I’ve known Jay Sean since he was a rapper in a trio in west London many years ago. Now he’s a record-breaking award winning international music act that’s settled down with his wife and new baby in the states.

He crept back into London last week for a quick catch up and to remind us his new album THE MISTRESS and single TEARS IN THE OCEAN are out now.

I invited my LONDON360 reporters who didn’t know him as well as I do, to grab him for a chat about all things music, politics, music industry , Cash Money, life as a new independent music artist and more!.


Jay began by informing them about his background and roots;

Jay: I grew up in Southall which is West London, a heavily, heavily populated Indian area. I am a first generation British born Indian so my parents were actually 4 or 5 when they came over from India. So for me, growing up in a very Indian area, but then I went to school in Hammersmith at Latimer Upper School and there I had a massively diverse group of friends from all different backgrounds. So that really was key to me because that equips you with what it takes to have a whole, well rounded personality and be able to communicate with all different types of people.

L360- You’ve always maintained an element of Indian culture in your music, why was that important for you to do?

Jay: In the beginning, it was very organic and very natural the way it happened, the way I fused the music together. Indian music is gorgeous, it’s beautiful, its melodic, its emotional and the scales are gorgeous and I’m a very melodic writer. So I tend to borrow a lot from that emotion. It happened very organically in the beginning, 12 years ago I did a track called Dance With You where we fused a different dialect as well, Punjabi language and we put it together. It worked, it was very natural. Then I did it a couple of times again but what I started to notice was, it was becoming somewhat of a gimmick, the last thing I wanted to become was a gimmick artist: ‘ah whos that guy jay sean who just wacks a tumbler on everything’ I didn’t want to be that guy. Like, what if I wanted to do a song like Someone Like You and a beautiful, gorgeous piano ballad and all of a sudden ive got to put a satari on it. It’s not going to work. So I just feel me being Asian, and doing well, being successful is good enough to represent my people.

L360- How did you get together originally with Cash Money?

Jay: Cash Money actually heard a song that I did called Ride It which was a really pivotal song for me in my career. It was also the song which crossed me over from just the Asian population into the urban scene and that’s when I won a lot of the black audience over as well and the song went international so it was winning over a lot of new territories. It didn’t win over America because hardly anything gets over to America, its very difficult to break America. Cash Money though did come across this video through the producer I was working with at the time. He showed them the video, he said theres this guy called Jay Sean who I’m working with, you should check out his stuff. Boom. Watched the video and they fell in love with the song, loved my vibe and were like, you know what ‘hes clearly got a massive fan base, lets bring him over here and put him out in America’ and they did. And it was amazing,

I had the most incredible experience of my life being signed to Cash Money. I mean without a doubt. It took me from here to here (raises bar) I became a household name in America. That first song I put out went number 1 on Billboard and after that, what do you even do after your first song gets number 1 in America. So, of course we tried to follow up with more success and we were very fortunate to have a lot of success. We ended up selling over 15 million records over there so for me it was great. The madness that came along with that was of course one of those things that you tell your grandkids, Justin Timberlake called me up to get me on his show in Vegas where just a handful of Justin’s friends, since when. When I was growing up in Southall I never thought that would ever happen in my whole life. And then you have all of these things. Casual chit chats with Jay Z who is my ultimate icon but then hes talking to me and making jokes that I stole both of his names. These funny little antidotes, which you will never forget, only happened because I made it in America and it was really an amazing thing. But I never got caught up in the fame aspect of it, I never got caught up in any of that because that for me was a by-product of what I really wanted. What I wanted was success and respect in terms of ‘Big up Jay Sean, he’s repping us. I’m proud to have Jay Sean on my iPad or iPod’ that’s what it was about for me.

L360- -So to go from a West London boy all the way to America selling thousands of tickets to shows, how does that even happen?

Jay: There’s no secret man. No secret otherwise everyone would be doing it. They have to take to you man. They have to like you. That’s it, they have to like you. The media has to like you, the people have to like you. You have to walk out of a room and people have to go ‘you know what, I like that guy, I wanna see him win’ and that’s literally how it is. They will fight for you if they like you and like your music then they will want to see you win. The difference is in America, honestly, they do kinda wanna see you win because it gives every kid hope. Every child in America is raised with the thought that they could become the next president, that’s literally how it is. ‘Son, if Obama can do it then you can be the next president’ and that’s how it is. They just aim high. They have all these massive athletes at college level who are superstars, at college. Like everything there is about making it and I like that because I’m all about that. My whole ethos in life is if we’re here once, why would you want to be mediocre at anything, why would you accept mediocrity when you can be brilliant and that’s what I’ve always wanted to be.

L360- -So you made it in America, on a unprecedented level, not a lot of people have done that, Chipmunk went over, he’s not even signed to Hustle Gang anymore, people have said Angel should blow in America, why do you think there’s such a barrier?

Jay: Look, like I said man, its hard and the thing is they have their superstars, they have theirs. So, they don’t need our superstars, they have the best of the best for them as far as their concerned. If we can offer something different and unique that they then are drawn to they’re gonna be like ‘yes, I like this’. Sam Smith is killing it over there because he’s coming with a singer/songwriter style that American artists aren’t doing, Adele did the same thing, Ed Sheeran did the same thing, they’re different, they’re unique. British Hip Hop,

…if I’m honest, Grime is going to be so difficult to break into America for one reason only: they need to understand what we’re saying. It sounds so stupid but when I’m singing, I sing in an American accent, not intentionally but because I grew up listening to Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, all of these people you listen to you sing like them so that’s how you learn to sing. So we just have an American accent when we sing. British rappers of course are very British sounding and if the audience over there cant understand what they’re saying, how can they be drawn to it? How can they get attached to it. That’s the only thing I can think of which is making it so difficult, not because they’re not good.

L360- -How are you labelled over there, are you that British guy, are you that Asian guy?

Jay: No, some of them don’t know I’m British; they definitely don’t know I’m Asian. Everybody speaks to me in Spanish when I’m over there, everybody! Everyone just speaks to me in Spanish because they think I’m Puerto Rican or Dominican or Mexican, they don’t know. I think they like, once they get to know me and I open my mouth in interviews is ‘Oh my God you’re British’ they focus on the British thing more than anything, they love it. They just love British culture. And the British accent really helps out there, by the way. Any guys watching go to L.A and put on the accent really thick, you’ll have a great time.

L360- -How do you feel your legacy is received here, do you feel sometimes you’re slept on? You’ve sold 15 million records being from over here, I can’t think of someone else who has done that.


For sure, I’m slept on. I know that for sure. It used to bother me a lot, when I was a kid but now that I’m a man that shit doesn’t bother me. It’s like, I don’t do it for that. I have a very strange story over here in England, I was very niche, I was a very underground artists and I still had mainstream success. I had 3 top 10’s before I even went to America and a couple of top 20’s. All in England but you never saw me in the Heat magazine, you never saw me in the front page of GQ or even in GQ or any of the other British publications. For some reason, I just think they thought ‘ah, but, he doesn’t really fit this. Asian Network right, that’s what you do, Asian Network’. I’m sorry, what about Radio 1, wasn’t I on that as well? Everything was very much ‘oh, I don’t know how he fits in here’. That’s cool man, it’s alright, I’m different, I’m unique, I’m one of hardly any others who are like me. So, if I don’t tick all your boxes, I’m not gonna try to impress you so I can be all up in your magazine. That’s not my style man; I’ve never been in it for that. Write about me if you want, that’s cool, don’t write about me if you want, that’s not what I was in it for.

L360- Do you stay up to date with the British scene at the moment?

Jay-Its hard for me to keep up to date but I know there’s a tonne of new artists, especially from the British Hip Hop scene, the Grime scene who are coming up. I’m hearing their names floating around all the time, I wanna get into it and learn a bit more about the new flavour without being like ‘oh I’m jumping on the bandwagon, I need to do something with him because he’s the cool one right’ nah I don’t wanna do that.

L360- So you citied a change in direction as the reason for leaving Cash Money, could you explain just a bit more about that?

Jay: Yeah, like I said, I had a lot of pop success and it was wonderful, it was amazing, it changed my life and it was an adventure, a journey that I will never, ever forget and its still going on. I’m still very lucky that I have a massive American audience. But I think, really, the thing is I went too pop. Too pop. There is a danger and there is such a thing as going too pop. When you’re having so much success in that lane, youre killing it and every song after song is selling millions and millions and millions, it’s the music business at the end of the day. It’s a business. We’re selling something. So if I turn around and go ‘errrr guys, I know we’re killing it in this pop lane right now, but I’m not enjoying these songs anymore man, trust me, I feel sick writing these songs over and over again’. How many songs can I write about partying? How many songs can I write about throw my hands in the air? I don’t wanna do that no more, even if that will win every time, I don’t wanna be that guy. Let me go and do something that makes my soul happy because you know what makes my soul happy is this right here. It’s that RnB music that I’ve returned to, its that Mistress II, that makes me happy. So, I go for where my hearts happy man.

L360- Do you think that is the direction Pop has taken Hip Hop?

Jay: Pop is popular music right? It’s the only thing that sells in the millions, still to this day in the music industry. All the other genres are struggling to survive because there too niche now. Back in the day you could be a RnB artist and sell 3/4 million albums, no problem, you could be like an Indie Rock artist and sell millions of albums, no problem, country can sell like crazy but that’s different. In terms of the genres we know like Hip Hop, RnB, Pop, Rock, Pop is the only thing that’s selling so its no wonder is it that Chris Brown, Rhianna, Usher, Ne-Yo, myself, Enrique, so many of us went from our little niche genres into the pop world because the pressure was on by the record companies to do that. That is why the other genres are struggling to survive.

L360- So how important is it for you to go back to your essence with the Mistress II?

Jay: Its very important. It’s important for my soul man. More than anything else, it makes me happy. What makes me more happy is when people come up to me on the street and go ‘yo bro, your Tears in the Ocean song is ridiculous or when people come up to me and say ‘all I want is My Jam you don’t understand I’m looking for a R&B song like that for ages, nobody has that anymore, nobody does that anymore.’ That makes me happier than standing there on stage singing a song that I’m not even into, singing a song that I’m not proud of.

L360-: Recently, you’ve been going into schools and talking with school kids, what brought that about, did something personal trigger that?

Jay: Yeah, for me man, I’ve been very happy to be in this game for over a decade. I feel I have a lot to share, I have stories for years, I’ve been through everything, there’s nothing you can throw at me that I haven’t been through. Trust me, I’ve been in the independent world twice, Ive been signed to 2 majors, walked out,

I know this game inside out. So for me, I have a lot to share with the kids who are trying to get into it, I see all these kids who’s eyes light up with visions and dreams of being a star and I wanna give them, not only the hope and dream element but I wanna give them everything it takes. Everything it takes, the truth that nobody will tell you because once you’re in that world and then you’re like ‘no one told me how to deal with all this, no one told me about this backlash and this media and why people are cussing me and why people are writing stuff about my mum, I don’t know how to deal with this’. Stupid stuff that people don’t expect comes along with stardom. I have to teach them all of that stuff, I want to tell them all of that stuff. They loved it because they knew, I’m telling them things like ‘don’t forget your real friends man, don’t start worrying about the amount of followers your getting to see if that’s how you’re popular, don’t lose your real core’. Don’t lose your real friends and family, those people will keep you grounded because when all this ish goes and it will go one day, that’s all you got left. When I tell them that man, I can see that they appreciate that and it makes me happy.

L360- Do you think in school in the current education system, there should be more emphasis on the creative arts?

Jay -Well Latimar Upper, the school I used to go to was amazing, they’re producing on pro-tools, they use literally the same set up that I do as a professional recording artist so I was amazed to see that. I would like to see some emphasis on different genres of music because its pretty funny to this day that we learn about Beethoven, Mozart and stuff like that on the piano and that’s important because they are beautiful pieces, but I bet if you said to a kid you have a choice ‘Beethoven or Coldplay, which one you wanna learn’ they’ll say ‘Coldplay’ because that’s contemporary, that’s what they want to get into and it would be nice to see some of that too.

L360- We did a #hiphoplifelessons feature last week and one of our colleagues looked at hip hop and Shakespeare so like the English curriculum has been updated with Dizzie Rascal, we spoke about modernising the music curriculum, what else do you think could be done to prepare people for, say, the entertainment world?

Jay: It would be interesting to see media training, I’ve never had media training but I’m very fortunate that it comes very natural to me and I know how to speak eloquently enough to get my point across.

But there are a lot of kids who are very talented and when you put them in the spot light, they wouldn’t know how to claim that moment, wouldn’t know how to seize that moment and would say a bunch of stuff like they’re talking to their mate Tony: ‘You get me like, man just get into the game like’ you have to understand that they might not understand what you’re saying. You’re gonna lose a big opportunity here because you’re not saying what you wanna say in that moment, look 2 minutes to get your point across. Those type of things are important. I’ve seen so many people fail at that hurdle and that’s why they don’t have that x factor to become a star.

You have to be a star when you grab them in your hands. When you look at Beyonce, every interview she does is just perfect delivery, perfect execution, and the thing is she has honed that skill down. I do interviews so much more than I do other things in my life, imagine if I didn’t know how to do a good interview, people wouldn’t wanna know you anymore, people wouldn’t wanna interview you. The word would spread around, don’t interview Jay Sean, trust me you’re gonna get nothing outta him. Little things like that are important.

L360- How in touch are you with politics?

Jay: When it comes to politics, I do my interviews and I talk about things, I don’t tend to talk too much about politics because I have to be careful about my artistry and my political opinions.

L360- Do you vote though, how important is it to be engaged?

Jay: Very important to vote, I’m actually pleasantly surprised at how many youngsters are into politics when I was talking to kids in schools and stuff and talking about a selfie I had just taken with David Cameron. So they were saying ‘ah I saw your selfie with David Cameron that’s so cool man’ and they started talking about Cameron, this that and the other and politics and I was like you guys are like 17 18 years old and you’re this deep into it. That was nice for me to see that.

This is our country that we live in right and that’s how you get your voice heard, you have a choice, they’re giving you a choice here. How do you want to live? Where do you want your money to go? If you don’t tell them, if you leave it down to someone else, ‘ah its alright I’m not gonna vote, I’m sure the neighbour will vote for him’ imagine everybody had that opinion. So, it’s very important.

L360- We saw in America Hip Hop got behind Obama and helped me gain power, do you think musicians here should take more of an active role in encouraging youngsters to get involved?

