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Sounds that shaped the year...Hip-Hop Singles...

Published by Warren Dell under on Friday, December 23, 2005
The Game - Hate It Or Love It
Cassidy - I'm A Hustla
Common - The Corner
Kanye West - Gold Digger/Drive Slow
Mitchell Brothers & Sway - Harvey Knicks
Sway - Up Your Speed
Sa-Ra Feat. Pharoah Monch - Fish Fillet
Roots Manuva - Too Cold
Klashnekoff - Welcome To Jamrock Refix

Sounds that shaped the year...Hip-Hop Albums

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Common - Be

Just pipping Kanye in my opinion for Hip-Hop album of the year although he did have a hand in the production is Common’s Be. In a time where Hip-Hop albums are quickly forgotten and stick to the same tired formulae of club smash, ladies joint and filler, Common’s sixth label release was much needed, perhaps not just for Hip-Hop but for the Chicago MC himself. He answered his critics that thought he went a bit strange on his last album by dropping eleven tracks straight no filler from the boom bap driven The Corner to the more soulful and melodic driven Go. If their was any doubt about his talents Be silenced the critics and with the assistance of Kanye gave Common the commercial success he deserved.

Kanye West – Late registration

Egos don’t come much bigger than Kanye’s whether he plays up to it or not and there were many who would have wanted him to fail when The Late Registration dropped. Yet he silenced the critics with another solid album full of memorable lines, great samples and heavy production whether it was his most commercial track Gold Digger or the more underground feel of Drive Slow. It can only be a good thing when music of this substance is gaining commercial success.

Slum Village – Slum Village

This won’t be on many end of year lists and will go unnoticed by many but is as good as anything out there in the Hip-Hop arena. The duo of T3 and Elzhi really stepped up their game this year and it’s a wonder how Slum Village are still making records after all the turmoil they’ve been involved in. There was no Jay Dee onboard but Black Milk and Young RJ took us back to 2000 and those Fantastic days with their soulfully blended beats. This is the best Slum Village album since those days but without the push they deserve this will be confined to only a select few.

The Mitchell Brothers – A Breath Of Fresh Attire

From tales of cheap drinks to cheap birds this was the most distinctive British album of the year and the duo Teddy and Tony Mitchell weren’t ashamed of the fact. Whether it was being stopped by police or a tale of drinking one two many on a night out there was certainly more to relate on this set than the latest G-Unit release. A landmark album for UK black music.

Sway – This Is My Promo Vol 1

Although not strictly an album release this mixtape was as important as any of the other material released this year such was the talent on display. Whether re-working J-Kwon’s Tipsy instrumental for his own non-alcohol related anthem Pepsi, or giving us the first glimpses of future singles in Up Your Speed and Flo Fashion Sway was a shining light for UK music and a second volume followed ahead of the upcoming debut long player this February.

Dangerdoom – Mouse and the Mask

These two eccentric characters became darlings of the broadsheets after their Adult Swim inspired album brought them together. Fresh off of working with the Gorillaz and producing the heavily bootlegged Grey Album, Dangemouse hot streak continued while MF Doom so continuously overlooked in the past will now have people searching for his back catalogue.

Roots Manuva – Awfully Deep

While on first listen you won’t find another Witness, you’ll soon unravel after a few listens Rodney Smiths finest album. A well-crafted album that time has been taken with and the need to create a club banger or radio single ignored – which is only a good thing. Still the favourite UK mc for non Hip-Hop heads and another reason why he is such a success, he’s not worried about fitting into a specific audience.

Little Brother – The Minstrel Show

Thanks to 9th Wonder’s association with Jay-Z and subsequent work with Destiny Child he has been able to make people take more notice of his North Carolina natives collective efforts. The Minstrel Show is a concept album due to their unhappiness at the state of Hip-Hop and how African American culture is perceived and one of the years best, yet the public will be selecting the latest effort of The Game or 50 Cent to worry about these guys – something unfortunately doesn’t surprise you.

Sounds that will shape next year...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, December 19, 2005
So 2005 was a mixed year for all concerned within the scene, but there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful and look forward to 2006. Here is a selection of albums to look forward to, people who will be big next year and some up and comers to keep an eye out for.

Ne-Yo - One of Jay-Z’s first signings to Def Jam was the man who wrote Mario’s Let Me Love You and is in demand to work with others looking for a hit. Next year will see his first album and if the singles Stay With Me and I’m Sick are anything to go by then the likes of Bobby Valention, Mario and Omarion will have to watch out.

Pharrell – In My Mind Album – This shouldn’t be on this list but for the record company putting the release date back to next year to see if Skateboard P can be a success as a solo artist. One disc is Hip-Hop and already you will have heard Can I Have It Like That, while the other is made up of R’n’B with Angel the likely next single.

Mpho Skeef – With her blend of catchy lyrics and neo-soul Mpho Skeef has done enough this year to wet the appetite for her debut LP with work for Ty and Baby J, while her track Hide From Us is one of the years little gems. Expect more live performances as well after pleasing on various support duties this year.

Nathan – One of the things about music journalism is that any new artists will always find themselves compared to someone already grabbing the attention. Case in point with Nathan who has been likened to the UK version of Usher. Both of the singles we’ve heard from him this year didn’t receive much backing but were up there with the best of American product flooding the airwaves. A record company needs to take the plunge and support this project, as the man really deserves to be a success.

Sa-Ra – These American funksters have been snapped up by Kanye West for his Good label and will be making headway next year with their debut set and working with some of Hip-Hop and Souls big names. If you can’t wait till then hunt down their excellent EP Second Time Around, which includes appearances from J Dilla and Pharoah Monch.

Rell- After years of guest appearances and tracks that don’t see the light of day Rell is finally getting the push his talent deserves. If he wasn’t on the Rap label Roc-A-Fella he would have almost certainly released a couple of albums by now. But with the choosing of sides by their artists in the split between Jay-Z and Dame Dash, Rell will be one of the first to release an album through The Dame Dash Music Group. Scott Storch produced a monster R’n’B hit for Mario and in Last Ride has done the same for Rell that has this LP down as one of the hotly anticipated for next year.

Ryhmefest – Has been causing a stir over here after a recent promo visit after what he alleged were misquotes in a HHC magazine interview where he stuck it too Diplomats affiliates S.A.S. His debut single Brand New has been ticking all the right boxes though with fellow Chicago pal Kanye West returning the favour for working on the Grammy nominated Jesus Walks by providing the hot sample that runs through the track. Plus with the backing of Mark Ronson’s new imprint behind him another star from Chicago is going to shine.

Grime – The sound isn’t so underground after the year it’s had yet didn’t make the moves it may have expected with album releases from Kano, Roll Deep and Lethal B selling respectably but not quite catching on with people not familiar with the scene. Still the offspring of UK Garage and Hip-Hop is one the most exciting things this country have produced, even catching the attraction from the US and beyond. Next year Dizzie Rascal will be releasing his third album, Maths and English while Wiley will be coming with his second – both should move the scene forward. It will be years before the scene can sell the big numbers but 2006 should see the scene further develop. People aren’t waiting for fat business minded men with no understanding of the scene to approach and are self-financing mix-tapes and their own Guerrilla marketing. With the various street DVD’s the scene is being documented and reaching people from outside of London and having people get onto the net to download pirate radio sets. There is still a lot of work to put in and there is a lot to be pleased about this year, but 2006 is massive for the scene to move forward. Finally, can we have more nights put on, it seems events are popping up everywhere from Belguim to France to the US, yet there is less and less over here.

Baby Blue – With her two mixtapes Out Of The Blue dropping in 05 Baby Blue has gone from promising newcomer too fully fledged star with her full long player set to follow. Whether it was dropping knowledge over a Hip-Hop beat or switching up to Grime little Rachel is one of the nicest females on the mic and can also hold her own with the males as witnessed on her guest work this year.

Sway – If this were GQ then Sway would get the man of year award. Leaving the others behind with his professionalism and work ethic, Sway is a name on everyone’s lips after the singles Flo Flashion and Up Your Speed from his two This Is My Promo mix CD’s – which were later put together as one complete package and into the stores of HMV and Virgin. This Is My Demo is out February 6th and promises a lot, Sway has the potential and mentality to become a breakout star for the scene and with the right support should go on to sell more than Skinnyman’s Council Estate Of Mind.

Lady Soveriegn – You either lover her or hate her but she will no doubt make a big impact next year with her debut expected and input from Jay-Z who signed her early this year.

Busta Rhymes – The last couple of albums have always promised so much from Busta but he’s always let us down. 2006 is looking likely to be the year we get that complete great album with a new energy after signing with Aftermath, a hot new single from Swizz Beats that sounds like nothing you’ve heard before and even a new hairdo with the trademarks dreads being chopped after 17 years!

Klashnekoff – The collection of singles (Sagas Of…) and the DJ Skully mixtape (Focus Mode) have been spreading the word but Klashnekoff could eclipse Blak Twang and Skinnyman’s previous successes with his first proper album seeing the light of day in 2006.

Sounds that shaped the year...R'n'B Albums...

Published by Warren Dell under on Sunday, December 18, 2005
Not the best of years for releases but as you can see from below there were still plenty of good music on offer. ..

