Tinie Tempah

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

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

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

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

Sabrina Washington

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

Debbie Allen

There’s nothing I hate more than a clashing of many fabulous events. One evening last week Naomi Campbell threw her Haiti charity show and party, MC and actor Bashy was holding a screening of his out this month movie shank, and MOBO founder and friend Kanya King invited me to join her as her guest to go and see the 100th theatre show performance of west end theatre production ‘’Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’’.

Kanya and I have known each other for years. Back when she was a TV researcher and I was a presenter on the Channel 4 iconic show THE WORD. Clearly our ambition was apparent from day 1 when we probably could only afford to grab coffee at Starbucks but ended up at the most expensive outdoor café on Portobello Road just so we could sit in the summer sunshine in our cute dresses next to model and flyest girl of her day-Veronica Webb who was at the next table with Spike Lee!.

Over the years Kanya and I have moved through the industry and caught up with each other over girlie dinners after late night meetings and edits.
We’ve collaborated on ideas, supported each other, fallen out for a minute more than once but our maturity and professionalism always has us talk it through and keep it moving *onto the next one.

We were well overdue our 2010 catch up so a few days ago Kanya called and asked if I’d like to accompany her for ‘’Cat on a hot tin roof’’ I was there.
But not before Bashy reassured me that I could miss his screening and come to the red carpet premiere this month instead, whilst (if I’m being real, and you know me, always got to preach the truth) – I couldn’t afford the £75 ticket for Naomi’s show and party- there’s a recession! , And I have a decade long love hate relationship with the fashion world so it was a clear-cut decision.

Also I had been meaning to try and see the theatre show from last year when my teenage heroine (Fame’s amazing dance teacher Miss Grant, otherwise known as Debbie Allen), had been in town with Mariah and told me to go watch it as she had directed the show. Well once I’d been forcibly removed from Debbie’s presence as I couldn’t stop clinging to her shrieking ‘’I love you, I wanted to be you, adopt me!’’ Debbie gave me her e mail details under duress and I promised her I would be going to see the show first chance I got.

The theatre was heaving with a very diverse audience when we arrived and we were immediately introduced to the shows producer Stephen C Byrd- a very sophisticated, elegantly dressed man who was a totally beautifully mannered charmer. Stephens currently the only African American producer on Broadway and kudos to him as ‘’Cat on a hot tin roof’’ was the biggest grossing play on Broadway in 2008!. So when we were ushered to our seats and I noticed we were sitting right next to the shows producers I was paranoid about the usual theatre worries. What if I fall asleep, what if I look bored, what if my phone rings even though I’ve turned it off, what if the mans head in front of me is so large I cant see. You get the idea.

Anyhoo, none of that worry was necessary as the play was intense and immediately intriguing. American actress Sanaa Lathan –daughter of movie man Stan was wonderful as the long-suffering wife of a once football commentator turned alcoholic. She had really long monologues but she dealt with them with easily and was unexpectedly funny too. All the male audience members were clearly drooling over her as she was not just gorgeous but was also just wearing a slinky slip all through the show. Our very own British actor Adrian Lester played the lead man and whilst his character barely spoke he did have an intensity that was mesmerising. Although it did jolt every now and then as his Mississippi plantation Deep South accent kept getting taken over by English which was a slight distraction. I thought I might have been imagining it until upstairs in the post show VIP drinks when others commented on it too confirming I wasn’t imagining it.

The other 2 actors I loved were of course the legend James Earl Jones who played Big Daddy. This mans voice has to be bottled for history. His was the voice of Star Wars Darth Vader! The Lion Kings Mufasa! Alex Haley in Roots! He’s won Tony’s, Emmy’s, Golden Globes, and a Grammy but my favourite thing is him reading the Bible! Yes, I found it very difficult to read the Bible as a kid until years ago when I first met Mariah she introduced me to the bible audio book read completely by James Earl Jones. His calming, strong, trusting, safe voice makes this the best gift!. He didn’t disappoint in the flesh either playing the old cancer stricken rich former slave. I was really looking forwards to seeing actress Phylicia Rashad-the legendary Mrs Claire Huxtable from the Cosby Show too. She was great as Big Mamma the sweet, classic black mother role many of us can relate to knowing.