Jay: Not necessarily, not if they don’t fully believe it, I don’t like the idea of celebrities doing things for the sake of it. I don’t like the idea, I think its disingenuous, I think they should get behind something they are passionate about. So if I see a celebrity who is into a certain charity cause, you can tell the ones who have been assigned a charity and those who are just passionate about it by the way that they speak about it. I just feel like yes, when you are a celebrity, you have a platform, you’re very powerful, people look up to you. I personally believe you should use that platform to your advantage and not just to your advantage sorry but to the benefit of other people because that is really when you are gonna change. You can bring forward an entire scene, you can bring forward an entire race, you can bring forward an entire city or country, whatever it is when I’m out in America I’m repping England so whatever I say its reflecting British people too. There are some people who have never had any interaction with a British person, I might be the only person ever so imagine I said something really stupid and dumb and they’ll be like ‘Oh my God, those British people are so dumb and so thick’. I have to be careful about my platform and what I’m saying so I wouldn’t say or talk about anything that I ain’t passionate about.

L360- So you’re now independent again, what message would you send to other independent artists?

Jay: What I would say is I know independent can be a struggle sometimes because your using your own money but when it wins and it pays off not only are you gonna make your money back, it’s gonna be a good investment. You’re gonna be so much more in control of your entire career then on because you would have seen what you achieve so then if you do wanna team up with another person and do a JV with another record company you can come in there not from a position of desperation and need but you can come in there from a position of power all of a sudden. Now it’s like ‘OK, what can you offer me’. That is the ultimate move.




Many thanks to the judges and voters of this months PRECIOUS AWARDS where I won THE OUTSTANDING WOMAN IN THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES award. It was so nice to be recognised after so many years in the industry. Alas as many awards nowadays are based on a persons background, community, ethnicity (and no one claims me as apparently I’m ‘’not really Asian’’ and ‘’not really black’’ due to my Parsi / Zoroastrian Persian/ Kenyan roots, it was nice to feel included somewhere!
I was in India on a top-secret mission with a top-secret lady shooting, so unable to accept my award on the night. But I sent along one of my current London360 reporters Hope Lanek to make a short speech for me. I understand she did me proud. Thanks Hope!


nc pattie

Next my extended family member, the multi faceted entertainment mogul -Nick Cannon flew into the capital to shoot his American TV show Lifestyles Of The Rich and Famous. He also brought along his new dancehall act Kreesha Turner for some promo. (Always multi tasking he is!). upon landing, he and his team were peckish, so instead of the usual Mr chows style posh nosh, we drove him to South London’s finest Jerk Chicken and pattie shop. It was pretty quiet as it was a Sunday night. However you know the hood communication system. One couple came in. the female near damn fainted at spotting Nick. Got on her phone, and within minutes the shop was full of excited, happy fans asking nick for selfie’s and snap chats- all which he did happily after his long haul flight – what a good geezer!



Then female music industry mogul Vivian Scott- Chew (look her up), stopped off in London for the final leg of her artist- Bianca Raquel’s- European tour. She gathered a very special music industry crowd of 25 for dinner at the age old, dependable Mango rooms in Camden for a wonderful music industry get together and reunion, during which Bianca sang, Viv made a heartfelt moving speech about all her London connects and a very merry time was had by all.


winter wonderland

I felt like I’d won the Willie Wonka Golden Ticket when I was invited to Hyde Park for the Winter Wonderland opening night VIP party launch.


A wristband meant free rides, fun, circus and so much more! It’s like being in a real life Christmas movie!


I scoffed Christmas nibbles and knocked back chery mulled wine as a stellar line up of celebrities hugged Santa and rode the scary rides!.


Names that joined me included: Kelly Brook, Princess Beatrice, Tim Burton & Helena Bonham Carter, Jodie Kidd, Anton du Beke, Brendon Cole, Tom Daley, Danny O’Donoghue, Poppy Delevigne, Suki Waterhouse, Brooklyn Beckham, Matt Smith, Jason Donovan, Scott Mills, Vanessa White, Neon Jungle, Little Mix, Tara Palmer Tomkinson, Lizzie Cundy, Kirstie Allsop, Rachel Riley, Tamara Beckwith, Henry Conway and Dr Christian Jessen and we were all lucky to be amongst the first guests to experience this year’s event.



My faves were The Magical Ice Kingdom – a breath-taking snow and ice sculpture experience, the UK’s largest outdoor Ice Rink stretching over 1,600m2 and the iconic Giant Observation Wheel, which illuminated the skyline.


Other favourite attractions were Santa Land, a haven for young visitors where Father Christmas will be every day with his Elves and a sack of free gifts. There will also be over 200 chalets in the beautiful Angels Christmas & Yuletide Markets offering unusual and handmade gifts and crafts, including ceramics, candles, jewelry, wooden toys, nativity scenes and Christmas decorations.


The best thing was Zippos Circus, which had us all gasping for air as the flying trapeze, and ice sculptures came to life!


The ever-popular Bavarian Village had mountains of bratwurst and mulled wine whilst hosting live music throughout the day and evening. In addition to the many restaurants and bars there are delicious food and drinks available throughout the attraction to help you warm up on a cold crisp winter’s day. And for those thrill seekers, there will be an array of traditional and high energy rides.

So book early for the Ice Skating, The Magical Ice Kingdom, Giant Observation Wheel and Zippos Circus to avoid disappointment and discover what 12 million visitors have already enjoyed.


For the best ways to enjoy Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, be sure to follow the festival’s top tips to really make the most out of London’s spectacular Christmas destination. Avoid the queues by visiting during the day on weekdays and in school holidays, buy your tickets to the main attractions in advance, bring cash to exchange for tokens and make sure you grab the kids and wrap up warm- a guaranteed magical day out for you and the entire family!



Now it’s our granddad ‘’Pops’’ 90th birthday weekend, so I’m on family duty to pick up huge rum cakes and attend dinners and parties with the fam! See you all on the flip side!


'Frozen' at the RAH.

Frozen Photo copyright- Andy Paradise.

Who wouldn’t want to be a princess? They rule their world’s and wear pretty things, people fawn upon them 24-7 and life’s a total breeze.
As we grow older we may grow out of pink but the princess gene and attitude is ever present even if in teeny doses.

This week I attended what I thought was another one of the Royal Albert Hall’s many humungous-ly fun, interactive movie screenings, alongside music, choir, and orchestra moments. I was in for a shock.

On arrival, thousands of little girls were running around all excited and wide eyed, in their princess costumes and shrieking with delight. It felt like every family in the country, with little girls aged between three and thirteen, had descended on the venue, waving magic wands in their princess gowns. Adults were pointing and cooing at the best costumes and wigs. (They were learning early about being rewarded for looking pretty).
I knew the Disney movie Frozen was popular but not this popular. Googling once at home, I saw how very uninformed I was about talking snowmen, ice princesses and Prince Charming’s.

Frozen is the highest-grossing Disney film of all time, having made over $1 billion at the global box office. Critics and audiences are united in their praise for the film, which amongst its many accolades has won two Academy Awards for Best Animation and Best Original Song for ‘Let It Go’, as well as a BAFTA Award and a Golden Globe. From this month audiences are invited to become a part of the interactive show, joining in with all of the film’s original songs, including ‘Let It Go’, the chart-topping song that has so far received over 500 million YouTube views!

Online there are viral videos that pair Frozen with Breaking Bad, fan made videos, spoofs, viral videos of little girls in Belfast throwing strops in Frozen mode, and song parodies of every song in Frozen, mostly its big hit Let It Go.

The mini fans that couldn’t Let It Go’ had clearly watched the movie so many times, they didn’t miss a beat when it came to joining in en masse and singing the songs throughout the film which was shown in stunning high-definition. The lyrics were projected on the screen – with a bouncing snowflake allowing us to join in with the film’s stars Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad and Jonathan Groff, and sing-along. Even though the bouncing snowflake jumped along each word to remind us when to take our cue, the audience clearly didn’t need it.

'Frozen' at the RAH.
Frozen Photo copyright- Andy Paradise.

The Frozen soundtrack was the No 1 album in the US for nine weeks – to put this in perspective Beyoncé only managed three. The movie’s big song “Let It go” won the award for Best Original Song at the 86th Academy Awards, beating U2′s “Ordinary Love,” Pharrell’s “Happy” and Karen O’s “The Moon Song, and the two five year olds sitting behind me singing at the top of their little voices proudly, were testament to the delirium the song evokes from many. The fans hysteria, buoyancy and sparkly high spirits were really infectious and had us grinning in bewilderment from start to finish.

Pretty early into the award-winning animated comedy adventure, I could see why the girls were enraptured. Its characters and song lines have a massive don’t give a f*&* attitude.

Saucer eyed, teeny – waisted, blinged- out, ball-gowned Frozen lead- ladies Elsa and Anna are all the rage now, and clever Disney has embraced the feminist theme that older female pop stars have been pushing this past few years with a vengeance. Teen fan army’s may have Rihanna and Beyonce, but toddlers all stan for Elsa and Anna even though they look totally unrealistic!

Just this week a new ‘normal Barbie’ has been launched by graphic designer-turned-toy-maker Nickolay Lamm, who has created the Lammily doll — what the Barbie would look like if she actually had the measurements of an average 19-year-old woman’s body (based on CDC data). And brown hair. (She also comes with a sticker extension pack, complete with cellulite, freckles and acne.) When Nickolay Lamm presented a Pennsylvania class of second graders with his Barbie alternative, the reactions were healthy. “She looks like my sister!” “She kind of looks like my aunt Katie,” “She looks like a regular girl going to school.” “She’s not like other dolls… she looks real.”

That reality check didn’t prove to be a bad thing. When presented with a blonde and busty Barbie, the children said that they’d rather have the one who, if real, “would be able to stand.” (Barbie wouldn’t be able to lift her head fully if she were an actual human).

This would probably please Dr. Rebecca Hains, an expert on children’s media culture and the author of the book The Princess Problem. She says ‘Princess culture encourages unhealthy consumerism and saddles girls with noxious messages about their gender’. It’s true that Frozen still encourages pretty princess, except now they have major attitude!

Whilst Frozen was playing to whoops of delight from both children and adults, and the odd childish chortle and wolf whistle when there’s a line ‘’I want you to take me up the north mountain’’, I could feel the air rackling with mini feminist attitude. A whole arena full! Girls about to hit puberty were in their element!
Hans Christian Andersen gave me Cinderella, the Princess and the Pea and Sleeping Beauty, where the lead ladies were docile princesses saved and rescued by external forces- usually men. But Disney has brought the fairy-tale into modern day equality rights and pushed this with The Little Mermaid, Mulan, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Beauty and the Beast and now the gladiator of all princess movies, Frozen!

I could see whilst surrounded by toddlers fanatical about the characters, that the film has captured and bottled this new girl power attitude and its grown an army of billions of obsessed little girls across the globe. It appears that sisterhood is aggressively alive and well amongst the Barbie generation and I didn’t know it.
It’s a very empowering, kick-ass film for girls but it’s not just for the daintier sex. It’s also a very male film that little boys would love too with loads of action, snow monsters and slivers of horror.

Afterwards Jasper Hope, Chief Operating Officer at the Royal Albert Hall, told me: “Frozen’s captured the public imagination like few family films of recent decades and we are delighted to be presenting it at the Hall as a sing-along show. We know better than anyone that there’s nothing quite like 5,000 voices singing live to raise the roof – the Royal Albert Hall is the perfect venue for this unique event. With children under four admitted free, it’s the ideal show for everyone who has fallen in love with this movie – and refuses to let it go.” (See what he did there?)

With a new United Nations report out this week that states that a swell in the global population of young people has the potential to transform economies for better or worse and that the global population of young people between the ages of 10 and 24 has hit 1.8 billion, a historic high, this is the time to capture those young hearts, minds and voices. Frozen has done that.

My fellow staff members are now all revealing that they are panicking about sourcing the latest Frozen goodies for their lil princesses for Christmas. I have a suggestion…

Whether at a venue near you, or even better, keep it cheap and techy and host a sing-along party at home in front of your computer. A cultural, dressed up, all-empowering, toddler sing-along could be that once in a lifetime experience.

cannon kreesha

Nick Cannon is in town this week shooting his Lifestyles of the rich and famous TV shows. On landing in London he and his team were peckish so we took them to our favourite South London Jerk Shop, which was pretty quiet on a Sunday night…until 10 minutes later when the hood communication system had informed all and in minutes the shop was full of fans ….all delighted to meet and take selfies with Nick and his new dancehall artist Kreesha Turner.
Check her out online and her new track with TOK!.



THE MTV AWARDS used to be the ONLY music awards worth watching. But now with every brand having their own version, MTV EMA 2014 stepped up by having a show that united music legends like Slash, Ozzy Osborne and U2, new fresh blood like Arianna Grande, Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sande and Charli XCX (yes #TEAMUK!), the ‘in-betweeners’ like Alicia Keys (kudos for performing with no stress or diva-isms whilst 5 months preggers!) and Enrique, model types like Jourdann Dunn and this year with the help of a time machine we even had…a dinosaur…no not David Hasselhoff, a real dino!!


I was host producer. That means it was my job to look after Nicki Minaj’s script’s, liaise with her stylist about outfits, communicate between her team and the main show’s producer and director, ensure she was totally supported with all show editorial, her team were happy, her timing was on point and absolutely anything else that she may need.



Over 1,000 people came along to the 2014 MTV EMA open castings, including:
*3 groups of cheer leaders, 2 school teachers, Twins, a mother and daughter duo, a unicorn, who drove through the night from London and waited outside the venue from midnight, and a performing hotdog!
*The casting team also saw a husband and wife rapping duo, an opera singer, a juggler, break dancers, beat boxers, a champion tap dancer (2nd in the world) and none other than Miss Glasgow!
*A grandma came to collect granddaughter then decided to audition – to “We Will Rock You”
*The casting unit went ‘mobile’ to local schools, colleges and universities, they auditioned over 500 students.

Massive salute to the MTV Marketing team.
This is the first time in its 20-year history that the MTV EMA has been held in Glasgow! You couldn’t step anywhere around Glasgow city without seeing MTV EMA branding.
Conveyor belt at Glasgow Airport.

conveyor belt

Gate flights board at Glasgow.

gate board

hydro day

#MTVEMA Trended worldwide on twitter for hours.

ema twitter

To retain its crown as one of MTV’s biggest social experiences of the year, MTV flew in its team of 20 digital media experts who worked 24/7 to deliver content for MTV’s social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Imoji and Vine.

ema website

The 2014 MTV EMA app was available on iOS and Android in 10 languages, while the 2014 MTV EMA website was available in 19 languages across 34 regions!!!.
Fans at home were able to check out exclusive behind-the-scenes shots and clips via the MTV EMA website, including shots taken from a 360-degree essence booth – just as the stars were about to walk the “timelessly” fabulous ‘’black’’ carpet!

