Jasmine’s Juice – When Will Met Bill – Inspiring The Future Tech Generation.

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WILL I AM, BILL GATES AND EVENING STANDARD EDITOR SARAH SANDS.

With Google, Apple and Facebook this week announcing huge investment into its London staff bases, juxtaposed with the fact that thousands of youth organizations like STEMETTE (showing the next generations that girls do science) are now popping up everywhere, its been clear to the kids for a long while now that the future is digital.

Another recent driver to the tech world for students is an initiative called the IDEAS bus, which is a big yellow American school bus that has been gutted inside and refitted to house the entire tech offering.

The tech bus tours London’s schools and colleges for free, armed with VR (Virtual Reality) headsets that can give students the opportunity to experience a moon landing or the pyramids of Egypt, 3D printing and much more. The aim of the IDEAS bus is to turn make sure all students have exposure to cutting edge tech and secure the future of the UK as a business and tech powerhouse.

Interestingly a survey Driving Technology (the company behind the Ideas bus) ran showed that two thirds of parents don’t think being an entrepreneur or working in tech is a proper job!

Whereas whilst the dream being sold to millennial only a decade ago were options to be a rapper, footballer or reality TV star, nowadays the hip hop generation is one of the most tech savvy in the world, but is it infiltrating urban inner city disadvantaged areas?

This past month a very select group of tech and media key influencers were invited to the Natural History Museum in London to hear two highly influential, ground-breaking men discuss the future of tech and the impact of A.I on our future lives.

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American rapper, singer, songwriter, entrepreneur, actor, musician, DJ, record producer and philanthropist Will I Am, met American business magnate, investor, author and philanthropist. Bill Gates, to have a conversation led by Evening Standard editor Sarah Sands.

I was lucky enough to be invited by my old compadre Will to accompany him on the night.
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Just before the conversation there was a brief talk by Helena Nodenstedt from the Gapminder Foundation and Karolinska Institutet, that showed how technology, education and location affected a societies health and quality of life.

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The conversation was both serious and light hearted with much banter and passion around the world of tech and how tech has been used for good globally.
What was really nice to see was that someone with the fame of Will would be so in awe and admiring of his hero Bill Gates, yet their conversation was natural, relaxed and powerfully inspiring. Afterwards the audience were clamouring to tell Will about their own STEM inspired activities.

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Below are some of the snippets from the conversation between Will and Bill to show how two great men from different fields are on very similar globally ambitious trajectories;

“Will. It’s my hope to inspire kids around the world to want to be tech stars in stem subjects. My foundation (http://iamangelfoundation.org/), teaches youth to feel comfy and learn stem so they can be a part of the future”

Bill. 50 years from now we won’t need as much human labour to do what manual workers do, so we should be able to take that extra productivity and put it to better use.
In the US IN THE 1900’S 60 % of people were employed on the farms. Today it’s less than 1%. If you told people back then that this would happen they wouldn’t have believed it. If you told them we would have therapy, massages and spas that played important parts in our lives they would’ve have believed us.

‎Will. I don’t wanna believe that racism exists, but the more I wish it away, the more I realise it’s in our system. I know that unless we teach our kids how to use stem to their advantage its going to be tough out there for the next generation. But also it has its disadvantages; you could use artificial intelligence to build a system around postcodes and income, which could lead to racial profiling.

‎Will ‘‘every school has a football field and only one gender and huge brands benefit. All males and the NFL. My 13-year-old niece isn’t taking stem subjects in class. We know A.I is a big subject now and it’s changing the world. We know things like uber changed the world. It’s not changing life for kids and in the hoods though unless we help teach them this now.

‎Bill. It’s ironic that this amazing invention of the Internet has made information gathering easier available than ever, but that this platform also helps spread misinformation. Regulation has never really worked unless it’s hate speech libel etc. But the way young people are joining communities online, and agreeing and separating themselves and creating their own facts about things like vaccination, is worrying.

Will. If you look at the world now its one that we couldn’t have imagined in 1997!. That I would be able to hit a button and a taxi will show up? We wouldn’t have believed that everything is disposable!. We have to imagine what A.I means 20 years from now? One day we’ll have our own personal A.I. Today we all give all our data away all day long while aiming to maintaining our privacy. In future A.I will attract things that are associated with ‘’my data’’. My “I-data-ty” identity. In future we’ll have a different type of rich and poor. Good A.I. Versus. wack A.I… it’ll be like kids in the inner city now.

Sarah Sands. What can we do to get kids into stem more?
Will; Every year there’s an Oscar Grammy and we celebrate those shows. We do the same in the U.S about sports schools and colleges. The same thing doesn’t happen for tech and stem. Folks wanna be like Bill I Am not Bill I Am. They wanna be like Stevie Wonder not Steve Jobs.
Last time I checked I held a Grammy, but when we do our thank you speeches, we thank God, friends and family. We forget to thank the scientists that began these musical inventions and systems. The guy that invented the phonograph and gramophone – Thomas Edison!

‎Bill. The next big invention that will change the way we live should be things like ways of generating energy like electricity. The thing that will change the world most rapidly is A.I. The computer will live your life, listen to you and understand you better than humans can. In many ways this is great news. With our foundation (http://www.gatesfoundation.org/) we use cell phones to send money to relatives. We can also survey people to see if their health needs are met. However robotics and other combinations will make the world pretty fantastic compared with today.

Sarah Sands; Will we humans become redundant?
‎Bill. As we get robots becoming more sophisticated, I think we should worry sooner rather than later on how much they could take over, but I think it’ll mostly be a positive thing. In terms of deadlines it won’t be any worse than nuclear weapons.

‎Sarah Sands; Can the planet survive?
Will. What we have our kids working on at the ‘I am angel foundation’ is getting kids that get left behind and training them in stem and A.I. Now is when we should think seriously about it, as they’ll be running those companies tomorrow.

Sarah Sands; How about the U.S election? (This conversation was days before Trump was elected).
Will ; Every election is important and each election says it’s more important than the last. But THIS one is extremely important. It could truly go the wrong way with people and faith in America or Americans. If this were a Portugal or Romania it wouldn’t really affect the world in a major way. Trump affects the world in a major way. If Bill left Microsoft we wouldn’t allow Trump to run it. But we’re thinking of allowing a man who disrespects women, Muslims, inner cities…wow!
I understand you wanting to disrupt politics…but why not Bill Gates for president? There are so many businesses’ that empower charities. How many men give away all their money to charities? Why not them for President?

Sarah Sands; Bill, could you run for President ever?
Bill. I won’t do that as…people care a lot that the USA is well run, and people globally expect us to do things in upgrading science and more. My foundation isn’t political. Both administrations over the years have done well in the past but this one…is a bit different. I’ve for some reason or other …never met Donald Trump.

Sarah Sands; Will, do you see yourself as a Global Citizen? UK Prime Minister Theresa May criticised the concept of a ‘’citizen of the world’’.
Will. “I’m a citizen of the U.S.A but I also travel around the world and love other countries like the UK as if it was my own. I love your tolerance and preservation of the arts. I love the Asian countries. I love my friend Apple De App. I love India, Russia and touring has made me many friends abroad. I’m from east LA. I don’t see colour. The only colour I see is this wonderful green and blue planet. That’s what I see.

Bill. I think of myself as a global citizen. If you’re taking care of your family and society and are comfortable you can start to think about helping those most in need globally. That’s how we became engaged in those things. There’s a unique thing about the UK, where you give a very generous foreign aid budget to support globally, which is spent wisely. We partner with the government here to make sure that that money is spent well. We support Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. We have over a billion dollars in these UK institutions, as they’re the best people to do the work. So the UK is a very international country.

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Jasmine’s Juice – Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland 2016!

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Last night, London’s movers and shakers including Simon Cowell, Fearne Cotton, Sinitta, Mel C and more attending the annual VIP PREVIEW of HYDE PARK WINTER WONDERLAND and it was better than ever!

