it's the shiznit

news, reviews and banter on r'n'b, hiphop, garage, grime, bassline, soul, electro and house. standard.

Some new music...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, December 21, 2006
While everyone is in reflective mood I want to turn your attention to some new music around at the moment which may have escaped your attentions while buying those Take That CD's for your mum.

Everyones favourite cockney geezers The Mitchell Brothers are hard at work with their follow up to A Breath Of Fresh Attire. Solemate is in a similar vein lyrically to Alone With The TV but sounds very different production wise as it takes a bit of an indie tip. More tracks should be unveiled in the next few weeks for this much anticipated release. Their label mate Example has some good tracks floating also.

Ghostface may not be able to say his name right in a rhyme but Mark Ronson has come on strong in the latter half of 2006 with work for Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse amongst others. His new album is called Version and features a very nice head nodder of a remix to Lily's Smile track which may not yet make the final cut. God Put A Smile is in keeping with his very eclectic tastes.

Laura Vane is a young talent to keep an ear and eye out for next year as she is busy recording tracks for a long player. She has already supported Gnarls Barkley on their UK tour this year and looks set to make waves in '07. Her voice is all over MJ Cole's new track Firin Up which sounds in the 2-step mould but with a very soulful edge. I'd love to see the more danceable garage make moves next year in a similar way to how Funky House has this year and this would be one of the tunes that could do it.

Review of the Year - The Long Players...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, December 21, 2006
Spank Rock - yoyoyoyo
Ne-Yo - In My Own Words
Justin Timberlake – Future Sex/Love Sounds
Bugz In The Attic – In The Doghouse
Yungun & Mr Thing – Grown Man Business
Ty – Closer
JME - Derkhead/Tropical
Donnell Jones – Journey of a Gemini
Lupe Fiasco – Food & Liquor
Jay-Z – Kingdom Come
Akira The Don - When We Were Young
Slum Village – Fantastic Vol.1
Jay Dee – The Shining
Amp Fiddler – Afro Strut
The Roots - Game Theory
Rhymefest - Blue Collar
Skream - Skream
Wiley - 2nd Phaze
Strange Fruit Project - The Healing
Kidz In The Hall - School Was My Hustle
The Streets - The Hardest Way...

Review of the year - The State of Clubland...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, December 20, 2006
There was some hot debate in the clubhoppin section of Blues and Soul magazine recently where Mark Devlin brought up the subject of the state of club land and the increasing rise of pubs and clubs playing the same 20 tracks. It’s sad to read about it but the problem has been bubbling away for a while now.

Ultimately the real fans and DJ’s are losing out, as they have to contend with promoters and managers giving jobs to people who will happily play their Now That’s What I Call R’n’B CD and undercut the true DJ’s willing to play quality music. These scene follower DJ’s most likely were playing house music until black music became the choice of many of today’s youth. Anyone looking to get into the scene or are taking an outside look at it will think the black music world starts at 50 Cent and ends at the Pussycat Dolls.

The problem is more displayed in the regions outside the big cities where it’s harder for a dedicated R’n’B night to survive, although that doesn’t mean to say there aren’t any – but any flyer I see these days advertising R’n’B I immediately expect the depth to stretch as far as Destiny Child, with the Sugababes and Shakira thrown in. No lie. This attitude easily sways the casual punter who will not look outside of the same twenty artists.

The amount of times I’ve had to add a disclaimer to people when telling them I like R’n’B and Hip-Hop that my knowledge doesn’t stick at the commercial gloss you all know is untrue. The truth is that DJ’s need packed dance floors and clubbers want to hear what they know, which forces the DJ into admitting defeat and having to play those same tracks on the radio.

On a recent visit to an R’n’B club in Southampton straight after a recent Busta Rhymes hit the DJ played Wifey by Next, a guaranteed floor-filler yet the people next to me at the bar were heard saying that it was shit and wanted some Game played. This was a venue that is supposedly a haven for R’n’B, or it was when they launched it - in the last year they have played host to EZ, Trevor Nelson and Tim Westwood (ok scrub that last one). It seems the music knowledge only stretches the last three years since G-Unit music was everywhere but it just sums up that people aren’t willing to open to something they haven’t heard. If this is the sort of reaction to ‘Wifey’ then what hope is there for tunes like Omarion ‘Entourage’ to break through.

