounge this year with Hip Hop blogs naming her one to watch.

Shay – Figure of Speech – Album

Itunes

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/a-figure-of-speech/id1067448900

Kingpin released his Art Of Survival album last year.

Kingpin – Art of Survival – Album

Itunes

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/art-of-survival/id979268025

MUSIC VIDEOS

Shay – Who What Why

Kingpin – Practice What I Preach

Hear Kingpin talk about the history of UK hip hop and MC’s here; ‘from jungle, to garage, to grime’’

Jasmine’s Juice – In The Beginning, There Was The Book Of…South London Rapper Genesis Elijah.

GE
Genesis Elijah.
Photo credit: Nathaniel Bygrave

Rapper Genesis Elijah was inspired at the age of ten by Wu Tang and Ice Cube. Little did he know back then that his future would see him working with KRS-1. In the UK he’s worked with everyone from Skinnyman and Sway to Blak Twang.
Elijah is an act that has toured nationally around the UK in spots like Manchester, Swindon and Southampton, as well as internationally in places like Spain.

He released a mixtape in 2006 for his steady fanbase who were disappointed when he then decided to withdraw for a while from the music scene, but he was of course, eventually, magnetically drawn back.

Elijah then delivered an album titled Before I was famous with the Krate Krusaders and as testament to his focus, his body is covered in tattoos that read discipline, justice, dedication and liberty.

GE2
Photo credit: Nathaniel Bygrave

1. Where did you grow up and what was the environment like?

I grew up in Brixton South London. I had a very contrasting upbringing. I was raised in a very strict Christian household where we had no TV and secular music wasn’t allowed, but my uncles and cousins would listen to Big Daddy Kane and NWA and also I would get music from my friends at school. Around my friends I’d be cussing and fighting but at home time would be praying and reading bible stories. Inside I would be singing and outside the riots were happening. It was a strange time but I learnt a lot about people.

2. What was it that attracted you to hip-hop?

These guys were rebels to me. They didn’t give a fuck. They were adults but not like the adults I was used to being around. They were saying things I didn’t even understand but I wanted to understand. I loved the way rappers dressed, their hair, the jewelry everything.

3. When did you start making music and what kind of things were you writing about?

I think I wrote my first rhyme at around 10 years old. Ice Cube dropped Amerikkkaz Most Wanted the year before and I had played it non-stop and Dre had just dropped The Chronic. I was obsessed with Snoop. He used spell out “The D-O-Double G” so I wrote a rhyme calling myself “The N-A-Double T”. My real name is Nathaniel but my family call me Nat so I started spelling it with two T’s cos it looked better and still do to this day. My rhymes were really just disses to imaginary foes with the most amount of “motherfuckers” and “niggaz” I could fit in a bar haha. One day my mother found my rhyme books and threw them all out. As I got a bit older I started talking more about social issues then made some songs about my friends but at the time I hadn’t really found my identity so my rhymes didn’t really have any direction. In those early years I wasn’t really focused on content and I was just focused on the actual skill of rhyming. I made my own rhyming dictionary and would also write down any punch lines I could think of and pretty much all I would do everyday is think about rhymes and punch lines.

4. How did your writing progress as you got older?

Well I found myself. I spent years listening to other artists and being inspired by them to point where I would here Eminem then I would start rapping all intricate then I would listed to Common and would rap more afrocentric and then listen to Mobb Deep and get all thugged out etc. It took a while for me to just get comfortable being me and as soon as that happened my song writing just went to a different level. I became more self-aware as a person and that just translated to who I was as an artist. I think that intern just helped people to relate to me because now they knew who I really was.

5. How has your sound changed?

I think I’m a lot more open to new sounds now. I won’t limit myself to one sound now. If a beat sounds good I’ll use it. When I was younger I’d turn down beats for sounding too pop or too American or whatever because I was very conscious about what my supporters would think. Now I really don’t care what anyone thinks. My real supporters are smart enough to understand I need to grow as an artist. I dropped a track called Karma which was nothing like anything I’d done before and got the most amount of love from die hard supporters and that just validated everything for me. I am a hip-hop artist but I don’t just make hip-hop.

6. What do you think of the new crop of Hip-Hop artist like Drake, Young Thug, Future, Kevin Gates etc?

I really like most new music. I like the energy. It reminds me of why I started listening to hip-hop in the first place. A bunch of young guys just not giving a fuck. I hear people complaining about not understanding what they’re saying and its funny cos that’s thing my mum used to say about the music I make. I think you have to get to a point when you realise some music just isn’t made for you. Let them do their thing.

7. As an underground artist in a small scene were you able to make any money?

I made a little bit of money from my first deal but not enough to quit my 9 to 5. I didn’t really make money until I started selling CD’s on the street. Some of my boys were already doing it so I wanted to see if it could work. I pressed up my mix tape and went into central London and started selling them to shoppers. I was selling them for £5 each and at first would sell about 20 a day. After while when I got better at selling it went up to about 30 then once I got my music video on to TV sales just went crazy. I had days where I’d sell 100 CD’s. My CD manufacturer couldn’t believe how fast I was getting through them. From 2006 to 2009 I sold around 20,000 CD’s. 2006 was the last time I worked a 9 to 5. The only reason I actually stopped was because I was spending so much time selling CD’s all around the country I didn’t have any time to actually make any new music. Around the time I stopped selling the game was on the way down anyway. There were so many CD sellers it was getting saturated plus CD’s were on the way out.