From 5pm hundreds were queuing to watch their spectacular ballet Nutcracker On Ice and then we were treated to muted wine laced with cinnamon , luxury hot chocolate, champagne and more. There are literally hundreds of rides for all ages to enjoy and the choice of rollercoasters was vey impressive. We screamed and cried simultaneously as they flung us around in hysteria.

The food options are out of this world with street food favourites like fried chicken (tandoori style- their colonel even wears a turban!), roasted duck wraps, mac & cheese, lots of german sausage and burger options and best of all, a variety of vegetarian stalls too.

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The Ice Rink was full of excited adults and kids whizzing about- i even saw a dog viewing the action rink side, we all laughed watching his head rotate round and round as he kept his eye on his owner skating by! (For those of you planning to ice skate with your children, please be aware that the minimum child’s boot size is a size 9).

We had access to so many exciting rides and attractions on site, including the open air ice rink, the Magical Ice Kingdom and a ride on the Giant Observation Wheel to name a few.
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The mAgical Ice Kingdom was mesmerising with huge ice sculptures and options to be photographed with polar bears on ice. A word of warning though- its in sub-zero temperatures so you must wrap up warm or your toes will be icicles as mine were in well boots. The heated bars were much needed straight afterwards for a big lug of muted wine with friends.

Zippos Circus also performed two shows on the evening inside the Mega Dome, located in Circus Town. In fact there was so much to see and engage with one visit was not enough – i spent nearly an hour spending £100 on Christmas pressies just at the market stalls!.

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The easiest way to get to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is on foot, by bike or by public transport. The nearest tube is Hyde Park Corner (Piccadilly line). There is general information on Winter Wonderland at www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.comincluding details on all public transport links.

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is an outdoor event covering many acres so be sure to dress appropriately and wrap up warm!

Enjoy!

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Jasmine’s Juice – Isatta Sheriff, London’s Rapper And Teacher – Burning Illusions Lyrically.

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Tell us about your latest album ISATTA SHERRIF?

The album is self-titled and I choose to do that to signify a new stage in my musical career. A lot was happening in the midst of writing this album, my Mum was diagnosed with cancer for the second time, my cousin Kabba Kamara was murdered as a result of deprivation and crime in the inner city and four months later the same thing happened to one of my favorite students Myron Yard. I taught him at a music college in London.

The young people I teach inspire me. Myron was a music student and he was supposed to be on the remix of “Kin”. Him and his classmates were the inspiration behind that song and I am referring to him in specific lines. One time he humbly asked if I would ever consider doing a track with one of my students, which was his cheeky way of asking if I would do a track with him. What’s mad is that I’d already planned for him to be on the “Kin” remix; I’m really sad that we never got the chance to record it.

I’m probably a bit more vulnerable on the album as a result of the last year. I touch on the loss of my sister to suicide while I was in college as well as the drawbacks of growing in a socially deprived part of Tower Hamlets. A line in the song “Heartbeat” says “I know it sounds like I’m conditioned or something, like I’m protecting my heart before disaster jumps in”. I was determined for the record to be a positive and enjoyable amongst all the serious content. I think we managed to achieve that balance with the melodies, tempo’s and variations in flow.

With this album I wasn’t bothered about big singles; I just wanted a project that people could listen to from beginning to end. It’s a very London centric record but that doesn’t exclude people living in other places. My aim was for people in any city in the world to connect to the songs.

People and cultures also inspire me. On a couple of tracks I talk about being able to understand other languages because of how closely together we live, “Bilingual not by choice, but glad for it” -Burning An Illusion. The album is like a journey on the London Underground and I jump off at each stop and touch on different subjects that reflect each part of living in a city. It’s inspired by forgiveness, hope and honest conversation. I wanted to show that art and beauty can come out of struggle, as Talib Kweli says “Life is a beautiful struggle’’.

I don’t have any rap features on the album, because I have spent my career doing features and I just wanted to record an album that really reflected me without being diluted. I felt that I had strong enough content to carry the album myself. The only feature I have is a chorus from Terri Walker on a track called “Coasting”. Terri was great to work with again. I sent her the track and three days later we met to record it. This was first song that I ever wrote and recorded while in college and I wanted to include a remake of it to show my journey as an MC and also signify the way my style has evolved. I used to only rap in that double time style as I used to listen to a lot of Bone Thugs N Harmony and Da Brat back in the day.

(Baker Aaron) the collaborating producer was only meant to initially produce a couple of tracks but ended up doing the whole thing. He gets my voice and I get his music. It was the simplest, non-dramatic, enjoyable experience I’ve ever had creating a product. I have worked with some amazing producers throughout my career but we just clicked musically. He is an amazing musician and producer based in Istanbul. We worked between his studio there and my home studio in London.

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Tell us about your video ‘’Burning An Illusion’’.

I put out the video for “Burning An Illusion” as a taster to the album’s lyrical content. I wanted to challenge perceptions of the working class and also show how amazing it can be when cultures mix. The video is shot in East and Central London showing the contrasts. There are tower blocks and then you see the Globe Theatre along the Southbank. You see kids hanging out with nothing to do while tourists enjoy London walking through a Black Lives Matter protest.

I was due to write the last track for the album “Redefined” when the tragedies with Kabba and Myron took place. I needed two months to regain the emotional energy to complete the final track plus there was a bit of pressure as this was the track to finish off the whole project. I was determined for the track to be positive despite the circumstance. I recorded it and shot a video to celebrate black music from the UK as well as the black community with a special focus on young people and dedicated the song to Kabba and Myron.

Explain your previous outing as an artist under the moniker TOR and why it’s now changed?

My full name is Isatta Sheriff Cesay. My Mum’s name is Isatta Sheriff and Tor means namesake (the equivalent of a boy who is named after his father being called “junior”). My Mum used to say, “This is my Tor” meaning “This is my namesake” and my whole family calls me Tor. At school and work everybody used to call me Isatta. I respond to both but as time has gone on, hardly anybody called me by my given name. Releasing music under my first and middle name was a natural progression. It also means I get my name back as people have started calling me Isatta again which I love.

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What have you learnt from your past years in music?

The key lesson I have learned is authenticity. It’s important to never forget your love for music and to work with people who are passionate about similar styles as well as experimenting sonically from time to time. I’ve learned that you should push through and keep making music even if you have things going on because there will never be a perfect time. I held back so much early on because of drama but drama doesn’t stop so you just need to keep going.

What are your aspirations for the next couple of years?

I am planning to drop more videos from this record for the next 7 months while starting on a new record-whoop! I’d also like to take this album out with a live band, as that was always the goal when we started it.

How do you feel about having a female UK leader and the fact that we nearly had a female American leader too?. It’s great for females to see the possibilities right?

The fact that both of them are women is not incentive enough for me to celebrate. The issues surrounding their leadership are too complex and it would be shallow of me to look at their position solely from the point of view of womanhood. Women have always been leaders. In royal kingdoms, as activists, in wars, serving the poor and so much more but they do not have the platform offered to Clinton or May. Women of all cultures are amazingly strong even while oppressed and history is a testament to that. This current situation may inspire some young girls to believe that they can become Prime minister or President but I have trouble believing a large amount of young black girls would see the same possibility for themselves. Having a white middle class female head teacher did not put the thought in my mind at all that I could be a head teacher while I was in school. It’s not Teresa May and Hilary Clinton who excite me when it comes to women in leadership.

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There was once a time when we were told hip-hop and Grime was a niche genre. Now it’s the pop culture of this generation. How do you feel about the takeover?

I feel that the roots of those genres are not being respected and are being pushed to the background. This is a historical problem with music of black origin. A 15-year-old boy in my class asked me “How come a lot of rappers are black” and he was not being rude or funny, he was so confused. He had no I idea about its origins though, the style is all he mimicked.

‎Who is your top male and female MC and why? Quote your fave verse from their work.

Lauryn Hill is my favorite female MC because she goes beyond the music. Her flow, delivery and passion represent Hip Hop to me! It’s hard to choose a favorite song or line but one of my stand out tracks is “Mystery Of Iniquity”. Another is “Lost Ones”:

“Wisdom is better than silver and gold,
I was hopeless, now I’m on hope road”

It’s also hard to choose a favorite male MC too but I love Rakim and Talib Kweli l. One from him is his remake of Nina Simone’s “For Women”:

“I ain’t got time to lie, my life has been much too rough,
Still running with bare feet, I ain’t got nothin’ but my soul,
Freedom is the ultimate goal”

What makes you stand out and unique as a music act and why should people get to know your work?