I like to think my music knowledge is up there with most and it was only a few years ago I would have had a choice of R’n’B clubs to go to - and it was a tough choice as all of them would play a great selection of records and even some cuts you were yet to hear. These would often make your night and be tomorrow’s hits. Time was you could hear a track go from start of the night warm-up to a peak time hit in the space of a few weeks, now if the tracks on the radio or MTV then just chuck it on and you know people will like. What chance does this give to the future ‘Wifey’ or ‘Peaches & Cream’?

One night in Southampton promotes itself as the best and longest running R’n’B night in the area yet on stepping through recently I heard nothing new or anything pre 2003 in the space of an hour as the club was going from busy to peak. Is this the clubbers reluctance to anything new, DJ’s not wanting to work for their money or pressure from promoters worried about people through the door and how many WKD’s are sold? On reading the comments from other DJ’s in Blues and Soul and from my own experience out clubbing it seems a combination of the three.

This year house music has come to the attentions of people again and there has been a shift in tendencies from a lot of people getting into the funky/soulful side of it, I myself have been popping to a few nights to broaden the mind - and because I’m actually tired of an R’n’B night. I’ll hear better R’n’B in my car than in a club at the minute which is something I thought I’d never say five/six years ago when all I wanted was for the dance prominent DJ to just throw a few cheeky R’n’B numbers in.

I’ve always felt like I have that music snobbery in me at times as I think a lot of passionate music fans have, but when you see the WKD/lager louts saying they love that new G-Unit or another recycled 2pac vocal it makes you laugh that you both love Hip-Hop – but are worlds apart. It’s going to take a lot to change the current trend, but I hope for the real music lovers sake that it does and ask that they keep supporting their local ‘quality’ music night before it turns into a happy hour drinks promo led R’n’B night.

On another note I saw DJ Greenpeace DJ last week at Orange Rooms, a local style bar hot on its retro vibe and host to plenty of quality music nights (Yungun, Numark and People Under The Stairs recently). Sadly after an excellent warm-up set of classic Hip-Hop and new UK stuff Greenpeace played mostly commercial hits like Justin Timberlake, Pussycat Dolls and that bloody Hips Don’t Lie Song. Yes it kept the girls on the floor but please know your clientele, you were booked for a place known for decent music and don’t need those Radio 1 hits to keep them there.

Review of the year - The Tracks...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, December 20, 2006
TI- Why You Wanna
Lily Allen – Smile
Ne-Yo – Sexy Love
Justin Timberlake – My Love
Wiley – Eskiboy
Skepta – Duppy
JME – 96 Bars
Sway – Products
Spank Rock – Sweet Talk
Aaron LaCrate – Blow
Fish Go Deep Feat. Tracy K – Cure & The Course
Nelly Furtado – Promiscuous
Christina Aguilera – Ain’t No Other Man
Sleepy Brown – Margarita
Yungun – Forget Me Not
Bugz In The Attic – Move Aside
Lupe Fiasco – Kick Push
Skream – Midnight Request Line
Omarion – Entourage
Donell Jones – Spend The Night
Cheri Dennis – I Love You
Chris Brown – Excuse Me Miss
Jay Dee & Common – MC2
Gnarls Barkley – Smiley Faces

Those M.I.A & Timbaland videos...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, December 20, 2006

It had to happen one day, the last beat on the second video is straight fire.

The It's The Shiznit Awards 2006...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, December 11, 2006
Welcome to the 2006 shiznit awards, a brief and often light look back at the years events. These are only my opinions and not to be taken too seriously, but do drop any thoughts in the comment boxes. I'll round-up the years in Grime, Hip-Hop & R'n'B later in the week with my top singles and albums of the year, plus some predictions for 2007.

Woman of the year (Like the GQ award but more street)...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, December 11, 2006

Lily Allen

Myspace success, potty mouth popstar, only famous because of her dad etc etc. There isn’t much that hasn’t been said about Lily Allen this year, we even saw the obligatory topless shot in the tabloids, but with her mix of influences she more than connects the trends and bits and pieces of 2006 together. Her album was dubbed the soundtrack of the summer but really deserves longer play and is a joy to watch live. She may not have the greatest singing voice but was a breath of fresh air in a mild year for music.

Man of the year (Like the GQ award but more street)...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, December 11, 2006


In a year where the music genre floundered, JME gave grime hope and someone to look up to with how he went about his business. From releasing four mixtapes to setting up his Boy Better Know label, entertaining via his blogs to selling t-shirts while all still getting his education on – 2006 is deservedly JME’s year. Although 2006 saw Sway release his first album a lot of his buzz was built up the previous year, JME may have taken inspiration from Little Derek but he has made the year his own and put other mc’s more focused on beef to shame. Proof to anyone looking at the genre from the outside that grime doesn’t have to just be aggressive.