Metropolis – The Voyage

Without a doubt the best Soul/R’n’B album released this year, yet a shame only a small few were able to appreciate the soulful tones of Metropolis. The Voyage was an independent release and a provided listeners with 20 sublime mid-tempo cuts. There are so many great tracks on here that it was hard to pick one to include in my top singles list, so I left it out to not do an injustice to the other tracks. It’s said quite a lot these days but there really isn’t many albums that don’t have you reaching for the skip button. Hunt this down as soon as.

Amerie – Touch

Touch contained the single of the year in 1 Thing but there were plenty of other tracks on here to get your moneys worth. Rich Harrison and Amerie have worked to better the previous album All I Have with Man Up, Rolling Down My Face and All I Need the standouts on this excellent set.

Bobby Valentino – DTP Presents

A year ago no one had heard of Bobby Valentino but he’s now firmly in the minds after a succession of singles from his debut long player. His first was an ode to the girl who takes your breath away on Slow Down while Tell Me was aimed at the more shaped figured women. A few of the songs are in a similar vein to Slow Down but there is plenty of material to suggest longevity in the industry and appeal to pop fans and modern soul fans alike.

Lynden David Hall – In Between Jobs

Released through former 1Xtra DJ Digz’ Random Soul label Lynden David Hall kept it simple with just ten tracks, but ten tracks full of some of the best Soul music heard in the last few years. A welcome return to the scene after a five year absence between albums. Lets hope that Lynden’s personal battle with serious illness ends soon and he can continue producing albums of this quality. and giving songs like In Between Jobs, Don’t Hide Your Heart and the beautiful Day Off can get an airing on the live circuit.

Dwele – Some Kinda…

Detroit Soul star Dwele released his second album in 2005 to more critical acclaim. From the B-Boy stance of Keep On, which features fellow Motor City alumni Slum Village to the metaphorically speaking track Flapjacks, Dwele provided a packed album of goodness to satisfy the neo-soul heads.

John Legend – Get Lifted

Last year he got into our ears with various guest appearances but with his debut long player coming in early January, John Legend backed up his self-appointed surname with a truly memorable album. From the first single Used To Love You to the tales of cheating on Alright this album took the man to heady heights, but it was Ordinary People that propelled Legend further and into the minds of a broader audience.

Omarion – O

Following in the foot steps of brother Marques Houston in leaving his group and going solo, Omarion made the move from teenage heartthrob to young adult with ease. Displaying maturity on O and Slow Dancing yet still being able to count on his previous fan bases support with the more up beat numbers Touch and Drop That Heater. The track I Wish featuring his brother and one time neighbour of everyone’s favourite twins Tia and Timera was one of the years best mid-tempo cuts that sadly didn’t see a release.

Mariah Carey – Emancipation Of Mimi

This was an important album for two reasons. Firstly Mariah firmly put her troubles of recent times behind her best effort in years. Secondly the man behind the album Jermaine Dupri stepped it up a notch and received the credit he’d son longed for yet somehow had missed out on. The two brought the best out of each other with hit single after hit single, Get Your Number and It’s Like That had the people flocking to the dance floor while Shake It Off was Carey at her sultry best. It was We Belong Together though that truly reaffirmed her status and is one of her biggest hits to date.

R – Kelly – TP3.COM

The Pied Piper of R’n’B continued with his prolific release schedule of one album a year with the third instalment of his TP collection, which included one of the most, talked about songs of the year – Trapped In The Closet. Five parts in total were on this long player and there is word of more parts to follow in the future. While Trapped was R Kelly at his song writing best he still had hits for the club teaming up with Compton’s poster child The Game and continued bringing the Chicago steppers style to the masses on the very under rated Summertime. For my money this should have been a massive summer hit but unfortunately never had the chance out in the mainstream.

Craig David – The Story Goes

Some may have wondered whether Craig David would still be relevant after his long absence from the scene but while maybe playing it safe with the overall direction of the album to please the commercial audience, he still showed he could cut it with his most personal album to date. Johnny tackled the subject of Craig’s experiences with bullying and the sublime Thief In The Night was a tale of a girl cheating with his friend that was as good as anything the US have produced of a similar vein. Just Don’t Love You No More was a crossover hit but their was still material for the Urban masses with the lead single All The Way, a great club track.

Sounds that shaped the year...R'n'B singles...

Published by Warren Dell under on Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Everyone starts to reminisce about this time of year on the past 12 months of things they did, where they went and maybe whom they did. Music is no different and while you’ll probably be sick of reading everyone’s lists at this time of the year here’s a few more to fuel the fire. Over the next week I’ll be naming the tracks that have shaped my year in the R’n’B and Hip-Hop world, be looking ahead to some treats to look forward to in 2006 and proudly present the first It’s The Shiznit awards. Their like the Grammy’s but less prestigious. Enjoy.

R’n’B singles
2005 was a year in which r’n’b came out of the shadow of Hip-Hop to gain respect in its own right. There were still too many tracks that relied on guest rap cameos, but on the whole there were still plenty of tracks from club bangers to slow jams that shaped 2005. Newcomers Ryan Leslie and Rihanna all produced singles worthy of attention and returning heroes 112 and Donnell Jones all get honourable mentions for their efforts. The UK scene although hardly getting the support it deserves did at least have some shining lights with Nate James Set The Tone showing promise at the start of the year and Nathan came with two songs that deserved more in Come Into My Room and Round and Round. Terri Walker was unfortunately dropped from her record company but provided us with the excellent L.O.V.E and will no doubt be back next year. The US as always dominated and there were great singles from Keyshia Cole, Ciara and Gwen Stefani dropped the massive Hollaback Girl while the great Stevie Wonder returned to show he could still cut it in these times.

Below are the tracks in no particular order that had The Shiznit getting down and doing their one-two step.

Amerie – 1 Thing
If this were in any order then this would be the number one track full stop. Amerie was unlucky to not get the recognition she deserved with her debut album All I Have but Rich Harrison’s heavy drum beat made sure she got hers as 1 Thing pushed her into superstardom and became our soundtrack to the summer. Still sounding fresh even now nearly 9 months after it first surfaced.

Mariah Carey – We Belong Together
No matter what you say about her she is undoubtedly one of the true great singers and after a torrid time can lay claim to 2005 as her the year where she received attention for all the right reasons. We Belong Together was the pick of the bunch from a bevy of Jermaine Dupri produced hits.

John Legend – Ordinary People
This was the song that made people know Mr Legend was for real. A modern soul classic with just the piano accompanying a voice that didn’t seem to escape the airwaves all year with good reason.

Mario – Let Me Love You
It’s inevitable that any male star will be compared to Usher but if anyone can live up to those comparisons it’s Mario. Let Me Love You was No.1 in the US for weeks and it gained instant success on these shores for this touching number from someone who is only 18 and yet displaying a maturity beyond his years.

Bobby Valentino – Slow Down
Ludacris DTP clique didn’t do R’n’B records, until early this year when they unleashed a talent by the name of Bobby Valentino on us with his ode to that girl who walks by that steals your attention. Slowdown was an international hit with its appeal attracting plaudits from the pop to the modern soul crowd.

Omarion - O
Another male solo star that had a breakout year, leaving the shadow of his B2K days behind him with his debut O. Rather than come out with a catchy club number Omarion went with the slower O, which showed off his talent and let us know his teenager days were behind him with this mature and seductive number.

Alicia Keys – Unbreakable
Somehow this track didn’t make the Diary of Alicia Keys album but thankfully made it as a bonus track on the latest in the MTV Unplugged series. Its ode to celebrating relationships gave us one of Miss Keys most upbeat numbers and only adds anticipation to her next album.

Faith Evans – Again
Faith came back with a vengeance giving the media the finger while announcing she wasn’t ashamed of any of her past mistakes. Why she hasn’t picked up the credit she deserves is beyond me.

Lynden David Hall – Day Off
He’s currently battling a serious illness but this didn’t stop LDH dropping his first set in five years, which included this little gem. Another who it escapes me why he hasn’t reached the heights he should do, the record public need to hold their head in shame for missing out on this talent.

Craig David – All The Way
After a long absence away from the scene Southampton’s finest proved he was still born to do it with this club driven track of good times matching anything of similar vein seen from the US.

That Detroit Soul...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, December 07, 2005

In the past month some of Detroit’s favourite sons have released new albums. Yes Eminem was one of them but there is plenty of column inches on that man elsewhere. Although for what it’s worth I will say he really hasn’t made the complete album that he could have. But onto three men who have been representing the motor city to the fullest with their soulful sounds.

First up is the duo Slum Village. They’ve had more ups and downs than most artists with legendary producer Jay Dee leaving the group and after their Trinity album MC Baatin left. While an article hasn’t gone by without mentioning the controversy and being labelled the Destiny Child of Hip-Hop their music has often been left by the wayside for comment despite producing some consistent albums. Last year the assistance of Kanye West on Selfish didn’t propel them to success due to record label problems but on their latest and self-titled effort they have produced their best album since their debut Fantastic Vol.2. Producers Black Milk and Young RJ have taken the sound back to those days of Fantastic Volume 1 and 2 with smooth Hip-Hop beats and combined with T3 and Elzhi stepping up to the plate with their rhymes we have an album that is solid all round but unfortunately won’t get the credit it truly deserves. On tracks Giant and Def Do Us the two speak about the changes and criticism that’s flown their way. While 05 is a track full of reflection and pride over a heavy drum beat. Their Detroit sidekick Dwele lends his vocals on Call Me and they keep the soulful vibe alive on Ez Up and Multiply. Other highlights include Can I be, Set It and Fantastic on what in my opinion will be one of the most slept on albums of the year, make sure you don’t give this a miss.