I make heartfelt Hip Hop and tell the story of many lives through my own experiences. I use rap and melodies together to create a picture. My approach is not necessarily unique but I am unique as an individual and once I infuse the experiences of my journey, it creates a stand-alone piece of artistry.

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How do you represent being British?

Being a first generation Sierra Leonean means I get to enjoy both sides of my upbringing. I grew up in Stepney engaging with many cultures that I love and respect. Celebrating this is how I represent being British.

What else are you passionate about other than music?

I am really passionate about working in education and guiding young people aspirationally to use their many talents. I’m passionate about God, social issues, and history and standing up against injustice. I also love sport and used you to play for Arsenal Ladies and Tottenham ladies back in the day. I love all types of art whether it is dancing, photography, theatre, painting (although never ask me to paint). I try to incorporate all of these things into my music and hopefully you hear this in the album.

Name some of your past collaborations?

Wretch 32, Lowkey, Klasnekoff, Sway, Tinchy Styder, Saul Williams, Estelle, Blak Twang, Rodney P, Terri Walker, Mongrel to name a few.

What is your most enjoyable collaboration to date?

My favourite collaboration has to be a track I did a while back with Flying Lotus, Oddisee and Phonte Coleman called “The Perch”. I love the way it happened so organically. Big up to Red Bull Music Academy for bringing us together.

Who have learned from most in your career?

I have learned from so many people but Rashad Ringo Smith (Biggie, Lauryn Hill, Busta Rhymes) has definitely taught a lot about music. He introduced me to some big names in New York and being around him always felt like a giant music lesson.

What has been your proudest achievement?

I have many proud moments and being invited to Atlanta to perform with Arrested Development is one of them. Performing at Glastonbury is also another one but the proudest achievement of all has to be setting up my own independent label “Pinch Of Salt” and releasing an album in Japan through it. Being out there to do music was an amazing experience.

Isatta Sheriff at Sofar Sounds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iai_PgiZ9bI

Jasmine’s Juice – British beat maker Chairman Maf Is Hip Hop’s Zoo- Keeper.

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British hip hop artist Chairman Maf is Sheffield based and recently released his latest album ZOO without the aid of any music label’s, when the community came together to help him in today’s DIY world. Previous famous musical Brits from Sheffield include The Human League, Heaven 17, Joe Cocker, Arctic Monkeys, Pulp and Moloko. Sheffield was once home to a number of historically important nightclubs in the early dance music scene, but represents strictly for the hip hop community.

Maf continues to be a ground-breaking, ‘sublime’ instrumental beat maker with unique musical techniques. A quiet genius that’s been beginning to be respected as one of the foremost beat-smiths /instrumentalists coming from the European hip hop community for decades, we sat down for a chat with the Chairman.

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How do you describe your sound?
Cinematic soulful melodic instrumental lo fi hip hop!!

And your influences?
Within hip hop all of the classic producers: Madlib, Dilla, Pete Rock, 9th Wonder, DJ Dez, Kankick etc, but I try to listen to less hip hop these days to avoid being too heavily influenced. You’re more likely to catch me listening to some Bulgarian folk music LOL, got to avoid trying to copy the legends… I will sample anything from anywhere. I love to find things from my childhood and incorporate them into the beats; it’s my form of therapy haha.

So you’re British, 45 years old and not connected to the Grime scene. Why should we care about what you bring to hip-hop?
I like to think I make music that exists outside of fashion or current trends (not that I think that way of Grime. – its here to stay). The melodies and layers to my music make it strong enough to be around and discovered for a long time to come. It appeals to both hard-core hip hop heads and people that prefer easier laid back music. I have fans that contact me that can be any age from 14 to 74!

You seem to promote yourself predominantly as an Instrumental Artist… what is your issue with MC’s?
No issue, I just layer so many sounds in my beats that there isn’t much space for vocals. I’ve worked with many MC’s over the years but enjoy the challenge of making stand alone beats. it’s a LOT harder.

So which (if any) MC’s could coax you out of this Instrumentals only position?
In the UK I’ve always wanted to work with Taskforce, and Rodney P… There are also a lot of amazing artists on the UK’S High Focus label. In the U.S, Phonte has always been one of my favourite artists… Rapsody is incredible too.

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Your latest album “ZOO” mixes jazz, soul, blues and folk samples together with sounds from the weirdest places. David Attenborough!? Tell us a little bit about your music making process.
Basically less is more…. I’ve got very little equipment and very little knowledge of how to use it. Every time I sit down to build some music I want to get some kind of emotion across. I’m not into super slick production; in fact I like a lot of dirt in there. My mixing desk costs $150, the only other thing I use is a sampler, I think the more equipment in the chain, the more diluted the soul of the beat will be. I play a lot of instruments, not in any virtuoso way, all self taught, a bit of guitar, drums. You can make a beautiful piece of music on a one-string guitar as long as you put your heart and soul into it.

Do you see a lot of talent coming through in the UK hip-hop scene?
It’s better than it has been for a long time. There’s so much creativity. People are more focussed on the fun aspects of making music than they are trying to make a ‘career’ as they know how hard that can be now. For such a small island, the UK has consistently produced some of the most interesting creative music in the world, there’s so much going on it’s hard to keep up sometimes…

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The artwork you use and overall presentation is also quite unique to you, and doesn’t use many traditional hip-hop references… why?
I’ve always felt there is a certain amount of snobbery towards hip hop as an art form and in the UK a lot of baggage comes with me telling people about the music I love. A lot of assumptions. Hip Hop is a powerful, creative and innovative music. Its music made by, and for, very intelligent cultured people. I want the artwork to reflect that.

What can we expect from you in the future?
My new album “ZOO” has just dropped digitally and on limited vinyl. There are more vocal samples than ever before. You can actually sing along to a lot of the beats. Some of the tracks touch on subjects close to my heart so it’s an album that I’m really proud of.

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Such as “Little White Lies”?
Yeah, as a white man expressing myself through black culture, I felt it was important to have something on here related to racism. I don’t have the words to express my anger about the subject and it’s not something I experience first hand so the only language I have is music. I guess it’s just a miniscule gesture of solidarity towards people that can’t leave their homes without the fear of being killed by the people we pay to protect us. There are a lot of other issues important to me on there but if I keep talking I’ll make a mess of it so I’ll leave it there!

When people listen to your music what do you want them to get from it?
I don’t make many club tunes. I’d like people to get a sense of peace and soul… hope…. Some emotion would be good.

Final question, how are you feeling about President Trump’s victory?
Obviously I’m scared that Trump’s been elected. Unfortunately fear of Trump was not enough to get people to vote for Clinton with her record of corruption. Democrats missed the boat with Bernie Saunders and are now paying the price. Wars in Syria, environmental issues and institutional racism would not be dealt with be either Clinton or Trump as money has taken over the political system. America will continue to be as racist as it always has, regardless of who’s in power. Let’s just hope this shakes up politics enough to find some kind of alternative to appeal to working class people, rather than simply using fear and the media circus.

Check out Chairman Maf’s latest album here;
https://chairmanmaf.bandcamp.com/album/zoo

Jasmine’s Juice – 10 Years Of Akala, And The Wrong Advise I Once Gave Him.

Who Is Akala?
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JASMINE WITH AKALA.

BAFTA and MOBO award winning hip hop artist, writer/poet and historian AKALA is a label owner and social entrepreneur who fuses unique rap/rock/electro-punk sound with fierce lyrical storytelling.