The play was long-3 acts; it was very intense, mostly serious with odd lighthearted humorous spots of relief. The storyline was based around sibling rivalry; inheritance greed, parental antagonism and I learnt the meaning of the word ‘’mendacity’’.

The play was very very good. Post show in the bar there was a nice mix of journalists, paparazzi, actors, celebs and so on. Kanya and I talked about the play with radio host Vanessa Feltz, her guy Ben and her daughter. A few bitchy folk were slagging off poor Richard Blackwood who played a butler in the show and barely had 2 words to say. They couldn’t believe he had taken this as the next step in his career. I thought it was a good look as now he can add West End Theatre to his CV but they were not having it. A lovely big white iced cake was wheeled out and cut. You know I didn’t leave until I had at least 2 slices.
Straight afterwards the producers invited us to join them at the IVY club restaurant where at midnight we all had a lovely dinner with the whole restaurant to ourselves. The table of ten of us was a really nice group of power players that were really doing big things. Discussions revolved around private island ownerships, their private jets and so forth. I felt proud of them. A true sense of how much hard work must’ve gone into their lives. More power to them!
At 2am it was time for carriages as I watched them all jump into their private chauffeured cars, threw Kanya into a cab and hobbled into the underground car park to get my own car to drive myself home shaking my head at the surreal life I sometimes find myself surrounded by.
If you want to see ‘’Cat on a hot tin roof’ I’d thoroughly recommend it. In fact, a charity I whole heartedly support- the ACLT (AFRICAN CARIBBEAN LEUKAEMIA TRUST) is having a one off ACLT night show on March 15th. That will be great night full of faces we all know and love! What better excuse for a great night and a worthy cause. I salute you the cast of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF-BRAVO!

Twitter

I recently got accused on twitter of not sharing helpful industry info with some of my followers. I jump on twitter usually in traffic jams in the car so decided to catch-up on the virtual world. I noticed a lot that troubled me so I had a rant. Post rant, many followers suggested my rant was great, insightful and should be printed for prosperity. So here it is. In twitter lingo and as it appeared for authenticity.

1. Long drive catchin up w/ twitter activities-noticing folks throwing sly subliminal shots at each other- real folk talk 2the face not da text

2.   Also noting a lot of folks living a twitter fabricated life that’s not their real life…and scarily their followers believe it- dangerous

3.   Young peeps b aware that alot of people u look up 2 live very different lives from their internet personas- don’t believe all u read on here

4.   Even interns call themselves CEO’s /presidents of their own companies online. Hilarity. Don’t talk. Let your work and rep spk for itself

5.   There’s a really shady, ugly side 2 this showbiz industry of ours.Keep yo integrity &be classy always. Don’t let haters who want 2bu distract

6.   lucky I value integrity cos sum of the stuff I’ve seen/heard/witnessed in da music game rEVIL.UGLY.Not a game u wanna get in2 if ur scurrred

7.   seen em all burst on2 the scene as the next big artist/journo/presenter/label head/manager/dj/whtever,a couple yrs down its #wherearetheynow

8.   This industry is TINY. u put 1 foot outta place morally we all know about it.U think u were slick on the low-but we all know. We laughing..

9.   Djs who take payola,gals who wanna sleep their way up,artists who hustle illegal runnins,friends who only sort friends,racism-we see it all

10.This twitter game is not to take over your working day-your real life&ambitions r in the real world,not an online persona. B real to yoself

11.If ur positive,honest,know your craft,be better than the rest,you’ll do just fine.The ultimate devil is yo ego– I’ve seen it DESTROY peeps

12.Young folk- industry music parties r not like they used to be. When jay/puff were new/young, parties were real for dancing, talking and fun…

13….Now they are mostly wack. Full of naked chics tryna “have baby by me-be a millionaire” and fake ballers tryna look fly. Always boring.

14.I guarantee you that the house parties u go to are more real and fun than the industry ones u wanna be at.

15.I am so sick of “industry players” makin promises 2 young, gullible, ambitious people only to leave them w/broken dreams.have yo brain on lock

16.Ladies. In this game. Your business mind spks for itself. But next its your sexual reputation. Once that’s gone,its a wrap.