8. As consumers have moved away from hard copies how have you been able to make money of music?

I kind of sat back and took a look at the ways that money could be made from music and then basically tried to do em all. So obviously I’ll always make money from shows but I also looked at things like music production and getting music synced to movies and adverts. I then started shooting music videos for myself and other artists and that became a separate career in itself. I also started a clothing line and got in to graphic design. My thinking is I may not be able to make £10,000 in one go but if I know I can find a way to make £1000 10 times and then it’s just a matter of scalability. Seeing what works and doing more of it.

9. Any plans to sign to a major or even a big independent record label?

I’d love to be signed. I’d love to just have management. Sometimes the weight of putting a project out yourself while knowing it’s not going to get the push it deserves can be a bit soul destroying but I always tell myself the people that need to hear it will hear it. Like fate will bring it to the right people. You never know who’s hands your music will end up in and I’ve had people like Ricky Gervais push my music to Gary Vaynerchuck use my songs on his videos as well as having movie directors request music for films. If the right deal comes a long then I’ll take it. I’m very realistic about those chances and if it doesn’t happen I’ll know I’ll be fine regardless but like anything in life it’s nice to have some help. It would be cool to know that a label believes in my music enough to invest some money in it but if not I’ll just keep investing mine.

10. Do you ever see yourself leaving the music industry?

No. I love music. Regardless of all the other things I do outside of music, music is my foundation. Without music nothing else can really happen. Music gives me a voice. It gives me a platform and from there I’m able to capitalise on opportunities that come to me. Making music is the only thing that never seems like work to me. It’s something I would do even if I never got paid for it and the majority of the time I don’t get paid for it. I’m very grateful for the position I’m in because I know how hard I’ve worked to get here. Even if the place I am doesn’t seem far to others to me it’s been a life long journey. I may never be a worldwide household name selling millions of albums but I know my music had an impact on a few lives. I’ve seen places I would never have seen without music and have been able to give my family a good life. Long after people stop checking for me and this little bit of hype dies down you can bet I’ll still be writing rhymes doing shows and connecting with people who love real music. This is what I was born to do.

Watch Genesis Elijah | Homicide





Jasmine’s Juice – Manchester’s Children Of Zeus – The Freshest Kids!

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 14.28.17

When the world looks to the UK music scene it usually knows of numerous London based pop star names and then of course there are those four lads, you know the ones, The Beatles from Liverpool. Aside from that there have been numerous pop and rock acts from another one of the UK’s next biggest cities – Manchester. Manchester more than punches above it’s weight in the musical ring!

The obvious names? Happy Monday’s, Elbow, Oasis,Take That, The Verve, Chemical Brothers, Badley Drawn Boy, Doves, Joy Division, M People and many more.

However, don’t get it twisted, the genre’s of hip hop and grime have also throughout the years been prominent in the city and it seems like 2016 is the time that they are breaking through.
It’s taken five years of solid work by grime MC Bugzy Malone to break through nationally, and now all eyes are on Konny Kon and Tyler Daley, otherwise known to all their fans over the years as ‘Children Of Zeus’.

‘Still Standing’ is the debut single from the latest signings to First Word Records, Children of Zeus. COZ is a soul project from two of Manchester’s most respected artists Konny Kon and Tyler Daley.

children of zeus
Konny Kon and Tyler Daley. Photo Courtesy Benji B.

Konny Kon is a DJ, MC and beatmaker best known as one third of Broke’N’English alongside fellow Mancunians DRS and Strategy. Tyler Daley, also known as Hoodman, went from being a respected MC and actor to one of the most in demand soul singers of recent times, lending his vocals and writing talents to music from Soul II Soul’s Caron Wheeler, 50 Cent, Lisa Mafia, Bugsy Malone and more. As a duo they have also supposed acts like The Pharcyde in concert live.

Listen here;

Whilst the likes of Dub Phizix, Chimpo, Zed Bias and Levelz are making waves in D&B, Bass Music and Grime, Children of Zeus came to break the trend and bring a soulful side that is much needed to continue Manchester’s rich musical history. Over the last few years the duo have been releasing tracks through their Soundcloud, generating daytime radio play and legions of devoted fans. They are now finally ready to commit some of these recordings to wax with two tracks that represent the sound that they describe as ‘future classic soul for sophisticated hoodrats’.

‘Still Standing’ is a Bilal-esque slice of neo-soul, a love-letter to the mother’s that raised them, whilst on the flip ‘No Strings Attached’ blends dusty soul samples with a tale of life on the road and the temptations it brings. Look out for COZ’s debut live show in London later this month and more new music very soon.
Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 14.29.00

1.If you had to make a playlist that your music would fit into, which others artists would compliment your sound?

Not to compare us at all but I think our music sits nicely with artists such as Raphael Saadiq, Anderson Paak, Slum Village, Madlib, Maxwell, Native Tongues etc

2.Do you consider your music to be uk hip hop?

