On Monday 30th August I was invited by Afronation Parties to join their red iconic tour bus which was travelling around the capital with an open top deck where South African Major League DJ twins were hosting an afternoon of music for friends in the UK before headlining their show at the docklands East Winter Gardens venue. What better than to mix business with pleasure, so I invited Channel 4 News to join us and hear all about the music genre thats been overtaking charts, radios, music festivals and parties!
finds itself in the global limelight more and more these days, gifting us different
sounds to the music space.
The Major League DJZ are twins, and are both cultural ambassadors of AMAPIANO- the latest music genre from south Africa, causing excitement with music fans. They spent a few weeks touring here this summer, with sell out shows across the country- and sharing the music with British fans. In the news piece for Channel 4 News they shared what the reaction of the audiences has been like across the UK.
My father’s ancestors are East African- Kenyan- and to see the journey of various genres of music from across the African continent is awesome to observe. The twins told me what it meant to them that amapiano from South Africa is an internationally recognised sound being played in countries like Canada, Belgium, Spain, Britain & what this means for the future of the sound.
We discussed what draws people to the amapiano sound, what makes the sound uniquely South African, why its been successful crossing over, and its history.
We talked about why most amapiano isn’t sung in English- and how much that might stop it becoming bigger, or its global potential. (South Africans can be put off by English language in their local songs)
There was a time when music stars would try and make music with American accents. Amapiano proudly embraces South African language- fans are singing along without knowing what the words mean…I finally understand the fans all across Asia who i filmed when on tour with Jay Z and they were singing along without always understanding what they were saying.
So many talented South African artists have worked tirelessly in creating and establishing the genre. but are they getting enough credit?
Amapiano, is still in its infancy stage but collaborations between SA acts and music stars from other parts of the African continent are happening, as well as European and American music stars attempting to make amapiano songs but have met with negative response because they haven’t always done it with giving credit to its originators.
MAJOR LEAGUE DJZ are actually producers as well as DJ’s. They were introduced to the amapiano sound whilst they were dj’s mainly hip hop originally. They were born in Boston/USA, because their family were in exile as their father was a politician. they then returned to South Africa as 4-year-olds.
The twins then promoted high school parties and now because they have dual nationality passports, are able to travel across borders more easily than other local SA acts might be able to.
Their parents met via their mutual friendship with the South African jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela! …and the twins recall being surrounded with music as kids as their dad had them play piano often.
Their name Major League came about due to their love of baseball from their time spent as kids in USA. In fact, their ” Major League Gardens” events brand is well known in SA, the experience see’s music with games, sports /skating /food/drinks.
The twin DJs are also known for creating unique BALCONY MIXES which is them djing on famous balconies across the world. How has the
pandemic impacted your music and other SA
music acts, and how did you all keep your sound going?
AMAPIANO’S SOCIAL AND POLITICAL IMPACT
When amapiano first emerged, the music was Initially criticised and dismissed as inferior by the usual radio gatekeepers, but its township sound is now one of the biggest music genres in South Africa – the sound blew-up without traditional radio and media support. (It was shared initially via social media and Youtube and whatsapp instead of radio.
Amapiano has come from humble beginnings, to now being a staple sub-genre in South Africa thats taken the music world by storm,…but It’s not just the music that has fans excited, but also the dancing – see the Netflix film-JIVA and the millions of viral dances on Tik- Tok.
Another way that Amapiano has become popular is amongst young South Africans and social media influencers. They use amapiano songs in their videos and that’s how the music became popular.
Interestingly, amapiano has helped young black South Africans form their own identity. Amapiano acts have developed and created their own music business ecosystem and can perform live internationally and have a career without the traditional gatekeepers support.
There’s been news of constant conflict and political unrest in south Africa- yet amapiano has helped young south Africans deal with this by creating a distraction and focus to build a music business ecosystem pretty much like the grime music genre has done for young British black music acts.
The ultimate goal, the twins shared, was to take the sound to the world ”#pianototheworld” and win a Grammy!
On Tuesday 7th September I produced a panel for my RTS Futures Committee
Years ago, TV stars came from rigid, traditional, established routes which included showreels, auditions and agents. Today, the power of the internet and social media platforms are catapulting talent from social media to our TV screens.
Tik Tok, YouTube and Instagram are now developing their personal brands, creating their own content and fanbases and TV Commissioners are scrambling to sign them up. Come and hear from social media stars who are infiltrating British TV screens in this RTS Futures session ‘From Social Media to TV Screens’.
A national audience of young people joined Grime MC and host of his own TV show on Channel 4, Big Narstie, multimedia broadcaster on Capital Xtra and Sky Arts, Remel London, Snapchat stars Man Like Haks and Stevo The Madman, to hear about their very different journeys from social media to screen stars. Chaired by Navi Lamba, E4’s Digital Executive.
It was a fascinated conversation where numerous tips and insights into the world of influencers, and diversity and inclusion were shared by the panel. Some of the key quotes are below:
#ManLikeHaks says he was making videos originally for the adults and then his audience expanded to everyone who enjoys comedy and wants to be lifted up, his fans are from all across the globe. 5.5million snapchat followers!
‘All of us are the same on socials as we are in real life. sometimes in this industry u get a 3 year run, but we’ve managed to stay relevant and have longevity by finding various paths and staying on top of platforms and pivot to keep our audience engaged’ said @StevoTheMadMan
Big Narstie – ”Music is my main career, but TV found me cos I capitalise being at the right place at the right time! Making funny videos wasn’t the plan, we just made videos with our mates! I’m SW4 Lambeth Certified Lover Boy! SHABBA! ‘
”When i started doing music, my brethren told mum i was doing drugs cos they didn’t believe music could be paying, so there was doubt/people trying to hold me back.I had faith in what I was doing.I really believe in me! Music/TV was an escape from the life i was in’ Big Narstie
I still feel v underrated.There is pretty/light privilege,Im a dark skinned woman, theres a fear of putting me on TV. I am a well spoken, I can be road, but I know how to talk, to everyone,I can do the job well.Theres a stigma of viewers not ‘getting’ dark skin women Remel London
‘My degree never got me on TV, it was social media, i made sure i was everywhere, doing everything, i loved my time at @linkuptv -they taught me to shoot/market..I’ve presented for multiple brands but I still don’t have a seat at the table & am still on my journey” Remel London
‘I had to teach myself how to shoot, promoting myself as much as possible on EVERY PLATFORM, and understanding how every platform works, following the commissioners, include all your links, cos u cant rely on TV to promote you’ Remel London
Man Like Haks ”’we taught ourselves how to be experts on every app, its not easy, I have to do everything myself, its empowering to know that I can make my own sketches, theres TV shows that don’t get the number of views that we get on our social media platforms’
‘they tried to cancel me for showing my toddler saying an explicit word’ revealed Stevo TheMadMan
‘my social media comments have been taken out of context, then people have tried to cancel/confront me & i had to avoid twitter cos of the abuse but now thats celebrated’ Remel London
‘start locally, grow your brand w/platforms who connect to you, reach out to commissioners said Navi Lamba
”i didn’t get paid for 3yrs cos i knew it would come” @StevoTheMadMan
You can see every single C4 commissioners emails on 4producers & u can ask coffee & share ideas said Navi Lamba
‘you’ve built your platform, keep building it, when Channel 4 and the BBC aren’t interested in your snapchat & insta anymore they will dump you. Keep building & owning your own content & brand’ Big Narstie
Some of the key takeaways our panel has shared included:
BIG NARSTIE TOLD US TO Capitalise and be in the right place at the right time when opportunity comes calling and come to your dream with an open heart, and use your own teams and talent to help to promote you
MAN LIKE HAKS emphasized that you have to be self taught and become experts on every social media platform
REMEL urged you to promote yourself all the time on every platform and follow the right people and tags anyone who might be interested
STEVO warned us about cancel culture and urged us all to be brutally honest on social media.
Some questions the panel left us with:
Are you doing enough on social media?
Can you use every platform like an expert?
Are you willing to put in the work and take the negative responses as well as the positive?
For many more monthly informative panels about how to get into the TV industry, do sign up to our RTS Futures page for more free sessions and information about how you can be a part of the TV industry. rts.org.uk
I started by exploring the career journeys of an incredible panel of black women in the British music industry. They were Shauni Caballero (music publishing at the Go 2 Agency), Charlotte Richie (Director of Global Communications at Universal Music), and Ella-Bonai Gordon (artist manager and A&R consultant).
We touched on the panels career journeys, highs & lows, heard exclusive insights & provided the audience with the information that they needed to get THAT job & make their mark in the business of music.
In my second panel I was in conversation with A&R legend Richard Castillo @IAmRichCastillo exploring his career from Shalit Global, launching @ndubz, UMTV,All Around The World,Sony/ ATV,Universal Music Canada & Polydor Records, his current role as A&R @AtlanticRcrdsUK ,being a black exec & more!
It was a real pleasure to chair this debate on behalf of Debate Mate on March 24th.
They do great work across the industry – do check them out! When I was asked to chair this debate, I was amped and excited to hear what experts in the UK music industry from all across the musical landscape would have to say.
I have been in and around the
music industry and creative arts for over twenty years.
I’ve worked at Channel 4, MTV News International, MTV Base, MTV Dance, ITV, the BBC…. and I sit on numerous music industry committees, and I’ve been lucky enough to see the evolution of artists, platforms, genres and everything in between first-hand.
More importantly than that, I
am a music fan.
I am a listener, a watcher. I
sing and dance-along… like the biggest fan.
I love everyone from J Hus to Jay Z, Jill Scott to Usher, Linkin Park to Earth, Wind and Fire, Beyonce to Dinah Washington and more!
So the debate was a collision of the professional and the personal, and I think you’d agree, it has come at exactly the right time.
The main question is…..Do
artists have more power now than they’ve ever had before? Well – it’s
debateable for sure!
Lets have a bit of context…
The music industry has
changed dramatically in the last twenty years. The way we listen to music, and
the way we pay for it… are almost unrecognisable from the 1990s… and even
We’ve seen an evolution from
vinyl, through cassette, to CD, download and now stream.
But is this change good for
everyone? Does it empower all artists, or just those at the top?
Given my experience, our panel and audience today, we focused on the UK.
