WRETCH32 NEW ALBUM, JASON LEWIS BBC SHOW & ALEXANDER AMOSU BIRTHDAY…


Unity and ambition in groups of circles plays a huge part in success and this example keeps popping up in every story I encounter. A young man that I kept hearing about years ago that young people really respected musically is an artist named Wretch32. My interns, researchers, work experience and more would bring his name up continually. I met him a few times before he became popular and he was always the most well-mannered, friendly, engaging person. Everyone liked him. He is on the register for ‘’next to blow up’. Check him out. From North London like his homeboy Chipmunk, Wretch smiled as he recalled to me that his Dad was a sound system DJ so they had speaker boxes all over the house and in Wretch’s bedroom. His Dad also took him to jams which he laughs were maybe not appropriate but Wretch was sucking it all in. Wretch has been really close to Chipmunk for years as both are North Londoners and always kept in touch, played each other tracks and kept each other on their toes. As well as Chippy, Wretch is close to acts Scorcher, Ghetto and Bashy and loves following Scorcher and Skepta on Twitter as both are mad funny, but does see the downside of the social networking site when he observes cyber wars between artists. He maturely understands that the advantages to Twitter are fan and public interaction but acknowledges that its negative side is that you put out immediately the first thing that comes into your head and press send.
He described his early days getting into the game and explained that it ‘’ was more difficult to get into the game as acts like Wiley, Roll Deep, Nasty Crew, and others were all from London’s East End and all the pirate radio stations there were controlling the sounds of the time’’. Wretch’s first mixtape “Learn from my mixtape” caught peoples ears and Radio1Xtras DJ Cameo , Ace & Vis and Semtex were suitably impressed.
Wretch continues ‘’Combination Camp were on HeatFM and encouraged me to get on the mic’’. ‘’I continued writing and improved and got onto Pirate radio’’.
The quality of lyrics and concepts on Wretchs mix tapes caught peoples ears with his mad concepts. For example he did a track called “Punctuation” where he went all metaphorical with the English language and people were impressed!. After that he did a lot of school tours and talks with primary schools, which he found easy as ‘’kids nowadays respect artists more than their teachers’’.
Soon after putting in all that hard graft Wretch started getting a lot more airplay and became Radio1Xtras most played mixtape artist in 2006.
He then sat down with his team of friends…his mate is his manager and like many an urban act, Wretch thinks its easier to keep his business in the fam and ‘’not listen to other managers cos a lot of them just talk’’. They boast “We will make you big and it all amounts to nothing”.
Currently working on his new album “Black and White” which is a quarter done with a single coming soon, Wretch has been chased by Radio1Xtra bigwigs to host his own show and is juggling being a good dad to his young son. The album concept differs from his past work on “Wretchrospective” but he reassures me ‘’its still intimate with a good vibe. In the past I may have been too conceptual’’. The new work includes tracks that talk about love-but not too much and generally the roller coaster of life and being in the industry. The one thing I love about Wretch is that he never talks too reckless-he understands the power of the irresponsible word.
Smiling with love he recounts to me that his young son means everything to him and tells him that when he grows up wants to ‘’be a screwdriver” LOLOL‘’. Look out for Wretch32. An articulate lyricist, a responsible father and a decent human being. That’s all!.

I want to also shout loud and proud about a young man called Jason Lewis who 3 years ago was working in clothing store Banana Republic and sent me a YouTube link to a parody of MTV BASE Black History Month and asked me to check it. Assuming I’d be annoyed by this young, whippersnapper nobody’s content I clicked through on my computer and watched with one eyebrow raised. I got it immediately. My team weren’t convinced but I could see his thought process and comedy angle were unique and what our audience would appreciate. I brought him into MTV to work with our team and the legal department to ensure we could deliver a workable script to film for the upcoming BLACK HISTORY MONTH. My bosses had already warned me that with resources being cut everywhere Black History Month plans weren’t concrete. However, Jason offered to make ours. With his own team of friends in his talented circle. between them Jason had a huge group of actors, directors, editors ,this kid was placing himself in successful circles and they were all pulling each other up together! To me it was mind blowing! To cut a long story short, Jason spent long, frustrating hours with myself and our legal advisor working on his scripts and making him understand the meaning of ‘slander’ and ‘libel’ before getting his own, basic 30 min show on MTV BASE called THE JASON LEWIS EXPERIENCE. Kudos to my boss at the time-Virginia Monaghan – for letting me persuade her on so many projects that I was passionate that should make it to air. Even though Jason’s work wasn’t at the time of the highest quality we were used to putting on air, Virginia saw the light, supported me and allowed me to bring in some very talented young people to the channel. Next, my pal that works at the BBC requested the DVD of Jason’s work and before you could say boo, Jason was called into the hallowed walls of the BBC building where for the last year has been working hard to make it. He’s had a few cameos in BBC comedy output and then last week a press release by the corporation was released confirming that they were shooting a pilot for Jason own show ‘THE JASON LEWIS EXPERIENCE’!. A beautiful story of a young ambitious, talented man that learnt to play by the establishments rules and slowly bent them into his own shape –congratulations Jason-I salute you!

Another similar story is that of Alexander Amosu. Years ago when I was working as a CHOICEFM presenter and covering the Ideal Home Exhibition at Earls Court a young man introduced himself to me and mentioned that he was selling ‘’R&B ringtones’’ as mobile phones were now popular with kids. I took his card, wished him well and moved on. Gradually I’d hear his name regularly as he climbed the ladder of success. He had built his company from the ground up and sold it for millions. Next he concentrated on the luxury market and became known for producing and selling high end designer things like a diamond encrusted IPod or phone, the most expensive suit in the world etc. He knew how to spin the current trends and now he is an established, respected business man. He held his birthday party a fortnight ago and as you arrived at the venue the first two things I spotted were a brand new white Audi R8 spider and a red Ferrari California! To complete the opulent entrance we were gifted a red rose branded with an Alexander Amosu logo whilst we sipped on champagne. Very indulgent but hey-the mans worked hard and has the right to celebrate his success on his special day. As we wandered around the room we noted on display ‘’that’’ world’s most expensive suit costing £70,000 and four show cases of diamond encrusted phones. Guest also had the chance to get their phones engraved with their names or logo for free as well as try out Mr Amosu’s new line of pin striped suits laced with your name, a revolutionary idea that’s bound to have numerous fans among the vain footballers or rappers worlds. You could smell the money in the room as guests filled the venue to capacity with paparazzi taking photos and a two camera crew following and filming Mr Amosu’s every move. (very damon dash LOL). The event kicked off with a video tape that showed Alexander’s journey to the top followed by a grand entrance with him coming through a secret door with African dancers and drummers! Soul singing legend Omar completed the fabulous evening by performing to guests that included Alesha Dixon, Clive Sharpe – chairman Golden Wonder Crisp, Chris Gorman – Chairman Quintessentially group, Micheal Birch – Founder of Bebo, Tinie Tempah, Duncan Bannatyne – Dragons den, David Pun – Director Harvey Nichols, Jim Ike – Nollywood Actor, Kanya King – mobo founder,, Emmanuel Jal, comedian Kojo. A very proud night for all present.

A CUPPA WITH MZ BRATT, DINNER WITH ADDICTIVE.

MZ BRATT & JASMINE

Mariah’s brother/ nephew Shawn was in town this week and knowing he’s more a Nobu brother than a Nando’s one we went somewhere suitably expensive where you pay as much for the ambience as the food before I took him down to Bungalow 8 nightclub in St Martins Lane hotel where my friend John Woolf (Wiley’s former manager and man about town) was throwing his regular bash. We were ushered down into the intimate bar where the petite but much acclaimed female DJ Kaper was playing old skool hip-hop. In one corner was singer Hinda Hicks who has new music coming out soon, in another was producer Shy FX who was accompanied by his new American artist a very young, blonde lady and urban magician Dynamo for once was hanging out and socialising instead of taking everyone’s attention with his mind blowing magic, but I was most enraptured with one half of super production duo Chase & Status who ended up taking over the decks and throwing down some hardcore ragga! Braap!

It was a week of fabulous dinners as next one time ChoiceFM DJ, now football and business guru Chris Nathaniel invited me to dinner at celebrity loved Knightsbridge restaurant Mr Chows. We were accompanied by female vocal duo addictive. Chris and I had business to discuss so met a little ahead of the rest of the group. When addictive walked in the whole restaurant went quiet, stopped eating with forks suspended in mid-air and stared open mouthed at bthe 2 glamorous ladies that had just walked in. it was a hilarious sight to observe as they were clearly trying to work out if it was Destinys Child or The Saturdays LOL!. I ordered my (and Mariahs) favourite-the squab with iceberg lettuce. After convincing the addictive ladies it wasn’t pigeon but diced chicken –they joined me in wrapping up the little parcels of heaven and devouring. We finished with black cod-which is better in Nobu and gossiped about all things fabulous.

Addictive are really busy right now with their Mix CD out on 9th September, their Summer Tour to Holiday resorts from the end of July, a Schools & Uni Tour in September, a new Single out January 2011 followed by their Album out Summer 2011. they’re currently doing Club Tour up North and some big, rich, fat, cigar smoking bigwigs are developing a film script featuring the girls! go get em ladies! For a while now the UK charts have been dominated by male British urban acts and so its nice to see a lot of the ladies breaking through again.

Next BET invited a VIP group of 100 guests to meet controversial radio host/ TV talk show presenter Wendy Williams-as my one time child hood heroine I had to go-more on that next week!.

I ended my week with a cup of tea with Mz Bratt. With her single ‘’Selector’’ blaring out from every radio station and car stereo, Selector looks to be one of this summers anthems and Mz Bratt is the name on everyone’s lips right about now. There’s talk of her locking down a major record deal with Atlantic.
She revealed that her single which will be released in September, will be put out via the aforementioned Shy FX’s record label (keeping the money and talent all in the UK family-nice one!).
Listening to ‘’Selector’’ its hard not to smile at the very hard, Buju toned lyrics coming from this very slight, delicate, pretty young girl that looks like she could play the Disney princess in every story.
The track is very wild when Bratts music in the past in comparison is very reserved. More recently Bratt has become part of a very forceful music clique called the ‘’A list crew’’- headed up by the legend that is Wiley. Bratt confessed that the first she had heard about her inclusion in the group was when she was on holiday in Egypt. She kept seeing Tweets saying ‘’Bratts in the A List’’. The tweets continued ‘’Wiley wants you to be in the a list collective’’. Bratt added ‘’He said “let’s do this and I had known him since I was a little girl so his Co sign is a big deal’’.
Other members of Wileys ‘’A List’’ include singer Shola Ama and her sister Sadie, artist J2K, Brazen/, and lots of other new members.
Bratt confided that Wiley regularly calls the collective together to work on music in the studio altogether where he has them all working together and experimenting like the
Andy Warhol of the grime scene putting together acts and experimenting.
I had to confess to Bratt that whilst I loved wiley and what he had achieved ,he had frustrated me a lot in the past by not turning up for media promotion opportunities and so on.
Bratt smiled knowingly and reassured me ‘’Lately he’s been more reliable. He’s realised with acts like Chipmunk and Tinchy Stryder he knows its a new day and its motivated him’’.

Bratt revealed that the Album coming from the group “Midnight Love” is out now and compared her clique to a British version of American collective ‘’Young Money’’.
Bratt has recently collaborated with film director Noel Clarke on music for his movie 4321 after the musical score director Bashy reached out to her and now 3 of her tracks are in the film.
Similarly Bashy had Bratt work on a track for the movie shank too-isn’t it great to see team- UK working together united in a way that’s never been seen before!?.

Bratts story is one of struggle and tenacity. Her early beginnings were in Ilford. Essex East London. She recalls growing up with her Dad who was into acid house. She recounts the stories of squatting. They were poor. Her middle class mum brought her up. She reminisces ‘’I Had a hard upbringing –the squatting was the worst. There was a lot of Domestic violence. I remember a lot of House parties. My Sister and I sat on the stairs. Superstar Seal used to squat with dad before he was famous. I remember being 14 years old at school listening to Dizzee on the radio. I used to hang with the guys. I met Terror Danja and he supported me quite a lot’’.
Currently Bratts midway through working on her album with All Saints old producer K Gee. I imagine being a pretty female in the game isn’t easy and Bratt agrees and confirms that ‘’People feel they can talk to me in a certain way or take advantage of me and of course there are the inevitable rumours about being with acts that you’re working with but I take it on the chin and keep it moving’’. Bratt adds that she’s always having emotional rants on twitter but loves it and is slightly addicted. Her favourite tweeter is fellow artist Giggs who has her laughing all day.
Bratt is a talent to look out for. Like a very young Ms Dynamite she’s gorgeous, talented and making music in a mans world- its time for the ladies to takeover again!.

PUFFY PARTY, PADDINGTON FESTIVAL, GEORGE BENSON GIG!

PRESENTER KAT WITH JASMINE AND BASHY.

This fortnight saw me finally go see the SEX AND THE CITY 2 movie with all my girl friends. We had purposely avoided it until one of us returned from L.A so we could all view it altogether as we had always done so. So one sunny lunchtime we booked ourselves into the marble arch Odeon and had a private screening as not one other person was there. We were all dressed as our favourite SATC2 character complete with cute frocks, corsages and vertiginous heels and made a day of it at lunch knocking back pretty cocktail’s, talking about shoes and discussing men!

Next Adidas bigwig Paola Lucktung sent me a VIP box to go see George Benson. Yes, you heard correctly. Often I get sent a pair of show tickets from my record industry pals but Paola likes to do things big. So I was sent the whole Adidas corporate box and so I rolled down to the 02 Arena with some friends and we watched a living legend sing classic old skool hit after hit including ‘’nature boy’’ and ‘’never give up on a good thing’’. The Adidas box was a great barometer of how well our UK acts have done on the major platform internationally as huge photo shot pictures of Estelle alongside David Beckham adorned the walls. I felt really proud of the gigantic leaps and bounds young British talent has made recently. The George Benson audience meanwhile were expectedly a little older than my usual crowd and the volume, amusingly seemed a lot quieter which made me smile and imagine my mums voice saying ‘’turn that volume down’’. George had a tight little band that at a couple of moments seemed he was threatened by them running away without him so he reined them in again. The set was very old skool disco- like and the vibe was lovely-like a christening/wedding atmosphere.
Next I did my part for the community when I helped organise the first ever Paddington Festival for the west London area. I’m a west London born and bred gal and so when I was approached to help put together the line up and event for this year I jumped at the chance. I’ve learnt in life that its just as important to do things that aren’t always part of your daily remit and to give back and the more you give the more you receive. So on Saturday morning as the weather decided to give us a heatwave I called my mates KAT (MTV/CHOICEFM) and music artists Bashy and Akala to jump onstage at the junction of Harrow Road and Elgin Avenue where a stage had been set up. Alongside them were local dance group Hypnotik and local MC Cortex. Kat had the crowd rolling and entertained all day whilst the acts did their thing. Acts like Bashy and Akala are truly inspiring to the young, local audience. Their intelligence, lyrical dexterity and not even trying to be fly natural swag oozes out in bundles. Even the older crowd in the audience sat up and paid attention to them. Young kids had their faces painted and a lot of Caribbean and African food was going around. At one point the festival bigwigs wanted to pronounce the event officially launched by having K at cut a plethora of helium balloons and have them fly into the sky. The joke was that the balloons were tied to the roof of the stage and Kat had to climb up there to cut them off! Health and safety!