We both come from hip hop backgrounds, and obviously are from the UK, but the sound associated with ‘UK Hip Hop” doesn’t really resonate with us. There’s hiphop elements to our music and there’s rhyming on some of the tracks, but I think it leans more towards soul music that hip hop heads would appreciate.

3.Which artists do you listen to in your car?
Konny Kon-Westside Gunn & Conway, Loose Ends, Anderson Paak, anything Alchemist produces, Garnett Silk, Mobb Deep.

Tyler- my stereo is broke haha but if it wasn’t I’d probably be listening to the same shit

4.Who does what in Children Of Zeus?
There’s two of us. Tyler Daley who handles most of the vocals (singing and MCing) and Konny Kon who MC’s.
We both make all the beats.

5.How would you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t heard you before?

We make classic soul for hip hop heads. There’s no lovey dovey dancing over polished R&B involved. It’s soul music with samples or something we’ve played with, a lot of bass or some dusty sounding breaks involved. Some of the tracks are straight hip hop but it’s all Is pretty chill.

6.Who are your musical influences?
We both love the same music. We came up on 80′s/90′s hiphop but pirate radio in Manchester raised us to love soul, dancehall, roots reggae and lots of UK street soul from dons like Soul2Soul, Loose Ends, Omar etc.

7. What’s next for Children Of Zeus?
Working on more music and touring. We have some pretty huge collaborations with some legends from NYC on the way which may have dropped by the time you read this. We just want to continue making music for your headphones or car that still translates to rocking a live show.

8. Where can people go to find your music?
Best place is www.soundcloud.com/children-of-zeus but if you search for us online there’s more music and videos out there!

9. If you could sum up your vibe in one sentence, how would your describe it?
Soul music for listeners, bluntheads, fly ladies and prisoners!

10. How has your home town (Manchester) helped shape you as people and artists?

We live in city where it never stops raining. All we can do is sit inside and make music. Manchester is also home to the highest concentration of MC’’s for its size in the UK. It’s competitive but everyone is cool with everyone no matter what genre. The grime MC’s work with the hip hop guys. The Drum n bass MC’s jump on hip hop tracks. It’s all one big collective that seems to dominate the UK at the moment. It’s always been very London-centric but I think ears are starting to point in our direction now and one after another we are all breaking through.

Jasmine’s Juice – Meet Jodie Abacus – Fire in the charts, Fire in the kitchen!

South London singer Jodie Abacus is performing at this years Glastonbury Festival and this past fortnight also performed across the pond at The Roots Picnic.
Jodie’s songs are classic, feel-good, two-step hits in the vein of Kool and the Gang, The Temptations, The O’Jays with hints of a certain hat wearing Virginia lad called Pharrell.

JA TITLE copy
PIC SARAH MCCOLGAN.

Jodie is hot onstage and in the kitchen. Just go to YouTube and see Jodie Abacus Hot Kitchen recipes. He talks us through how to make musical macaroni (where he throws in Aretha Franklin as well as his Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson impressions), space buffalo wings (to go with his track Space Buffalo- complete with fire emoticons), and soul slaw (where he sings to his cabbage – yes really). Whilst Jodie’s Hot Kitchen video recipes are slightly tongue in cheek, mix master Armand Van Helden has actually remixed a version of Hot Kitchen.
JA ROOTS PICNIC copy
PIC KWAME KWATEN.

Heres Jodie on THAT Roots Picnic, his pre-stage rituals, where he sits on the Rock & Roll scale and what he’d like to school Americans on.

1-The Roots Picnic is an annual event that is huge on the American calendar. How did you get onto the bill and how does this rate alongside all the gigs you’ve done so far?

The Roots festival was a fantastic experience for me, to share the stage with an R&B KING like Usher – even to sound check JUST after usher was absolutely surreal.
I don’t exactly know how I got on. I guess you have to be kind of special to be put on. Humbly, so I’m still working on ‘being special’ by the way lol.

2-Playing live is something you clearly love with all the European festivals under your belt too this past year, but what’s your worst ever live gig memory?

There’s no best or worst gig to me. My thing is to always learn from the last show, and forget about how good the last show was and respect the new audience, so my mind state is always on reset. I’m singing my stories and I want the audience to leave nourished!
JA STAGE copy
PIC COURTESY ROOTS PICNIC.

3-Where were you on the Roots Picnic line-up, at the start? Repping the UK? – Tell us about that?

I was the only one repping the UK as far as I know, and I opened the festival. The response afterwards was amazing, I didn’t want to let myself down so I was pretty focused.

4-You did your sound check after The Roots and Usher’s sound checks. Did you manage a quick chat with any of them?

I was mostly pretty hype and just wanted to perform. I did have a degree of nerves in general but they were at the usual normal level.
I spoke to Usher and Quest Love very briefly whilst taking a picture. Quest Love asked me where I was from and tried to do a London accent…it wasn’t bad …nice try haaa

JA USHER QL copy
Jodie with Questlove and Usher.
PIC KWAME KWATEN.

5-How did your set go? Were the audience at all acquainted with your material or was it playing to a brand new audience unfamiliar with your music?

It’s funny thing because as I go onstage, I’m singing and people were mouthing the words to the songs …I can’t tell you how much of an amazing feeling that is, you wrote it once in the past and now they’re singing it. The set was amazing judging by the way the responses were after the show on social media and through the duration of the day.