The Clipse award for most delays to an album...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, December 11, 2006

The Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury
Dr.Dre - Detox (still waiting)
Busta Rhymes - Big Bang

The Kanye West ego award for the most egotistical moment of 2006...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, December 11, 2006

Kanye West at the European Music Awards
Kanye West at the grammys
Kanye West at any awards night

Most exciting sub-genre of the year...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, December 11, 2006

B-More Gutter Music

The Estelle & 3SL Worst Collaboration of the year...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, December 11, 2006

Mary J Blige & Bono – One Love

"Mary, this song is like, so life changing like when I helped Geldof with that charity thing in Hyde Park"

I’ve had better days award...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, December 11, 2006

Crazy Titch
Fat Joe
Nelly’s weed carrier who shit himself when tasered

Club night of the year...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, December 11, 2006
Yo Yo @ Notting Hill Arts Club
Dirty Canvas @ ICA
Get Down @ Bar Rumba
Switch @ Ministry

T-Shirt of the year...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, December 11, 2006
Boy Better Know
I Got It For Cheap
I’m a Big Man But I’m Not Thirty
Get Me Aftershock

Magazine of the year...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, December 11, 2006

Blues and Soul
Hip-Hop Connection

Blog of the year...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, December 11, 2006
Akira The Don

The who was more glad Jay-Z is their boss award...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, December 11, 2006


The flip-flops - he's just not the same...thugs don't do flip-flops," he added. "Yo, no matter how much vacation I'm on - we been to St. Thomas, Bahamas, all the little islands - I don't wear no flip-flops. I'm never that comfortable, not even in my own house,"

LL Cool J

Radio Show of the year...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, December 11, 2006
EZ Kiss
Greenpeace XFM
Target 1Xtra
Ronnie Herel 1Xtra
Logan Sama 1Xtra

The can’t believe they got so much hype this year award...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, December 11, 2006

Busta Rhymes
L Dot Man

The Lupe Fiasco biggest disappointment of the year award...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, December 11, 2006
Lupe Fiasco

Food & Liquor was a decent album but we all hoped for much more than we got, better luck next time.

The Beats time for one last drink award...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, December 11, 2006
The Mitchells Brothers
Mike Skinner
Professor Green

Craze of the year...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, December 11, 2006
Ghost Ride The Whip

Dance of the year...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, December 11, 2006
The Migraine Skank

Side hustle of the year...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, December 11, 2006

JME Transport
Wiley Publishing
50 Cent Water
E-40 Hyphy Juice

The Beats - Youtube Channel...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, December 07, 2006
The first episode is up now...

New Amerie...

Published by Warren Dell under on Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The lovely Amerie is back with a new album for 2007, but before that hits the stores she is getting her Hip-Hop grind on with a mixtape titled Because I Love It, which features the single Take Control. The video which you can see above as she plays a double-agent.

Jay-Z Special...

Published by Warren Dell under on Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Should Jay-Z have stayed behind his office desk?...

It seems apt that at a time when everyone is looking forward to christmas Jay-Z releases the comeback album that we always knew was coming since that 'retirement'. Like that feeling you get when you grow older, christmas is something you don't get too excited about any more and is all over with little fanfare. This is how I would describe Jay-Z's return disc Kingdom Come.

It's a shame really as everything starts off so well with the opener Oh My God and the single Show Me What You Got.

The title track really makes you think why Just Blaze hasn't received as much credit as his production deserves as he chops up to bits Rick James Superfreak for Jay to boast about being Hip-Hops saviour. It's a shame that the album tales off towards the end as he really had us believing it at the start.

The Dre produced 30 something answers the critics that say rap is a young persons game now over a nice head nodding beat that would work well on radio and as a club warm-up. But the highlights from there are few and far between.

The track Trouble will satisfy the Heat magazine readers out there as it half addresses the rumours he answered Rihanna's S.O.S - the housewife's will enjoy R'n'B flavoured Hollywood and their favourite pubehead Chris Martin on Beach Chair.

This album would be a decent effort if it was released by a Ja Rule or a Fat Joe. But this is Jay-Z we are talking about. We all knew that he was going to come back eventually but I get the feeling this album is more a reflection of someone stuck in 3rd gear and not quite ready yet to push on into 5th. For me Kingdom Come is on a par with The Black Album but doesn't touch The Blueprint.

