AFROBEATS Continues to fly high – Here are thoughts from the industry as well as my TOP 5 AFROBEATS COLLABORATIONS.


Alongside the usual diverse array of pop, indie, rock, hip-hop, dub step, grime and more musical genres of live shows that happen nightly across the UK, in recent years, a very exciting new party player has entered the fray. He goes by the name Afrobeats and is clearly here to stay with venue bookings across the country for its main stars set in stone.

Numerous pieces have already been written about the afrobeats scene. Its play listed on Radio 1, the BET Awards this year recognized the acts on air, black music star’s Kanye and Akon have signed up African talent, and now the trend of collaborations between Afrobeats artists, and international acts from other genres seems to be exploding.

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UK chart music star Wretch32 who collaborated with afrobeats act Sarkodi tells me it’s a good thing

“It’s so good to see Afro beat acts getting worldwide recognition. A genre as strong as that deserves to be global – its talent you can’t deny’’, whilst British (via Congo) comedian / host Eddie Kadi enthuses ‘’It is testament to how far the music has come and its ability to cross over. As a result we will now see a rise in new Afrobeats stars from the diaspora’’

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The infectious beats pumping out of Africa are something that the world cannot ignore. A sound so popular and specifically African conjures up the term Afrobeats. The popular sound taking over the UK airwaves pay homage to the old skool highlife sounds of Afrobeat, conceived by Nigeria’s musical genius Fela Kuti. The evolved, modern genre is a young and funky twist, where you can find memorable hooks sang in Pidgin English over an Afro infused hip-hop beat.

It’s right here in London that we see the magnitude of its success. Clubs and radios stations are being forced to play Afrobeats to cater for its high demand. The demographic and economic presence of Africans in the Diaspora has been the wagon through which Afrobeats is breaking into our western consciousness.

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Let’s start with Nigeria. It’s so huge it’s akin to a continent with numerous tribes in itself. There are over 165 Million people in Nigeria alone, not to talk of the Nigerian community living abroad. So that puts into perspective the potential reach that embrace and support this monstrous musical movement which is spreading its tentacles globally, and therefore generating a lot of money in the process.

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Nigerian born, British based, female music act May7ven even feels that the scene is even having a beneficial economical effect in the UK

‘’Afrobeats has travelled far in a relatively short space of time here in the UK. We still have a long way to go, but the progress is good, steady and we have certainly got the attention of the entire music industry the world over. Odd tracks are getting play listed on day time on some of the UK’s leading radio stations, and we’re starting to have a presence in the charts and clubs. Also, with the frequency of the large scale concerts holding at 5,000 capacity venues headlined by Afrobeats stars, we can certainly now claim to be contributing to the UK economy however little. People may laugh but the airlines are making money, hotels, FEU (Foreign entertainment tax) UK Boarder, jobs are being created!’’


In the early days of the Nigerian Pop music, acts like Eedris Abdulkareem attempted to gain equal footing with American artists such as 50 cent, by inflammatorily sitting in 50 Cents first class seat; a protest to the unequal treatment of indigenous artists by Nigerian promoters and concert organisers. After reportedly being told to ‘Get out of that seat’, Abdulkareem responded “You cannot treat me as a second and or third class citizen in my own country, I will not take it from anybody,” Abdulkareem said after the infraction. “If 50 Cent is a star in America, I am equally one in Africa.”

Fast-forward to 2014 and we’re seeing more Western superstars seeking out African talent and wanting to become a part of this addictive music phenomenon. This movement was internationally recognised when Kanye West signed Nigerian acts D’banj and Don Jazzy to his G.O.O.D music label in 2011. it has to be said. Jaws dropped. People were impressed and excited. Nothing could prepare fans for the moment when Kanye West walked on stage to join Nigeria’s hottest exports- the then ‘Mo’Hits’ turned ‘Mavin Records’ label. Kanye joined them at Hammersmith Apollo in London for their third instalment of the Koko Koncert series (2011). The excitement was intense. Fans alike stamped, shouted and screamed in awe as Kanye West took off his chain and put it around Dbanj’s neck, announcing to the world that the signing was official. Dbanj and Don Jazzy were then the newest members to join G.O.O.D Music.

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Tim Westwood (CapitalXtra) said at the time: “I know Kanye well, but when he arrived back stage it was so exciting – it was a hot moment in the game. When he came on stage to perform and then 
passed the Good Music chain to the D’Banj, the crowd went crazy”!

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Some acts have even been accused of jumping onto this latest fad as a business angle. Abrantee Boateng is a radio presenter on CapitalXtra in the UK who champions the afrobeats genre and is known as DJ Abrantee and states..

‘’there’s definitely been a steady rise as a lot of people still don’t understand the whole afrobeats movement although they are jumping on the band wagon, which is a good thing, as it now shows that people are taking notice. One thing is for sure, in every club around the world you will now definitely hear the DJ play an afrobeats set, which wasn’t happening before’’

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DJ Shortee Blitz says …

‘’ The Afrobeat Scene on an international level is growing like crazy!! From a dj standpoint. I can play certain tunes all over the world and they’ll get love, whether they know its afrobeat or not. I suppose it depends on the type of dj you are. Whether you play by numbers or play the shit you actually feel…’’

May7ven seems to the outside world to have gone from an R&B Branded Artist to Afrobeats, but she disputes that and clarifies …

‘’ It would appear that way as I was part of the growth here in the UK when it started. When I started my career, I called my style AFR&B, African R&B just because I felt I was different and simply somehow wanted to incorporate my culture, sounds and language into my music as some of my male counterparts such as 419 squad, JJC Skills, Weird MC and co. There were no templates to follow from any other female singers on TV or radio combining African drums, language or sound with real R&B at that time and I wanted to pioneer something as a female artist amongst the many R&B females around at that time. It was during a meeting with Guy Moot from EMI at the time, where he spoke about being original and suggested that there wasn’t that much of a difference between Jamelia, Kele Le Roc and a few of us at the time and he was right. I wanted to be original and stand out; I believe it is working for me now, as you now witness a wealth of female Afrobeats artist’s actively working, combining R&B with Afrobeats. I have travelled the world, performed for presidents, received multiple awards and am in a position to be as unique and original as I want, standing out in my own lane. It is still tough, but my last 3 independent releases have had received A-List on UK radio and across various TV stations right here in the UK, which is fundamental in building a bigger fan base outside of this genre. I still have a long way to go and a massive agenda so I take nothing at all for granted’’.

So how many of the new collaborations from her genre are authentic? So far there have been numerous alliances between African and international acts, in the same way as in the early British days of urban music trying to break out to a bigger listener demographic, we used to persuade American acts with huge amounts of UK record labels cash, to feature on our remixes. The idea that now the occasional UK acts, as well as American is being sought out, to feature with afrobeats talent, is telling.

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The collaborations usually still involve a huge exchange of cash and persuasion from the African teams side, but American and UK acts aren’t silly. They see this scene is blowing up with an unstoppable momentum of its own, and want to be seen as part of the movement. The international act is of course, always expected to shout out the African act in their verse. (Sean Paul) ‘’Fuse ODG and SPeezy- WHAT WE TELL THEM?-BLAZE THEM!’’…./ (Kanye) ‘’That D Banj cause hysteria, As we step of the plane in Nigeria’’…../ (Rick Ross)‘’Konvict music-Turn up the music we bumping P Square’’….and so on.

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After all what’s the point of parting with bucket loads of cash without a personalised co-sign right? (Probably just because I’m British), the UK/African collaborations sound more authentic and less forced to me than the American ones. Something to do with the diaspora community here in London being much more engaged with African culture be it food, friends or music than the American’s who seem so far removed from it all).

Some things never change though. The joint videos are still materialistic urban cliché’s with opulence in the form of champagne, shaking posteriors, exotic palm tree’s, penthouse suites, the love of wearing all white and yachts- The difference here however, that’s hilarious, is that a lot of African communities are actually filthy rich and keepin it real, unlike early UK and U.S acts, who often had to act out and fake their bragadocious wealth.

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The videos also expectantly feature an over sexualisation of women and you’ll see that reflected again in the collaboration between African act Dr Sid and X Factor alumni Alexandra Burke who collaborated earlier this year on their single Baby Tornado. Alexandra rocks a skimpy clinging red mini dress and shorts whilst she suggestively and sexily sings her chorus.

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“We shot the video for ‘Baby Tornado Remix’ featuring Alexandra Burke with UK producers Uzo Oleh and Michael Buckman”, says Dr Sid. “They were able to bring something different to my visuals. The magic happened when both our styles met. Alex brought her sexy vibe, while I brought my African flavour. I feel it was a great synergy between the UK and Nigeria and am very proud of the result. African music will thrive with or without international recognition because it’s not just music- it’s also a culture. It can never die out- it will just keep evolving. Having the support and interest internationally, is an added bonus. I continue to be grateful for all the support”.

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Alexandra herself has an opinion on what is helping Afrobeats star rise.

‘’Personally I think social media, clubs and the radio all play a massive part in fuelling the love of the Afrobeats scene. Not only that, but also most importantly Afrobeats is a joy to listen to. It’s particularly great to listen to when you are in need of cheering up, as it will never fail to make you want to dance. It always puts a smile on my face. I’ve been friends with Dr Sid for a while, I actually met him through his fiancé. I told him about my love for Afrobeats and we sat in my studio and listened to his album. It all just worked out. I heard his song Baby Tornado and fell in love. We wrote the verse and I recorded it there and then in my studio at home. It was a magical experience. Shooting the video for Baby Tornado was awesome. The energy was electric. The vibe was totally natural. Dr Sid made me feel right at home. He also taught me all the right dance moves! It was great, I look back with very fond memories’’.

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Maybe Alexandra’s collaboration and the afrobeats movement in the UK will encourage MOBO to televise an afrobeats category next year as BET did this year. MOBO CEO Kanya King explained ….

‘’Afrobeats has been around for a while, but it’s definitely starting to gain the recognition it unreservedly deserves. Afrobeats has more recently taken off in a big way I would say – there are now one hour long sets on mainstream radio stations in the UK such as BBC 1Xtra and Capital Xtra. We have seen Afrobeat artists such as Fuse ODG flourish on the dance floors. If you look at his ground-breaking success – achieving the highest charting UK Afrobeats single to date, collaborating with Sean Paul and a spellbinding performance at last year’s MOBO Awards – it’s difficult to escape the impact Afrobeats has had on the UK music scene and worldwide which now leads to great collaborations between African and international artists, a clear win-win and thus also creating more opportunities for African artists to gain popularity in other parts of the world. We’re very happy to be supporting this development’’

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ITV News host Charlene White is awed by the speed of the movement…

‘‘the pace at which the scene has been moving is incredible. I remember being in Kenya visiting a friend early 2011 – and falling in love with D’Banj’s track Gbono Feli Feli. So to fast forward to 2014 and see international acts (finally!) seeing how strong the market is for Afrobeats is great. What has also been wonderful is to see so many UK house producers working with Afrobeat sounds like Fela Kuti. These changes can only be seen as positive’’.