Each year there are 140
billion streams in the UK. The most streamed UK artist is Ed Sheeran, followed
by Stormzy, Dua Lipa, Lewis Capaldi and Harry Styles.
Drake tops the list overall
in the UK, ahead of Juice Wrld and Eminem. Globally, Bad Bunny comes out on
Mega artists, with mega numbers. as you’d imagine, get huge numbers, and with that – huge amounts of fame and wealth.
60,000 tracks get added to Spotify every day.
It now has 70,000,000 tracks available!
This means that more new
music is being produced and made available than ever before.
So surely this means that
artists have more power?
Well – maybe. But with lower
barriers to entry, comes more noise. The market is crowded.
To some extent it’s easier to
get heard (at least literally) but is it now harder to get noticed?
Today, are artists able to just do music?
Or do artists now have to be
a brand unto themself from the outset – focusing as much , or more, on
Instagram and brand partnerships… as they do on producing a track or writing
How does social media impact
different artists, different genres and generations?
So – on the proposition side
– artists can record and release music easier than ever before.
They can talk directly to
their fanbase like never before.
They have teams and
technology that are working hard to put them at the centre of the music
There are evolving models of
remuneration that may – only time will tell – see them receive greater
proportions and absolute amounts of money.
But are artists now beholden
to a new master – not the label as may have been the case years ago.
….But social media – the
fickle nature of hype, the transient nature of what’s hot or not.
Are you more useful for
selling Reeboks than records?
Other things for us to
consider…..Are artists now more afraid of being cancelled …..than excited about
Do they seek safety in
numbers and the security of social media – collaborating with other artists and
brands for commercial and not creative reasons?
Was yesterday a simpler time…
with fewer pressures and a more straightforward path to success – JUST making
good music that makes people feel something!
If musicians have more power
than ever before, and everything is getting better quickly, why do campaigns
and organisations such as Broken Record, Musicians’ Union, Keep Music Alive and
the Ivors Academy need to continue to lobby government, the tech giants and the
industry heavyweights so aggressively on behalf of artists?
As you can tell, I could wax lyrical about this all day. But given we had six experts waiting in the wings, you may as well also hear from them!
In Ryan, Hannah, Ben, Cliff, George and Kwame, we genuinely had six experts – including artists, managers, lawyers, producers and everything in between – debating a relevant and important topic
If you hear anything thats quotable or resonates with you, do share it on social media tagging us all. …. using the hashtags #DEBATEMATE and #ArtistPower
Also do tag DEBATE MATE on Instagram and on twitter its @debate_mate
I’d love to hear what you think too!
Huge thanks to Ben Sarhangian and Esther Mark and their team at Debate Mate for the honour of chairing, all the prep work and a fascinating, informative and entertaining conversation!
Enjoy watching the debate here – can you guess which side won? It was a surprise!
The association of UK independent and major record labels, the BPI, can announce a new series of events dedicated to exploring matters around underrepresented categories in the music industry.
Titled ‘BPI Equality Sessions’, each event will shine a light on inspirational figures who are making a difference in their fields and are paving the way for new generations to thrive in a more diverse and inclusive music business.
The first event of these regular events to take place will be ‘International Women’s Day: Women in the Music Industry’, on International Women’s Day itself – Monday, March 8th. The two-hour webinar, starting at 4pm, will celebrate the women that power our industry, and the BPI is excited to be able to host highly regarded speakers who will share their personal experiences.
The event is open to all currently working, or looking to work in the music industry, and attendance can be secured through this link here.
There will be a number of panels & keynotes, as follows:
Introductory Keynote: Where We Are Now – Paulette Long OBE – Co-Chair, BPI Equality & Justice Advisory Group and Deputy Chair of the UK Music Diversity Task Force: A reflection on the UK Music Diversity Survey – a lived experience.
Discussion Panel: Reaching Music Industry Heights
Liz Goodwin – General Manager, Atlantic Records UK
Maggie Crowe OBE – Director of Events & Charities, BPI
Pat Carr – Founder & CEO, Remote Control Agency
Taponeswa Mavunga – Director of Africa, Sony Music UK
Chair: Jasmine Dotiwala – Broadcaster and Journalist
The Jeremy Vine Show asked me to sing a Christmas song along with the rest of the show panelists for the final show week of the year.
Are you up for it the JV team asked me? Then came the email confirming that they had gone and chosen only the biggest Christmas song ever in history.
My heart sank as I read it. I was about to publicly murder my friends classic song.
But I do know as long as I tried my best thats all she would want to know and (hopefully) understand 😂
So of course I said YES to the TV show team, but also warned them that i have less than zero vocal ability. ”I’m tone deaf, can’t hold a note to save my life and notoriously horrible when trying to sing”.
They didn’t believe me, so here we are…Enjoy!
Merry Christmas! ( I am so sorry Mariah!)
Here is your comedy horror Christmas song 2020! Obviously this may be taken offline by the publishers and song writers and music labels cos I haven’t paid for it….but until it does, get ready to laugh in horror- MERRY CHRISTMAS 2020!
Launching this week – the first ever Official UK Afrobeats Chart celebrating the rise of Afrobeats, unveiled 2pm every Sunday
J Hus, Burna Boy, NSG, Darkoo & Ziezie are among the artists powering the rising UK Afrobeats scene.
Revealed: UK’s Official Top 20 Afrobeats Artists of the past 12 months + playlist of their biggest tracks
Young T & Bugsey’s ‘Don’t Rush’ crowned as the biggest Afrobeats track of the year
This week sees the launch of the first Official UK Afrobeats Chart – a new Top 20 weekly rundown spotlighting the fast rising Afrobeats scene in the UK, initiated by celebrated festival Afro Nation and compiled by the Official Charts Company.
Understood to be one of the world’s first official charts for the genre, the Official UK Afrobeats Chart is to be compiled using UK sales and streaming data from over 9,000 outlets, incorporating physical sales, downloads, audio streams and video streams.
The chart is described as a landmark moment for a genre whose growing influence on popular music culture is exploding across the globe – driven by a growing community of independent and major label artists.
The very first chart will be unveiled in a special ‘The Official UK Afrobeats Show’ on BBC Radio 1Xtra on Sunday 26th July from 1pm-3pm, featuring a range of hosts and artists from around the world celebrating the launch of the Official UK Afrobeats Chart.
The Top 20 chart will be published every Sunday thereafter at 2pm via a weekly Spotify ‘Official UK Afrobeats Chart’ playlist featuring the 20 biggest Afrobeats tracks of the week plus a bonus slot to spotlight a new release for listeners to discover. A weekly video countdown on the Afro Nation and Official Charts social channels, with the full chart published on OfficialCharts.com.
For presenter images for ‘The Official UK Afrobeats Show’ (Eddie Kadi, Shopsy Doo, P Montana and Danai Mavunga), please head here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1USViVXHfmmzKwgmmxr39w1oqKVB3To3E?usp=sharing
The rise of UK Afrobeats culture – from breakthrough singles to sold-out arenas
From the early breakthrough days of Fuse ODG and D’Banj, the wider UK scene that emerged with Mista Silva and Atumpan all the way through to the Mercury Prize-nominated success of J Hus, British Afrobeats has taken important steps into the mainstream over the past decade. It has taken big strides in the live arena too, as evidenced by Wizkid and Davido’s multiple headline nights at London’s O2 Arena, while 20,000 fans travelled to Portugal for Afro Nation last year.
New analysis from the Official Charts Company shows that in 2019, Afrobeats artists collectively spent 86 weeks in the Official Chart Top 40, a significant swing upwards from 24 weeks in 2017, while the number of tracks entering the UK Top 40 with either a lead or featured Afrobeats act more than doubled in the same period.
In 2017 just one artist from the genre broke into the Top 10: Afro Swing champion Kojo Funds, who collaborated with Mabel on Finders Keepers. Fast-forward to 2019 and the number of tracks achieving a Top 10 placing rose six-fold, spending 18 weeks inside the Official Singles Chart Top 10 across the year.
Global superstars embrace the Afrobeats sound – including the UK’s longest-running Number 1 single of the millenium
In more recent years, talents such as Burna Boy, Mr Eazi, Not3s, Wizkid and more have picked up the mantle from the genre’s pioneers to influence music both within the scene and in the wider pop field. Nigerian singer-songwriter Wizkid found runaway global success in 2015 after being approached by Drake to deliver the Afro-influenced smash One Dance, now the UK’s longest-running Number 1 single of the millennium spending 15 weeks at the top of the Official Chart. With his latest album out now, Wizkid is expected to be a contender for early success in the Official UK Afrobeats Chart.
A deeper exploration of Afrobeats
However, the genre runs far deeper than those records that have crossed over into mainstream chart success, the development of the Official Afrobeats Chart aims to enable its deeper exploration. According to test data for the new chart, an average of 50% of Afrobeats Chart entries are independent releases – this is a scene with much more to come, with many grassroot acts and future hits yet to be discovered.
Revealed: The UK’s Top 20 Official Biggest Afrobeats Artists Of The Past 12 months
To celebrate the launch, a new Official Charts Company-compiled list of the ‘Official Top 20 Afrobeats Artists Of The Past 12 Months’ based on official UK sales and streaming data is unveiled (see table in appendix) with an accompanying playlist.
Embed the playlist from Spotify, Apple Music or Deezer, embed codes in appendix.
London rapper J Hus heads the power list – the 24-year old landed his first Number 1 on the UK’s Official Albums Chart with Big Conspiracy back in January. The album is on its way to gold-certified status with Top 5 single Must Be proving its most popular track, amassing over 38m UK streams to date.
Nigerian singer-songwriter Burna Boy clocks in in second place – while his biggest Afrobeats track of the period is Ye, Burna Boy also appeared alongside Stormzy and Ed Sheeran on the Number 1 single Own It which has racked up over 1.1 million combined UK chart sales to date. Hackney six-piece NSG place third on the ranking, their biggest hit of the year being Top 10 single Options (ft. Tion Wayne).
Collaborations are a theme of the genre’s most popular tracks among the British public – pairing up with stars of the wider music scene is working to bring the Afrobeats sound to a broader audience. 21 year-old Croydon/Congolese rapper Ziezie has reached the Top 40 of the Official Singles Chart three times since 2018, but a hit collaboration with Manchester rapper Aitch on Buss Down propelled him into the Top 10 for the first time back in October. Ziezie takes up sixth place in the list of Afrobeats’ biggest players.