6-Once upon a time, live music, musicians and sex, drugs and rock & roll used to all go together, but in 2016 musicians seem a much cleaner, healthy eating, juicing, detoxing, vegan loving bunch. Where do you sit on the scale between totally rock & roll and clean living music nerd.

Between me and my band The Neutronics, there’s a fair amount of beer drinking, swearing and unprovoked insults. Pringle-eating, tequila-shooting and mostly laughter …we laugh A LOT!!
JA JAZZY JEFF copy
Jodie with DJ Jazzy Jeff.
PIC KWAME KWATEN.

7- I’ve been on tour with music stars that do all sorts from praying, honey, rum and lemon concoctions to full yoga session…. What are your pre-stage rituals?

I like to gather everyone together to have a prayer before I go on, it’s to remind us to respect the stage and why we’re here. It’s a long hard road. I’ve been praying all the way.

8-What’s the one standout song in your repertoire that new listeners should be sure to check out and why does it represent what Jodie Abacus is about?

Either “I’ll be that friend” or “Halfway to Mexico”
One talks about my bout of pneumonia, going through a bad year and needing a hug, the other is about the part of the journey to get to this point. Part of what’s happened in my past experiences and what it takes to progress.
JA ANDERSON PAAK copy
Jodie with Anderson Paak.
PIC KWAME KWATEN.

9-What’s the best thing about hip hop culture and how it’s changed the world?

I love hip hop, good or bad it’s the Rock & Roll of this generation. It’s very accessible in a way. It’s like crushing a tin can to play football without the ball and scoring goals through two pieces of clothing acting like goal posts. And if that makes absolutely noooo sense to you it makes total sense to me and that’s all that matters.. Sorry but it’s tangent time and my mind goes off on one sometimes visualizing things. Hip hop is worldwide now and in a very big way.
If you catch me in the right place at the right time you’ll see me rock out to hip hop like a nutter!

10-Americans always seem to have quite an affinity with all things British from our accents to our slanguage. What one British thing from South London in 2016 would you like to skool them on?

1. That we don’t all speak like Dick Van Dyke from the film “Mary Poppins”

2. That some, perhaps most of us haven’t tasted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Tell an American that you haven’t and they lose their sh**. (LA accent) “What do you mean you’ve never tasted a peanut & jelly sandwich?.. Are you insane???” It’s a great conversation piece you should try it if you’re a Brit at a table filled will Americans.

3. We Brits can jaywalk whenever we want. .. Dangerous yeah!… But we can.

Nick Cannon’s London Takeover Addresses Racist Nightclubs.

NCVTITLE
Nick Cannon onstage in London.

Last week American rapper, actor, comedian, entrepreneur, record producer, radio and television personality Nick Cannon came to London for the weekend and true to form, didn’t spend a minute of it sleeping. Across a three-day period he performed to a packed out O2 Brixton Academy where he recorded a UK version of his infamous Wild N Out show, made appearances at two nightclubs and threw an all day rooftop pool party.

O2AcademyBrix WnO O2AcademyBrix insta 2

Nick was child prodigy who excelled in acting as well as music and played the lead role in movies like Drumline, and in 2005 created, produced, and hosted the MTV improvisation comedy series WILD’N Out, which not only airs in the USA but in numerous countries globally including the UK.

In the UK, Wild’N Out inspired a whole raft of its own comedy talent and brands including Kojo’s Comedy Fun House, Harvey’s Young Gods Of Comedy and more. Nicks own production company – NCredible – produces his Wild ‘N Out show for MTV2 in the states – and sit up and pay attention… this is a big deal. We always talk about ownership; well this is what it looks like.
NC WnO A1 Images 3

Alongside his own comedy series Nick has hosted around seven seasons of Americas Got Talent alongside his peers like Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Mel B and more proving that American households love him too.

As well as all this on-screen creative arts skill, his talent as a businessman mustn’t be overlooked. For a young black man to be simultaneously connected to and respected by the streets, as well as being engaged and embraced by TV and film industry bosses is a rare thing. Nick is the chairman of TeenNick for Nickelodeon too, which …YEP, YOU GUESSED IT..is a big deal.

NC CROWD STAGE

Proving the hip hop generation are in demand and his personal genus is sought after by mainstream money, the Radioshack brand named Nick ‘’Chief Creative Officer’’ in hopes of catering to a younger audience.

At one point in time, Nick was juggling hosting TV shows, a regular daily radio show and all this business. A big deal. He eventually stepped down from his radio show due to lupus health issues, but it hasn’t stopped him continuing to support numerous charitable causes.

For this London trip Nick brought a full squad of talent to the capital, to record a show from here, for his Wild ‘N Out series. UK comic White Yardie opened the show which consisted mostly of his comics each taking a 10-15 minute stand up slot each and then the performance ended with a couple of regular games from the main show.

One of these was the ‘Family reunion game’, where comics scan the audience and bring up celebrity lookalikes from the audience onstage. This was hilarious and in London they found T Pain, Akon and a poor girl who had her weave ripped off her head to the crowds hysteria! (A thing that I hate with my Girl Power gene freaking out, but hey, that’s for another article).