17.There are 30+ aged music industry peeps tryna spk in 18+ kids lingo. You’re not down. Folks are laughin. And cringing. Stop it.

18.Stop being bitter if you feel you’re not where u should be in your career. No one spoon fed anyone. Everyone wks hard for theirs and owes no1

That was the rant. Sometimes I have them. Forgive me. Its as if the music industry has warped young peoples definition of success and life. I know I am part of the problem. I have written a column for over 15 years and focused on music acts. That was because I was in a very insular music company. Now I’ve grown a bit. I’ve opened my eyes can see that there are so many young talented people out there but as the media focus only on music we assume that’s all we can do. There are young people making massive strides that aren’t in music am going to find them and talk about more of them moving forwards.

For similar reasons last fortnights BRIT AWARDS felt good and bad. The excitement was high from the night before the show when Adidas threw a pre Brits blow out VVIP bash at Bungalow 8 introducing their 2nd round of star wars and originals spring/summer 2010 collection inc eyewear and watches.. there were actual darth vadar and R2D2 types mingling with us. One even encouraged N Dubz Fazer and I to get friendly with him!.
In the Adidas gifting suite, (which is basically an American concept generated from uber VIP awards shows where brands gift celebrities and VIPs with free stuff,) it was full!. There were paparazzi from the daily tabloids, Sabrina Washington, Brigitte Kelly, Ralf Little, Mini Viva, Kesha ,N Dubz, Bashy, designer Wale Adeyemi, hip-hop photographer extraordinaire Paul H, makeup artist to the stars Kristina Theodoris, comedian Eddie Kadi, Twin B, Master Shortie ,Ryan Leslie,  stylist Richard Shoyemi , stylist/presenter Vernon Francoise, Lesley the boxer , Cookie from the legendary British female rap group Cookie Crew (what you’ll know about that?), Tim Westwood and more. There was dancing, music, shrieking.I got in at 3am and knew the next day I would be a hot mess cos I disrespected sleep so irresponsibly.

The actual BRIT awards I liked. With talent like JLS, Dizzee and Jay Z all recognized it felt as a lot of us in the industry over the past 2 decades who have fought to help put young black and urban talent on the British map could exhale. Finally it felt like there truly was an equal playing field where our favourite acts were championed alongside the rest. A lot of us did smile and exhale. Some were still bitter but hey-you cant please everyone.

The bottom line in the genre of R&B and hip-hop felt respected and accepted in a field] that before we felt continuously rejected, belittled and unworthy. That’s got to be a good thing. It was one of my fave Brits ever cos young British black talent was finally recognised and seen as equal on the music playing field.
Backstage at Earls Court felt good.
Dancers were taking photos with each other and collecting the Dizzee / Florence bank notes that were used in their performance with both their faces imprinted on them.
(my godson was very happy with his!) , Peter Andre was getting a last minute fake spray tan, Lady Gaga had a last minute nail job done which was very brave, Robbie Williams looked a lil nervous but was as friendly as ever getting his wet shave backstage just before he hit the stage.
Btw-isn’t it interesting to note that jay z has his finger on the pulse with every current trend and robbie’s seen as old. Yet jay is a year older than Robbie!

The show was entertaining, JLS were good, Astons hair looks much better with less gheri curl juice these days (though I am bored of the Usher-esque ‘’green ‘’yeah’’ lasers in everyone performances-there’s at least one at every show these days!).

Predictable was Liam flinging his award into the crowd –that had everyone laughing at his foolishness-it was lucky someone didn’t get knocked out and sued for concussion or worse- has anyone seen the award on e bay yet?.
Of course Jay and Alicia were class A- we wouldn’t expect or be delivered anything lower.
When Liam flung the microphone into the crowd pit a very frightened soundman was freaking out with the gallery screaming for a brief panicked moment.
All the performances were very good and then came Cheryl.

I hate to kick the chic whilst she’s down but home domestic or not if you’re gonna be part of a band, be a judge on a singing show and pretend to be an artist you cant represent on a stage of that calibre by miming badly- it was a bad set. I’m sure loads of other acts have issues of their own but when they’re performing they all give it their all. This was poor!

