Jasmine’s Juice Featuring Straight Outta Compton UK Premiere, Izzy Bizu at Soho House, BBC Indian Season.

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The highlight of my week was seeing the Straight Outta Compton premiere with my mate Kanya King at the picture house cinema in Piccadilly where loads of #TeamUK music stars were in attendance as well as the legend that is Ice Cube!

In the audience knocking back drinks in the VIP bar were Giggs who arrived with his music pal Lily Allen, Ella Eyre, DJ Manny Norte, broadcaster Reg Yates, music acts Wretch32, Kano, Dizzee Rascal and D Double E, Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo, pop strumpet and Simon Cowell’s pal Sinitta and Tim Westwood.


‎Broadcaster Trevor Nelson‎ introduced the cast members and Ice Cube who welcomed us heartily and said ‘’When NWA came out there was no social media to highlight all that was going on around the world. NWA put Compton on the map’’. Cube added ‘’’you’ll hear a lot of shit about who’s not in this movie and more but please focus on the story of the group. We had a lot of fun and shit talking during making it and hope you enjoy it’’.


Ice Cube’s son O’Shea Jackson junior played the roe of his father in the movie and thanked us for ‘’ everyone being here and participating in the digital media hashtags and more, you guys really helped this NWA movement stay alive for the future decades’.

Actor Jason Mitchelle who played the role of Eazy E said ‘’it’s been spectacular since we’ve been here! Thank you for your support. This man Ice Cube put a stamp on this movie and Compton and this has completely changed my life’’.


‎Watching the now legendary stories about Ruthless Records, hilarious comedy disses including one liners about breakdance film Beat street, the boo hiss evil white money man Jerry Heller, Priority Records, Suge Knight, memories of the FBI banning F*** The Police from being performed live, R&B act and Dre’s one time girl friend Michel’le and the now legendary Ice Cube VS NWA beef were gripping.


I can’t even put into words how emotional I felt after watching Straight Outta Compton. I feel like I was spun in a washing machine and afterwards was in is slow mo. My youth had just flashed before me.


In the nineties, after presenting THE WORD on Channel 4, I was OBSESSED with the Death Row story after I interviewed Snoop, Dre and the rest just after Eazy E died. I read every book about the era since then. But to see how some of those behind the scenes played out on film was mind blowing.

Everyone who grew up in that era is going to love this movie. (We laughed lots at the UK current music stars in the house who didn’t understand a lot of the old names and jokes….. Loved it.



It’s great when I see young Londoners doing well in cultural arts industries. I get even more excited when it’s a young lady. This fortnight new about to blow artist Izzy Bizu had a mini showcase of her music at the new Soho House location in Dean Street where a plethora of industry faces including PR teams, digital media bloggers and faces like eighties singer Andrew Roachford turned out to see the newbie and check out what she has to offer. The general consensus was wowee and we were left speechless. Izzy is a record labels marketing dream come true. She looks incredible, her voice is faultless and her performance presence onstage is powerful and akin to a singer that’s been on the scene decades already.

Signed to Epic Records and managed by music industry lady- Rachel Bee – (I love live), Izzy is visually akin to a young Whitney Houston when she first emerged; all skinny limbs, a fountain of honey corkscrew curls, an innocent teenage bambi-like aura and a voice that’s a remix of Nina Simone, Amy Winehouse and Erykah Badu.
Songs that stood out for me fro her Coolbeanz album included Diamonds and White Tiger. Izzy has a semblance that will have guys wanting her and women wanting to be her.


Next it was off to the fancy and slick media haunt, the Charlotte Street Hotel where I was kindly invited by Kim Shillinglaw (controller BBC2 and BBC4), to have an exclusive first look at their upcoming India Season. The evening showed off a major new season of programmes dedicated to one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world – India.

The screening was followed with a Q&A with the cast of Goodness Gracious Me so as you can imagine, on the whole it was a funny night. Goodness gracious me this time around is bloody hilarious! In my youth i found the content really awkward and cringey, but this series it looks really slick, fresh and modern! Also, this time around focused on Indians in India. The DELHI MAIL skits are really clever! So funny- great scriptwriting and performances!

My colleague wasnt a huge fan of the gags around Ghandi, ( a little tasteless in her opinion, but i think Ghandhi wouldve loved it, he had a great sense of humour and the Indian communities has always been good at laughing at itself so maybe ok). Throughout the screening, there were lots of funny gags and humour and it looks like an interesting Indian season. It highlights the usual hustle and bustle of the country,and its train network which foreign TV programmes clearly cant get enough of, but it’s still all insightful nonetheless.I loved the WORLDS BUSIEST RAILWAY – it was beautifully planning, scripted and shot, a really great but of TV! The cast and all involved in the season are clearly all a happy, hardworking, very welcoming bunch.

Jasmine’s Juice. BBC Newsnight’s Constant Agenda Disprecting Black Popular Culture.

Last Friday at 5pm I got a call from a producer at Newsnight called Max Deveson who wanted to know if I’d be interested in coming on that same night to talk about the legacy of NWA as their biopic Straight Outta Compton is released here this coming week. He seemed like a pleasant enough chap with the usual pre-prep researcher style questions, yet clearly the agenda was to be an apologist for NWA and Dr Dre, and focus on the groups misogyny and Dre’s violence towards women in his past.

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Not that I’m not flattered to be asked, but it always feel strange when the BBC’s own very able music specials from this era, like Trevor Nelson, are more than capable of speaking eloquently, articulately and intelligently in this area. The BBC have the biggest newsroom in Europe…but not one TV researcher that could find a decent speaker to represent black pop culture (which BTW is now the current generations main pop culture) within its own walls.

After arranging time of arrival at NBH around 6pm, I then received a text from ’Paul at Newsnight’’ at 8pm, apologizing for the late change in plans, but they wouldn’t be needing me any more. Intrigued and knowing they’d clearly found someone stronger than me to speak on NWA’s affect on the eighties generation and their legacy, I was keen to watch later that night.

I watched a tragic, all too familiar car crash. Remember when Obama won the presidency and they got rapper Dizzee Rascal to give a political opinion and that bombed? Yes, it was the similar, but worse.
They had asked two young people who weren’t even around when Straight Outta Compton was released and had clearly no articulate knowledge about the group’s legacy.

A north west Londoner – Lady Chann – did her best to reply to the pretty basic questions, but alas ending up telling the nation that no black people were killed on UK soil and that it was an American thing, as well as the fact that she wasn’t a bitch and a hoe but there were bitches and hoes out there. Feminist twitter, black people, white rap fans and more all insulted in one cringingly shocking segment.

Her male pundit ‘Jay from Rap City’ wasn’t as offensive but equally as uninformed on the whole topic. Frankly the American writer Zac Cheney-Rice, via skype was the only one making any sense at all.

NWA’s impact reaches way beyond this Newsnight farce. NWA gave a really important, defining voice to a generation. Misogyny was around in all cultures in the 70s and 80s…Dre was a product of his environment and a time. None of this is unique to NWA, hip-hop or America. Clearly, F*** the police is as relevant today as it was over 20years ago, if we look at the horrific experiences coming from places like Baltimore and Charleston this year. #BlackLivesMatter!

Regards constantly dredging up Dre’s behavior at around the age of 20, haven’t many people around the age of 20 have done things they’re not proud of?
I find it culturally interesting considering what’s going on in historic sex abuse cases in the bastions of British politics, that we refuse to allow a young black man from an impoverished background a second chance after his mistakes over two decades ago.

Haven’t we seen in recent years seen that our own British politicians and key gatekeepers in society have ugly, horrific secrets that are only just surfacing now? Don’t we often forgive our hero’s for anti-Semitism (John Galliano), sexism (Tim Hunt) and homophobia (Mel Gibson/ Donald Trump)? Why isn’t a young black man in the 80s in L.A allowed the same privilege? The elephant in the room just sat on the black square.


DRE has recently acknowledged that he’s made some horrible mistakes in his life, that he was young and stupid and that he deeply regrets his actions back then. Isn’t that enough? Do we not believe in chances to move on? Aren’t we a society that says we believe in rehabilitation?

To be young and black in the USA in 1988 you were surrounded by negativity. You had bad education, bad jobs, bad housing, drugs, and violence and then multiply that tenfold to get a snapshot of life in Compton. It’s not much different today.