Providing more of a fan fare and a hot favourite on these shores with his live performances at the Jazz Café is the man Dwele. While most neo-soul artists tend to take forever to follow up a release, Dwele has hit us with more of his Hip-Hop soul flavours within two. On Some Kinda he picks up where Subject left of with Know Your Name sounding similar to Find A Way and Slum Village making their mandatory appearance on the excellent and hopefully a future single in the making Keep On. The Current single I Love You has been floating around on wax for a while now and gets a refix from Jermaine Dupri with a few familiar samples, unfortunately not on the album but one for the soul heads to track down. A track that is causing quite a stir is Flapjacks, what he can mean by this only the listener can decide, but it does beg the question how he could have kept a straight face while singing the words. From weekend flings to growing old together the stories of love are giving a fresh viewpoint with Dwele’s style of singing, he used to be a rapper and it comes across in his delivery. Some Kinda doesn’t stray too much from Subject but this isn’t a bad thing. Far from it, when you have an artist like Dwele who delivers such good soul music you can only welcome another dose of the good stuff but the real highlight is if you can catch him when he next performs over here as the songs are taken to another level. If he keeps this up he may well write himself into the record books as an all time great.

Sa-Ra EP...

Published by Warren Dell under on Sunday, December 04, 2005
Sa-Ra Creative Partners have been building a name for themselves in the last year and in anticipation for their debut long player next year they’ve dropped an EP with five new recordings. From the get go the music is so good that the funk might fracture your nose. From the heavy beats of the EP titled track Second Time Around to the J Dilla and Pharoah Monch featured tracks Thrilla and Fish Fillet Sa Ra’s spaced out soulful funk tracks get you straight away and get better with each listen. The likes of Kanye West and Slum Village are rumoured to be amongst the heavyweight cast for the full player, but in the meantime track this limited in numbers EP down for a taste of the world of Sa-Ra.

Lady Sov takes on the US...

Published by Warren Dell under on Sunday, December 04, 2005

By the time you read this Lady Sovereign will probably have finally put pen to paper as one of Jay-Z’s new crop of young talent. Hova has courted Sov for months since performing for him alongside L.A Reid and Usher at his Def Jam offices and is a hipsters favourite in the US after her performances over there including one at New York’s infamous Knitting Factory. She’s currently on a promotional run out there and in conjunction with it is releasing an EP called Vertically Challenged, which includes the tracks Ch-Ching, Random, Fiddle With The Volume, The Battle, Little Bit Of Sshh and an exclusive Beastie Boys remix by Ad Rock. The package also includes a 30-minute DVD and this is one to track down on Amazon and the usual import outlets, as there is no word on a UK release. In the meantime on these shores the monster remix by Mizz Beats of Hoodie is literally blowing up and is an essential purchase, much better than the original with heavy verses from Sov, Baby Blue, JME, Skepta, Ears and Jammer. Her full album is released early next year.

Thought for the day...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, December 01, 2005

Are Party Rings the most Hip-Hop biscuit out on road?

These are The Shiznit...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, November 30, 2005

  1. The Murkle Man video - You couldn't imagine Wiley running around in a costume in his video, oh he did the old man thing in the shake a leg vid tho didn't he. But if any one was going to dress as a superhero and get away with it than it would Jammer, the Superman of the noughties.
  2. The new licensing laws - Dirty stop out and her up for it friends get more time to find their future child support payment provider and no longer will we be ordering those two doubles at 5 to 11 to get J-Kwon. 24 hours in a day...24 beers in a case...coincidence?
  3. Jay-Z and Nas re-unite - Both guys are now more hyped about picking out new IKEA curtains with wifey than picking fights. But it will be good to hear these two greats get into the studio together with Kanye rumoured to be behind the boards as these two greats make up.
  4. Urban acts deemed 'cool' by NME - Indie bible NME jumps off Pete Doherty's bits for a minute to name Sway, Kano, M.I.A, Dangermouse and Kanye West in their top 50 cool list for 2005.
  5. Serving tea and biscuits at a nightclub - So your names Des for the night and you have watch your friends drink and chat shit to strangers while you sip tap water. Take a leave out of Scruff's book and have some tea and biscuits, this is how you really get down.

These aren't The Shiznit...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, November 30, 2005

  1. That bloody Frog – He’s back to spread some Christmas joy. Makes a Westlife track sound soothing.
  2. No party rings at Scruff – Why were there no party rings at the Scruff gig? They’re the most Hip-Hop biscuit in the tin.
  3. Channel U’s quality control – No one can fault what the channels done for UK music but any man with a PS2, cheap camera and a crew can be found on screen now. Who decides what gets played?
  4. The wait for the new series of Curb Your Enthusiasm – Series 5 is on in the States now; More4 has finally picked up on Larry David’s brilliance over here and has been showing series 4. But I want 5.
  5. Lost – Plane crash and then stranded shenanigans on an Island. How many episodes? What? A second series?

Keep It Unreal...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Mr Scruff took his eclectic and rather large record collection on the road this winter and stopped off in my area last week as part of his Keep it Unreal tour. For those that have seen the man play live before you can count yourself lucky, I too can now join the brigade and for those that haven't been please make sure you do next time he's in your manor. It would be rude not too. The Brook in Southampton is more used to playing host to bands rather than just the one DJ, but with two projector screens either side of him showing animation and a flawless selection of records all eyes were towards the stage rather than breaking out their one-two step. Starting off with some Reggae to welcome the people he started to switch it up with a selection of B-boy classics and a host of breaks that had the nerds quickly reciting to the person next to them who sampled it. With a seemless transition from track to track you didn't realise one minute you were listening to Common's 'Be' to an old school dance number with some rock thrown in the middle such is the skill of the man. Any night that serves a selection of tea and biscuits with an eclectic mix of 45's is bound to be a winner, yes that's right tea and biscuits. While the latest Channel U mc to pick up the mic waves around his bottle of Hypnotic Scruff keeps it ghetto with Twinnings finest and delivered a great night of good vibes. A massive fan of tea like the Queen, Mr Scruff decided to combine his two loves and set up his own tea shop at all of his tour dates with all money raised going to charity, what a nice man.

Check out for tour dates and information on how to buy mugs, tea pots and other hot beverage paraphernalia.

Busta - Dreadless, No Homo...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Normally it's only David Beckham who gets a massive fanfare when he changes his hair style, and there is still something quite wrong about that, but Busta deserves a mention here as his hairdo has been together longer than The Lox and a messed up recording contract...

The Industry...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, November 17, 2005
Making a name for yourself isn't the easiest of things to do in the music industry. Even if you do manage to get that buzz there's no gaurantee you'll go on a sell by the bucketload. But help is at hand with a new DVD aimed at giving you an insight into one of the toughest industries out there.

The Industry is a step by step guide to the music game with over 3 DVD disks lasting a whopping 4 and a half hours. Ras Kwame provides the backdrop to 16 chapters that will take you from recording right through to the final push of your single, with lessons on promotion, meeting your record label and much more in between.

The best thing is that the words are coming from the artists themselves and people working in the industry. Just some of the names on hand here include; Lethal B, Kano, Ms Dynamite, Heartless Crew, Roll Deep, Crazy Titch, Bruza, Trevor Nelosn and many more. With extras and an hour of freestyles this DVD is packed.

This DVD should be out this weekend from all the usual outlets and is must see material. With all the DVD's flooding the scene it's refreshing to see one that is looking at things from a fresh angle and the first that has covered this topic in such depth. The team behind The Industry actually had to leave out an hour of footage due to space confinements. An essential purchase for those wanting to get ahead in the industry.

More Awards...

Published by Warren Dell under on Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Everyone’s gone award crazy at the moment, hot on the heels of the recent Mobo’s and forthcoming Channel U awards comes the radio and Tv station Kiss’ very own night celebrating the achievements of artists who appear on their platforms. To be held on the 5th November at the Excel in South Victoria they have already announced Craig David and Ms Dynamite as performers with more to be announced. Below are the nominations and info to vote.

Best Producer

Kanye West
Jermaine Dupri
The Neptunes
Bassment Jaxx

Best Newcomer
The Game
John Legend
Bobby Valentino

Best Group

Black Eyed Peas
Bassment Jaxx
Destiny’s Child
Roll Deep

Most Stylish Woman

Gwen Stefani
Siena Miller
June Sarpong

Best Male

Kanye West
50 Cent
The Streets
Craig David
The Game
Sean Paul

Best Female

Gwen Stefani
Missy Elloit
Mariah Carey
Faith Evans
Ms Dynamite

Best Single

Akon – Lonely
Pretty Ricky – Grind With Me
Bodyrockers – I Like The Way You move
Pussy Cat Dolls – Don’t Cha
2Pac – Ghetto Gospel
Rihanna – Pon De Replay
Twista – Sunshine
The Game – Hate It Or Love It

Best Album

50 Cent – The Massacre
Mariah Carey – The Emancipation Of Mimi
Mylo – Destroy Rock n Roll
The Game – The Documentary
Kanye West – The Late Registration

For information about voting and tickets see

Channel U Awards...