The bad for me was the aftermath- the realisation that music industry parties were very different today than they used to be. Don’t get me wrong, the turnout and excitements great but the focus is always on slack girls, snapping celebs and seeing what people can spot in this blog obsessed world instead of having fun. So inevitably there isn’t any real fun. Just a lot of fake smiling. Back in the day real heads were always scattered amongst the fake to keep the balance.
The official Brits party at the venue was full of corporate suits who took pleasure messing about with the huge dressing up box full of costumes and wigs

The funniest thing was Jay Z remains the ultimate NO.1 hustler I my eyes. Not only does he turn up briefly to the Warner Music party at Chinawhites in respect to his Warner team, but the drinks beverage Armand de Brignac (who pay him substantially) managed to throw a party practically next door so Jay could make an appearance at both. That’s gangsta slickness.. At Jays party at Mirah it was pandemonium with Idris Elba , Keisha Buchanan and Sugababes in the house, Daniel Meriwether and Tulisa took the mic and sang-very Clive Davis Grammy party stylee ha ha!
Every act that you can imagine went to one or the other of the parties from Ne Yo, Mel B, The Saturdays , Alesha Dixon DJ Ironik, Mclean, Tinie Tempah, Trevor Nelson, JLS, and more. Dizzee threw his own party, Universal Music threw theirs at the Mandarin Oriental which Gaga was the main focus of and was a big party in terms of fabulosity and freeness.
Artists tweeted from the parties all night about their proximity to Jay and how lean they were -which is a telling enough sign about how much fun is usually going down. I luckily had a fine distraction that insisted on taking me for a shawarma roll and fresh juice at an all night eaterie so escaped early!.

Jazzie B

London’s a great city for diversity, a multitude of activities and people. This past week was a particularly typical crazy week in London town.
Firstly I was persuaded by a new friend to join him at a Book slam at Shoreditch Town Hall where poets and MC’s did their thing .it felt a scene from ‘’Love Jones’’ the UK version.
Then there was a very untypical Dotiwala social night where the legend that is Jazzie B invited me to see him, and his mate Goldie sound clash at Camden Round House where Trojan sound system and Roots Manuva were doing their thing too. A big night!
Next it was the Adidas pre Brit award party at bunglow 8 before the big night of the annual Brit Awards where we loved the Warner Music after party and the Armand de Brignac Jay Z party-(more on that next time),then I Saw Bashys new film ‘Shanked’-again!
Then I was asked to pop up to the Red Bull Music Academy in London Bridge to meet SoulIISouls front man-Mr Jazzie B.

Jazzie B has an aura that surrounds him.
You hear his big booming distinctive bass heavy voice before you see him.
Even if u couldn’t see his face his silhouette is so distinctive its a brand logo in itself. Years ahead of Jay Z, Jazzie is always head to toe “all black everything’. Big leather coat and pill box peaked cap are on, even indoors.
In fact-i don’t think I’ve ever seen him without these 2 Jazzie staples. They are to him what Linford’s lunchbox was to him and Tinchys SITH tee is to him.. He’d asked to meet me for lunch – I moved every mountain I needed to in order to make it- (you work around luminaries like Jazzie B).

Its always fun speaking to him. We can dispute about issues all day long. We often butt horns with our differences of opinion but we love a great debate.
Jazzie was excited about being involved with the Red Bull Academy as I was at seeing it with my own eyes. An awesome project where the drinks giant gives back to the community by setting up a building full of music studios, lecture theatres, radio studios, cafes and lounges where groups of young people from across the globe are flown in free to participate in terms of training-all financed by Red Bull. The applicants apply to attend and come from all walks of life and various genres of music. An amazing learning ground. Many iconic music names like Mark Ronson and Jazzie come in to work alongside the students and give back to the community. It was an impressive set up to observe.
After watching Jazzie do his thing with the students we had a chat over lunch where he told me he was very excited by his upcoming annual trip to Antigua for the ‘’BackIIlife’’ festival that begins on April 28th for a week.
Jazzie explained that ‘’the festival is
about coming from the colonies. We take UK peeps back to the colonies. Under the stars. 365 beaches. Best 7 nights for music lovers’’.