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As a supporter of black music over two decades, journalist Hattie Collins, (Music Ed: i-D,Freelance: The Guardian, Grazia, RWD, BEAT, ASOS, The Hunger, G-Shock, The Sunday Times Culture…) has seen the African acts fight for their right to party in the global music industry, across many decades….

‘’ It’s exciting to see the slow spread of Afrobeats; for so long anything from Africa (and indeed Brazil, India, South America and so on) is thrown into the somewhat reductive ‘world music’ and therefore ‘niche’ category. In fact, Afrobeats is as thrilling and important as anything the UK or the US has produced and has the potential to be as globally culturally important as Hip Hop, R&B or Dancehall. It’s taken a few years, but finally, it’s not unusual to read about Azonto on Noisey or listen to a mix from Mista Silva on i-D. Now we can all cheer on Stylo G and Fuse ODG as they get another Top 10, or when we hear that Kanye West has signed D’Banj to G.O.O.D music and Tinie inked Wizkid to Disturbing London. The latter is an important point; these days, the all-important co-sign can often make or break an artist. Having the OK from a Kanye, Jay, Wayne or Drake can make the world of difference – see Drizzy’s recent Popcaan endorsement as proof, as well as Sean Paul teaming up with Ghanaian raised Fuse. Together, the two bagged a Top 3 with Dangerous Love. When a mainstream act endorses a new artist or genre, it shines a hugely powerful spotlight and sends a powerful message. The future of Afrobeats looks incredibly bright right now, and deservedly so. It’s about time that African, Indian, Brazilian music was invited from the shadow of the land of niche to be fully embraced by audiences worldwide’’.

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Vietnamese Afrobeats DJ Neptizzle from Reprezent Radio says…

“I am a firm believer that it is a collective effort of Artists, DJ’s, promoters and fans that are keeping this genre relevant. As a non- African DJ that plays Afrobeats- I learnt very quickly how powerful the music is. There ain’t no party like an African party! The fact that someone like Alexandra Burke, or even myself who doesn’t come from an African background can appreciate the music and want to be involved, speaks volumes of just how influential the music is. The language barrier doesn’t hold anyone back either. For me, it’s about the beat, the rhythm and the enjoyment! It’s so infectious I’m not surprised that international collaborations are happening. Even if the collaborations are happening just for money, or purely out of love of the music- either way the music is spreading and it shouldn’t be ignored if you want to stay ahead of the game’’.

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May7ven feels collaborations have their perks and drawbacks ‘’ Collaborations are always a great thing and a positive step if done properly. Examples of Wyclef and FuseODG on Antenna are a great example of getting the mainstream to finally pay attention to a hit song, exposing it to a wider audience. It is an opportunity to tap into the international artists audience presenting our style and genre of music to their world in a fashion they are familiar with, rather than forcing it down their throats. It is also a sign that times are changing and the international stars themselves welcome this sound and generation of hit makers to compliment their own records; their aren’t many examples of this so far as at the moment Afrobeats artists are the ones featuring them. Chingy welcomed and featured 2Face Idibia and myself on his own record and on the Alexandra Burke track that I am on, her team approached us to feature on a remix of her own track and not the other way round so certainly a good sign. With the exception of Fuse ODG and 2Face, the collaborations have only been good for raising the profile of the afrobeats artists in their own industry, as the international artist are not the ones promoting the songs; for example Rick Ross and P Square arguably the biggest collaboration for Afrobeats but it was noted that Rick Ross was not actively promoting/releasing or even tweeting about the song; we have had some amazing features but none of them have really penetrated the desired territories.Alexandra Burke also did one with Sid, I think it is good for him as it’s a nice song but equally Alex in her case benefits and shows her versatility and exposes her to the African market if she was to have her own release there or try her hands in Afrobeats’’.

DJ Abrantee concludes ‘’Before the scene came to commercial awareness it was already there on the underground, and more importantly the artists were doing the Afrobeats back in Africa creating their own scene. What’s happened now is the UK are taking notice of the Afrobeats scene due to artists like Dbanj, P Square ,May7ven, Mista Silva, Atumpan, Moelogo and of course Fuse all getting daytime playlists on commercial radio and charting ,which wasn’t happening before. Loads of people would tell me that the afrobeats scene wouldn’t last and that it would dwindle away. What you’ve got to understand is that Afrobeats is not a man made genre back in Nigeria /Ghana and the rest of Africa. The artists are living the music they make, and the knock on effect is that the new artists from the UK and beyond are now adapting that style and adding their own western style, to create an even more vibrant sound and culture incorporating the dances and more in terms of collaborations. I was recently at the MTV Mama awards where afrobeats artist collaborated with U.S artists in a big way: Sarkodie with Migel, Trey Songz with D Banj and French Montana with Ice Prince, so collaborations are definitely happening on a big scale. Collaborations from different genres of music are always a good thing as it just broadens the genre into different markets, which is healthy for the scene’’.

As we head into the last quarter of 2014, the UK has been given an array of confirmed gigs and Afrobeats tours from the likes of Iyanya, Mafikizolo, Tiwa Savage, Wizkid, Davido and Dr Sid. This further reiterates the words of Sid that ‘the scene will continue to thrive with or without international support’. There will always be a demand. I look forward to see what else the scene has in store.


5-Fuse and Sean Paul:
Dangerous Love stormed the UK chart at number 3!

4-Dbanj and Kanye West:
Scape Goat was a massive look with Kanye jumping on a favourite of

3-P Square and Rick Ross:
Beautiful Onyinye

2- Timaya ft Sean Paul:

1- DR Sid and Alexandra Burke:

To see just how strong the collaboration route is becoming take a look at just a few of the other major collaborations between Afrobeats artists and international artists:


Fuse ft Wyclef ‘Antenna remix’

Ice Prince ft French Montana – I Swear:

Dbanj FT Snoop Dogg Endowed remix (2011)

Dbanj and Kanye West: – Scape Goat was a massive look with Kanye jumping on a favourite of Dbanj’s. Nigeria/US

Sarkodie and Wretch 32 - massive Ghana/uk link up

Watch the throne- ‘lift off’ The track which ft Beyonce, Kanye, Jay Z was co-produced by Nigerian hit producer Don Jazzy:

Wizkid ft Wale ‘Drop’:–4Nigeria/US



Usually nothing David Cameron says affects the music industry. This week he’s shaken the whole UK scene up by announcing that from October, music videos will go through the same classification system as films and other video content, in an attempt to give parents more information to protect children from “graphic content”.

The voluntary pilot will involve the big three music labels in the UK – Sony, Universal and Warner Music – as well as the British Board of Classification (BBFC), YouTube and music video platform Vevo. The big three labels will conduct the pilot, but the BPI, which represents Sony, Universal and Warner Music and more than 300 independent music companies, expects that all music labels will adopt the system once finalised. It will run for three months, kicking off in October.

The music labels will submit music videos that they consider could contain content that should be classified as for age 12 or over, using BBFC guidelines. The BBFC will then rate the videos as it does with other content, for which the labels will pay a fee to cover the cost of rating in the same way that the film industry currently does. The rating process should take around 24 hours.


A rating of 12, 15 or 18 will be assigned to the music video and passed on to the label. Videos deemed not to include objectionable content for children under 12 will not be classified.
The three-month pilot is intended to finalise a system that works for rating the videos and having the data tagged to them when uploaded to say they are classified. For the initial trial it will simply be a notification on the video of an age classification.

After the three-month trial it is expected that YouTube and Vevo, as well as other video hosting services, will look at developing parental control filters that screen out videos marked as inappropriate for children of specific age ranges.

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When I first heard this I had two reactions; both negative and positive…

From a negative point of view – David Cameron –seems to have a very out-dated way of thinking. He suggested that people ‘’buy music videos’’ so I’m not sure if he really understands how the internet works and that music videos are freely viewable on numerous online platforms and that for kids, if something’s banned, its even more desirable. Alas young people are more tech savvy than adults, they live online. They will track it down wherever it lives like they do video games, which also have ratings.

The main thing about this move that suggests it wont make any difference, is that it only applies to UK acts and videos which aren’t the biggest culprits- the American and Caribbean artists are much more racy.
British talent like Adele, Naughty Boy, Emeli Sande, Ed Sheeran, Charlie XCX and more have made global impact with billions of sales with never having removed a sock let alone their underwear.
Its artists like Rihanna, Beyonce and Miley Cyrus, who are signed to the American arm of the big labels, that are the culprits in this court and they wont be included in the new age classifications.


This move to me isn’t about helping the over sexualisation of children in the UK, but is about votes and being seen to be pro-family- elections are coming up and David Cameron mentioned this during a speech about families this week.

From a positive point of view, Its really important to understand that David Cameron is talking about ‘’advice’’ not ‘’restricting access’’ which many have their proverbial knickers in a twist about. However, this move isn’t for the kids, it’s for the parents so they can make an informed choice. This is not about freedom of speech, but about being responsible. He’s been talking all year about the sexualisation of women and girls in the media, from female genital mutilation, to women’s rights globally, so this is a natural next step in his current campaign.

Speaking of campaigns, on there’s a petition online that nearly 19k people have already signed here in the UK, so there is strong feeling about this in many areas.


The fact is that music videos have become more sexually explicit over the years since I was a presenter on MTV News, Over a decade ago we had more of a balance with music videos, they were much more creative. Racy videos have been around since the early 80′s but never have they been so gratuitous as they are now. Music is not about sex, but today’s generation often align the two together, and think it is and that’s wrong.

In the eighties and nineties, as well as raunchy Madonna, Grace Jones and Jodeci X-rated videos, we also had very creative, artistic efforts. But now that a lot of big budgets have been cut, often pop stars and videos directors resort to the old tried and tested titillation route.


Sex sells- we all know this. I made a lot of making of the video shows for MTV in the nineties for 15 years, and can tell you that the casting couch is not a myth and its even worse in 2014. Directors love it and pop stars love it even more. One very famous pop star married, and now has a family with his sexy video leading lady.