The awards were held at Scotland’s latest landmark arena – the SSE Hydro –, which only recently opened its doors in 2013, since becoming one of the most modern and exciting arenas in the world. The Hydro at night looked spectacular and the staff were professional, efficient and friendly. Starships were meant to fly says Nicki Minaj and The Hydro looks like just the carrier for her!

hydro external

The 2014 MTV EMA performers, presenters and crew enjoyed over 40,000 delicious meals and snacks from specialist showbiz caterers Eat Your Hearts Out (EYHO) using locally sourced, high quality ingredients., The most popular dessert, served at the MTV EMA, was sticky toffee pudding – a to-die-for treat for the hungry MTV EMA crew!


Nicki’s hotel- Blythswood Square – saw fans stay put to wait and cheer for their Minajesty through rain, bitter cold and shine. They were camped out both at the front and back of the hotel. Nicki, bless her, on occasion was happy to leap out of her car and pose with them all.

nm rain fans

nm diehard back
Nicki’s diehard fans camp out at her back door secret exit (clearly not so secret!)

I had a couple of late night meetings with NM and her team to go over costume, script, her Scottish rap (she taught me that the ”THOT” in her Scottish rap meant ’’that hoe over there’’ “I never f**ed Wayne cos he is not a Scot…The other reason is I’m not a thot.”’

Here is the infamous Pink throne that took centre stage at the start of NM performance.


NM brought her own dancers with her, who were lead by J Lo’s ex Casper Smart aka ‘’Beau’’

The rest of this year’s troupe of 30 dancers, were selected by MTV EMA veteran Aicha McKenzie of AMCK (from 700+ who auditioned!) was choreographed by Kristin Denehy.
Dancers performed with giant headdresses – whilst fire-juggling – 4 metres up in the air (but fortunately not at the same time!)


Katy Perry also snuggled up to Nicki’s bum pillow, and Sharon Osborne was chatty chatty backstage.

TV dinners – this is the producers and directors table where the most important people (EXEC PROD RICHARD GODFREY/ PRODUCERS DEBBIE PHILLIPS AND CHLOE MASON AND DIRECTOR RUSSELL THOMAS) and I, spent most of each day viewing host rehearsal and staging and standing in for people when needed.



Of course before the main act pops into the harness to fly around the set of wires, someone has to try it out. I was lucky enough to be asked, as I’m petite like Nicki and Arianna so I got to play in the sky in their absence! So much fun!

Jasmine tests out Nicki Minaj’s first intro shot harness for health and safety and camera shots.

Jasmine harness hanging- Being petite and the same height and size as nicki and Arianna meant I got to go up in the harness and glass flying bubble to test them out before the real stars.


The 2014 MTV EMA set was designed by celebrated German stage and set designer Florian Wieder – creative mastermind who was also responsible for MTV EMA set designs in Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich, Liverpool and Amsterdam. The 2014 MTV EMA featured one of the biggest sets EVER in MTV EMA history, measuring 50m wide by 20m high, backed with a giant high resolution LED screen and over 30m of transparent gauze.

The day before the show was my MTV wifey’s birthday. Bianca Acca, who I’ve travelled the world with, taught Jay Z about skinny lattes in Africa with and rode on elephants with in Bangkok, had a few drinks at the bar. After finishing up with NM’s team I joined the crew to toast Bianca for her special day.


Dom P in the house.

dom p

The view in the Corridor the next morning.
corridor botttles

Jasmine bumps into her mate MOBO CEP Kanya King (who was having a tour of the MTV venue), backstage on rehearsal day 2.

Jasmine and the EMA dinosaur.
Stage designs remain a closely guarded secret before the show airs, and this years show had a “time travel” inspired theme; which was echoed on the red carpet, in the set design and via the main show performances. Our dinosaur ‘Trent’’ was a star we teleported back from the ice age.




I’m not very sentimental, but this is the same show day bling I rock for good luck at all shows for MTV.

My right hand on rehearsal day and show night – the incredibly efficient host Floor manager Ed Sharpe!


Tasked with trying to make me look halfway presentable were the glam squad lovelies- Make up and hair- Bambi and Lyndsey



The 40 people stromg MTV EMA professional makeup artist team has spent over 500 hours with internationally renowned make-up artist and MTV EMA guru, Glam Squad’s Debbie Dannell. A backstage wiggery has been installed to house over 500 over-the-top wigs, 300 hairpieces, 200 weaves, and 100 poly heads, with the onsite help of 22 expert hairdressers.

Collectively, the MTV EMA Glam Squad has racked up over 80 years of experience working on the show with many professional makeup artists returning to the show year after year from all over Europe! The team includes a specialist graffiti artist – The Urbanist – who has a unique way of treating the human body as a living canvas! Also there was A LOT of fake tan in the house- a lot!


Red carpet gossip…- NM had intended to make it to the ”black carpet”wearing this fabulous drop-dead gorg dress- but limitations on her time meant this didn’t happen.


Nicki just hanging around.

JASMINE ”I had to get her out of that harness real quick!. Hands in places that most fans and men would have swapped places with me for in a heartbeat. Yet i was trying to keep it together worried that if i didn’t get her out of that harness double quick, that the floodlights would snap back onstage with me grappling around under her dress area!

To power the show, nearly 10,000 kilometres of cable were laid down. 1,200 flight case boxes were used to transport equipment such as lights, cameras and tripods. 30 HD cameras were used to shoot the show and 40 TV screens were installed backstage.

Did you like Nicki ‘’lighting up the joint’’ in her own minagestic way at the start of the show?
To ensure a truly explosive 20th anniversary celebration, the MTV EMA was ignited by 600 pyrotechnics during the main show including spitfire flames, air flame explosions and smoke storm machines.

nm afterparty]

MTV cast over 2,000 local fans – via public castings and mobile castings in local schools and universities – to be part of the MTV EMA live audience, with 700 fans invited to scream their hearts out of the MTV EMA red carpet. Post party madness- Despite the scale of the event, an intimate team of 15 wardrobe staff have worked around the clock to produce more than 80 costumes for dancers, presenters and artists. The team has used over 200 metres of fabric, 50 metres of chiffon and 1,000 hand-sewn rhinestones.

A moment that really impressed me – Nicki’s backstage lights in her ‘secret tunnel quick-change dressing room’ blew cos a certain someone (not MTV staff), popped his plug into her fuse box. So she ended up doing three of her quick changes for three links in near pitch black like a total ‘’the show must go on’’ pro- very impressive!

We were all warned and on the look out for Ukranian prankster Vitalii Sediuk, who had threatened to ‘’get Nicki at the MTV Awards’. Luckily he was a no show. But for a while it was like being in a scene from The Bodyguard.

Ukranian prankster Vitalii Sediuk
Ukranian prankster Vitalii Sediuk had us all on alert- but pity he never showed up- both Nicki’s security and MTV security were ready to kick his ass.

I think we need to pause for a minute and take note of what Nicki Minaj actually did on EMA night – the triple threat Queen wore that crown by hosting, performing AND winning best hip-hop!

nicki m
An exhausted NM two hours post show, post more press interviews, wrapped up snug in hoodies and jackets to keep her teeny frame warm.


The next morning, proving she’s no diva, NM and her team jumped on the MTV STAFF BA flight with us to catch her connecting flight back to L.A.



Show end credits…



Nothing pisses me off more than people’s presumptions and misconceptions about people, things and places that they haven’t experienced, but only been fed media myths about. One of these areas of contention is India. I myself have walked the tightrope between being scared of India and proud of it.

goa yoga

As a girl born, bred and proud of bring a Brit, my mum’s homeland of India always brings with it an avalanche of mixed feelings. Its one of the more mysterious countries on the planet, and one that boasts some of the most drastic differences in lifestyle between poverty-stricken and the rich. The seventh largest country in the world with over 1 billion people living in its territories, makes it second only to China. It’s a land of legends, myths, food, culture, political strife, and a wide variety of ethnic and cultural diversity.

As a young girl that visited her grandma, aunts and cousins there it freaked me out. It was total sensory overload. As soon as you stepped out of the Bombay airport the hostile heat, intense noise, variety of pungent smells and stares from locals at my white skin and foreign clothes was intimidating. I guess it didn’t help that as a west London teenager I loved to experiment with fashion and my Salt & Pepa shaved hairstyles and Madonna fashion didn’t go down too well with the very traditional locals. Often they’d point and laugh at me. Beggar children would surround me to plead for money or stroke my very pale skin.


Back in the nineties it was manic. Imagine the busiest road in your city or town, and then triple the traffic, and add lone camels, herds of cows, lounging buffalo, erratic goats, barking dogs, a colourful temple emitting chanting, people’s cell phones blaring Bollywood tunes, constant cars hooting pointlessly, and overpowering smells – exhaust fumes, animal excrement, incense, a bit of wee and some chai masala spices – and you get an idea. It couldn’t be more different now though.

street buffalo

Also, back then many of their houses and buildings all looked like they were in a dilapidated state and could do with a few licks of paint and renovation. However once you understand that the wet and hot weather damages paintwork year round, you understand why they don’t all look fresh to death like western buildings. Nonetheless it was traumatic for a western kid.

However over the years I’ve grown to realise that India is a magical and charming country that really is like no other place on earth. The things that used to fascinate me now impress me. It’s a country of extremes. One moment you’re driving through the chaos of the cities, and the next sitting in the desert watching the sunset, seeing a caravan of camels against the horizon. Another moment you’re maneuvering around thousands of people in a train station, the next you’re gawping at dramatic white snowy mountains and emerald green tea paddies whilst traveling on an old steam train.

The organised chaos that is their roads has to be seen, to be believed. Scuffed cars, millions of motorbikes, random cows (The cow is venerated because of its association with the Hindu deity, Krishna, who is believed to be a prince of the cowherd clan. It is an important symbol in some Hindu rituals, but is not part of everyday religious practice in India.), the occasional ox pulling carts, huge, colourful, music blaring lorries and pedestrians, all get around in perfect harmony with no road rage and total equality for all regardless of number of wheels or animal obstruction. The locals simply drive around the animal in their ‘live and let live’ state. However, It’s not all crowded and overrun by traffic. Wide-open areas exist too, as do under-populated rural areas.


This month I took my mum back to visit her family for her birthday treat. I also took my other half for his first ‘totally up for it’ adventure to the Asian continent. He’s a born and bred south Londoner with Dominican roots that fancies himself as unshakeable, so this was going to be interesting. We spent four days in Mumbai where her sister and my cousins live, four days in Goa for a beach break with 13 family members and four days in Pune where my mum was born and university educated, before marrying a Kenyan and traveling to England in the sixties to settle down.

When informing others of my impending trip to India the preconceptions and misconceptions were outrageous. Lets take a look at some.

The idea that Indians all work in call centres or are genetically predisposed to be good with computers. That they’re all living in squalor and that they have mass famine all the time, and anywhere you go in India you will see people in a state of starvation. …. I’ve seen more opulence in India that most countries.
Every family, regardless of class has maids and servants to help with daily cooking, cleaning and chores. Their brides wear and own more real gold than most western women can comprehend or will ever see. Most kids travel to and from school in taxis and are much more highly educated than our own often speaking up to six languages by the age of 14. Every home and public building has air conditioning. Their food is fresher and tastier than the pre packaged produce we get at our supermarkets. Theirs comes straight from the fields and oceans onto their plate. Not my definition of poverty.

Also, The service is crazy efficient in India. They don’t want you to lift a finger. Your suitcase will be carried, your tea will be poured, your food served and your every need catered to.

That Slumdog Millionaire and Bollywood are true reflections of exactly what it’s like in India… This is like saying that every part of the UK is like Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Railway Children or a James Bond movie. Any Indian you come across with roll their eyes if you mention these. Yes, the slums of India are known worldwide for being some of the worst in the world, which is unfortunate given the wealth of the nation and the absolute opposing lifestyle of those people enjoying the high life. However, even their slums have all the modern electrical gadgets of an English home and satellite TV! I’ve seen more poverty on UK reality shows like Benefits Street.


People asked if I was going to ‘find myself’ in the mystical land of yogis and Ghandi where everyone is some kind of deep Gandhi like Guru who sleeps on nails and levitates and has a deep spiritual side, the land of snake charmers, elephant mahouts and mystics…. Lol. This is like foreigners coming here, and assuming we are all akin to ye olde englande of yesteryear, and assuming that still in 2014 we brits Morris dance, only eat fish & chips, speak in plummy accents, wear bowler hats, are all violent football hooligans and that our only reason for being is to acquire materialistic wealth and be on permanent diets (that last one may be somewhat true).

The idea that you will only be able to eat curry, and almost certainly suffer Delhi belly…. Firstly, not all their meals are curry-based. Secondly, most westerners see India as a backpacking cheap holiday adventure, and so eat at street food stalls that they’d never dream of eating from in the UK. Of course you’re going to suffer! Eat in regular establishments as you do at home and Delhi belly wont affect you!

That the climate in India is always “hot”… It’s as diverse as it can get depending on where you live. In Mumbai we experienced extreme heat and humidity, the next day in Goa it was scorching hot one minute and monsoon torrential rain the next, and in Pune the climate was as calm and as green as in London. India can be both the hottest and coldest place you have ever been on earth.


local train

Our trip began in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), where on day one,feeling adventurous,I convinced my local family and Mr South London to travel the local train from one side of Mumbai to another as challenged by a Mumbai-ite who now lives and works in London. She said if I were truly ‘’street’’ I would take pics at regular stations to prove I’d done it.


in train

Oh the jokes! My little lord Fauntleroy style Indian nephews weren’t impressed and looked traumatised, my other half couldn’t believe the crowd and open doors as passengers hung off and on top of the trains, but challenge completed we celebrated with high tea at the opulent Taj Palace Hotel.The scene of the terrorist attacks in 2008 when by horrid coincidence i was also there with my family. I will never forget the kindness and help of the Virgin Atlantic crew on that trip that kept us safe and reassured at the airport.

The beautiful parks and gardens and the grandeur of the famous Taj Mahal Hotel overlooking the Gateway to India (which is similar looking to our Marble Arch), is the focus of a BBC documentary HOTEL INDIA, showing on our TV’s right now.