WnO Girls A1 Images 7

BBC Radio’s Dj Ace provided the musical set for the full show in between acts, including a spot where there was a ‘UK Wild ‘N Out Girls search’ where around 15 hot, young fillies were paraded onstage, with Nick teasing ‘’I’m going to take one back to the States with me’’. The NCredible team played their latest song – ‘Snapchat (GettinFreaky) – which went down well with the hyper audience.

NC WnO Girls A1 Images 1
Nick with the UK Wild ‘N Out girls at his Sunday rooftop pool party.

At the end of the show the general consensus from the audience was a great night had been had by all, and whilst they knew and expected Nick to be a very efficient host, it was as a stand-up comic himself that he really surprised and excelled.

Remember we mentioned eatlier how much of a great multi tasker he is? As he left British shores he posted his #LondonNights poem that he had managed to shoot whilst in town. And to our delight it showed him addressing the issue of racist nightclubs in London, (specifically DSTRKT!).

WATCH NICK CANNON’S #LONDONNIGHTS POEM HERE;

Carry on speaking Nick. We appreciate you.

‪#‎SpokenSundays‬ ‪#‎LondonNights‬ ‪#‎poetry‬

London Nights

As I wander through each chartered street
I’m not from around these Ends
But we strut through the alleyways like real top bosses
Holding our bollocks
Searching for gully live
Yo, Cheerio! Where my niggas at?
Ride or Die!
We arrive. Trafalgar Square lights.
I swear this motherfucking city is fly.
I first met her in 2005.
It was Piccadilly Circus, green eyes, ass so fat, curves had a nigga nervous
Perfect etiquette,refine like a horse and carriage.
She was a little hip hop but a whole lot of garridge
She was fucking with my trainers, Red Doernbechers
I rocked them joints with skinny jeans but she called them knickers or trousers
Either way I was trying to get her out of hers.
I heard the West End was a hotbed for mayhem
But I ain’t give a damn
I’m trying to see what that fanny like
My girls from Brixton was throwing so many drawers I thought it was a panty strike
Dotiwala told me I should leave them alone
She know my ex
And she know how I like’em
Baited and Beautiful
Nothing but the best
Model chicks smelling like cigarettes
Ready for sex
But the mash man run up in the spot
So we hopped up on The Tube trying not to get shot
Dipped to a low key rooftop somewhere off Oxford Street
Where I met a red bone joint with 110s on her feet.
But the Council was tripping like this was the Dstrkt
Yo, I’m wearing too many colors to be bothered with racism
So I slipped them some bees and honey
Grully hand to let me and my mans them in
And the bouncers still flexin’ on the Bruvs
With them dumb ass door policies
Shit was mad rubbish
Fuck this!
Niggas stay getting fucked with
Trojan Magnums
Stuck outside even on this side of the planet
But we gone sneak in on the horse
In the distance I hear how the youthful harlots curse
Screaming “Come test me”
Might get sliced up tonight
What would Lonesome do?
Damn I miss my Pops
This shit is getting on top
The rude boy in the ski mask just got tackled by the cops
As they grab his knife, he just spit in they face
Bloody wicked
You don’t gotta believe my tale
I ain’t gotta lie to kick it
I’m sticking to my story
The new pimpin’ Charles Dickens with an Oliver Twist
The Tale of Two Cities
Getting that pick wit paper
Hot chicks
Massive music
Rampaging fights
I can’t wait to go back and feel them London Nights

Jasmine’s Juice – Reasons to LOVE Swan Lake, by the English National Ballet, at the Royal Albert Hall.

ballet 1

This is the most diverse ballet company that I’ve ever seen. Prince Siegfried was performed by black male Cuban dancer Osiel Gouneo, on further inspection of the cast list I noted that in the 120 dancers list, there are an abundance of Asian and black dancers and many eastern European names in the programme too. #Very EU

Every single dancer was technically strong and not a wobble or alignment was out of place. You could see that the 150 plus hours of rehearsals had been well worth it. As a former dancer and ballet teacher, I always look out for teeny imperfections and found none.

There were more swans onstage than I’ve ever seen- 60! Their movement in unison across the stage is mesmerising akin to a kaleidoscope. Magical!

Derek Deane’s choreography is breathtakingly fluid. From long, elongated beautiful dancer lines to full on, ariel visuals of Busby Barclay patterns, to simple head tilts by the dancers, every movement felt swan-like and you couldn’t tear your eyes away for a second.

The cast of young dancers from the Tring Park School For The Performing Arts were just as proficient as the adults. Very impressive.

ballet 2

As the performance was in the round there wasn’t a bad seat in the huge venue, just different angles. I was sat in the stalls – my favourite location – close enough to the dancers to see their faces, feel their muscles twitch and hear every tap of their pointe shoe slide, leap and glide across the floor. Having the audience sat 360 degrees around the action makes it really intimate and thrilling!

Nothing beats the dreamlike, magical sheet of white mist of the lake at night through which the dancers step.

The musical score composed in 1875, is just so beautiful, I decided there and then it should be played during every ground breaking milestone in my life; giving birth, weddings, and more importantly in my dying hours.

Swan lake is the simplest story and so relatable. Who hasn’t been bugged by their parents to get married? Fallen for the wrong person then had their squad protect them from the douchebag?