The UK’s overall biggest Afrobeats hit of the past 12 months however comes from Nottingham duo Young T & Bugsey who finish in 7th place in the artists rundown – their track Don’t Rush found viral fame on Tik Tok through the #DontRushChallenge. The female creators of the challenge who span Congolese, Nigerian and Sierra Leonean origins aimed to empower women to embrace their beauty with and without make-up. Passing a blusher brush as a baton, the internet challenge saw women across the globe conquering quarantine boredom by transforming into their going-out looks and celebrating the diversity and pride of the African diaspora.
The Afrobeats community on the launch of the Official UK Afrobeats Chart
The Official UK Afrobeats Chart promises to be a rich celebration of a culture in full flight. Born from joyous celebrations across Africa, the Afrobeats genre represents the spirit of a people and a continent, welcomed around the world and a key component in the sound of modern culture – from the pioneering days of Fela Kuti and Tony Allen, through dance and UK rave culture to the continued success of the genre throughout Africa and the world.
Global trailblazer Naira Marley says:
“Afrobeats has always been about culture. From day 1 I’ve always blended my language and background into my music that’s why so many people connect with it, especially the African diaspora. African music down to the instrumentals are very spiritual and makes people feel good. The genre is a force to be reckoned with, It’s about time there was an Official Afrobeats Chart, and be sure to see Naira Marley at the top!”
Nigerian singer and rapper Rema said:
“It’s a great thing to witness Afrobeats finally receiving the international success and recognition it deserves. Afrobeats is more than just a genre to me, it’s part of my identity, my culture, it’s in my blood and I’m honoured to be a part of the movement.”
South London female rapper Darkoo, whose track Gangsta (with One Acen) is the biggest female-lead Afrobeats track of the past 12 months:
“Africa to the world and back! It’s nice to see recognition of our music in the Official Charts, it’s a real game changer. We’ve gone from listening to Afrobeats on a more cultural level to now seeing it in a commercial space – nice to see!”
UK Afrobeats legend Mista Silva commented:
“I believe that the rise of Afrobeats has played a massive role in shaping the music scene within the UK & across the globe. For the last 10 years it has provided inspiration, confidence in identity, confidence in culture & pushed the boundaries of the music industry. It’s beautiful to see the growth & exciting to see where it goes.”
A Star said:
“Being the “King Of Afro Dance” I believe that through African dance, Afrobeats has impacted the world and the UK massively. Our culture has come and is now here to stay.”
Ghanaian superstar KiDi says:
“Big honour for me to be part of the biggest movement in music right now…..The Official UK Afrobeats Chart. It’s for Us, by Us and of Us!”
Lagos-born musician Ladipoe says:
“The UK Afrobeats Chart couldn’t have come at a better time. Everything we do is to move our culture forward. I’m honoured to be part of the most exciting thing in music right now. I hope to see even more genre diversity with time.”
British/Ghanaian singer-songwriter King Promise says:
“As someone who has seen Afrobeats grow and grow around the world, hearing the news of the Official UK Afrobeats Chart is an honour. Our culture has been making waves across the globe, and to see this opportunity for new, emerging and loved artists to elevate to new levels is a joy. Can’t wait to make a mark on those charts over the coming weeks, months and years ahead so stay tuned!”
Rising Nigerian favourite Oxlade, says:
“Afrobeats is currently one of the most exciting genres out there now, it’s an amazing feeling being part of the history and to be recognized by the Official UK Afrobeats Chart as one of the important people elevating this genre to the world stage, an exciting time for Africa!”
Beloved British-Congolese presenter, comedian and actor Eddie Kadi said:
“I am very proud and honoured to be a part of what will be a significant shift in the way our music is represented in the UK and we can now also begin to educate many others on the wider DNA of African music and culture, through the Official Charts.”
Music Manager Danai Mavunga said:
“Africa is the heartbeat of this entire world and has been influencing pop culture for centuries. This moment is long overdue and I’m super excited to see how far we go from here.”
Speaking about the launch, SMADE (Adesegun Adeosun Jr), Cultural Director and Ambassador for Afro Nation commented:
“It’s an incredible moment for our culture to see the launch of The Official UK Afrobeats Chart. For years, we have celebrated, danced, partied and united underneath the incredible sounds and artists making Afrobeats and African music their own, and to see our culture now recognised in this way is a truly powerful turning point. Providing support and empowering the new artists that will go on to be hugely important leaders in our culture, it’s another sign of the unstoppable popularity the culture has around the world, and I can’t wait to hear the songs, watch from the side of stage and dance together as we reach new heights.”
Mark Strippel, Head of Programmes at BBC Radio 1Xtra says:
“1Xtra has been committed to championing the Afrobeats scene since our formation and we’re excited to support the launch of the first-ever UK Afrobeats Chart. This is much-needed and long overdue. We’re proud to be a part of history.”
Kofi ‘Funkz’ Kyei, Artist Manager and Head Of Marketing at independent record label MOVES Recordings and one of the team responsible for the charts creation says:
“It has been amazing to witness over the past decade the sheer growth in African music being welcomed by the UK and the international market. A scene that defines a culture, a people and countless generations, its music has soundtracked underground culture for years, being the go-to sound in clubs, parties and communities in a way that’s shaped our very culture. For too long, Afrobeats artists have had to work tirelessly to get their voices heard and now African music/Afrobeats is finally being seen as a leading sound that global superstars turn to on a regular basis. The Official UK Afrobeats Chart will help open up the culture to new audiences, giving emerging artists the opportunity to be heard whilst celebrating the sound of a continent that has gone global. Its importance can’t be measured and I look forward to celebrating the biggest and best tracks each and every week!”
Official Charts Company chief executive Martin Talbot says:
“We are delighted to be supporting Afro Nation in the launch of this new Afrobeats Chart. This fast-growing genre is having an increasingly powerful impact on the music landscape right now, both in the UK and further afield, through artists including the likes of NSG, J Hus and Burna Boy. We’re thrilled to be helping cast a spotlight on this success through the development of the genre’s own dedicated weekly chart.”
The weekly Official Afrobeats Chart is available for media licensing, please contact the Official Charts Company for more details.
Lockdown and Covid have us continuing life online with virtual meetings and panels.
Last month I brought together, produced and hosted a masterclass with four national TV / Radio names who shared what their lives as presenters / reporters are like.
Ade Adepitan, Jackie Long, Anna O Neill, Anita Rani and I discussed the life of a presenter working over across the different genres of TV production in this RTS Futures webinar.
How did they get their first big break, what personality quality do you need?, what’s a typical day like, how do you stay ahead of the game, what subjects do you need to study at college? and much, much more!
In June 2020 I was honoured to be asked by the Sandford St Martin Trust to say a few words to introduce Stormzy – the winner of their Trustees award 2020.
They decided Stormzy should receive this award not because he believes in God, but because of how this faith has informed his efforts to foster a public conversation and to build a sense of community that has united thousands of fans across cultural, class, generational, and religious boundaries.”
The winners were all announced during a special digital awards programme on 11 June.
In his acceptance speech,Stormzy said: “Every award I’ve ever collected, whatever achievement I’ve ever had, I’ve always been vocal about the fact that it’s not possible without God. He’s the reason why I’m here today. He’s the reason that I’m able to have a career . . . (but) a lot of the time I get non-believers saying, ‘Don’t thank God, this wasn’t God. This was all you,’ and I know this wasn’t all me. This was God.”
Here is what I said about Stormzy…..
Once in a generation comes along a cultural game changer.
This is a man from a humble background in Croydon, south London, who openly and proudly speaks about and raps about his faith and God.
He gives a voice to the voiceless and manages to headline Glastonbury!
This is a man who calls out injustices everywhere,from racist nightclubs, to bad politicians.
He is a man who champions and personally supports young black students at university.
A man who has created a book-publishing imprint for new black authors and shown that to be pro black, doesn’t mean you’re anti white.
He hasn’t just influenced young music lovers, but also slightly older music journalists like me!
This is a man who through his music, his activism and his honesty, brings people together and inspires them. The hundreds of young people from diverse communities across the UK that I work with daily at the Media Trust are hugely motivated by Stormzy!
This is a loyal man who has built a team around him of friends who he supports into positions of power to grow alongside him and always recognizes and salutes his team who play a huge part in his success.
He is a man who at any given opportunity celebrates and elevates all those around him.
Stormzy spoke to me exclusively on Channel 4 News about music and his own mental health…. and inspired so many others thereafter to speak up too.
This is a young man I’ve worked with and watched grow to huge success over the years, a man with strong moral value and integrity who holds others as well as himself accountable.
He’s a man who has changed what it means to be an all round music star, a man who is commutative and fearless when needs be, yet vulnerable and humble.
This is a man who unites communities and music lovers everywhere, from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and thousands of young and school-aged fans across cultural, class and religious boundaries.
I couldn’t be prouder that our home boy Stormzy, is the winner of this year’s Sandford St Martin Trustees’ Award! Congratulations!
STORMZY- WE are blinded by YOUR grace!
You can watch it here – the Stormzy section starts at 56 minutes in, enjoy!
I’ve worked with some brilliant and some not so brilliant PR’s across the last 2 decades.
Most of them are true professionals who value a journalists time and work.
I value the healthy, professional partnerships very much.
Here are some of my top tips for making the two-way relationship a healthy thing.
PLEASE DO……appreciate that you have spent a very long time writing ONE press release on one client. Each time a Journalist writes or runs a story, we have done the same amount of work on each story, so please share widely on social media and respect the media’s time.
PLEASE DO ….respect that a journo’s job is NOT to do PR but to find interesting stories. Do not insist on ‘exact words script and messaging”. Our editors see through this and will simply scrap the story if it reads like an advertorial.
PLEASE DO give us a variety of angles on your client/story. Always answer why this is a unique story which would be of wider interest to a niche/broad audience.
PLEASE DON’T promise us an exclusive then give it to someone else. Automatic blacklist action.
PLEASE DO understand that every story a journo has green-lit by our editors, we have pushed your talent/story. So don’t then make life awkward for my producer having to chase you minutes before you join us on-air because you still haven’t delivered a crucial element to the story as promised.