Puffy came to Europe again last week to promote his music and new group Diddy – Dirty Money, who released their new single Hello Good Morning last Monday. Now, having worked on numerous occasions with the bad boy for life I can tell you that he has a massive machine around him that ensures as part of their job that he causes pandemonium wherever he goes. Calls will be made to arrange model types and pretty chic’s prepared to wear nearly nothing to flank him as paparazzi both real and ‘’prepared’’ flash those bulbs. His bling will be ostentatious, his sunglasses will not be prized from his head and assistants will scurry around him whispering and hyperventilating to ensure the correct amount of gravitas is surrounding him-(nicely mixed with an erroneous amount of Sean John fragrance and perfectly moisturised lip balmed lips). Did I ever tell you a few years we held up a shoot so puff could summons his stylist to grab Vaseline for his lips and insisted on a mirror to show every corner of his mouth was not dry before continueing!. It used to make me laugh when I first noted the machine of fame at work but now it’s a given that I enjoy observing.
Puff arrived in the morning on Eurostar from Paris and as expected caused chaos as he descended on London’s St Pancreas station a pair of statuesque ladies either side of the Diddy. He was later whisked off to the BBC to film Jonathan Ross where even more narrow corridors were crushed up with men in black in sharp suits-you know how Diddy does!. He then topped off his London visit by partying the night away at London’s Whiskey Mist nightclub and was joined by Drake, M.I.A and Kelly Rowland as well as the usual wanabees hoping to get lucky for the night. The music stars were all clearly having a blast as they ordered over £20,000 worth of the infamous Gold bottles of Armand de Brignac Champagne-the current top champers of choice having kicked Dom P and Cristal to the kerb. Of course with all the half naked chics, sparkling bottles and DJs Manny Norte and DJ Nikki on the decks it wasn’t long before Diddy started dancing on the table and showing London clubbers what partying is all about! I gotta hand it to him, his parties are always on another level from his infamous white parties, his crazier than crazy MTV AWARDS parties and his parties on private jets- Sean Combs is a party guru!.

I’ll have to keep those memories at the forefront of my mind as its world cup time! Now I need to find friends for the next month as the football has taken over my crib and guys attention. Maybe I will spend all the extra time in the gym…..or a meet a man in there that doesn’t like the footie LOL!

A CUP OF TEA WITH MZ BRATT, DINNER WITH ADDICTIVE.

Mariah’s brother/ nephew Shawn was in town this week and knowing he’s more a Nobu brother than a Nando’s one we went somewhere suitably expensive where you pay as much for the ambience as the food before I took him down to Bungalow 8 nightclub in St Martins Lane hotel where my friend John Woolf (Wiley’s former manager and man about town) was throwing his regular bash. We were ushered down into the intimate bar where the petite but much acclaimed female DJ Kaper was playing old skool hip-hop. In one corner was singer Hinda Hicks who has new music coming out soon, in another was producer Shy FX who was accompanied by his new American artist a very young, blonde lady and urban magician Dynamo for once was hanging out and socialising instead of taking everyone’s attention with his mind blowing magic, but I was most enraptured with one half of super production duo Chase & Status who ended up taking over the decks and throwing down some hardcore ragga! Braap!

It was a week of fabulous dinners as next one time ChoiceFM DJ, now football and business guru Chris Nathaniel invited me to dinner at celebrity loved Knightsbridge restaurant Mr Chows. We were accompanied by female vocal duo addictive. Chris and I had business to discuss so met a little ahead of the rest of the group. When addictive walked in the whole restaurant went quiet, stopped eating with forks suspended in mid-air and stared open mouthed at bthe 2 glamorous ladies that had just walked in. it was a hilarious sight to observe as they were clearly trying to work out if it was Destinys Child or The Saturdays LOL!. I ordered my (and Mariahs) favourite-the squab with iceberg lettuce. After convincing the addictive ladies it wasn’t pigeon but diced chicken –they joined me in wrapping up the little parcels of heaven and devouring. We finished with black cod-which is better in Nobu and gossiped about all things fabulous. For a while now the UK charts have been dominated by male British urban acts and so its nice to see a lot of the ladies breaking through again.

Next BET invited a VIP group of 100 guests to meet controversial radio host/ TV talk show presenter Wendy Williams-as my one time child hood heroine I had to go-more on that next week!.

I ended my week with a cup of tea with Mz Bratt. With her single ‘’Selector’’ blaring out from every radio station and car stereo, Selector looks to be one of this summers anthems and Mz Bratt is the name on everyone’s lips right about now. There’s talk of her locking down a major record deal with Atlantic.
She revealed that her single which will be released in September, will be put out via the aforementioned Shy FX’s record label (keeping the money and talent all in the UK family-nice one!).
Listening to ‘’Selector’’ its hard not to smile at the very hard, Buju toned lyrics coming from this very slight, delicate, pretty young girl that looks like she could play the Disney princess in every story.
The track is very wild when Bratts music in the past in comparison is very reserved. More recently Bratt has become part of a very forceful music clique called the ‘’A list crew’’- headed up by the legend that is Wiley. Bratt confessed that the first she had heard about her inclusion in the group was when she was on holiday in Egypt. She kept seeing Tweets saying ‘’Bratts in the A List’’. The tweets continued ‘’Wiley wants you to be in the a list collective’’. Bratt added ‘’He said “let’s do this and I had known him since I was a little girl so his Co sign is a big deal’’.
Other members of Wileys ‘’A List’’ include singer Shola Ama and her sister Sadie, artist J2K, Brazen/, and lots of other new members.
Bratt confided that Wiley regularly calls the collective together to work on music in the studio altogether where he has them all working together and experimenting like the
Andy Warhol of the grime scene putting together acts and experimenting.
I had to confess to Bratt that whilst I loved wiley and what he had achieved ,he had frustrated me a lot in the past by not turning up for media promotion opportunities and so on.
Bratt smiled knowingly and reassured me ‘’Lately he’s been more reliable. He’s realised with acts like Chipmunk and Tinchy Stryder he knows its a new day and its motivated him’’.

Bratt revealed that the Album coming from the group “Midnight Love” is out now and compared her clique to a British version of American collective ‘’Young Money’’.
Bratt has recently collaborated with film director Noel Clarke on music for his movie 4321 after the musical score director Bashy reached out to her and now 3 of her tracks are in the film.
Similarly Bashy had Bratt work on a track for the movie shank too-isn’t it great to see team- UK working together united in a way that’s never been seen before!?.

Bratts story is one of struggle and tenacity. Her early beginnings were in Ilford. Essex East London. She recalls growing up with her Dad who was into acid house. She recounts the stories of squatting. They were poor. Her middle class mum brought her up. She reminisces ‘’I Had a hard upbringing –the squatting was the worst. There was a lot of Domestic violence. I remember a lot of House parties. My Sister and I sat on the stairs. Superstar Seal used to squat with dad before he was famous. I remember being 14 years old at school listening to Dizzee on the radio. I used to hang with the guys. I met Terror Danja and he supported me quite a lot’’.
Currently Bratts midway through working on her album with All Saints old producer K Gee. I imagine being a pretty female in the game isn’t easy and Bratt agrees and confirms that ‘’People feel they can talk to me in a certain way or take advantage of me and of course there are the inevitable rumours about being with acts that you’re working with but I take it on the chin and keep it moving’’. Bratt adds that she’s always having emotional rants on twitter but loves it and is slightly addicted. Her favourite tweeter is fellow artist Giggs who has her laughing all day.
Bratt is a talent to look out for. Like a very young Ms Dynamite she’s gorgeous, talented and making music in a mans world- its time for the ladies to takeover again!.

MZ BRATT & JASMINE

Eastenders / music star Preeya Kalidas, legend George Benson and Ty live Jazz Cafe show.


PIC- EASTENDERS ACTRESS / MUSIC ARTIST PREEYA KALIDAS.

You can be assured that once the sun comes out in the UK that us pessimists will do all we can to make the most of it so a million BBQ”s, park picnics and summer festivities begin to take over our lives.
Last weekend I attended 2 BBQ”s, 2 christenings, a talent show called AMPT at Sound Bar where singer Shaun Williams, and MC”s Sincere and Scorcher performed ,as well as a few trips to the gym.

The christening was in Oxford for a lovely little baby girl called Monet. Daddy from Ghana via South London, mummy from Oxford. The church was stunning, the reception hall was decorated in the usual balloons, unlimited alcohol, a feast of food including a spit roast pig out in the garden area, guys all having drinking competitions, and the sun was out. We ate jollof rice, stewed chicken, and much more. As I was nibbling delicately on a chicken skewer I overheard a little boy ask a lady ‘’is that your babyson?, why is he so brown?”. Hilarious. The poor child mustn’t have been too used to seeing brown kids out in Oxford!.
I wasn’t laughing for long though, before a guy who was fully embedded in the male drink-off decided to whack an ice cream across my face for fun. I was furious but before long my competitive spirit forgot I was wearing a white knee length couture- like dress, and smashed said guy’s face into a pile of cream, chocolate and fruit cake. Cue much screaming, hysterical laughter and ruined clothes. They wont be inviting us back again!.

The following evening musician TY threw a show at the infamous north London jazz café and invited us to share the VIP balcony with his nearest and dearest for one of the best live music shows of the year so far. Early on the venue was crammed full of a great party crowd as DJ Mr Thing played classic jam after jam. Sitting with us at dinner upstairs were UK hip hop legends Roots Manuva and Rodney P. Also in the house were Flava magazine, Charlie Sloth and Lyricisit .Ty literally came, saw and conquered the crowd , joined onstage by his music friends like Roses Gabor and others the crowd were eating out of his hand all night. A real artist has personality and speaks in a relaxed manner with their audience and Ty was a genius at this-he could give a few younger chart acts a few lessons. A real fun hip hop show.

Legend George Benson was performing at the 02 and Adidas head honcho Paola Lucktung sent me not just tickets but a whole box. Yes. You heard right. I had the Adidas VIP box in the Arena all to myself so my friends and I sat back, watched Mr Benson sing hit after hit and spent a lovely evening reminiscing about the good old music from yesterday. George was good if at times seemingly threatened by his band taking over and reeling them back in. The vibe was relaxed and so laid back I could’ve fallen asleep as the crowd around me were calm and the stage set resembled an old school disco .It also seemed that the sound volume wasn’t high as it usually is for a younger artists demographic. You know the oldies. They like to listen at a lower decibel LOL!.

To end my week Eastenders actress and musical theatre star Preeya Kalidas popped over to my crib in a very sexy ,summery dress and vertiginous high heels to give me an exclusive playback session of her first music album. The sun was out and I wanted to fatten her tiny slim body up so I made fresh pancakes with fruit for brunch and forced her to eat them even though she tried to be strong with cries of ‘’no Jaz-I have a video shoot I have to be trim for this week’’ .
Now more than ever the British Asian music industry is thriving and what with singer Jay Sean’s success the time Is ripe for another pop star to emerge-particularly to fill the female Asian pop gap. Preeya left Eastenders after her massive story line last month where she found her husband was gay and a massive 9.3 million viewers tuned in to see her exit on the show proving that a brilliant storyline coupled with a diverse cast brings in great ratings. Preeya has been in the game for a long while with parts in TV specials, films and lead parts in West End Theatre shows but now the time has come for her to really take her career to the next level.
I have to confess that when I first heard Preeya was making a music album I rolled my eyes and thought ‘’here we go again-an actress wants to be a popstar’’. But then I heard the music. Its good. And then I recalled that she actually began with her roots in music and this album shows she has a strong musical background. I presumed her sound would be tinged with an Asian accent but her vocals ,which are very strong, sound very international and inclusive which leaves me concluding she could be a very successful sexy ,sassy pop star for the new generation. Im still intrigued as to how such a teeny physique can belt out such a huge, bellowing voice!
Her first single ‘’Shimmy’’ is extremely catchy and will have dance floors full and bouncing across many various club genres.
The Asian influenced remix features bhangra star Mumzy Stranger who sounds very like Sean Paul and the way he yells ‘’Preeya Kalidasssss’’ I’m convinced we will all be shouting it at her in the street!. Meanwhile artist producer Rishie Rich did a reggaeton version.
As we ate pancakes in my sunny living room I bounced around to her music including a track I loved from the album called ‘in my heels’’ which is a dance based up tempo, big dance tune that goes‘’ I’m a diva, I’m that girl ,in the club, rock my world’’. Big. A track that has to be a single is ‘’Dance for you’’ whilst ‘’Habit’’ is a big ballad with strong vocals which I can imagine being played years from now.
On the rest of the album Preeya has worked with Novell, Cage Productions, and about to blow artist producer Labrinth who made one of my favourite tracks on the album called ‘’Bad boy’’ which the bad boy in life loves!.
Preeya calls her sound ‘’triple s pop’’- which stands for ‘’sexy-sassy –soul-pop’’ and the thing I love about her is that she’s unapologetically proud of her background with regular nods to her ethnicity with her visual look sometimes enhanced and hinted at with henna tattoos and Asian jewellery accessories. Signed to Mercury Records, Preeya is a top priority act for the year and I think you’re all in for a shock with her new music-I think radio stations will play list this album as its very accessible, fun, catchy pop at its commercial best. Preeya is leading the way forwards when it comes to young, sassy British Asian females but can more than stand-up and be counted alongside the Leona’s and Alexandra’s in the mainstream. You go girl!

4321 Premiere, Alicia Keys Black Ball, UK PERFORMANCE AWARDS/Kanya King.

I hope you’re all working as hard as me! The harder I work the luckier I get, the more fabulous my life becomes!
Work hard; play harder is the perfect formula to a happy heart in my book!
So it’s a good thing that Its mid year madness in London town as when I’m not scripting, researching, editing and in meetings we’ve been awash with film premieres, awards shows, video shoots, album launch parties gigs and picnics in the park.