Going to a ballet in a great venue like this is an exciting occasion. You should have great respect for the culture and tradition of theatre and get dressed, and be on time! I don’t want my swan dream state to be broken by latecomers asking me to get up to let them in their seats.

Some wonder if they would like the art of ballet. If you love sport, athleticism, competition, music, spectacle and a good emotional narrative, you’ll love Swan Lake. If you liked movie Face Off, you’ll love Swan Lake with its duel switched role love and action narrative. Nicolas Cage and John Travolta couldn’t even try a grand jete!

ballet 3

The live music orchestra of 80 members of the English National Philharmonic does visually play second fiddle to the main dance attraction, but by no means is less important. The full orchestra is made up of some of the country’s top musicians, and the acoustics in the legendary venue with its mushroom acoustic buttons hanging from the ceiling make this one huge 360 experience for your senses!

You can always tell past and present dancers who are sat in the audience in the same way you can tell musicians watching their peers perform. We sit in our seats and twitch or elongate our spines to match the swan’s choreography. It’s a dancer thing.

With Swan Lake there are a couple of need to know facts. The parts of both the good swan (Odette) and the evil black swan (Odile) are both played by the same dancer. This dual role of our heroine was very impressively done by lead dancer, Romanian Aline Cojocaru who was playing this role for her first time ever, and what a grand job she did!

The other big thing is there is a big moment that every Swan Lake lover knows is coming. As a child it was one of the first things to grip me. The swan would perform the nigh impossible feat of performing 32 fouettes on one leg spinning at speed on her toes not just to dazzle the audience, but also to seduce Prince Siegfried. I must try that, this Friday night down at the Red Lion.

The black swan pas de deux was spectacular. She performed 32 fouettes spins on one leg on pointe, he performed 11 grand jetes. Look it up. It’s a big deal. That’s all.

Anyone can go to the ballet and they do. The audience was simultaneously full of very elegantly dressed up dance fans in dresses and suits, as well as casual dance lovers in jeans and trainers. There is no judgement. We’re all there for our mutual appreciation society for the dance. Well, until the very end, when you leave and see policemen cordoning off a huge, VIP car with a police escort that was transporting former governor of Hong Kong and the BBC Trust Chris Patten, and you’re battling hundreds of excited ballet leaping fans along High Street Kensington to rush to the tube.

swan troupe

Like most ballets (and pantomimes), there’s a baddie. The evil character that brings the heat and drama. In Swan Lake its Rothbart who was performed by James Streeter, Every time he’s onstage there’s more drama, feathery outfits and evils than in an episode of Empire.

Like many old ballets, a few scenes tend to be set in the olde worlde Royal Courts where entertainers performed for the king and queen. I couldn’t help chuckle to myself as I realised that back when Tchaikovsky wrote this score entertainment was ballet, acrobats, jugglers and dances from other nations. The modern day version today would be The Royal Variety Show with Kylie and a long forgotten, random member of Spandau Ballet.

As much as you want to ‘’whoop!’’ after every virtuosic spectacle, you have to hold down this urge until the end. Once over though, you can join the audience in cheering and whopping loudly!

Swan Lake is the worlds most popular ballet, the Royal Albert Hall is one of the worlds most beautiful venues – it’s my favourite hands down. This English National Ballet performance is a beautiful production.
A truly once in a lifetime opportunity for date night, family outings, friends or simply solo. Catch it while you can!

Jasmine’s Juice- Jesse Owens RACE movie, Samm Henshaw Live, Preeya Kalidas Radio Show.

RACE
jd kk
BRITISH ATHLETES INCLUDING DEISE LEWIS AND LINFORD CHRISTIE JOIN JESSE OWNS TWO DAUGHTERS FOR THE ”RACE” VIP SCREENING.

When my friend MOBO CEP Kanya King invited me to a weeknight film date with her it wasn’t just an old film. No, like M&S would say, it was much, much more…

race group
JASMINE AND KANYA KING WITH TWO OF JESSE OWENS THREE DAUGHTERS AT THE ”RACE” MOVIE VIP SCREENING.

This past few years has seen a rise in the number of biographical films documenting the life stories or a particular infamous moment of various black legends lives. From Mandela, 12 years a slave, the help, (SELMA) martin Luther king, Miles (Davis), Nina (Simone),
DENISE LEWIS
DENISE LEWIS AT THE ”RACE” MOVIE SCREENING.

This fortnight see’s a new release in the UK about Olympic champ runner and long jumper Jesse Owens moment of clarity, a film titled RACE, when for the Berlin Olympics, during Hitler’s reign when the black and Jewish communities were discriminated against by German leaders. The film is an emotional yet euphoric look at Jesse Owens story of his rise and the sudden catapult to sporting fame whilst juggling personal, family and career issues.
KRIS AKABUSI
KRIS AKABUSI AT THE ”RACE” MOVIE SCREENING.

The film deals very sensitively with the storyline around anti Semitism and race and is a must see for cinemagoers.
DUNCUN GOODHEW
DUNCUN GOODHEW AT THE ”RACE” MOVIE SCREENING.