Published by Warren Dell under on Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Channel U present the first ever Best Of British Awards at the Shepherds Bush Empire on October 15th. Ace and Invisible of 1Xtra and Illout Show fame will be hosting the awards which will celebrate the top 15 British performers as voted for by the Channel U viewers. 30 nominees have been picked who have been prominent players on the channel in the last year and you can cast your vote by logging onto their website or by keeping locked to Channel U.

The nominees are: Akala, Bigz, Blak Twang, Bruza, Choong Family, Christian Blazer, Craig David, Crazy Titch, Craze 24, Dizzee Rascal, Estelle, Fundmental Juggy D, Jay Sean, Kano, Kevin Mark Trail, Lady Sovereign, Lemar, Lethal Bizzle, L.O.C, Mitchell Brothers, Nathan, Nu Star, Roll Deep, Rouge, Sincere, SLK, Sway, Terri Walker

For more information and tickets see

Jay-Z to work with Nas?

Published by Warren Dell under on Sunday, September 18, 2005

Rumours are abound that Jay-Z may be about to work with Nas on a remix to We Major, a track off of Kanye West’s Late Registration album. The original track which features Nas and John Doe is Jigga’s favourite off the album and he is keen to get on a remix which would be the first time that Nas and himself have featured on a track together. As we all know the two had a feud kept on wax a few years back, but both men have spoke out on numerous occasions of their respect for each other.

Despite his retirement Jay-Z has featured on many remixes and guest appearances, continually fuelling rumours that he will release an album sometime soon. Speaking on radio station Power 105 he said that he has that ‘itch’ and may look to get an album out. It seems the reason for this sudden itch to get material out may be because of a few emcees chatting stuff about him and it’s now his time to ‘declare war’.

Since his retirement he has been busy running Def Jam and recently started a new label in the company called Def Jam Left, which first release will be from new signing The Roots.

MOBO voting form...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Make sure you get your votes in for this years MOBO Awards. Follow the link below and let's make sure the UK acts get some deserved recognition.

Craig David - The Story Goes...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, August 31, 2005

In his absence of the last couple years it’s been a Bo Selecta caricature of Craig David that has been getting more attention than the man himself, but that’s about to change with the release of his latest and third album, The Story Goes…

While anticipation for the album hasn’t been as great as when his first two were released, this isn’t an album to be overlooked and whether you’re a straight up Urban music fan or prefer something with a more crossover appeal, you’ll find there’s something for everyone on here.

For the Urban crowd you’ll have by now heard the first single ‘All The Way’, which went in the charts a credible number three. This is backed up by another one tailor made for the clubs ‘Just Chillin’ and the mid-tempo cut ‘Hypnotic’. As well as working with long time collaborator Mark Hill on the majority of the album, Craig gets behind the boards himself, co-producing the excellent ‘Thief In The Night’, a track about his girl cheating on him with his friend. The slow jam is as good, if not better than anything you’ll hear this year from an American or UK artist.

While the first two albums were about a young Craig looking for love, The Story Goes is a much more personal account of relationships and heartbreak, as depicted on ‘Don’t Love You No More’ and ‘Separate Ways’. Both have crossover appeal and the former looks set to be the next single. Other tracks of note are ‘Take Em Off’, which sees Craig in a more seductive tone and the song writing of the tracks ‘Unbelievable’ and ‘One Last Dance’. But the most personal of them all is ‘Johnny’, another track with crossover appeal dealing with bullying and if you listen to the lyrics it’s clear that it’s something Craig had to deal with as a youngster.

Since the release of his first album ‘Born To Do It’, Craig hasn’t stopped promoting, touring and then recording his second album but his absence away from the public eye in the last two years has enabled him to grow as a person and an artist, something which benefits this album. One of the true great talents in this country.

This also appeared on


Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, August 31, 2005
The stars came out in style for this years MTV Video Music Awards held in Miami, but the weekend didn’t go with out controversy from Urban acts as rivals continued their war of words and Suge Knight was shot in the leg at a party.

Knight was attending a Kanye West sponsored party when a shot was fired in the Shore Club’s red room. The shooter escaped according to some sources but chaos ensued as clubbers tried to exit the club. Knight was in good condition and will undergo surgery to remove the bullet.

The ongoing feud between 50 Cent and Fat Joe continued with each artist using their allotted time slots to throw a few words of discontent each others way. Staying with Fiddy, before the show he appeared with Mase and announced that he would be the next artist to sign with G-Unit.

Winners on the night included two awards for Missy Elliott's ‘Lose Control’ (Best Dance & Hip-Hop), Alicia Keys walked away with best R’n’B for ‘Karma’ , best Rap went to Ludacris (No.1Spot) and Kanye West took the prize for best male. He also performed alongside Jamie Foxx amongst other acts to bless the mic, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, R Kelly, Mariah Carey and a Reggaeton showcase.

Female MC Finals...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Phuturehype are holding their second annual Female MC/Rapping finals on the 17th September at Oxford House, East London. Last years finals were featured on Channel 4’s ‘Chancers’ programme and included Lady Sovereign, who performed for Jay-Z, Usher and L.A Reid recently in New York and could soon sign a deal with the Def Jam head honcho. The finals this year will be judged by an expert panel including female MC and Choice FM presenter Phoebe One. Sponsors backing the event include US urban clothing label South Pole, Kedoworld, Patrick Kevin Clothing, Brokensouls and UrbanMags.

The finals kick off at 7.30pm and tickets are £5.00. For more info please check

Mobo Nominations 2005

Published by Warren Dell under on Friday, August 26, 2005
After the previous few years controversy and seemingly American bias towards the awards the organisers of this years Mobos look to have rectified the problem with this years nominations.

Lemar, Kano, Lemar, Roll Deep, Nate James, Sway, Lethal B, Estelle, Terri Walker and Joss Stone have all been nominated in the catagories announced so far for the awards taking place on the 22nd September.

Best Album:

Common - Be
Kano - Home Sweet Home
Lemar - Time To Grow
John Legend - Get Lifted
Mariah Carey - Emancipation of Mimi

Best R'n'B act

John Legend
Mariah Carey
Terri Walker
Nate James

Best Single

Amerie - 1 Thing
Lemar - If There's Any Justice
Lethal B - Forward (Pow)
Mario - Let Me Love You
Snoop - Feat. Pharrell - Drop It Like It's Hot

Best UK Newcomer

Lethal B
Nate James
Roll Deep

UK Act Of The Year

Joss Stone
Roll Deep

Kanye West - Late Registration Preview

Published by Warren Dell under on Friday, August 26, 2005
Release Date 29th August

Track listing

1. Wake Up Mr. West
2. Heard ‘Em Say Feat. Adam Levine
3. Touch The Sky
4. Gold Digger Feat. Jamie Foxx
5. Drive Slow Feat. Paul Wall & GLC
6. My Way Home Feat. Common
7. Crack Music Feat. The Game and Charlie Wilson
8. Roses
9. Bring Me Down Feat. Brandy
10. Additcion
11. Skit
12. Diamonds Remix Feat. Jay-Z
13. We Major Feat. Nas and Really Doe
14. Skit
15. Hey Mama
16. Celebration
17. Skit
18. Gone
19. Diamonds
20. Late

The ego is back! Music reviewers be prepared for the sharp tongue of Kanye if your reviews don’t end with top marks for what he calls ‘a perfect album’. After five beats a day for three summers, Kanye’s career has been on an upward spiral since crafting those soulful high pitched productions on arguably Jay-Z’s finest album ‘The Blueprint’ in 2001. Since then he has treaded the line as the go to guy for the hottest beats in the game and as a top recording artist with his debut last year ‘The College Dropout’.

The album was a classic and crossed the line between baller and backpacker, rapping about money one minute and then touching on the subject of religion the next. He may have rapped about being self-conscious on All falls Down but he certainty had plenty of belief in his ability and would criticise magazines for downgrading their integrity when they didn’t give his album five mics, or a perfect ten.

There certainly is no doubting the mans talent or track record but he didn’t do himself any favours when being quoted as saying he should get a cut for the sales of magazine that would feature himself on the cover. One of those magazines who didn’t give him full marks were Vibe, who not wanting to perhaps catch any flack from his way this time around were quick to rectify it by putting him on a recent cover.

I’m sure many would like to see him fail but if the first single Diamonds is anything to go by, then we are looking at another great album. Kanye uses the Shirley Bassey Diamonds Are Forever sample as the backdrop to great affect and despite it being such a familiar song, the track still sounds like nothing else on the radio at the moment. As a bonus the remix featuring Jay-Z is included, who despite retirement and being the boss at Def Jam, manages to drop a hot rap.

To coincide with the albums release, the next single Golddigger has started to get rotation and features Jamie Foxx and a Ray Charles sample. Foxx isn’t the only guest though as you can expect to hear though, Snoops buddy; Gap band singer Charlie Wilson joins in on Crack Music, which also features The Game. Camron and Consequence (Gone), GLC and Paul Wall (Drive Slow) all feature alongside singers Brandy, John Legend and Adam Levine from Maroon 5.