This week’s fabulosity kicked off with writer/director/actor Noel Clarke’s film premiere for his new movie 4321 at the Odeon Leicester square. I was so late that my guy had to hold a car park spot for me around the corner by physically standing in it and as I was wearing a tight, white ,Dita Von Teese pencil skirt dress couldn’t take bigger steps than a geisha girl. I was stressing that the doormen wouldn’t let us in as we were pushing the punctuality limit so I popped my converse on with the dress and hurried embarrassed up the red carpet with my mate looking mortified at me LOL. Typically, Noel Clarke was still doing interviews on the red carpet and said hi as I tried to run past avoiding his eye in my mixed up outfit. Once inside the foyer I swapped shoes into my skyscraper stilettos and all was good with the world (and my mates face) again!
In one corner of the foyer I spotted actors Aml Ameen and Adam Deacon who were deep in conversation, no doubt about their thespian world-I shimmied over to them for a quick hug and catch up before running along to find my seat.
Before getting there however I bumped into dishy boxer David Haye and reached up to kiss his cane rowed cowboy hat wearing head. Thankfully our seats were in between MTV comedian Kojo and Master Shortie-who’s just signed his American deal!. Also in the house were Wiley, presenter’s Rickie and Melvin, MTV and BBC comic impressionist Jason Lewis and many other power players. The film was eagerly anticipated and didn’t disappoint. Not one to be held in a niche pocket, Noel has expanded his urban film genre to a bigger diverse audience and cast and the film was gripping and intriguing in all the right places with its slowly unravelling plotline. It was very entertaining and Noel really has founded a new film genre for young people that speaks their language and that they can relate to. Bashy did the sound track and got Mz Bratt, Adam Deacon, Noel and others involved like the unifying business guru that he is.

Straight after the film I popped on the sneakers again to leg it up the road to catch the final part of singer Egypt’s showcase at Black Market Records where a nice cool crowd was mingling with good hospitality. The crowd seemed to enjoy the new music from Egypt who had fantastic energy and her new material sounds promising.

My week also included a lovely networking evening with my colleagues at BBC children’s department where i caught up with a number of diverse producers and directors from all walks of life to share experiences, next I spent a whole evening just writing lovely things for references for some of my former colleagues, then I cooked Eastenders actress Preeya Kalidas a Sunday morning pancake brunch with maple syrup, raspberries and blueberries as we listened to her debut album (more on that next week!) I ended last weekend judging at my old ballet schools national finals competition which was very la did ah darlings and reminded me to go book a pedicure for my ballet worn feet!.

Later in the week it was Genesis Carnival Company’s press launch celebrating 30 years at carnival! We were treated to nibbles and drinks as they unveiled their cyber-tribe themed costumes for this years Notting Hill Carnival 2010
The costumes were modelled by Miss Jamaica UK and Miss London and the evening was hosted by former Red Dwarf star Danny John-Jules and we were treated to a live performance by Soca Bantan from Grenada to get us into the carnival spirit early-I guess it’s a West London privilege!

The next day Mobo founder and friend Kanya King called to invite me to the UK Performance Awards, an annual event that aims to celebrate outstanding UK breakthrough performances across a number of diverse categories such as sport, education, music, innovation and the environment. Hosted by Kate Silverton at The Churchill Hyatt Regency in Portman Square it started with a champagne reception before a show, which awarded very deserving nominees accolades. In the music section were Tinie Tempah, Giggs , Marina and the Diamonds and newcomer Ainne. Lifetime award winner Sebastian Coe made me laugh as he was not amused being sat at his arch rival Steve Ovetts table. Luckily I was sat at the aptly named music influenced ‘’McCartney’’ table. The lunch was delicious, until I got a text from Giggs saying ‘’stuffing your face as usual’’!.i looked around the ballroom to see him smirking at me. If I get anorexic in the future blame him. Later as the host called for Giggs onstage it turns out he had gone for a pee and was no where to be seen. Hilarious!. Tinie ended up winning the music category and Kanya collected his award for him-make sure you get it Tinie-you know what Kanyas like-it’ll be on her desk alongside her MBE for years if you’re not careful.

That same night I was summoned to Westminster where the uber talented vocalist Alicia Keys was holding her ‘’keep a child alive black ball ‘’. The event was in a classic old church space which looked breath taking on the summers night as the paparazzi lined alongside the red carpet for the A LIST names that just kept on coming. As I stepped in there was pandemonium over Katie Price and her man Alex, next JLS, Tinie Tempah, Tinchy Stryder, footballers Sol Campbell and Carlton Cole and Chris Martin flew by. After that I spotted a gorgeous looking Jade Ewen and shoe God Christian Louboutin. The JLS boys were seated with Katie and Alex and the ballroom was heaving with glitz and money-just the right ingredients for a charity auction. Alicia took to the stage to welcome everyone wearing a silver cocktail dress that she looked pretty in but it has to be said, resembled a toilet doily. And for the millionth time this decade people questioned ‘’who is her stylist and what were they thinking?’’. We concluded that it must be an attempt to hide the ever-growing pregnant bump .She was joined by her co-host Thandie Newton who looked lovely. The food and drinks just kept on coming (can you tell I ate a lot this week!), we were also treated to platefuls of posh biccie macaroons- you really haven’t lived if you don’t know about macaroons!. Once the auction began it was the most fun-unlike most auctions the bidding and bidders were big!. First up donated by OK magazine was an opportunity to have your photo taken with Alicia. Obviously I take my proximity to stars and my photo opportunities for granted but imagine my shock when a bidder stumped up £12.000 for it!.
It was interesting to see that most of the night though, not 1 footballer or celeb bid on anything whilst heads of record labels were bidding like wildfire. Does this show who really has the purse of gold?
Funnily the auctioneer kept mis pronouncing Alicia’s name calling her Al-eeccc-ia instead of Al-esh-ia. Before long all the celebs were throwing offers around. Shaun Wright Phillips offered a footie coaching lesson which hilariously Carlton Cole bid for!. Christian Louboutin auctioned off a pair of shoes signed by Alicia and Beyonce that he had custom made for them. Next, JLS offered themselves out on a dinner date which had the ladies freakin out. it went for £7000!
Thereafter Alicia’s fiancé producer and artist Swiss Beats offered a studio session with him which AEG head Rob Hallet joked that JLS should invest in . To our delight both Tinchy Stryder and JLS got into a bidding war for it against each other -JLS won with £30,000!!! I couldn’t help thinking neither act really needed Swiss to get to number 1 but maybe they were thinking of their U.S prospects?. I also wondered whether JLS’ deal with Simon Cowell could be so lucrative that each lad could afford to shell out £8000 on a whim!?
To end the nigh everyone was upstanding as hostess Alicia performed onstage joined by Kasabian. By now Alicia had changed into a new outfit. And looked good! Wearing a black asymmetrical shoulder cut sequin knee length loose dress! Finally -the stylist came through lol.
If you love kids & Alicia Keys & support her cause-text the word ALIVE now to 82540 to make an instant £3 donation to Keep A Child Alive
As everyone danced hard to the live set, JLS were jammin hard, Tinchy looked a lil bewildered swayin by himself and I had sweat too much dancing wit the boys and decided to make a classy getaway before the lights came up fully and exposed me.
As I left I was handed a Goody bag, which was handmade, by women from Rwanda, all the women that made it had sewn their name inside the bag they made, with a toy watch inside-a very conscious, fun, inspiring night- a salute to Ms Keys-a woman of substance.

LEONA LEWIS, RIHANNA, LUKE BIGGINS ….

LEONA, NICOLA & JASMINE.

For so long its been about the fellas but this year the ladies are back with a vengeance. Leona Lewis manager, my mate Nicola called and asked if I’d like to join them in their ‘’Laurie Milne’’ jeweller extraordinaire VIP Box at the 02 Arena for Rihannas recent ‘’Last girl on earth’’ tour show. Well VIP and Box are my 2 of my fave words and to share it with lovely Leona of course I accepted. Leona had a bad throat the day of the show so I tried not to waffle on to her too much during the show as I usually tend to. Riri came on late. She probably wanted to distance herself from support act Pixie Lotts cos Pixie was good-too good for a warm up. When Riri finally made it onstage she brought attitude, bolshiness and visuals to entertain. Her vocals are very nasal and not the easiest on the ear but her catchy song writers and stunning outfits and set designs more than distract you from that. Also-when at a gig I try to go with realistic expectation. In the same way that going to see Whitney was more about experiencing a real moment with a legend, Riri is clearly not going to bring Mary vocals. She didn’t disappoint though. From riding astride a hot pink army tank, to dancing on a Cadillac car, to gliding across the stage on travellators and revolving dance floors there were pink leotards, black rubber S&M outfits and more visually tantalising feasts that highlighted her glamazon figure to its fullest. Even her final web catsuit that looked like it came from Dalston Market was carried off like a couture classic!. Only thing is if she’s going to wear 6 inch platforms she’s gotta practise walking in them more as she took a tumble-not the first of the tour-and certainly wont be the last. . As well as her own hits-which by now there really are plenty of (thanks to her A&R man the legendary RocNation genius, Jay Brown), -she threw in a few covers including an Oasis classic.During ‘’hate how much I love you’’ she had the crowd eating out of her hand, if only she could get more personality into her set –it was over an hour before she even said ‘’Hello London’’ and even then, that was it-it was clear she lacked confidence to relax. A lot of cash was spent on this tour with all the various sets, trapeze artists, dancers, and full band as well as an abundance of props and all I could think was ‘’bravo girl!’’, where’s the ‘’Princess of the Roc-Tierra Marie now?’’.

This very month Leona Lewis herself takes the 02 Arena in as a part of her tour which goes across the country and I cant wait to see her with her full stage show. She watched Rihanna very closely when we were at her gig but didn’t seem blown away. I know Leona will shine in that understated, purely vocal talent she has. She needs nothing else. Her brother Bradley used to be one of my editors at MTV and used to talk about his ‘’younger sister who sings’’ all the time years ago-who would’ve ever imagined that she would be an international superstar years later?.

My West London sistren Estelle was in town very briefly on low key business and whilst here she took me shopping to Selfridges, browns and Harvey Nics. She caused a stampede in Selfridges as fans recognised her and wanted photos and like a true star she obliged. I’ve noticed during my years working with the stars that the bigger and more successful they are the more they respect their fans. Its always the asses that disrespect the very people that put money in their pockets with their ‘’sorry no photos’’ crap. Estelle’s always gracious to her fans. As well as that we went down to the now regular Wednesday night at Camden’s Koko Club where Channel 4 record their great music show ‘’Pop’’. Estelle was eager to catch it as our mate’s Tinie Tempah and Mr Hudson were performing that night. Tinie Tempah was so good it was fascinating to observe. He is amazing live and had an energy that’s going to smash the summer festivals this year.

Speaking of West London, video director to the urban music world stars Luke Biggins and hip hops version of photographer Rankin- Mr Paul H, have set up an amazing new huger than huge, slicker than slick studio in West London where we have been frequenting often this month as so many new artists and old have made it their new home. Called Jacuzzi Studios it really is a central hub of London’s hip-hop elite right about now. They’re looking for eager, young, talented people to join their style, make up, film crew so holla at them on twitter if you think you’d like to be part of a growing, about to explode movement- hip hops version of the Andy Warhol.

GOSS; Which young new British musician was just about to sign on the dotted line to a major record label deal this week when Mr Simon Cowell called up and offered them a rival offer instead?

ESTELLE, BASHY, THE WORD & MUYIWA.

June’s finally nearly here and at last the weather has given us opportunities to pop our dresses and shorts on which frankly is a blessing as my legs were beginning to think they’d never see the light of day again and if I’m spending a few hours a week doing squats and lungs in the gym then these pins need to be on display whilst they’re still decent!

This fortnight I’ve been watching old tapes of the ground breaking, iconic, nineties youth TV show THE WORD. The reason? This September is the 20-year anniversary of the show and there will be mass TV and event celebrations to acknowledge the affect this notorious show had on youth TV culture in the past decade.
Its fascinating to watch the tapes back on the show where I was a presenter on series 5, where we had icons from Bo Derek, Prince, Patrick Swayze, Snoop Dogg, Nirvana, Salt n Pepa, Eric Cantona, Jean Claude Van Damme, Jodeci, Mary J Bilge and many , many others appearing before they blew up. The outrageous content that showed anything and everything wild in the world of celebrity was my first foray into TV presenting before my MTV presenting days and I look back on those times in awe. The live studio used to be filled with party people, street dancers wearing shell suits, burlesque furry knicker wearing performers, and all the staff that made THE WORD went on to bigger things. Zoe Ball and Jo Wiley used to be researchers on the show!. My then genius TV bosses Bob Geldof, Charlie Parsons and Waheed Ali bred a stable of future power players that are now heads of TV, radio, film, and between them all they practically control the industry. Back then millions of viewers around the uk made no plans on a Friday night because THE WORD was unmissable, car crash TV. Live music, controversial interviews (who can forget that we gave Shabba Ranks a platform to ruin his own career and humiliated Oliver Reed and MC Hammer so bad), and stunts that would never be allowed to air in today’s very politically correct world were the normal every week. A group of nobodies eager to get their 15 minutes of fame would do unthinkable things to get onto the infamous slot ‘’The Hopefuls’’ which saw them sit in baths of cow dung, eat toenail clipping sandwiches, drink pints of each others urine, snog an old granny and lick an over weight mamas armpits post workout. The interesting thing I observe whilst viewing the old shows is that no music, youth entertainment show has ever matched it. There’s definitely a huge gap for this in today’s broadcasting world but which broadcaster would ever have the balls to recreate such a monster in today’s OFCOM controlled TV world?

After a year of the men controlling the music charts the ladies are back in full force with this month seeing visits from Whitney, Rihanna, Leona Lewis, Kelis, and of course the return of my West London hombre Estelle!. Estelle continues to represent the UK internationally and battles the ‘’dark skinned stereotype within our industry’’ daily. Her forthcoming album ALL OF ME is about to take over international play lists again and the first official single called FALL IN LOVE is already being hummed by radio listeners globally.
To celebrate her return I threw a last minute dinner party in her honour at mine where a few girl friends and men popped by. The night started in the usual civilised manner with nibbles and wine and conversation. As the night continued I corrupted poor stell by encouraging her to mix up a punch from my cocktail cupboard and before you knew it all kinds of bottles were being mixed with her favourite beverage-Ribena-to make a deadly concoction that tasted sweet and easy on the palette but was messing us all up. Moments later the banter between the girls and guys went off with the men role playing men chatting up women in nightclubs and all kinds of screaming, laughing and passing out took place. Estelle’s new album playback party is this week and takes place in a very fab venue with her usual eclectic mix of art and fashion. A true artist.

Finally I ended the week by going to see 2 live shows. Firstly to see artist Bashy play the lead role of ‘Markus the Sadist ‘ again in Jonzi D’s hip hop theatre show about an artist that gets signed to a major label and sells his soul to the music industry devil-always on point Bashy is a true multi faceted artist that can only get bigger and blow up this year.