So I was like a groupie when I spotted staff members that the TV show has made famous. The ultra efficient concierge who has served royalty, presidents and superstars was at his desk. I giggled like an excited schoolgirl. The high tea was in the famous sea lounge and more proper than the high tea I have often partaken in at Harrods, Fortnum and Masons and Mayfair.

taj hotel pics

High tea at The Taj is legendary with its fancy food stuffs and array of tea and coffee choices.





After high tea we strolled across the street where an old dude was crushing raw sugar cane bamboos into sugar cane juice- delicious!



The next day I suggested a slum tour but was shut down by my fam. Instead I finally convinced them to come on the tour of the huge Dhobi Ghat- a massive outdoor laundry area where wealthy people send their clothes to be washed.


We traveled there by rickshaw. Mr South London had sworn not to travel in one, as it was ‘too dangerous’. This coming from a renowned motorbike and supercar speed freak. Hilarious scenes ensued with him gripping on for dear life as the rickshaw swerved in and out of traffic and squeezed alongside juggernaut trucks that threatened to squish us. Mr South London squealed. A lot.


I pointed out the many imposing Victorian buildings, which would lead you to believe you were in a grand British city. Many places still bear the names of companies, which traded here at the height of British rule. We also clocked the chaotic streets, outdoor bazaars, popular waterfront destinations like Marine Drive, where visitors go to watch the sun set over the Arabian Sea, and the carnival-like Juhu Beach.


The giant laundry Dhobi Ghat was mind blowing. Hundreds of people launder over 100,000 garments daily, speedily and never mix them up. We were taken through the intricate maze-like cubicles which washer men hire and wash, steam and press clothes in. clothes separated by colour, saris refurbished from old to new, contaminated hospital gowns boiled to cleanse, frail men ironing piles of shirts.


Electricity and wiring that resembled a health and safety nightmare. I wont lie, it was devastating viewing with what I imagined sweatshop conditions to look like. But, that issue was just mine, the people there looked happy and grateful to be working and the organisation and efficiency was mind blowing.


In keeping with our rags and riches experience, the next recommended escapade was a trip to a restaurant called Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra. Its owned and run by Mumbai’s Jiggs Kalra , a gastronome, food writer, historian and consultant who has spent the past 40 years in recording and reviving Indian cuisine, who owns multiple restaurants in the city.He’s a celebrated name across India and overseas and not just Mumbai, while being based in Gurgaon. But the most talked about is the “Masala Library’. Jiggs says ‘’we serve memories, not just food’’ and he wasn’t joking. While reservations are highly recommended, Masala Library keeps a few tables to cater to walk in guests, which are on first come first serve basis, and luckily i got lucky!


Frankly readers, it was worth the flight to India alone for this incredible culinary experience. My words can never do it enough justice, the experience was phenomenal. The décor is simple, very sophisticated new york brasserie chic with a touch of Asian waterfall art wall thrown in. I expected a fancy restaurant like Royal China where many of their Bollywood stars frequent, but this was something else. It put our celeb chefs like Gordon Ramsey and Heston Blumenthal in the shade.

It has a reputation of being one of the best Indian gastronomic molecular creative food spots in Mumbai and it didn’t disappoint. On arrival the staff were highly accommodating friendly staff and service was unbeatable.

We asked what they’d recommend and at their suggestion went for the 10 – course tasting menu. This let us sample most of the signature dishes’ on the menu in small portions.

We began with the strange sounding burnt curry leaf martini, which was delicious and lethal.

Then a marathon of food platters and plates all more marvelous than the last arrived one by one. One of the first courses looked like a regular cup of tea, but was in fact a mushroom truffle chai- totally delicious`!.


By course four we were stuffed but couldn’t resist not devouring the creative, arty food creations that kept on coming.


The best part of the dining was Dennis Chelai Wu, Operations Manager of Masala Library, who explained everything about the dish we were about to demolish.

den 2

How, why, when it was inspired and created. He answered every query with easily understandable knowledge, and made the dining experience a real culinary and intellectual treat.



The style juxtaposed modern day cooking techniques with centuries old traditions. The type of dish you can be sure you’ve never been served anywhere else. Ever. The presentation, vibrant colours and captivating blend of flavours had us awaiting the next dish like excited kids at Christmas.


Prawns served on sliced tree bark, scallops served in shells, a bubble of almond that pops in your mouth, a mini treasure chest steaming with dramatic dry ice which opens to reveal a palette cleansing lollipop.


But our absolute fave was a mouth-watering honey and maple, pepper glazed rib dish that was so scrumptious we are still raving about it (and unsuccessfully attempting to recreate it at home) today!


If you are visiting Mumbai I highly recommend dining at MASALA LIBRARY. At around £30 per head its costly for locals but a miracle for us Brits.


Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra

Ground Floor, First International Financial Centre,

Opposite Sofitel Hotel, G-Block,

Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), Bandra (E), Mumbai

+91-22-66424142 / +91-8452900900

Mumbai might not be the capital of India, but like New York feels like the capital city. It was on the eve of Diwali when we experienced stunning, dramatic fireworks all over the city in the lead up to India’s biggest annual festival in preparation for the next day. It also makes for a fantastic hub for jetting off to other Indian city centres like the party capital Goa, where we went next, really excited as we would be experiencing indias biggest celebration of Diwali whilst in Goa!


goa tropocal

Goa is famous the world over for its beautiful beaches and party culture and offers numerous of festivals/carnivals from cultural to music so it is definitely worth checking out what is on while you are there.


Once a year Goa hosts a carnival, which lasts for 4 days just before the season of, lent, the sunburn festival in January is also worth checking out with top name dj’s making an appearance. Little did we realise that as the city is not mostly Indian but catholic- they didn’t celebrate Diwali- so no fireworks in Goa for us!


Goa used to have a reputation for catering to the “hippy” tourist, with flea markets and weekend bazaars selling handicrafts, clothes and arts even though the fabled hippy bargains have long since disappeared – thank god!. Goa is a medley of people, culture and festivals. A land of scenic beauty and pristine beaches. It is the smallest state of India with and area 3.702 Square Kilometers and lies along the western coast of India. Panaji is it’s capital city. It is divided into two districts, North Goa (noisy Ibiza style tourist area) and South Goa (more rural, calm, family vacationers and locals).

Thirteen of my family members and I stayed at the Heritage Village- an all-inclusive resort on the beach- in Goa. Everything about this hotel was lovely from the layout, location on the beach, big pool, lush green gardens, tennis courts, spa and dining facilities and bar. The one thing that did let it down though was the lack of wi-fi. They were charging £7 a day, which is more than most top NYC hotels. On day one it was scorching hot and we had a paradisiac day at the beach.

goa becah romance

However day two and three it rained torrentially without any relief.

monsson goa

That didn’t stop the hard-core Indian and Russian kids in the pool through, who stayed flipping and splashing in the pool well past sunset. I did my kanye shrug and thought ‘if you cant beat em….’’ And jumped right in to join my young nephews.

Goan’s are friendly, relaxed and extremely happy go lucky people belonging to different faiths and coming from different cultural backgrounds. However all Goans lay emphasis on good living. Goa was ruled by the Portuguese for more than 400 years and was liberated on 19th December 1961. Strong Portuguese influences still abound as can be seen in the architecture across the state and also experienced in their cuisine.

Many had suggested a visit to the local restaurant Martin’s Corner, which has a bit of a reputation now. But a kind local told us that its reputation had made it shoddier now it was too popular and the standard of food and service wasn’t as good as it used to be. He instead suggested an alternative local restaurant zee-bop, which was beautiful. On the edge of the Arabic ocean, with freshly caught lobster, pomfret and giant prawns selections the menu was delectable, accompanied by a live house band and very jovial atmosphere a real treasure find.


Most of the beaches are lined with shacks, which have evolved into pubs, restaurants, lounge bars or clubs. Authentic beach shacks can still be found on some of the more remote beaches. The culture is quite tolerant, laidback and relaxed. Apart from the beaches, Goa has stunning old heritage churches, old town areas and forts to visit. You can enjoy boat cruises on the river Mandovi and water sports along some of the beaches.

The cuisine is a good mix of western and Indian that can appeal to most travellers, especially when had with some local brewed alcoholic beverage called Feni- a toxic alcoloic brew made from cashew nuts. Seafood is a staple part of the diet and is also very affordable. Goa is well connected by rail, road and air and also has some nice trails that run along waterfalls through lush thick jungle.
After three days of watching all the blokes in my family try and out do each other in the drinking stakes it was time to fly out of there and escape from the all inclusive resort and make our way onwards to the much cooler, cultural capital of Maharashtra, the old city of Pune where my grandparents lived.


Pune is known globally for being famous for the Osho International Commune, established by India’s sobriquet ‘Sex Guru’. It has several museums that portray the history of the ruler Shivaji’s empire. Literature of Pune is famous throughout Maharashtra. It is well connected by air, rail and road. There are picturesque hills and hill stations within 20 kms from Pune. The city is not far from a large number of forts and scenic trekking trails. The state is well connected by the express highway which is one of the first 6 lane high speed high way. Pune has an excellent network of hotels and restaurants and travel within the city is a little more expensive compared to other states.

train mountains

As my grand parents home was full of relatives, Mr South London and I had checked ourselves into a local hotel- the Hotel Sagar Plaza. It was not great. It wasn’t awful. It was safe and acceptable, but I wouldn’t stay there again. The receptionist was frosty and unhelpful on arrival; the rooms were old fashioned decorated in an old seventies style with stains on the sofas. When the bathroom door was shut mouldy debris fell from the ceiling onto our towels, and you needed a maths degree to understand how to work the telly. If visiting Pune for a bit more money the opposite Aurora Towers hotel is lush, modern and much more professional.

I wanted Mr South London to visit not just the fancy restaurants and bars in the city but also the raw yard style spots. We had lunches and dinners in really classy places as well as the Hard Rock Café and Pune’s finest Indian real food spot- Georges on Main Street. One afternoon I shopped leisurely for fabrics to have a local tailor make me up copies of my favourite shirts and dresses. The fabric cost less than a fiver for four separate outfits and then 20 quid for the tailor to make them to my measurements. Even Mr South London had a few pairs of shorts made up. Brilliant!


Our leisurely meander took us to the local fruit, veg and flower market. Now here’s where it gets interesting stroke hilarious. Before showing him the lushness of all the local produce, I wanted to take him through the slaughterhouse. This narrow corridor of the market houses live chickens ready to wring, pluck and feather as well as freshly slaughtered animals mostly goats, cows and pigs. Mr South London often shows me videos of his relatives in Dominica slaughtering goats so naturally I had assumed this was all second nature to him. He approached the door and said ‘’eeewww I’m not going in there it stinks’’. I rolled my eyes and said ‘’of course it does- its freshly slaughtered animals blood- come on, man up, if you can buy it in Tesco’s you can see how it got there’’. Mr South London, wearing t shirt and shorts, gingerly tiptoes into the area, careful not to get his white fresh to death sneakers dirty by stepping around the dripping goats heads and skins of offal everywhere. Market traders were yelling at us from all directions to buy their livestock…. Suddenly three huge bandicoot rats run across our path and scamper off. It happened so fast I didn’t really react, but Mr South London froze, on one leg, shook like shaggy in Scooby doo- you could practically hear his bones rattling with fear and yelled at me ‘’oh my god- get me out if here! I HATE RATS!’’. As much I tried to calm hi down he was in full panic attack mode and trying to escape but ran in the wrong direction sending himself deeper into slaughterhouse hell. I stifled my giggles as he darted around wild eyed with panic. Around an hour later he was calmer. But I never did get to show him the lovely market.

Today Pune is a bustling cosmopolitan city, famous for its many large colleges and universities. It also a hub for a lot of IT/Technology companies, and a major training base for the Indian Army where my mother worked in the Southern command when she was younger. It’s much cleaner, cooler and calmer than Mumbai. The central area of Mahatma Gandhi (M.G) road is a major commercial area with shops, stores, hotels, and malls as big and as fabulous as Westfield. Pune also boasts its share of party places that cater to the young crowd. One night we went to an underground basement bar where a local rock band was entertaining the crowd over beers and snacks. They were exceptionally good! Another night it was dinner and cocktails at the world famous Hard Rock Cafe.


hard rock cafe




We flew back to Mumbai the next day and had one final lunch at The Taj with my fabulously connected uncle who’s a member.

This time I was determined to grab a photo with the BBC (Hotel India) star concierge Satish. I asked the desk if he was around. His boss Brian wearily informed me that people arrived daily from the UK asking about the ‘’BBC STAR’’ and requesting photos. He said he’d call him but would we be kind enough to play a prank on him?

Mr South London (always up for a prank) agreed to be a very angry hotel guest. Once the star concierge arrived, Mr South London berated him in an enraged fashion. The poor man looked mortified and so sad and apologised profusely.


Mr South London turned to shake Brian’s hand. We all laughed as BBC star Satish looked on totally confused. Even when all was revealed he was still the most humble, dignified gent. Brilliant!

bbc satish


After a final dinner with the full family at Royal China which looked to be all full to bursting with Bollywood stars arriving to dine at 11pm, we all packed and jumped into a car to Mumbai’s stunning airport that resembles a futuristic out of this world style. Its gates are akin to a 5 star hotel and packed with visitors from Europe, the Caribbean, Africa and the States. We were sad to be leaving this country of wildly polarising content.

future airport

airport gates

India is chaotic, noisy, colourful, intense, hectic and sensually rich. If you like your travel destinations as bland as processed cheese, then India’s not for you. On the other hand if you want to experience the kindness of the Indians, the amazing service, excellent food, beautiful hotels which all exceed expectations and a totally different world then book your flights.

World-class hotels and gardens that look like they’ve been transported straight out of Europe share space with the slums and their squalor which is a huge culture shock for many first time visitors too the city but it’s a visit you’ll never forget for all the right reasons.

When I travel around the world, many countries and high streets across Europe and America are exactly the same as the UK. You feel like you’re still in the same country. When you go to India it’s a truly once in a lifetime experience and you will make memories that will last forever!



What a fortnight- I need a break- and you know what that means….I’m taking one!


estelle mondrian

It started off really good! I caught up with my west London home girl Estelle for diner at the brand new Mondrian hotel on the south bank. We created a brand new cocktail at the very swish bar. Well, actually it was named yellow and green fizz but we re-named it the ‘’Stella jazz’’. Much more appropriate for the champagne based sip.

The Mango Tree invitation

The next day it was an all-female sojourn at the exotic mango tree restaurant in Belgravia, where The Circle with Oxfam were presenting an evening of cocktails and canapés. The Circle is an organisation founded by Annie Lennox, which champion’s women’s rights and equality by working with women who are passionate about change.