With a knack for taking a sample to a whole other level, look forward to the Just Blaze assisted Touch The Sky, which uses Curtis Mayfield’s Move On Up. Other samples include Etta James My Funny Valentine (Addiction) and Donal Leace’s Today Wont Come Again (Hey Mama).

The track Celebration uses a 20-piece Orchestra and shows Kanye steering in a whole different direction, while still maintaining his excellence. Something reflected with the inclusion of composer and co-producer for the album Jon Brion, who has worked with Evan Dando, Fiona Apple and Aimme Mann while adding composition to several film soundtracks including Magnolia.

Not afraid to blow his own trumpet, after a playback for his album he said “Seriously, how many perfect albums is that under my belt? I’m sorry,” before adding, “Actually, no, I don’t apologize.” And he will probably be right, as The Late Registration looks set to further cement his position as one of the best at the moment, certainly no one has a hold on the music industry like he does.

Nas Pays $2million for Neptunes Beat!!...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, August 18, 2005
According to sources on the trusted world wide web Nas recently paid $2million dollars for a Neptunes beat that he was after, a beat which Busta Rhymes commented was "Ah shit, thats the craziest beat, I ever heard! Those drums man, Those drums are fire! If Nas is gonna rap to this beat, its going to be over. This will be the biggest hit in the history of hiphop!" Puff Daddy, or P.Diddy as he is now called, sorry bit late here 'Diddy' as he is now called was also after the beat but lost out in the bidding war. Now I know the Neptunes come out with some good stuff but $2million? The next ten tracks after it will probably sound similar so shouldn't he just wait? Try making a profit on your album now Nas.

Eminem Cancels Anger Management...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Eminem has cancelled his tour dates for the European leg of the Anger Management Tour, after suffering from exhaustion and other medical issues. According to a statement released by his management the cancelled dates aren’t expected to be re-scheduled. The tour was due to start in Germany on the 1st September and close in Ireland the 17th. The tour in America has been a success but not without it’s problems. Em’s DJ, Alchemist and recording artist Stat Quo were injured when their tour bus collided with tractor-trailers and G-Unit members Lloyd Banks and Young Buck were both arrested after being in possession of a gun after the show in New York.

The Essential Purchase...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Metropolis – The Voyage

If you feel that there isn’t enough soul music out there for your liking at the moment, then point your attention to a group called Metropolis. Hailing from Atlanta, this four piece group have had people waiting in anticipation for their full album after their sampler went down a treat in soul circles earlier this year.

The Voyage is a delightful mixture of R’n’B and Soul and has been picking up critical acclaim from all corners. With 20 sublime mid-tempo cuts the listener is spoilt for choice when it comes to picking out a favourite and can happily play from start to finish without the need to reach for the skip button. Now how many albums can you say that about these days.

Favourites Hit The Door and Soul Train still sound as fresh as ever and Summertime is the perfect soundtrack for a lazy summer day. Information on the CD sleeve is sparse but you’ll hear a hint of Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield while listening.

I’ll find it hard to not mention this in my favourite five albums of the year, it really is that good. This has limited availability and you’ll have to check out for a copy.

Standout Tracks

Hit The Door, Soul Train, Play Ya Game, Found You, Summertime

New Music...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, August 11, 2005


It’s a jam packed month ahead as far as album releases are concerned as a returning hero comes back on the scene, a bright UK talent delivers his debut and the ego returns.

Nate James has created a massive buzz about him, with the singles Set The Tone and Universal, whilst wooing listeners with a sell out show at the Jazz Café. His debut album (Set The Tone) is out on Monday (8th Aug) and hopefully will show that the talk has been worthwhile.

Following on from debut sets from Roll Deep and Kano comes Lethal B with Against All Odds. After the smash hit POW Lethal has put the disappointment of More Fire behind him and the album is just rewards for his grind over the last couple of years. The lead single is Uh Oh produced by Sticky and the album is out on the 15th.


Back in 2002 Mike Skinner delivered his ground breaking album Original Pirate Material and since followed it up with last years A Grand Don’t Come For Free. Taking a break from releasing his own material he has got together his own label and his first signing The Mitchell Brothers release their debut A Breath Of Fresh Attire on Aug 22nd. Already they have created a bit of a buzz with the singles Routine Check and Harvey Nicks and despite not reaping chart success they have been picking up very good reviews from publications such as Hip-Hop Connection to less the Hip-Hop orientated NME.

Sticking with the UK and Craig David returns with his 3rd solo set, The Story Goes On. The lead single All The Way has been making all the right moves in club land and in the media and is a welcome return after being away for a couple of years. The album also sees Craig working more with producer Mark Hill (Artful Dodger & The Stix) once again. He produced just the track Hidden Agenda on his last album Slicker Than Your Average but will now take a more prominent role in shaping this album, out on August 22nd.

On the 22nd Kanye West drops the hotly-anticipated follow up to the College Dropout, with The Late Registration. The first single Diamonds, proves that Kanye has not lost his touch and has even improved his skills. Guests on the album include, Brandy, The Game and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine amongst others. Kanye being the quietly confident kind of guy has already stated that it’s another classic, and who’s to argue with him. The Late Registration is the second of his projected four albums, the next two will be Graduation and A Good Ass Job. Watch this space for a special preview of this hotly anticipated album.

One of Jay-Z’s first signings Teairra Mari makes her debut with Roc-Fella Presents, the first single Make Her Feel Good has just started to receive airplay over here and the album is released this week.

Watch out over the coming weeks as there will be reviews on all these albums…

Time for a rant...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, August 08, 2005
It’s always been a very typical thing of the British tabloids when we have a rising talent on our hands - to build them up and then knock them down. Whether it’s a musician or a footballer, movie star or politician there have been many cases over the last few years from David Beckham to Mariah Carey where the papers have celebrated their talent and then swiftly brought them down. It seems the writers would much rather slag someone off than write about someone doing well.

There was a piece in yesterdays Sun newspaper by their Bizarre columnist Victoria Newton about our very own Craig David and a photo with his latest female companion. The basis of the piece was basically saying she was only on his arms as he has a new album and single out and included pictures of pervious girlfriends in the months where he had material to promote.

Now it’s understandable for the paper a year ago to not publish any pictures with him and a girl (and I’m sure there were opportunities to do so) as he wasn’t in the public eye and the reader would have preferred to read about a member of Blue’s latest female conquest. Now it makes sense as yes he has his album coming out but to start saying that he has only been going out with these woman because he has something to promote is intrusive in his private life and an unfair assessment of his character.

Although I have never met the guy, whenever I’ve read, seen or heard interviews with him he doesn’t come across as some womaniser a la Calum Best but a genuine down to earth guy, who has done well with the talent he has. If his job enables him to meet these beautiful woman then you can only say fair play to him, us fella’s would be exactly the same.

When he burst on the scene five years back, everyone from the tabloids to magazines like Smash Hits were hailing him as a great British talent, now everyone one associated to the Urban scene will know that nothing has changed and he is still very talented and has a much anticipated album out soon, yet it seems that as an established act it’s time for the tabloids to pick fault and bring him down.

Hopefully the next time he is in the paper it’ll be on a more positive note.

Mercury Music Prize...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, August 03, 2005

A bit late on this but the list of this years Mercury Music Prize nominees have been announced with M.I.A’s long player Arular getting the nod from the panel as the only Urban offering in this years list. Her mix of Dancehall, Hip-Hop, Reggae and Electro will be up against the likes of Coldplay, Kaiser Chiefs and Bloc Party. In recent years Amy Winehouse, Jamelia, The Streets, Beverley Knight and Ty have all been short listed while both Ms Dynamite and Dizzee Rascal have walked away with the prize in 2002 and 2003 respectively. The awards take place on Tuesday 6th September.

G-Unit gets hardcore...

Published by Warren Dell under on Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Already one of the most destructive labels around with the ongoing feud between 50-Cent and The Game, G-Unit have announced the signing of M.O.P to their ever growing roster, but how long will we have to wait until we see any material released? The Brownsville duo had a massive hit in the UK with Cold as Ice in 2001 and released one of Hip-Hops all time anthems in Ante Up, but little has been heard of them either side of the pond since they signed to Roc-A-Fella, apart from a side project under the name The Marxmen. When Jay-Z and Dame Dash went their separate ways M.O.P found themselves with the latter under the Dame Dash Music Group moniker, but with no sign of ever releasing an album in the not to distant future, they were snapped up by G-Unit. Despite the possibility of some big name collaborations, this could easily go down the same route as the deal with the Roc, as G-Unit have just signed Mobb Deep, and have albums from Tony Yayo and Olivia to support.

Sway - Up Your Speed

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, August 01, 2005

After selling his mixtapes by the bucket load Sway continues his rise to the top with the release of Up Your Speed, featuring Pyrelli on September 5th. Sampling the Formula 1 tune, this was featured as the B-side to Flo-Fashion but now gets a release on its own. There is also a remix floating around with Skinnyman, Bruza and Triple. The video has just been added to the Channel U play list and sees Sway joined by 1Xtra’s Ace and Invisible and The Mitchell Brothers amongst others. Sway is destined for big things and never has an artist created such a buzz on the underground scene in the UK as he has. He is still unsigned, by his own choice, but has a distribution deal with Dan Greenpeace’s All City label, has sold thousands of copies of his successful This Is My Promo series and now you can follow his hustle in his monthly column for Hip Hop Connection. Remember 5th September, SUPPORT THIS!