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Inspired by the likes of Saul Williams and Gil Scot Heron, over the years, Akala has developed a stellar live show with his renowned drummer/award winning music producer Cassell ‘TheBeatmaker’ (Plan B/The Streets/Keziah Jones) headlining 8 UK tours as well as touring with the likes of Jay Z, Nas & Damian Marley, M.I.A. and Christina Aguilera to Siouxsie Sue, Damon Albarn’s (‘Blur’/Gorillaz’) ‘Africa Express’ and Richard Ashcroft, appearing at numerous UK / European and US festivals (Glastonbury, Big Chill, Wireless, V, Hove and SXSW) as well as taking part in British Council arts education/music projects across several countries in Southeast Asia, Africa, The Philippines, New Zealand and Australia.

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Akala has more recently been known for his compelling lectures/seminars and journalism (The Guardian, Huffington Post UK and The Independent), TV presenting and scriptwriting. Over the last few years he has also gained a reputation as one of the most dynamic and literate talents in the UK.

Akala has also featured on numerous TV programmes and fronted documentaries across Channel 4, ITV2, MTV, Sky Arts and the BBC promoting his music, poetry as well as speaking on wide ranging subjects from music, youth engagement, British / African Caribbean culture and the arts as a whole.
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In 2009, Akala launched the ‘The Hip-hop Shakespeare Company’; a music theatre production company which has sparked worldwide media interest since its inception. Previous clients/collaborators include: BBC, Premier League, Mastercard, London 2012, British actor; Sir Ian McKellen together with artist’s; Ed Sheeran, Ms. Dynamite Lady Leshurr and many more.

This past month he has been on the road with his ‘’Ten Years Of Akala’’ 27-date UK tour that ends in Cambridge on 31st October, the majority of the dates have been sold out.

The album ‘Ten Years Of Akala’ was released on 23rd Sept 2016 and to celebrate 10 years since the release of Akala’s critically acclaimed debut album It’s Not ARumour, Illa State, Akala’s very own independent home record label, are proud to announce they will be releasing a triple vinyl of selected tracks from each of his six albums chosen especially by his supporters online. This special edition album will be also available for download in digital format with several new tracks.

To mark this unique milestone, Akala has been stepping out with his band on a live ‘10th Anniversary Tour’, taking his hard hitting live show to venues all across the UK and Ireland.

His biggest tour to date and in conjunction with Live Nation, this whirlwind tour was a real treat for his fans as he performed classic tracks from the ‘Ten Years Of Akala’ album alongside some special guests too.

The tour finishes this week in Cambridge on 31st October.

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Ten Years of Akala gives one pause for thought – here is an artist that had it in him to keep his fierce independence when it was not fashionable, has performed in over 30 countries, released 6 albums, two books, presented the seminal ‘Life of Rhyme’ for Channel 4, founded The Hip-hop Shakespeare Company and has been a tireless voice for education and social justice in the UK and all over the world.

In fact, in one of my early conversations with him years ago in the Nineties, I recall begging him to make a couple of ”more commercial tracks” to help him jump off bigger in the mainstream and he said it just wasn’t his way. He wanted to stay true to himself and he really did.

Akala does so much it can be easy to forget that first and foremost he is an amazing musician.
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Ten Years Of Akala

The shows were full of diverse audiences and had something for everyone. Hip-hop, grime, metal vibes as well as stadium anthems, spoken word, comedy and activism. His live show is 90 minutes of relentless tracks, backed by intense and stunning visuals, live drums, a DJ and with no need for a ‘hype man’.

He opens up with a musical Intro, Let It All Happen, and then Shakespeare. To the audiences delight he performs his much lauded Fire In the Booth, and recites a piece from his book Ruins.

His set also included some film visuals, which included past videos of himself over the last 10 years, as well as images of powerful black people of influence over the last 50 years. There were also images of the various wars and upheaval around the world.

Halfway through the show he appears onstage dressed up as a character that resembles the Artful Dodger from Oliver Twist, but Akala references as a character called Pompous Peterson.

On the London date at Koko, Akala was joined by three guests onstage;
1. His rap peer Low-key joined him on stage to perform Behind My Painted Smile.
2. Next, singer, songwriter/ music producer Marshall joined Akala to perform his new single “Giants”.
3. Finally performer Niles, wearing an interesting hat, joined him on stage for Sun Tzu.

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Akala held the crowd’s interest from the second he appeared onstage with his live drummer and dj and had them eating out of his hand and following every command on his journey of high dynamic and more serious messaging throughout.

Cultural Influencer

A remarkable thing about Akala’s digital/social media is the number of influencers that follow him, making his online reach much greater than what would usually be possible with those kinds of numbers.

In terms of news, almost every major news and media agency in the US & UK has featured Akala in one way or another over the last 6 months.

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This anniversary release reminds us of that and the growth of a talent that has toured the UK and globally, all whilst being largely ignored by mainstream radio for the past decade.

www.akalamusic.com


10 Years of Akala -order: http://akala.tmstor.es

Jasmine’s Juice – Do You Know About South London Gone Global Super Producers Sons Of Sonix?

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How did SOS meet?

Mikey – We met at a local church at the age of 13/14. My family left a church that a grew up at playing drums to join another church where Moses was playing keys. Since then, playing in church together, we developed a passion for music production individually. We would check out each others work and give advise then we thought at one point – two heads are better than one – and formed SOS.

What was it like growing up in South London?

Mikey – Loved growing up in South London. Its such a diverse community with the likes of African, Caribbean and Asian cultures. South can be quite gritty but I’m glad of what it made me become. So many influences from the Nigerian roots in Peckham to the Jamaican love of Brixton.
Mo – South will always be home. The different cultures have aided to where we are now. It was never easy growing up there with it being so gritty and rough but I wouldn’t trade growing up there for anything.

When did you start producing?

Mikey – I started producing in year 7. I remember my music teacher showing the class this software called Cubase and how you could basically build your own song – I thought that this was the best thing ever! Growing up i used to listen to music thinking ” who made this has the best job ever” Now i had been given the tools too. So i used to re create my favourite songs then create original material for hours after school. Since then i haven’t looked back.
Mo – It began for me in year 10. My teacher showed me about this programming software where you could make beats and record vocals. I was so hooked , I couldn’t believe this was possible lol. Those early moments always remind me of how it all began!

When did you get your first break?

Mikey – Our first break came in LA – We worked on this kid called Deon Young on a record called “Party Life” ft French Montana. It happened all so fast – One min we were making the record in a writing session, to his AnR passing by the studio saying ” This instrumental is crazy send it to me by tomorrow morning to play in my Label meeting” , to eventually getting the vocals to French Montana sent to us.
You have an impressive CV. and you are both 25. You’ve worked with the likes of Wretch, Mel C, Stormzy (Took Trey out for now ) and Ariana Grande to name a few. How did this all happen at such young ages?

Mikey – Honestly hardwork and determination. Fortunately for us, our big mentor by the name of Harmony Samuels has taught us about the game and how to basically get your name and music out there. By working with him in LA on Ariana Grande’s first album “Yours Truly”, we were exposed to the tricks and trades of the music industry and business – returning to the UK with plan and goal – to work with a diverse range of artist, delivering great, real music every time! With consistency and the grace of God, we are where we are today – with that impressive CV.

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Let’s talk about the Wretch album. Congrats! Has it exceeded all your expectations?

Mo – Growing over life! For me it’s done more than exceeded my expectation. It’s always about reaching the masses and making sure that your music touches someone. I believe we achieved that with this album. Wretch was honest and true. He took people on a journey and I know that everyone related to one track or the other. So yes it’s definitely surpassed expectation.

What are your favourite tracks on the album?

Mikey – Mine has to be PRESSURE, OPEN CONVERSATION AND SOMETHING

Mo – Has to be pressure and something!

Your track record shows that you are very versatile and can create many different styles of sounds. But how would you describe your sound?

Mo – Our sound can’t be described or associated with one genre. I would say we’re known for specific instruments. Like a bass line or particular drum sound/mix or even a constant/reoccurring synth. That’s how I would describe it.

How did you manage to secure a spice Girl to jump on a track with you?

Mikey – We recently signed our first deal with Peer Music in LA and we didnt know she was also signed to Peer Music. One thing led to another and the label placed us both in a session – She is amazing spirit – such a great heart and we’re so happy to be apart of such a dope project. Her comeback is going to be amazing!