PLEASE DO NOT promise things on behalf of your client that you can’t deliver and renege on once a whole camera crew has turned up- we will still scrap the story and be mindful of whether to work with you again.
PLEASE DON’T keep calling us about your story if you have our mobile number from a previous call sheet If all the peg-line info of interest is on your press release, and we are interested, we will be in touch.
PLEASE DO be careful about curating which journalists you send out your press release to. The minute we realise its a mass email we tag it as spam.
PLEASE DO remember that in the age of social media, journalists expect your talent to promote their story with us on their social media platforms. It shouldn’t need to be requested, its PR Journo relationship 101. Don’t argue about why we expect this? We do research, create questions, transcribe, edit and publish your story. The least you can do is promote it before and after.
PLEASE DO acknowledge that journalists have to take on research, balance and educational, informative content for our readers/listeners/viewers. We will choose which parts of your press release are of interest and use accordingly. Don’t call to moan that we didn’t use a bit that you thought would make your client more money.
PLEASE DO respect media timelines and deadlines. If we say we need a piece of video or music content by a day/time, don’t have us chase you for it. We are giving your client and your salary a boost. Work with us.
PLEASE DON’T promise that your client will talk about a range of subjects before actually confirming with them that they will.
PLEASE DO be courteous and polite to the whole media team, not just the presenter/reporter/writer. If my intern/ camera crew inform me you’ve been rude and hostile it means they may decide your client’s shot isn’t curated as beautifully as it might be.
PLEASE DON’T try and bribe us with free stuff. This is akin to selling your soul and none of your audience will respect you to be transparent if you simply take the check for advertorial style content.
PLEASE DO remember if you do one too many unprofessional things with the media, we simply delete your future emails. I had one PR company who would never ensure their talent were informed and ready for interviews with info that we sent across. Cue very awkward talent/ team moments when about to go live on air as talent states PR hadn’t shared vital info.
PLEASE DON’T ask journalists to ‘approve’ the final content. No explanation necessary.
PLEASE DO get to know your media. If I cover arts and entertainment I don’t want all your press releases about science, business and property.
I might read it but I’m unlikely to cover it.
PLEASE DO remember that everything you say is ON THE RECORD unless you say otherwise. Don’t fly into a frenzy when something you shared is out in the public if you didn’t specify it was OFF THE RECORD.
PLEASE DO establish a reputation as a PR journalists can rely on.
PLEASE DO remember that pitching journalists and pitching bloggers and influencers are different. Curate your press release to respect the worlds of both.
PLEASE DON’T expect journalists to wait hours for late talent. Our two way professional relationship relies on the fact that there is 2-way mutual respect for our time and expertise.
PLEASE DO understand that journalists are sent hundreds of emails a week and if we contact you we are grateful for the story, but we are also doing you a favour with all the work involved with your story. Respect our time and be courteous.
PLEASE DO call and speak to a journalist about their story if you don’t like the final version and let them explain their narrative if you want to grow as a PR. Manage your clients expectations and don’t expect puff pieces.
PLEASE DO understand that once most journalists have worked with a reliable PR repeatedly, we will trust you for stories and integrity and your press releases will hold more value with us. I have lifelong relationships with PR i trust and respect.
PLEASE DON’T inform us on arrival what to ask and not ask. Nothing winds up a journalist more and starts the interview with a bad vibes. Also don’t tell us not to use content at the end- ask nicely. We let you do your job, let us do ours.
PLEASE DON’T send on sloppy press releases, I receive press releases today that I have to send back for data, fact and grammatical errors. Check your work!
PLEASE REMEMBER that PR/ Media is a two way relationship that relies on each other. A great partnership can cultivate years of brilliant stories, content and good times. Respect each other’s skill-set and it’s a beautiful thing.
Last week Former Blue Peter presenter @Konnie_Huq shared her cultural tribes, gave us a audio reading of her 1st children’s book #CookiebyKonnie ,why girls into STEM subjects are cool, diverse characters in kids books,what life is like at home with hubby @blackmirror Charlie Brooker, and why West London rocks!
JASMINE WITH KONNIE HUQ
Then @BluebirdPicture founder Joelle Mae David who is also one of @BBCRadioLondon new Insta stars #GreaterLondoner named her cultural tribes….
Her organisation in Barking and Dagenham helps get diverse youth into the film industry.
JASMINE WITH JOELLE MAE DAVID FROM BLUEBIRD PICTURES
We heard from Anna Marie Benedict from last weekend’s #AfricaFashionWeekLondon talk to us all about the 2 day event in Covent Gardens Freemasons Hall, the catwalk shows, the celebrity show and why African cultures taking over pop culture!
JASMINE WITH ANNA MARIE BENEDICT FROM AFRICA FASHION WEEK LONDON
Finally we heard from singer-songwriter @RachelRoseOBwho was on @thevoiceuk perform for us live in the studio, share her cultural tribes, share how she was flown out to the USA to be in a movie and when she’ll be headlining @GlastoFest!
JASMINE WITH SINGER RACHEL-ROSE!
SO, IF YOU’VE READ THIS FAR, THEN SCROLL BACK UP TO THE TOP AND HIT THE LISTEN BACK LINKS AT THE START OF THIS POST- GO ON, YOU WON’T REGRET IT I PROMISE!
#TheScene Every week night from 8-10pm on BBC Radio London – Thursdays hosted my me!
I have always been a bit of a vacation snob.
Avoiding the idea of a GREEK ISLAND holiday Easy Jet vacation like the plague.
This June we had intended to fly to Mauritius then after back & forth conversations about a 12 hour flight being too long, I threw my hands in the air and jumped on Expedia to book a hot week anyway. I chose Greece and the island of Crete and kept my fingers crossed that my choice of hotel resort would not be regretted.
The Amirandes Grecotel resort was incredible!
I can’t say enough wonderful things about this spot. We spent 8 days there in a luxury sea view room-room 321-which I actually think has the best views of both the stunning hotel grounds and the ocean in a 180 degree panoramic view and the best view of the sunset from our balcony.
ON ARRIVAL GUESTS ARE GREETED WITH COCKTAILS!
The room was always spotless clean and we were gifted complementary wine and fruit platers.
BEACH SHADOW SELFIES ARE MANDATORY!
LOOK AT THE VIEWS!
I MADE THE MOST OF ALL THE FREE YOGA AND DANCE CLASSES!
THEY HAVE AN IN-HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHER WHO WILL TAKE PICS IN THE STUNNING GROUNDS FOR 9 EUROS EACH! LOL!
THE AMIRANDES GROUNDS AT NIGHT ARE STUNNING AND MAJESTIC!
BREAKFAST AT THIS SPOT DAILY MEANS YOU START YOU DAY RIGHT!
The breakfast buffet was amazing with hot options, cold maze options, fresh fruit- the sweetest pineapple I’ve ever tasted…..a bespoke barista bar serving fancy teas and coffees and two live chef stations making fresh waffles, pancakes and omelettes. The staff are uber friendly and chat away with you like family!
The olympic pool was glorious. Huge with so many sun loungers, bespoke cafe and the adjacent white sofa loungers areas over looking the ocean were lush.
WALKING AROUND THE RESORT BRINGS CUTE SURPRISES LIKE NEON HIPPOS HANGING OUT!
The beach is private and has cute thatched umbrella seating, but my favourite were the loungers on the raised garden area. An opportunity to sit facing the ocean and enjoy the beach and waves without having the mess of the sand yet also having easy steps access to the ocean should it get too hot.
MAKE LIKE A FITNESS MAGAZINE MODEL AND FAKE LAUGH YOUR WAY THROUGH THE BEACH MOMENTS!
The beach attendants walk by constantly offering complimentary water bottles and water melon slices!
THERE ARE LOVELY SECRET SPOTS TO CHILL AND WATCH THE OCEAN ALL DAY.
THE GARDEN AREA WAS MY FAVE. LUSH LANDSCAPE GRASSY AREAS WHERE YOU CAN SUNBATHE AND CATCH A GREAT OCEAN BREEZE.
HAVING DINNER AL FRESCO AT THE MINATOUR RESTAURANT IS MAGICAL- THE DINNER SPOT HOUSES PICASSO ART!
The unlimited free water, restaurants on site, free yoga and dance and pilates classes and spa meant you could simply relax and not have to worry about leaving the resort if you didn’t want to.
PULLING FUNNY SELFIE POSES ON HOLIDAY IS ALLOWED!
One of our party was an 86 year old woman and although mobile there are numerous small sections of steps all across this property but with support she was fine and loved her facial in the spa. I had an aruvedic massage and it was heavenly and got into crevices of my body that hadn’t even been touched before.
MAKE LIKE SOPHIA LOREN AND BASK IN THE SUNSHINE!
The whole week was lush, relaxing, the staff couldn’t do enough for us and were genuinely friendly. The hotel guest clientele is classy yet inclusive. The type that prefer grey – beige resort wear and dressing up nicely for dinner. The restaurants are diverse with Italian, Japanese, Greek and Mediterranean on site.
There is also an amphitheater on site where nightly kids discos, dance shows and magic shows happen.
My favourite was the night that 3 tenors sang opera on the waterfront accompanied by fireworks- truly classy and romantic.
Khalid is currently one of the biggest artists on the planet. In fact, He’s now officially the #1 most Streamed artist in the world on Spotify!
JASMINE WITH MUSIC SUPERSTAR KHALID AT THE SOUND CHECK FOR HIS PRIVATE FAN GG IN WHITE CITY FOR HIS NEW ALBUM ”FREE SPIRIT”.
He’s a multi-platinum selling, multiple award winning, Grammy nominated artist, most of this he achieved before turning 21!
With all of this being said, he’s still somewhat of an enigma – he’s huge but do we know who he is?
He has had co-signs from Beyoncé, Elton John, Calvin Harris and more and has worked with a wide range of artists, of which he has helped to deliver their biggest selling singles. He’s performed at major award shows and even appeared on the recent episode of Saturday Night Live in the US.
He’s a bit of a Gen Z phenomenon, he communicates with his fans mainly through Twitter, where he expresses his excitement and fears, answers questions from fans and also isn’t afraid to confront their negativity.