Most social workers will tell you that abusers abuse. How then do you think your average black man is going to behave after being verbally and physically abused by police all his life?

Also, are we aligning violence against women to an art form and the rap genre? Rap isn’t the only music genre that has demeaned women…Duran Duran, Rolling Stones, Led Zeplin and more. Why aren’t they ever in the dock when they have come back tours? What about Hollywood and the casting couch- doesn’t that demean women?

When it comes to their misogynistic language, I never felt that Dre and his peers were talking about me.I just thought someone, somewhere had pissed him off. I knew who I was and so do other young music lovers that are female, we need to give young people more credit.
Musicians aren’t here to bring up our kids – that’s the parents and family’s jobs. Musicians have always existed to give us an outlet for escapism. Did you for example have acts like the Prodigy calling to be banned years later after ‘smack my bitch up’?

I find it hilarious that hip hop culture is still presented as some sort of new danger to our children. These guys are in their 50s. Do we blame The Prodigy for problems with today’s white kids? What about films like the Avengers or Superman where a mostly white cast illegally use incredible vigilante style violence to solve all their problems and are regarded as heroes? It’s embarrassing Newsnight still approach it in this way when the BBC have otherwise excellent music resources.

Many lazy news teams this fortnight have stuck to their agenda that NWA are the anti-Christ because they called women bitches and hoes. I’m not a huge fan of men demeaning women, but now even women are taking possession of this slanguage and its taking on a life of its own…(E.G Rihhana BBHMM, Madonna – Bitch I’m Madonna). So is it now universally sanctioned, or has it taken its sting out of its tale since the NWA days, and if so, why are we still holding NWA 100% responsible?

We can’t negate that those things happened, there’s still a massive amount of misogyny and sexism everywhere, every community has its issues and extreme’s, it’s not confined to Dre/NWA/rap music/. The BBC’s very own former female BBC presenters will also tell you that, but the world is moving on and we need to move on positively together.

Ice Cube recently told Sunday times culture writer Jonathan Dean he wanted to make the film “so people understand why we wrote the lyrics we did”. Cube said “this film is always going to be timely as situation between the police and black people is always contentious. When we did FTP people didn’t have cameras and thought we were being anti-inflammatory. Then they saw Rodney King’s beating on tape. And now it’s nearly daily’’. Cube educated as he declared that once upon a time “conscious rap was purposely pulled out of media outlets for escapism rap and all that Bull Shit”.

Some say that NWA were a black Sex Pistols. Anti-establishment, honest and angry. Where ever in the world you’re from, most youth feel oppressed by adults. It transcends race and gender.

In an era where successful films that cast black actors, but are labeled ‘’black films’’, like Beyond the Lights, are still not given UK release dates, we need the political stance of angry rappers like NWA more than ever.
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Some detractors have called for us to boycott Dr Dre. Imagine. So is this now about censorship? What you can’t take away is Dr Dre’s influence not just on black music culture but global culture.
The BBC Newsnight segment showed how bad its research team are. Afterwards, twitter was blowing up condemming the BBC for such a terrible piece of TV production. Would they have the same level of pundits if say, they were making a feature about the historical biopic about The Smiths, or even the Spice Girls?
No. And that’s the difference between respectful content, knowledgeable staff and viewers who have given up.

The current campaign by the BBC PR team to ‘’Love it or lose it’ is hilarious.
We stopped loving it ages ago. We have already lost it.


Dear BBC
I wish I were writing you this letter for other reasons, but I just can’t continue our relationship feeling the way I feel right now.

We’ve been together for three decades but the time has come for us to go our separate ways. Lately it has gotten to be too much for me, especially when I realize that nothing will ever change.
When I was a child, you helped bring me up after school when mum was still at work and I had to let myself in. I still recall how much I loved you and made a date with you nightly after school and college.
Whenever I visited my relations in Kenya, India and the USA I’d be proud that my family would religiously tune in to you daily for the ‘’real world news’’. I loved that you stood for values and I championed you dearly with pride for many years. However now my once deep passion has fizzled out. Its over, and alas its you, not me.

When we were first together, I thought everything was going really well. We had good and bad, but mostly good. I loved CBeebies, but hated The Lenny Henry show with its awful awkward buffoonery and tired jokes. It was my earliest realisation that you were great at representing my ballet-school mates values and points of view, but never my communities in Harlesden or Southall.

You made it up slightly when you gave me Desmonds, which was truly representative of talent and topics of its era, and even won awards like BAFTAS. Then you messed up and horrified many of us when you gave me content like Babyfather and The Crouches. Remember when New Nation newspaper editor Michael Eboda told you that you were patronising to blacks back then? And still you continue.

In recent years, since my eyes have been opened to fresher broadcasters like Channel 4 and BET, I’ve realized how incompatible we are. I invited friends over to come hang out with you for the recent Javone Prince Show debut, and you made things really awkward. I knew you were uncomfortable with young, black programming, but you weren’t even trying to be friendly, and you didn’t even make an effort to get to know them or talk to them about what young people are really like and enjoy. There are loads of British young black comics out there that have deserved a slot on the BBC but you really messed it up with this idea.

I also have to be honest. Since hanging out with new friends, including your brother Radio1Xtra, I’ve realized that my feelings have started growing for one of them. I tried to deny it and tried to make things work with you, but the more I tried, the more I realized we just aren’t right for each other. The last thing I would want to do is hurt you by cheating on you or lying to you.

So much has happened between me and this other love; like the amazing Grime Symphony show at Royal Albert Hall which you didn’t even deem big enough to give a TV platform to, hence half the seats were empty and real fans- millions across the UK- missed out due to poor PR and marketing. I’m also worried that if things continue with you the way they are, my feelings will continue to get stronger for others and I’ll start resenting our relationship. I don’t want that, because I think you can make someone else really happy, preferably those you mostly cater to from the Home Counties.

The Daily Mail reading 60+ Home Counties audience are a lost cause. Luckily BBC Radio1Xtra’s DJ’S broadcast to their children who are infinitely more educated on the realities of our culture than they ever will be. So much so, these days they share it, represent it and are part of it more than they ever have been.

You should be with someone who enjoys doing the things you like to do (someone over 50 with antiquated, slightly racist, ignorant views), and who can appreciate you for who you are (tired, offensive and boring). You can often be offensive and clearly have an agenda when it comes to black pop culture.

If there were any saving our relationship I may have considered counseling, but after last weeks Newsnight disaster, where you brought a generation to its knees with your awfully poor attempt at a feature about Straight Outta Compton and NWA, I realize there’s no saving us. We are done.

I wish you well. Perhaps you could stop taking money in license fee’s from those of us that you do not cater to with information, education, entertainment or respect?
Think about it. Let me know. If you can be bothered.

JASMINE’S JUICE – BBC RADIO 1XTRA’S #GRIMESYMPHONY, A NEW GRIME WIN! (A personal memory of the genre and it’s journey)

How grime affected the planet. #GrimeSymphony

Much has been made about the idea that this really looks to be the year remembered for grime music going global.

My first recollections of the grime scene are around 18 years ago, in 1997, when acts like Wiley used to jump on the mic mc’ing on jungle tracks, on pirate radio. He then set up a music click called Pay as U Go Cartel. A few years later in 2001, Pay as U Go released a single called Champagne Dance that had the capitals urban nightclubs jumping. At the same time, I heard a lot of street buzz about a garage music, 20-strong crew from south London who my friend managed, who went by the name So Solid Crew and had a track called ‘Oh No’.
so solid

So Solid and Wiley seemed to be in a race to make it big back then. My peers were always asking each other about the acts latest mix tapes and live shows. Wiley even went so far as to set up another group called Roll Deep (which included Dizee Rascal), and called their sound EskiBeat, and in 2002 there was mass frenzy at his HUGE music event Eskimo Dance (look it up!).

After this more and more local enthusiastic music makers formed crews, posses, cliques- call them what you will. Some rolled as groups or duo’s like More Fire Crew and Kray Twinz, others fragmented off into solo stars like Lethal B and Kano, and more recently Giggs, Stormzy, Jammer, Skepta, JME, P Money, Ghetts, Krept & Konan and more, which left fans back then, and now, constantly debating whether they were hip-hop or grime. Frankly many acts made tracks that were both. Who cares?

Even the ladies wanted a part of the action and suddenly names like Ms Dynamite, Shystie, Estelle and more were killing it on the scene too.