Next I was invited to the IndigO2 on Friday night to watch Muyiwa and his famed chorale, Riversongz in action. Now I had heard a bit about Muyiwa and Riversongz before, but nothing would have prepared me for the night with the UK’s number one selling gospel artist. All I can say is who needs the gym when a few hours at a Muyiwa concert has the same effect on your body! I’m still aching from all that jumping around and dancing. Even the usually reserved Rudolph Walker [Patrick from Eastenders] let all inhibitions go and danced the night away with his wife, Dounne on the front row of the sell-out show. Also in the house was award-winning comedian, Eddie Kadi (who will be headlining at the 02 in September) saxophonist YolanDa Brown who had the crowd in the palm of her hand with her performance towards the end of the night and Chief Inspector Leroy Logan – Britain’s highest ranking African Caribbean police officer – who was so “inspired” by the show that told Muyiwa that he wanted to put him in contact with his son, Gerad ‘Soundbwoy’ Logan! It’s been two years since Muyiwa took to the stage and judging by the reaction of the crowd, it’s obvious he’s been missed!

GIGGS – ‘LET EM AVE IT’ ALBUM PLAYBACK

Luckily my diary has has had as much fun in it this week as work or I could be in serious danger of depression with this UK weather. As Marvin would say ‘’What’s going on?’’. We’re mid may-nearly summer and its still the temperature of winter!
Heating my life up were lots of entertaining moments. I have made 3 Sunday roasts in a row for friends who have popped in, eaten to their hearts content and fallen asleep on my now legendary sofa (Mariah name checks it in my song ‘’betcha gone know’’ in her latest album) .
This fortnight my girl Estelle was briefly in town from NYC and we spent bank holiday Monday shopping at Selfridges, Browns and Harvey Nics, where Stell bought some high dusky pink vertiginous designer heels. She nearly tempted me into getting the midnight blue satin blinged up Alexander McQueen’s but luckily my bank account managers face kept looming into my subconscious and I kept my credit plastic tightly wrapped away out of sight like a good girl.
Post shopping I dragged Stell down to our mate hip hop theatre impresario Jonzi D’s Breaking Convention hip-hop theatre weekend at Sadlers Wells which was packed full of dance loving people who wished they had been in the original Breakdance and Beat Street movies (don’t deny it-I did too!).
To end the night we had a last minute dinner in Mayfair restaurant Automat with stylist to the stars Karen Binns and other friends.

Last Wednesday and most Wednesdays recently I’ve been found down at Camdens legendary Koko nightclub (formally Camden Palace), where Channel 4 regularly record their Sunday morning T4 music show ‘’Pop’’. Estelle was still in town and really wanted to go see her mate Mr Hudson and Tinie Tempah perform, so a 10 strong crew of ladies including Virgin Media’s Jodie Dalmeda, Music Worlds Fiona Ramsey, PR mavon Vanessa Amadi, Adidas head Paola Lucktung, and I jumped around with all the young uns, and I mean young-most of the audience looked 16!  Tinie Tempah never fails to entertain, his presence onstage is so strong he had the packed venue jumping screaming and chanting-they were totally eating out of his hand!

Next my one time nemesis south London rapper Giggs called me to cuss me. Well, he actually called to invite me to his albums official playback but cussed me first because he assumed I’d deleted him from my phone contacts as I hadn’t immediately known who it was. After explaining that my blackberry had finally collapsed and was in intensive care being repaired leaving me with no contacts to hand he let me off. Phew!
Anyhoo-that Friday afternoon I took the afternoon off work and headed down to Giggs very special afternoon.
The invitation implied it would be a different event to the usual and I was excited. The address was a very old world educational institute in the heart of Londons brain centre and the college was an old Etoneque building with amazing architecture and grand painting of lords, ladies and distinguished folk from yesteryear looking down on us. As we entered the lobby we were greeted with the now expected wine, soft drinks offers and Giggs immediately came bounding down the grand staircase to greet his guests and thank us for coming. We acknowledged how far this guy had come. 30 minutes later we were ushered into a huge grand hall, like a Harry Potter movie where old world desks were set up like an examination hall. An old lecturer (was he an actor?), greeted us and played the role of our tutor explaining that we had 45 minutes to open the paper on our desks, put on our individual headphones and take the paper away with us. Well, this was brilliant! You could see all 50 of the chosen journalists were impressed. The juxtaposition of this south London, raw, grimy character placed alongside this grand ,imposing, English, establishment was enough to start with but the examination room and headphones just banged in the final nail that said Giggs was on another level. He had mentioned to me a while back that when he played his music for people ,like most music acts he wanted total silence until the track was over. Well now he had forced listeners to actually listen. Unlike your average artist playback session where journos chat drink and socialise Giggs had forced us to sit and pay attention. Like he always has. Our desks had the ‘’Giggs listening exam paper ‘’ on it, as well as a byte sized mars bar, a green apple and some water. The visual was a classic. Fantastic idea! The body of work sounded together and panoramic and I have no doubt that if Giggs plays the game, then alongside his very slick managers Jack and Archie they can come, see and conquer.
I ended the week with my favourite body jam classes at the gym and a dinner party at my crib thrown in honour of the return of my west London girl Estelle. It was a long night full of eating, drinking, screaming, laughing and after the great company I had an early start at a South London church for one of my best friends daughters christenings. I had been asked to film the blessing and so as I stood there, camcorder in hand, smart garms on, surrounded by my nearest and dearest under gods roof I thought ’’lord let me sleep 8 hours tonight!’’.

what giggs and i would look like if we were at school together

GUMBALL RALLY-ELO & WHITNEY HOUSTON

So much had been made of Whitney’s live show that it was impossible not to arrive at the docklands 02 arena without preconceptions of how bad one of the worlds living legend divas show could be. The uk press had been salivating at her ‘’terrible Birmingham show’’ with predictable headlines like ‘’Houston we have a problem’’ etc. but my guy and I turned up out of respect for who she once was and the fact that she is after all still Whitney. Legend. Icon. Badass mama with a voice that once reigned supreme.
It seems thousands of others felt the same cos the arena was heaving with anticipation early and as Whitney walked out with no extra pomp or regalia the crowd went nuts. The beginning part of the show saw her mentor and record industry label head Clive Davis watching her from his seat alongside Whitney’s mother. The family were in full support as her daughter bobbi Christina also took the mic briefly to show those melodic genes carry through the Houston household.
When she performed ‘’its not right but its ok’’ I sung along and smiled at the irony of the title song. It wasn’t right that clearly the years had taken their toll on Whitney’s voice in certain parts of songs especially those notorious high notes, but it was ok. We were there to see the legend in the flesh.
Similarly In “Greatest love of all” she wasn’t hitting the high notes but it really didn’t matter. The fans must’ve read the bad reviews but sang along hard and kept her going.
Interestingly in more gospel flavoured tracks like ‘’Preachers wife’’ movie song “Jesus loves me” , she hit every high note sounding amazing!. Clearly her vocals are more at home with the music of the church she was raised with.
There was a long segue with her brother singing “drifting on a melody” which predictably had fans running for the loo and hot dog stand whilst Whitney changed into her next outfit which was a red rubber satin looking gown which unfortunately for her clung in the wrong places and made her look a little lumpy and unflattering but nevertheless there’s no doubt that her figures great for her age. For me it was a sack the stylist moment.
The show was worth seeing a songstress with a reputation and catalogue that Whitney has. Her banter with the crowd was full of feistiness as she cussed 2 front row audience members for not participating as much as she liked, and again as she acknowledged the haters as the crowd gave her a rousing applause.
Her encore showed a more youthful Whitney in boots, jeans ,ruffled white shirt and waistcoat prince charming style. She came, she sang, she may not have conquered but she came correct and gave us her all and it was more than enough in this current day when many acts cant sing live to begin with.

Straight afterwards it was off to the Mayfair hotel uber glam bar for a party thrown by former international male model elo in honour of his business-the London motor museum.
Now, I’m not a car fan in any sense of the word. I cant tell one make from another and distinguish them from one another by describing their colour. But last week elo convinced me to travel out to Hayes in west London where he opened up the museum after hours on a Sunday so I could have a private tour and viewing. It blew my mind. And my mate who is a car fan was gob smacked by the spectacle. The museum houses over 150 classic carts from Europe and America from every era and genre. There are classic cute cars, flash cars, cars from movies, videos, celebrities and so on. Cars with statistics like ‘’fastest, most expensive, oldest in the world’’.
So when elo invited us to the pre party just before the annual infamous celeb packed gumball rally I agreed to go. As we pulled up to the venue a few of the classic cars from his collection were on display outside and passers by were gawping and taking photos in excitement as if tom cruise had just passed by.
The usual ultra trendy, sexy model types and rich kids inside were sipping cocktails and nibbling on finger food. Just as I thought at 1am that the night was over elo explained that he was dragging us to the after after party at cirque club. I protested that I had an early morning the next day. The protest was in vain and lasted 3 minutes.
The outside of cirque was heaving and reminded me of a hype New York that people from every fashionable walk of life were desperate to enter. Once we were in we were guided to the basement where it was like a scene from a video as strippers knelt gyrating on the bar in frilly pink lingerie, carnival girls and circus inspired characters were mingling with street kids. There were even midgets jamming hard (are we till allowed to say midgets or is it vertically challenged people?).
At first the dj was playing house music that didn’t have me ecstatic until I spotted a group of home boys jumping up and down like crazy on the still pretty empty dance floor. On further inspection it turned out to be none other than Dizzee Rascal wearing a nirvana t-shirt dancing hard to the hypnotic beats with 3 of his crew. As if that sight wasn’t bizarre enough , next to him Shane from boy band Boyzone was hosting a table heaving with drinks that the whole club were guzzling from.
Once the dj started spinning hip hop & R&B the dance floor got blitzed and it turned into a sweat fest up in there.
I finally dragged myself out of there at 3am dreading waking up 2 hours later as a car was coming to scoop me up at 6am to do my slot on the BBC RADIO LONDON breakfast show with my old BIG BREAKFAST colleagues Gabby Roslin and Paul Ross.
Yep-I was a wreck but hey-life’s for living right?. As someone once said, you can sleep when you’re dead.

elo and his bat mobile

Akala

What a week. I feel like wonder woman. cooked Sunday roasts for friends, picked up my guy at the airport, entertained my god children, did my newspaper review slot on BBC RADIO LONDON on the breakfast show with Gaby Roslin and Paul Ross, got my car back from the garage thank goodness as the matchbox I was driving was horrific, paid the usual car fines, attended the Whitney show at the 02 arena, and juggled work, family and friends. The stand out moments included my trip to a video shoot at the London motor museum and an album showcase by musician Akala.
The London Motor Museum based in West London. How had I never known about this secret hidden gem on my doorstep? A huge warehouse just off the A40 and M4 that showcases over 150 amazingly stunning cars .I’m not a car person at all, know nothing about them but even I was left speechless by the vehicles from famous movies tv shows, videos, celebrity cars, vintage, classic, pimp mobiles, European, American, you name it-this is an impressive collection.
Set in a slick, stunning, spacious venue that is the perfect place to hold parties, showcases, photo shoots, corporate events, family days out I will be taking my god children there soon. It reminded me of the aircraft hanger spaces that Puffy and Damon used to hold their fashion shows and gigs at in New York. Probably because the owner Elo is an American who now calls the UK his home. Elo used to be a very well known model face for well known clothing brands and over the years saved his money to buy up his car toys. He buys them cheaper when they’re wrecks and then does them up and sells them for massive amounts. Snoop Dogg, Kelly Rowland and premiership footballers have all graced his business. Elo shut down central London with a road block of his classic cars when he threw a cocktail party at the Mayfair hotel last week as hundreds of press, passers by and guests all surrounded the visually stunning pieces of road art outside the party venue whilst we sipped cocktails and nibbled finger food.

Next it was off to Hoxton to see Ms Dynamites little brother Akala perform tracks from his new album ‘’double think’’. Earlier in the week Akala had a private listening session for 10 people at his recording studio where we sat and eagerly heard his new work.
Akala told me he was going to hackney empire and watching KRS1 at age 7 and going to Shakka dances as a kid too so its no wonder that he fully embraces his heritage and knows his culture inside out. He was attending an extra curricular African history class
regularly as a child too so is always going to champion pro black causes quite naturally. When his big sis ms dynamite was doing her thing smashing the charts, Akala was playing professional football
and even owned a restaurant in Cyprus when he was playing for Wimbledon football club. Clearly a talent from a young age he explains he gave up every young boys dream job as a footballer to become a musician because ‘’ Football became a job’’.
Every time I hang with Akala we debate back and forth about anything and everything. With 2 very strong opinionated people nothing else could happen. We jumped from music to politics in seconds. Like me Akala hates the UK benefit system and what its turned millions of people into .’’ To make life so easy that you’re comfy to do nothing’’

I’ve always wondered why a man as gifted lyrically and visually wouldn’t just take the easy route and make a commercial chart hit to gain fame and money and make other material for his fans on a smaller scale?. Akala looks horrified and retorts to me quoting KRS1 lyrics and more as well as  ‘’there’s been a dumbing down of music in the last 10-15 years
, I’m looking at the music model from a different point of view from the norm
, so when music acts are trying to sell you a product like champagne its the end- its about selling people a lifestyle that they can’t attain. It tells you young black people can’t think. That they can only think with their pistol or penis.
I refuse to make that one track that could chart me and sell my soul in the process.
I wont make materialistic music cos I can relate to people that have taken the wrong path –grown men tell me they wet their beds and have nightmares in jail. I know this side of life and I don’t want it’’.

Wow-10 minutes into our chat and Akala makes me question so much.Akala adds as a final nail in his monologue ‘ I do believe that people want intelligent music, I know miles Davies, Ella Fitzgerald and bob Marley had to fight and for us musically to suggest that this is the best we can produce is a disservice to them and a testament to show how much we’ve destroyed ourselves’’.
Akalas has learnt not to sell his musical soul from past experience as he confesses to me that he hated his previous song “The edge”. It wasn’t staying true to his mentality and now he says its ‘’ a song I feel shame about and it hurts me. Although the NBA just licensed it LOL’’.
He has a very strong point. We were clearly a nation that once upon a time did respect and prefer harder rap when you consider that it was the Wu Tang album that was the 1st rap album to go to number 1 in the UK. It looks like this young man is steadily creating a parallel movement for a fresh more articulate listener around the world.
Further highlighting this coming change in our scene is the fact that his F64 is currently one of the most popular on the online UK music site SBTV (just for the record akalas favourite F64’s are by Black the Ripper and Lowkey).

Even though Akala may not be a commercial chart name yet he’s managed to stay true to his musical beliefs with the aid of top showbiz agents to the stars William Morris who book him regular festival dates like Camden Crawl and breaking convention/ globally. Akala excitedly reveals ‘’They treat me like a band I’ve supported Christina Aguilera / Jay Z /Richard Ashcroft and more. Lots of shows outside of the urban scene, Some even say that I started the whole electro dance genre with my Shakespeare –hip-hop music projects’’.

Not many people have heard Akalas new material yet although Radio 1 DJs Ferne Cotton and Zane Lowe have played cuts from it on their shows. In between munching down on his favourite conscious vegan chocolate Akala played us what sound like hit after hit.
The album begins with a long classical piano introduction and the material is loosely inspired by George Orwell’s 1984. Akala loves the fact that these books predicted fluke events.
Akala explained that he went away to south African and Brazil and it was the Brazilian youth that fascinated him…’’there were 50 kids holding m16’s. But still being polite to me and offering me their hospitality. Those kids are probably not alive now but their hospitality was unbelievable.