Video commissioners at record labels will lazily green light the same video directors, who know and use the same video girls in all their work. There are also a lot of backhanded deals that go on in the industry with acts, directors and video commissioners using the same people over and again, so maybe Cameron’s new move will encourage British labels and directors to be more artistically creative and spread their creative pools more widely?


I know female superstars who are constantly trying to push the boundaries and ‘’out-sexy’’ each other. To some this is women empowering themselves, to others its helping mould the minds of very young impressionable young people in a very unhealthy way. Today we are bombarded by music videos that are very sexually explicit and demeaning to women on social media, in bars, cafes and shops at all times of the day. During my time at MTV, videos were restricted to watershed rules like TV and played after 9pm if too sexy. So I understand why David Cameron wants to help censor the content, but at this stage its like the barn door closing after the music horse has bolted.

The sexy girls that frolicked in these videos used to be sneered at as one level above groupie status in my day. Now its an envied viable career option for many young women happy to act like porn stars ‘’just until I make the big time-then I’ll show them I have brains as well as boobs’’ cliché lines.

Parents should be concerned about the influence that music videos have on their sons and daughters. They contribute to a culture that says that women should not be treated as equals and with respect. There’s considerable evidence from research, that sexualisation in music videos creates a context in which violence against women and girls flourishes.


Also, make no mistake this isn’t just about young girls being overly sexualised. Young men, more than any other time in history, are hyper sexualised and are learning very negative behaviours about sex, relationships and love these days, leading to the rise of male depression, gang rape, stress, pressure, metal health and suicide.
More importantly I would say is that parents actually need to spend more quality time with their children instead of plonking them down in front of the computer or TV virtual babysitter.

You cannot block the Internet, but even if the new ratings system can be switched on just at home so the child is aware that the parents don’t allow it and wont accept it, this sends a clear message to kids that set boundaries and plants seeds in their heads that what they’re watching is of a sensitive nature.


I work with hundreds of young people in my capacity as executive producer of London360, which is made by young TV reporters from all across the capital. Their view on music videos such as Blurred Lines and Wrecking Ball are that the pop stars look desperate for attention and make themselves look cheap. But they also acknowledge that their younger siblings are mimicking the moves with glee. How can anyone not feel awkward, if they observe a child watching Miley Cyrus bending over forwards and Robin Thicke gyrating into her from behind?

Many of them also laugh and think Cameron’s attempt is too little too late. A few did admit though, that seeing an age advisory sign and knowing its inappropriate for them, whilst making them feel rebellious, would subconsciously place a seed that it was a boundary and that it was wrong or a sensitive area. Also, they think their parents will be much more hands on if they were to spot an age guide before a video.


Many ask whether the blame should lie not with the government scrambling around trying to clean up the music industry’s mess, but that the industry, which is inherently sexist, should step up and take responsibility?

But this is an industry that’s built on sexism. Yes. The music industry is a sexist place to work in. Ask yourself who’s in charge of every music label in the UK. Its all men running our industry, it always has been and always will be- regardless of each generation’s diversity initiatives.

Aditionally put the media in the dock to defend itself as well the music industry. Do the media ever talk about females without dissecting their looks, sexuality and body? The media attend a male music stars live show and talk about his set, performance and musical ability. They attend the female pop stars and it’s all about what she’s wearing and how sexy she looked. C’mon son!


So props to Mr Cameron for trying to navigate these shark infested waters of big bucks music billionaires, but the game has been set and will get more and more pornographic until we are all de-sensitised to cricketers penises on twitter and men having sex with snakes.

It’s like an old episode of nineties car crash youth culture show THE WORD, where THE HOPEFULS had to suggest the most outrageous thing they would be prepared do to appear on television. Now they have the capacity for their own 15 minutes of fame, the music video is the last place David should focus his attentions on- there’s much worse out there.



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However flat the London weather gets in the summer, a key staple in this Londoner’s diary, are the sporadic Adidas events and parties, that regularly unite London’s movers and shakers.
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Last week they threw a party for the launch of their new originals flagship store just off Carnaby Street. As if all the fun moments that they always have us jumping up and down with glee at aren’t enough- this time guests were welcomed with a live photo-shoot from talented photographer Charlotte Rutherford with our portraits then printed onto t-shirts.

Presenting the very best of adidas Originals across trainer drops, limited edition releases and collaborations, the Flagship Store goes one step beyond the retail – playing host to exclusive events throughout the year, for which I will be clearing my diary. Taking inspiration from the city we all love and champion daily, I have so much synergy with the new store- it champions youth and creativity with a diverse and ever-growing cultural offering. There’s a reason so many young people rock the brand. Its supported grass roots and mainstream talent for decades and now is stronger than ever.

Guests were chowing down on succulent tasting food from Dalston’s very own Rita’s who provided the food whilst a host of local talent contributed too. London artist Rosanna Webster created a window installation inspired by the sights and sounds of the neighbourhood while street artist Malarko produced artwork inspired by the colourful characters of London.
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Adidas functions always have faces from various walks of life and this one was no different as music acts, creative arts influencers and tastemakers all intermingled. Wretch 32, John Boyega, Mr Hudson, Luke Worrall, Aaron Frew, Alexis Knox, Josh Johnson and India Rose were holding court amongst others.
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We were all so consumed with this entire buzzing atmosphere, that when Hollywood legend Samuel L Jackson and London’s finest international actor and music dj Idris Elba strolled in, the whole venue froze in shock as things moved in slow-mo, before erupting again in a frenzy of excitement!

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The night was capped off with live performances from musician Elli Ingram and spoken-word artist George the Poet, and premiere film screening from Nic Hamilton.
** NOTE TO SNEAKER PIMPS ANDTRAINER BUFFS- To celebrate the opening of the London Flagship Sore, adidas Originals has produced a special edition of 2014’s most coveted silhouette ZX Flux. Satellite imagery of the streets of London have been applied across the shoe’s to produce a slick, understated shoe that is clean, considered, and firmly rooted in the culture and character of the city that inspires it.


dna lineup

Next. I joined Britain’s first black female stand up comedienne Angie Le Mar at the Tricycle Theatre on Saturday for the launch of, an online news platform for the global AFRICAN DIASPORA. Wherever you’re based in the word, you can now stay abreast of all news that is of interest or that affects the African community.
morell judith
OSARGENEWS.COM FOUNDER MOREELL MAISON AND ACTRESS JUDITH JACOBS. is an online platform delivering news twice daily to subscribers via an email address. With access to news from over 100 different countries, it is possible to stay on top of the latest news stories from any of the featured countries or from the African Diaspora as a whole.
The launch of, a free African Diaspora News aggregator, saw playwright Angie Le Mar, the Brand Ambassador, welcome and talk to the packed theatre about why this was an important platform for the community to engage with each other.
She said “ is a fantastic opportunity for Africans and people of the African Diaspora to stay connected to their roots and their heritage. It is also a valuable platform for those interested in finding out more about what is happening in those parts of the world and I am delighted to be the Ambassador for such an exciting project”

dr angie
Angie interviews Esther Stanford-Xosei onstage- Esther is an internationally acclaimed Reparationist, Jurisconsult, dynamic community advocate and radio Broadcaster.

She also introduced the new African Diaspora specific DNA testing products exclusive to and unveiled her DNA test results for the first time which showed that even though she is Jamaican she has west African roots. She also hosted a conversation with Dr Michael Baird, one of the worlds leading human geneticists and Dr Eran Elhaik, one of the foremost experts on DNA testing and inventor of the African GPS Tracking System. In a nutshell this is like the TV show ‘’who do you think you are?’’. If you’ve ever wondered about your DNA ancestral roots, then this is a chance for you to find out exactly where your DNA traces back to. One doctor revealed to me that a Muslim man that had come in to have his DNA tested, found to his shock that he had Jewish roots! Knowledge is power! I too had my cheek cells swabbed and sent off to a laboratory and will have my results back this week! How exciting. I could be descended from royalty!…or….anyway I digress…

I finished my week at the beautifully green picturesque Lloyd Park in Croydon, where I was taking part in the 5k charityrun for the ACLT Charity. Running alongside me were soca music maestro Martin Jay who was a true trooper- he had been up all night at a function, and was multi tasking arranging for this weekends carnival costumes to escape (via their birth in Trinidad) from Gatwick in time.


Also with us were Gogglbox stars Sandy and Queenie as well as actor Femi Oyeniran. The turnout was incredible and raised a lot of awareness for a great cause.
femi orin

ACLT Co founder Orin Lewis thanked us all on behalf of the affected community members and families for turning out so early on a Sunday morning. A huge canvas of Orin and Beverleys son Daniel was also placed in full view for us to be reminded of the catalyst for this great organisation.


I couldn’t help thinking of the irony that one day we will all be affected in some way by a medical need and until it happens to us we never take things like this seriously. If all the people I saw focusing on the latest £500 Christian Laboutin trainers simply donated a tenner charities like this would be in a stronger position to help those affected.
goggle orin

We were warmed up and then set loose with some of us sprinting two laps around the park and others of us more casually speed walking. I’ll let you guess which group I belonged to.
final line up

Post run we had fun in the sun watching the afternoon teams play 5 a side footie and scoffed the delicious jerk chicken aroma that I had been following whilst running around the park!

JASMINE’S JUICE- Noel Clarke, George The Poet and Akala talk sex, love, relationships and mutual respect.

noel jas onstage
ALL PICS COURTESY OF Cheryl Dempster @DreadArts and LONDON360.

Black Eyed Peas once asked ‘where is the love?’ and this past weekend it was most certainly alive and well in Harlesden, west London.

dawn butler

Local west London celebrities: BAFTA Award winning actor Noel Clarke, Hip Hop Shakespeare founder Akala , new generation poet George the Poet,local politician Dawn Butler, and The Dep Mayor of Brent Cllr Lesley Jones all joined 700 locals and the London360 TV reporting crew at the Roundwood Centre for the second annual community unity event thrown by Undiluted Expressionz with support from Brent Youth Support Services. (The first event last year bridged the gap between generations, reigniting the community spirit and the sense of the notion that it takes a village to raise a child and saw 350 people attend.)


This weekend’s free event was hosted by the amazingly powerful presenter Peaches who had the crowd eating out of her hand and was titled ‘Mind the Gap 2 – Where is the Love?’ an event focusing the community on the growingly worrying theme of ‘Sex, love and respect between young people’ in 2014, and nearly 700 were in attendance.