A funny moment for me was in 2006, when I heard that Jay Z had tried to jump on the bandwagon and signed lil Lady Sovereign to Roc-A-Fella Records. I laughed when I interviewed her at MTV at the time, but her single Love Me or Hate Me became the first video by a British artist, to reach number one on MTV’s Total Request Live!

By now, media brands were catching on, that this underground to over ground radio buzz, was taking over parties and young minds and ears like the hip-hop monster over two decades ago. So it was no surprise that whole radio and TV brands were launching off the back of this sound of inner city London.
The BBC launched Radio 1Xtra in 2002.
Channel U
(now known as Channel AKA) were the TV version that arrived hot on their heels in 2003.

MTV Base which had mostly been seen to be championing American black music until now, sat up and took a lot more notice and aired a TV series based around grime music alongside Channel 4 called Dubplate Drama in 2005.

Not only were TV and radio affected, but also nightclubs and parties were blasting this new infectious sound and live shows were popping up all across the UK. That is, until the frenzy seemed to not sit well with the police, who launched a new enemy to black British music; the 696 form, which they said was created in 2006 to target violence at music events. This put a huge strain on the scene and often led to grime and hip-hop events being cancelled for no given official reason.

The live journey may have been slowed down, but the musicians still had loyal fan bases and were continuing to release mix tapes and albums galore. Wiley with Playtime Is Over, Dizzee Rascal with his second album, Maths and English were just a couple in a sea of unstoppable talent.

A while after this, a collective of underground MCs known as the movement come together after failing to get radio play in 2007. The MCs included Wretch 32, Devlin, Mercston, Scorcher and Ghetts.


At the same time key influencers who worked in the London based music industries and related brands, from the worlds of sportswear, film, record labels, artists and more came together to help push this scene on the down low. They used inclusive, unifying campaigns like #TeamUK on social media and pushed these acts mercilessly. This meant strategically placing acts that were ready to blow on their wider audiences radars simultaneously. For example if the act had huge street buzz but was just not getting mainstream commercial support, this group would help place their music on TV and radio playlists, write features in newspapers and magazines, use the act on sports campaigns, feature the acts music on film soundtracks and more.

As predicted, the mainstream love to jump on buzz if it’s loud enough and saturating media, and within months this new underground set up was working. Suddenly names like Tinchy Stryder, Estelle, Bashy, Chipmunk and more were charting. And charting high with number ones!

Newcomers from the next generation would arrive soon with Jamal Edwards setting up SBTV online and being held up as the ‘’positive black male poster boy’’. Pirate station favourite Rinse FM even won a legal licence in 2010.

It was clear that the UK grime and hiphop genre had spread its tentacles across the UK, with the MOBO’s now being dominated by British names like Dizzee, Sway and Stormy.

It was gaining international momentum too with names like Giggs and Wretch 32 winning the best international act at the BET awards, and names like Sniper gaining hits and fans all across Cyprus via the Ayia Napa summer circuit.
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This year has had some big moments with international link ups too. Everyone had an opinion on Kanye West bringing out a stage full of grime MCs at the Brit Awards and Wireless saw Drake bring out Skepta during his headline performance, but they weren’t first.

I remember being excited as hell in 2011 when Puffy threw a party in London where he brought onstage acts like Tinchy Styder, Chipmunk, Wretch and Skepta (who stated onstage that him and P Diddy hooking up was the best thing that ever happened in grime full stop’’. LOL. (look it up on YouYube)

This week, London’s Royal Albert Hall was full of grime and hip-hop fans of the current generation, who had gathered to watch the current heroes of the scene, perform their biggest hits, accompanied by Jules Buckley and his Metropole Orkest. The show was very powerful with a line-up that seemed to be the golden era of grime coming of age put together by BBC Radio 1Xtra.

This years main man, Thornton Heath’s Stormzy, kicked off proceedings with current teen anthem ‘’where do you know me from’’.

He was followed by our host for the night – Tottenham’s Wretch32 – who was rocking a Rolling Stones look to perform his hit ‘6 words’.

Holding the side up for the ladies was Islington’s Lil Simz rapping ‘’wings’’ and yelling the F word! Simz has been creating a big buzz for herself after last years Late At The Tate art-in-motion showcases. Another recent anthem has been Fekky’s ‘way too much’ which was next on the bill and had replaced Skepta’s appearance for resaons unknown.

Wretch then returned for brand new track a love song titled ‘Something’, which was followed by South London’s popular duo Krept & Konan, who repped Croydon massive by killing it with their smashes ‘’Freak of the week’ and ‘Don’t waste my time’ for which the energy levels in the audience went up ten-fold.

Then Wretch returned for his classic hit ‘’Don’t go’’ accompanied by nineties star Shola Ama taking over Josh Kumra’s part on the hook.

After this was one of my highlights of the night; Chip, Kano and Wretch doing a track together and looking like a rock band that performed as a trio full time. The spectacle and excitement reached a crescendo level!

Next, taking the vibe up uber levels was Lethal B, who performed his all time classic ‘Pow’ (which he made first in 2004 with great MC’s from that era, and then again in 2011 with more recent grime stars). I remember filming a Jay Z tour diary in Europe a decade ago and feeling chuffed night after night, as Jay performed his own version on stages across the continent. The #TeamUk pride was on high levels even back then! Lethal B has a plethora of hits so held the stage for some time!

The merging of the classical orchestra and London’s finest grime talent, was a perfect union with Wretch and Chip eventually actually adorning the orchestras leader Jules Buckley with their gold chains. (The biggest accolade one musician in the hip-hop world can give another). In my opinion, after his collaborations with Goldie and others, Jules is the Jigga of the classical world.

The final bow, line up of unity, was emotional for this west London lass and her mates that have seen championing the scene for over two decades. The baton was handed over a long time ago and its clearly in safe hands.
Congratulations to Austin Daboh , Mista Jam and their BBC Radio 1Xtra team for an immense vision, and bringing diverse young audiences to a heritage site that they may not have felt catered for their tastes in the past. BBC Radio 1Xtra – a brand that I think could lead in helping its sister TV brand in how to make effortless, authentic, youth programming.

Jasmine’s Juice – Bend It Like Beckham With Preeya Kalidas!

So Bend it like Beckham is the feel-good new modern British musical which has been doing really well in London’s West end this past few weeks, with its now familiar story of a two sisters (Jess and Pinky), living in a family in Southall Broadway, the buzzing hubbub of Asian families socializing, shopping and gossiping about each other, all set amongst the backdrop of Asian store brands like Royal Sweets, Sagoos, Madhus. Southall Discount Tyres and more.
Photo Copyright – Ellie Kurtz.

Jess needs extra time. She is facing the most important decision of her life: live up to family expectations of university, career and marriage, or follow in the footsteps of her hero David Beckham. When the talented teenager is spotted playing football in Southall, a world of unexpected opportunities opens up before her. But as her sister Pinky’s traditional Indian wedding approaches, can she keep her family happy and still follow her dreams?

Photo Copyright – Ellie Kurtz.

Jokes about Asian females hairy lip lines, whole houses ablaze with twinkling fairy lights for weddings, passions for mani-pedi, facials and boyfriends reign…unless you are young Jess who adores the sport of football and alongside her footie best pal Jules, has to lie to her family in order to join in with the local Hounslow Harriers ladies football club.

It’s a perfect musical for all the family, especially if you love football; like the footie version of Westside story but with big song and dance musical numbers sung in an Indian accent, like the infectious “girl perfect”. The live band on the balcony juxtaposed with the catchy songs sprinkled throughout will have you bopping in your seats all night.

Photo Copyright – Hector Perez .

Most impressive is the massive powerhouse voice hiding inside the petite body of actress and singer Preeya Kalidas, who often stole the show as she belted out songs and danced up a storm.

‎In amongst all the Indian clichés, issues and jokes about fair skin vs darker skin ‘’look how dark you’ve become’’, Indian mothers emphasis on teaching their daughters to cook and ‘’not being seen outdoors with any old man’’, were more touching, deeply sensitive issues about the generations born abroad and born here just not understanding each other. ‎There were even nods to indigenous white families not understanding each other’s lives, ambitions and values anymore. It was particularly poignant watching and relating to the struggle between young peoples dreams and their ‘duty’.

Photo Copyright – Ellie Kurtz.