One of the things he refers to quite often is his social anxiety. His ability to reach a generation overly-exposed and full of angst because of social media seems to be unmatched by his peers in a musical space; it’s no wonder that the queen of this Kylie Jenner was the person who first brought light to his music.
So, what with Khalid being the biggest streaming act in the world, meeting Channel 4 News- The most-watched news programme in the UK/ Europe on social media……it was a double whammy of fire!
Channel 4 News stats incase you need reminding…
· 1.5 billion ‘minutes viewed’ in 2018 across all platforms and brands.
· 2 million viewers under 34 years old on YouTube every month – watching for over 5 minutes on average.
· Over 50m video views total every month.
· 120 million minutes viewed on YouTube in March.
….So I knew that an interview with him, would bring about some really good social commentary. ENJOY!
Congrats on your journey so far- biggest streaming artist, also Grammy nominated with a world tour coming….you are the definition of the American teen dream …and all of this before the age of 21?
I know! IT’S CRAZY! ….crazy and it all feels so different – it’s been an awesome time.
You moved around a lot as a child with your mum in the army…Tell us about growing up as an ‘’Army brat’…you make it sound like Being in the military was a dream life for a child?
Being an army kid with mum I noticed the impact she had on everyone with her performances. So from an early age I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
It was hard moving every 3 years. But it gave me a good perspective on the world.
USA VS EUROPE
What did you notice in your very unique lane about how different European teens are compared to American teens? Culturally, politically, values?
I feel that i definitely noticed that European teens are quieter than USA teens. The interesting thing is European teens are actually quiet around adults
whereas When I’m in USA, the kids are bouncing from Wall to Wall. American kids are so energetic, we have Senior prom, superlatives. It was an Interesting perspective of both continents. I loved living in Europe but I love USA and it’s made me who I am today.
I feel like moving for me aged 17 from Europe to l Paso senior year was tough. U spend all high school making relationships and then move and feel a sense of loneliness. It can be a really dark place. I was able to tale turn that dark to light. I owe it all to my friends though – If I had no friends I’d be a different person.
Your first album was titled ‘’ American teen’’. Teens all over the globe now seem more politically aware than ever?
I feel like cos of all that’s going on in the media people are becoming more politically aware. I never saw kids into politics as much in Europe but i was much younger then. But I know kids globally are making waves with their voices and I really respect that.
They’re calling you ‘the voice of a generation’…. Looking back at your ‘’American teen’ era, just 2 years ago…you’ve said that you were naive and young then- what were you naïve about?
I was naive about myself and the world and what I wanted to put out. I was trusting my gut and intuition. I was naive surrounding myself with people I thought I’d be friends with.
Your Album flew into the top 10…then hit number 1- and stayed in charts for 6 months…it clearly has staying power? You say you were lonely moving around as a teen but you were also very socially active as President of numerous social clubs….
(brushes Dirt off his shoulder! 😉
Going to multicultural clubs and Spanish club – it all gave me perspective. It gave me this worldiness. I ended up being one of the biggest streaming artists in the world cos I studied the world cos I embraced the world and studied people and turned that into music.
I was so in tune with the world and studied myself, When I have conversations now, I speak to people in my songs as global citizens, not citizens of various countries. Moving to el Paso was such an abrupt move. First lonely. Then music it quickly became my home. If I didn’t move there I wouldn’t have had my career. They treat me like I’ve lived there for ever.
RACISM / UNCONCIOUS BIAS
You have a unique sound – i hear that radio stations and record label’s found it hard to place you at the start of your career…?… Platforms were confused about where to place you due to you being a black man with a unique sound.
Record labels were asking you to change your authenticity and be more hiphop/R&B because of how you look? How stagnant, old fashioned and unconnected are record labels these days- is there a sense of unconscious bias/ racism is the music industry?
When I first started making music people were confused….” what is he rap? pop? folk? what is he?. I like making every kind of music. I have an R&B voice singing on pop music. I was able to transcend boundaries SO I was lucky that my label embraced me. It’s about a partnership that’s comfortable, I know there’s a lot I don’t know. Having a label that supports my creative vision is important.
Thats very short sighted of record labels…..
There’s definitely a sense of bias – they see a black man and think hmmm. However, why should I limit myself because I’m a black man!? Nowadays there’s so many artists pushing the boundaries. People are pushing the edges of what it’s like to being a musician.
You’ve performed the track 1-800-273-8255 with Logic and singer Alessia Cara. The song’s title is the phone number for America’s National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and its lyrics focus on mental health issues. Tell us why it was important for you to get involved with this song- why did you want to draw attention to suicide and mental health?
For me it was super important to be a part of the suicide prevention hotline in America. It made me see I can communicate with my fans around depression and anxiety. Now people are coming to me about their difficulties. If you can be connected it impacts your soul and heart. Instead of being sad I’m happy I’m able to help them share in a positive light.
There have been a slew of deaths in music recently …Keith Flint, Avicci, Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, etc…. You’ve become famous very fast and very young, Did you / do you have enough mental health and pastoral care in the music industry?
Having convos with my fans about the song 1-800 is wild. They tell me i have helped save their lives or talk about things. I’m in awe thinking ‘wow – you barely know me …but we all share so many things in life. Making that song made my relationship with my fans so strong.
I see the impact my music has on people. If I wasn’t helping people through my music I’d still be helping via music and affect the masses.
When it comes to my own mental health, I taught myself that If I have a problem I take it to the studio and write about it.
Your NEW / SOPHOMORE ALBUM- FREE SPIRIT- debuted at number 1 – it’s about your sense of freedom…are you a free spirit…you said that you ‘’don’t think you ever experience the freedom your friends have now’’….what are your restrictions…what has this life of success and fame mean that you have sacrificed?
I acknowledge that I’m not a free spirit. But it’s not hard to attain. I mean it is. One of the things that restricts me is my schedule. But I find freedom in my music when I’m Stage and singing to fans. When I clock out though and head home there is lots I wanna do but can’t. But I’m not mad, when it’s all over I’m gonna miss the work, the dedication all of that.
R&B is super healthy in the USA….but not as huge in the UK. We have a huge problem with young people and stabbings here. Grime and drill are also one of our most popular music genres… With all our youth violence we could do with some mellow R&B? How much do you think the music we consume impacts our behaviour?
Music we engage with doesn’t have an impact on behaviour. Some people only listen to melodies not lyrics. I hear a folk or rock song. When people tell stories it’s coming from a real place in their mind.
I listen to trap music all the time. But I’m not shooting people or doing drugs. It depends on your personality. There are so many rap songs I love …grime is just the stories people are telling to get out of their communities. I can see that there might be some people who might be impacted by the music but it’s too easy to blame music and not the real issues.
THE GREAT KHALID FOUNDATION
Earlier this month you accomplished a huge goal by starting a foundation for Music & Fine Arts in underserved communities and kicked it off in El Paso. With Performing Arts Scholarship winners!
Tell us about your School scholarships- giving young people from working class backgrounds an equal chance at them living their best life. How and why did this begin? Why is it important? What has it changed?
I always said that If I wasn’t making music I’d still be working teaching music. So now I have this platform it’s time for me to give back to the community who embraced me .A lot of schools don’t have arts and music opportunities. I definitely wanna be an advocate for spreading how important art is to the world. It’s so important to implement these options. Growing up job opportunities and information was limited. We were told about being a doctor, scientist and so on, but no-one tells you that you can be an music engineer or a journalist or a music therapist.
You’ve accomplished more in 2 years than many music stars mange in their whole careers….
I’M only 21 …..Its only been 21years I’ve been alive. I can’t wait to see what I can do when I’m 40!
-You were named last month as one of the @time 100 most influential people in 2019!
-Barack Obama included your music on his annual-best-list….
-This era of music stars have found their political voices too….-What’s been the catalyst for this ?
The catalyst for artists finding out political voices is we have people like Kendrick Lemar. He’s one of the most acts we have today. He’s the leader at the forefront. And so many others. So these kids are learning from them on behalf and finding their voice to speak out about their communities about the relationship between the government and the world.
Do you think your own music will become more socially conscious in the future?
In the future I definitely feel that my music will become more socially and politically conscious. I can’t write love songs forever. It takes time & education though.
You are politically minded, but unlike other music names like Kanye, you also said you didn’t fancy meeting Donald Trump – why not?
I don’t feel like Donald Trump is anything I’d wanna be with ya know.
But he has said some disparaging things about your community. Focusing back on El Paso – it was the site of Trump’s recent border crackdown. He’s linked the border wall and immigration with rates of crime and been criticised for stoking fear and division. What do you think about DT’s rhetoric? He linked border Wall with immigration and cried and language around a community you love.
I feel there’s so many other young people for kids can look up to. Kids are the future of the world.
Donald Trump won’t be President forever. That’s when it’ll take someone else to come in to change things…
Someone else like your fellow El Paso former musician Beto O’Rourke, who used to be a punk rocker now turned politician?. He is from El Paso – and launched his democratic campaign for president there. What do you think of him? Are your friends/people in your community excited by him? His chances?
Beto- that’s my guy! He launched his campaign. We have convos. He’s inspiring people in politics and I inspire via my music so i feel like we work hand in hand. People are inspired by him. I feel his odds are good!
What can we expect from your Arena tour this summer- at aged 21! (UK TOUR 17/18 SEPTEMBER)
From my arena tour you can expect a lot of positive fun energy dance moves and cool songs!
You’ve accomplished the first chapter of your journey- what’s next?
Next for my journey… I’m on the path of learning about myself and my spirit. And I feel like in the future my music will become more introspective.
The Scene on BBC Radio London- 02/05/2019 – Blog by multi-media content creator Lucrese Grehoua.
JASMINE WITH THE SCENE GUESTS……
On Thursday 2nd April The Scene introduced no nonsense former Vogue model exposing the dark secrets of the industry through her new book The Model Manifesto, London born pioneer and co-founder of the world’s first video magazine ‘GUAP MAG’, young Jazz vocalist of the year and three female musketeers leading London’s naughtiest podcast!
JASMINE WITH JAZZ SINGER SONGWRITER CHERISE ADAMS-BURNETT ON THE SCENE- BBC RADIO LONDON.