Jazzie was also high and happy about relaunching the SoulIISoul clothing brand at Olympia at the Pure show on Valentines Day. It’s a new take on the original collection. Lots of studded T shirts.( If you didn’t know, Jazzie used to be involved in fashion before he was a music star). For the new collection he’s spent a lot of time looking at fabrics including bamboo and cotton that last. The emphasis is on longevity. Jazzie said he was doing a clothing line again as ‘’
Nowadays music & clothes are taken more seriously -back in the 80”s the fashion industry didn’t support
me the first time around. Having kids now I’ve noticed a more savvy fashion substance’’.

I wondered what the music industry in London was like back in Jazzies hey day. He revealed ‘’ because we were pro black S2S never got any press. No front covers. We were too intimidating so it was interesting to me to see an ad on BBC3 last week where they were describing “British pop” alongside Chipmunk’’.

S2S were big and respected both here and in The States- I wonder if they realise how unique that is in the history of UK music. Interesting. The Beatles. Loose Ends. Soul to soul. Spice Girls. Craig David.Estelle. Jay Sean. Ha ha!
Jazzie thinks there needs to be more support within the industry ‘’We still behave like crabs in a barrel. There’s no community any more. In my era Young Disciples and Imagination -we were united. Stop labelling music genres. The station Radio1xtra – why isn’t it on FM as well?. I bought my kids digital radio to hear the Rampages of the music scene. My kids watch AKA. Are we living in democratic society? Does good music get played or is it payola? Isn’t having a radio plugger like payola/ its like legalised apartheid!’’.
(See readers-you don’t leave a conversation with Jazzie without being given food for thought.)
Jazzies thoughts on the UK black Music scene today were interesting?
He thinks there’s been ‘’More ignorance than there’s ever been. Too much segregation. No good black management teams. No substance. Look and learn from the D&B scene.
There’s no level of integrity in the grime scene. If you’re pledging allegiances to cross over to collaborate with dance music and indie then we have a problem that’s immeasurable!. What are young acts reading? Have they forgotten about wealth? Have we bought cars without mortgages?. When my records were charting alongside rock and indie it was on their own merit!’’.

Of course I wondered how he felt about the current wave of grime-UK hip-hop acts…he explained ‘’These acts are growing wildly. They’re like the plant without the flowers. I wanna be optimistic but the flaunting these guys do scare me. God bless the Dizzees and Chipmunks but other acts-how are you a household name with no depth?’’.
Jazzie did reveal to me that his ‘’favourite UK act is Wiley because he has depth and is a source of inspiration’’.

I explained that I loved Wiley musically too but he had caused me no end of disappointment by constantly doing his ‘missing in action’ act when I wanted him to film for me. Jazzie laughed ‘’that’s cos Wiley is real!’’.
Jazzie revealed that his main champions back in the day were Eddie Grant as well as Tim Westwood ‘’I love that he doesn’t take himself seriously and takes the piss out of himself. BTW Tim its not Marley marls beats!’’…..and Trevor nelson ‘’he has a reasonable IQ. He’s a reasonable DJ and loves what he does’’.

Jazzie finished by revealing that he loves the fact that we have the MOBO Awards nowadays and that he likes the constant controversy surrounding  MOBO as ‘’it means they’ve made it’’. Without MOBOs we might not have seen grime raise its head as far as it has. The Brits and Mercury’s may not have bothered acknowledging us. Although like the title ‘’Music of black origin’’ states, when S2S came out we were black. Not urban. I rest my case’’.
See you in Antigua Jazzie!

Empire state of mind

SO after my Christmas festivities with the Carey-Cannons, I travelled back to New York with them and spent my last few vacation dates there.

I took advantage of the free time and fitted in jivamukti yoga lessons; walked the streets, taking in the beautiful window displays; and caught up with my Manhattan-based pals like my old MTV News crew, the new owners of VIBE magazine, the former head of HOT97 radio, and of course, my homie Estelle, who now calls the Big Apple her home.