As producers who do you look up to? Who do you aspire to be like?

Mikey – Quincy Jones is my Blueprint lol for what he has done for Popular Music alone, he is the greatest to do it – plus he produced Human Nature by Michael Jackson – the greatest produced song ever lol But im inspired by all the greats – Timberland , Rodney Jerkins, Max Martin etc.

Mo – Like Mike said Quincy jones has always been the inspiration and forefront for us. Pushed the boundary and worked and made the biggest pop star time. Doesn’t get better than that. However there are other greats who have contributed to inspiring me. Pharrell, Timbaland etc
We noticed that you have spent a lot of time in LA- what projects where you working on out there?
Mo – There’s a few projects coming from states side. We don’t want to jinx anything yet but there will be some known names attached to our beats and will be on the air waves very soon.

What do you prefer America or the UK?

Mikey – America lol simple

Mo – Easy answer. I do love UK but America is more accepting in terms of different genres! So yeah America

Nigerian Jollof or Ghana Jollof?

Mikey – Nigerian – Never understood the basmati movement lol but i have had a few Ghanaian Jollof that has done me well lol i was impressed. But yeah, Nigerian all the way – Shout out to all of my long grain brothers and sisters lol

You both have Nigerian roots. Do you like the Afrobeats sound? If so, who would you like to work with?

Mo – Our African roots has definitely contributed to our sound. The big drums and cross rhythms are a big part of our production. Afrobeats is really coming through in the uk. Think it’s great for Africa. I would for sure like to work with wiz kid. I Think his creativity is out of this world. That would be fun.

What’s coming up next? What should we look out for?

Mo- We have Stormzy album coming which we have a few records on. We also have Mel c album dropping in October and some other serious record states side. So keep your eyes and ears peeled for what’s to come!

Jasmine’s Juice- Hip Hop World News! Friday 30 September, BBC4 9PM!

If you are a hip hop lover, a music lover or simply an opened minded curious bystander, you won’t want to miss Hip Hop World News on BBC4 this evening at 9pm.
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RUSSELL SIMMONS SITS DOWN WITH RODNEY P.

We are led on a journey by UK rapper Rodney P who takes us to meet key influencers and legends from the hip hop genre. From music stars, to hip hop activists to DJ’s and journalists, it’s a group that love and champion the culture but aren’t afraid to acknowledge its conflicting narratives and issues.
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A godfather of the culture- Russell Simmons– who founded Def Jam Records and later Phat Farm clothing and laid the blueprint for younger hip hop multi hyphenates talks about Police brutality ‘’It’s been happening to black people in America for 400 years! Now we have iPhones now we have documentation. And they’re like ‘oh my God how’s that happening’. It’s been happening to black people in America for 400 years. The abuse of people of colour is an American phenomenon’’.
Another nugget of gold from Russell was his defence of hip hop culture being a materialistic world. ‘’No, materialism?, all they say is they want the shit that Americans are selling. The stuff that is high-end and aspirational equals the American Dream. That’s what hip-hop says they want. A lot of Hip Hop says that. Some people are not that interested in it. But certainly, wanting a Rolls Royce or some obnoxious car, big house, every American talks about that. They’re looking at Donald Trump like he’s a genius here. Nobody more obsessed with money and talking about how wealthy they are and buying stuff they don’t need than Donald Trump. I wouldn’t put that on hip-hop. I’d put that on the American psyche, and its affect on hip-hop, is that expression’’.

It’s awe inspiring to watch Rakim – arguably one of the greatest MC’s to touch the mic – reveal that how hip hop saved his life and talk about his influences ‘’I came up on Cold Crush Four, Grandmaster Caz, Furious Five, Melle Mel, Treacherous Three, Kool Moe D that was my favourite MCs!’’
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RAKIM – THE GOD!

Its also touching to see our presenter Rodney get emotional during one particularly poignant moment as he realises the impact that a name that he is about to meet has had on his own life.
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RODNEY GETS EMOTIONAL.

Rodney sets up the show with passion telling us ‘’I love Hip Hop. I love everything it stands for. I love its art, its beauty and its power And I love its ability to transform people’s lives. People like me. Hip Hop has given me the tools to see the world in new ways and a powerful language to express it
But I know that from the outside some people see the culture I represent as shallow, brash and even violent. The Hip Hop I know gives a voice to the voiceless. It’s a place where the disenfranchised feel heard and stories that you may not hear in the mainstream. I want to show you what the world looks like when it is seen through the lens of Hip Hop. And I’m going on a journey to meet some of the stars and key players who have helped to shape that view’’

The show reflects the many ways in which how Hip-hop empowers and educates and even influences at the highest levels. Hip-hop activist Kevin Powell suggests ‘’when you look at the ascension of Barack Obama, there were elements of hip-hop that helped to get him elected for sure!’’

UK rapper Ty explains why the culture has made him see the world from a different perspective ‘’Hip Hop taught me to look for the extra narrative in anything, so when I look at the news, I look for the extra narrative, I look for what I’m not being told as well what I am being told’’.
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ESTELLE DISCUSSES FEMINISM.

Hip Hop World News covers difficult issues too – like the treatment of women and scantily dressed females that are associated with the genre. UK rapper Estelle admits ‘’ It’s misogynistic as hell. I always felt like I don’t have to be out here arse naked – you’re gonna pay attention to my words, if you need something to look at well then, I look fresh. So, look at that.’’
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CHUCK D- THE LEGEND!

Public Enemy legend Chuck D reminisces about his early years ‘’We knew what we were doing when we did it, I mean of course, we grew up in the 60s we didn’t grow up in the 70s, growing up in the 60’s you know, from assassinations to Vietnam war, we seen impact. We saw the impact of the resistance against that, we saw the fight for civil rights, what we didn’t know is what was on the other end of the message, until we travelled there. So, when we first came over to the UK, it was like okay you know, they’re not getting enough of who they are and let’s talk about the similarities with all us, and let’s talk about things that they don’t know about us here, as well as talking about… so it was really a message to everyone saying that um, we’re connected. Hip Hop culture is the thing that ties us together as human beings because of our similarities, and not societal differences. This is where culture and governments are diametrically opposed. You know, governments wanna control people, culture wants to be able to free them’’.

American author, filmmaker, rapper, and professor at Morgan State University, (one of the youngest professors at the college) MK Assante explained ‘’We got kids in the hood in Baltimore, Chicago and Philly, they look at the police the same way the little Iraqi kids look at the American soldiers. As an outside force occupying the community!’’.

The wonderfully articulate Kevin Powell left me with the most food for thought and articulated my culture beautifully ‘’Hip Hop is as important as Shakespeare, I would even argue that it’s probably more important than Shakespeare at this point, and I love Shakespeare!’’.

Kevin ‘’To understand hip-hop, you have to understand the civil rights movement. Doctor King was killed in 1968, well a year before, someone named Clive Campbell came from Jamaica in the west indies, to New York to the Bronx. Kool Herc, one of the founding fathers of hip-hop. Dr King was talking about a poor people’s campaign at the end of his life. Who created Hip Hop? Poor African Americans, poor West Indians, poor Latinos in a place called the Bronx, New York. And so in a lot of ways Hip Hop, was a response to the failures of the civil rights movement, people moving away from what Dr King was urging people to do, pay attention to poverty, we gotta deal with poverty. And so when you think about Hip Hop… Its very essence is a social commentary, it doesn’t matter what the lyrics say. You got two turntables and microphone, some spray paint and magic markers, some sneakers, some cardboard. linoleum. That’s nothing, these are poor people taking what they had, and creating something out of that. So the very act of doing that is revolutionary!’’.

Jasmine’s Juice – London’s KSI – Rapper To Global Vlogging Superstar To Hollywood, The New Hip Hop Takeover.

RISE OF THE YOUTUBERS
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JASMINE WITH YOUTUBE GLOBAL MEGASTAR KSI.

This decade has seen the rise of the YouTubers in a way that no one could have ever predicted. The digital world takeover is sprinting ahead and leaving the naysayers behind.
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Photo Courtesy – James Gillham.