This album was always going to be criticised by everyone for variety of reasons and its better that it's now been released and out there so the anticipation can stop. I would say it's a good bet that he won't be Def Jam president once his contract runs out at the end of the year and if we get another album, which I'm sure we will -it will be more like it from Jay-Z.

Jay-Z Lost Ones Video

Hip-Hop figures are the new action man, although I doubt action man will be quaking in his boots when he sees the Jay-Z doll...

When the crowd say bo, selecta...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, December 04, 2006

Back in those glorious summer days of 2000 I left school and the sound of UK garage was making a dent in the charts. We all know what happened as just a year on the whole So Solid saga put off labels from going anywhere near any style of garage. Until the darker sounds started to come through under the grime term I had been slacking on any danceable garage apart from being in some sh*it nightclub that would play a token Artful Dodger track. Now 2006 hasn't exactly been a vintage year for grime and dubstep keeps pushing on which I like, but I've started to listen to a lot of EZ on Kiss of late. I was half being ignorant and expecting a show filled with what you could term girly garage (remember Ladies First?) and being stuck in 2000-01. Full credit has to go to the artists and producers for still believing in the genre and not letting the aftermath of the Top 40 era stop them from putting out quality material. Could 2007 be a year that the more danceable garage comes back into prominence? Especially with the ever increasing popularity from urban music folk for Funky House. Some big tunes on the scene for me at the moment are the One Dark Martian remix of Crazy and MJ Cole's Firin Up. Mr Cole himself recently dropped into Lizard Lounge in my area for a delightful two hour set of four to the floor pressure and other goodness. When he dropped his biggest hits Crazy Love and Sincere it got me thinking (well the next day, not when I was throwing gunfinger) about some of those classic tracks from those glorious summer days..

It's The Shiznit's garage classics

Sweet Female Attitude - Flowers
Artful Dodger feat. Craig David - What You Gona Do
Sia - Little Man (Exeman remix)
Gerideu & Robbie Craig - Who's The Better Man
Dream Team – Buddy X
Lonyo – Summer Of Love
Danny J Lewis – Spend the Night
Roy Davis Junior - Gabriel
Wookie - Back Up, Back Up
DJ Dee Kline – I Don’t Smoke
Amar – Sometimes it snows in April
Amira – My Desire
With A Little Bit Of Luck - DJ Luck & MC Neat
Imagine - Shola Ama
Tell Me It's Real - K-Ci & Jojo
B-15 Project – Girls Like Us

Jamiroquai - High Times Singles 1992-2006...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, November 23, 2006

Whether it’s recording artist’s laziness or the label seeing pound signs in their eyes, the greatest hits package is all the rage this time of year. Thankfully there isn’t too many times where this sort of precedent happens with black music, but this particular set will go down well with the soul fraternity and those that like their music with a funky edge. Jay Kay may be more known now for punching photographers but beneath that tabloid persona is a blue eyed soul boy of epic proportions. On the High Times Singles 1992-2006 you get 17 classics and two new tracks that take in all the hits Jamiroquai have had, some you forget they even had. New material from recent years like Little L and Feels Just Like It Should still sound fresh, but it’s the older material like Canned Heat, Cosmic Girl and Alright that still do the job. And Virtual Insanity only makes you wish you could dance as well as Jay in that video.

First transport, now publishing...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, November 23, 2006

Jay-Z once rhymed 'I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man' and that mantra seems to be applied by the Boy Better Know group as they strive for more success outside of flogging mixtapes. Following on from JME Transport it seems Wiley appears to have taken a leave out of his book and expanded into the publishing game. Scientific and technical publishing to be exact. I'd never pin Wiley down as a science man but maybe he thought it was a better investment in the long run than Eskimo clothing? Who knows? And does this mean we can expect Skepta Business Consultants anytime soon?

Ty - Closer...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, November 23, 2006

If the mainstream media have their way then UK Hip-Hop will forever be stuck in its little pigeon hole. Thankfully artists like Ty push the boundaries and has gained love all around the world, without the much deserved support from stations like Radio 1. Being restricted to specialist outlets is something that doesn’t sit well with the man in a world where artists with bigger budgets behind a gangster promoting message are mainstays of daytime radio. Check any number of interviews he’s done of late and you’ll hear a man who is clearly frustrated with the circumstance, but thankfully it hasn’t stopped his creativity. For the first time Ty has a wealthy support cast of people down for the cause from De La Soul on Idea and the title track (the latter features just Maseo, albeit quietly) to Speech from Arrested Development on This Here Music. At first listening the album doesn’t suck you in like the Mercury Prize nominated 'Upwards' did, but it feels like he never went away after a few spins of the funky Sophisticated & Course and the bounce of Don’t Watch That. With his comments on the state of UK black music he may only be repeating what people have felt for years, but with albums of this quality one day some radio bigwig will listen and take note. People like Ty certainly deserve them to.