We were very blessed to have the presence of two out of three of Jesse Owens daughters with us on the screening night. They spoke about the fact that however many times they watched this movie it was still painful viewing but that they were thankful that this part of his story had been told leaving a powerful family legacy.

SAMM HENSHAW
SH PERF copy
PIC – Paul Hampartsoumian.
jd sh final
JASMINE WITH SAMM HENSHAW.

Next it was off to Oslo (the Hackney nightclub not the Norwegian city!) for singer, songwriter Samm Henshaw’s sold out gig. Many are predicting that Samm is the latest that will blow up in the same vein and scale as Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith. A true musically gifted lover and performer of a unique musical sound with a very British feel.
SH BAND copy
SAMM AND HIS SOUND EXPERIMENT BAND- PIC Paul Hampartsoumian.

What an experience his live show was! A young very mixed, stylish crowd were all singing Samm’s hits word for word. British born but with Nigerian ancestry, Samm and his The Sound Experiment band were exciting engaging and rehearsed to perfection. With songs from blues, soul, indie, rock, ballads and more they held the crowd captivated for an hour that just sped by.

One of the biggest Samm Henshaw live brand elements is call and response with the crowd and they sang back strong and happy.

One ‘’time to play a musical game’’ moment where Samm had us singing classic riffs alongside him even saw us all singing Backstreet Boys hits alongside Michael Jackson.
His band- all fellow black males – played their various instruments with zealous passion and their onstage synergy altogether was electric to watch.

SH APPLAUSE copy
PIC – Paul Hampartsoumian.

I caught up with Samm post show where he told me ” I’m influenced by so many genres of music and you can’t always express that on a recording, so when me and the band get together we let it all come out! i’m lucky enough to have an audience that responds to me so even for that i’m grateful, i think growing up in church has played a massive part in this, seeing the worship leader in tune with the congregation the connection between the two is just astonishing. I’m also not a huge fan of being sung at for hours, as an audience member i want to feel like i’m apart of what’s going on on stage & so i try to give the audience a bit of that myself.
My live band The Sound Experiment are all my mates, furthermore they’re all my brothers. I grew up with them so we’ve been around each other a long time and i think it shows on the stage too, i’m just fortunate that most of my closest friends are such amazing musicians”.

I congratulated him on representing for the British Nigerian community.

”I just think it’s one of those moments in history where a certain population or nation finds their niche, the brit invasion in the 60s, or the EDM movement that has dominated the charts recently! i guess its just Africa’s time!”

Samm is playing numerous live festival dates this summer – catch him while you can.

PREEYA KALIDAS KUPIDKALIDAS

Finally I popped into BBC starship enterprise New Broadcasting House to appear on BBC Asian Network presenter (actress) Preeya Kalidas radio show in her segment titled Kupid Kalidas where listeners send in their love issues for us to advise on. This week we helped lovers who needed to tell their partner they had bad breath, refused to watch romantic films and were slow in making the first move after a few dates.
preeya jas
JASMINE VISITS BBC ASIAN NETWORK TO APPEAR ON HOST PREEYA KALIDAS’ ”KUPID KALIDAS” PANEL.

Our panel was kept in check by show host Preeya, who is multi talented (She is a singer, TV, film and stage actress) and the former EastEnders actress, who played Amira Masood in the soap, is also currently starring as Pinky in the West End theatre production of Bend it like Beckham and played Monica in the original 2002 film version. Preeya has also had roles in films including East is East, Bollywood Queen and Bombay Dreams. Her show features a variety of names like Reggie and Bollie, Ray Panthaki, Jay Sean and more.

My fave person on Kupid Kalidas is the very elderly ‘’auntie-gee’’ who also sits on her love panel Kupid Kalidas. She was the perfect wise foil to my frivolous diva love demands. After all, she has been happily wed for 57 years compared to my zero. She is total gold!

The results were hilarious. Catch Preeya’s show every Saturday from 1-3pm on BBC ASIAN NETWORK.

Sony Music Sign 2nd African Star – ALIKIBA – To Global Music Deal.

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 16.45.29
Tanzania music star Alikiba signs global record deal with Sony Music on May 19th.

Today Sony Music Entertainment announced their 2nd major Artist signing in Africa with East African act Alikiba.

There was much excitement in African and European afrobeats music circles last year, by their first major signing to the major label who was West African act Davido, from Nigeria.

This is a big story in the afrobeats genre expanding internationally story and was announced today from the Sony Music Entertainment African Headquarters in South Africa. Several of the major pan African media attended to capture the announcement including the major Pan African Broadcasters —MTV, SoundCity, Trace TV, Channel O, EATV, Clouds, etc.

Alikiba flew in from Tanzania to South Africa and was followed by a dedicated film crew who are documenting his story as frenzied fans and reporters captured the moment.

Alikiba talked to a very exclusive intimate audience through his beginnings, his life, his inspirations as an artist, his successes, and introduced a video about the ‘Making of and Behind the Scenes’ of his new single and music video, building up to a personal listening session of his latest single ‘AJE’ and the new music video that premiered on MTV.