After the show, I caught up with Preeya in her dressing room for a chat, and asked her how she thinks Indian themed musicals making more of their mark on the west end stage have faired recently?

Preeya; (the fact that they’re) Indian themed musicals, is what sets them apart from any other show, and makes for an interesting cultural fusion, particularly musically, which audiences seem to really love and enjoy.
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Jasmine; You played a different role in the film/ musical- tell us about that?
Preeya; I played the role of Monica, the cousin of football mad Jess. Monica is your typical Asian west London type who actually wants to be Pinky, Jess’s sister, the role of which I am playing now.

Jasmine; BILB is based in Southall – it’s managed to stay respectful and funny instead of offensive and stereotypical- was that important to you all?
Preeya; Absolutely. I strive to be part of projects that represent our community in a positive light and not to focus on the one-dimensional aspect. Bend it like Beckham has all the right ingredients that audiences can relate like cultural conflicts of generations portrayed in a realistic manner that will make you laugh, but also make you recognise the experiences.

Jasmine; Tell us about your role-playing Pinky- and explain the nickname Pinky to those unfamiliar with Asian culture?
Preeya; Pinky is the complete opposite of tomboy Jess who dreams of playing football, whereas Pinky dreams of getting married and having the perfect family setup. She is a fun loving energetic, juicy couture wearing, typical Southall girl. Her name Pinky is actually a typical Panjabi name meaning Most Beautiful; Pink Coloured; Sweet; but having also discussed this with Gurinder Chadha – our director – her real name is probably something like Paramdeep, but its typical to have such names shortened …and also the fact that she loves wearing pink!

Jasmine; Even though you don’t play the main lead role, you’ve managed to steal the limelight in the musical, how have you managed to shine – but not too much?
Preeya; Ah thank you for your kind words! I have had a wonderful time re creating the character for the musical and Pinky is a great character to play, I just thoroughly enjoy myself on stage and its refreshing for me to get the opportunity to do comedy, sing, dance and act all in one production!

Jasmine; What kind of statement do you think the success of this musical has had on the west end and on an Asian cast?
Preeya; The last successful west end musical with a British Asian cast was AR Rahman’s Bombay Dreams, produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, which I had the wonderful opportunity to play the lead in. It was groundbreaking and of its time for many reasons; one being the fact it represented the Asian community and gave us a voice. Bend it like Beckham is now doing the same thing but representitive of the British Asian community (Bombay dreams was set in India).
TV, Film and Stage are fantastic outlets to change perceptions of ethnic communities and it is important that there are more opportunities for this to happen. Gurinder Chadha is a real pioneer of representing the Asian community to a mainstream audience. She lets them into a world that they may not know but in actual fact will find that they can completely relate. I suppose that’s why Bend it Like Beckham is so special, for that reason.

Jasmine; How difficult is it securing roles that aren’t focused around your ethnicity and how engaged do you get in all the industry ‘diversity’ conversations?
Preeya; I have been lucky in that I have played roles that aren’t specific in ethnicity, there are certain casting directors and producers who are open minded and will focus on talent, which is fantastic, but there is still a long way to go. I also love playing roles that represent my community, as long as they are interesting stories and not one-dimensional characters. I engage in ‘diversity” conversations with my peers as there is a lot of frustrated talent out there. We can talk as much as we want, but action would be more conducive, I say lets get writing and tell the stories we want to tell!

Jasmine; What’s your biggest challenge as ‘Preeya Kalidas’ in the showbiz world?
Preeya; I think anyone that steps foot into this industry will face a number of challenges. Being put in a box is a big problem in the entertainment biz, but for me I strive to stay out of the box, which is why I have managed to have a diverse career in film, TV and stage.

Jasmine; What one thing do you want people to know that might surprise them about you?
Preeya; I cook???!!! Tasty meals…ha!

Jasmine; You’ve always juggled both acting and music equally – tell us about that journey now in 2015? How easy / difficult is it? Is this genre your perfect career fit?
Preeya; It’s down to you to keep pushing and find people who believe in what you do and can do, that’s the task. It’s a perfect fit for now but who knows what the future holds.

Jasmine; Any other separate music and acting updates we can expect from you in the future?
Preeya; There is always something Kooking in the Kalidas world, I am on a constant creative journey. Follow me on twitter and you can keep up to date @PREEYAKALIDAS ;)
(OMG she’s gone all K K K K Kardashian!).

Photo Copyright – Ellie Kurtz.

Bend It Like Beckham is a celebratory fusion of culture, music, emotions and fun, bursting with warmth, humour and heart and is at the Phoenix Theatre in London. Bookings from now until October.

Jasmine’s Juice- Exclusive Interview with Drum ‘n’ Bass Legend Goldie – (Everything He Touches Is Timeless and Turns to Gold!)

I’ve known Clifford Joseph Price, aka Goldie, since the eighties, when one of my best friends used to date him. It was around the time that he was selling gold teeth in the UK and USA, and generally hustling hard.

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ALL PHOTO’S COPYRIGHT: Chelone Wolf . www.chelonewolf.co.uk.

He was always the lovable scallywag. Flitting from the UK to the USA, dabbling in loads of pop culture arts like breakdancing (when he had a head full of ‘’goldielocks’’) and graffiti, dj’ing, making music and more questionable tomfoolery. He’s always had a healthy interest and submersed himself into it all, from holding an exhibition of his own painted artwork a few years ago to dating bad ass women with attitude like Bjork and acting in Guy Ritchie’s Snatch, Eastenders and even playing a baddie in a James Bond movie!

A truly multi-gifted, sometimes troubled, but now most definitely a wiser grown up adult, who enjoys his family, yoga and sushi. The change I’ve witnessed in him across three decades has been panoramic and inspiring.

This week at London’s Royal Festival Hall, the drum and bass icon’s seminal album Timeless, was performed live by the Heritage Orchestra. Godie, in typical lastmin.com fashion called me on the morning of his gig and declared that I must come. On arrival outside the RFH all you could see was a sea of middle aged, trainer-clad, old-skool jungle ravers, all excited about the night. The original eighties children that were a part of the generation that grew up to pop, rock, indie, dance, hip-hop, R&B, dub step, jungle and more. ‘‘The best decade to be born into if you loved music’’ reminisced many people chatting on the night.

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ALL PHOTO’S COPYRIGHT: Chelone Wolf . www.chelonewolf.co.uk.

Named by The Guardian as one of the fifty most significant events in the history of dance music, Timeless is a truly landmark album and to hear it brought to life in the Royal Festival Hall was a once in a lifetime moment for drum and bass fans. Way back in 1995 NME in its Albums of the Year feature said Timeless was ‘…an astonishing… symphony of whizzing breakbeats, fluid soundscapes and mind-warping moodswings…’

Picking up my tickets from the box office i noted Goldie had arranged a box for my friends and I. Before we could even jump up and down in excitement a roar of ”Jasmine!” thundered behind us as Goldie greeted us in his OTT dynamic manner musch to a very packed foyers amusement.

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Returning after a sell-out show at James Lavelle’s Meltdown last year, Goldie was back (after his own personal adventures in Thailand), to introduce The Heritage Orchestra, who performed his most celebrated album, live. Conducted by Jules Buckley, Goldie and the Heritage Orchestra had expanded and reworked the tracks for full orchestra, band, choir, electronics, and guest vocalists and the final result was mind-blowing!

Seeing the album translated from vinyl to 3D orchestra was magical. Jules lead the conducting onstage whilst Goldie leapt about from the stage to the audience like a mad music scientist.

The Timeless album originally fused the breakbeats and basslines common in jungle, with orchestral textures and soul vocals by Diana Charlegmagne. The album’s title track was a 21-minute symphonic piece. Timeless also helped popularise drum and bass as a form of musical expression. The song “Inner City Life” was probably it’s biggest commercial hit in the UK charts at the time.

Years ago it was the Bluenote club that jungle music fans packed, tonight it was the revered Royal Festival Hall, usually a place for more sedate, demur audiences. I am certain this building had never seen thousands of middle aged ravers, jumping around for two solid hours in the stalls, circle, aisles and royal boxes in this crazed manner.

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ALL PHOTO’S COPYRIGHT: Chelone Wolf . www.chelonewolf.co.uk.

The hall was packed with an audience cheering screaming from the start of the first notes of the album played by the orchestra. There were line-ups of singers, strings, horns and percussion onstage and the atmosphere was electric with anticipation.