JME makes more moves...

Published by Warren Dell under on Tuesday, November 07, 2006

If Grime artists spent less time going on iron vacations and took a leaf out of JME's book, the scene would be in a much healthier state. Not content with his successful selling mixtape series, t-shirts, modelling for Cassette Playa and entertaining with his series of blogs and videos - he has now added an extra layer to brand JME. I saw one of his trucks this morning while driving to work and have to say the transport game may not seem to be close to any music ventures, but if Big Boi can breed dogs and Lloyd Banks can direct snuff movies, then JME can have a transport company. Literally big on road.

Delivering the right product to the right place at the right time

Gigs - Hip-Hop vs Indie...

Published by Warren Dell under on Tuesday, October 24, 2006
I love my Hip-Hop, Grime and R'n'B as much as the next man, but last week I went to see the Klaxons play as part of the Club NME tour with an Indie loving mate. It was a big eye opener for me compared to any Hip-Hop gigs I've been too, the two environments are worlds apart. To reflect this I've compared the two below with the following important catagories that define any night. So here goes...


For the price of getting into your average club I had three bands all put in performances of great length. If I'm going to a Hip-Hop gig you're easily looking at £25 to £30 for an American act and some sub-standard UK acts you've never heard of outside Channel U. LL Cool J at Brixton recently was £30 plus but I guess it's an unfair comparison - someone whose career spans 20 years while the acts at the Club NME tour were less than 20 months. Average price for a UK gig I would put at the £6/7 mark which is alright. But if you include the American acts and average the price then I'd say indie wins this one.

Winner -Indie


Like I've said before you rarely get many girls at any UK Hip-Hop gigs, there is an abundance of sweaty blokes in hoodies but little in the way of gash. However since a local fashionable bar started putting on gigs there has been an upsurge in female attendance. The Club NME night seemed to have a great door policy and meant the whole night was spent watching what was happening on stage with one eye and what was around us with the other.

Winner - Indie


Glowsticks should be taken out at every clubbing opportunity. The next Hip-Hop gig I'll be there with my b-boy moves and waving those flurescent sticks around like i'm in the Prodigy. Everyone was up for a good time and really apreciated the music. For people who love Hip-Hop so much when it comes to a gig there seems to be little emotion and people standing still. The fact that you can have people pushing and shoving around in excitement of a song without anyone getting rowdy at the indie night was a sight to be seen. So was being in my first mosh pit experience. My mate and more experienced man of the mosh said that it was a little on the tame side - despite the fact that he chipped his tooth and a girl got knocked onto the floor Friday style during one song. I thought it was going to be tears before bedtime but she jumped up, smiled and threw herself back in. Committment. Something quite sexy about that...erm...

Winner - Indie


There was no attitude or what you looking at I'll murk you at ten paces stares. If you bumped into anyone people were quick to apologise rather than start trouble. While at the bar people would just strike up random conversations with you and were all very friendly. When I saw Kano in Bournemouth a group of guys got over zealous and pushed a few of us, after pushing back they said they would all murk me outside. Still qued for my Subway though.

Winner - Indie


This one is difficult as apart from seeing The Ordinary Boys twice the Klaxons was the only other time I've been at an indie gig. All three groups were full of energy despite being the last night of the tour. On the other hand I've seen some great performances this year alone from Yungun, Sway, Kano, Klashnekoff and David Banner to name a few. This one's a tough call as I've seen plenty of US acts turn up and fart out a performance but as Indie seems to be trouncing Hip-Hop here I'm going to have to give them a helping hand and say Hip-Hop takes this one.

Winner - Hip-Hop


No ass grabbing/belt pulling/borderline raping from bouncers who make you feel like a criminal going on at the indie night. Although as threatening a weapon you could have found on anyone would have been a glowstick. All it took was a simple hello and name check on the guys clipboard (because of a mistake in sending out tickets, not cos we roll VIP) and we were in. Bouncers were clearly picked on at school and now they have size on their side they are determined to annoy everyone that passes through. At Hip-Hop gigs in London the treatment is disgusting, like being judged on entry. So many hoops to jump through.