The subject matter of sex and relationships was inspired by, a BBC news story on 26 November, 2013, reporting on an official two year Inquiry by the Children’s Commission, looking at sexual exploitation by gangs across England. Thousands of teenage girls in London are shown to be at risk of being raped and lured into situations, where boys repeatedly sexually abuse them, with many attacks unreported.

Davis Williams, Founder of Undiluted Expressionz, who felt compelled to create ‘Mind the Gap 2 – Where is the Love’, told me, “We have spoken to many young people who felt unsure how to address issues of both self-respect and a mutual respect for each other, and we wanted to give them an uncensored and safe environment where they could connect with other young people in open and honest dialogue”.

Davis Williams, Founder of Undiluted Expressionz.

Saturday’s community edutainment event explored sex, love and mutual respect between teenagers. The event aimed to increase the levels of confidence and self-esteem amongst young women and addressed young men’s attitudes to girls and women in order to encourage mutual respect and positive relationships. There were various master classes, performances, inspirational speakers, fashion and dance shows and workshops during the day including a ‘Love Master Class’ hosted by accredited Life and Relationship Coach Des O’Connor, a performace by Akala and there was an onstage Q&A, which I hosted with actor and director, Noel Clarke.

George The Poet


Local celebrity George The Poet, is a very articulate performer with an incredibly strong voice who told us

‘’ I think a lot of young people fall in to situations and patterns that maybe they may have grown up getting used to and thinking that such and such is normal, so I think that it is important that we engage them and deliberately try to shape their expectations and their conduct, their behaviour towards each other. I hope that this event will give these young people new expectations, I think growing up around this area we see a lot of broken homes, we see a lot of fatherlessness, we see a lot of resentment and I think when that starts off in the household, it then seeps out in to the actual community when you go outdoors, that is why I made a whole EP about this called the ‘Chicken and the Egg’. It’s just about the cycle of fatherlessness so when these guys got in contact with me I was thinking this links up perfectly because this is exactly what is top of my agenda right now’’.

Akala 2


MOBO Award winning rapper, poet and journalist Akala is an immensely powerful live performer, and had all 700-audience members quiet and attentive, as he schooled them with his very personalised, stylistic inspiring wordplay.

“Mind the Gap was without question one of the best community events I have attended out of literally hundreds. The energy was electric, organisation on point, the age range of attendees was vast, the message was positive without being contrived and it seems the organisers have every intention of creating a proper legacy”



Straight afterwards, many attendees didn’t believe that a conversation with Noel Clarke would actually happen and couldn’t believe he was actually in the building. They didn’t need reminding about why Noel Clarkes very existence, is a great thing for youth from disenfranchised backgrounds that need a public figure that they can relate to. Noel Clarke is a leader and a hero to this generation. He has made it and conquered the movie world on his own terms, partly because he is great at writing authentic stories about communities, relationships and scenarios in the same way that our favourite music stars have written rap verses about their struggles and surroundings.

Of course now, Noel has made numerous films about a very diverse set of topics from British crime thrillers, horror films in storage facilities, to female athletes, former soldiers and more, but as he’s a director that just happens to be black, he’s often only labelled as the maker of cult classic urban city films Kidulthood and Adulthood. Even though they were both made at least eight years ago they’re still as relevant today with their reflection of young people growing up in inner city life. The situations he writes about are uber real to all disadvantaged inner city communities and show relationships between adults and youth, girlfriends and boyfriends and even girlfriends and girl friends. He’s an adventurous filmmaker and doesn’t mince his words. When we talk about relationships, young people, sex and love, we want to talk to the people we trust and who’s opinion we value, and Noel Clarke to many is that person.

noel jas

Noel wasn’t originally comfortable at being asked to speak about this subject. As he put it ‘’I’m not a sexpert’’ but we reassured him that his authenticity was what the crowd wanted to witness. His own experiences are so similar to many of ours. Growing up on a west London housing estate with his single mother, and fighting to make it in an industry that is notoriously tough to get up in.

He agreed it was important for him to attend even though it wasn’t an area he was used to speaking publicly about

‘’ I’ve written about a lot of things that I saw when I was growing up, but obviously I’m older now and I still see that there’s stuff going on with young people that is important and needs to be addressed. We need to make sure that young people keep the respect for themselves; we need to make sure that that young people are going on the right path. I feel that this is an important issue and if I can come here and just talk about my experiences then maybe if I can help just one person, then I’m happy to do that’’.

So many young people today are bombarded with images of success and peer pressure. Noel said it was about standing your ground ‘’There’s something I want to tell all young people or even older people that are in their jobs, that is never be afraid to be an individual. Peer pressure is never something that really affected me because I was never a person that succumbed to it. I was always an individual, I was always the sort of person that if people were doing things that I didn’t really want to do, I wouldn’t do it. I feel that’s important. You young people have to retain your identity, make sure that you are true to yourself, don’t just do something because somebody else is doing it, don’t just do something because a bunch of other people are … don’t just go left because a bunch of other people are going left. Retain who you are and try not to bow to peer pressure. That was something I never really bowed to, I was always strong-minded in that respect and so peer pressure didn’t really happen for me’’.

Surprisingly Noel said that being brought up without a father led to some positive actions on his part ‘’ I feel like being raised by a single mum made me more respectful of women, but it didn’t stop me from doing disrespectful things. I feel like we are all going to make mistakes and were all going to do disrespectful things, but you have to maintain a base level of respect for yourself as a female and a male, and you have to respect the people that are around you. It’s not always easy, I mean don’t get me wrong, my father see’s my children, so he sees his grandchildren but I feel like you can make a positive out of any negative situation and my farther taught me as much how to behave by not being there, as he would have by being there. So, I’m with my woman and I’ve got two children and you never see me in newspapers and you never see me in press and you never hear any stories about any badness I’ve done because I’ve done an ‘’unthinkable thing’’ (sarcasm) by having one woman and having my children with that one woman. I’m not anybody’s baby daddy (crowd whistle and cheer) Thank you, so you won’t find me in the newspaper, and I feel like part of turning a negative and not being raised by someone, being that kid at sports day who didn’t have a dad to do a daddy son race was like that’s not happening to my kids, that’s not happening, so I raise my children and I win that sports day race every year, I’m not even rabbiting. When it comes to the dad and son race I’m winning it! Not just to be there, I’m there and I’m winning the race!’’


If we listen to the old adage that behaviour is learnt and passed down from generation to generation, it seems incredible that Noel was raised by a single mother, on a housing estate in west London, but ended up being quite traditional by marrying his wife first, having his children after marriage, and turning the negative of his father not being around, into a positive.

Noel nodded ‘’for me the most important thing was learning from the mistakes of the man previous, and like I said, you can learn positive behaviour from your parents but also me seeing him not being there. That affected me, as a young man and I didn’t want raise children be it female or male, and not be there. I feel like he missed out on so much, that’s not something I wanted to do, so I’m proud to raise my kids, I’m proud to take them to swimming and football, I’m proud to miss out and sacrifice some things because I want to spend time with my children so ultimately it’s not a sacrifice, because you’re giving them more than they could ever get. Every situation where there is a negative you have to look at it like- there’s people that go the glass if half empty, and there’s people that go the glass is half full, my thing is let’s put more in the glass you know, I’m working hard’’.

So many things are the same from one generation to the next regards teenage years and experimenting with love and relationships. However the one thing that’s changed the current generations engagement is the Internet and social media. Lots of young people may see things like sexting and nudie selfies as being just harmless fun. I wondered what Noel would explain to his own children in the future about this area?

Crowd Mind The Gap

‘’ My thing is that with stuff like that, the world has changed in a very salacious way. You have to understand that if you’re going to take pictures like that and you’re going to send them to people, there’s a very good possibility that they are going to end up somewhere you don’t want them to end up. So I’m not going to sit here and tell you don’t do that because I can’t control what you do but make sure you are responsible for your own actions, make sure you understand if you do anything like that and it appears online, you can’t be upset about it. What I would say to young people, is most importantly, respect yourself. When you are going to go for a job interview in years to come and people are googling you, you don’t want a picture to come up where you’re doing something you shouldn’t be doing because in today’s world with the internet, with online, that what will happen. So more importantly than me sitting here and telling you what to do, respect yourself’’.

During the chat we touched on the fact that countless young females are now getting entwined in a variety of dangerous scenarios across the country, and how women in particular should be taking their own personal safety seriously when it comes to trusting men and danger. Although I wanted to highlight, particularly as I work with a lot of young men too, that it’s not just about women being in danger, but men also are under a lot of pressure these days.

crowd 2

When it comes to us girls, we have our friends, we have our mothers, we tend to research, girls gossip and chat to people, and men tend to hold a lot of their pressures to themselves whether they’re older men or younger men. These days men have stress, tension, this can lead to illness, mental illness, suicide rates for young men is really high. I think men are being really hyper sexualised by often the media who tell men to man up, and they’re not real men if they don’t lead fast lives, fast cars, fast women etc.

I wondered if Noel thought that men are under a lot of pressure, and whether creative types like himself, are pressurised into making these gangsta types more prominent in their content?

‘’Firstly everyone is under a lot of pressure in all these things and I feel like there is a pressure on men to behave in a certain way. There is this pressure of you having to ‘’behave road’’, you don’t have to be. I’m from Ladbroke Grove, raised by a single mother. A lot of my friends did go to jail, a lot of my friends committed suicide and I’m sitting here talking to you because there are choices, you can make choices and you can respect yourself and for me, the pressure is the pressure that you put on to yourself. If you ignore peer pressure, if you are not afraid to be an individual and lead your own life, regardless of what people are telling you what to do and how to do it, then that is the beginning of you becoming the person that you can be. A lot of the things these young people are doing with this road life, they think about the money now, and the trainers… that’s not going to pay your bills when you’re broke. I know guys that have a £60k car but renting a council flat, that makes no sense to me you know, get a property, live well, live smart and I feel like that’s what I did, and it’s not that I’m better than anyone else because the environment I’ve come from, I shouldn’t necessarily be here but you have to make sure that you are not afraid to be an individual and you can respect yourselves and others around you and that’s all I can really say about it (crowd claps).

Noel left the stage to a resounding level of applause having closed the night leaving all on a high.


Later, a local 56-year-old man was delighted with the rooms energy stating “I felt the event brought it home that my purpose in life is to serve my community. The smiles on the children’s faces, the happiness, joy and love made the event worth attending’’

A young person also felt the energy and cried out in frustration “Akala and Andrew Muhammad taught us so much. Why don’t they teach us our history in school? I am only 15 and I learnt more tonight than I did in my whole school year this year.