Akalas first single XXL is deliberately not like the rest of album. It stars mc stereotype. An A&R man offers an artist jewellery and the usual devil gifts to sell his soul and of course the devil wins and the artist ends up going mad. It immediately reminded me of Jonzi D’s musical ‘’Markus the sadist ‘’ where Bashy played the lead role of Markus. Akala nodded and smiled ‘’Bashys on the remix’’.
The second single-‘’Yours and my children’’ is about war and the way Brazil exploits young people to kill them. Akala spoke like a Brazilian version of Che Guevara!. I watched him thinking he would make an excellent young politician. He has natural leadership qualities that inspire and engage thought. When I mention this he shrugs ‘’A lot of young people wanna know but don’t know where to look

When you’re educated you won’t disrespect yourself and your community- I will do the video in brazil and do loads of remixes to create a movement!’’.
Much of the album is hard, heavy drum n bass, rock and hip-hop beats mashed up. Very club and festival friendly with Prodigy sounding classics.
My favourite tracks are ‘’Marathon Man ‘’ which is very panoramic sounding-I can imagine it on an Adidas advert or film soundtrack .i also love ‘’Physco’’ and ‘’Lay Down Face in the Dirt’’. There’s a stand out track that the ladies will love called ‘’I don’t need’’ ,a beautiful track about what Akala needs from a woman…’.not the fake nails/lipstick/cleavage, Needs to share quality, Its ok to be vulnerable upset ‘’. Clearly a man who knows the love of a good woman. Smile.
Akala has managed to juxtapose infectious beats with deep, articulate lyrics but even though the album talks about deep issues but it ends on a happy note.
It’s impressive. Very unexpected, very ground breaking new sounds that may not be familiar to urban music lovers but is a refreshing breath of fresh air. Akala has always stood out amongst the run of black musicians with his very sharp, attuned intellect and articulation. With this being election week he refuses to reveal which party he’s voting for but does state ‘’ this is my official party line- Whatever decision you make ,make an informed decision’’.
From his deep, political rhyming word play to his hip hop Shakespeare projects to his un-missable live shows ,he’s a force to behold.
go claim what’s yours son!.

Ty absolutely killed it last Friday night at Plan B in Brixton….from the moment he stepped on the stage he had the audience in the palm of his hand, whether they were there for the club night or specifically for the launch, he definitely had it down packed.

He totally engaged the crowd and had them singing along to almot every track.  Backed by the almighty Big Ted their stage presence was nothing less than pure hip hop and professional.

It was great to finally see Ty in his ‘happy place’ again, on stage, behind the mic and entertaining.  Those who only know the ‘serious side’ to this MC his comical side shun bright while constantly running jokes, saluted the old school – hailed me out.  Every song.

His creative side was on point, interlude between track inlcuded the theme tune to ‘Cheers’ – it was dope!!!  He jumped in and out of the crowd and at one point was laying on his back on stage, rapping….I kid you not.

It’s clear that Ty has a special relationship with hip hop and watching his performance, his delivery, his passion, his determination and his hunger, it was great to see a UK MC who’s been in the game for many of years still able to represent.

With the current state of UK Urban artist making an impact in the national charts, Ty can/will be that artist who will constantly make music, constantly gig, constantly developing and constantly increasing his fanbase and out live what’s hot right now.

He ended his show and totally forgot to do the single so Ted had to remind me and in his unique comical way Ty apologies and then performed the single with the crowd swaying from side to side.

A BIG NIGHT!

by COOKIE AKA the infamous Cookie Crew legend..

Ty & Audley Harrison


I’ve always made it a point to avoid football matches and highly-strung men with testosterone and alcohol fuelled mouths at male dominated sporting events so this fortnight was certainly an eye opener.
My old mate boxer Audley Harrison made his come back fight appearance at Alexandra Palace and of course I was there to support him.
Even though he’d left VIP tickets and a VIP car park pass for me at the box office I was so embarrassed about the courtesy car that my garage had lent me whilst they fixed my ride, that I parked at the bottom of the hill and made my mate walk up with me. He wasn’t best pleased but understood my fear of shame at being seen by all and sundry stepping out of a gold, orange, brown matchbox shape mini Daewoo wearing all my glad rags!
Once we finally made it into the venue I was surprised at the fun fair like ambience which saw bars, food stalls including a pattie stall (do they have those at all fights or just ones with black fighters?), and many many young ladies wearing barely any clothes running around with vulgar expletives exiting their mouths. Girls, be sexy on the inside. You will last longer that way. Strippers and models have an expiry date.
‘’Wow’’ I thought ‘’this is gonna be a night to remember’’. And it was. Sitting in Block A in front of some rude boys who gave us hilarious comedy all night with their wise cracks and cusses, to the chants of the crowd that were both funny and vicious , ‘’we’ll never see you again…..AGAIN!’’ and so on. If I’m totally honest I have the utmost respect for Audleys focus cos some of the things that were being yelled out to him were hurtful-I guess that’s a boxing thing. There were a furiously aggressive few rounds where Audleys opponent Michael Sprott seemed to be getting some shots in, and Audley fought with one arm cos he dislocated his shoulder in the 2nd round. It was clear by round three that he wasn’t using his right arm and continued to fight one handed! In the 12th and final round when we thought it was a wrap, Audley drew on some superhero strength and knocked Sprott out with a big lick from nowhere! As someone said ‘’to all the Harrison haters ‘’SHAME ON YOU ALL it was a different story when he was winning us a gold medal at the Olympics. It shows that a lot of you fools only follow a winning fighter .I suppose you all support Man United, Chelsea or Arsenal. You’re all a load of glory hunters, Audley will prove you wrong’’. Oh how we roared, laughed and cussed back his detractors. Believe in West London! We fight to win!

Another champ- albeit a lyrical one is uk hip-hop forefather and my old friend rapper Ty.
With all the UK black music acts that are in the charts now that hailed from the grime scene its easy to forget that there’s still a very vibrant UK hip-hop scene attracting thousands of young fans nationally and internationally and this scene will also blow up given time and care. You only have to look at this years re-emergence of UK hip hop seeing album releases from Roots Manuva, Klashnekoff; Rodney P; Charlie Sloth; Jhest, Skits and its appreciative audiences that recently attended the Jay Z, Talib Kwali and Jay Electronica concerts to know there’s still a piece of our culture that’s realer than real.

Ty’s new album ‘’Special Kind of Fool’’ was released last Monday April 19th and has been bumping in my ride ever since. He represents what real hip-hop has been for over 2 decades with his international sell out gigs alongside hip hops greatest. I was really impressed listening to the new material, as it really is Ty’s story. The tale of an artist who after ten years, three critically acclaimed albums (Awkward 2001, Upwards 2003, Closer 2006), collaborations with the likes of Tony Allen, De La Soul, Damon Albarn and Estelle, a Mercury nomination amongst other accolades, and a worldwide army of fans, has always followed his heart. From the days when we all used to break-dance, body pop and rap down in Covent Garden with Jonzi D, DJ Pogo and Billy Bizness and rock a backpack ,Ty was there doing his thing on the mic from day one.

We sat down over an eggs Benedict breakfast recently to reminisce about the days when the American musicians ran our music scene and agreed that the change had come because many of us had put in the work. Acts like Wiley and Dizzee quite clearly know Ty and his music and the feeling of mutual respect co exists comfortably.
Acknowledging the recent successes of the UK urban scene Ty said ‘’the Sudden turn around of the UK music scene this past 2 years
is very impressive, its cool that doors are opening. However there’s no balance. All the kids think that the formula is the same- Can you not see the effect that this music’s having on kids now.
So now i can look back at So Solid and appreciate the success they had without compromising themselves.
I can see there’s no balance presently so I’m makin a record for myself first. Its not easy but
I rap on dance records to keep my finances secure’’.

It took Ty 2 and a half years on his own in his home studio to make his latest material. Unlike previous content which his musical partner Drew produced mostly-this time around it was all Ty- leading to a producer string to his already thick bow.
I wondered whether he felt any pressure having to try and keep up with the kids so to speak. Ty gave me that ‘don’t be ridiculous ‘ look that he has and explained ‘’ Jas I’m not concerning myself with fitting into what young people are into’’. To be fair, ty’s been here for the long stretch, Will the current crop of chart hitters still be here in 2 decades? Ty’s longevity clearly speaks for itself.
He hasn’t compromised and still they flock. Channel U have been known to rinse Ty’s video 24-7!
Ty has overcome adversity with a near death experience in 2006 when he had been training hard but not eating healthily before being diagnosed with diabetes. So he took a break and naturally came back with a different perspective on music making. He explained its like’’ Like when you have a child. You realise what’s important?. What’s your purpose?. Let’s get to the point quickly’’.

The thing most Ty’s fans love about him is that his whole career has been based around not being the stereotype MC from the street. He likes to show that people can come from poor areas and still be articulate. Ty is the alternative to being brash, he has an alternative swagger. He doesn’t say ‘’innit fam’’ or ‘’blood’’ within his songs. Some people would say it will be easier for Ty now that Kanye has opened that door- UK heads would argue Ty opened the door first.
The new album has big production, panoramic qualities musically and every now and again you may recognise a classic old skool line dotted through album
. Ty smiles ‘’A lot of people under estimate young people but they do research music and will get it’’. There are a few collaborations on the album with Ty’s friends such as Anthony Mills, Vula Malinga , Shaun Esscoffery, Erik Rico and even the Queen of lovers rock herself-Carol Thompson!.

The new single will be a double-a side called “Heart is breaking” featuring Sway
and “Me” . With ‘’Heart is breaking’’ Ty explains he wanted to create a broad cross reference of people struggling. ‘’i took snap shots of different modern day UK scenarios. I live in a multi cultural community and wanted to reference that.
I’m a ground breaker.
Its up to me to be broadminded and introduce new things’’.

He explains that his friendship with Sway goes way back to when sway was in a crew. Originally Bashy was supposed to feature but it didn’t work out but now I cant imagine it without Sway’’.

Ty and laughed and shook our heads at just how much the UK street music scene has developed. We recalled when rappers used to get booed onstage for having UK accents. Ty suggests ‘’There was an identity issue cos we weren’t proud of being Brits.
The youth have now decided we like our sound. The work that was put in the 80 and 90’s has helped.
A lot of kids blame oldies for not opening doors.
I’m cool with fact that we opened doors for Dizzee etc. What I’m not cool with is their attitude when they state “I’m not part of rap scene’’. if you’re not singing and you’re spitting over beats you ARE hip-hop so to dissociate yourself from hip-hop is disrespectful.
They don’t mind being called hip-hop when it suits them!’’.

Ty did bring up something I thought was interesting. Whilst young, new American lyricists frequently shout out their elders and fore fathers the UK acts don’t? But Ty has no hang ups. The only regret I spot is when he confesses ‘’
In my career I’ve sacrificed love. I’m a travelling man. I’m hard to lockdown-love has suffered’’.

I recalled that back in 1991 UK hip hoppers used to constantly talk about ‘’not selling out’’. Ty sighs ‘’No selling out then was about being young and wanting to be credible. The kids now have no problem with being pop.
The genre of lyrics was much stronger then so acts reflected that.
Hip hop is as weak as its ever been right now. Rebel MC,Goldie , Cookie Crew had a commercial element but were still real.
So Solid were an extension.
When people disassociate themselves with hip-hop now it annoys me. If Jay Z is your role model you are hip hop. Without hip-hop none of them would be dressing the way they dress and talking the way they talk. They need to understand that the music industry is allowing them to exist. They also need to know that Its cool to be a little bit humble. On your way down you meet people you met on your way up’’.
Ty continued ‘’there’s a common concept in grime that you do pop to make it. Wiley, Kano, Tinchy ,Lethal B etc were all in crews before majors plucked them to become solo and make solo acts. When you’re plucked away from your core its easier to manipulate you.
Try and do something to further your culture. Everyone’s too out for themselves. When the culture disappears they’ll be stuck!’’..

One thing that Ty and I agreed upon was that the new generation is very entrepreneurial whether its with online TV spots, video directing, forming companies and much much more. Surely we have to acknowledge the Bad Boy, Roc A Fella and Phat Farm empires for inspiring young homeboys globally.

Ty is funny, unique and different. When he’s not dropping hip hop knowledge he’s keeping people doubled up in laughter with his silly antics. And he’s utterly fearless and  unafraid of being stupid onstage. His live shows are legendary .He has fun, his audience have more. ‘’I don’t come with airs and graces. I crowd surf.
The maddest festivals I did were Montréal jazz festival in 2005 with Dilla and Roots Manuva. It was crazy. My  special moment there with Dilla was when he took me aside and congratulated me. He gave me his number and kept in contact.
The
Carling Festival in Reading was a memorable year where 50 got bottled by audience. I was in small tent with 2000 fans. I started by asking my crowd if they were gonna bottle me lol, then I climbed a turret mid performance and climbed so high I got stuck and security had to climb up and rescue me!’’.

Yes he’s a real feisty, mad, opinionated character.
If you’re not lucky enough to catch Ty at his May 31st gig at London’s Jazz Café where he’ll be with a full band you can keep up with him on twitter where his crazy side can often be seen saying things like ‘’I do declare from this day forward as far as the funhouse is concerned I will only be referred to as lord cumbassa the third and 3 quarters, busting dance routines and wearing George Clinton outfits!’’.

Mariah Carey


Whenever March and April come around I brace myself for Mariah to call up last minute and suggest sweetly ‘’hey what you doing next week? Wanna come and join me for a last minute 27th March anniversary /Wedding nuptial renewals/ vacation/party/celebration?’’. And yet whilst I know that I have pressing things to attend to here at home-how can you refuse an offer like that from a living legend like Mariah?
It used to knock me off kilter when I was a boring Capricorn that likes to plan her diary at least a month in advance but I’ve learnt over the years to ‘’be malleable’’.
This year the call came around 10 days ahead-which for her majesty Mrs Cannon is pretty decent notice!.
After throwing in 10 bathing suits, a couple of dresses and a tracky into my now extremely battered suitcase, I Jumped on an American Airlines flight wearing my Gucci boots and very English classic lady look. At check-in the stewardess mentioned that she followed my column and as I checked in at the gate I was informed that my seat had been changed. Assuming that my lovely aisle seat had been given to another and I’d been chucked mid-row my neck started twisting outta shape as I questioned ‘’why have you moved me?’’. I was ready to kick off before feeling real stupid as the clerk smiled ‘’we’ve upgraded you’’. ‘‘Oh’’ I giggled embarrassed and had a very pleasant experience sleeping flat all the way en route to my girls pad in New York.
Once I arrived at Mr and Mrs Cannons lair I was informed there was a note for me in the kitchen. Reading it I was informed that because Mr C awakes at 4am for his daily breakfast radio slot, the Carey-Cannons were already in bed (it was midnight), but that they’d left me ‘’some food in the fridge’’. Trying not to jump for joy as my mouth dribbled at the sight of UBER bourgeois eatery Mr Chows legendary squab in iceberg lettuce, I continued reading….’’oh, and there’s a surprise for you in the media room’’.
Curiosity out did my exhaustion as I padded down to the media den where our mutual friend had been waiting with MC all day to surprise me with her newborn baby!.
I gushed and got my broody on for a couple of hours .We are all inspired by our friends beautiful baby.
Not wanting to waste food that costs as much as my weekly wage-(ok I may be exaggerating- but only slightly), I then had Mr Chows for breakfast too before us 3 girls (MC, myself and Rachel) piled into the black convoy of vehicles that carried us to the private airfield to one of Mrs C’s favourite places in the world-Puerto Rico!.