Winner - Indie


Sad to say but my big indie night out just proved to me that Hip-Hop gigs on the whole are rubbish and a waste of money. It won't stop me from going but I'll be having a note of caution attached the next time I find out about a gig. The less big name American acts I see the better I feel about going to Hip-Hop gigs and if they could just incorporate a few things from what I experienced at the indie night then the nights would be a lot better on the whole. Still, De La Soul are playing in Southampton tomorrow and you know that will not disappoint. Review and pics to come.

New videos...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Justin Timberlake - My Love

Jay-Z - Show Me What You Got

The second Dirty Canvas at ICA night was on saturday, Hyperfrank has words and pics.

Fabolous got shot in the thigh.

Observer Article...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, October 16, 2006
Channel U was named as one of the outlets in which is used to promote violence in a report by the Observer into the gang warfare that is getting out of control in London. The story comes from a police report obtained which doesn't name Channel U, but police are said to be concerned at how it is glamorising the culture. Last year Channel U was fined £18,000 by Ofcom for 'repeated and sustained' breaches of 'sexually explicit material'. The director of Channel U goes on to defend the station and reveals that they don't show a lot of the videos that get sent which glorify guns, but with the internet and other outlets they are easily available. Police recently obtained footage from the Streets Incarcerated DVD which featured arguments with local officers.

Justin Timberlake - Future Sex/Love Sounds

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, October 12, 2006

I've had this album for a while now and it's had plenty of words written about it so I'll only drop a few and leave it at that. I remember when Timberlake brought Justified out and he received all the plaudits with his move from boy band heart throb to a fully fledged urban star. Backed by the Neptunes some of those tracks got rinsed on the regular so any follow up had to be something special. There was this whole competition with Usher played up by the media which was got a bit carried away, although after working on the bulk of Justified any Neptunes beats on Confessions were left on the studio cutting floor rather than the album. This time around Future Sex/Love Sounds is absent from the inclusion of any Neptunes input and is instead mainly Timbaland produced work - perhaps the Virginia duo will now feature heavily on the next Usher album?

Although Timbaland is world renowned for his work he really takes it up a notch and from the outset you wouldn't straight away lace the beat to his name. With Timberlake on his best Bowie impression the duo have tried to take the music to another place. Highlights inlcude the already heard many times Sexyback and the future single My Love - which quirky beats and sound effects make this very similar to another Timbo classic Are You That Somebody by Aayliyah. Will.I.Am produces a slab of funk in the shape of Damn Girl witch rolls along in a similar way as Amerie's 1 Thing.

It would have been very easy to just come out with another Justified so full credit goes to Timberlake and Timbaland taking another direction. The big difference is that while the first album was very confessional and a lot of personal cleansing, Future Sex/Love Sounds is a man clearly confident in his role as a heart throb and willing to play up to this, while at the same time creating a feel good party album.

Music TV is boring...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, October 11, 2006
It's said that people spend more time on the internet now than they do watching television. People would now rather log on to You Tube to check out the latest funny videos, mc battles and video promos. In the past people would have to rely on MTV to bring them their favourite artists latest promo but now they can just search for it and watch it as many times as they want. In fact now you don't even need to rely on MTV to get your fix. Especially as they only play like half an hour of music these days. Or Channel U for that matter. Have you tried to watch that stuff for 30 minutes? I just can't anymore, and the people at MTV Base are surprised they are losing viewers?

When I first got digital way back when I was in school uniform I loved just leaving it on and watching videos which you would never get on regular MTV. Unless your r'n'b persuasion was Another Level you would rarely see much r'n'b or hip-hop on the station. This was in at the turn of the millenium when the music wasn't so in the mainstream but now that it is the station seems content on playing the same ten videos every hour. Holidaying in America a few years back it was was the same situation out there on radio. If you made that ten you were guaranteed a hit only on account of people having the song drilled into them. Every hour seems to be the same so people started turning their attentions to Channel U. They may have then started playing some homegrown videos after this but unless you count their minority hour of underground music once a week late at night, the channel is getting worse.

Speaking of getting worse, Channel U has been slipping of late. It was a great alternative to the more mainstream videos Base were playing, even if you did have a few laughably poor 'guys from the ends and a dv camera' videos that seemed to be on all the time. It turned your attention away from MTV Base and were generally appreciative that UK acts and a lot of the less mainstream material was being shown. But now you would have to sit through too much weakness before you got any sort of quality. Who handles the quality control here? When you look at the grime and uk hip-hop scene you just don't with a few exceptions see any videos from the top players. Yungun had a video for the 'Forget Me Not' track and Akal for 'Shakespear' but these hardly saw light. I know one argument is that there aren't enough videos being made from the top players in the first place. Where are the videos from JME, Wiley and Kyza to name a few? Instead we have videos from waste mc's that surely get played because there is hardly a lot to fill the time. No wonder people are reaching You Tube as their video channel of choice.