There was a nice slow build up with smooth strings for Sea Of Tears, before the drummer (Adam Betts), manically burst into drum and bass beats, which he continued to beat like a man possessed for the next two hours! Actually, the drummer astounded us. If you imagine a whole album made up of drumming, even with this 50-piece orchestra it was this lone, sweat-soaked drummer that was punching well above his weight. He must’ve been knackered and lost at least stone right there on stage, with his frenzy of beating those skins solidly for so long.

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ALL PHOTO’S COPYRIGHT: Chelone Wolf . www.chelonewolf.co.uk.

As well as the drummer, the pianist was letting loose too, one moment as if he were in a rave dancing frenzy, and then the next minute he would suddenly be sat upright and composed, ready to play his section. The orchestra couldn’t stay still either and were bouncing throughout; and even conductor Jules was hopping about the beats were so infectious. Just. So. Cool. Highlight tracks for me included ‘Saint Angel’, ‘A Sense of Rage’, ‘Angel’ and ‘State of Mind’.

Goldie spoke to us a couple of tracks into the set

‘’two decades ago I wanted to create something timeless,… All my experiences were put into this project. I had a misspent youth so with this new project I put all of that into something new… We are a family, UK culture, UK jungle music (mass screams and cheers), We were on the cusp of the analogue and digital change which is all being celebrated now…. Now it’s the rebirth for me from flat sheet music to 3D music orchestra! …An old man in New York once said to me ‘’don’t wish too hard kid, it might come true’ and it has!’’

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ALL PHOTO’S COPYRIGHT: Chelone Wolf . www.chelonewolf.co.uk.

It was all fascinating art in motion. The laser lights were choreographed to dance with the music, and the audience was bouncing as the lasers swam across them. Audience members were leaping in their seats in the stalls, boxes and circle balcony. ‎

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ALL PHOTO’S COPYRIGHT: Chelone Wolf . www.chelonewolf.co.uk.

As Pied Piper Goldie led the dance and passed by audience members and musicians, they’d all whip into an even more intense frenzy! What an incredible feeling to see and hear the work that you made two decades ago, resurrected like a great phoenix from the flames, in front of its original fan base.
The nights were produced by Goldie, Chris Wheeler and Southbank Centre and the arrangements were by Matt Calvert, Jules Buckley, Tom Trapp, Ben Cottrell, Matt Dunkley and Simon Whiteside.

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ALL PHOTO’S COPYRIGHT: Chelone Wolf . www.chelonewolf.co.uk.

‎Afterwards I caught up with Goldie backstage where he told me the concept of these 20year shows and how it all came about logistically.

Goldie; Knowing how far ahead the concept of the music and album was, I always wanted this project to be seen in this light, so the concept was always there- I want to stretch the boundaries of what you can do with drum n bass, so we move the music forward, creatively not commercially. The logistics are really a lot of back n forth with the Heritage orchestra in coming up with the tracks in notated and playable form.

Jasmine – What sparked your passion for orchestras in recent years?
Goldie; I’ve always been a fan of classical music and I really like a challenge so when I see a new area to expand into I go head first into it

Jasmine – Jules Buckley’s a bit of a classics star himself. Tell me about working with him.
Goldie; He is a genius to work with, as is Chris Wheeler, the fact that they can interpret the music which is so dense takes a lot- the project would not have happened without them.

Jasmine - How much more can you milk your art from two decades ago? Any new concepts on the horizon?
Goldie; Well, the live project is a completely new interpretation of the album. So we’re showing it in a new light, we’re expanding it. In the back of my mind I always knew it could be played in this way but technology and belief needed to catch up with the concept.

Jasmine - Talk about that fan base that was dancing in a frenzy. What kind of feedback have you had from them.
Goldie; It’s been overwhelming, the replies via social media and everyone coming up to me at the shows has been amazing. I don’t think the Southbank has seen reaction within its walls like that before. The emotion and the power of the sound really caught people. It was great to see.

Jasmine – How has the character Goldie changed from his place in the world from 20 years ago?
Goldie; I’m a lot more focused and I have a better understanding of myself. I’m still fighting for what I believe in but I’m also much more intelligent about how I go about this fight to achieve the best results. The love of my family coupled with Bikram yoga has lead to an inner calm that has created this focus, the life of an artist will always be a troubled one but there are things you can do to make your passage slightly smoother.

Being put up for adoption and being raised in a variety of childcare homes and foster parents hasn’t held this over achiever back. He cites his own biggest achievement in life so far as

‘’ Being voted by the public into the Top 60 of the ‘New Elizabethans’; the most influential leading figures in HM Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, with people including David Attenborough, Margaret Thatcher and Sir Edmund Hillary. Also, my degrees and honours; an honorary degree with Brunel University; a Doctor of Social Sciences at Brunel, West London / a Doctor of Design Degree from the University of Wolverhampton as well as being a professor at Thames Valley University!’’.

Tonight’s iconic performance of urban meets classical music is just another string to his very over flowing bow.

Jasmine’s Juice – Jill Scott’s 5th Album ”Woman”, A Track-By-Track Breakdown.

JILL SCOTT ‘’Woman’’ album review.

Jasmine with Jill Scott.

This week see’s the release of Grammy award-winner Jill Scotts 5th studio album Woman, and luckily, I was given a sneak peek listening link weeks ahead of release, and am relieved to announce; she’s back with a vengeance!

I was such a devotee of her first album Who Is Jill Scott, which was filled with classic R&B anthems, that I even named my iPod after her!
Like many artists on their sophomore album, she decided to go from being my best female audio friend, to all-experimental on us.
On her second outing Beautifully Human, there was a lil too much shrieky cray cray for moi. After that I lost sight of her next two releases, until last month when her new record label sent me her new music.

My perfect Jill Scott has always been heavenly sounds that I can rely on for dinner parties, relaxed drives and romance. Approaching the 15-year anniversary of her first studio album, Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1, I am really happy to hear her latest release is that beautiful, melodic, silky bird-like voice back to its finest with catchy, memorable hooks. Like her debut outing, this too has hooks that fans will learn and sing with slick, eyebrow raising attitude. All the production is head-bouncing, high-level, audio gold.

Jill Scott’s 5th studio album is an empowering ode to women titled WOMAN.

Woman kicks off with the call out to us all to be awakened and listen to WILD COOKIE.

PREPARED is a sexy reminiscent ode to a new awakening. A beautiful rich anthem for ladies looking for that soul mate its chorus has you chanting along cult like. Like artists like Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and India Irie, Jill has always made the ladies feel empowered and men are always judged as those who understand these ladies will always choose strong, intelligent women for partners. BTW CRUSIIN is my joint on this album, just easy, laid back vibes that spoke to my heart. No explanation necessary, just listen.

RUN RUN RUN is a faster paced Motown meets the sixties vibe. A juxtaposition of all the fun you had to Beyonce’s Work it out meets Outkast’s Ms Jackson.

You’ll want to two-step with your other half to CAN’T WAIT, which is a lovers rock style lullaby.

Describing Woman as “classic Philly soul meets country rhythm served with captivating storytelling,” Jill executively produced the album in collaboration with long-time creative colleague Andre Harris (behind her hits ‘A Long Walk’ and ‘The Way’) and songwriter/producer Aaron Pearce. That’s probably why on new track LIGHTHOUSE; it starts with a sound reminiscent of her classic anthem A LONG WALK…

The albums lead single is titled FOOLS GOLD, and with no pretence or hiding, likens a sour relationship and an unworthy lover to Fools Gold. Audiences will already be familiar with this by the time the album is released on July 24th.

There are two ‘’interludes’’ on this album starting with the WILLING INTERLUDE and then later PAUSE INTERLUDE (which sounds very Laura Mvula) . I’m not a fan of ‘’interludes’. If you got something to say, say it in a full thought out song. An interlude is like social media subliminal tweets. Say it in full or don’t say it at all. #JusSayin

CLOSURE as you can imagine is an upfront, in your face, angry, I’m kicking you to the kerb’ flick of the hand, laudation to a dumped, cheating lover.

Jill really shows off her pipes in a big ballad vocal vehicle on YOU DON’T KNOW, a slow, country gospel meets R&B soul vintage big number.

SAY THANK YOU reminds me of a disturbing Pulp Fiction film soundtrack song. A Wild West female gun-slinging boss! (Pronounce it ‘’baus’’ tho).