This week I witnessed something in London, that reminded me of a few years ago, when record labels and old skool music industry stalwarts wafted away the internet streaming threats with disdain, claiming that music fans would always prioritize sound quality and chart play lists. A few years on, musicians have showed that the Internet has changed their world, given everyone an equal playing field and changed the game forever.

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This week millions of film fans across the world watched a film premiere live on Facebook. The actual premiere was at London’s O2 dome where throngs of teen female fans were screaming in earnest for their hero’s. Pop stars? Film stars? Models? No. The rise of the teen geek was cemented. Hysterical fans were screaming for YouTube stars, who most of us had really never heard of. All except one. This star name has been bouncing around media and music circles for months now. KSI.

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Olajide Olatunji, commonly known as KSI or ‘’JJ’’, is the most watched individual online in the UK. You will be hard pushed to find a 14-24 year old male in Britain who doesn’t watch his videos. Known for his FIFA, football, music and comedy content on YouTube, KSI has already amassed over 15,000,000 subscribers on his 2 channels and over 2.5 billion video views. Growing at 500,000 new subscribers across his 2 channels and 130 million views every month, plus with over 2 million Twitter and 2 million Facebook fans, he is a modern day Social Media superstar.
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Photo Courtesy – James Gillham.

In the recent US Entertainment Magazine ‘Variety’ survey of popularity and influence amongst US teens, KSI positioned first above all stars of Hollywood, Sports and Music (http://t.co/JuLP3GH1te). Recently signed to Island records, KSI’s January 2016 released debut EP ‘Keep Up’ (feat. UK music star JME) topped the UK iTunes albums chart, charted at no. 13 in the UK official Albums chart and debuted in the top 10 on iTunes in 25 other territories including the U.S. Having completed two headline sold out London shows, KSI has, to date 130k followers on Spotify (with 21 million streams), 2.6 million followers on Instagram and 2.2 million Facebook likes.

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Photo Courtesy – James Gillham.

Along with his YouTube content, he has also broken into the music industry, with his single ‘Lamborghini’ reaching NO 30 in the UK charts in April 2015. As of June 2016, his YouTube channel has had over 14 million subscribers and 2.6 billions views. Pretty impressive numbers for a young man virtually unknown by mainstream old-fashioned media. That’s some strong marketing pull.
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YOUTUBING TO APP DOMINATION

Earlier this year, after being signed to Island Records/Universal Music (a gamer signed to a record deal!), KSI took the lead with his new App launch.

At the time he told me “My App’s sick. “I can’t believe it’s finally here. Seriously, I just want to share what I make directly to my fans, and this App is going to make it so easy for me. I’m going to be shouting all about it as soon as it’s out and you can expect so much stuff to be in there – more videos, more photos, and loads of live streams, directly to your pocket. This is for everyone who has supported me over the years – thanks so much for being a part of what I do. See you in the App!”

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Photo Courtesy – James Gillham.

Since then, YouTube phenomenon KSI is the most viewed in the UK, has over 2.5 Billion video views and over 15m subscribers over his two channels – an audience built through viral content, online gaming and savvy brand partnerships. In launching this App, KSI further proves he is at the forefront of next generation media moguls.

The App is ‘one spot for all things KSI’ right at the cutting edge of smartphone tech it delivers unparalleled direct-to-fan access, connecting him with his millions of fans. I tried. Didn’t understand the attraction, but then its not for me. My generation is the audience that looks on in amusement. But don’t sleep on this genre of youth pop culture, it’s blown up under the radar and can only get bigger.

KSI and his team know what they’re doing. The app features real-time live streaming, brand new music, exclusive videos, audio and images, fan chats/Q&As, App-commerce, pre-sale and tour ticketing, special competitions, App-only merchandise, friending and messaging, a meme generator, social media aggregation and more.
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KSI AND CASPAR LEE ON THE ‘LAID IN AMERICA’ RED CARPET.

FROM BEDROOMS TO HOLLYWOOD

So after dominating the web space and then app charts, KSI was approached to make and star in his own movie alongside fellow Vlogger/actor Caspar Lee. Caspar Lee is a South African self-started YouTube star with over 6 millions YouTube subscribers. Caspar like KSI is HUGE. MEGA. He has his own clothing line, is a musician and released a book this year written by him and his mum!

The two boys have come so far and are a perfect example of the self-made millennial, like Justin Bieber, They started in their bedrooms and now are the most well known YouTubers in the world, with millions of subscribers, billions of views on their channels, and hugely successful careers including record deals, book launches, clothing lines and now a Hollywood Movie.

Not only is KSI one of the most influential YouTubers in the UK, but he’s also been rated as the 5th Highest Earning YouTube star by Forbes, with a net worth of $4.5m.
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LAID IN AMERICA.

This week KSI made his much anticipated feature-film debut alongside Caspar Lee in laugh-out-loud, chaotic comedy LAID IN AMERICA.

Duncan (KSI) and Jack (Caspar Lee) are exchange students with just one night left in the United States and one final chance to lose their virginity with the girls of their dreams.

To accomplish their goal, they must get into the school-bully’s house party that night but they haven’t made the list. The two friends hatch an elaborate and desperate plan which takes them on an unexpected adventure, navigating a mine-field of problems from gun-wielding gangsters to deviant drug lords. Their friendship is tested as they blunder through the night in a bid to fulfil their fantasies before their flights back home.

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Photo Courtesy – James Gillham.

LAID IN AMERICA has a full on tech geek star cast and crew set up. This #SQUAD rolls hard and heavy. The film is directed by Sam Milman and Peter Vass (Bad Weather Films), produced by Max Gottlieb (The Fun Group) and executive produced by Adam Margules (Angry Adam Productions). Alongside KSI (13.6m YouTube subscribers) and Caspar Lee (6.5m YouTube subscribers) the film features an all-star cast including digital stars Josh Leyva (1.6m YouTube subscribers), Bobby Lee (150k YouTube subscribers), Madison Iseman (184k Instagram subscribers) and Bart Baker (8.2m YouTube subscribers) .

The movie is not an example of cinematic glory. Its not Spielberg or Tarantino or even Eddie The Eagle levels. It’s a techie 2016 version of American Pie meets Mean Girls meets The In Betweeners. Its crass and vulgar in the way most teenagers love. It is to teenagers today what Porky’s was to my peers and I in the eighties. (The desperate tale of high school’ers trying to lose their virginity surpasses all generations and cultures). Like an Ali G/ Borat politically incorrect, trying to be outrageous classic but not as cleverly written, the film is full of cultural ethnic stereotypes.

Even though its not going to scare Hollywood just yet, this hilarious and outrageous comedy that’s the perfect mix of sex, stupidity and fun for its millennial audience, shows that the power of movie making, big screen audience numbers and most importantly, cinema revenue streams, aren’t all in the hands of the old masters. Like the music industry, the movie industry should watch its back. Who Moved My Cheese is not just a book by Dr Spencer Johnson. It’s the new millennial method of changing the world. And KSI and his #Squad are leading the movement.

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Photo Courtesy – James Gillham.

LAID IN AMERICA is released on DVD and Blu-ray™ with Ultraviolet, and Digital Download on 26th September 2016.

#LaidinAmerica –
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LaidinAmerica/?fref=ts
Twitter https://twitter.com/laidinamerica?lang=en-gb
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/laidinamerica/?hl=en

Jasmine’s Juice – UK RAPPER WRETCH32 – GROWING OVER LIFE.

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UK rapper Wretch32’s new album, Growing Over Life, was long awaited by his fans and took a whole new serious route than his usual offerings. The BET Award winner’s 12 new tracks juxtapose social commentary, thoughtful bars and powerful insights throughout and gained a top five UK chart position. Not that Wretch cares about awards and chart numbers ‘’ I never feel pressure for chart success. I feel more pressure to do a good Fire In The Booth’. Wretch’s latest album tackles subjects relevant to youth globally, like challenging relationships, parenthood, police brutality and celebration of life.

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I sat down for an exclusive chat with one of the most important voices from the UK hip hop scene today.

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JASMINE WITH WRETCH32.