So after an exhilarating, stimulating day, a barrage of #whereisthelove tweets trending on twitter, much positive energy was distributed between the community. Hopefully a few golden nuggets were taken in and placed strong moral seed standards with the young people as well as open relaxed doors for conversation between parents and their children.

Only time will tell whether we will have made people think twice about not being the star attraction, in yet another video that goes viral, of young people intoxicated after a party that’s filmed by their friends, and talked about on the other side of the world, that also gets them fired from their jobs as well as follows their reputations for ever.

Contact today and find out how together we can make the community a better place for the young people to grow, discover and succeed.



Graffiti legend Mode 2 live painting inside Tate Britain’s Clore Studio for #LateAtTate #SpacesBetween

There’s been a real push into diversifying every area of our London Lives this year, from conferences and seminars on the subject, within industries as far and wide as the police force, the music industry, television and beyond.

Late at the Tate is a bi-monthly event with an aim of diversifying its clientele, and I love it as it gives me a chance to explore art after hours, in a very relaxed way. It’s another free-for-all evening; where organisers bring together the worlds of visual art and spoken art, for a huge number of young hip hop fans. Late at Tate is a programme of events for young and diverse audiences held at Tate Britain on a bi-monthly basis featuring music, film, fashion and live performance.
Last time it was one single event in the Turner Room, which was so full and crowded that people had to experience it from outside, so this time around they had numerous stunts all across the art gallery at different times.

Outside the front entrance were hip-hop ciphers where Hip-hop connoisseur DJ Snuff was seen and heard to be throwing down some stark beats for the various MC’S- both male and female- who were reciting some really authentic eighties sounding verses. Live music in this garden also saw an eclectic mix of artists like emerging Jazz outfit Parshmaune and international Hip-hop collective End Of The Weak who have teamed up with London-based MC cypher event Higher Learning to showcase a selection of high quality wordsmiths.

Inside the white imposing building, both visual artists and spoken word talent were doing their thing in various rooms around the gallery. The great thing was nothing really clashed and you were able to calmly wonder from one moment to the next.

mode 2
Brit graffiti artist Mode 2 and beatbox champion Reeps One doing his thing at Late At The Tate

The night was called Spaces Between – a celebration of youth culture through word and sound, and featured some of the UK’s leading and emerging storytellers and musicians, inspired by the artwork in the Tate Collection. Spaces Between explored the individual voice and its transformation and influence on youth culture using various spaces throughout Tate Britain to show how it exists between social structures and cultural boundaries.

Other highlights on the evening included a spoken word showcase within the grand spaces of the Duveen Galleries inspired by this year’s Tate Britain Commission sculptor Phyllida Barlow; a workshop with UK beatbox champion Reeps One in the Manton foyer; an acoustic performance by hotly-tipped rapper Little Simz against a backdrop of stunning portraits from the Tate Collection and live painting by leading British graffiti artist Mode 2 in the Clore Studio.

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Artist Benjamin Wachenje poses with his portrait of Jonzi D.

A huge piece of artwork from artist Benjamin Wachenje, was unveiled and the crowd were delighted to see that it was a portrait Hip-hop choreographer and cultural icon Jonzi D. Benjamin said he’d admired Jonzi for two decades and he respected the fact that Jonzi rapped in a British accent not an American one. They proceeded to discuss arts and the community for an enraptured crowd that had gathered to hear them speak and were delighted that Jonzi was delighted that he was ‘’Hung at the Tate’’. Benjamin said

‘’I wanted to get to know all these rappers in the UK so I thought what better way to get close to them – it would be a great idea to paint them, of all the rappers portraits I’ve painted the two people I’ve painted most often are Jonzi D and Ty. Recently Jonzi D rejected his MBE but I think the best way I have been able to recognise him is by painting him and this now being hung at The Tate’’.

Late at Tate programmer Adrian Shaw told us:

“These events are now led by the Young People’s Programme with the aim of giving young people a genuine voice in the gallery. So it’s really great to be working with Louder Than Words with their commitment and in-depth experience of working within the youth cultural sector.”

One of the highlights for me was of relatively new act Little Simz, who started making her music when she was nine years old, inspired by fellow female MC Missy Elliott and Busta Rhymes. Clearly also influenced by acts like Lauryn Hill and Jill Scott, Lil Simz performed a live acoustic performance, against the backdrop of stunning portraits from the Tate Collection to a very enthusiastic crowd.

lil simz
Very special acoustic performance from @littlesimz inside #ForgottenFaces at #LateAtTate Britain #SpacesBetween #LouderThanWords @tategallery

The next one, should you wish to please your eyes and ears simultaneously is on Friday 3 October 2014, 18.00 – 22.00. Bring no airs and graces, just an open mind to explore new things and meet new like-minded people with a passion for creative arts and a zealous joy for life.


laura mvula

Next the incomparable Laura Mvula hosted an intimate album playback listening session for her remake of her debut album ‘’sing to the moon’’. Laura has rerecorded her critically acclaimed debut album at the Abbey Road Studios with the Metropole Orchestra, conducted by Jules Buckley.

The session was held at the plush Olympic Studios in Barnes, west London where crew, tour team, family, friends, music media and press were gathered for the aural treat. Sat in regal red velvet seats in their screening room we were treated to mini fish & chips, cupcakes and drinks and encouraged to settle back and take in the hauntingly dulcet tones of Ms Mvula.

lm sheet

Each seat also had a beautifully printed out keepsake sheet of her music which was a very elegant touch. (I will file mine away with my hoard of music star memoribilia for my future charity sale lol!). The session began with a short 6 minute screening of the making of the album with Laura, Jules and others talking us through the experience. Then we sat back and allowed ourselves to be carried away on a musical journey as the room dimmed and quietened.

Laura comes from ”good stock” with a very strong team behind her. Her manager Kwame Kwaten has been managing and making stars out of unknowns for years. A well focused team that see’s the long road is incredibly important in this music game. Surrounding yourself with ”yes people” aka enablers who make their cash off you and scarper can lead to quick fame, quick kick to the kerb!


Afterwards we went to catch up with Laura as she signed our music song sheets, which she had kindly placed on all her guests’ seats. It turns out the reason that the album was remade was as in 2013, following the release of her first album, Laura was asked to perform at the BBC prom. When she had originally written the songs in her bedroom Laura had imagined them with an orchestra and conductor Jules Buckley did such an incredible job that the urban prom was a huge success. Of course the next logical step was that plans came together for an orchestral version of the full album and as now Jules had moved and was the helm of the Metropole Orkest, the worlds leading pop and jazz orchestra, it was a no brainer to collaborate again.

The playback was a huge success and the audience left on a high. Laura really has an extremely unique voice and style and if you’d like to catch her live, then pencil Tuesday 19 August 2014, at 10:15PM at the Royal Albert Hall for a Late Night Prom in your diary, to see what all the well deserved fuss is all about.


kevin p dinner


Having great food and conversation with friends is good; having met them via social media from international waters is great! Knowing that it was our mutual love and living of hip hop culture that made it happen…priceless!
A table full of people passionate about the art of spoken word, giving back to the community and hip-hop lovers gathered in honour of Kevin Powell. I hosted the dinner for him at khan’s Indian restaurant in Westbourne grove. Amongst the guests were hip-hop journalist Ill Will, photographer Jenni Baptiste, Ty, PR lady Jodie Dalmeda and Adidas top lady Paola Lucktung.

If you’re a member of the black music community you should get to know who Kevin is. When I was a young lady at school and university I ran to the corner store to buy VIBE magazine monthly and Kevin was one of its most prolific, regular writers. He documented the lies and debates of the hip-hop scene from the beginning with legends like Biggie and Tupac and was our window into a world we loved.

Kevin is one of the most acclaimed political, cultural, literary, and hip-hop voices in America today. He is the author of 11 books, including “Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and the Ghost of Dr. King: Blogs and Essays.” Among his upcoming books will be a memoir of his very difficult childhood and youth, to be released in 2015 by Simon & Schuster; and in 2016 he will publish a biography of Tupac Shakur, the late rapper and controversial American icon.

Kevin’s writings have also appeared in, Esquire, Ebony, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, The Guardian,, and Vibe Magazine, where he worked for many years as a senior writer, interviewing public figures as different as Tupac Shakur and General Colin Powell. Kevin also routinely appears in interviews on television, radio, and in print and on the internet discussing major issues of our time.

As an activist Kevin is the president and co-founder of BK Nation, a new national organization—progressive and multicultural, and focused on matters like education, civic engagement and leadership training, health and wellness, social media, arts and culture, and job and small business creation.

Kevin was another of his regular trips to the UK visiting Wales to do a series of lectures and workshops with young people. In the past hes been here for the 100th birthday of 20th century poet Dylan Thomas, and the connections between Welsh and American poetry and spoken-word traditions. As a result, he has been named the International Ambassador for the Dylan Thomas Centennial in America for 2014. Moreover, as a pop culture curator Kevin produced the very first exhibit on the history of hip-hop in America, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, which also toured America and overseas.


#TEAMUK lose a staple key influencer as she moves to South Africa.

The great and the good of the music industry all turned out at newly opening private members club the library in St Martins Lane, to bid our homegirl Taponeswa Mavunga, or Tappy as she’s known, all the best as she leaves London to move to South Africa.

tappy grps

Tappy has been at Warner Music for 16 years and responsible for being a major team player in the careers of acts like Ed Sheeran, Sean Paul and more.
Always pleasant, professional and lots of fun she’s been an integral part of the black music industry and will be sorely missed.
But our loss is MTV Base Africa’s gain. Tappy will be joining the MTV team out in SA, and will no doubt bring a great element to pushing the African music scene, which she is incredibly passionate about.


Ladies Talk

Ladies Talk is a regular TV panel show, hosted by Playwright and comedienne Angie Le Mar. in its second year, the show is transmitted to numerous countries across the African continent as well as the UK on Sky TV. Angie is now taking the show global to 109 countries with a diferent, diverse panelof local ladies from each location- congratulations Ang!
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LL aug1

London Live

As usual I finished my week on London’s local TV channel London Live on the breakfast show #wakeuplondon on the Daily Grind slot where we discussed genetic sequence testing all across the UK, teachers being attacked by students at a rate of 93 PER DAY every day last year, the Justin Beiber, Selena Gomez, Orlando Bloom, Miranda Kerr love square (one up from a love triangle!), and a sausage eating speed competition…for dogs! Pet owners filming their animals and posting stuff on YouTube is getting outta control!