En route to PR we played the same silly games that 12 year old girls all over the planet play whilst nibbling on crudités and sipping coconut water . I promised not to tweet that we were going to PR so I tweeted ‘’the islands’’ instead. I shouldn’t have bothered cos on arrival at the San Juan airfield the paparazzi was lurking in ambush for Mrs C and the tabloids had her plastered all over the next morning, and I just shrugged my shoulders and quipped ‘’right then, I’ll get tweeting haha’’.
En route to our lovely location at 2am MC insisted on stopping at an American superstore version of Boots chemist, to pick up ‘’noodles for the water’’ and ‘’candy for her husband’’ ( translation-what we Brits call floaties and sweets ’’. I know I should be used to it by now but every time MC insists on walking into regular stores and shopping it makes me chortle hard inside .If only they could see her now. The stores staff tried to hold it down but eventually cracked as a line of picture requests politely gathered and MC quickly accepted them all. (as the drive continued I had to wonder; why are there SO MANY burger kings in PR?))
That evening we had a small slumber party in our pyjamas and caught up as the Carey-Cannons 3 puppies ( JJ, Cha Cha and their son Dolomite) ran amok around us. We lovingly call them the 3 –puppy- circus due to their constant bouncing and whizzing around us. At one point in his excitement, Dolomite bounced up as we were playing and managed to pull my top clean off! It was like a slow motion cartoon where I protectively clutched my lady parts in modesty!.
I assumed it was just a one off accident until moments later when he sprinted out of MC’s room with her just- laid –out- panties in his mouth as MC and he proceeded to have a hysterical tug of war. That puppy is officially a freak.
For the next few days we hung out on the veranda admiring the ocean, amazing sculpted fauna and golf courses, Olympic sized pools, hot tubs and play pools, marina and breath taking rain forests in the distance, ate well and slept. Female pup Cha Cha clearly knows she’s one of the ladies and would hang out with us all day curling up wherever we were. Most afternoons we migrated to the boat and jumped in and out of the ocean as we had our surf lessons and swam out to the famous island where MC shot her legendary classic ‘’Honey’’ video.
I don’t know how it happens but Mr and Mrs C’s pets always love the water whether its an ocean, pool or hot tub. MC was the perfect student and persevered in the water until she was surfing away with the 3 pups surfing on her board simultaneously with her. It had to be seen to be believed!. I gave it a few shots then stuck to the basic activity of floating lazily doing nothing and then jumping back on the boat and machete whacking the hell out of the fresh coconuts and scooping out the delicious flesh, scaring Mrs C silly that I’d do myself an injury. In the evening we debated about American food being better than England’s food, and argued long and hard about which we preferred and was the most authentic. Mrs C also cussed us all out for being on our digital devices all day long what with some on twitter, facebook and the guys checking sports constantly , ‘’whilst we were all in such a beautiful place’’.
On April Fools Day everyone tried to trick everyone. I told them ‘’in England it only counts before noon’’. Thereafter ‘’in England’’ (in a haughty lady of the manor voice) became a joking point to cuss me with every few minutes. A couple of tricks did go down but I’ve been sworn to secrecy. One afternoon we hung by the pool where poolside Liam Gallagher and all of Prodigy were knocking back the beers and having fun as the odd American that recognised them became overly excited..

Mr C-AKA Mr Nick Cannon, as usual had a long working week with his daily radio show early every morning then his filming for “Americas Got Talent” , which meant he cold only join us on the Good Friday in Puerto Rico.
On the Saturday we jumped on the Carey-Cannons jet which whisked us off to  Orlando where we spent another couple of days having fun. Of course Easter Sunday we remembered the Lord and chilled out, (‘’Jesus is the reason for the season’’-Nicks fave line!) .
On Easter Monday we contemplated joining the public Easter egg hunt where 4000 people would be hunting eggs but then Nick got his grown man on and put it into perspective for us and reminded us that the publics focus would quickly go from hunting eggs to hunting Mrs C. We knew he was bang on point so instead we began our day (at 5pm) painting Easter eggs. No. Really. Myself, Mr and Mrs C and our good friend Rachel got all competitive dyeing eggs, painting on motifs, and being crazy competitive. We had Easter baskets with loads of fresh eggs, paint, sparkles, ribbon, confetti, you name it, our eggs weren’t ever gonna be anything but first class!
I painted a cool baby pink egg and frosted it with silver sparkles. I had no shame in stealing Mr and Mrs C’s artistic egg ideas too and stuck funny faces on them. If you think all this sounds too surreal well picture this. Myself, Rachel and MC did all this wearing baby pink bunny ears throughout. Yep- we’re forever 12. Nick even bought Mrs C a toy princess tiara, earrings and necklace from the toy store that were appropriately pink yet lavender.
On my final day before I had to jet back home Mr and Mrs C took me to Universal Orlando theme park where they say ‘’you ride the movies’’. It was no empty boast-the rollercoaster’s were amazing!. We went on the RIP RIDE ROCKIT  -scary as hell, fast, high and the drops were stomach curdling. I didn’t open my eyes once!. Next it was THE INCREDIBLE HULK COASTER and THE DUELLING DRAGONS where I decided to bite the bullet and stay open eyed throughout-it was magical. We were riding them at sunset so the colours and lights around the city were stunning. Of course when you attend with Mr and Mrs C you don’t line up-you’re escorted very quickly and expertly by a security team that whisked us backstage from ride to ride. Every now and again people would spot the superstar couple and cheer and applaud . Just another day in the life of the Carey Cannons but to me-these are once in a lifetime adventures I’ll treasure for ever!. Happy anniversary MRS C!

LABRINTH

Wow! What a whirlwind month I’ve had! I spent the last week in New York, Puerto Rico  and Orlando with my girl Mariah for her anniversary/bornday (more on that next time), but before I jetted out London town was a buzz with activity.
I attended the amazing street dance show BLAZE at the Peacock Theatre where dancers from all over the globe collaborated on a beautiful piece of dance with a really diverse set of music, dance styles and concepts. The show was impressive, funny, dynamic and props must be paid to the lighting and graphics designers –it was like watching a modern day new age dance theatre spectacle. It includes street dance, contemporary, classical and a bit of buffoonery-all very entertaining for the whole family.You must catch it if you can.

Next it was off to Europe’s biggest shopping mall in West London-Westfield for the grand launch opening of their new live music venue café concerto in the uber posh VILLAGE area of the huge retail monstrosity.
We were greeted by silver trays and waiters laden down with champagne flutes and an abundance of sea food was doing the rounds too. Many of the music industry players attended and we were entertained by the dulcet tones of Terri Walker and Mica Paris who never cease to amaze me live.

Next I trotted down to the very exclusive IVY CLUB where I met theatre impresario Stephen Byrd and the new BET bigwig and his adorable wife for drinks where we talked about the differences between the USA and UK and our various worlds.
My final trip of the week was up to Wood Green North London where a very special young man who is about to blow up invited me to his studio for a chat. A lot of young people think to be successful they have to go down the footballer, video vixen or music star route whilst there are as many young power players today making moves behind the scnes and often making more money than the celeb players and keeping their private life safe too.

A few months ago, I was impressed by a newcomer called Master Shortie with his unique sound and style. Shortie told me a young producer (at the time only 18 years old) had produced his whole album. His name was Labrinth. Then a few weeks ago I heard Eastenders star Preeya Kalidas new album with a couple of tracks I loved by a new producer. His name was Labrinth. Next I attended the making of the video shoot for singer Sabrina Washingtons new song ‘’OMG’’ –heard and loved her new album-apparently one of the producers was really impressive and young. His name was Labrinth. All good things come in 3’s but this kid seems unstoppable so when the 4th moment at Tinie Tempahs showcase happened and the producer of Tinies number 1 smash hit ‘’Pass Out’’ jumped onstage to celebrate and Tinie told us it was a young man and friend-whos name was Labrinth-I was gob smacked and knew I had to meet this new hotshot, midas touch beat maker myself.

Labrinth-or ‘’Labs’’ as his people call him, is a friendly, quirky, hat loving, cool kid. He oozes confidence and is way more articulate than many of his peers.
He grew up
in Hackney as part of a big church family which included 9 kids. Music seems to be intertwined in their gene pool as his brother is a drummer and has worked with Daniel and Natasha Beddingfield.
Labs Grandad is a preacher and music man Mr Ruben Edwards. Otherwise known as musician R.l Edwards.
Labs recalled his earliest musical experiences where he explained that he and his brothers and sisters had family jamming sessions with them all playing bongos, drums and piano.. Showing an early entrepreneurial spirit they charged their uncles, aunts and family members 20 pence to come and watch their ‘’shows’’.

As well as take part in music lessons at school from the age of 13 Labs was obsessed with all things musical .
Like many youth he used to sing and rap after being  affected by hip hop, but when he wanted beats to rap to he couldn’t find anyone making just what he was looking for-so-he made them himself.
I had to drag it out of him but his rapper name as ‘’Dapper D’’. Even as he recalled it he cringed badly- (so remember that when he’s so huge he wont sign autographs-we can remind him of his roots!).
Born

Timothy McKenzie, he became Labrinth after looking through the dictionary and liking the idea of the maze-‘’life is but a maze’’.
His first big break was meeting Master Shortie at their mutual friend singer Henrietta Bond’s house warming party.
Labs wasn’t too sure of what to make of Shortie at first due to Shorties loud and in your face dress style and attitude.
Apparently Shortie heard some of Labs music at the party and then went and checked out his MYSpace page and before you could say ‘’speedy Gonzalez’’ both were working on music together.
Labs says he was keen to work with Shortie as they both wanted to make mature music even though they were both young people

Labs confessed that like olden Andy Warhol days, his studio is a meeting space for other young talented music makers like Shortie, Bluey Robinson and others and often they’re in there all night working and can be found asleep on the sofas often after all night sessions.

So Labs started with Shortie, then Bluey, then Preeya and Sabrina and now he’s making his first Kanye West / Timberland move by putting out his own material as an artist.
Like a great producer with an ear for voices and styles, he’s unafraid to tell an artist to switch when needed too. A good example when he first heard Blueys voice he revealed he wasn’t too convinced about his vocals and asked him to tighten up his falsetto.

At the end of 2008 labs met music production outfit Stargate AKA Danny D and Tim Blacksmith
whilst he was talking to kids in a Hackney school
Tim who is legendary in the music game and has written hits for Beyonce and more offered him a publishing deal to EMI

but Labs wanted to stick with his own manager Marc Williams (a former musician himself that used to be in “homeboy hpippie n a funky dread”
) . Labs met Met manager marc through his mum who was doing a music course

that Marc was teaching,
Labs reveals he didn’t want to sign to Stargate because of the money percentage cut
that they were offering him.
He confesses to being a mumsy boy and often says he wants a respectable journey
in this music game

Of course now he’s hit the UK number spot by producing Tinie Tempahs ‘Passout’ which he says that the original beat was written for Bluey but it wasn’t really his style but as soon as Tinie heard it he took 30 minutes to write the verses and hook and history was made.

Labs revealed when he first heard ‘Passout’ on Radio 1 he wasn’t too fazed as his tracks with Shortie had already been played on Radio 1. Labs boasts ‘I know what kind of music London loves.
We’re not about plasticness. We like it rough”
. Reminiscing about ‘’Passout’ Labs smiles ‘’my favourite part of making ‘Passout’ was adding the reggae part, I went crazy showing Tinie , I got the ideas from old school 70’s Sci Fi movies.
It’s a sound Labs says he will use as a signature sound.

Labs first solo single as an artist will be released this summer and its called
“Let the sun shine”
. Like many young hopefuls he says it was produced in his bedroom when the sun was coming up one morning. Proving my point about having a knowledgeable manager/side kick / homie in his team labs admits it was manager Marc that schooled him on old skool drum n bass and other sounds that labs was unfamiliar with.
Labs Album is coming next year but I’m wondering when he might have time to get it done as knocking on his door right now are Gorillaz, nadine from girls aloud, Pixie lott and more.
Labs confesses he would love to wk with Massive Attack, Loose Ends and Moby
.
Labs says his objective he emphasises is to ‘’bring UK urban into commercial music.

He’s formed his own production company- and says he’s going to keep making strides ‘’putting the grit into pop” and we should look out for his sound “gritpop”.
With 21-year-old kids making power moves like this there will definitely be a whole new generation of industry leaders in the next few years. Play on players!.

Giggs

Showing how much I’ve grown up, this week’s column features my one time nemesis the somewhat notorious South London MC-Giggs.
Most folks know of our history but just in case you don’t let me break it down for you.
A couple of years ago when I was at MTV BASE I kept hearing a lot about a new MC who had a questionable criminal background and reputation but was apparently the next big thing.
I asked around the industry and had mixed feedback. ‘’Stay away from him he’s trouble’’, or ‘’give him the same chance Game, DMX and Jay got’’ etc etc.
My mate Harvey-(So Solid) offered to bring him in for a chat .i accepted.
One summer afternoon last year Giggs popped into my office with his then manager and we had a chat. I explained that I had heard great things about him and whilst we would like to support him editorially on MTV BASE shows he would have to meet us halfway and deliver clean videos with clean, non violent visuals and lyrics like any other artist. I had had some heat in the past from viewers and OFCOM for supporting allegedly known criminals and had to explain the companies position so was attempting to cover our backs. I explained to Giggs that if we were to run an interview with him, due to his very public criminal profile-he would have to briefly acknowledge that it was in his past so young viewers and his fans could see he was trying to change his life and be positive. We talked more and parted on friendly terms.
2 weeks later my staff researcher forwarded me a track by Giggs that had just hit the airwaves called ‘’Last straw’’ bad mouthing myself and then head of Radio1Xtra Ray Paul-for apparently black balling him.
Of course I was confused. I shrugged my shoulders and decided he was a nutter and if he couldn’t help himself I couldn’t help him either and for me it was a case of on to the next one.
I wont lie though-I was gutted that I hadn’t worked with this new, fresh artist who might not be the best lyricist ever, but had such a hypnotic, addictive vocal tone and an interesting story to tell with a buzz about him that you couldn’t even pay a marketing company to generate.
A few months down the line Giggs team contacted me via Facebook informing me that he wanted to talk. Of course once- bitten –twice- shy- old- me said thanks but no thanks.
Then I attended a live showcase by artist Bashy where when stood innocently at the bar Giggs appeared and tapped my shoulder holding out his hand for a handshake. Typically stubborn me ignored it. However Giggs came correct and asked for 5 minutes of my time. We talked for about an hour. Me cussing. Him apologizing for being a hot head and getting it twisted. Slowly but surely we came to a mutual understanding. Over the following months I watched him change in front of my eyes.
We began a twitter friendship and next thing you know the guy has fixed up, signed to XL and is making moves.