First on the show is Cherise Adams Burnett who surprises listeners with her infectious laugh and energy. Cherise from Luton speakers on the diverse and culturally rich area and how much she loved living there as a child. However, to pursue a serious career in music she left her comfort zone at the age of 18 and moved to South East London to give it a shot!
The world of Jazz, Cherise explains, is an elitist genre of music that makes it hard for underprivileged and younger people to begin a career in. However her early love for the music would fuel her to approach South-East London based organisation,’ Tomorrow’s Warriors’, an innovative artist development organisation giving free tuition to women and those from the African diaspora. They took a shot on Cherise, and now she urges young people trying to enter the Jazz industry to approach them!
Cherise recently won vocalist of the year at the Jazz FM awards, something she says she did not expect – or at least she tried to bury any competitive mindsets and focus on having a good night out with her mother! She goes on to reveal that due to her class and financial status, she never believed she would end up being a Jazz singer. Humbly, she thanks everyone who invested in her even when she didn’t have the money to pay back.
Cherise expresses her gratitude towards a new, growing community of young jazz musicians who are challenging the elitist attitudes to genre of music. She says to get support, there are loads of young instrumentalists to get in contact with such as Moses Boyd and Femi Koleoso. To get into Jazz, Cherise says that once you find one of these people, you find a whole community and are pretty much sorted! We guess the rest is up to you!
For young people wanting a relaxed night of Jazz, Cherise recommends some great places to go to including The Royal Albert in New Cross on a Sunday night, The Albany after 11pm and plenty more that you can check out here.
Find Cherise on Instagram at @cherisemusic and on her website https://www.cherisemusic.com/.
JASMINE WITH FORMER VOGUE MODEL- NOW LEGAL EAGLE- AND AUTHOR OF NEW BOOK ”THE MODEL MANIFESTO”- ON THE SCENE- BBC RADIO LONDON.
Next to bless The Scene with uncensored and critical information that she believes all young models need to know is Leanne Maskell. She is former Vogue, Asos and London Fashion Week model and now author The Model Manifesto, an anti-exploitation guide for young girls trying to navigate the industry.
Cyprus born Leanne unexpectedly began modelling at the age of 13, but had never really considered as she was being bullied for how she looked in school, being tall, having a lisp and even being told she has ‘yellow skin’. After her parents divorced her mum took her to the only modelling agency local to her in Cyprus. The goal for her mother was not play about, but to try to make some real income for the family.
Leanne speaks on her lucky break, revealing that in her very small Island of only 800 thousand people, she was probably the only tall, blonde girl and was able to easily infiltrate the modelling industry. However, for people in places like London, she explains that 1% of hopefuls will be signed to an agency, and only 1% will have a moderately successful career. Though her mother managed her as a child, she truly began her modelling as a career when she arrived to London. Leanne admits however that she never really enjoyed it, but believed this was her identity and knew subconsciously it’s what people knew her as since she was young girl.
Leanne says there are dire mental and health effects that come from modelling, and believes there should be a strict age limit of 18 to protect young girls from the dangerous expectations that agencies have of them. She recalls a girl believing she was fat at a size 10 and says for girls who start out with young, tiny bodies, the pressures start to mount when their womanhood begins, causing them to put on weight in parts of their bodies that aren’t typically visually appealing to agencies.
She also speaks of how tiring modelling is, referencing 14-year-old Russian model Vlada Dzyuba, who collapsed and died after walking off a runway in Shangai during a 13-hour-shift. Vlada who apparently was ‘too afraid’ to say she was feeling unwell was found to be suffering from severe exhaustion.
26-year-old Leanne put an end to her modelling career at the start of 2019, freeing herself of the mental and emotional burdens that the industry had imposed on her. Though having a successful 13-year career, she says she did not enjoy any of it. Responding online to questions demanding to know why she stayed, she says, “Modelling is very addictive as it becomes your entire identity and I couldn’t really see a way out. It is really hard not to get pulled back in with the seemingly high rates of pay and addiction of being accepted by strangers.”
Her book details gruelling treatment she was subjected to from being told to lose weight whilst already being severely body dysmorphic, dealing with uncooperative agencies who would not take into consideration that she was studying and even having her tights changed by two men at once. But although The Model Manifesto boldly and bravely speaks on the truths about her previous agents and experiences, she does admit that she has a whole section in her book showing gratitude for the things she has learned.
Leanne ends her time on The Scene by explaining the industry concisely, saying that agencies simply see models as can of beans rather than real people, constantly throwing them in unforeseen situations with no humanistic compassion or protection. Consequently, these human beings become like children, heavily dependent on the protection and the validation of their agencies whilst being taken advantage of.
Find Leanne’s heart-wrenching book on Amazon, and read more about her on her website and at @TheModelManifesto on Instagram
JASMINE WITH IBRAHIM KAMARA- EDITOR OF THE WORLDS FIRST AR VIDEO MAGAZINE- ONTHE SCENE- BBC RADIO LONDON.
Next up, a nifty pioneer and award-winning GUAP magazine co-founder – Ibrahim Kamara. GUAP which is an acronym for ‘Great Understanding And Power’ is a cool and funky magazine made to inspire and entertain young London creatives.
But GUAP is not your traditional print platform; rather it is an ‘augmented reality’ magazine – and the first one in the world! Allow us to explain. The magazines are distributed freely at launch events, and works by scanning your phone over any page. A video then comes to life on your actual phone allowing you to see unique content. There is no need to hover your phone over the page, once your video starts to move, you are able to go away and watch the rest of it!
Ibrahim who also self shoots on his magazine as well as directing a team of contributors says that his platform is one of the only ones that appeals to young Londoners by building a genuine community rather than wanting to work with brands first and foremost. He has however worked with plenty, ranging from Nike, Adidas, the Evening Standard, NME and more.
Ibrahim who has never actually had a job and works on GUAP magazine full time has been honoured as a digital pioneer by the Mayor of London and Top 100 Most Influential BAME leaders in the U.K. He attributes this the vast London creative scene, explaining that there are a lot of young people who are now able to garner audiences that traditional brands have not in the past been able to.
Modestly, Ibrahim says “Obviously the achievements are good but that’s not what we’re focused on”, and adds, “I don’t feel pressure because I’m not doing this for others to see what I’m doing”. He says he has a set vision and many other goals and aspirations. Some of them include making a creative space at The Roundhouse and one day he hopes access one million people. Ibrahim says it’s a ‘slow and steady journey’ and vehemently insists that he will never feel pressure to conform to a creative rat race industry. He is simply grateful that he is currently able to live off of his magazine.
To find more about Ibrahim, check him out on Twitter and Instagram @ibrahimkamama_ and view the GUAP movements at @GUAPMAG on both platforms!
JASMINE WITH THE LADIES FROM ”THE RECEIPTS PODCAST”ON THE SCENE- BBC RADIO LONDON!
Last to bless The Scene are the Destiny’s Child of the podcast world. Audrey who describes herself as a ‘professor of Wig-ology’, Milena who refers to herself as a hot mamacita and Tolly T who ‘ain’t payin’ for NO date’!
The women form ‘The Receipts Podcast’, a leading podcast that started in 2016 when the ladies realised that there were no people covering their types of experiences on radio. They decided to take to Twitter to tell their unique and funny life-lived stories, building a no-judgement zone and a place crack a bit of banter with people who could relate.
They said they were encouraged to then start the podcast when a similar male version commented on their Twitter conversations, challenging them to start recording their conversations on a wider and more open medium.
The ladies, who were once a group of 5 set up a meeting in a coffee shop where they ended up speaking for hours on end. Finally being kicked out and told they needed to leave – they realised they had to go through with the idea. They recorded a pilot episode which Aubrey says was a ‘shambles’, but finally were able to whittle the group down to the three ladies who were committed to making the platform a success.
Before settling with the now famous name, they admit they had gone through a plethora of potentially awful branding, nearly calling themselves ‘Predrinks’ and ‘Can’t deal’. But after coming across a video of Whitney Houston being accused of something in an interview and clapping back with the line “where are the receipts?” they knew they had to go fourth and let the world know that if anyone has receipts, it’s them.
The bubbly girls whose podcast is almost a London version of Sex and The City say their Whatsapp group chats are filled with ‘consistent, high grade filth’, but is also a real and unfiltered representation of their personal lives. They jokingly (but quite seriously) name Beyonce, Cardi B and even Celine Dion as some of the names they would love to have on the podcast one day.
The ladies speak truthfully on the goal behind all the banter – they want to normalise conversations surrounding sex with women and empower more introverted females, enabling them listen in and have their views corroborated by people who are unafraid to say things like – in the words of Tolly T – ‘faking orgasms is rewarding men for bad behaviour’.
The Receipts Podcast which has featured episodes such as ‘My Family are Racist, ‘He Keeps Giving me STI’s, ‘I cheated on my boyfriend with a pastor’, and ‘Should I Fake my Orgasms’ is now up for a British Podcast Awards for Relationships and Sex, and the girls have a little giggle whilst asking The Scene listeners to vote for them.. No seriously – go vote now! They’re amazing!
Find their hilariously entertaining show here and follow each of the ladies on Twitter at @tolly_t, @ghanasfinestx and @milenasanchezx
Blog by multi-media content creator Lucrese Grehoua.
Thursday 26th March saw The Scene introduce professional gong bather and wellness expert Nicole Harvey, fierce and fiery body positive supermodel Charli Howard, trailblazing songwriter Jin Jin and the no-nonsense women from Club Frsherz fighting for equality in music.
JASMINE WITH WELLNESS EXPERT AND GONG BATH SPECIALIST NICOLE HARVEY.
First to speak with Jasmine Dotiwala on how she is impacting the world through sound was guru Nicole Harvey who describes herself as someone who walks the walk, talks the talk, and believes strongly in creating change through art and healing.
Along with Nicole was a 32 inch gong that she brought with her to the BBC Radio studio. She refers to her gong as ‘he’, saying the gong has been attuned to Saturn which gives it a masculine energy that she challenges Jasmine to get near and feel.