There have been a lot of seminars, conferences and features about diversity in media this year. People often talk about the fact that nothings changed over the past few decades in the UK, when it comes to sharing the love with diverse communities.
I disagree. If you’ve been in the game as long as I have you can acknowledge change when it’s there.

There was a time that the youth of today couldn’t even imagine existed in the past, when young ethnic Brits couldn’t dream of making it in the UK music charts or becoming household names in daily tabloids. Nowadays names like Dizzee Rascal, Tinie Tempeh, Leona Lewis, Ms Dynamite, Wretch32 and more are given a nearly equal playing field as their paler counterpart peers.

Only a decade ago we in the media and music industries were up in arms that the British media didn’t take black and Asian British talent seriously. Radio wouldn’t playlist them, tabloids weren’t interested, but on the street of the UK, thousands in urban areas and beyond were bubbling to their tracks.

If I wrote a book and exposed which famous gate keepers and faces a decade ago, refused to support or play this talent back then, but quickly jumped on the band wagon once they saw this British urban music train was speeding ahead to success with or without them, you’d never believe me.

Some of these names swore to me point blank, that they’d never play or support our homegrown talent- most of these DJ’s and tastemakers are now out of a job.
The ones that saw the future, clung onto their jobs for a while longer but now it’s the true champions of our scene that are moving ahead as a part of an extended movement to (as my mate Mariah once said-) ‘make it happen’.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still miles to go before we have a totally fair entry-level system and routes for true high progression within these areas, but it is improving.

A few years ago international music star Jay Sean- an Asian male from Hounslow just couldn’t get a break in the British music game. He had hits, was popular and articulate but there always seemed to be a problem with accepting him as a music star. He was tenacious and pushed ahead through different record labels, managers and teams until finally American behemoth black music label Cash Money spotted and picked him up. Cash Money looks after Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne amongst others and is beyond powerful. As soon as they scooped up Jay Sean he became an international star with hits in numerous entries internationally- now he’s gone clear. The British press may not focus on him much but why should he care- he’s a global face elsewhere.

Someone that hasn’t had the same problem in the UK is Asian male music super producer and artist Naughty Boy. Born Shahid Khan to Muslim Pakistani parents in Watford, he has made hits for other stars, made stars out of nobodies and is now appearing in British press as well as international talk shows and festivals.
This week the UK’s most ground breaking news show- Channel 4 News- also ran a feature about him.

nb c4 website

My mum religiously watches all the daily news shows and so it’s been ingrained in my family to know what’s going on across the world. It also means we are all passive observers to news shows between 6-10pm nightly and critique them all the time.
Whilst most of the other big news names tend to make ‘’cut and paste’’ bulletins using news footage from Reuters and APTN style news hubs, Channel 4 produce their own content.

They send their main news anchors like Jon Snow out to international war zones or lighter news locations across the UK. They find new faces to report on news and reflect the country I live in most accurately. They also change what’s been seen as the norm in news for so many decades. Their news reporters are a truly diverse mix of British residents. It’s like a United Colours of Benetton advert nightly at 7pm! It’s inclusive and doesn’t make me shudder thinking ‘’oh no another ethnic face on TV- what negative crime have they committed?’’

When the Woolwich atrocity happened, one of the first witnesses on the scene that tweeted was a rapper called Boyadee who had had minimal mainstream success. Channel 4 spotted his potential and now he is one of their regular reporters. That’s risky but brilliant TV.

In the same way when Channel 4 News ran the Naughty Boy feature this week, it wasn’t to make a huge deal of his ethnicity, but to celebrate a young British mans success in the music scene. A man that entered Deal Or No Deal and won £44k to start his own music studio fro his parents back garden shed.


Shahid Khan became Naughty Boy- (he saw it as his superhero pseudonym and thinks it sounds very British) after music became such a big influence in his young life. Watching Bollywood movies, playing with his dad’s cassette recorder of cassette tapes from Southall and playing piano at school are his earliest musical memories.


There are millions of bedroom music producers all across the UK now so what was it about Shahid that made him stand out and make it? Answer- his luck is what happened when his preparation met opportunity!


This son of a taxi driver applied and won a grant in 2006 from the Prince’s Trust. Speaking to the Watford Observer in 2009 about the opportunity, Khan said “The Prince’s Trust has a scheme where they want to help people who they feel can set up their own business. I wanted to make music but I didn’t have any equipment. They said they wanted to help me’’. The same year he went on Deal or no Deal and won 44,000 on it!

This is a man that is reaching for every opportunity available to him. No chip on his shoulder. Not passively wondering when his time will come. He’s making things happen for himself.

He then met a then yet unknown Emile Sande in 2009 at a singers showcase and loved her voice so much, persuaded her to listen to his tracks in his beaten up car outside the venue and asked if they could work together. He paid for her in bed & breakfasts whilst recording and now both their journeys have progressed from unknowns to international stars.


Most young Asians are encouraged to go down traditional white-collar routes like doctor/lawyer/solicitor- Shahid was studying Business and Marketing before dropping out to pursue his musical interests.

There have been countless debates about being young and Muslim in Britain in the past few years, especially with the recent radicalization of young Muslims. Naughty boy has loads of opinions about the media portrayal about Muslims. ‘’I’ve never had a problem with the UK press, they’ve always been very supportive but I do think they don’t always get the balance on stories right. For example I was recently working at a fund raiser for Palestine with Jemima Khan, Russell Brand and Elton John but there wasn’t one bit of media about it the next day’’.

Naughty Boy is living proof that many young British Muslims are well integrated into British society – there are so many successful stores about young Muslims that aren’t told. He says ‘’Life is not about having money. It’s more about inner struggle and trying to understand your real purpose.”

One thing he’s passionate about is being an ambassador for the British Asian Trust, where he recently dined with Prince Charles and gave him his album. Apparently Charles took it home and Prince Harry declared it was the coolest music Charles had ever brought back!

NB Prince+Charles+Naughty+Boy+Arrivals+Asian+IGuDfBcjHlGl

The great thing about this producer is I never get the vibe that he’s chasing stars. In fact it seems to be the other way around. My record label contacts regularly confide in me, that superstar managers are re routing their artist’s schedules, so they can spend some time working in Naughty Boys studio in the leafy suburb of Ealing in west London, where he’s usually hanging out with his best mate Zayn from One Direction. Britney, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Mary J Blige and more are all examples of names keen to collaborate.


The studio is a small, black painted room akin to a young boy’s bedroom. Containing a fish tank, a fitness machine, rails of clothes and Adidas sneakers, a medicine cabinet and toiletries for overnight stays, random gifts he’s been given from goody bags like champagne bottles, boxes of chocolates and amongst all this his beloved cat Barry (yes-really), who is leaping about sticking his nose into everything. Ultimate chaos!


He has the Midas touch and really enjoys making stars out of unknowns like Emile, Sam Smith, Sam Romans and more. This former pizza delivery boy now has Simon Cowell on speed dial and is bessie mates with 1D’s Zayn Malik- I sat with them both on NB’s table at the recent Asian Awards.

asian awards 4
NB with Zayn Malik, Preeya Kalidas and Jasmine at this years Asain Awards.

Recently 1D were all over the press in after smoking weed and this past week both NB and Zayn were all over the papers internationally for jumping into the Israel/ Gaza debate after tweeting ‘’#freePalestine’’. NB is very passionate about the subject and distraught about the children that are being maimed and killed everyday ‘’I am not about sides, I’m about peace’’.


His solo album HOTEL CABANNA was visionary in that he saw it as a piece of music and a movie with NB playing producer and director. The album is a morality tale about the trappings of success. NB’s role, as manager of the hotel, is “making sure everyone’s learning their lesson”. He thinks for too long the pop and urban music scene has focused to heavily on the trappings of success.

Another trapping and path that many music acts and videos go down is imagery with an over-sexualisation of women – there is always huge debate across the industry about this- the most recent example being Pharrell/Robin Thicke/ Miley Cyrus when it comes to objectification and over-sexualisation, NB’s managed to steer clear of this and let his music do the talking. ‘’ I think sex sells, it’s easy and based on insecurity, but I think it should be more about…soul?’’ It is so refreshing and important to have a man say that there is no need for music videos to be all about sex. When female artists say it, they are dismissed as prudes.


His hit song La la la has been in the top ten in 83 countries and just hit one million UK sales, it’s the 148th song to ever make it. It also has over 330 million views on YouTube. British music acts are responsible for generating a huge deal of business for the UK economy and NB should get personal letter of thanks from David Cameron for the amount of UK music export finance generated via his productions!

He’s said ‘’I want to bring the sound back to the UK and prove that the US sound has become somewhat stale, the same sound is being recycled over and over again for the same acts. I want to show that in Britain we make vital, innovative sounds that are as, if not more, valid than the big American producers.”
It was never in his plan to be famous- the TODAY SHOW and TONIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN are American sows he’s been on (check them out on YouTube), so clearly he is very famous now and enjoying it.

NB’s brand new single ‘Home’ features SAM ROMANS, and is released 21 July and will no doubt be flying high in the charts this weekend!

Lets all salute him- the boy’s done well!

Jasmine’s Juice Featuring adidas Originals Summer Hiphop Karaoke Party- with DJ Target- Under The Bridge

The key influencers and movers and shakers of the music industry were out in full force last night for the annual adidas summer hip-hop karaoke summer party, this time in conjunction with DJ Target, celebrating adidas classics.

Held at the West London Chelsea football club location -Under the Bridge (Stamford Bridge) nightclub, the venue was packed and heaving with ballers and b girls by 8pm, and people were throwing names on the list to grab the mic later in the night and show-off their verbal flow skills.

The walls around the venue were dramatic with hundreds of huge,framed and mounted pieces of artwork showcasing both British and international actsover the years who Adidas have supported rocked their fly-ass 3-stripe looks.(and make no mistake, acts that get clothing brand support at this level can get global profile in fashion campaigns and this catapaults their music profile’s higher!).

dready paola

Music faces in the crowd included Wretch32, Bashy, J2K, Boy Better Know’s JME, Princess Nyah, Dready, Capital Xtra’s Kojo, Only Way Is Essex reaity show cast member Jasmin Walia, Clement Marfo, DJ Manny Norte, Radio1Xtra Head Austin, onstage host and compere DJ Seani B, and of course DJ Target who was running the night.