So recently when he invited me to hear his new album, to show no hard feelings and the fact that I truly believe his journey can work- we met up at his favourite restaurant for lattes, burgers, chips, pancakes covered in maple syrup and milkshakes-yep the guy has a sweeter than sweet tooth. Don’t get it twisted though-I let everyone I know exactly where I would be in case I wasn’t ever spotted again.

I was eager to hear his story though.
Born Nathan Thomas in Peckham, he was a good school attendee and went to a nice catholic school where he loved maths and his maths teacher Miss Newbury.
It was in PE class he had issues with a teacher whom he thought he was down with, but during friendly banter Giggs playfully punched him in the chest and ended up being kicked out. This led to Giggs being relocated to a less well-to-do school where he was ironically known as the boffin that studied!. It was here that he was tempted by the devil and not too long afterwards ended up using his mind for numbers on making paper by selling weed at school.

Having grown up with just his brother and mother and not wanting to put any extra pressure on his single mum for clothes and extras ‘’ there were 3 of us. No food in the house, so I couldn’t ask her for clothes and trainers’’ Giggs turned to robbing people and shops.
He explained that he began traveling into the West End and would see ‘’the main Peckham boys on the bus and they had bare money, garms and more and I thought if I do what they do, there will be no pressure on my mum’’. This led to him getting arrested in town 3 times when he was just 14. His only worry was his mum’s feelings. He then went to College ‘’just to keep mum happy- and studied sound engineering and electronics-I looked for a job everywhere, even cleaning jobs, but no one would hire me –I did manage one week working in the Peckham McDonalds but got sacked for refusing to mop the floor so I went back to selling weed’’.
Giggs also acquired the moniker ‘’Hollowman’’ in jail as he was ‘’never seen or found’’.
It was whilst locked up that Giggs turned to music in 2003 and began writing lyrics.

Giggs crew, friends, homies- (whatever you feel comfortable calling them), go under the name SN1. Meaning ‘’Spare no one’’. Now he’s made the move from the street corner to the music corner Giggs has encouraged his team to work within his music business as opposed to the street pharmaceutical business.
On his release he released mixtapes financed with dirty money-‘’the same way everyone does’’.
When he released “Talkin the hardest” in 2007 it was ‘’an unstoppable street smash and Giggs was ‘’really surprised cos the girls loved it, it was smashing up raves and loads of girls on myspace became interested in me whereas before it was just guys’’.
Next followed university shows, a stint on Tim Westwood’s show, Aiya Napa, and Giggs got his first taste of stardom as girls everywhere would be wearing t shirts with his name on them, requesting photos and all singing alongside him word for word. Overwhelmed by all the attention after being ‘’invisible’’ for so long, Giggs confessed he ‘’didn’t take advantage of any groupie action and always went straight to sleep’’.
We laughed about his diss song about me which he recalls he ‘’Felt really bad about and shouldn’t have done it’’. I laughed cos I admitted that he could’ve called me all sorts of vicious things instead he said the one thing that women are always paranoid about and called me a ‘silly little fat cow” making me diet for at least 3 days.

In the past year Giggs has attempted to perform live on a few occasions but due to his sketchy history the police have always contacted the venues and advised them that the show shouldn’t go on which must be ridiculously frustrating for him although it does get him a lot of press. He admits it is but also grins ‘’”I just wanna thank the police for all this great promo, the Feds want me dead. Trident talk down to me but I might ask the cops if they wanna do my promo full time’’.

Giggs continues to break down why he thinks the police don’t want him to succeed ‘’ If I do this and succeed, others will follow, cos with my change from crime to rhyme I’ve already taken 20 people out of the crime game. If that happens in every hood there’s no crime and no reason for Trident to exist. If they’re concerned about my live shows why don’t they put more cops at my shows? Like they do for acts like Mavado?’’. He has a point. Clearly crime doesn’t pay and there are repercussions for every action but shouldn’t we help people change for the better? He addresses this on his new laid back west coast vibe track “The way it is” on which he also mentions the P3 bus. The hook chants ‘’I’m just telling them the way it is” with sentences punctuated with Giggs trademark now recognizable “Yes!”. He spits ‘’If u grew up around me you’d be rolling with a strap too/ The feds hate me- they hate that I’m slipping away’’.

Giggs is just about to shoot his video for his new single ‘’Look what the cat dragged in” which has a middle eastern backbeat with the memorable line ‘’I’m a breast man but I rate asses’’ and is putting the finishing touches to his next album “Let em ave it” which is out around the end of May.  He took me into the studio as his engineer was mixing it and I can tell you it speaks on where he is now, his son, partying and how he switched the drug game into music. The only collaboration I spotted was with the singer Nathan on “All I know”, a track with a Southern beat flow bounce and a very catchy hook, a track that could resonate with The States. (Also-I love the fact that like a singer Giggs adds his own ad libs at the end of his sentences).
Its important not to tag any young UK urban acts with ‘’keeping it real’’ hang ups that their predecessors had. Acts like Chipmunk, Dizzee and Tinchy have collaborated with artists from other genres and Giggs revealed he would jump at a collaboration with ‘’Lilly Allen, cos she’s sick. Her first album was sick. I used to listen to it 24 hours a day’’.

I also liked “The way it is”. Its a message for music industry people, a proper story explaining why Giggs  talks about controversial subjects and also ‘’ “Life”
A deep track observing all of life, its injustices in society and trappings of urban life., I can really Imagine this being performed at awards shows. Giggs explained to me that ‘’like a character from the TV show ‘’Heros’’ who draws a picture of the future- ‘’that’s how it is when I write’’.

Giggs is very funny on twitter talking about being a dad to his young son about whom he’s done a lovely track on the new album. His son speaks on the intro and we hear a very emotional sensitive side to Giggs as he reminisces ‘’ the Day you entered my life was the greatest thing’’, ‘’When he got hungry he used to bite my lip’’, ’I missed your 2nd birthday and it tore me up’’.  Then his son speaks the hook ‘”What you talkin bout daddy- Is this like the song you talked about nanny”. A really lovely piece of work. Giggs agrees his son is his be all and end all, ‘’ that’s the main reason for everything. I’m not going back to jail. I’m not giving up. He’s my main drive’’. He insists he doesn’t want to ever go back to jail ‘’Jail is over-glamorized’’

Showing he has a great sense of humour, Giggs has often tweeted me about a set of young comics called ‘SHADRACK, AND THE MANDEM’’, whom he thinks should have their own TV show even though they clearly ridicule the type of character that Giggs once was.

As I sat there in Giggs studio surrounded by the aroma ‘’of ….ahem…the west coast and Snoop Dogg’’, we laughed as he explained that initially his engineer put so much treble into the album mix that it sounded like a pop act which is why Giggs sits right by him 24-7 instructing him on the sound he wants to hear.
I thanked him kindly and bid my farewell as I legged it out the door trying to think of reasons I could use to explain to my colleagues back at the office as to why I wafted of weed!.

Lesley The Boxer

Much revelry has been had this weekend for Mariah’s birthday/anniversary –as you’d imagine the Carey/Cannon household celebrated in typical 12 year old fun and frolics.
Other shenanigans this fortnight included attending the TV recording of Kojos Comedy Fun House at Café De Paris for MTV BASE. A very fun night where once again young comedians from all over the UK had their opportunity to make their mark.
Then we sauntered down to the opening of Westfield’s uber stylish village area’s new live music and brassiere venue Caffé concerto where Mica Paris, Rose Royce and Terri Walker all performed. A grand piano ,pianist and saxophonist graced the central space whilst my crew and I attempted sweet talking the manager for complimentary member cards and did a good job eating up all the Italian delicacies on offer.
Next up it was another dinner at The Ivy with a West End theatrical mogul after which I balanced out the ‘live good-live well’ karma by popping into the West End Blood Donation Centre to give blood- its got to be done regularly to say thanks and give back for all that I’m blessed with.
My business day has been focusing on TV music specials as well as all the in-house planning for 2012. The enormity of how huge that year will be in London has struck me by hearing the plans from early in the year all the way through to the end of the Olympics-its going to be a surreal once in a lifetime opportunity to experience something iconic for many of us.

Thereafter it was off to the premier for the movie SHANK in which our very own music mystro Bashy and actor Adam Deacon amongst others starred. As we arrived on the red carpet the girls outside the Brixton ritzy were hyper-ventilating and screaming for grime artist Scorcher so hard you’d think he was Usher!. Inside the foyer I bumped into Kojo, Bashy, Donaeo, business entrepreneur Charles Gordon, Flava magazine and many others who were commenting that the screams outside were so loud you’d think that Tupac had returned. Directed by well known music video director Mo Ali,(Pow 2003), the movie SHANK is set in a futuristic London where society is all but wiped out and communities are over run by gangs. The movie looked and felt very new, unique and ground breaking in its very video game based visuals but if I’m honest I wasn’t convinced by the style-at points it was difficult to watch but perhaps that’s because I’m not a huge video game fan . Having said that it’s a story that will resonate with young people everywhere and the anti knife crime message is the main focus . Bashy was very good as the non violent boxer and confessed that his pal-Lesley The Boxer-said his stance was wack!’’. He added that he worked hard and wanted to learn as much as he could give a good performance and take the skills he learnt here to his next film. He revealed the worst thing was waiting around when its not your scene. ’’long ting’’
One impressive thing was the programme which contained profiles and interviews of all the cast as well as sections like a ‘grime urban dictionary called ‘’Shankology’’ that broke down definitions like ‘’bare’’ (to have a lot of something), ‘’crepes’’ (trainers), ‘’wasteman’’ (a lazy or stupid loser doing nothing with his life) and many many more that couldn’t be mentioned in this family newspaper. It was actually a very well written, entertaining, piece of work. Topping off the UK takeover vibe was the fact that the films sound track producer George Ebenezer (GGI) involved a range of UK musicians from Bashy, Loick Essien, Tinchy Stryder, Boy Better Know, Roll Deep, Mz Bratt, Giggs, Donaeo, Ghetts, Tempz, Newham Generals, Speech Debelle, Dotstar, Ddam deacon and more making it a very strong look for the Brit scene, that’s set to be a foundation landmark that gets built upon.
When young teams get together and graft hard the success that’s coming is inevitable. Not only has the GGI team been working on music and movies but part of their team that’s impressed me no end is female boxer otherwise known as Lesley The Boxer.

Seen this month on BBC3’s LAST WOMAN STANDING Lesley is a West London stunner that is about to blow up in the mainstream.
Growing up in Kilburn, Abbey Rd on the Estate side, the daughter of an Irish mum and Ghanaian dad with 2 brothers this young lady is a gorgeous tough cookie that’s set for big things. Always having been a bit fearless growing up with 2 brothers and a mother that grafted hard and travelled well with her family ,ambition is in Lesley’s DNA. She got into brawls with kids at school but was never a bully. She told me she used to get into arguments with men who were disrespectful. She moved to Willesden at age 10 and wanted to be a theatre actress so attended the Brit school where the people annoyed her with their pretentiousness. She recalls ‘’having a ball and smoking a lot of weed’’, and going on from there to studying music marketing at university where she achieved a first!-smart and cute-don’t you just love that!.
She worked on the MOBOs for a minute, then with Roll Deeps management before setting off with 4 girl friends to travel the world. After conquering India, Malaysia, Cambodia and more with their back to basics adventure which included buying clothes along the way she returned to the UK with a new frame of mind.
With her strong smoking habit, at 20 years old tried to get fit so started boxing at Allstars Gym in NW10 with straight 2 hour sessions. Once she got past the initial pain barrier the gym trainer that she fondly calls Mr A- (Mr Akay- MBE-
A local hero) asked her to join the amateur fight class. She went through the motions of getting a medical card to say she was fit to box and so it was just 4 years ago that she began boxing. Her first fight was an experience that she’ll never forget where she fought a girl that already had 6 fights under her belt. Other fighters used intimidation tactics like doing pre fight tuck jumps. Lesley pays them no mind and simply focuses on not getting wound up and using controlled aggression. Lesley recalled how exhausted she was mid fight but her mind told her to put her hands up and protect herself and even though she lost she persevered and went on to win the ABA (amateur boxing association) championships.
Once you start a journey the hard work quickly leads to more achievement and next she was selected to box for England and became the 1st UK woman to win gold at European championships in 2008 on first entry.
At the time she was still-(believe it or not-) working for a music management company in Shepherds Bush but was extremely focused on her rapidly flourishing sports career.
2 months later she saw advert for ‘’Last Woman Standing’’ via BBC Sports and got picked for the show!.
This from a girl who had never been hugely into sports and had only played netball as a kid!. Lesley explains that ‘I always wanted to be a performer of some sort on stage with the theatre and so to me this was just a transferable skill which I needed to wear a head guard and mouth piece for.
Readers-Lesley is so gorgeous I couldn’t hep wonder if she’s ever concerned about ruining her good looks.
She laughed and explained ‘’that knowledge helps me to keep my hands up and protect my face at all times-its extra impetus’’!
Currently Lesley is waiting to attend team GB”s selection camp and has gone through to the final stages
which is happening right now.
With Lesley’s camera friendly face, articulate manner and go-getter attitude I can see her juggling a successful sports and showbiz career. She confides that she would ‘’love to do something onstage like the vagina monolgues’’. Wouldfnt she and fellow boxer david haye doing a tv show together be automatic ratings!
Coming from a group of friends and family that are very musically gifted I asked what Lesley’s favourite music to train to is?
She revealed that she has her i-pod on shuffle and by strange coincidence Kano always pops into her training play list. Other favourites to kick ass to include Fella kuti ,Bashy, Block Party, House music, anything with a Hiphop-esp Nas Vibe or mood music.
As a sports viewer I love seeing which track pro boxers use as their theme tunes to enter the ring to . Lesley laughs and admits she’s given it a little thought and amongst her favourite choices are Buju Banton- Champion, Jesus Walks- Kanye, and Alicia keys & Nas-Warrior Song.
Lesley’s training regime is 6 days a week. 4 days of boxing. 2 days of running outdoors. She describes it as her therapy. Diet wise she eats everything but attempts to stay away from chocolate hobnobs as she tends to get through the whole packet in one sitting.Like most sports people she avoids white bread and rice.
Being a girl in a mans world must be interesting. Lesley nods ‘’yeah I get mixed responses from people. Mostly surprise and disbelief, I’m a girly girl so other male and female boxers don’t often take me seriously’’.