Delicious food, drinks, music by Laura Mvula, comedy by Iranian comedienne Shaparak “Shappi” Khorsandi and great conversation all hosted by Meera Syal. The evening’s aim was to raise awareness and funds for the organisations Circle projects in India, Uganda and the Middle East.


The theme was ‘Asian fusion’ so I located my most exotic flowery dress (don’t ask), and sashayed on up to the bar to meet my fellow table guests; Adidas leading ladies Paola Lucktung and Akua Agyemfra, Olympic athlete Jeanette Kwakye, Channel 4’s talent specialist Priscilla Barfour, Natalia Georgiou (wardrobe services), Inspirational YOU’s Sonia Meggie and Vanessa Emilien – Richkit International and Armand De Brignac’s Yvonne Lardner. Seriously, can you just imagine the conversation at our table? Both empowering, crazy and hilarious!


The evening concluded with a stunning performance by triple Brit Award nominee Laura Mvula. Meera Syal told us “It’s fantastic to see so many successful and empowered women coming together to raise awareness and fight the scourge of domestic violence that exists across the world. We are all incredibly lucky to have been given a voice, an education and an opportunity to stand up for what we believe in. The women that we are trying to help have no voice, no education and live a life of constant fear. The work of projects we are raising funds for are a lifeline for women in the most impoverished areas of the world to escape to.”


Laura Mvula added “It’s a privilege to perform for The Circle. When women come together we are a powerful force – we can achieve anything. The Circle is a great example of this. It’s about women using the resources and skills that they have to help those who need our support.”

The Circle Presents @ The Mango Tree - Gemma Cairney, Laura Mvula and Livia Firth

Guests included Harry Potter actress Bonnie Wright, chef and food writer Thomasina Miers, TV presenters Nick Ross, Sonali Shah and Seema Pathan, Eco-Age founder Livia Firth, Whistles’ Chief Executive Jane Shepherdson and Seema Malhotra MP, Shadow Minister for Preventing Violence Against Women and Girls. The fashion world was well represented with shoe designer Jimmy Choo, Luella Bartley – design director of Marc By Marc Jacobs, Vogue blogger and i-D fashion editor Julia Sarr-Jamois, and fashion designer Ashley Williams in attendance.

Comedian Shappi Khorsandi was hilarious and said “It’s great to be a part of this evening which has brought together some amazing and inspirational women who are passionate about transforming people’s lives for the better. From supporting grass-roots projects to lobbying policy-makers, Circle members are taking on the big issues faced by some of the world’s vulnerable women and bringing about real change.”

This event raised funds for two Oxfam projects in Uganda and India, which are supported by The Circle, both of which are tackling violence against women. Domestic violence is the most widespread form of human rights violation in India, and in Uganda it affects 60% of women. These projects will help by providing support for victims, tackling social acceptance of violence against women, raising awareness of women’s rights and influencing laws to promote these rights.
To find out more about The Circle go to: https://www.facebook.com/thecircleofwomen

rum world record 2

Next, my friend Ian Burrell, who I know from way back from running Cottons Caribbean restaurant in Camden, invited me to his Guinness book of records challenge to fit as many people in one room and break the record for cocktail rum tasting.


We were sat on round tables with 6 fancy rum shots lined up for each participant. We were given a brief lesson on each rum by its creator or brand ambassador and then knocked them. I was driving so stuck my tongue in them and passed the rest on to my peeps to finish off. (Oops am I meant to say that?) anyhoo, David Haye was there too. As he was called out, the ladies in the room suddenly seemed to sit a little straighter and laugh a little girlier, whilst all the men simply kissed their teeth en masse lol.


90 minutes later we were all record breakers! Yeay! Congrats to the Rum Experience team, great job!


Finished the weekend at Kevin Harts comedy night at Wembley arena where most of London, every urban tastemaker, brand leader and celeb were present and correct. The arena was packed solid. Kevin did his intro and welcome set, followed by our very own Kojo, followed by three American comedians. All hilariously funny, with themes that seemed to be popular and on repeat. Racial divide jokes, jokes about good sex vs bad sex, a lot of porn and of course Kevin added a good few new animal jokes juxtaposed with his family. I have to say that once upon a time British comedians may have stood in the American urban comedians shadows, but today, its an equal playing field. Great night!


This week I’ve worked extensively with George the poet, an incredibly articulate, gifted word smith. His live show at scala was first class!
Hi says things like….

‘’I wrote it because I feel like popular culture should align more closely with issues that are more relevant with people’s lives because then you get more informed citizens. With more informed citizens, you get more people making better contributions’’
‘’Why is there a category called conscious rap? You tell me what that implies about the rest of rap? Unconscious rap? Do you think I came out here to be unconscious?’’
‘’I think culture, pop culture, let’s stop saying we are gonna swear, let’s stop f*****g around, let’s stop messing around with the pop culture thing, let’s start giving people information that will actually affect their life’’
‘’What do I think could be a solution to making young Hip Hop artists more clued up? We’ve got all these Hip Hop artists out here holding microphones, start saying something that matters’

How can you not love this dude? Wanna see what he’s all about and some live action? Watch Channel 4 News tomorrow night!

Jasmine’s Juice- George the Poet – his new EP, tax and benefit cuts, rap being hijacked, homosexuality, religion and politics in hip hop.

George the Poet – his new EP, tax and benefit cuts, rap being hijacked, homosexuality, region and politics in hip hop.


Here is the recent George interview that the LONDON360 young reporting team did at Universal Music. George is an extremely articulate young man who has alot of strong,informed opinions on things that affect us all. Take a read. Also, take a listen to his new EP here;

Your EP The Chicken and the Egg is set to drop on 20th October, can you tell us a bit more about the record?

The Chicken and the Egg is about the cycle of premature parenthood and particularly in this edition, fatherlessness. I wrote it because I feel like popular culture should align more closely with issues that are more relevant with people’s lives because then you get more informed citizens. With more informed citizens you get more people making better contributions. Firstly, better contributions to society, secondly you’ll get people making better-informed decisions based on their leaders and what they ask of their leaders. So this is a project for me, and I talk about this a lot, so I want to show people how you turn a relevant contemporary issue into a piece of art that people have no choice but to discuss.

Are there any collaborations on there, or is this more of a personal project for you?

There are collaborations on my EP, I’ve picked them personally so it is still a personal project but everyone that I’ve spoken with, I made sure we understood what we’re working towards and they all made great contributions. Big up Mega, an amazing vocalist, my brother Jacob Banks, my brother Knox Brown, JoJo, The Confectionary. Those people, all, 100% bought into what I was doing and went above and beyond to deliver for this project.

What are your expectations for the EP?

I want the EP, like I said, to be a debut of this project, I don’t know what to call the project but the project is getting information, like, stimulating actual discussion. We’re all artists, out here and we’re content with being expected to jump around on stage getting people to clap, like our pictures and buy our products. But, to me that’s BORING, I could have done that any which way I wanted, I could have been pushing another product out here so why would I use this opportunity to use my words for a popularity contest when I can use this whole EP to actually discuss something which is not only relevant, but is ongoing, its perpetual and its great in my community. It’s wearing us down. That’s what I want the EP to do, address that.

egg ep

So this EP is part of a bigger project, do you have any other details on that project?

2.56 – There’s no bounds to it. I have a view to move towards collating information and the next step is to gain information and engage people on a very literal level man, there’s no game here. Don’t worry about me making money, how I make my money, I’ll take care of myself but as far as I’m concerned my career is a public service to an extent, so the EP is a strand of that. Also I want to pioneer a new way of doing this poetry thing, I got signed as a poet and there has been a lot of pressure on me to conform to standardised music formulas. I’ve experiment when I’ve felt free but at the same time I feel like ‘yo I’m a poet but let me show you how I can do this thing with music’.

What are your thoughts on the recent debates regarding tax cuts and the benefit system currently in place?

Yeah, I do have thoughts on tax cuts and changes to the benefits system. I feel like, there are 2 sides to the discussion. On the one hand, it’s like let’s get people out of dependency, we need a country that is about people who want to work, contribute and that is all well and good. Do that proportionately to the people that can contribute and are able to stand on their own 2 feet. Don’t take advantage of people that can’t fight for themselves, and furthermore, you’re making a mess for yourself further on because if those people don’t get the requisite report, they’re only going to be more of a strain on the economy, on society, you’re setting yourself up for another riot so I do think the situation as it stands is dangerous and we need more informed citizens.

We need more people making important decisions, we need people engaging with the powers. I see a lot of people my age, why am I censoring myself, the conservatives take them under their wing and say OK here is an example of someone from an estate who has done something positive with their lives. This is the only story that you need to know, the fact is that is not the be all and end all. The be all end all is structure and structure really, poverty generates and perpetuates crime. If you’re doing nothing to pull people out of poverty but also help people cope with poverty, reductions to child benefits and tax credits, changes to the welfare system, increasing the cost of education, making the experience of education more exclusive and difficult for different learning types.

Not accommodating for the fact there is difference first of all, secondly there are different levels of difficulty, theres inequality of opportunity. Now if you’re not doing anything about that, you’re completely doing a disservice to the people that you’re supposed to be governing, you’re supposed to be leading. Again, there’s no talk about this,

I go on the radio and people cut it out when I mention the word riots (furthermore, don’t ever do that again) people cut me off when I say riots, like I’m trying to talk. I tweeted the other day, for some reason it’s like the whole country is on the payroll of somebody who employs us to just pretend that everything is fine. Everything’s not fine, everything’s not fine and when the government is ready they talk about the things they think is not fine, ‘Oh benefits, lets talk about this benefits thing’. No, lets talk about what you’re doing to tax the rich, lets talk about the allowance of tax avoidance, lets talk about the fact tax avoidance cost the country £70 billion whereas benefits cost £70 million. Now, is a billion a thousand million, right? OK cool, no one is talking about that and I’m an artist, I’m here holding a microphone, I’m supposed to stand here and hope that you lot clap for me and buy my product and that’s it.

Do you place responsibility on yourself, coming from an area where you do, to tell the story of others that government don’t want to?

I do think there is a bit of responsibility on me, I take on more than I have to take on only because no one else is taking it on, I don’t think I can do it on my own. I don’t want to bash people over the head with a message and make them feel bad about their lives but I’m just saying we could do exactly what we do now, a little bit different and have a better impact on the world. That’s all, I’m not asking you to change your whole life tomorrow, I’m just saying, know the game and play it a little differently because we’re getting mugged off!


You tackle very serious issues in your music, for example your recent EP The Chicken and the Egg takes a look at the cycle of fatherlessness and how that affects the whole community. Mainstream wise however, we hear content which to a lot of people, is not that important or helpful in dealing with their everyday lives so how do you try to overcome the challenge of making conscious rap commercially successful and why do you think that challenge exists in the first place?

Do you know what the problem is? I don’t fit this world. Why is there a category called conscious rap? You tell me what that implies about the rest of rap.(Clip 0050 0.00) Unconscious rap. Do you think I came out here to be unconscious? Do you think I came out here to be unconscious? Do you think that’s in any way acceptable? Like, what? I’m not even on a mission to try and make conscious rap cool. I know people call my stuff conscious and I think that’s the coup, I think that’s what we’ve been tricked into. We’ve been tricked and sleepwalked into thinking this is an acceptable situation, that the radio is full of air. I don’t know what the use of that is, sometimes I think ‘maybe that helps keep the peace.’ If you nullify the people, if you pacify them, maybe they won’t be aware of all the things that are really crazy, maybe people ain’t built for the real world. But then I think to myself, no, people are stronger than that. I believe in people, I’m someone who believes in people so where am I going with that trail of thought? So my mission isn’t even to try and make conscious rap cool, my mission is to talk.

Do you have any thoughts on why the tag conscious rap was created?

I do have thoughts. Rap was hijacked; first thing you need to understand is that rap came from a poor community and as I told you there is a direct correlation between poverty and crime. So, a lot of the narration is conscious! I told my friend the other day, one of my favourite rappers who I’m listening to at the moment is Rich Homie Quan and he kinda laughed at me, ‘why you listening to Rich Homie Quan?’ I’m inspired by Rich Homie Quan, I like his story, I like what he’s saying, he’s talking about being self employed, he’s talking about making responsible investments and he’s young so he comes with all of that gas as well. I feel exactly what your saying, but you’re doing it in real time and on a bigger scale because there’s bigger markets in America. If I could, I would do what you’re doing in my own style. It might come out different, it might sound bad and like pure gas but we’re young men and a lot of gas goes through my mind on the daily.

You should have seen me on the way here, I’m in my gym clothes right now, I’m not promoting any kind of crazy lifestyle but like this is real life. So when I’m talking, I’m selective so in the Chicken and the Egg story there’s a lot of sex stories, I’ve accumulated sex stories over the years in my life but I always knew that I came out as George the Poet saying this is an issue, let me talk about the issue, no one knew anything about my life and still don’t, you only know what I give you. But I knew that if I do talk about sex, it’s gotta be in a constructive way, I can’t be out here like an idiot talking about ‘all these chicks on my line’. It’s not stimulating, its not a credit to my community and its not fair to my family, my parents raised me better than that. Yeah I might be gassed, I might be getting myself into certain things, I am autonomous, that means that I have authority over myself, that means everything that goes on over here is my jurisdiction.

So how am I gonna pick up a microphone and make a fool outta myself? I don’t understand this conscious rap concept, why is it OK to be unconscious? All of these artists, when I talk to them individually, they’re unhappy with the state of music. I’m talking real, ask any artist, if you had a conversation with George the Poet, did you or did you not talk about the state of music and how unhappy you were with it? Because no is happy, no one is cool with this, you have us out here tap dancing acting silly, we all feel things, we’re adults. We’re grown people, we’re human beings, we feel things, we see what happens in Gaza, we see what happens, we see kids with their heads open, an eye here and nothing there, you’ve seen these pictures, yet I’ve got to step in the booth and say some silly ish. I’m just tryna talk.


We recently spoke to Wretch 32 and he said that he sees you as a figure of mediation between everyday people on the streets and the government. How do you feel about that and can we expect you to go further down this political route in your music in future?

Wretch 32 said I’m a mediator between the streets and the government, that’s an honour, I didn’t know I would get that role so quickly. When I was younger I thought I was going to have to be an MP.