The party pack looked like the best Adidas ad shoot ever, all rocking their three stripe classics, and I have to say….and I will let Wretch finish his moment on the mic,…. but I reckon I rocked my look hardest.

In an especially bespoke fresh to death white tracksuit, with blinged out sleeves, and monogrammed initialled bling on the reverse, I lost count of the number of compliments and photos our matching tracksuits received.

track backs

A giant photo booth that fitted up to six people, captured all the frolics, and had us all acting out our hip-hop star fantasies with passion lol.

These regular three stripe functions always bring out a very cool happy hip-hop family crowd and this night was no different. Talent that are all ages either Adidas sponsored or recognise its long history of supporting black music culture, from music, TV and sports all mingle and get their thrill of trying each others day jobs out.

Olympic athlete Jeanette Kwakye is not afraid of the track or the mic and on arrival stepped straight onstage to duet with her rhyming partner-musician Jacob Banks for a rendition of Drunk In Love.

Jeanette and Jacob- athletics and music comes together!

Radio 1 Newsbeat’s reporter Nestor McGregor showed off the face behind the nations showbiz reporting voice, by being an early mic handler!

nestor sweat
Newsbeat’s Nestor pon de mic!

Another couple attempted Hov and Bey’s Bonnie and Clyde and Wretch32 jumped onstage to join in with the end of yet another group of friends who were doing a great job on his hit single Traktor.

Actor Jay Brown, fresh from his recent Channel 4 mini doc screening, physced himself up (with a lil pep talk from me,- to go kill Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby LOL.

jay brown

However, my favourite set of the night were the female Radio1/1Xtra female staff who took on, and smashed So Solid Crew’s 21 Seconds with menace and vigour. Spittng the lyrics as comfortably as if they were born reciting them, they had the whole room hyped and cheering alongside them.

1x females

Other peeps that jumped onstage for their moment-included comedienne Miss London, media princess Remel London and their crew.

Compere Seani B put myself and Adidas brand leader Paola Lucktung on blast a few times, by urging us to take the mic, but after my horrific experience a few years ago at a ChoiceFM function where I couldn’t name the tune after the intro 5 seconds being played and being heckled, I decided to play it safe and not expose to all, the fact that I am tone deaf and couldn’t sing to save my life!

nyah vest

Nearer the end of the night a merry gent picked me up and carried me to the stage in a fireman’s lift, and dropped me on it, to encourage my usual show-off tactics, but alas in room full of my peers, I know when to hold it down and politely declined.

If it’s a business social function, however merry and intimate the crowd is, you have to maintain a status of professionalism. In a parallel universe it’s the same advice as Biggie gave when he said ‘never get high on your own supply’.

JASMINE’S JUICE- Hip-hop master Nas performs his masterpiece Illmatic at Lovebox.

As music festivals go, Lovebox isn’t really about hard-core music and fans- it’s a party, where music is just one of the main players, alongside try-hard arty visuals, semi-naked stunts and top class food merriment.



The festival is deep in the heart of east London and a long walk from the station. At the entrance of Victoria Park huge queues, with a very well behaved crowd are fast moving, and flanked by blatant dudes selling most kinds of drugs like market traders. Balloon sellers yelling ‘‘laughing gas- three for a fiver!’’ (That you can pay for via cred card- a real WTF? moment!). The grounds inside are testament to their hustling abilities as balloon canisters looking like giant silver bullet pellets are left discarded everywhere.

general vip

Everywhere you look there are great visuals like multi-coloured tutus high up sitting in tree trunks, fluorescent cushions and sofas to lounge on, and harem-like set ups across the main grounds as well as the VIP. Look one way you’ll see semi naked, fetish wearing men, fighting in boxing rings. On another side are, deck chairs, spray-painted cars, magicians doing card tricks and sequin painted ladies doing impressive stunts with huge hoola hoops.

gneral vip

The food stalls are impressive. From gourmet hotdogs, Nando’s, cupcakes, burgers, paella, salad shacks, bagels and BBQ- alcohol and fresh juices, a totally thought out 360 degree culinary experience! Special shout out to the jerk chicken stall which had queues 50 deep, all weekend long, awaiting their generous plates of curry goat and rice and peas- there was even a Rasta plate option for vegetarians. Also, not sure how they managed to organize schedules for everyone’s bladders, but it’s the only festival where I’ve been with no lengthy queuing for toilets.

jas rachel

Lovebox fashion is young and fast forward moving. The girls are cute in their predictable festival fashion garms of wellies, fake flower garlands, shorts so short they may well have just worn g strings and lots of quirky takes on Rock&roll chic and hip-hop street fabulosity. The fresh to death looks are accompanied by lots of sunburnt skin. Slightly unfairly, the weather on Saturday had been widely predicted to be stormy and wet, so many were rocking sensible footwear, which made for amusing viewing in the relentless dry heat. Whilst there may have been numerous sunburnt sunstroke victims, their Twitter feeds the next day would tell you they had a brilliant party and that’s all that really matters.

lovebox grp

To give you a sense of how young the Lovebox demographic is, at some point in the past few years, its become de rigour for men at London based music festivals, to be totally topless showing off their baby smooth torso skin, (either men have stopped growing hair on their chests or they’re all waxing and shaving!), the waistband of their designer underpants must be showing under their baggy knee length shorts as they flex and posture their way around the festival chatting up anyone that catches their eye.

Not comfortable catching their eye of or ogling men young enough to be my sons, I ran for refuge into the VIP. Like most festivals, the VIP isn’t really the best area in the place to be at. There are always more maze-like internal VVIP and VVVIP areas inside this area, akin to the Russian dolls where as you get closer to the epicentre you actually stand shoulder to shoulder with the main performing acts and their management teams.
It was this area that I was lucky enough to chill out in alongside my music industry peers (and Where M.I.A’s manager later stormed out of at end of her acts set muttering something about never coming to Lovebox again after there was a mishap with her technical staging, which looked to me like it was M.I.A’s fault but was later blamed on the crew- •shrug-shoulders* what do I know!)

mia crew2

Most festivals have a type of music or genre they stick to. You tend to know what you’re getting with Glastonbury –mostly rock and indie, Wireless caters to the urban crowd, but Lovebox is a true reflection of the current all-inclusive, multi-genre-loving youth. It’s the new generation music festivals cooler London younger sibling. With a really mixed up line-up of music acts of all ages, genres and success levels that’s very brave in booking a huge cross section of music acts.


Much of the hip-hop community were ecstatic when it was announced that Nas was set to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his seminal 1994 album ‘Illmatic’ by reissuing the record as ‘Illmatic XX’, but when we heard he would also perform the classic material at Lovebox, it was a no brainer, I’d have to venture out of my west London comfort zone and make the pilgrimage to Lovebox for Nasir Jones – known to the 25 million people who have bought his albums worldwide to date as simply Nas. I’ve seen him numerous times, the time at Kentish Towns Forum, when fans were standing on seats screaming alongside his every lyric from the rafters to the stalls, the time at Brixton where a fan actually popped off a real gunshot on his classic ‘’made to look’’ lol.


Disc One:
‘The Genesis’
‘NY State Of Mind’
‘Life’s A Bitch’
‘The World Is Yours’
‘Memory Lane (Sittin’ In Da Park)’
‘One Love’
‘One Time 4 Your Mind’
‘It Ain’t Hard To Tell

Disc Two:
‘I’m a Villain’ (previously unreleased)
The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show on WKCR October 28, 1993 (previously unreleased freestyle)
‘Halftime’ (Butcher Remix)
‘It Ain’t Hard To Tell’ (Remix) (promo single)
‘One Love’ (LG Main Mix)
‘Life’s A Bitch’ (Arsenal Mix) (promo single)
‘One Love’ (One L Main Mix)
‘The World Is Yours’ (Tip Mix)
‘It Ain’t Hard To Tell’ (The Stink Mix) (UK single)
‘It Ain’t Hard To Tell’ (The Laidback Remix) (UK single)

A film about the making of the album was also released this year, called Time Is Illmatic, but watching Nas perform and talk through his work was as good as a movie being played out live in front of our eyes. I wont lie, so many older acts have performed such poor renditions in recent years and been ridiculed back to their homelands – shout out Jodeci!- that I did have misgivings, but I needn’t have worried, the show was incredible!


Illmatic- (meaning “beyond ill” or “the ultimate”), when it was released in 1994 was given a 5 mic rating by The Source- hip-hops then print press bible. It was their highest rating and very controversial at the time.
During my time at MTV I don’t think we ever had a best albums list that Illmatic didn’t feature on. It was one of the quintessential hip hop recordings of the 1990s and I recall during my numerous interviews with many hip-hop stars of the time, many from Common to Jay Z cited Illmatic as an early inspiration for them.

This album uses samples galore in the best example of hip hoppers honoring banging beats. Nas wrote it in a small room, in his small apartment in Queensbridge and it went on to achieve pantheon status for its poetic and cinematic depiction of inner-city blight. On the album, Nas used intricate lyrical patterns to describe his unsafe surroundings, an environment that proved risky for the young rapper, although it provided a great canvas for his narrative skills. With producers DJ Premier, Large Professor, Pete Rock and Q-Tip, Nas created a singularly evocative album. You didn’t have to be from New York to see the dilapidated buildings, cracked sidewalks and rusty basketball rims. Back then and even now it could be a parallel borough of inner city England. Queensbridge. Queens Park. One and the same. This Lovebox set was clearly a proud moment for him and fans like us who recall, reflect and acknowledged their loyalty from the start of his career.

During Nas Lovebox set a stage design depicting the urban landscape of Queensbridge, with graffiti-lined streets, a subway entrance. Nas rocked a three-piece suit and performed with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center when he did the same gig earlier this year. For Lovebox a simple ‘’world is yours’’ t-shirt, long shorts and trainers.


DJ Green Lantern was on the decks as Nas hit the stage, and from his first bars on the first track I was able to exhale as I took in that his vocals sounded as strong and crisp as they were decades ago. The lyrics sound just as relevant today and it was incredulous to think that he wrote them as a teenager. Spoken word genius about racial segregation, educational inequality, public housing, and the prison system, he was just 20 when the album was released.

Back then I remember growing up in Harlesden and Southall and he seemed to speak of similar stories that happened around me but that the mainstream media seemed oblivious to. Being a street soldier, selling drugs to make ends meet, having to deal with the dangers that come along with that lifestyle. No wonder he was compared to the God-Rakim.


Nas has written some of the most quotable lyrics in the history of rap….