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Growing Over Life clearly shows you’ve had a serious, mature, tough journey through these last few years with adult responsibilities being a priority. I myself watched you and your loved ones bury a close friend earlier this year. How tough have the demons and life been this time around and how have you dealt with them?

The affect that my good friend music industry figure Richard Antwi’s death had on me….it was big… I always sent records to Richard for feedback. When I sent him a track called “intro” he loved it. Told me I was a beast and I should attempt America. The conversation carried on. Then that phone chat ended. Less than a week afterwards he passed away. That was the last thing he said to me. He was like my older brother. Without him I don’t know if this could’ve ever been possible. He taught us so much. That’s why I named my intro track “Antwi” in honour of him.

WRETCH32 VIDEO ”ANTWI”

I’m one of those peeps that take things in my stride and have learnt to be thick skinned and expect nothing from anyone. It’s easier if you don’t have expectations and then you can’t be disappointed. I learnt that I’m more comfortable being emotional this album. I used to think it wasn’t manly to cry but now I don’t care. When I recorded “6 words” I cried. No one spoke in the studio. Boys being boys. It’s sick when it’s like that.

I also learnt that a lot of what sells the record is excitement about it and driving promo. This time around I had a mix tape with (fellow rapper) Avelino and peeps have really been open to the lyricism in that. In the past I’ve put out the best song. Now it’s about the track where I’m rapping most. I also did a Fire In The Booth (BBC brand where rappers spit whole verses for radio), session then a song then a mix tape. Full on!

Also with my music, I’ve taken responsibly back with things like directing my videos and plotting campaigns because I’ve learnt more and understand my audience a lot more now. I now know I have to be consistent with my videos. I used director Matt Walker for my video ‘’Antwi’’ and a few others. He’s cool and gets it. They (directors) come to my house about ideas. They tell me what’s realistic because in my head it’s got to look like a Spielberg production. Its like when people ask if there will be a tour to accompany this album; It’s got to make financial sense. We have to have a good return. Often we can lose more than we can make. It’s usually my fault cos I’m a prick cos I want to add more stuff to my staging cos I like a big spectacle on stage. I want it to be memorable but in order to do that I lose money.

So with videos and tours ‎I used to believe that the director is best to do job, and the team know what’s best with tour’s, but I now know its also important to trust in my own ideas. I’m a writing specialist but as I learn I sit down and talk and be a lot more realistic.

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You’re very known as a deep wordsmith – Growing Over Life is full of social commentary and slick wordplay, but so much new rap content these days is very weak on lyrics and new artists don’t seem to care about spending hours on clear lyrical content anymore. Do you as a current leader think that this matters for the culture? Can you talk about that?

Different people have different roles to play and different people think differently. If you were born in 1990, your favourite rapper may be Gucci Mane or Young Thug or Future, not Jay Z, so I think It’s dependent on what you’ve grown up with and been influenced by. Biggie, Nas, Jay were all rappers that used similes and metaphors that caught my ear and so that’s what I was influenced by so I guess it’s just about perspective. Both styles have a purpose. No one wants to hear serious songs like my ‘Antwi’ in a club or live lounge but there’s a place for it and vica versa.

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Growing Over Life also touches on police brutality, which is both a huge issue in the U.S as well as in the UK. Recently the #blacklivesmovement seems to have been hijacked in the UK by middle-classed white protesters managing to shut down City Airport, with the environment and pollution as justification. In fact there was not one black face amongst the protesters, did this make any sense to you and does it worry you that by speaking up about political issues that it may impact your own music career?

What I do like is sometimes you need to create noise and become annoying to get your point across. The good child that’s quiet might not get all the opportunities. Sometimes our natural thought is to go to police station when e’re unhappy, but when these people go to disrupt the airport it’s annoying but then people want to listen and understand why they’ve been disrupted, so in turn they may wanna help sort it out. Its ironic, they don’t mind the ghetto being a mess but when its the M25 and airport its all up in the news. I do like that element.
Realistically for example, the government doesn’t care if 2000 people demonstrate in Tottenham but once it’s a national problem that’s disrupting everyone they pay attention.

‎Having said that, I do hope it’s coming from a sincere place with those white demonstrators. I didn’t have an issue with them not being black at all. I may go on a march about blocking sex offenders without having personally been affected by a sex offence, because as a parent I feel connected to the cause. So I guess they as humanity feel connected to our cause too. It’s the human empathetic connection. If they’re coming from a sincere place then I’m ok with it.

4

In last couple of years you’ve been more politically conscious. You even titled the second part of your record “Mark Duggan” after the young black man killed from your area. I know your gran and dad were really connected to the community and your uncle is an activist always fighting for justice. (Stafford Scott, who has written for The Guardian and co-founded the Broadwater Farm Defence Campaign in 1985). You’ve mentioned in the past that in your house there’s a poster of Winston Silcott. (One of the “Tottenham Three”, black men who were convicted in March 1987 for the murder of Polce Constable Blakelock on the night of 6 October 1985 during the Broadwater Farm Riot, in north London, despite not having been near the scene. All three convictions were quashed on 25 November 1991 after scientific tests suggested the men’s confessions had been fabricated) .So you’ve grown up around a family that’s really into politics.

With Mark Duggan, I wanted to speak for the people who lived here in my community. To me he’s not a news statistic or video clip. He’s someone I went to school with.
“Open conversation” is a track about me opening a page in my diary. These are my thoughts as a child. I mentioned Mark’s children at the end of the record.

I never worry about my political lyrics and I think it’s my duty to speak from the heart. When I do that it’s never wrong. We are all in a senior place now and more serious and so it’s important to speak on stuff. I’m looking at secondary schools for my son. Being a parent is a responsibility! I’m looking at routes to school. It all plays on in your head. Which schools are producing good consistent results….
I went through it all myself 16 years ago and here I am 16 years later thinking about it all again!

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5

Maintaining a relationship whilst making music is a topic you cover on the latest album, and it’s a topic that a few other UK artists have made songs about this year. You’ve said that you haven’t been in a serious relationship in years and if you’re making a song about relationships you pick and choose several real life experiences to mix up on a track. Would it be fair to say that you have had to sacrifice love to focus on a successful career. What is the one thing you need a potential wifey to understand/do/get down with?

‎I do think I’ve sacrificed love for my career. I’m not selfish. A relationship is 50/50 with the time that you both commit. And when it comes to love I just don’t think I’m at that stage where I’m ready to give 100 percent. Its affected my relationships yes. I look for understanding in a woman. For example I can start a music session at noon and end at 6am. Who would understand that regularly? Taxi drivers have the same problem I imagine.

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My era had a lot more R&B and soul to keep us all quite romantically minded. I get the impression youth nowadays are less romantic and more sexualized. How do you feel?

‎I think the energy of what’s around you growing up will affect your thought process and so music does affect ideas about life. If all the kids today are listening to tracks like ‘’These hoes ain’t loyal’ (Chris Brown) ’ instead of like back in the day we had ‘’ Let’s get married’’ (Jagged Edge), then one-night stands could be seen as priority to them instead of a long-lasting relationship.

7
Even though you’ve used female features on the album from names like Emeli Sandé, Laura Mvula and more, the grime and hip hop scene in the UK is very male dominated, where are the ladies and why are they not as prominent as the guys?

If I’m honest I think some of us are slightly biased. I’ll tell you why. Lady Leshurr and Lil Simz are sick. But as an MC you may have a concept about a certain song that you’re making and then a male MC comes to mind for a collaboration and maybe a female name only comes to mind on relationship themed tracks. Also, with us guys we are often circulating and sharing fans when we collaborate.
As well as that, with us guys I think we all support each other cos we’re fans of what we all do. My worst enemy could have a good song and I’ll tell them. We care about the scene and ourselves. There can’t only be one star – there has to be room for all of us. You know when Skepta’s doing a tour, we’ll all just jump in a van and go out and join him onstage and that way we’re sharing fans and that keeps it exciting cos we bump into each other at live shows all the time.

8

Is it this ‘sharing and circulating of fans’’ that’s been the top winning element of the UK grime scene making it without major record deal signings?