Craig David - New material

Published by Warren Dell under on Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Apart from a Bo Selecta caricature, we haven’t heard much from Southampton’s finest Craig David in almost three years. But that is about to change with the release of his new album, The Story Goes. Out on the 22nd August Craig is back with a bang if the first single is anything to go by.

All The Way is perfect club material while still being radio friendly and sees Craig re-united with co-writer and very underrated producer Mark Hill (ex Artful Dodger and The Stix for those that don’t know).

The song is on a very upbeat tip and reminiscent of Donnell Jones, Put Me Down. Yes we are talking big here and if this doesn’t put Craig back at the forefront of UK Urban music then there is something wrong.

If the sun actually surfaces soon then this is wind down the car windows/drop the top down music at it’s best. A perfect vibe for the summer and sets us up nicely for the album.

After the success of Born To Do It, Craig branched out and worked with the Ignorants production team for Slicker Than Your Average, only working with Mark Hill on the second single Hidden Agenda, but he handles the bulk of production on the new album and should see Craig back to making tracks as good as Fill Me In, 7 Days and Walking Away.

The single, All The Way is released 8th August and Craig will be performing his only concert date of the summer at the Somerset House, London on the same day. The album is out 22nd August.

Welcome back Craig.

Rump Shaker...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, July 04, 2005
Another favourite of mine, Rump Shaker was a massive crossover hit for Wrecks-N-Effect back in 1992. The New Jack Swing sound was in full flow thanks to Teddy Riley’s production and this track even had the influence of a young Pharrell Williams, who along with Chad Hugo had been taken under Teddy’s wing. Accompanied by a video set on the beach with an array of shapely woman, the track would go on to help the group secure platinum status for the album Hard or Smooth. Oh for the days of New Jack Swing to return...

Hip-Hop on the beach...

Published by Warren Dell under on Friday, July 01, 2005

After the success of last years event, the Brighton Hip-Hop festival returns for summer 2005 bigger and better. With block parties, workshops and film screenings, culminating with an all day festival by the beach, there is plenty going on during July on the South Coast to fill your Hip-Hop needs.

Things kick-off with the CD and festival launch party this Saturday and a B-Boy battle jam on Sunday, with events continuing right through July. The Hip-Hop film festival will allow people a chance to see classics like Wild Style, Style Wars and Scratch to the more recent Freestyle: Art of Rhyme and South Coast – a film all about the Brighton scene.

For budding MC’s, DJ’s and producers there are workshops being run by the Youth Music Group and on Saturday 23rd July you can sample some of that Brooklyn flavour by popping down to the Block Party at Tarner Basketball Court.

To promote the event a mix CD compiled by Clever Looking featuring local acts will be given away free with the July issue of Touch magazine and at the events over the course of the month.

Some of the acts performing on the festival day (31st July) include Salvo, Foulmouth, Mole & Iris, Southern Suspects, Skillmega and many more. In total there will be 13 live acts on display. For the full line up check and

A day by the beach and Hip-Hop, what more could you ask for!

Roc-A-Fella's new stars...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Jay-Z seems to have settled into his position as Def Jam president, as well as regaining the Roc-A-Fella name and re-shaping it’s roster he’s been signing some fresh new talent to look out for.

Rihanna, Ne-Yo and Teiarra Mari are all youngsters coming into the game but with Jay behind him have big futures ahead of them.

Rihanna impressed Jay so much that she was signed on the spot, and her debut album Music Of The Sun will hit stores August 30th with Pon De Replay as the lead single. Joining Rihanna is another seventeen-year-old Teiarra Mari whose been dubbed the Princess of the Roc.

After being discovered by producer Darryl Simmons she found herself auditioning for L.A Reid and now finds herself alongside Jay in the latest XXL magazine. Completing the trio of youngsters is Ne-Yo, who wrote Let Me Love You for Mario and can boast writing credits for Mary J Blige, B2K, Faith Evans and Musiq. Getting his name from the character in the Matrix, Ne-Yo will certainly be happy if his debut single can reach the heady heights of some of the those aforementioned artists.

Meanwhile after the split with Damon Dash, the Roc-A-Fella name will be held by Jay and he talks about the split in this months XXL magazine, following up on the interview they had with Dash previously. Staying with Roc-A-Fella are Kanye West, Young Gunz, Memphis Bleek, DJ Clue and Foxy Brown.



Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, June 20, 2005

Looking out the window at work and seeing the beautiful sunshine has got me thinking about anything and everything other than work. As attentions turn to summer holidays, barbecues and sitting in beer gardens I thought I would drop a favourite summer track of mine every now again, for you to escape and reminisce about. If you want to mention a favourite summertime track drop me an email.

To get things going I have to start at what is undoubtedly the best summer track of all time, courtesy of Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. Summertime was released in the summer of 1991 off of the Homebase album and still sounds as great as the first time I heard it. You know summer is here when you first hear this on the radio, let’s hope the weather does justice to it. Someone fire up the BBQ!

Lord Of The Decks 3...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, June 16, 2005
The first and last word in Grime DVD’s is back for a third outing. Courtesy of Hotheadz Promotions Lord Of The Decks 3 is now out with a 2 DVD + 1 CD package, well worth your money.

With over 3 hours of footage spread across the DVD’s anyone who is anyone is featured from Kano to Bruza, Roll Deep to Lethal B as we are treated to interviews, freestyles, videos and behind the scenes footage.

The CD is hosted by D Double E and features exclusives from Akala, Wiley and Crazy Titch amongst others.

There really are too many highlights on there to mention but particular attention must be paid to the extended footage of the trip to Germany where Lethal B, D Double E, Target, Kano and Jammer have all gone to perform. Not to give too much away as amongst the radio appearances and rave footage are some hilarious moments including Jammers show stopping drop kick!

If your local record shop doesn’t stock this then and are worth looking at.

I want one...

Published by Warren Dell under on Friday, June 10, 2005


Toys aren't just for kids anymore! Walk into any streetwear fashion shop and you'll find a range of collectables but these have got to be two of the best. If you've been looking to fill that void since you put that action man down, or barbie if your a girl, Addict are releasing two 12 inch figures of their sponsored artists DJ First Rate and Rodney P. Both figures will come with a range of clothing and accessories like microphones and turntables and as you can see in the picture are very realistic. Retailing at £85 each, the release date hasn't been confirmed yet, but you can pre-order them from the Addict website

Omarion - O

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, June 09, 2005
Crossing the line between boy band and R’n’B act, teen heartthrobs B2K seemed to have the world at their feet. After two albums and a successful film, which spawned the hits Badaboom, Got’s To Be and Bump, Bump, Bump the last thing expected was for the group to part ways. But early last year that’s what happened and it seemed obvious that Omarion would follow his brother Marques Houston and go solo.

O is his debut offering and although the album plays it safe and doesn’t stray too far away from his B2K days, some of the tracks display a more racy, raunchier side and overall O is a decent album.

The album opens up with the dreamy I Wish, about a friend who Omarion falls for, and then leads into the first of two cuts where heavyweight producers have been brought in. Touch is produced by The Neptunes and features Pharrell on backing vocals while Drop That Heater is another track from Rodney Jerkins welcome return to the scene.

Both tracks are up-tempo numbers ready for club spins and will likely feature as singles. In fact it’s the up tempo tracks that are the albums highlights. Take It off has another heavy beat behind it and sees Omarion in playa mode where he gets straight to it dropping the line, I don’t mean no disrespect/but a nigga really trying to fuck witchu.

Big Boi of Outkast fame provides the big name guest appearance on Never Gonna Let You Go but in truth, the funky track doesn’t really need his appearance as Omarion does a good job of the track himself. And that’s no disrespect to Big Boi, it’s just another example of marketing guys wanting to put an emcee on an R’n’B when it’s not needed.

On the slower material we get to see more of that maturity and the transition from teen heartthrob to young adult. While tracks like I Know and Fiening You lack the lyrics that Usher would deliver, Growing Pains is an interesting number where Omarion gets off his chest the B2K split.

The title track O and In The Dark will have the young teeny boppers going wild but the album is good enough to provide the older fans of R’n’B with value for money. Like the recent Mario release, Omarion isn’t the finished article by far but as is evident on his debut, he will have a long career ahead of him and has taken the jump from being in a successful group to going solo with aplomb.

Amerie - Touch

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, June 09, 2005
When we first heard Amerie on the heartfelt, Why Don’t We Fall In Love, we expected success but despite delivering an excellent album to critical acclaim, she didn’t have the sales to show for it.

Now three years on and with a number of release from the likes of Ciara, Beyonce and Mariah Carey there is a lot of competition in the female solo world. But when the single 1 Thing hit, not only had Amerie returned with a bang, the soundtrack to the summer was set.

Produced by the much under rated Rich Harrison, 1 Thing is so different from anything on the radio at the moment that you can’t escape it’s heavy drum beat and enthusiastic vocals.

The partnership of Harrison and Amerie has brought together an album that sounds unlike anything currently out there at the moment. Touch is a classy affair with it’s soulful retro R’n’B stylings combined with Hip-Hop beats which you could see your favourite MC’s spitting over.