Nicole who is originally from Yorkshire and now lives in North West London first became passionate about sound therapy when she began healing for herself through classes that provided gong baths – an ancient Chinese activity (with no water or tub involved!) that encompasses therapeutic brain alteration through deep sounds. She enjoyed escaping and going on meditative journeys with sounds she says are otherworldly and cosmic, and then began to train herself further in gong bathing,
She says it doesn’t matter if you’re a cynic, the science backs up that gong baths are brilliant for stress relieving and opening blood cells up.
Live on Jasmine Dotiwala’s show, as she would in her classes, Nicole takes her gong mallet, lightly thuds her gong, and leads London into a highly and shockingly relaxing gong bath – at no extra cost!
She says in classes, trap nerves have been released, kidney stones have been shifted, insomniac sleep and anxiety sufferers healed and much more. Nicole begins to then teach that not only are gong baths helpful, but we can also stimulate the mind by incorporating ‘mantras’ – she leads us to put our hands on our hearts, breathe in, and make a long ‘aah’ sound, a sound she says generates compassion.
It’s safe to say that Nicole left the London listeners spiritually enlightened. For more relaxation, you can find her at www.haveyourmagic.com and @Haveyourmagic on Twitter.
Next up is 27-year-old Charli Howard, a model and body image activist who once wrote a blog post that went viral when she was fired by her modelling agency for being ‘too big’.
JASMINE WITH SUPER MODEL AND ACTIVIST CHARLI HOWARD
She has created The All Women project which goes into schools to teach body positivity, written a book and has been featured in magazines from London to L.A including British Vogue. She is now also a body positive columnist at Glamour UK as well as the new campaign girl for underwear brand Agent Provocateur.
Charli, who was always steered away from journalism by her family, decided to embark on a course called CREATIVITY WORKS with Media Trust that would introduce her to new journalistic skills. But when she was dropped by her modelling agency midway through her course, it was then that she would then use those skills to write a fiery blog post.
The post reads: ‘Here’s a big F you to my now ex-modelling agency for saying that at 5ft 6 inches tall and a UK size 6-8 I’m too big and out of shape to work in the fashion industry. I refuse to feel ashamed and upset on a daily basis for not meeting your ridiculous unattainable beauty standards and the more you force us to lose weight and be small, the more designers have to make clothes to fit our sizes and the more young girls are being made ill. It’s no longer an image that I wish to represent. If an agency what to represent me for the woman I am, I’m more than happy to take your calls, but until then I’m off to Nandos’.
After this blew up, a very shaky Charli was approached by some of the biggest broadcast companies, and with the help of Jasmine Dotiwala (her then tutor) on the Media Trust course, she was able to represent herself and speak further on her story to companies like the BBC.
Charli says that despite being a size 6 at the time and suffering with an eating disorder, she gained weight and was approached by an agency to work in New York doing plus sized modelling.
She says that on entrance to the agency were two walls, one showing catwalk models who looked very moody, and on the other side where there were only about twelve cards were women radiating with smiles. Charli says she was surprised that the plus models were the ones who were actually happy and enjoying themselves.
Charli admits that calling a size 10-12 model ‘plus sized’ is controversial, but that in her being one, she is representing women like herself who still find it gravely difficult to get by in the fashion industry.
Charli says if she could speak to her 15-year-old self, she would tell her to surround herself with good people and unfollow accounts that make her feel bad or insecure about herself. She also says you absolutely do not need professional photos to get into modelling – an aspiring model can take a quick photo of themselves with no makeup on or simply walk into an agency!
Charli speaks on her All Woman project, in which she got together both slimmer and plus sized models to create unity between all. She says she was then approached by big companies to then help strategise to make body positivity a main component of their brands.
Charli continues to rock the industry, you can see what she is getting up to on Instagram @CharliHoward.
JASMINE WITH SONG WRITER TO THE STARS JIN JIN
The 3rd guest in the studio to speak on song-writing and music production is song writer to the stars Jin Jin.
Mancunian girl Jin Jin has co-written dozens of chart topping songs including ‘Hold My Hand’ by Jess Glynne and ‘Alien’ by Jonas Blue and Sabrina Carpenter.
She has worked with people of the likes of Fraser T Smith, Dave, Ms Banks, Raye, David Guetta, Sigala, Rita Ora, Paloma Faith, Madison Beer and many more, and has received accolades at platforms such as Women in Music Awards.
Jin Jin says she has been writing songs for five years and started in her grandfather’s reggae record shop. She soon progressed into the music scene at university where her friend introduced her to artist Target.
Jin Jin who was already known for working with grime groups such as Roll Deep, says she started to be noticed through collaborations with any one she was interested in. She says it doesn’t matter whether or not someone has accolades in song writing and advises people to work with anyone who is talented.
Jin Jin says she met Jess Glynne 5 years ago and would create songs with her in local pubs. She says she enjoys meeting up with artists to connect with them and understand their stories before making songs – almost like a councillor!
When it comes to creating the actual songs in studios, Jin Jin admits that she and even the artists she works with don’t usually have many diva demands. She says that studio time is typically a moment for top artist to be themselves, let their guards down, remove egos and be comfortable in a relaxed, closed and safe environment.
Many of us wonder why songwriters desire to be behind the scenes rather than taking the front line fame in projects created by themselves. Jin Jin tells Jasmine that she would never move into singing on stage, rather she feels satisfied with simply bringing ideas to the table and letting the artist bring it to life. She also say that her Mancunian accent makes things sound a little funny, she’d rather not embarrass herself!
We think Jin Jin is amazing whether behind the scenes or not! Keep up with her new projects on Twitter @jinjinofficial
JASMINE WITH THE CLUB FRSHZ CREW.
Last but certainly not least on The Scene are revolutionary music group Club Frsherz whose compilation of new songs seeks to empower and support all black people through positive and personable affirmations.
To speak on their ‘Black playlist’ are three of six members of Club Frsherz. Founder of the group Skandouz says his inspiration to get the group together was a dear friend dying of sickle cell anaemia, he says there are not many positive representations of black people. He wanted to tell their stories and decided if nobody else would do it, he would.
Coco 7, a female musician says she was excited to collaborate with Skandouz on the project to promote an ethical message about black people. Miss Ranger, a pianist says she enjoyed music from a young age but fast realised she could not sing. It was here that she discovered NWA – her view on music would change forever. And Zara Sykes who has also been rapping from the age of 9 decided she would jump on the project to represent Birmingham.
Creating a combo of ten separate songs all made by women including ‘Buy Black’, ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Young Gifted and Black’, the album boldly and fearlessly promotes black intelligence, empowerment and uplifting of a race usually outcast and seen negatively.
Skandouz says his team are wordsmiths who challenge themselves to think outside the realm of popular profane language within their songs. They say they do not condone the ‘N’ word or any type of profanity in their music, adding that you can be edgy whilst still being respectful within your speech. Club Frsherz says children should be open to a wide world of vocabulary. They seek to build a legacy rather than create quick, throwaway music that so many people are currently creating.
Coco 7 says she celebrates black women as there is not enough range in the industry. She says she blames the industry and the cogs behind the machine that doesn’t allow a wide range black women to make versatile music – female MCs are lead into the industry one at a time. Whilst many would say that the music she makes excludes people of other races, Coco 7 says that in fact the movement is inclusive, allowing women who have been ostracised to be a part of doing something great that they otherwise would not have the opportunity to be part of.
Full information on all members off Club Frsherz and their impactful movement on Twitter @ClubFRSHERZ!
Today on The Scene, Jasmine Dotiwala talks apprenticeships, breaking into media and the Afrobeats movement in the music industry.
First up are Gennaro Costaldo and Ramon Lewis of the Brits Apprenticeship scheme that gives 10 people of all backgrounds the opportunity to develop a career in music with training and mentoring.
JASMINE WITH GEANNARO CASALDO FROM THE BPI AND RAMON LEWIS-AN APPRENTICE ON THE BRITS APPRENTICESHIP SCHEME.
Apprentice Ramon Lewis explains how he became an apprentice at Key Production, and how he went from working in office support to being a core part of the BRITS, being invited to flashy events and rubbing shoulders with important people in the industry.
He now manages the company’s social media network, helping to represent the face of the business. He explains his roles in exercising due diligence and how he has grown in maturity and professionalism because of the scheme.
Gennaro Costaldo, communications manager at the Brits explains how £21million is raised by one BRIT Awards show alone, which then allows for the existence of BRIT school, the famous school for people trying to break into the entertainment industry. It also funds musical charities such as ‘Music Support’, an incentive that deals with mental wellbeing, addictive behaviours and the pressures that come with working in the industry. He describes how proud he is to be able to extend the money to fund young people like Ramon, who have no experience in the field.
With less than a month left of Ramon’s apprenticeship, Gennaro explains that to get a job in the music industry you must be passionate with a real desire to get on, never take no for an answer and be ready to delve into the many facets of the industry. He says there is a role for everyone!
To keep up with the adventures of the current Brit apprentices, head to the Brit Trust website where monthly blogs are written about their journeys.
JASMINE WITH MONIKA, HADEEL AND TOBI- TALKING ABOUT THE MEDIA TRUST / ITV NEWS PROGRAMME BREAKING INTO NEWS.
Next to feature on the show speaking on Breaking into News media and journalism are Monika Plaha, Hadeel Elshak and Tobi Iji.
Tobi – Project Coordinator at Media Trust -who champions diversity- describes Breaking Into News as an 8-year running programme aimed at anyone who has a local story to tell.
She mentions amazing stories previously made by finalists such as one in Wales about people who only speak the local language, another about how Brexit would affect the Polish community, and even one about the rise of eco-burials.
Monika says she entered whilst in her second year of university, explaining how she had applied for hundreds of internships and got rejected from each one. She managed to get an internship as a crime journalist in Malaysia, however what happened when she was there would be the basis of her application. She explains how walking around shopping centres in Malaysia she would be approached by vendors asking if she wanted to lighten her skin. Scrolling through social media to see how she could get her story out was when she came across the Breaking Into News ad. Monika who is now a journalist for BBC Breakfast describes how great of an experience being accepted was. She says even 7 years later, it was the biggest breakthrough of her career.
20-year-old university student Hadeel was also accepted onto the scheme managed to work with ITV News to tell a story that has impacted her greatly; Grenfell. Her story focused on the politicisation of the tragedy and the distrust of the system that many of its victims felt. Hadeel says her story on Grenfell was not about her but rather it was an opportunity to narrate stories of others as well as show local venues in Harrow that she felt needed to be on TV.