BACK TOGETHER takes Jill back to church where a sermon is being lead to take us on a high rolling journey of rebuilding and recovering.

COMING TO YOU a high impact feel good, belly-wrenching vocals from the gut evocative of the Shaft era. Jill says stuff like this ‘’ I’ve done a lot of fighting in my time, and I’m down to do some more. I don’t want to, but you know, there’s just certain things that you can’t sit down and take’’. And this; ‘’ When I got my success, I became decadent for a while. This was 2003 to 2008. I fell for tiramisu really hard. I’ve become more moderate since, because African-Americans are prone to diabetes’’. Love her for that.

Jahraymecofasola just needs to be enjoyed as if on an out of body space traveling experience.

Jill Scott’s music is like a soundtrack to our lives, good love, bad love, lost love, love regrets and everything in between. In explaining the formula for her prolific writing and ability to serve as the voice of many women, Jill says,

“I put myself in each woman’s place…and found that it became more about me, all of it, with the envy, the anger, the frustration, the loneliness, the joy, the passion and the rapture”.

BEAUTIFUL LOVE, a duet with BJ The Chicago Kid, is what it says on the tin, a track to make love to.

Jill is currently just underway in her solo headline tour taking in 25 American cities. This new album is the follow-up to her 201 The Light of the Sun, which debuted at No. 1 on the Top Billboard 200, and no doubt this one will start at the top too. It deserves to.
Welcome back Ms Scott.

Woman Tracklisting:

1. Wild Cookie
2. Prepared
3. Run Run Run
4. Can’t Wait
5. Lighthouse
6. Fool’s Gold
7. Willing (Interlude)
8. Closure
9. You Don’t Know
10. Pause (Interlude)
11. Cruisin
12. Say Thank You
13. Back Together
14. Coming To You
15. Jahraymecofasola
16. Beautiful Love (feat. BJ the Chicago Kid)

Jasmine’s Juice – Dave Chappelle’s Juke Joint Hits London!

Legendary American comedian Dave Chappelle’s had a rollercoaster of an infamous career journey thus far and continues to push boundaries.

AFTER THE SHOW IT’S THE AFTERPARTY – Dave Chappelle, De La Soul,musician Fred Yonnet and the crowd at Dave’s Juke Joint event in London.

As well as a comedian, Chappelle is a screenwriter, producer, and actor who has been in London this month playing a series of sold out date’s at Hammersmith Apollo.
He ‘likes to engage in marijuana use, but does not drink alcohol’. He even chain smoked all the way through his London shows having acquired a special licence from Hammersmith Council to be allowed to smoke onstage each night!

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Band member Frederic Yonnet, Ed Sheeran and Dave Chappelle at Juke Joint London.Photo copyright – Derrick Jones.

After beginning his film career in the USA film industry in 1993 with small cameo roles, he continued to land minor roles in box office hits including The Nutty Professor Con Air and Blue Streak. His first lead role was in the 1998 comedy film Half Baked.

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Just over a decade ago, Chappelle was also the star and a producer of the Michel Gondry-directed documentary Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, which chronicles him hosting a free concert in Brooklyn on September 18, 2004.

Several musical artists, including Kanye, The Roots, Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Dead Prez, and Jill Scott are featured in the movie both performing in the concert and in conversation off-stage. He even brought Yellow Springs residents to Brooklyn at his own expense. Another surprising highlight of the event was the temporary reunion of popular 1990s hip-hop group The Fugees. Even to this day, people rave about and debate this film on social media.

This outing which merged his world’s of comedy entertainment, throwing parties and music, had such a big impact on him that he started another brand called ‘’Juke Joint’’ which merges live musician’s with a party crowd in a very unique old skool jazz club vibe.
Dave threw the first Juke Joint last April in Ohio, and was convinced he had witnessed the capturing of lightening in a bottle. This weekend he brought this concept to a west-London warehouse.

After his seven night sell out show in the capital, he brought Juke Joint to Loft Studios, in North West London for two nights, where with members of Stevie Wonder’s touring band, and Prince’s band, as well as world renowned harp player Frederic Yonnet and legendary Hip Hop DJ D-Nice, put on a sweaty exuberant party akin to a live musicians jamming session.

Hilariously, one of the first things he did as he took to the stage with the live band was to say ‘’now I’m going to do my favourite white people shit’’, ran and leapt into the crowd and moshed just centimetres from us.
I was in shock, relieved that he hadn’t vaulted into my group of girl friends. Our hair buns, outfits and phones would have gone tits up, with a huge insurance claim for personal injury the next day.

Inspired by the birthplace of modern music, the deep American South’s Juke Joint, the music was a heavy mix of jazz, fusion and sprinkles of R&B. Dave played both dj records and joints by the live band, of his favourite playlist tracks from Coltrane to Nirvana as his ‘’The Band With No Name’’ battled DJ D-Nice into the small hours.
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An hour into the fun, I noticed another mosh pit and spotted little ginger Ed Sheeran in the centre of it, having come straight from his Wembley Stadium show.
Next thing, Ed is pulled onstage by Dave, and Ed proceeds to blow the crowds minds by taking us on a 20-minute journey of karaoke skitting with the live band.

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Ed had the party guests join him on call and response hit song’s from a wide array of act’s from Bob Marley, Snoop Dogg, Pharrell and even our very own Krept and Konan and Tinie Tempah which had the crowd baying in hysteria! I was most impressed by his Caribbean accent and version of many bashment and reggae songs. Its official. Ed is down.

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Dave’s night always attracts his peers like Naomi Campbell and Venus Williams who were also in the house.
At one point he asked his DJ D Nice ‘’what’s that British shit that had the crowd at the show lit?’’ …D Nice proceeded to throw down Lethal Bizzles POW and the party jumped harder than before with us all singing and rewinding POW to sing it again, and again, about 16 times in all!
The roof was jumping and the floor was definitely shaking.

The following night saw much of the same but with legends De La Soul take the mic for impromptu sing-offs. What a concept!

The nights were HOT not just socially, but akin to a bikram studio. Clearly Dave is clued up and his ryder includes a big metal fan onstage all night, pointing upwards, to keep him cool. At one point he even picked it up and fanned us. Beyonce take note!

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Dave told me later ”In regards to the Juke Joint events:it was the idea of taking it out of the traditional venues and putting it somewhere else where it’s alive and kinetic and not so much a show but a celebration lead by virtuosos.”

Regarding Frederic Yonnet Dave championed him saying:“Fred is one of this guys that is very fluent in the language of music. A man that’s so good at playing harp that another man that’s good at playing harp hired him.”

I admire Dave for speaking up when all around him would simply shut up and take the cheque.
Showing incredible tenacity, as so many successful multihyphenate behemoth peers do, in his early career he was picked up and dropped numerous times by TV companies but kept working the scene.

In 2003, he became more widely known for his comedy sketch television series, Chappelle’s Show, which ran until his retirement from the show two years later. By 2006, Dave was called “the comic genius of America” by Esquire and, in 2013, “the best” by a Billboard writer. To this day, his show continues to run in popular late-night syndication and on television networks around the world. The show parodies many aspects of American culture, including racial stereotypes, politics and pop culture. Along with comedy skits, the show also featured musical performances by mostly hip-hop and soul music artists.

Band member Frederic Yonnet performs at Dave Chappelle’s Juke Joint London.Photo copyright – Derrick Jones.

In the midst of all the success, an axe fell, in Dave’s heart. Season 3 was scheduled to air on May 31, 2005, but in that month, Chappelle stunned fans and the entertainment industry when he abruptly left during production of the third season of Chappelle’s Show and took a trip to South Africa.

Chappelle said that he was unhappy with the direction the show had taken. ‘’Coming here, I don’t have the distractions of fame. It quiets the ego down. I’m interested in the kind of person I’ve got to become. I want to be well rounded and the industry is a place of extremes. I want to be well balanced. I’ve got to check my intentions, man’’.

Immediately following Chappelle’s departure, tabloids quickly and repeatedly speculated that drug addiction or a mental health issue, rather than ethical or personal concerns drove Chappelle’s exit. In a later interview with Oprah, he expressed his contempt for the entertainment industry’s tone-deafness toward black entertainers and audiences: ‘’When I see that they put every black man in the movies in a dress at some point in their career, I start connecting the dots’’.