The album also lets us get to know Amerie a little better as she unleashes a sexier side on the track Touch, produced by Lil Jon, and this Crunk and B number sounds much better than recent singles by Ciara and Brooke Valentine.

But not to disrespect those two artists, Amerie sounds more like a seasoned vet than one of the new school coming though, such is the superiority of the songs.

If hard pressed to name highlights than the b-boy feel of Man Up, which features
Nas, Like It Used To Be and Rolling Down My Face. Enough evidence that the future of R’n’B and modern Soul is in good hands.

Common - Be

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, June 06, 2005

As time goes on, and despite what music is available at the current time, we will always have albums that are looked back upon with great fondness. Marvin Gaye’s What’s Goin On to the more recent Illmatic and Blueprint albums from Nas and Jay-Z respectively have all stood the test of time, and are just some of the albums that have shaped music’s growth.

Now one of Hip-Hop’s most respected sons can add his offering to that collection.

In a time where Hip-Hop albums are quickly forgotten and stick to the same tired formulae of club smash, ladies joint and filler, Common’s sixth label release is much needed, perhaps not just for Hip-Hop but for the Chicago MC himself.

After the release of the Electric Circus, many had questioned whether Common had fallen off, had the relationship with Erykah Badu really softened the man who had brought us such great social commentary on tracks like Sixth Sense.

In all fairness the album was misunderstood by those who weren’t used to the switch up in style, Common has after all never been afraid to touch on the softer subject of love with classics like, I Used To Love Her, the metaphor speaking ode to Hip-Hop and more recently his biggest hit to date, The Light.

That hit was supposed to escalade Common into the realms of MTV rotation and platinum sales but was never forthcoming, Be however is set to change all that.

The albums first single, The Corner takes it back to the Windy City over a boom-bap driven beat provided by Kanye West, as he reminisces about the Chicago corners that were a part of everyday life. The track is so unlike anything on the radio at the moment and confirmed to us that Common is back with a bang.

The track Go is a more softer affair as Common raps about a particular fantasy over a more R’n’B beat, reminiscent of Musiq Soulchild’s Forthenight. The track Chi-City is as the name suggests about his beloved Chicago and addresses a number of topics on his mind from so many raps about rims/surprised niggas don’t become tyres and I’m back like a chiropract/with b-boy survival rap.

With Kanye West behind 9 of the tracks, Common will become more accessible for listeners who before would have given his CD a miss. But Kanye’s inclusion is no marketing ploy as he provides some of his careers best production and only heightens the anticipation of his soon to drop Late Registration album.

The albums only other producer is J-Dilla, who provides Common with the heart warming Love Is, which samples Marvin Gaye’s God Is Love, and the final track on the album It’s Your World which features the vocals talents of Bilal.

It’s hard to choose a particular track as a highlight as they are all exceptional whether it’s talking about hustling to make ends meet on Food or the John Legend assisted They Say.

With only 11 tracks the focus is on just the best material and won’t leave you wanting to touch the skip button, a nice change from albums that provide too much filler and leave the buyer short-changed.

With artists like Chingy and 50 Cent giving us syrupy love songs, raps about how much money they’ve got and portraying the role of a gangster in a hero like fashion, Common’s words are needed more than ever in the mainstream environment. Loyal fans will love Be and hopefully enough newcomers to Common’s music will pick it up as it’s a bona fide classic.


Published by Warren Dell under on Saturday, June 04, 2005
Caught Skinnyman live last night at the M Club in Southampton, first time I'd got to see him and got to say my respect for him went even higher. So many times when you see a US act live and pay £25 you get ripped off with a half-assed performance but with Skinny, you really felt the passion in his delivery. As a side note they also had an open mic afterwards which my mate Lavvi took part in. It was a bit of a free for all but he did his thing. It was his first time up on stage and is currently hard at work getting material together. One to watch out for. But then I would say that!

Music Update...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Apologies for the lack of updates the last fortnight. I've been away on work experience at FHM which was great fun, but am back to update you on the latest music. We have singles from The Mitchell Brothers, a return for Donell Jones and the new album from future star Bobby Valentino. Coming up very shortly will be reviews for the much anticipated Common album, Amerie and Omarion's latest sets.

Bobby Valentino - Give Me A Chance


Already a smash in the US and looking to do the same on these shores is the debut album from Bobby Valentino, Give Me A Chance and the label behind its release is from an unexpected output.

Ludacris Disturbing The Peace camp aren’t who you would expect to release an R’n’B album but they have and what a scorcher it is!

From the opening single Slow Down, about spotting an attractive female to the slow ballad Love Dream, it’s clear we have a real talent on our hands.

Bobby used to be in R’n’B group Mista but after that didn’t work out he got to work on securing a solo deal and being from Atlanta, its made sense to sign with one of ATL’s finest Luda.

Luda has only got involved with album creatively by featuring on the title track Give Me A Chance that hopefully will be the next single.

On the slower side of things Bobby gives up his playa card by saying there is One Girl For Me and the falling in love vibe of My Angel.

Other highlight include Tell, Come Touch Me and Gansta Love.

Unfortunately like any other new R’n’B star, Bobby will have to live with the comparisons to Usher but he is his own man and although not as strong vocally he has gone about crafting his own style. With producers Tim & Bob handling the bulk of the production the album has a nice coherent sound.

With Mario’s recent release, and albums coming out this year from Donnell Jones and Joe, there is a lot of competition in the male R’n’B market but Bobby more than holds his own and shows what a future he has. An essential album.


The Mitchell Brothers follow up their account of being stopped by the police with more tales of London life on the excellent Harvey Nicks. Featuring Sway the three lads tell us of their trouble when popping into the popular department store over a Mike Skinner production. There are plenty of lines that will raise a smile but it’s Sway steals it with a “little girl with a pen ran up to me and said I know who you are/and when I gave her my autograph she said mum is this how you spell Lemar”. All three of these guys look set to have a big year and it’s original material like this that will have lovers of grime and Hip-Hop appreciating them.

After people downplaying the R’n’B scene for trying to be Hip Hop or too many poppy tracks being released 2005 looks like the year that it slams the critics with so many quality releases already this year. Joining that list and a welcome return after nearly three years away is Donnell Jones who gives us a taster for his new long player with Special Girl. This is a quality slab of R’n’B that oozes class as Donell lays down what a woman must have to get with him over a slow tempo jam of the highest calibre that we have come to expect from the man. Perfect for playing at home relaxing or with your girl. Special Girl is the perfect taster for a new album due later this year.

After getting their wish to leave Bad Boy granted 112 dropped a disappointing first album for Def jam but are quick to follow up with a new album and are back to the high standard we have come to expect from a group who released classics such as Only You and Peaches and Cream. You Already Know sees the group getting back to making that sexy, sensual music we like with lyrics on the more descriptive side detailing how they are going to put it down form the bedroom to the kitchen floor. Hot stuff indeed.

The Black Eyed Peas return with Don’t Phunk With My Heart. The track further moves them away from their sound we had become used towards a more accessible pop sound, which will no doubt bring more success ahead of the release of their Monkey Business album, collaborators on the set include James Brown and Justin Timberlake.

Jon B's Everytime gets a reworking with a remix featuring Beenie Man and Ferena. More on the dancehall tip than the original that featured the late Old Dirty but no will doubt have you 'thunder clapping' on the dancefloor.

R.Kelly is out to put the dramas of the Best Of Both Worlds fiasco behind him with a new album. First offerings have been the original and remix of Sex In The Kitchen which lyrics don’t leave much to imagination. Word is that neither of these will feature as a an actual release though.

The next single from the queen of Crunk & B, Ciara is Oh featuring Ludacris, verging on a chopped and screwed style while John Legend supports his live shows with the release of Ordinary People. Hot off the release of No.1 Spot Ludacris will be releasing Pimpin All Over the World with a video to follow shot in Africa.

More reviews on the way...hold tight.

Its Me Again...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, May 11, 2005

We may have had to wait three years but with Its Me Again, Tweet has made sure that its been worth the wait.

On the albums intro, over a piano loop Tweet recites her happiness at being able to deliver another chapter in her life and I’m glad that she has.

The first single Turn The Lights Off will by now be familiar to you and this sets the scene for the album. There may not be an up-tempo track in the vein of Oops (oh my) or Boogie 2 Nite but there is plenty of soulful ballads and laid back R’n’B to keep everyone happy.

From Tweet dealing with a relationship turned sour on Iceberg to falling in love with someone un-expectantly on the Rell assisted duet Could It Be, Tweet displays less of the uncertainty she faced on SouthernHummingbird. Now she has come to terms with the trials and tribulations of love and this maturity is displayed throughout.

Tweet brings her daughter in on the project on the lovely Two Of Us. Her voice sounds like her mum and at 15 we may have a future talent on our hands.

The track Sports, Sex & Food has a great retro feel with its piano and hand clapping beat. This is almost like a calling for woman as Tweet drops knowledge by telling woman how to get their man.

Other highlights include the Missy Elliott featured Things I Don’t Mean and Taxi.