“Life’s a bitch and then you die/ That’s why we get high/ ‘Cause you never know when you’re gonna go”…..’’you can hate me now/ but I won’t stop now’’…’’all I need is one mic’’…

…and the Lovebox crowd in the first few rows flowed with him word for word, although a lot of the kids much further back clearly hadn’t even heard of Nas let alone his songs. They were carried by the hype of us hard-core aging B Girls and Boys though and joined in choruses with their drunken joy. However, the irony is not lost on the fact that our communities haven’t become safer over two decades and that the UK’s youth can relate now more than ever to many of his lyrics.

In a 1994 interview Nas spoke about Illmatic, saying that “this feels like a big project that’s gonna affect the world’’ but who would’ve thought he’d be performing it to a passionate crowd at Lovebox twenty years later. Hip-hop critics and journos are often dismissed when they speak on content and thoughts about music but so many of us said this was a classic album back then and it’s proved the test of time.

Could Nas have imagined that Hollywood legend Robert de Niro would be singing its praises at the Tribeca film festival earlier this year? Or those British kids who weren’t even born in 1994 and that equate great hip-hop with Drake and Jay Z would acknowledge his masterpiece in 2014?

Nas explained at the time…

‘’When my rap generation started, it was about bringing you inside my apartment. It wasn’t about being a rap star; it was about anything other than. I want you to know who I am: what the streets taste like, feel like, and smell like. What the cops talk like, walk like, and think like. What crackheads do — I wanted you to smell it, feel it. It was important to me that I told the story that way because I thought that it wouldn’t be told if I didn’t tell it. I thought this was a great point in time in the 1990s in [New York City] that needed to be documented and my life needed to be told. “While it’s sad that there’s so much frontin’ in the rap world today, this should only make us sit up and pay attention when a rapper comes along who’s not about milking the latest trend and running off with the loot’’


Nas has said he was trying to make a flawless album when he made llmatic- and he did. With his lyrics that depicted a lifestyle that drew in fans globally, in his raspy deep voice for one still young had us hooked at London’s clubs like Subterainia and Hanover Grand week in-week out. Whole thesis and university courses could be set-and have been- on Illmatic. Nas made the type of music that helped hip-hop become a respected and dissected art form where critics could discuss lyrical content, album artwork, iconic production values and helped birth a whole back pack wearing hip hop geek.

I won’t say I wasn’t surprised that young Lovebox fans were able to join in with Nas call and responses to his hit songs, I was. Its always hard to admit you’re an aging B-girl but there is pride looking back and knowing this man made some of the soundtrack to an important part of my life and was now influencing those that come after us.

Nas’ set was smooth and flowed, as he’s been performing this tour all across the USA this year. Earlier this year at the New York show he said ‘’ Twenty years ago, “I felt like my words had to be harsh, but I’m a little more refined now, don’t get it twisted. I’m still hood, though.”

At Victoria Park he recognised that not everyone in attendance was a Nas fan and many weren’t even born when the album was released. Here he said ‘’I’m Nas for those that done know me, I’m the one that said hip-hop was dead! ‘’Half of you weren’t even born when I made this album!” the 40-year-old rapper shouted to the crowd, but last year he was named the best rapper of all time in a poll voted for by NME.COM readers, so clearly young music fans do research for great music.

Nas’ prowled around the Lovebox stage with the confidence and regal stance of a lion king. He ran through his classics like a marathon runner. Firstly One love, then Streetdreams. When he introduced ‘’ I can’’ he urged the crowd ‘’you guys are the new world leaders!’’ When he performed his classic hit Got yourself a gun I couldn’t help laugh and recall THAT Brixton show a few years ago at the same moment a Brixton man had popped a real shot off into the crowd!

This set was good but lower energy than when I’ve seen him in the past- he knew the crowd wasn’t all die-hard, ride or die legacy fans. This album represents me, us our youth. Unlike people who pass and hope their legacies will remain someplace, Illmatic will be played when my generation are octogenarians. To be able to perform your album after 20 years and it still sound fresh is dope beyond belief.

To see a hip-hop legend perform a classic album front to back live is a true fans dream and I think Nas has set a new blueprint and all music acts should celebrate seminal milestones in this way. At Lovebox he reminded us that he’s still one of the best, a hip-hop icon that has always kept it 100% real and for this set alone for me, Lovebox really is a music festival in a league of its own!


melv jas

Its been a hectic, yet fun week, that epitomises a typical summer in London. I kick started it with the premier launch night of the London Indian Film Festival where actress Emma Thompson had produced the opening night gala film SOLD, about a 13 year old Nepalese girl sold into sex slavery in Kolkata before Gillian Anderson (X Files)- who plays an American photographer, helps rescue her.

gillian nun

Gillian was part of an interesting Q&A session with the audience straight after the movie, which really focused on just how many millions of children globally are trafficked annually.

gillian sold


Then there were a myriad of commitments from my regular Friday breakfast slot on London Live talking you through the days Daily Grind stories, to engagement parties for music industry colleagues.
Watch The Daily Grind again here:


All this was followed by brunches with my ladies in the private members club at The Electric in Portobello Road, and a triple birthday celebration for man about town, creative lifestyle consultant and Will I Am’s communications manager Tim Wade and his 3 year old twin boys with his gorgeous lady TV goddess Lisa Snowden which included drinks, nibbles, cake and loads of friends and family who also just happened to be over achievers like BBC Radio London’s Vanessa Feltz and her TV agent beau Ben and more.

tim wade

Next the LONDON360 reporters attended the Jack Petchy Speak Out Challenge where hundreds of young people are mentored and trained to speak to a public audience of hundreds. The BBC’s Brenda Emmanus, AJ from KISSFM and Baroness Sloss, judged the final competition. Supporters in the house included Apprentice winner and business entrepreneur Tim Campbell and more. Next they attended the National Diversity Awards pre-awards celebration dinner, before running along to capture some amazing V Inspired and Evening Standard Frontline campaign stories of young achievers who have overcome obstacles in their lives!

jas melv2


Something that continues to frustrate many of us in the industry are the media’s laziness in only plucking out and promoting the same young talent over and over again as if only one exists out there. There are literally hundreds of diverse young talented people doing exceptionally well out there so please look further than the same old ones you catapulted to fame 4 years ago. One young man that’s making his moves both in front of the airwaves as behind is my old MTV presenter Melvin Odoom.
One half of the KISSFM radio breakfast duo- Melvin has just produced a new online web series titled YOMO – a pun of YOLO- which stands for You Only Marry Once. So many young people globally are only accessing TV content online and many online series get picked up by mainstream broadcasters for a TV transmission too.


Following a private screening of the pilot episode of YOMO at Channel 4 headquarters last week, industry professionals had the opportunity to ask questions and give comments. The general consensus was that YOMO was a breath of fresh air that succinctly captured the essence of Britain’s rich diverse communities and that this story would most certainly make easy and essential viewing.

Typical quotes on the night were similar to ”As creatives we had become frustrated at the lack of diversity on our screens, so rather than moan and wait for someone else to provide the opportunities, we wanted to do something about it. We created Ment2Excel Digital to provide a platform for shows like YOMO! Ghandi said, “Be the change that you want to see in the world” – We are working hard to be a part of that change”.


Created by Melvin’s sister Yonah Odoom and her friend Moshana Khan from North West Actors, the comedy centres around two young women living and loving in London – trying to find a husband. Both are fast approaching thirty, and the reality of being left on the shelf – is becoming just that – a reality. Determined not to grow old as lonely spinsters with just themselves and a cat for company, they decide to go on an all out assault to find their future husbands.

For Yo & Mo marriage is for life, therefore they are determined to make sure it’s with the right guy, even if it means meeting all the wrong ones!


Lenny Henrys ‘Act for Change’ has recently highlighted the problems faced by ethnic minorities in the media. Not only is the conception of this show – proof of those issues, but its presence also offers a solution – independently produced shows.

Melvin said of the show “YOMO is funny and smart, and is the type of show that has been missing from the landscape. I love the fact that rather than waiting for opportunities, the girls went out there to make it happen. This is the future”

I sat down with Melvin to talk about YOMO and what inspired him to make it? ‘’The web series was written and created by my sister Yonah Odoom and her best friend/actor buddy Moshana Khan. Being single girls they were getting pressure from their families on finding a husband and settling down! It’s quite common especially for women their age (ahem!) – Anyway they thought they would document some of their experiences as single women looking for love. They are both very talented actors and writers, so when they came to me with the idea, it was a no brainer.A lot of the times actors of black and ethnic minority descent do not have as many opportunities to play multifaceted roles, and when they do the roles can be clichés and stereotypes, we wanted to do something which broke out of that box”.


Don’t worry though, Melvin isn’t thinking of chucking in his front of camera roles like BBC3′s DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF for behind it ‘’I still love presenting, and haven’t got any plans to stop! But I have always at some point wanted to get involved in producing shows. One of the other reasons for the birth of YOMO was because of a conversation that Yonah, Moshana and I had about the lack of diverse roles available for black and Asian actors. We came to the conclusion that the way forward was to create your own show. So we enlisted the help of Russell & Nana at Ment2Excel Digital and the YOMO journey began!’’

Alot of online TV series have been made this past few years about the Nigerian community- its interesting that their time now. But Melvin’s not trying to change any stereotypes.

‘’We weren’t really out to change any misconceptions; we just wanted to tell our story. We think there are funny stories out there, regardless of your culture!’’

The unusual angle this web series has is that is easily blends the second and third generation immigrant youth into the same story, and is truly reflective of London’s youthful all inclusive friendships regardless of cultural makeups today, specifically the interaction between Asian and African relationships. ‘’One of the things that Yonah and Moshana have found through their friendship is the amount of similarities between both families. Moshana calls my Mum “Mum” and vice versa! She’s at home in our house, eating jollof all the time (maybe too much!) – When different communities start to look closely at each other, you notice that there are usually more similarities than differences!!’’

Like many a new creative arts project Melvin has been resourceful in having this web series made, ‘‘in order to make it happen, we had to fund the pilot ourselves. We are now looking for investors as well as going down the crowd-funding root. The model for funding shows is definitely changing, and with names such as Spike Lee going down this root, it makes it even more credible! So watch this space!’’

You can watch YOMO | Web Series | Episode 1: The African, Asian Persuasion, here:

NOW I’m off to Soho for the MOBO ‘Lost In Love’ EP Listening Party, in honour of east London singer/song writer MIKE HOUGH!