I always tell my young reporters three things;

1 – If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.
2 – He who is a pin is carrying pain.
3 – You are the average of the 5 people you spend most time with.

Dave encompasses these ideas. Key influencers and gatekeepers surrounded him as a child; his parents were politically active, and notable individuals visited the family house during his youth. In fact, it was American jazz singer Johnny Hartman who predicted he would be a comedian and, around this time, Chappelle’s comic inspiration came from Eddie Murphy and Richard Prior.

Chappelle then moved to NYC to pursue a career as a comedian and gathered the courage to perform at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theatre in front of the infamous “Amateur Night” audience, but he was booed off stage. He described the experience as the moment that gave him the courage to continue his show business aspirations and quickly made a name for himself on the New York comedy circuit, even performing in the city’s parks.

He converted to Islam in 1998 and told Time Magazine in 2005, “I don’t normally talk about my religion publicly because I don’t want people to associate me and my flaws with this beautiful thing. And I believe it is beautiful if you learn it the right way.”

Dave’s clearly a leader, not a follower, speaking up about discrepancies as they happen and unlike many wont just ‘take the cheque and sell out’’ if it doesn’t sit well within his psyche.

Dave – Your fans globally salute you!
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Jasmine’s Juice feauturing the Sillimanjaro mountain champions!

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On stage with Eddie and Robbie, Holby City and The Revs Jimmy Akingbola.

On a balmy Sunday two weeks ago, GeeStor Productions invited me to their comedy & music fundraising gala at the Hackney Empire, SILI Time, in aid of the 4 charities my pals BBC London Presenter Eddie Nestor, actor Robbie Gee, their wife Lisa Nestor, manager & GeeStor CEO Sarah Moore & fitness instructor Dave McQueen were supporting, when they climb Africa’s highest mountain the mighty Kilimanjaro.

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Peter Hunnigale & Tippa Irie.

With over 20 artists on the bill the show started promptly with the 1st act being my old friend and presenter from MTV Base – Kat B – who managed to have the crowd in stitches in the 5 minutes allocated to each performer. Hosted by Eddie and Robbie the acts came thick and fast with comedy from the don dada Curtis Walker, queens of comedy Glenda Jaxson, Angie Le Mar & Felicity Ethnic, rising star Axel Blake and so many more. The many excellent music acts included Aysha Loren, The Voice contestant Lara Lee, Peter Hunningale and Tippa Irie who brought the house down causing Axel Blake to comment ‘he must have been big back in your day’! MOBO Award winning saxophonist Yolanda Brown wowed the sell out audience with her version of Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud.
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Eastenders and The Revs actress Ellen Thomas joins Eddie and Robbie onstage.

Celebrities who graced the stage on the night included Vanessa Feltz looking svelte and glam, as did her BBC colleague, the ever stylish Brenda Emmanus. Actors included Casualties’ Patrick Robinson, Holby & Rev’s Jimmy Akingbola, EastEnders stars Ellen Thomas & Angela Wynter, who informed us all of the great work the Rudolph Walker Foundation undertake with young people. Non Blond Jocelyn Jee Esien and Voice winner Jermain Jackman popped by, and the audience didn’t let him leave until he sang acapella for us.
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Eddie makes it to the top of Mount Killamanjaro.

The night was closed by my favourite UK comic Slim, who had tears of laughter running down our faces. Overall it was a great night and the audience not only had 3 hours of top quality entertainment, but also left knowing they had supported 4 great causes.

The night raised over £10,000 for the Silimanjaro charities; the ACLT (African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust), MacMillan Cancer Research, Rudolph Walker Foundation and Urban Synergy, bringing the grand total raised to date to £30,000.
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Silimanjaro was the brainchild of Eddie Nestor. Seven years ago he was diagnosed with the cancer Hodgkins Leukaemia. Whilst undergoing chemotherapy he made a promise with his maker that if he recovered he would raise monies for charity. He has already run the marathon, and completed a skydive, and this is his biggest adventure to date. Sadly Robbie Gee has had to pull out of the climb as he is filming ‘Frankenstein Chronicles’ for ITV alongside Sean Bean and assures me he doesn’t get killed in any of the 8 episodes.

This past week Eddie and his team succeeded in their Killamanjaro climb and my team and I want to wish them the biggest congratulations in the world!
Many people talk, but few act on changing life as we know it, and Eddie Nestor is a game changer.
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Eddie, Sarah, Lisa and Dave- mission accomplished!

To find out more about the climb and how to support go to www.geestor.co.uk/Silimanjaro.

Jasmine’s Juice – VOILA! – 10 things you need to know about Cannes.

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I needed a short trip away, with lots of hot sunshine, sea, sand, and fabulosity. Searching the usual travel sites like Expedia and lastmin.com I finally settled on Cannes. I’ve only ever frequently Cannes for MTV Movie work so usually fly in, hotel, shoot, party, no sleep, start all over again schedule for a few days, before returning to London like a flogged horse.

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This time I vowed to do it in style. I was taking my mum and so a self-catering apartment or ‘economical hotel’ a little out of the way wasn’t an option for her 80-year-old legs and temperament. I decided only the best was good enough for the woman who had given me birth. So I didn’t look at the price and booked the infamous Carlton slap bang in the middle of the most famous film festival strip in the world, on what turned out to be a pretty good deal all things considered. The Carlton is the Palace to the stars and is the star of all the hotel palaces on offer. Every film legend you can name has stayed there as well as Princess Diana, Grace Kelly, Sharon Stone, Puff Daddy, Ronaldo and more. If only those walls could talk!

The Croisette is the beachfront strip of 3km of curve of the Cannes bay, lined with palms, hotels, designer boutiques, ocean liners and yachts. Day and night it’s the spot to see and be seen. The Carlton breakfast terrace is the best terrace on the whole of the Riviera, to watch the ocean and passers by stroll along the infamous fashion catwalk, otherwise known as the Croisette.
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We only spent a week there but these were the ten things we were really struck by;

1. Age ain’t nothing but a number in Cannes, and very old ladies wear clothes that most British OAPs would deem inappropriate.

The great thing is, that they looked great and were clearly as confident in their old age as in their youth – if not more. They were rocking wedge shoes, mini skirts, and strappy string vests. Je n’en crois pas mes yeux ! Initially it was a shock for my very British fashion-brainwashed brain to accept, but after a day or two I got it. You name the trend, these oldies were on it. Nothing was too much. Cannes old lady fashion is incredible. There are no ‘‘dressing for your age’’ rules out here. Wrinkles, veins and more are like life scars that no one bats an eyelid at. These oldies are strutting with sass and confidence.

2. Speaking of wedge shoes, this is THE footwear for all females strolling along around Cannes.
Shoe shops regular and high-end sell a million different wedges. Never once did I spot a stiletto.

These women have pretty feet that won’t be ruined by trying that very British awkward stagger in really vertiginous heels. French femmes are lean and strong, built like racehorses and I’m convinced it’s their wedge shoe walking diet.

3. Another reason they may be lean and skinny is that French ladies smoke. A lot. All the skinny model-looking chic’s that were wearing shorts, vests and attitude usually had a fag hanging off their lips 24-7. Even whilst riding their mopeds. Especially whilst riding their mopeds. I’d love to see the French medical stats of smoking related illnesses.

4. Speaking of health, the French love to tan. In fact, in the same way that the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain, the tan in Cannes looks incredible on man or woman.
high sun
The sun is high in the sky and burning hot from 8am until well after 9pm, and on not one occasion did I spot anyone on their beaches using sun cream! This could be why most of the white folk I observed out there had tanned so dark they resembled someone wearing blackface. The irony of a country that is stereotyped as being racist but they’re craving to be dark.

5. Instead of spending my money flying to far off exotic destinations its much more economical to get a cheap flight to Cannes (Nice airport), and spend the rest of your money on a great hotel or activities.
Also, once you get to Cannes, there’s loads of free stuff to do. Day and night the Croisette is like a live, free fashion catwalk with lovers walkers, rollerbladers, scooter flippers, cyclists and more doing their thing.


Also there is so much free art by the likes of Salvador Dali and Matisse just placed outside buildings for you to take in.
All the tourist spots where the famous Cannes film festival takes place are access-all-areas so you too can pose on the same spot as your favourite film icon or place your hands in their handprint walk of fame!
dog red carpet

6. Unlike most popular cities there are no tour buses in Cannes. Instead they have a very cute, olde worlde ‘’Petit train’’ that will take you on tours through the old town and cinema locations for €10 an hour.