I was cool, I’ll play the political game, climb up that greasy pole and everything is going to fall into place eventually. But what I realised is that, in the political game there’s too much smoke and mirrors and I can’t deal with that. So, coming into this place where I’m just talking, it’s like real recognise real, I started of narrating experiences, the first poem of mine that ever got popular I was talking about how much I hated my area. I was talking about like, I don’t want to be here anymore, just before I went to Cambridge University I’d got my acceptance. There’s not a robust interface between my community and power, there’s not. You can get people who look like me, you might even get people who sound like me but there’s not the informed. There’s not the connected, community that we need in order to advance our agenda. That’s not a racial thing, it’s definitely a class thing, definitely.

So I just feel at this point, we need a healthy conversation, a fairer conversation right now , so I embrace that role. If I can be a mediator, in any way mitigate. It’s embarrassing man, you go on prison visits and the rooms full of, race is a sub heading under the issue that it is, it’s have and have not’s. You go prison on a visit and the room is full of black guys. What? You go anywhere else in the country, you can’t find that. What’s that about? You think genetically we’re incapable of getting it together? No, there’s no robust interface between my community and the powers that be and we need to star engineering that deliberately. It’s not about ‘hopefully I can get a good job at a bank’ ‘hopefully I can make it as a doctor’ because what happens is you get integrated into the existing order. That’s cool, that’s not necessarily a deliberate or a malicious thing, but it’s like when that happens, you’re not in a position to talk how you want to talk.

I went Cambridge, I was there, no one around me talked, looked, sounded, felt like me. That’s not their fault, in society we just need pluralism, we need a mix of experiences and opinions, we need that but we need that to matter. That’s the only way we can have actual democracy, live real time democracy and we’re so far off that now that we still have categories like conscious rap. A rapper being conscious is an anomaly.


From your own experience, or from the careers of other artists over here or in America, to what extent do you feel being a conscious rapper is a burden and do you feel you would be compromising yourself to create music solely for monetary gain or chart success?

Do I think I would be compromising myself to make music purely for monetary gain? I think I’ll start compromising myself when I stop pushing a message. Music is a funny thing because people receive it differently, and to me to be honest, my whole presence in this music game is a move, a strategic move. I love music, but I tell people all the time, this is not the job to get into if you want to be taken seriously.

I f you consider yourself to be a mover and a shaker, DON’T become a musician. Because all of a sudden you have to have silly conversations. The same conversations I was trying to avoid as a 19 year old when I made the decision to stop rapping and perform my raps as poetry, those same conversations I was trying to avoid, I’m now having. People talking to me like I’m simple, so the compromise will start when I stop pushing a record, when I stop being about something. Music for monetary gain, come on man, you’ve got people selling illegal arms to regime’s that they shouldn’t be doing, I think there’s a lot worst things in the world going on than making music for money.

You’ve quoted in the past that entertainers have a duty to educate young people. What is THE most important thing, do you think, rappers should be educating their young male listeners on?

I think the most important thing a rapper can educate a young man on is self-determination. Now, self-determination is existence on your own terms. Everyone out there needs that. Work on whoever you are, be that person deliberately, and take it to the world, take its fullest extent. Masculinity in rap has been hijacked. We’ve been fed this image of the big, hard black man with all of these women, and all of this money, and all of these cars. I was telling my breathren the other day- I don’t know what it is, but when someone makes eye contact with me, it’s a challenge. I have to teach myself into looking away. Why? Because, growing up where I was, on an estate, smiling and nodding wasn’t an option. But that’s a mental thing that I’m subscribing to. Why can’t I smile and nod it off? He’s probably going to look at me and think, soft! But how’s that affecting me? Girls tell me all the time I’m not who they think they was, because I come across in a certain way.

There’s all these perceptions flying around. All that actually matters is my reality. What’s more important than that? Rappers could be promoting that in young boys. In my community, we don’t have that robust structure of masculinity. It doesn’t work. That’s why I made the chicken and the egg. The cycle of fatherlessness. A young man, grows up without a dad, doesn’t know how to treat a woman- guess what, he has a son, his son grows up without a dad, and he doesn’t know how to treat a woman. We need to re-think this whole masculinity thing. Rap is one big conversation there at our disposal and if we just decide today to talk about it differently – to not walk into the label and be pressured to make stupid tunes, to stand our ground and say ‘you know what? I’m a qualified authority in what I’m speaking about. And I’ll speak about it from the perspective I care about. That I respect. That I’m proud of. That I want my mum to see. I don’t want to hide content from my family.


Snoop Dog has said that he doesn’t think homosexuality in rap will ever be accepted because “rap is so masculine”. T-Pain has concurred that rappers will not work with Frank Ocean “because he is gay”. Wretch 32, however, recently said that homosexuality is accepted in hip-hop, and that people just have a problem if rappers aren’t genuine. Where do you stand in this argument?

I do think Snoop has a point- the way people’s minds are- especially in Snoop’s generation- they’re not open to that idea of homosexuality in rap. But I think, in my generation, homosexuality in rap will find its place, because people are more open-minded now. Times change. As times change, especially with the direction of communication and globalization. Communities find voices. 40 years ago, rap couldn’t have existed. But it’s all out there now. The way people thought about black people back then, it’s similar to how some people may feel about gay people today. ‘Don’t wanna hear it!’ But yeah, times change.


Robert Alford, in ‘Constructing Race and Masculinity in Hip-Hop Culture’, has quoted: “Hip-hop shapes white perceptions of young, black men as objects of fear and fantasy, and it also limits and determines the possibilities of racial and masculine identity for those individuals themselves.” Tell me what you think about this quote. And, if you agree, is this why you pass off rap and grime as ‘poetry’?

That is someone’s truth. There are a lot of white people out there who look at black men and think ‘ooh’. There’s a long running discourse on the hyper-sexualisation and the fascination of the black man. All the myths they used to build for racist ideology. Like, ‘look, this guy’s biological makeup is different, he’s a bit more animal, he’s closer to the animal, he’s closer to the beast.’ Yeah, hip-hop is the modern may midistration show. We don’t have informed citizens entering this game. I tell people all the time- if you knew how smart your enemies were, you’d pick up a book. But that’s a big ask for a lot of people. So yeah, the other truth is that it’s down to your perception! If you actually opened your eyes and your ears and listened to what this ‘hyper-sexual’ and ‘hyper-masculine’ black man was saying- he’s giving you a whole ethnography of the other side. A live report. You have 2 options. You can ignore what he’s saying. Or you can study what he’s saying. And you’re not going to do the second one- until I, George the Poet, come knocking on your door and say ‘hey! Listen to what we’re saying. Take us seriously.’

What do you think about the relationship between Hip Hop and Politics and how do you think Hip Hop can better engage people with politics?

I think the relationship between hip-hop and politics is unsatisfactory it’s substandard right now, do you know why? because its uninformed, hip hop approaches politics from an uninformed perspective and I don’t like talking down on hip hop, I love hip hop in it but, really and truly it’s not good enough man, one minute you’ve got all these people talking about F the system yeah just out of, like that comes from a genuine place, the system hasn’t done anything for me and f the system right, 0 – 100 real quick let Obama invite you to the white house, you are there, you are not gonna grill him about Gaza or Bama aid you know what I’m saying, gas prices ,cost of living, welfare, all the promises he made you’re not gonna do that *dances with hands up* (turn up, turn up) that’s what they’re gonna do, so again it comes like there’s not a culture of information that’s relevant to your lives, like this whole time we’ve been playing around with this hip hop ting like don’t get it twisted we’ve changed the world, we’ve changed culture.

I was gonna say youth culture, but we wrapped up youth culture a long time ago, listen to billboard top ten and tell me if DJ Mustard is not running it, tell me if Adidas has not benefited from everyone promoting their stuff tell me if you can’t see hip hop everywhere you go, the way people wear the stuffs the things people say. We have built stuff but I think people are stuck in this , I think people subscribe to the glass ceiling like, know yourself you can try play with culture, you can make all the fashion you want, but first of all we sign the contract, but on the other hand know yourself,’ don’t start tweeting about Gaza, do you wanna work?’, so they put their foot on our neck and we just fumble and do whatever, but the whole thing is a game anyway but I just know there is not enough flowing freely.

What are your personal thoughts on politics?

I vote but like I go through phases of thinking, it’s like you just have to know the game, the problem is, a wise man once said to me, you get upset because of the set up in your head, you’ve entered the world thinking it should be a certain way you find out it’s not going the way you wanted and you think that’s a disappointment but you just didn’t have the reality you didn’t know what the world is, so now that I know everyone’s lying and everyone’s cheating what decisions am I gonna make, am I gonna sit in the corner of my room, cry and sulk for am I gonna be like ok re strategize back to the drawing board, so like with politics, it’s just a bit of a joke but the problem is the PM in this country has a lot of power, no way around that, UKIP are making gains in Europe no way around that, people feel a way about Scotland people feel a way about Europe, you can sit on the sidelines if you want but you just didn’t understand the game.

What do you think needs to be done to engage more people?

I think culture, pop culture, let’s stop saying we are gonna swear, let’s stop f*****g around, let’s stop messing around with the pop culture thing, let’s start giving people information that will actually affect their life because no one’s content, you talk to anyone and they are complaining about their job , do you know what that is that working class consciousness you feel what I’m saying that’s the proletariat saying yeah getting exploited and it doesn’t make me happy everyone feels that every single day but we’ve expected that that’s the game, why? I’m broadcasting live and direct ad artists with things to say, don’t give me a microphone, you didn’t know who u were letting into the room, did you well cool I’m here now,

Do you think that’s the reasons that lead to another riot?

It’s like they don’t feel like they have anything to lose, you guys just talking all the time, we are feeling it, we don’t even know what you’re talking about but we are feeling it why am I having to hustle, why am I entering , why am I working at this company for 10 years only to get superseded, surpassed, by younger people that don’t sound or look like me and I’m told I don’t quite meet the qualification what but you make me train these young people and then you promote them over me tell me to have a coke and smile and carry on and you wonder why I’m crazy, and that’s the mum, that’s the young rioters mum so yeah listen to the chick they aint gonna see what happens to that kid.

Who do you vote for and why?

I’m not gonna say who I vote for but it’s important that I vote according to my agenda, my agenda has to be catered for, do you know why because they got an agenda, whoever’s asking me for my vote, wants to do stuff so let me see how closely the stuff he wants to do aligns with what I wanna do, that why we need to inform citizens, because what do I want, do I want a better jobs, do I want tax credits do I want childcare, am I a young parent that’s trying to get in employment, do I want to have kids, what is my agenda, you figure out your agenda and then you make an informed decision from these leaders, if none of them are offering something that you want, you press them, stand on their neck ‘cos they want to do it to you, who do your taxes go to?

gtp pr
Hip-hop artists to some are like the modern day version of Shakespeare. Discuss

Hip-hop artists baring similarities to Shakespeare through their lyrics. Shakespeare was a man, he was a human being. I’m guessing he had haemoglobin in his blood cells making his blood red you feel me; I’m guessing he had all the working of the lungs meaning that he needed to build oxygen just like I did, you feel me. So Shakespeare’s genius mirrored in the rappers that we have today is the same thing, it’s genius. Them man, I’m not gonna lie the majority of these rappers didn’t get it from Shakespeare. I think there’s a lot of claiming going on, people like to say, ‘oh yea we had a lot of guys ages ago that did that’, yeah but we didn’t know that guy we just came up with this so credit by credit is due – Shakespeare is amazing, so are my brothers out here.

what are your thoughts on hip hop as an intellectual art form?

As an intellectual art form. As an intellectual art form hip-hop is so rich, untapped, un-stretched, hip-hop is genius man. I can’t tell you all the ways I’ve learnt from it. Ask me anything about my life right now and I’ll tell you what I learned from hip hop through that thing, ask me just anything, cars, just throw a word at me.

Phone. Hip hop yea, is about communication like, like you have to understand, if I didn’t have my phone, if I didn’t have my phone I wouldn’t be here making money of what I’m making right now. The way the phone developed, yea all of a sudden we could listen to music on our phones do you know what that did? It gave me a very personal relationship with hip hop because I was listening to it all the time. It didn’t start when I got the phone but it just went crazy when I got all this Walkman phones and stuff I always used to try and absorb hip hop through that yea but the intimate relationship I was now able to have with these rappers through having a phone with me all the time with all of these songs, yea that’s what made me realize it’s a case study no matter what he’s saying. Even if he’s lying, yea he’s telling my about himself. Do you see what I’m saying through this intimate relationship that I’ve got right now? Yea this access that’s with me all the time, I’m building up this whole, as a young man as well I’m building up all these impressions and because these lyrics are always at the back of my mind, I’m cross referencing with them with what I see in the real world do you see what I’m saying hip hop, and that’s hip hop, hip hop that’s why I love hip hop because its built on the statement of truth this is the only musical community that is like, well country as well is based on stories and that’s great yea, but we place so much precedence on the statement of truth that’s why rubbish rappers can get through, because if you believe him it’s like yea statement of truth.

What role, if any, does God and religion play on your personal life and how does that influence your work?

God and religion played a very important role on my personal life growing up because it gave me parameters of which against to access the world. So, I could just decide where I stand because religion gives you very straight forward answers, you have something to navigate with, something to work with. As I grew older, I started paying more attention to the grey areas and the stuff that didn’t quite make sense. I don’t think my religion, Christianity, deals with inequality much, it just says ‘trust me, work hard and you will be alright’ and that’s worked for me so I can’t really say it’s not the way. But these new answers really started to bug me, but erm, growing up where It grew up was very important because I needed the guidance. I needed something to say: “trust me, this is what’s working and that’s not what’s going to work for you”.

Do you find there to be any contradictions between hip-hop and religion?

Hmm contradictions between hip hop and religion? Nah, again hip-hop is built on a statement of truth so all of these rappers tend to exhibit ambivalence about religion and that’s real. Most of us don’t know. We don’t have the answers. You probably know someone that is not from a particular faith but they’re a nice person you don’t expect them to burn in hell. We all feel these things and hip-hop has narrated them clearly, for decades now. So yeah, it’s a rich academic resource and religion is all real life, a statement of truth.

Hip hop acts talk about their wealth and acquisition of assets as well as having a reputation for building business brands, so why are most of them broke or experience tax issues?….MC Hammer, Lil Kim, Lauryn Hill and Ja Rule and, the initiators/innovators like Master Flash. Hip Hop as an art is often really blingy and flashy…

Again information! We need informed citizens; so many artists from the Hip Hop genre go broke because we do not have informed citizens. We’re from the working class; we don’t have a culture of money management and networks. Why don’t people talk about that? Why don’t I hear songs on the radio about that?
What is about the hip-hop genre that makes artist think they have to brag about materialistic wealth? Would it still be Hip-hop if it wasn’t so flashy?
First of all, it’s not that simple. Again, we are from poor communities, its celebratory, and half the time they can’t believe it themselves. So there’s a celebration aspect, there’s also the symbolism as a community- and you’ve got to remember that colonialism happened- no one likes to acknowledge that. We are living the results of colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade so it’s like- we don’t have symbolism that matters in this world, you don’t see our flag and think ‘wooft’, half of these African American’s don’t have a flag! They have to bow, have t pledge allegiance to the same people that enslaved their granddad, do you see what I mean? So yeah if they shine their bling a little bit … I just don’t like it when the conversation gets one sided.