Breaking Into News allows for those who have had no experience in the media to research and cover a unique passion point, be mentored through the process all whilst being taught the fundamentals of newsrooms and TV journalism.
Apply for Breaking Into News by going to the website and submitting a short written or video application of an interesting story that packs a punch and hasn’t ever been told before!
JASMINE WITH SHEYMA BUALI- DIRECTOR OF THE BBC ARABIC FESTIVAL.
Next on the show is Sheyma Bulai, London-based writer specialising in cinema, visual and urban cultures from the Middle East. Bulai is also the director of BBC Arabic festival.
The Arabic Festival Bulai explains, is one that documents films by international directors about current situations in the Arab world reflecting social and political issues.
She goes on to talk about of the wave that is showing more and more Arabic people speaking on adverse issues such as sexism but recognises the broadcast rules that bypass the local rules of Arabic countries; places where many have a fear of the camera.
The BBC Arabic Festival shows a rise of stories where females are the protagonists, and Bulai explains that many are actually written by men themselves, such as ‘Sabeya’, a fictional story reflecting an elderly women trying to ensure her granddaughter does not get abducted by Yazidi ISIS members. The range of stories however Bulai says is very wide.
The film festival is the only one that takes place at the BBC Broadcasting House and open to all types of people! Get your tickets here: http://www.brittrust.co.uk/apprenticeships/.
JASMINE WITH GLOBAL AFROBEATS MUSIC STAR FUSE ODG.
Lastly on the show is Nana Richard Abiona also known as Fuse ODG, internationally-renowned recording artist, Afrobeats musician and pop-culture infulencer.
Fuse, who grew up between Ghana and London and who rose to fame with smash hit song ‘Azonto’ in 2003 begins by detailing the disparities between the places he grew up which would be the motivation of his career.
He explains that unlike Ghana, in the U.K. he would be seen as the Black, African boy whose representation in the country was not always the best. He overcame bullying in school by standing up for himself when picked on for his accent and the perception of him as an African that many had through the media (namely, African children in adverts with flies hovering around mouths). He says he could understand why people treated him the way that they did, but also how through his musical representation he was able to take a stand for the ‘African kid’ in him.
His first inspiration to make music was his desire to go back to Ghana to be at one with the music, food and culture. Once he finally went he says he was astounded by the ‘world-class’ talent and knew he had to do something to shift the perception of Londoners who knew only about giving money to charities for ‘poor’ African children.
Fuse ODG says he wanted to create music that would move and capture people the way he was by those in Ghana. He decided to take a popular dance in the country and made a song that he would release in London. Dance number ‘Azonto’ influenced people around the world including Beyonce, Kanye West and former Prime Minister David Cameron.
Going on to produce more hit singles, Fuse ODG says the secret to his musical success is simply ‘good vibes’. He believes his purpose is higher than just music and explains that he and team have a spiritually led goal to bring awareness of Africa and the goodness it has to display to the wider world. He says Africa is not a poverty stricken place, but rather one that you can go on holiday to, have fun and conduct business in.
He has managed to create ‘proud Africans’ of his musical movement both in the Western world and what he now refers to as the ‘new’ Africa.
Explaining why he turned down a proposition by Sir Bob Geldof to make a big appearance on Band Aid 30, he says that despite how amazing the opportunity would be to be on the same bill as artists such a Ed Sheeran and One Direction, his purpose was to steer away from the very media outlets who portrayed people like him in a stereo-typical light.
His first priority he explains, was not to encourage people to give £2 a month and move on with their lives but to encourage them to see the value in spending holidays in Africa as they would in places like Vegas, and giving their money in more meaningful and fun ways. He describes the ‘crippling’ effect of movements like Band-Aid that use lyrics such as ‘bring peace and joy to West Africa’ – as if there is none.
He went on to challenge Sir Bob Geldof’s lyric, asking if it would be possible to change the lyrics and visual representation. Once Geldof refused, Fuse declined the offer, saying he could not believe what he had just done, but was proud that he stood for Ghana and has in the long run been a part of a group of leaders that have managed to change the perception of Africa in other ways.
Fuse ODG who has been building schools in Ghana since 2007 amongst other incentives, says he wants to build a new love for Africa that will allow the continent to make headlines the way European countries do when disasters strike. He has received immense support for his charities including from Ed Sheeran who gave back to by buying a bus and even helping to build a bridge. However, Fuse said he wanted to have a word with his pal Ed as he had made yet another Comic Relief story this year which Fuse didn’t approve of.
Fuse ODG is busy with many projects that include as his clothing brand, ‘New Africa Nation’, manufacturing Black Barbie-type dolls depicting historical black figures, and his ‘T.I.N.A’ festival based in Africa with past performances from the likes of Lethal Bizzle and Joey B. Listen to Fuse ODG’s new album ‘New Africa Nation’ with features from Damian Marley and Stefflon Don.
Review by Lucrece Grehoua
JASMINE WITH COMEDIAN, ACTIVIST AND AUTHOR HUMZA ARSHAD AT BBC RADIO LONDON. PIC CREDIT – RICHARD PASCOE.
The Scene presents four different inner city London men who as individuals found their way from struggle to strength.
Speaking to Jasmine Dotiwala, they represent ways in which they were able to transform their narratives into literature and entertainment as a means of telling their stories.
First, one of the U.K.’s most popular Asian comedians and creator and star of hit YouTube show ‘Diary Of a Badman’, Humza Arshad. Humza who grew up in Streatham and has generated 96million views on YouTube says growing up he was only remotely good at making a fool out of himself. It was then he realised that he could use his curious talent to make others laugh.
Diary Of A Badman which has now almost become a household name and the cause of heavy, rumbling laughs across the U.K. was born out of frustration when Arshad realised that he would be subject to prejudice in the entertainment industry for being a Muslim man. Like many other rising social media stars, rather than ‘wait for the phone to ring’, he decided to set up shop creating short online skits in 2011 which would soon garner the attention of the BBC and other production houses.
In his most recent project, a children’s book that has gained astounding traction, he recalls being approached by Penguin speaks on whether or not he believes the new-fangled diversity movement in publishing is genuine. Irrespective of it, he says that representation is extremely important and is therefore content in the fact that publishers are finally seeing the need to influence young children of BAME backgrounds as well as white.
In June and July 2011 jointly with the Met Police, Arshad visited schools to give presentations to students. Discussing topics and issues encountered by teenagers living in London, he says he found that it wasn’t only Asian boys connecting with his work.
Arshad says he has inspired hundreds of the children to read – including his younger cousin who once was unable to get away from his PS4! However he declares that he will never be content until he reaches new heights in TV, film, publishing and other forms of entertainment.
JASMINE WITH ”SAFE” AUTHORS’S SYMEON BROWN, NELSON ABBEY AND DEREK OWOSU. PIC CREDIT – RICHARD PASCOE.
Second to feature on the show were three Black male authors who recently wrote the newly published book ‘SAFE’.
Derek Owusu who is the host of hit podcast ‘Mostly Lit’ – and who also edited the new book ‘SAFE’, Symeon Brown who is a reporter for Channel 4 News, and Nelson Abbey, a media executive whose book ‘Think Like a White Man’ also comes soon to Canongate publishing firm.
Written by and for 20 British black males occupying a range of different work industries and professions, ‘SAFE’ describes the experiences of black men in all facets of life from mental health to colourism, and violence to homophobia.
The trio begin by sharing some funny yet pretty alarming experiences they have been through as black men in the workplace and in wider society, such as having to look over their shoulders if huddled as a group in order not to alarm their white colleagues – something many black people can relate to!
Derek Owusu speaks on how the idea of the book came about explaining that there was a dire lack of Black authors; in 2016 there was only one Black British debut fiction author published in the U.K. It was here that he decided to round up 20 Black men for the ultimate writers’ link up.
Nelson Abbey and Symeon Brown both go on to explain how keen they were to join as authors for the book, and both speak on their vastly diverse chapters.
Channel 4’s Symeon Brown begins by delving into the problems surrounding the availability – or lack thereof- of social and dance spaces for black men in London.
Speaking on Hackney’s now closed down club, ‘Vision’, he says, “Where you go to dance as a Black man is hard”, adding, “a part of the dilemma and question that I was posing in my piece (was) where do black men go to dance spontaneously”. He explains the difficulty of finding spaces in London’s increasingly pricey clubs and speaks on the hierarchy of network that Black men must be acquire if wanting to infiltrate West End clubs without being turned away at the door. He goes on to speaks about places in Shoreditch which he says are supposed to be more ‘open minded’ slowly becoming harder to turn up at for an impulsive night of fun.
Nelson Abbey on the other hand speaks about the portrayal of ‘the Black male image’, and who in the media controls it. In his chapter he touches on four themes in the entertainment industry which he believes black men fall into; ‘comical, childish, cringe worthy and criminalised’. He uses Big Narstie as a prime example, a former rapper and comedian who blew up after videos of his rollicking laughter and rumbustious jokes started to go viral over social media. Subsequently Big Narstie was given a TV show with Channel 4 called ‘The Big Narstie Show’. Abi describes him as ‘infectious’ and ‘charming’, but also says that through no fault of his own, Big Nasrtie, ‘a brother trying to make an honest living’, has been defaulted into the Minstrel; the sparsely articulate, physically over-expressive bafoon playing up to preconceived wild black stereotypes largely for the consumption, comfort and confirmation of white audiences.
Despite his disappointment in the default dumbing down of the Black man, Nelson goes on to speak on mortifying experiences he has had being told that he is not black enough due to being too ‘intelligent, middle-classed and successful’. He expresses times having to challenge former bosses but also how he balances his ability to codeswitch in certain situations.
Derek Owusu says SAFE was written to outline the vast difference in racial experiences between the U.S. and U.K. are hopes to one day get SAFE on the educational curriculum When asked whether or not the new movement in BAME writers was simply a box ticking exercise by publishers, Nelson Abbey admits that books are getting signed but people are not getting the promotional push and follow through, he hopes however that as more people from BAME backgrounds get published, that they find the ways to push through by their own means.
You can find more about SAFE by checking the hashtag #SAFE or #UsManAreSafe on Twitter.