Bits and Pieces...

Published by Warren Dell under on Tuesday, October 10, 2006
There's been so much going on since I last posted thanks to the dreaded man flu. Jay-Z was spitting on the Forward riddim while Dizzee is making Funky House. Just waiting on Wiley and The Arctic Monkeys any day now surely?

A new Hip-Hop magazine is going to be hitting the shelves soon, made up of fired staff members from The Source and Vibe.

Hip-Hop Weekly will be an enetertainment and celebrity lifestyle publication originally with input from ex Vibe editor Mimi Valdes and disgraced former Source owners Ray Benzino and Dave Mays. Now it appears Mimi has already jumped ship before the launch issue. Maybe she was sipping on too much Hypnotiq or whatever the fashionable Hip-Hop drink of choice is these days when she agreed to jump into bed with Interscopes enemies.

Whether a weekly Hip-Hop magazine will be able to stay fresh with content or whether they'll be recycling material in no time is a big question. There's no doubt the people behind it have experience but in recent times it's been experience of starting vendettas with people, how long until that starts again?

You may have already seen it on other sites but these guys take fancy dress to a whole new level.

This is how I often get to work, makes the commute interesting.

Akira The Don's latest mixtape sees him go over classic 90's Britpop.

JME is releasing editions 3 & 4 of his Boy Better Know series as a double pack.

LA based beat diggers People Under The Stairs dropped into Southampton last week in support of their latest acclaimed long player, Stepfather. Fellow Californians Giant Panda opend up the show with cuts from their warmly received debut Fly School Reunion. Although unknown to most in the crowd there were a few heads in attendence who knew them from their PUTS connection and were enjoying their 30 minute set. Those that didn't know were soon joining in with the spirit of Superfly and Diggin and were snapping up the album afterwards appreciate more of their uptempo and soulful LA sounds.

With just enough time to grab another brew Double K and Thes One popped up to join the party. Although by looking at Double K he looked like he'd just woken up, it didn't affect him though as the two reeled off new hits Pass The 40 and Tuxedo Rap alongside old favourites Jappy Jap and the last song of the night Hang Loose.

For £9 this was a bargain to hear more than an hours worth of intricate rhymes, laid back humour and a treasure chests worth of soulful samples and b-boy beats.

Sadly no pictures available for posting as one had a little too much to drink and the pictures were absolute waste.

Yungun & Mr Thing - Grown Man Business...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, September 28, 2006

Fed on a diet of soul, motown and rare groove, Mr Thing and Yungun have combined to create one of the UK Hip-Hop scenes most mature and original long players.

Grown Man Business is 11 tracks of Yungun's most mature and introspective work, combined with Mr Thing taking you back with a soundtrack dripped in retro soul.

That's not to say these two live in the past as they combine their present day style with a heavy nod to their musical influences.

The catalyst for the album were the tapes Mr Thing would put together covering 70's funk and soul, motown and rare groove which would be the soundtrack to their journeys to gigs in what Yungun dubbed the 'thingmobile'. Speaking in the latest Hip-Hop Connection magazine Yungun revealed that pretty much the whole album was conceived from those journeys to save on studio time.

The intro is a bit strange with scratches of American mc's lyrics over a classical sample, when it would have perhaps been better suited with some classic UK lines. The real intro is G.N.B (Just Like That) which drum beat rattles along with a chanting sample flowing all the way through as Yungun lays down the law.

The albums single Forget Me Not really deserved to be blowing up mainstream radio with it's soulful instrumental and chilled out lyrics. The more I listen to the track the more I feel like I'm listening to an Avalanches tune.

The album is quite short at 11 tracks with guests in the form of Devise & Doc Brown on the violin led This Is Who We Be and Lowkey and Stylah drop by on the remix to Spit Fire, which was originally on the Essence album.

Although quite a short album there is still plenty to sink your teeth into and the rich blend of soulful beats make this a pleasant listen, although you feel as nice as it is to see Yungun show more of a mature side you just yearn for a few more uplifting party tracks. This isn't to put himself or the albums concept down at all but it definitely makes you want the proper solo album from Yungun to be coming soon.