One night, just before New Year’s Eve, Estelle and I met up in Fifth Avenue, where we did a spot of shopping. We had lunch at Balthazar restaurant and popped into Bloomingdales to buy Estelle a pair of earmuffs. Having your ears unprotected in the New York cold isn’t advisable!

Estelle accompanied me to Gucci and patiently waited an hour whilst I contemplated the shoe section. When shoppers stood in shock when they spotting her, I felt proud of how far her talent, perseverance and tenacity had brought her. When some fans tried to take pictures with her in the store and the security advised that photos weren’t allowed, she actually stepped outside with the fans in the blistering cold to pose with them so they wouldn’t be disappointed. That’s a gracious star.

We had our usual hair and nail appointments crossed off the to-do list before Estelle mentioned that it was her label boss John Legend’s birthday dinner that night and that she would love me to accompany her. Well, you know me readers. Why have dinner with one west London bred superstar when you can make it two superstars from different sides of the Atlantic? So off we went.

John was celebrating his 31st birthday at a lovely restaurant in town, where we arrived to find a long table of 20 of his nearest and dearest, including his girlfriend. We had a lovely evening with great food including steak and fries, enjoyed great conversation and great company.

Straight after dinner, John escorted us downstairs to the restaurant’s club area, where the VIP tables were laden with beverages and the ceiling was covered with silver balloons.

One by one, the area quickly filled up with stylish folks, including artists Ludacris and Ryan Leslie. DJ M.O.S was very good at keeping the crowd bubbling from midnight onwards, with old school R’n’B classics, as well as hip-hop joints like Jay Z’s ode to New York, Empire State of Mind. To see New Yorkers jump up and down to a track that made them proud of their city made me smile, but also made me wish that a UK act would do the same for London town. A few UK acts have tried it but nobody has really made an anthem yet.

John had one of his backing singers sing for the partygoers (it would’ve been cooler if Estelle had sung in my humble opinion), and red velvet cake was brought out for us to keep our sugar levels up. John took the mic as we sang him happy birthday and then thanked us all for coming.

At 2am, we left the party and to our dismay, it was snowing heavily outside. All of us ladies had our legs out bare in dresses, but thankfully, as we yelped and panicked, Estelle shoved us into a car that took us back to John’s crib, where around 15 close friends were just chilling and chatting.

Meanwhile, John’s British bulldog Puddy was also receiving a fair amount of attention, which was unsurprising. Talk about a gorgeous, sweet-mannered canine! All the girls were cooing and gushing over him so much that producer Consequence ended up starting a monopoly game with all the neglected fellas!

After it hit 5am, we thanked our host John for a lovely evening and braved the snow again. We found a cab driver to take us home and then the munchies kicked in, so we tucked into mac n cheese and fried calamari and then dozed off over our hot chocolates.

The next night was New Year’s Eve, but The Voice’s entertainment editor gets very cross with me when I go over my word count, so I’m going to have to tell you all about NYE next week – I know, almost a moth late. But hey, diva news is always worth waiting for! And yes, be rest assured, it was yet another typical New York night in the life of a media industry chic!

Amen

Happy New Year readers! I’m writing this column sitting underneath the twinkling white lights of the hugest Christmas tree looking outside at the snow covered Aspen mountains where reindeer are literally bouncing around me. I hope your holiday period was fun and you had a chance to reposition, reenergise and can now re-emerge into 2010 with a new positive, can-do energy.
I don’t want to spoil the festive spirit so let me get the serious stuff out of the way first. Last month I complained about a London nightclub’s door policy towards young black men. well since that column we literally had hundreds of readers responding with similar experiences so I did a bit of research. And it doesn’t look good. i was angry and frustrated at what looked like the unfair treatment of a group of people but after doing some digging I hate to say it but I think I can understand the catch 22 situation.