What do I think could be a solution to making young Hip Hop artists more clued up? We’ve got all these Hip Hop artists out here holding microphones, start saying something that matters.

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wretch 2014

Tottenham breeds creativity – Soul singers Adele, Lemar and Keisha White hail from the area. But its grimy roots really are showcased by its hip-hop acts like Wretch32 and Chip.According to Wretch, he was once his schoolteachers worst nightmare but now he’s called the UK rappers rapper and metaphor man.

Jermaine Scott Sinclair -Wretch 32 (three-two), is the son of a local reggae DJ in the Tiverton Estate- which explains the clear dancehall beats juxtaposed with his north London lyrics that are full of metaphors and soulful hooks and melodies, that will keep you humming for hours after hearing one of his hits. It’s this partnering of dancehall vibes and his soulful melodies that are cool yet classy that have become his signature trademark sound.

Wretch was a member of the grime collective “Combination Chain Gang”, before forming The Movement with Scorcher, Ghetts, Mercston. He initially found underground fame by selling over 15,000 copies of his mix tapes in and around Tottenham ‘’the mix tape scene is like artist development’’.
He’s cut from the cloth of the original rap legends that rhyme about their personal lives. All Wretch’s tracks are like his personal diary in music form as opposed to just another materialistic hip-hop ego trip.

The word ‘Wretch’ might be associated with unfortunate or unhappy people but Jermaine couldn’t be further than that with one of his Adidas shod feet stuck firmly in his glamtastic showbiz life, and the other still grounded back in ‘’Totty’’. (Incidentally re his name; – His mother was from Jamaica, where “wretch” meant slim or skinny. She called him “Wretch” as a child, and the name stuck. 32 is his lucky number and he thought it would be fun to have a number as a surname, so he added 32 to the end of Wretch)

Wretch 32 Birthday Party at Holborn House, London

A fully royal member of the #TeamUK family, a look at his twitter timeline shows that he regularly highlights and shows support to his fellow music peers and is as loved by the scene as well as his die hard loyal fans.Now he’s the kingpin act at the centre of a very talented collective called Renowned, which is also home to his peers George The Poet, Jacob Banks, Knox Brown and more as well as sports and media arms. Like Jigga said he’s a ‘business man’’.

He’s a humble, understated character that has reason to trumpet about his successes. His first single Traktor in January 2011 was a huge hit. In 2010, the BBC nominated him for the BBC’s Sound of 2011 and MTV named him as a nominee for MTV Brand New for 2011. The same year he had three top-five charting songs from debut album Black and White and amassed over a million record sales. The following year he was used by both Adidas and coca cola as one of the main faces of their London 2012 Olympics campaigns and on 1 July 2012 he won ‘Best International Act’ at the 2012 BET Awards. His single ‘’Don’t Go’’ featuring Josh Kumra flew to number one in the UK charts. If I were he, the temptation to brag would be just a lil bit tempting.

The end of this year will see him release his third studio album Growing Over Life. We sat down with him this week, for an update on how that albums coming along …‘’I’ve been working hard in the studio on the album, I’ve had it finished for a while now. I was just touching up everything, doing my finishing touches. It’s sounding like a great body of work, its exactly where I want it to be, and its where I exactly what I want it to be. So I’m happy. It’s called Growing Over Life because I think it’s something we all do without even realising. I always remember on my birthdays I would always jump out of my bed and run to my wall and see if I’d got taller. Sometimes I’d say to my mum ‘mum I never got taller this year’ and she said ‘you don’t grow overnight, you grow over life’ and it’s something that just stuck with me, so I thought I’d just incorporate that with the record. My brand new single 6 words is definitely the most heartfelt piece of music on the record, sonically nothing sounds like it on the album, but it still fits through the whole journey because it’s like a journey of my life. It’s just that moment where I wore my heart on my sleeve, kind of stepped out of my comfort zone, to just show a bit of vulnerability if you can call it that. So yeah, I think it’s incredible. I wouldn’t say it’s my most vulnerable album yet, I’m like a cry baby, well sort of, so it’s not my most vulnerable album, but this record is definitely one of my most vulnerable singles. I’ve had like a million ideas as to what the video can be like and it’s just narrowing it down. I’ve spoken to loads of different directors; I’m actually in the process of trying to get 2 directors to work together. I dunno how that’s going to go, I’ll find out by the end of today!’’


wretch vids

Testament to Wretch’s talent and brand, is the fact that all his videos are well thought out pieces of visual narrative, that don’t ever rely on the old worn out stereotype of sexy dancing girls or materialistic wealth. Neither do they look like they’ve had thousands spent on them. They are slick, powerful and effective, complimentary to his vulnerable heartfelt lyrics. This often means he’s referred to as a more conscious, backpack, positive vined rapper. If he is a conscious rapper he has succeeded where many other edutainment MC’s have not in this age where record labels only aspire to sign quick win corny, lazy buffoon like acts. He would say

‘’I think conscious rap is overlooked slightly because, when you think of conscious rappers you might think of Akala, Common, both who maybe should have accumulated more sales, but they both do exceptionally well in each of their lanes. But I think the majority of people just want to have fun. I think when you listen to something that’s very serious, you take it in, you sit down and take it in, and you’re thinking ‘man that’s deep, I get it now, I get it.’ But when you listen to a club tune, you’re just like ‘I want to go to the club’. It’s just 2 completely different moods. I think the majority of people would prefer stuff that’s just, I wouldn’t say uplifting because a lot of conscious stuff is still uplifting, just want to turn up to be fair’’.

Wretch isn’t blind to the challenges that he has had to face when being described as a conscious rapper. ‘Being quite a conscious rapper means you definitely face the challenge that people say or think you are boring. I’ve noticed that when I’ve made certain records, even my own friends will say it to me. My mate will say to me ‘ah bro stop preaching man, if people want to hear that they’ll buy a book’ and I’m like ‘OK, I get it’ I get that that’s just some peoples philosophy on the whole thing, it’s just important to understand. Even me, some days I’ll wake up and I might see something pop on my twitter and I’m going to wanna challenge this lyrically, I’m gonna wanna speak about this. Some days I’ve been in a club, gone home and haven’t slept, gone to a studio session and all I can think about is how sick last night was, I’m gonna make a record that reflects that. With me, my art is just a reflection of my life’’.

When describing the state of hip hop at the moment, how its been perpetuated by the mainstream and the direction he see’s it heading in, Wretch ponders ‘’I think hip-hop right now is very diverse, a lot of it I like, a bit of it I don’t like. It’s interesting how to come through you used to have to go through a series of things. You used to have to be mad credible, have a background check, freestyle you’re head of, like rapping for time. Now, its like, you might have a rapper who has popped up, he’s got one tune and he’s come through and he’s as big as the guy who has done like 25 mixtapes, put in hundreds of thousands of hours of his time or whatever and its not weighing up sometimes. But I always say to people, and there is a lot of frustration with artists ‘how come this, how come that?’ but I say look ‘If it comes in quick, it might go (out) quicker’. The longer it takes to get in, the longer who are going to appreciate staying in and the longer you’re gonna be there in the long run. If something just lands in your lap, you might just push it off”.


I bear testament to Wretch’s grind that he’s put in over the years. Back when I was at MTV Base, Wretch used to come in and hang out as a friend of the brand and also our then intern (now super director) JakFrsh. Their friendship meant I was in the know about Wretch long before he hit the big time He is still today exactly the same well mannered, friendly, articulate young man he was back then many years ago whe he used to come in and chill out at my desk updating me on his latest mixtape and putting down verses for MTV’s Black History Month.



Wretch is aware that people expect all rap acts to branch out into other businesses but he’s making his moves slowly, deliberately and surely unlike many other acts that sign checks for any and every offer that comes up. ‘’There’s many ways nowadays for Hip Hops artists to be entrepreneurial. Of courses you have clothing which goes hand in hand like merchandise which a lot of people do, then you have some artists that open up modelling agencies, because they have a direct link with all the rappers that want to use of all the models for different video’s, then you have some people open up record labels, some people want to sell books. There’s so many things people can do, people like Jay Z have shown that its limitless. Even Pharrell – what they do with clothing and how far they take it- Kanye with the Yeezy’s, even someone like Lethal B with his clothing in the UK – Dench. I think its endless and there is a lot you can do. Probably merchandise is a common area because it goes hand in hand- you wear something, people like what you wear, it happens to be made by you, it happens to be sold on your site and at your tour and that’s also the most obvious direct way of income. I think it’s just how well you manage your brand. If you’re that person that always dresses well, one day I’m going to ask you “raah where did you get your jacket from” and then an artist might reply “naah this is actually one of mine I made it, I manufactured it you can buy it for £69.99 ” and they might reply “incredible I’m going to go an buy one” It kind of just goes hand in hand’’.



When listening to Wretch’s songs or watching his videos, we are never under any impression that he’s attempting to follow the blueprint for of the hyper masculine American hip hop that came before the UK acts blew up. Hyper-masculinity in hip-hop and the different stereotypes and pressures male hip-hop artists can face are heavy. There seems to be a lot of focus on how women are being stereotyped and objectified in hip-hop videos and lyrics, but this focus doesn’t really extend to the men. Wretch doesn’t think that the females or males have to stay in a box. ’’I think you’ve got to look at the rapper that’s at the forefront- there’s the guy that wears his heart on his sleeve, Drake, and there’s always people criticising him, but he’s the man of the moment. I think it was a beautiful thing that he even came through to get to the position he’s in now. He’s not typical- he’s not street, he’s not hood, he’s not from New York, he’s from Toronto. So I definitely think him coming through and him being so successful broke down a lot of boundaries. I think there’s a lot of other rappers coming through- it’s cool because it did used to be strict and tough and people had to speak about a certain thing and project themselves in a certain way. But now people are allowed to be more themselves, there’s a new wave of people coming through like the J Cole’s who’s not really ‘hood’, but what they do is make the everyday guy feel like it’s possible and I think it’s incredible to have the balance. Then there’s the 50 cent story, which is a story that many people are attached to, there are people who feel like something like that has happened to them in their life, and they just want to rap about it, because that’s the opportunity for them to get out of that situation- and I think it’s great that there is an art which allows that kind of platform. Of course, in everything, it’s right that there is a balance. I think the Drakes and the J Coles balance it out with the 50 Cents and the Young Jeezy’s’’.

Just watching Wretch walk down any part of London’s streets is incredible. He gets mad love. Wretch is looked up to by thousands of younger British music acts and is happy to play an older mentor role ‘’ It feels good knowing that artists are looking up to me. I feel like I’m quite a sensible character and it’s not like I’m going to lead anyone astray. There were many artists that I looked up to and they were very sensible and it helped to guide me and helped keep me on the straight and narrow. I think it’s important because I’m very interactive also, It’s not like I’m mad out of touch or out of reach, you can find me somewhere or contact someone that knows me and I can give you advice’’.

Not only is he a mentor to others but also looks up to acts that inspired him. Jay Z is his favourite artist but he doesn’t feel the need to emulate his style and knows he’s created his own, very unique lane. ‘’Jay is a rap hero, one of my idols, because lyrically, I think he’s the person who pushed me into the position I’m in. I think the consistency; the level of dedication to his craft, his professionalism, his mannerism is something that I admire. You don’t have to be similar to people you admire. The world doesn’t need another Jay Z or another Wretch32- and it definitely doesn’t need another Kanye!’’


wretch thoughtful

Snoop Dog has quoted that he doesn’t think homosexuality will ever be accepted in the rap music because, “rap is so masculine”. Wretch isn’t sure how this ignorance can be fixed. ‘’That’s a question that I couldn’t directly give you an answer for, I can only answer on stuff close to me, so like if I have a mate that was.. you know.. and he was working in music and wanted advice, I would say ‘be you, rap about you, rap about what you want to rap about’ and I think that’s the problem- I think people have a problem with others not being genuine. So, I’m a guy who’s into girls, and if I was rapping about boys, it would sound weird, it would sound wrong, because it’s not genuine to me. So if there was a rapper that was into something else, you just have to be genuine and be about hat you’re about and rap about it, and whoever is into that, would take to it. But if you think you’re too short, too tall, too dark, or whatever, it doesn’t make sense you just sit in your house and do nothing about it, because nothing is going to happen that way and there won’t be any changes. So it takes for you to come out and make that step’’.

Wretch does also acknowledge that fear of coming out can play a big role in a gay rappers career. ‘’There’s always going to be a fear in coming out… but if you’re in fear, you’re feeling like you’re doing something wrong. If you’re feeling like you’re doing something right, you’re in full right to behave and continue in whatever you’re doing in life. If you feel like you’re doing something wrong, then it’s going to restrict you and that’s a problem on yourself and something you have to deal with. You have to be comfortable in your own skin everywhere and I’m comfortable everywhere. There’s times where, with me being this tall and this dark, sometimes there’s an issue- but guess what, I’m going to walk in that door and I’m going to be Wretch 32. I’m not going to let anything limit me and I’m going to do what I’m here to do. So I’ll just advise ANYBODY in ANY circumstance- to be them and go for what you want to achieve. It’s up to you, I’m not going to pull you out your house, and nobody’s going to pull me out’’.


wretch politics

Hip hop and UK politics has never had a warm glowing friendly relationship. Nothings changed since Lethal B called David Cameron a donut in the broadsheets. Wretch thinks that Hip Hop can better engage people with politics. “I think in order for hip hop artists to help people engage into politics they have to understand it better, if I’m honest it isn’t something that I dwell in too much because I almost look at that like a separate world that I have no control over and it’s like, I find it quite interesting that someone like myself couldn’t tell Gordon Brown or Tony Blair, any of these people how to run the House of Commons but they can tell me how its gonna go in Seven Sisters and how its gonna run in Tottenham and how its gonna run in London, because I haven’t been in your world and you haven’t been in mine. So it should be you something you’re coming to me, or you’re coming to us and asking us what do we need’’.