Record deals. It’s about building super deals. Signing to a mainstream label ‎helps financially cos you receive an advance and then you can just focus on the music. Now it’s about super teams and I understand radio, TV pluggers and press teams managers and A&R. Nowadays finances can come from anywhere but I know it’s a major factor to have a team on board that you’ve handpicked.
‎I’ve been fortunate cos with the label deal I’m in, I was able to bring my team to my label, but I had to go through both situations to understand them, so now when I speak to Stormzy I tell him ‘I found hurdles here and here’ and I talk about options that he can think about, so my experiences can be useful to others.

‎Nowadays we all collaborate with each other all the time like never before. It’s interesting, the other day I was talking to (singer) Shola Ama and I told her that I couldn’t believe that back in her era that she and Craig David didn’t have a song together?! I was a fan of both so we would’ve lapped that up. I couldn’t understand why was there no duet?

9

Hilary or Trump to lead the world next- One is hated, the other is more hated. Discuss?

Hhhmmm Hilary or Trump. I’m still following only God. However, If I had to pick from cancer and leukemia I’d pick Hilary.

10

This year’s MOBO Award’s is coming up – I know there was a disappointing year when people believed that you were snubbed when you’d had a big year – but awards shows and voting is always a minefield in itself. How do you look back on it now …with some perspective?

With the MOBO’S I learnt a valuable lesson. I have no feelings towards it any more. It put me off awards ceremonies for good as well as attending them. As artists we’re all naturally competitive. But in that scenario all you’re thinking is ‘’Did you really lose though?’’ After all It was just a moment. But you bought a suit and sat with your family and yes, I felt like I’d lost. So I’ve stopped attending so much stuff like that now, I don’t go the MOBO Awards.
I don’t know if I’d attend The Brits if I was nominated. I really didn’t like that feeling of all of us being pitted against each other. The bottom line is we are all winning now without mainstream stuff like that. We’re winning man!!!!

11

Your song All a Dream is one of my fave tracks on the album. What’s your biggest dream to achieve in your career, could American chart success be for you in the future?

‎My biggest dream to help people who are talented. I hear talent and I want that to be magnified. Whether my future involves me building a label? Being a mentor? Even watching my peer – fellow singer Shakka – at his live gig at Koko this past month, I felt teary and emotional. I recall calling him early on and keeping him motivated. His gig was sick! Being able to do my song Blackout with him and taking him to festivals has opened him up to so much more. So I’d love to get involved with mentoring talent like that more.

I wanna do it America, but at this stage in my life my son’s ten, my daughter’s five. They’re going through lots of change. Can I just leave for six months? I wouldn’t wanna waste their time and my time. The biggest problem with America is the audience out there understanding our style and lyrics and language. But having said that, when I was younger listening to Jay Z I decoded his words so really American peeps should now do that with us. Yeah, American recognition or from anywhere in the world is important. I’m never in the studio making music for just a few people!

The Rated Awards 2016- The Legends, The Winners, The New Era!

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So- everyone who was anyone in the grime music/ UK urban music industry was at Camden’s Roundhouse last night for the second annual Rated Awards.

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Big moments of the night included Tim Westwood picking up the GRM Legacy Award, Kano took home Best Album for ‘Made in the Manor’, Giggs bagged Artist Of The Year Award, Skepta won Best Video for his smash ‘Man (Gang)’​, Manny Norte noting that A.Dot ”gets crisser gal than the man dem’,and Big Narstie actually used the ”C” word onstage!

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JASMINE WITH NAUGHTY BOY , MANNY NORTE AND YASMIN EVANS, CHAMS (NFTR) AND SHOLA AMA, GIGGS, OMAR AND CRAIG DAVID.

Last night history was made, with the second KA & GRM Daily Rated Awards, celebrating the very best of British urban music. The 1,700-person capacity venue, packed to the brim full of artists, industry players and fans alike.

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Craig David, Krept & Konan, Skepta, DJ and producer Naughty Boy and Professor Green were all in attendance, bringing the grime scene into the spotlight in a welcome togetherness and celebration of how far British urban music has come.

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The KA & GRM Daily Rated Awards is one of the only award ceremonies that lets the fans decide the winners. By giving the power back to the people it allows the real purveyors of the British urban music scene to be recognised. The awards, which launched last year, were founded by KA Drinks and GRM Daily.

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English MC AJ Tracey picked up the Best Breakthrough award, with other early winners including Skepta winning Best Video for his smash ‘Man (Gang)’, Charlie Sloth announced as Best DJ for a second year, and Rude Kid collecting Producer Of The Year.

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Mercury Prize shortlisted artist Kano took home Best Album for his monumental album ‘Made In The Manor’, whilst Giggs took home Best Artist. Abra Cadabra was also full of emotion as he swooped upBest Track for “Robbery Remix” featuring Krept & Konan.

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Last night saw some high-energy performances with WSTRN making a return to the KA & GRM Daily Rated Awards stage, tearing it up with Youngs Teflon for ‘Best Friend’. We also saw Craig David & Big Narstie perform their hit single ‘When The Bassline Drops’ as well as performances from MoStack, MIst, Fredo, Abra Cadabra, Ray BLK, Donae’o, Big Tobz and Ghetts x Rude Kid.

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BBC Radio 1Xtra presenter and A&R Director at Atlantic Records Twin B paid tribute to best friend, business partner, and UK music industry icon Richard Antwi, who sadly passed away earlier this year. Richard was responsible for helping establish the musical career of a number of British artists including Lethal Bizzle, Wretch 32 and Tinie Tempah.

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Closing the night off was Artist Of The Year winner Giggs, who ran through a crazy set of old and new tracks. As he performed his latest single ‘Whippin Excursion’, the stage was invaded by fellow artists, including Kano, Skepta, Ghetts and GRM Daily’s Posty.

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GRM Daily founder and CEO, Posty presented the final award of the night – arguably the biggest one – the GRM Legacy award, which highlights the achievements and influence within the British urban scene. The prestigious award went to DJ & presenter Tim Westwood, who throughout his career has championed the British urban music scene. Westwood is one of the most recognised urban UK DJ’s of the decade. He is regarded as the most influential figure in hip hop in Europe and as a pioneer of the UK scene.

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Over the last three years KA Drinks has been helping to empower and elevate grime culture in the UK. From working with artists such as Ghetts, Lady Leshurr and Paigey Cakey in 2012, to supporting up-and-coming artists in their yearly ‘Get Rated’ competition. As co-founder of the Rated Awards KA has helped create a platform to celebrate the best of urban music, and is building a brand that will help to inspire the next generation of grime talent.

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2016 has been another groundbreaking year for the British urban music scene and The KA & GRM Daily Rated Awards are here to highlight and commend this year’s high achievers. This year’s awards were broadcast exclusively on GRM Daily and ratedawards.com and hosted by Capital XTRA presenter Manny Norte and 1Xtra presenter Yasmin Evans. This year marked the second Rated Awards and the first year at the iconic Roundhouse.
The 2016 KA & GRM Daily Rated Award Winners

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WINNERS

Best Breakthrough, In Association with Vevo AJ Tracey

Best Video Skepta – Man (Gang)

Best DJ Charlie Sloth

Producer Of The Year Rude Kid

Personality Of The Year Poet & Vuj

Best Mixtape 67- In Skengs We Trust

Best Track, In Association with BBC 1Xtra Abra Cadabra featuring Krept & Konan – Robbery Remix

Best Album Kano – Made In The Manor

Artist Of The Year Giggs

Get Rated Figure Flows

GRM Legacy Tim Westwood

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Performances

Mikil Pane – Dear Diary

Donae’o – My Circle

Big Tobz – Uno My Style

Mo Stack – Liar

Mist – Karlas Black

Fredo – They Aint 100

Abra Cadabra – Robbery

Ray BLK – My Hood

WSTRN – Best Friend

Craig David – Mashup

Craig David & Big Narstie – When The Bassline Drops

Big Narstie – BDL Skank

Ghetts/Rude Kid – Mashup

Giggs – Mashup / Whippin Excursion

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