I spoke to a friend that runs big celebrity clubs in London who told me to look at the bigger picture. Some things he told me were shocking. Like ‘’if I let too many black people in our white guests feel uncomfortable’’. On the other hand he explained that police often clamped down on ‘’urban music functions’’ because there was always trouble expected. He cited ‘’when white folks get drunk and fight they tend mostly to use fists and bottles, when its black people its knives and guns which leads to us automatically losing our club licenses and our business is our living so we will do whatever we can to protect that’’. Putting aside that the party I was speaking about was my private guest list which had people I could personally vouch for , my club owner mate retorted ‘’yes but you cant vouch for every group of young black men that come into a west end night club and we’re not prepared to take the risk with our business!’’. So I wonder whether it’s a vicious circle that will never change. Are we our own worst enemies? And if we don’t take a stand and start supporting and empowering our young people so they don’t feel the need to resort to violence will this ever change?
Why were clubs trouble free in my youth- Subterainia and Hanover Grand were full of young black people with no trouble. surely quality  door staff always know troublemakers and should be able to pick them out without descrimination . Are we responsible for our own bad press? Or is it the media that always makes a huge deal about young black men and crime? After all isn’t football violence worse but just accepted?. Last month politician rod little said that most crime was committed by young black men and ‘’all we get in return is rap music and curry goat’’!. Then 2 young men were arrested for attempted murder of a pregnant girl and the media ran a huge photo next to the story of Tinchy Stryder and the hip-hop musical 1day with the weakest cited connections!.

Is it any wonder people are scared into making rash decisions about young people of colour?. If we cant vouch for our own events being trouble free why should anyone else take a risk on us?. Also-Isn’t there more violence at football matches? Lord knows what the police would  be doing to us if our club violence was on par with that. But we also have to acknowledge the shortcomings within our own communities. They do exist.

A young black man I am happy to see making continuous steady moves upwards within his acting career is Aml Ameen. You may remember him from THE BILL or the movie Kidulthood. Well just before Christmas he invited me to see him perform at the Tricycle Theatre. So on a wintry December Saturday afternoon we went to see him playing the part of Justice in the play ‘’Detailing Justice’’ .The play was part of The Not Black and White Season– where Aml undertook the challenge of playing three very different characters, in three different plays. In the 1st he played Rio- a young man convicted of Rape, who meets his father in prison. In the 2nd he plays Lavelle- a 17year old righteous intellectual kid who disturbs the world of a politician. In the last he plays Justice Ncube, a Zimbabwean asylum seeker, who has his fled his country after an attempt on his life, because of his political affiliation. He’s detained in a London detention centre, for months, and Aml emotionally showed the decline of his mental health. Aml had to use an accent from Zimbabwe, and he pulled it off. He told me afterwards it was ‘’without a doubt the most testing job of my career so far’’.

The story in ’’Detaining justice’’ was told from the points of view from all the various characters and I have to admit even my judgemental opinions were changed by the end of the performance. I often skip past immigration stories in newspapers and can find myself sympathising with David Cameron when he suggests curbing numbers on immigrants. But after watching this my viewpoints were really changed which I guess is the point of a good story and brilliant performances. Aml’s performance was so strong with him evoking tears in the audience and keeping us gripped until the end. I felt ashamed of my previous judgemental ideas about immigrants. I was so proud and grateful to Aml for opening my mind.
Not about to take a break anytime soon Aml is just as busy this year. He’s starring in director George Lucas’ last epic movie RED TAIL. The story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American pilots to fly in a combat squadron during World War II.

Aml has landed the role of Bag O Bones, he’s just a cocky pilot a part of the squadron, and one of his scenes is with Cuba Gooding Jnr. Aml excitedly revealed ‘’ it was a real honour as an actor to watch his process as he prepares for a scene.  Even though my part is small, I’m hoping this a sign an indication of where my career is moving towards. Hollywood films, International recognition and opportunity’’.
As if its not enough that aml has broken Hollywood he’s also begun directing his own movies. the 1st is The Pick Up– Aml explained ‘’it’s a A short film I’ve written and this will be my directorial debut through my film production company AmeenDream entertainment. It’s set in a house club about a bunch of lads, that make up elaborate stories to try and get dates with these University girls. We had an open casting and its set to be a slick stylish sexy short film’’.  Hmmm that sounds a bit suspect doesn’t it readers. Ha ha.i may take up writing and directing movies starring fit, young virile men. Maybe that’ll be my new years resolution!.