Wretch 32 Birthday Party at Holborn House, London

Now talking about an area he feels passionately about he adds ‘’How do you get in contact with these people? You go through a million things but, this is when you need someone who can translate and this is something we see in a guy called George the Poet, where for me, he is the direct mediator because he can speak their language and he speaks our language and he understands so if we can all support him and get him where he needs to be, where he can communicate with them, nobody else will have to. Cos we are two different people walking two separate walks of life they look down on us, and we look down on them, so automatically it’s a conflict of interest, and it’s a lack of knowledge, a lack of knowledge on our front and a lack of knowledge on their front, and understanding, so if you have one person in the middle they can walk the tight rope.”


Last week the controversial Exhibit B show at The Barbican was cancelled on its London dates due to protests. Of course Wretch had an opinion “I was trying to read the pluses and the minuses on either side but I couldn’t quite understand why people would want to see black people in a cubicle in a museum, I couldn’t understand the attraction, I just couldn’t get my head around it, so I don’t think I’m with it to be fair, I don’t think I’m with it, I’m not that person that’s going to scream out with the lack of education, because there’s been many times where I’ve seen someone scream out about something like that and it’s a black person that created it so now it’s like you’re screaming at yourself like, why you screaming, you should have just understood the education and maybe it was something positive in the end but, I couldn’t see the positive in it, I couldn’t understand it, people arguing that it was art, technically if I walk past you in the street is that art then, why don’t I just walk past you in the street why don’t we appreciate that as art why do we have to dig up this history and just have people standing still in cubicles.”

Hip-hop and Shakespeare

I’ve often heard rappers verbal dexterity described as modern day Shakespeare. Wretch agrees that the ability to form phrases and clever wordplay isn’t just something that belongs to the golden olden ages ‘’I definitely think there are some similarities to some hip hop artists and people like Shakespeare. I think when I listen to some rappers and I hear some of their play on words some of the stories, some of the metaphors and similes and double entendre there’s some things that some of the rappers are doing that I doubt have been named yet”.

America isn’t the only place where hip-hop stars have university modules named after them and students study rappers lyrics. ‘‘There’s many times where I’ve gone to school and given English lessons and we’ve broken down some of my songs and It’s like I’ve explained some of the metaphors are and what the similes are and what the similarities are and etc. and I think like it was cool to do that and I think the kids are really engaged and at that point that where I realize that what I’m actually writing. It’s a bit more than just rap I’m not stringing words together I’m giving a lesson to kids here so it’s quite interesting’’

Trying to envisage hip hop for the future, Wretch predicts ‘’I think in years to come there might even be rap shows in the theatre, I might do a tour in theatres instead of normal venues and just stage it different and light it different and perform different, and maybe not even hold the mic, maybe just you know how it goes in the theatre you never know it’s just going to take one person to make that step and everyone’s just going to follow suit’’

Reflecting back to his own school days and how great it would’ve been if he had been able to study acts like grandmaster flash or Eric B and Rakim , Wretch smiles ‘’I think they should definitely pick some songs to be a part of the English module because I just remember being a kid, and I remember my teacher sitting me down saying, look you’re like one of the worst behaved kids I’ve ever tried to teach in my life, and my problem I have with you is like when you write stories, anything you write is incredible but why are you like this?, why are you so disruptive/ and I’m like, I don’t particularly care about what I’m learning about, and had I of had a lesson where I had a rapper that I respected, or a song I knew back to front was the actual lesson I would have paid a lot more attention, because they might have been telling me things that I didn’t even realise. Even like that might have been an easier way to describe what a metaphor is for me, do you know what I mean, or what a simile is for me at that age. I think that there are probably a million kids in this country that would benefit from them, so sometimes it’s just about trying. Because that lesson that I took part in for the kids, it was incredible, they learnt so much and even I learnt something, because sometimes the teacher would say ‘what you done In that last line that was onomatopoeia’

Hip Hop and Religion


One thing that doesn’t cross over from American hip hoppers to the UK as much as other hip-hop ingredients, are the constant references to God and religion. How much of a role does religion play in Wretch’s life and work? ’’ I was christened, all my siblings were christened and my mum was someone who went to church, my grandparents went to church. But my mum used to take us sometimes, and then she stopped, so it didn’t become part of my life. It became part of a tiny piece of my childhood. But at the same time, I understand the importance. For me, I’ve always believed that there is a God, always believed in God. It’s funny, because you turn to God when things are going wrong and expect him to make everything alright, which isn’t right, it’s just the reality of it.”

Wretch is able to understand hip-hop acts reverence to religion though “Because Hip-Hop is mainly for a set of people that have come from nothing. And when you’re coming from nothing, you look for hope. God is hope. Rap is an opportunity, opportunity and hope go together. So in your path of opportunity, you’d love there to be some hope that your fruition comes true. So it kind of goes hand in hand and I don’t think, it’s like a religious thing, like yeah it’s Monday and I am going to make a religious song and say god and then Tuesday. It’s just when you feel the need. Your gonna say a pray and that’s just part of our culture. You might pray before you eat, you might pray at Christmas dinner- you know the Americans might pray thanksgiving- its part of your culture. It may not be every day, every week or every month, but you do always have a moment where our thankful and you reflect. I don’t think there is a contradiction between rap and religion, because rap is art. You can rap about whatever, because at the end of the day, you’re telling a story, you’re just a communicator or the person who the art is coming to. I’m in control of what I am writing and at the same time I am not in control, because it’s coming to me from somewhere and its just for me to get it out from somewhere. I don’t think it’s a contradiction, but what would be a mad contradiction is if you were rapping some kind of devil thing, that’s an obvious contradiction’’.

Will Wretch’s new music hit the top of the charts? Will he continue to inspire younger music acts across the UK? Will he continue to be a great musical role model in the #TeamUK movement? As he himself is known for saying…I’m certain the answer is ‘’AH YEAH!’’

Wretch released his new single 6 WORDS on November 16th with his album GROWING OVER LIFE following soon after.




Last night I politely declined an invitation to see Mary J Blige perform at the I Tunes Festival, and a dinner invitation from a huge American music mogul because I received a better offer.
#blasphemy. I know. I am wrong.

But if you get an invite from one of the coolest men in the world, to attend one of the most iconic music venues in the world, to hang out and sing karaoke with a very A List line up- for an incredibly important cause, what would you do?

I arrived at Abbey Road Studios in the swanky postcode of NW8 in St Johns Wood, to find the infamous studio two, full of fabulosity. Samuel L Jackson was greeting a very small group of guests and encouraging us all to pop our names down to sing later in the evening. I assured him my cheering skills were much stronger than my tone-deaf vocals, but he insisted the worse we were as vocalists the better. He wasn’t joking. Later when he sang, he proved that he really IS a face for movies, not the music charts.

One For The Boys #SingOne4TheBoys Karaoke Night

A minimal list of songs from the past few decades was passed around. Myself and Adidas head honcho, Paola Lucktung fancied ourselves singing either Irene Cara’s Fame or Cameo’s Word Up, but Sadie Frost nicked our song before we could get up there and frankly the Primrose Hill set were all priority on the list. *NOSE MAJORLY OUT OF JOINT* SMILE*

One For The Boys #SingOne4TheBoys Karaoke Night

Radio One’s breakfast king Nick Grimshaw and his pal Daisy Lowe hosted the stage, and were really entertaining with their encouraging yet sly slights on peoples singing talents. It was hard to be really bad though, as we were accompanied by a full live band and amazing backing vocalists, so even the worst singers- ahem- sounded pretty good, and most certainly no worse than your average Spice Girl.

Waiters also offered a Michelin-star menu which included goats cheese bakes, artichoke canapés and a selection from the Great British Bake-off inspired dessert bar, personally created by leading chef Jason Atherton, as well as a champagne reception by Moët & Chandon.

Nicole Scherzinger sang ‘’the only song she knows at karaoke’’, Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I will survive’’, Game Of Thrones actress Maisy Williams sang Amy Winehouse’s Valerie, Boris Johnson’s sister Rachel sang a duet with Samuel, as did party co-host GQ Editor Dylan Jones and Tinie Tempeh and Jessie J’s manager Dumi made up a trio to sing ‘’Blame it on the boogie’’.

One For The Boys #SingOne4TheBoys Karaoke Night

All this fun was in aid of One For The Boys, the charity founded by Sofia Davis and chaired by Samuel L. Jackson, to raise awareness and funds, educating men on male cancer and the night saw the start of the recording for the charity single Say Something.

One For The Boys #SingOne4TheBoys Karaoke Night

The star studded evening saw stars from the worlds of fashion, film, music, sport and TV, unite to continue the One For The Boys ‘Man Movement’ launched earlier this year. Other stars in the house included, Toni Collette and Dominic Cooper, as well as Beth Ditto and Cara Delavigne.

The evening announced the launch of the single, Say Something – featuring artists including Sir Paul McCartney, and it’s no exaggeration to say that it has to have been the greatest karaoke event of all time. Paul McCartney’s in good company. Sam’s other mates who have volunteered to be ambassadors for the project include fellow legends Michael Douglas, Simon Pegg, Colin Firth and John Bishop.

One For The Boys #SingOne4TheBoys Karaoke Night

Creating a musical platform encouraging men to not be afraid to actually say something when it comes to cancer, we were informed that the One For The Boys single will arm men with the facts, the risks and tools they need to tackle cancer head on and be the perfect Christmas gift for a loved one – a doubly feel good gift of life.

One For The Boys Chairman, Samuel L. Jackson told us all,

“What better way is there to unite men than through music? Tonight see’s us mark the start of the recording of our charity single, Say Something, which we hope will make men realise that they can say something when it comes to cancer. Men don’t tend to talk about their health issues, thinking it reveals vulnerability. One For The Boys aims to shine a blue light into the world of campaigning, cutting through the noise to educate men, encouraging early detection and treatment. We believe this single featuring the world’s leading artists, can save lives.”

Uniting the world’s men through music, One For The Boys Say Something will be released in the run up to Christmas, but will it beat Simon Cowell’s X Factor offering?

To find out more about One For The Boys, the One For The Boys Charity single, Say Something and how to support the 2014 Men’s Movement, go to www.onefortheboys.com and follow @One4TheBoys #SingOFTB #SaySomething.

The One for the Boys charity single Say Something will be released in December 2014 creating the gift of life for Christmas 
About One for the Boys: 
One For The Boys was founded in by Sofia Davis as a tribute to a friend’s brother who lost the battle to cancer. Chaired by Samuel L. Jackson and supported by global ambassadors including Michael Douglas, Dylan Jones, Richard Roundtree and John Bishop, One For The Boys arms men with the facts, the risks and tools they need to tackle cancer head on.

Proceeds from the campaign go towards educating the nation reminding men how early detection is key, through campaigning, live clinics and removing the myths associated with cancer within men.


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So many young people and adults that I work with set up YouTube chanels and don’t really understand the basics of how it works and what the rules are to make it work well.
We live in a content driven era where you can make the greatest video in the universe, but if no-one knows where to find it, it may as well not even exist!.

Recently the LONDON360 reporters had a session with Sports Partnership Manager for EMEA at YouTube- Dan Pheysey who gave us these bullet points that you should be aware of when setting up and mantaining your YouTube channel…….

Understanding the platform

There are 3-5 billion people currently using YouTube

Only 3 sites in the world that have over 1 billion users: YouTube, Google and Facebook

6 billion hours per month watched on YouTube. Over 20% of the internet’s bandwidth.

4 days of content every minute is uploaded

Your core audience in Gen C which is 18-25 and these are viewers/ creators and curators. Make the content/view it and organise it.

40-50% of viewership is on mobile devices.

This means….

There is generally an audience for most types of content you create


Its very competitive.

One of your main challenges with this much content is your audience finding you.

Content strategy

Always think….is there a tweet that I can write that concisely explains what my video is about?
If there isn’t then you probably shouldn’t make/share it.

Most views come from people searching for content so creating a topic that people are searching for will automatically boost your views. This is why it is important to have a strategy when producing your content.

Tentpole programming. This means creating 3 different types of content to build your audience whilst retaining your core viewers and subscribers.

• Hero: Inspiring and emotional storytelling promoted through advertising. These are one off , or occasional , videos that make your brand stand out but are usually too much effort to produce continuously. They give the wow factor and get attention.
• Hub: This is regularly produced content that satisfies subscribers to the channel. Keeping your core audience.
• Hygiene: Videos that educate the audience by answering questions found through search.

Plan your audience around news events that are coming up, this is where you’ll see the spikes in viewership as its what people are searching for.

Ask yourself the 10 fundamental questions

1. Is it shareable?
2. Is it conversational? Are you talking to your audience?
3. Is it interactive? Is there any way you can involve your audience?
4. Is it consistent? Are there recurring elements? Are you delivering what your brand promises?
5. Is it targeted? Do you have a clearly defined audience?
6. Is it sustainable? Can you keep it up to standard?
7. Is it discoverable?
8. Is it accessible?
9. Can you collaborate? Is there any room to feature a guest who is doing something similar? That way you could steal/share each others’ audiences.
10. Is it inspirational? Is it coming from a place of true passion?

You can check what people are searching for using Google trends. https://www.google.com/trends/


Your page should have a cover photo explaining what your channel is about. An avatar and a logo is essential. They need to know what they are going to get when they land on your page so your photos and name should be clear.

The ABOUT section is very important for what the search algorithm takes into account so you need to have the KEY WORDS of what you do on your channel. Handy tip- You can update your about section regularly to optimise what is in your latest videos.
You can also add places you’ve filmed/performed/companies you’ve worked for to optimise if anyone is searching for content about these.

THUMBNAIL: Make it as interesting as possible. Expressive faces work best with bright, contrasting colours.

In your DESCRIPTIONS you should be linking to your channel and other videos.

TAGS are important so that your video appears in the recommended video section. You can custom baseline tags for each video and then add more specific ones depending on the video’s content. To do this you go to advance section- tags.

Your END CARD should have a clear call to action, subscribe button and ideally a link to another video to encourage people to continue watching.

It is a good idea to set up themed playlists as this is continuous and people will just carry on watching.

The biggest earners in terms of advertising are sport/beauty and food.

40% of viewed content on YouTube is long form – 15 mins or more so there is room for this.

Using music/third party content

YouTube have an audio library which you can use tracks from free. If you use other peoples music and they notice they can a) ask you to take it off b) take any money from the video if it is monetised c) let you use it with credit

YouTube has content ID which lets other users know when their content is being used by someone else and sends them a Copyright Notice and gives them options to take action. Therefore it is highly inadvisable to use others’ content without permission.


(Masterclass transcribed by London360 project manager Tayana Simons).