The only disappointing aspect of the album is that Missy throws in one to many shout outs, which interrupt the flow of a song. Apart from that this is an album that will be on many peoples lists at the end of the year for best album. Another modern classic from the Southern Hummingbird.

For your listening pleasure...

Published by Warren Dell under on Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Highlights on the live front this month come in the form of Nate James. After selling out the Jazz Café Nate will play a one off date at the end of the month at the Shepherds Bush Empire with support coming from Dawn Robinson. Meanwhile due to public demand John Legend and De La Soul have both added extra dates to their UK tours with Estelle supporting the formers London gig and Doc Brown supporting on the latters tour.

Nate James

May 26 – Shepherds Bush Empire

De La Soul

May 15 – Bristol Academy
May 17 – Manchester Academy
May 18 – Leeds Met University
May 19/21 – London Forum

John legend

May 15/16 – Shepherds Bush Empire
May 18 – Manchester Academy
May 19 – Birmingham Academy


May 25 – Brighton Concorde
May 26 – Manchester Academy
May 27 – London Jazz Café

Rhian Benson

May 19/20/21 – London Jazz Cafe

Homelands Festival

The Streets, Root Manuva, Jazzy Jeff, Rodney P & Skitz, Skinnyman & DJ Flip, Kano, Mitchell Brothers, Grandmaster Flash, Grandmaster Melle & Scorpio, Scrath Perverts, Kentaro

May 28

Media Watch...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Here’s a brief round-up of what’s on the shelves this month in the world of urban music press.

Hip Hop Connection’s cover star is R.A Rugged Man who gives a revealing interviewing and shares his views on Biggie, almost working with The Neptunes and dealing with P.Diddy. There is also an interview with the rotton one Blak Twang and news on the Ghostface and MF Doom collaboration.

Kano is Undercover Magazine's cover star and he speaks about his upcoming album release. This months cover mount CD includes a great track from Wordsmith.

Touch Magazine is running with a double cover of Faith Evans on one side and Roll Deep on the other. Touch speaks to Faith about Biggie and her new album while Roll Deep give us the low down on their debut set. Teedra Moses gets some shine while there is an interesting round the table discussion with Chantelle Fiddy, Disorda, Martin Moulton and Riki Bleau about some of the latest issues including Grime and Channel U.

Blues and Soul has the usual respected columns and cover star Faith Evans speaks about her new project.

Roll Deep have taken over Rewind magazine for a month and includes various features around them including news on their upcoming album, Danny Weed on why skunk is bad for you and Riko get’s off his chest how he feels about weak DVD’s trying to create beef.

Style magazine I.D has a 12 page feature on the new sound to be breaking out in London, Grime. Written by Hattie Collins and Chantelle Fiddy the spread features some of the key players in the scene from artists such as Kano and Sway to the behind the scenes people.

Even publications such as the New York Times and Montreal Mirror have touched on the subject of Grime. Expect The Sun’s Bizarre columnist Victoria Newton to soon tell us that Kano is the next big thing in British Music!

Mos Def is the subject of an interview in the May issue of Dazed and Confused which mainly focuses on his role in The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy but he does find time to talk about his next album.

If commercial ish is what takes your fancy then XXL are running with a double cover of Fat Joe and T.I. They also give an XXL rating to Common’s new album. Meanwhile the once great Source Magazine continues it’s attack on all things Interscope in a report on corporate manipulation in the Hip Hop game. Cover star is Interscope recording artist The Game but the article inside is an interview with a Black Wall Street affiliate who dishes the dirt on the recent beef with 50 Cent. Vibe asks the question, Why haven’t we learned anything from the murders of Biggie, Tupac and Jam Master Jay.

The ego is back...while a dream collabo gets in motion...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Kanye West returns to bless us with more of his backpack ballin with the eagerly awaited College Dropout follow up, The Late Registration. Alongside Jay-Z, Kanye premiered the first single Diamonds on New York radio station Hot 97 last week.

Inspired by his time on the Blueprint Lounge Tour of 2001 and being part of the Roc-A-Fella movement Diamonds includes his usual array of punch lines: ‘I realized that I arrived/ Because it takes more than a magazine to kill my vibe" and "All I need is y'all to pronounce my name/ It's Kanye, but some of my plaques, they still say 'Kayne.'.

Kanye told radio host Angie Martinez that he had mixed the CD about 14 times until he had felt perfectly comfortable with the end product. In interviews at the time of the College Dropout album being released Kanye spoke about being unhappy that he didn’t have the time to mix the record enough.

This is a big year for Kanye and there is a lot of pressure on him to better the College Dropout, an album self-described as a classic. It's certainly one of the best albums released in the last couple of years but many critics will be waiting for him to slip up and dent his arrogance. I’m sure this won’t be the case though and look forward to the release, which although not confirmed, looks like being the 12th July.

Meanwhile the wheels have got in motion for many Hip Hop fans dream collaboration, Ghostface and MF Doom. Already six tracks have been recorded but as yet it’s undecided as to whether Def Jam or MF Doom's indie label Nature Sounds will be the ones to release the project.

This month Hip Hop Connection magazine carries an interview with Devin Horwitz who reveals what many have been hoping is more than just an Internet rumour.

Scheduled for release by the end of the year it will be one of possibly three albums to be expected from Ghostface. One is tentatively titled Rappers Delight and will feature some MF Doom production; the other is a follow up to the classic Only Built 4 Cuban Linx with Raekwon.

Common - Album Preview

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, April 21, 2005

Common - Be
Geffen Music


1. Be
2. The Corner Featuring The Last Poets
3. Go
4. Faithful Featuring John Legend and Bilal
5. Testify
6. Love Is
7. Chi City
8. The Food
9. Real People
10. They Say Featuring Kanye West and John Legend
11. It’s Your World/Pop’s Reprise Featuring Bilal

Production: Kanye West (9 out of 11) & Jay Dee (2 out of 11)

One of the most hotly anticipated albums of 2005 drops May 23rd. Yes people, forget the hysteria over recent releases from The Game and 50 Cent, I’m talking about Common. One of the most blessed MC’s to grace the mic, the release of Be is his sixth album and the follow up to the mixed received Electric Circus.

Already being hailed as his best work, the album has received the top rating in XXL magazine and other full marks are sure to follow.
The first single already picking up radio and video rotation is The Corner, produced by Kanye West who handles 9 out of the 11 tracks. Speaking to he said that “Common’s album will go down in history” and that it fully deserves the early reviews “I’m telling you right now it’s five mics, five stars across the board.”

The inclusion of West can help attract the larger audience that his own success has brought and give Common the mainstream success he deserves.

The other two tracks are produced by Jay Dee who did a lot of work on Like Water For Chocolate and it’s a shame that he didn't have more of a share of the production on Be. Some may not be happy with only 11 tracks but too many albums these days let themselves down with too much filler. Here we have only 11 of the best cuts.

The album has already leaked on many sites so those that download it make sure you get the release copy as this album will take Common above the realms of being deemed underground and it will be refreshing to hear material of such substance gaining such success.

I for one can’t wait for the release and I’m sure this will feature heavily in everyone’s end of year top tens. As soon as the album is released I will have a full review for you.

BIG DVD Review...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, April 20, 2005
The mixtape DVD scene has been blowing up on the underground in the UK now for a minute. It’s a great way for artists to get recognition and let their fans get to know them, while at the same time promoting their music and continuing the growth of the scene.

In recent months it’s the Grime scene that has been churning out the DVDs from releases such as the Lord Of The Mics and Risky Roads series. But the latest release available focuses on UK Hip Hop.

BIG is the official UK Hip Hop music lifestyle DVD from MadDog Productions that features interviews and freestyles from the hottest acts that are making moves on the UK scene right now.

Everyone from Sway, Baby Blue and Kyza to the lesser known acts such as Arms Length, B-Sharp and The Execution Squad are on this DVD giving a nice snapshot of the developing scene we have here.

The DVD opens up with the man of the hour Sway who is joined by Biggs at The Max Power show checking out the rides and fooling around with the talent on display. Baby Blue let’s you know where she gets her kicks from and takes us on a tour of Deal Real Records store while Kyza drops knowledge inside a London takeaway!

Other artists featured include Blak Twang protégé K9, Street Politiks, Slim Dutty and many more who drop knowledge on how they started and lace the camera with a freestyle.

It’s not just the artists that get to shine though. Key players in the scene from Rewind editor Matt Mason to your favourite clothing shop Dark’n’Cold are featured. For those unaware of the two you’ll get an understanding of how they began and how they are supporting the scene develop.

Luke Biggins is a name you may not be familiar with but he is responsible for some of the freshest videos of the moment from Blak Twang to Estelle and he talks about how he got started, his company and future plans including his first feature film. Another outlet that is supporting the artists is The Lyrical Pad night down in Camden and the DVD includes a performance of Up Your Speed from Sway and Pyrelli on a recent night.

Releases like the BIG DVD are important for artists not signed to a major to get the attention of the people and get their message across. The DVD highlights the work that is going on independently on the scene and proving that you don’t need a major backing you to get on in this industry. If you put the grind in then you can move units and make a living like the featured artists.

The BIG team have put together a decent package and even throw in some Essex girls playing up to the camera for good measure! But seriously get to the independent stores to pick this one up as it’s a valuable and enjoyable two hours of UK artists repping the UK scene to the fullest.

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