The Cannes city street layout is like New York pretty easy to get to grips with. Its not a grid system as such but the roads are laid out in distinct shopping, eating and business districts so very easy to familiarize yourself with in a day.

7. Unlike all the tacky tourist beaches across the world where you’re hassled to buy pineapple or braid your hair, Cannes beaches are on a whole different level of opulence.
pap 1

Here a photographer accompanied by his assistant holding a giant beauty light and tripod will do a full on glamour shoot for you in the ocean. Awkwardly they’ll do it without asking your permission then try and sell you ‘’ze lovely picture’’ of you looking like a bright red beached whale. Non-merci ami.

Also lithe, tanned young ladies carrying bags of sexy bikinis and lace beachwear will plop themselves down in front of you and change into every garment in their bags and parade up and down like a fashion show trying to tempt you into buying their wears. Of course I succumbed, but then wondered why the sexy black bikini I purchased didn’t make me look like the same sizzling siren I had brought it from.

8. The beaches are a point of contention but needn’t be. Basically on the main strip, each section of beach is owned by the hotel it sits opposite. You have to pay to sit on this beach EVEN if you are a paying hotel guest.
private prices
The Carlton charges most for its pier, then its front row on the sand and also half days.

Generally, each five star hotel, charges a selection of sliding scale rates for different spots. C’est naze!
private beach

beach bed
You can even buy a real bed on the beach to show how fabulous and wealthy you are and that you just throw yor money away!Laisse tomber…
beach beds
Its outrageous, but just a few meters down the Croisette are totally free public beaches, which are exactly the same but without the snobby folk, attitude and cost. And much better for people watching.

9. The 5 star hotels are expensive. But for the cash that you’re saving on flights its well worth it. From the beautiful rooms with small touches like beautifully made beds and top quality bedding, to great branded beauty products in the bathroom, a retractable, discreet washing line in the bathroom, a free daily newspaper and all your needs met. Their breakfast may be around £30 per person, per day, but it’s a kings feast buffet with full English breakfast, a pastry bar, antipasti bar, nespresso and champagne on tap.

We made sure to make the most of this and lined our stomachs well so that lunch wasn’t needed. I even spotted other guests sneaking fruit, pastries and more into their handbags. I felt a euphoric high on paying €10 for a pot of tea with silk tea bags and €20 for a sliced watermelon presented on a silver platter. I did snigger in disgust at myself as I stroked the silk tea bag that I steeped my daily pot of tea with.
silk bag

10. One of the best things about Cannes is wherever you are at any time of the day you can take a seat. There are seats in public everywhere.

All along the Croisette are metal bright blue seats that can be moved into pairs or groups depending on the size of your group.

You can place them facing the sea or inwards facing the twinkling palm trees on the road and watch the pink lit up street all night.

How quaint! In the UK I guarantee these would be nicked and sold for scrap metal. ‎Even on the high street full of shops, there are seats everywhere attached to the bottom of lampposts. It’s these little touches that make life so much more sociable and easy on the Riviera. Ça vous dit?

Jasmine’s Juice – Can You Join The Sport of Polo?

So, we’re slap bang in the middle of music festival and summer sports season, and where you and your bank balance sit financially and on the class graph may dictate where you end up.

On the one hand we have music festivals like Glastonbury and Wireless for the great unwashed. On the other we have House Festival and Hampton court style music festivals for the middle class, more grown up, hamper and picnic set, who don’t want to rub shoulders with or mingle with the bawdy working class.

Similarly with sports, it’s about the televised big dog events like Wimbledon and rugby, watched on telly for many of us. The horsey sports like racing, shooting and polo, are even more out of reach and always seem to be off limits for your average working class bod for obvious reasons. Horses are expensive to keep, own, ride or consider as part of your weekly hobby.


Do you recall when the TOWIE set tried to overtake the scene around five years ago, and were subsequently ridiculed and made to feel unwelcome, by articles like this Can anyone stop polo being over-run by chavs? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1202024/Can-stop-polo-run-chavs.html

Nowadays the general public aspires to attend things like Ascots Ladies Day with as much gusto as they do their local tanning salons , but in 2015, we still haven’t really been convinced about how accessible and inclusive the actual sport side of polo can be, to the masses.

I’ve visited the biggest polo club in Europe – Guards Polo Club – out past the west London city boarders, over the years, as both a one-off lunching guest or working on media stories and last weekend had a conversation with Diana Butler from GPC about just how inclusive the sport of polo can be for your average Brit. So pay attention.

Diana should know what she’s talking about as she’s been working in the sport of polo for many years and this year marks the club’s 60th anniversary – Prince Philip founded the Club in 1955. They play more polo, at all levels, than any other club in the UK. In fact, the club wrote the polo pony welfare rules that are now recognised around the world and put pony welfare at the top of all that they do. Diana gave me her thoughts on all the misconceptions many of us have about the sport of polo. Isn’t it totally inaccessible to us minions? Don’t you need to be a billionaire to partake?

What kinds of backgrounds are the players usually in most instances from?

Players come from all types of backgrounds these days – it is no longer exclusively a game for the very rich or the military. The world’s top players are from South America, Argentina predominantly, and they are often the sons/grandsons of players who learnt the game on their family’s farms alongside the gauchos. With an increasing number of clubs in the UK, many people now take up the game with no background in the sport – you can even pay to play these days, without the need to own horses. Many of our patrons are successful businessmen who were introduced to the game by colleagues/friends and became hooked.

How much would it cost a player to learn and play regularly?

It depends on what level you play. To play the high-goal you need a substantial amount of money as you need the horsepower and employ the very best professional players you can afford. However, to play club matches and low-goal (up to 8-goal polo) you need a much lower budget. A rough guide is:
· Competitive low-goal £50,000 – playing several key tournaments in a season
· Competitive medium-goal £500,000 – playing several key tournaments in a season
· Competitive high-goal £1m – playing top two tournaments in a season

Gulp, that’s still pretty steep! Do all players own their own ponies? If not how do they play? It is a wealthy persons sport isn’t it? Can you play without owning horses/kit/livery etc?

At the high level, the team patrons own many of the horses, but the players also own their own horses. The higher handicapped players have their own strings. However at some clubs – such as Ascot Park – you can pay to play so you just turn up, jump in a horse and play a practice chukka or two without the expense of ponies, farriers, stabling, grooms etc.

‘‘Jump in a horse’’! Love it! Can ‘’regular folk’’ just turn up and watch matches? How much does it cost?

Anyone can come and watch polo as Windsor Great Park is a public park with free access for those on foot/bikes and they can watch the games from the north side – opposite side to the Royal Box. For regular days we charge £20 per car (regardless of occupants) and charge £40 on the day per car for the Cartier Queen’s Cup Final. However on finals day we also open our members’ side (same side as the royal box) to the public so they can buy hospitality, grandstand tickets and car passes.

Well it’s obvious that your average A-Z list celebs and their teams, all want you be seen where the upper classes and Royalty are. How and who decides which guests join the Royal box?

The balcony is reserved for members of the Royal Family, the chairman of the Polo Club and the key representative of the sponsor of the day.

What makes clubs like yours the best place to enjoy polo in the UK?

The location, great fixtures and superb facilities. We host some of the leading polo tournaments in the world and each game, regardless of handicap, is managed by a professional and dedicated team which ensures that players and spectators experience polo at its very best.

I see that the social side of the polo scene is as buzzing if not more than the actual sports side what with regular dances and parties, you guys love a twenties themed party?

Social membership to Guards Polo Club costs just £375 per annum, plus a one-off joining fee of £300, which is no more expensive than a gym membership For that a social member receives one metal members badge, three guest badges and members car park pass. This gives access to more than 600 games in a season and major discounts for our two major ticketed events – the Cartier Queen’s Cup Final and the Royal Salute Coronation Cup. We also have an extensive collection of reciprocal clubs around the world, which offer access to our members at their members’ rates.

That’s exactly what I pay for my annual gym membership! So I could be hanging with the hoi polio instead of my treadmill at my local leisure centre.

What is your biggest challenge as a club? And as a sport?

To promote the sport rather than the celebrity activity in the media. The top teams and their ponies are athletes and train as hard as any leading sportsmen and women and the game should be recognised for its toughness, horsepower, skill and bravery.