Lesley’s will be attending the world championships in Barbados later this year and I’m certain her sheer grit, determination and self belief will carry her to high echelons .She has the kind of face brands would jump to have on their books. Expect to see her advertising vitamins, deodorants, sports brands and more. Lesley’s last words were ‘’I’m so grateful that I got through school.
Anything we can do to build confidence or build power with young people we must do.
If you want to see championships you have to develop them whilst they’re young’’.
This lady is one to watch- follow her journey to join the elite at Twitter- lesleytheboxer
.

Tinie Tempah

Really how many cities globally are as exciting as London! I love this city! Weekly there are free activities from the worlds of art, fashion, sport, music and more and you only need wonder past Leicester square most weekdays to glimpse and get a Hollywood superstar to speak to your mum on your mobile!.
Whilst Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler were swanning up and down their W1 red carpet I was down in Brixton at The Ritzy for the premiere of the movie Shank featuring Bashy-more on that next time. Next it was the first showing of the Blaze theatre show, before that it was comedian Kojos Comedy Fun House TV recording for MTV Base, and of course the most important-Mothers Day.
I don’t think my mums like most mums. Instead of hinting for gifts and revelling in her day she scolds me if I so much spend more than 50 pence on her as she says it’s a waste of money!. If I get her flowers I get a good cussing for frivolously wasting money.

Someone who epitomises the words money and frivolity is my old compadre P Diddy-or Puffy as we who have known him from the early days still refer to him. Puff took a quick whirlwind trip to Europe to promote his latest album ‘’Last train to Paris’’ (out June 22nd). He hit Paris before London and no doubt the opulence and pandemonium was stepped up to level OTT before London for once, experienced the tamer version. Only fair after all he didn’t name his album ‘last 207 bus to London’’.
Anyhoo, Puffs London party night was a Crazy night- he hit 3 clubs in one evening (Amika, Runway and Jet Black ) where he was rumoured to have been paid by at least 2 of them between 20,000-50,000 to turn up. At Amika, Puff walked around with personal fragrance sprayers who sprayed his Sean John fragrance around the venue approximately every 20mins …to ‘keep the scent in the air’.He also had his very own coat hanger girl!! Lol. Nothing should surprise us about Puff. When I went on numerous tours with him throughout the years he would insist on all black rooms with white candles and white flowers with buffets and champagne as well as a leopard print ironing board. Yes. Really.
On this occasion too Puff didn’t disappoint in the diva stakes as he had his personal assistant with him who was at hand everywhere he went to simply, hold his large white brand new lamb’s skin cream coat and scarf when he got to the venue and to helped him put it on again as he left.
We all know Puffs a businessman and one of his team told me he went to Amika because ‘’it’s the only club that actually stocks his supreme vodka Ciroc (he refuses to drink any other brand)’’. At one point the waitress brought another brand of vodka to him and his large managers leapt at her to remove it.
Then it was onto the Runway club where the DJ spent the first half an hour playing new tracks from the album, then at 6am, Diddy was still going strong and partying at Jet Black. He had UK magician Dynamo by his side performing magic tricks but he must’ve been feeling his age by now as he drunk only water at this venue. Straight afterwards he legged it back to his hotel to pack and catch a flight back to the US. Again his team explained ‘’he doesn’t like to sleep for fear of missing something’’. What a nightmare- I pity his team who therefore don’t get much sleep either!

The Americans weren’t the only ones running this town that week. The UK and USA charts are leading with young British urban talent that a decade ago were lucky if they got played on British radio and TV channels let alone headline their own tours. It’s a new day. Our youth are inspired once again. However, it is important to remember that not every young person can be, or has the talent to be a music star so its always best to spread the diverse talent that’s at our fingertips. The seeds that are being planted by young ambitious folk now means that in a decades time we could have a black prime minister in this country. All our networks are slowly growing and we’re rising higher and higher.
This past fortnight I’ve seen young up and coming actors push their way through (Jason Lewis BBC/ Aml Ameen-Hollywood!), film makers inspired by Noel Clarke, young TV makers (SBTV.ONLINE), fashion stylists (Richard Shoyemi), video directors ( Jak Frsh), business men (Alexander Amosu), sports and Olympics hopefuls (Lesley the Boxer BBC3) and many more. It’s a beautiful thing to witness the climate go from no hope to all hope. Its all too easy to sit back and accept the current success as the status quo but don’t forget winds change and trends are like the proverbial see-saw-up and down. Today’s flavour of the month is tomorrows chip paper.
Recently a young man known to you and I as Tinie Tempah hit number 1 in the UK charts with his debut song. With many years hard graft under his belt he’s slowly worked his way up and a few days before it was official that he was a number 1 star he held a showcase in Central London where his friend, (note-not label mate-‘’friend’’) Mclean opened up for him. This is what true success is built on. Unity and support of each other. Mclean came onstage at 8pm to a fully packed crowd at the underground venue and sang his heart out. With very strong vocals reminiscent of 80s star seal, Mclean invited his friend Faith FSX to beatbox alongside him on his hit single ‘’My Name’’. Mcleans voice was strong and the audience were with him singing along word for word and the live band was amazing. And this was just the opening act! This is how far we’ve come. Opening acts were never even allowed their own band and at this standard in the past. This was a strong night that just got stronger. Next onstage was American rapper Chiddy Bang who definitely got a flatter response than the UK acts on the night but with his Lupe meets Jay Z style he soon had us nodding heads, but mostly thinking ‘come off we wanna see Tinie!’’. How hilarious! Only a few years ago the UK crowd wanted the supporting Brit act to hurry up and go so they could see the American star turn. Now it’s the exact opposite. I say we love everyone but how can we not be proud of finally loving ourselves!

Finally host for the night-ChoiceFMs DJ Abrantee introduced the main attraction, and Tinie bounds onstage and the ram venue goes nuts. Everywhere I looked all I could see were fans and tastemakers, Radio1Xtra DJs, ChoiceFM DJs, TV folk from 4Music, Hiphop.com, MTV, camera crews from AKA, tabloid reporters from the Sun, young bloggers, other artists, managers, label crews, it was a heavy networking room.
Tinies mum and dad were in the house. And he went through a full set of hits including his early classic ‘’Wifey’’. Of course during hit ‘’Passout’’ he
brought on underground about-to-blow producer Labyrinth to perform it with him.
The Sunday that it was official that Tinie was number 1, he threw a party at club 24 with his manager/cousin Dumi Oburota where original Sugababe Keisha , Tim Westwood, Tinchy, Skepta, Ashton villa football players and friends were spraying champagne all over Tinies head whilst DJs Manny Norte , Ace & Vis , Twin B and Matchstick were spinning.
Tinie deserves high praise for his hard work. As does Dumi. Not everyone can be the main star player and Dumi is a sure-fire star maker.
By signing Tinie’s music to Parlaphone with his own label ‘’Disturbing London’’ this guy has done it against the odds.
Dumi told me that his aunt-Tinies mum ,had told him a few years back that her son was dabbling I music and could Dumi offer him some support and guidance.
Dumi came on board and they recorded material and spent a lot of money and made mistakes, but Dumi studied his craft. He learnt about the music industry by reading books. He told me the ‘’main thing is understanding your product, being bilingual and networking’’. Rather than having a chip on his shoulder he added ‘’Being young and black is a benefit so I can prove the stereotypes wrong’’.
Dumi started Tinies press roll by attending the big music industry conference Midem with his distributor. On their return he realised he couldn’t afford to make Tinie block buster style videos any longer (like Tears/hood economics), so they decided Tinie should start up his blog ‘milkn2sugars’ which was getting over 70,000 regular monthly hits. Dumi then met the Live Nation team- got Tinie the Wireless Festival bookings for the next 3 years before Radio1Xtra jumped onboard to support the ride. Dumi laughed at recalling most peoples positive attitudes revealing ”Even Jez Welham from KISSFM was nice”
We all await Tinies album ‘’Disc-covery’’ soon and his second single ”Frisky” around May time when he will also be supporting Mr Hudson on tour.
Dumi attributed their success to hard work and the climate stating ‘’A powerful army that moves together-wins’’. I will be looking out for Dumi and Tinies new acts from ‘’Disturbing London’’. Rumour has it they have a trio called ‘’All about she’’- apparently like the Pet Shop Boys but with a girl.
Come on UK- Keep on keeping on!.

Sabrina Washington

As you get older, live more days, experience more birthdays, jobs, Christmas’ and episodes of Eastenders you come to realise and accept that life has many ugly sides you’d wish you’d never witnessed and that the happily ever after story often gets messed up.. Life now is so different for youth than it was in my day. Me and my west London homies could rave at Granaries in South London, Shinolas in East London or The Rocket in Tottenham without being harassed .Now I hear kids cant step outside of their own postcodes!? I can’t even fathom that.
In old skool days there weren’t many opportunities to badmouth people unless it was to their face and you needed some balls to do that. Nowadays a literal nobody can cyber bully another human and make their lives hell. What is the hater getting out of this? Nothing. Except spreading the hate. Is it any wonder that we are now more depressed, miserable and anxious than we’ve ever been?. Some of the stories I hear and witness are pathetic.
I’ve worked in TV and music for nearly 2 decades now and believe me, as well as the glamorous perceived life there is A LOT of ugliness and morally unjust action and decisions that happen daily that would leave a very bad taste in folks mouths if exposed.
I choose to observe, accept and carry on positively. Sometimes we make acquaintances via our work that leave us with a feeling of faith and that there are some good people in amongst the shallow BS and one such act for me have always been the group formally known as Mis-Teeq.
I had known Alesha Dixon long before the groups fame as we dated a pair of best friends years ago but when I got to know her other 2 band mates I wasn’t disappointed. Always friendly, professional, polite, beautifully turned out and real-these girls were a pleasure to watch make it to the top.
So I was disappointed when their record label Polydor went bust back in the day consequently leading them to split up.
They all lay low for a while before all refocusing, rebranding and re-emerging. Aleshas story you know, Su-Elise set up a stage school and lead singer Sabrina Washington chilled out for a while before making new music as a solo artist. We saw her try her hand very well at a lovers rock, old skool reggae sound – she was amazing live and then all was quiet again for a minute.
Well, not for long cos ‘’Sabrina’s new music’’ has been a hot topic bubbling on the underground for months now and finally last month she invited me to come and watch her making her first solo video for her new single ‘’OMG’’.
I arrived on set at the huge Wembley studio to be greeted by the usual catering crew and dancers running around in the corridors with a real sense of excited anticipation.
I was ushered into Sabrina’s dressing room to see her looking stunning in her first outfit and having the hair and makeup ladies just finishing up so we could catch up.
Sabrina has that aura of a royal princess about her. She always has from the first day I met her. Quieter than the rest, modestly confident in her own talent and genuinely warm and friendly to everyone around her from fellow celeb to teaboy..
Her single ‘’OMG’’ is produced by Labyrinth and it’s a girlie anthem about a relationship gone wrong, the guy thinks he has had the last laugh but the girl has the upper hand. Written with Ali Tenant (infamous song writer who used to work alongside Wayne Hector-both songwriters to the stars inc Westlife and Beyonce) , Sabrina revealed that Ali is a great friend and a fantastic writer, and in the studio they like to laugh and have a great working chemistry.
Also hanging out looking extremely relaxed for a director was Emil Nava-brother of the legendary video director Jake Nava. Sabrina revealed she wanted Emil Nava to direct as his older brother Jake used to direct lots of Mis Teeqs videos , at the time Emil used to assist him , they both love beauty shots and most importantly she trusted him.
On set I was astonished to see just how lithe, supple and mesmerising Sabrina’s figure is- I had total green eye! As if that wasn’t enough, her stylist Richard Shoyemi (who’s known her since her Mis Teeq days) had poured that figure into outfits from Dolce and Gabbana , Chanel and Vivienne Westwood as well as up and coming designers : Kate Hamilton and Beatrice Newman .
Then Sabrina picked up a pair of shoes that looked like they belonged in a futuristic art museum designed by Richard himself. Then I spotted an even flyer pair with a massive spike by Paule Ka Paris. They all looked like a scene from Vogue meets Harpers and later Sabrina confessed that whilst they looked wild on film ‘’the glass shoes were a nightmare to walk in’’.
Sabrina loves working with Richard cos ‘’he’s mad as hell- with a great sense of style and is unafraid, we’re on the same page and saw the same vision’’.
You could see that Sabrina and Richard are an art match made in heaven as Sabrina was clearly Richards muse. He confessed to me ‘’The reason I love styling Sabrina is because she is very much like my muse I have thoughts of out of this world style concepts and Sabrina just goes with it and wears each look as if it was custom built for her so Its always amazing to work with her as she brings my thoughts to life’’ .
Sabrina told me that Grace Jones was an inspiration for the video and Richard added ‘’Sabrina loves showing her amazing long runway legs and her fantastic
abs and she has a very sexy class too’’
Richard was running the wardrobe arena like a pro and had at least 15 outfits ready for the shoot but I think only 5-6 got shown in the  end. Sabrina clearly like the blue leotard with metal boning in the sleeves that was made for her by up and coming designer Kate Hamilton and if I had her figure I might’ve slyly ‘’borrowed it’’ .
On set I had to laugh as I witnessed Sabrina holding girls like dogs on leashes- oh yes I thought-looks like Emil is playing out some of his fantasies here!.
Later Sabrina confessed that in Mis Teeq she had compromised so much so she was unsure of her musical direction, so she experimented loads and now her new sound she describes as dirty pop-which could also be her album title.
Sabrinas putting her new music out independently- although there have been rumours of her signing to Cash Money as boss Baby is still in talks with her management. Sabz disclosed that she had had a possible situation with EMI but it was taking too long, and wanting to make the most of her timing once she came out of ‘’I’m a celebrity get me out of here’’ she is taking her chances.
She still keeps in touch with her Mis Teeq sistren ‘’I saw Alesha when I came out of jungle- and I saw Su at your Motown birthday party’’ but her current favourite UK music act on rewind is Tinie Tempah with his hit no.1 hit ‘’Pass out’’, and she likes Mclean.
Sabz also loves the current camaraderie between black British music acts that is clearly uniting and making successful acts even stronger. She says her closest friend in the industry is comedian Kojo-whom she met via their mutual Radio 1 DJ friend Reggie Yates.
Sabz also loved all the social networks that help her meet other artists. Her favourite artists to follow on twitter are Chipmunk and new Jive signing Talay Riley- apparently ‘’he twitteres and pictures everything’’.
Obviously the video has proved its popularity as once it was released it had only been out 2 days before receiving 65,000 hits, and currently its over 125,000. Sabrina was shocked saying ‘’the response has been fantastic!’’
OMG is released on March 22nd. With the uk ‘urban stars’ recently running things in our charts-Tinie Tempah- and the American charts-Taio Cruz, its probable that Sabrina is next in line!