Alikiba is a superstar across East Africa and vast parts of the African continent as ‘The King of Bongo Flava’ and his hashtag #KingKiba is a weekly trend across various African countries and has been for the past few years without any signs of slowing down. Alikiba is the only artist in East Africa that has maintained a top 10 media trend profile over the past 2 years and he has a vast army of extremely passionate and loyal fans base ranging from every day people to the Ministers and Presidents of countries.

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 17.35.30

Sean Watson, Managing Director of Sony Music Entertainment Africa says of the development: “Sony Music Entertainment recently announced several key strategic steps that we’d taken in Africa including new operations in Nigeria and the signing of high profile West African artists. We also mentioned that we’d be making similar inroads in East Africa. Well here we are, at the dawn of our East African journey and who better to start it with than an artist of the stature of Alikiba. We’re very proud of being able to partner with such a talented individual and can’t wait to get started on sharing his music with his fans all over the world.”

“My partnership with Sony Music in addition to my already very successful partnership with my management team at ROCKSTAR4000 now completes the team, and solidifies the most powerful proposition and team to take my music to even greater heights, to new audiences and fans across borders and across the world. I’m really excited in the future of music from the African continent as its now the time for the amazing music and sounds from Africa to take over the world, and I’m excited on where this amazing partnership will be able to take my music now to fans across the continent and across the planet. Alikiba commented.

Paul Thackwray, Marketing Director for Sony Music Entertainment Africa added, “Amplifying Alikiba’s already significant digital footprint, extending the reputation and impact of this great East African artist career via his music content across the continent and into the world, is a truly exciting opportunity for us”.

“We are very passionate and close to Alikiba and his amazing talent, we are very excited about his future and there is no stopping his chart success, his music, his commitment and passion and without doubt no better partner that mirrors these values and objectives than the amazing team at Sony Music” added Christine ‘Seven’ Mosha, Head of Talent and Music at ROCKSTAR4000.

His first single, “AJE”, will be released through Sony Music Entertainment Africa.

Follow Alikiba at:
Instagram — @OfficialAlikiba
Twitter — @OfficialAlikiba
Facebook — @OfficialAlikiba
SnapChat — OfficialAlikiba
Official Hashtag:
#KingKiba

Afrobeats and African music acts are being A Listed on radio playlists all across the UK and the genre is seeing huge growth with British DJ’s like Abrantee and Neptizzle who are championing the music genre via afrobeats karaoke’s , afrobeats concerts and more.

7 Things You Need To Know About Journalists (Via MyNewsDesk)

Journalists face many frustrations in their working lives, which can affect the way they work with PR and communication professionals. In February 2016, Mynewsdesk surveyed more than 2,000 journalists in nine countries and found seven key facts that could help you to better understand your press contacts. Here are the seven things you need to know in order to work well with journalists:

1. Journalists never have enough time
The biggest frustration facing today’s journalists is a lack of time. Almost half of the respondents to the Mynewsdesk survey said that time pressures are their biggest frustration. Publications want to get news out as quickly as possible, which means that journalists have to work fast. Therefore, you need to be ready to respond rapidly to journalists’ questions and requests for more information.

2. They’re frustrated by stories that aren’t relevant
Every time you pitch a story to one of your press contacts that isn’t relevant to their publication, you cause frustration. Around a quarter of the journalists who responded to Mynewsdesk’s survey feel more irritated by irrelevant story pitches than any other aspect of their job. When you pitch a story to your press contacts, try to include an angle that makes it relevant for their publications.

3. Their publications want in-depth reporting
Although journalists are constantly under pressure from deadlines, the biggest priority for publications is in-depth reporting that generates interest among readers. To create this kind of report, journalists must seek out supporting information to strengthen their stories. They may need to ask you for information beyond the initial press release, so have extra details and documentation at the ready!

4. Journalists publish on numerous channels
The average journalist publishes content across three channels, which can be time-consuming. The three most common channels are print media, online-news websites and Facebook, with Twitter as a close fourth medium for publishing. Some journalists also publicise through YouTube, LinkedIn and Snapchat. This multi-channel approach means that both journalists and PR personnel have to carefully consider the readership on each platform and tailor their stories accordingly.

5. They’re creating more content than ever on tight deadlines
Three quarters of the journalists in the 2016 Mynewsdesk survey have tighter deadlines and more demands for content compared to five years ago. This fact presents an opportunity for PR and communication professionals, who can respond to journalists’ need for a constant stream of new stories. However, it also means that journalists you’re contacting must be able to communicate quickly with their sources in order to meet their deadlines.

6. Journalists are shifting toward shorter stories
It’s true; 59% of journalists say their stories have become shorter during the last five years. In 2014, the Associated Press advised journalists to keep all but the top news stories between 300 and 500 words. Modern readers, particularly those reading on mobile devices, are turned off by longer stories. This trend for keeping it brief means that journalists must write efficiently, trimming away extra words to maintain the quality of their stories without going over the word count. That’s why your publicists should embrace brevity to make stories more appealing to journalists.

7. They face greater demand for visual content
An overwhelming 85% of journalists claim that demand for visual content is growing. Journalists must source images and videos to support their stories. The shift from print media to online news allows journalists to use video footage in their reporting, creating a richer media experience for their readers. Consider providing video content to journalists along with typical text-based press releases.

It is vital for communicators and PR professionals to understand the challenges journalists face so they can work effectively together to create and publish better stories.