Record bosses want to be tax dodgers...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, September 28, 2006
In a move which could improve the music industry when it comes to finding new talent, record label bosses are to lobby the government to create a tax credit scheme that will enable them to invest more money in their search for the next big thing.

Similar schemes have been in place for years for encouraging research and development for a range of industries including pharmaceuticals, computing and car manufacturing in Britain.

The BPI, which represents hundreds of record labels claim the record industry spends the same as the aforementioned fields on their A&R endeavours, about £200 million - 17 per cent of their turnover.

The BPI paid £300 million in VAT last year, a chunk of which would be eaten into if this relief would be given. BPI chairmen Peter Jamieson said "Such a system would create incentives for greater investment in our industry and would put the development of British intellectual property on the same footing as other industries."

It would certainly help unsigned talent in this country and certainly in the area of black music, where we lag far behind in the amount of money and time invested into looking for new talent. Instead major labels would rather go for the quick buck and concentrate on releasing an American acts music.

We certainly have the talent in this scene but how many times have we heard down the years that an artist gets dumped soon after signing if a single doesn't perform well. New acts have to rely on trying to get a single deal, when labels should put the time into the long-term.

They should only have to look at the successes of Dizzee Rascal, The Streets and Lemar to name a few, that our artists are worth investing in.

Independents have a better ear to the ground and are more willing to hunt for the talent, but they need help too with limited funds available. It might not change things over night as we need more people that understand the scene to be behind the desks at the major labels, but with extra funds maybe they'll be willing to make it work.

Although not a sure fire way for success it would be good to see major labels invest in the smaller independents, utilizing each others talents. The independents like 679 and XL Recordings have plenty of talent on their roster and would be left to carry on with their formula for working, but with a major labels promotion and marketing behind them it can be beneficial for both parties.

R'n'B and Hip-Hop has never been so popular in this country with many acts flooding the charts, but with a change in perception from record label bosses it would be nice to see more done so we see artists from our shores making these moves. The next Lemar or Dizzee is certainly out there, the record labels just need to wake up and see it.

The Clipse in album push back shock...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, September 28, 2006

This is hardly surprising, whenever we get near the release date of the Clipse second album, it gets pushed back. The latest release date was going to be on Halloween but now it's been pushed back to December. No word as to why but when the Halloween date was put forward Clipse were happily saying how they had re-recorded the album from scratch. Are they now happy with the results or are the label not so sure? It's been four years since Lord Willin dropped and about two since a second album was muted. I suddenly get the feeling we will never actually see this album and that it is actually a myth. The Clipse really don't exist any more as a recording duo. They now spend their days carrying round Pharrell's Bapestas.

Bugz In The Attic - Live @ Orange Rooms...

Published by Warren Dell under on Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I continued my gigging experiences Sunday night and found myself back at the delights of Orange Rooms to see Bugz In The Attic do their thing.

This was their first night of a short tour to promote the summer released Back In The Dog House album and with live band in tow was high on promise, and more than delivered.

With the exception of say Basement Jaxx and The Chemical Brothers a lot of dance acts prefer to stay in the studio and knock out singles and remixes for others.

For ten years Bugz have been doing this but they were always going to be different to your average dance collective, with so much going on in their album songs and a blend of funk, soul and dance the live experience was always going to be something spectacular.

Each of the band members were switching instruments between songs and were flowing with energy, whether that was hyping the crowd or throwing some eye catching dance moves. At one point one of the band members took to the floor with his tambourine to shake it with crowd, which in turn started an impromptu dance cipher.

But the standout was the singer Yolanda whose smile lit up the venue and when she started to sing it had me hanging onto every word. The girl has some moves as well.
The long-standing single Booty La La received the biggest cheer while Don’t Stop The Music and Happy Days were well received.

Their album is one of my personal faves this year and I’m sure will be in my end of year lists, after tonight it will be hard not to include their live show also.

Grown man business live...

Published by Warren Dell under on Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Living in Southampton you don’t get an abundance of Hip-Hop gigs. But around September when the last of the summer nights disappear and the students flock to the city, we get a couple of months where gigs happen and then little or nothing for the rest of the year. This looks like changing now though as the trendy Orange Rooms bar has overseen a refurb and an extension, which now enables them to put on an array of live nights.

One of the first was the launch party gig for Mr Thing and Yungun’s collaborative effort Grown Man Business. The album has gone down well with critics ands fans alike and plenty of the packed capacity were showing appreciation and rapping along with the material.

After Mr Thing dropped an array of Hip-Hop bangers Yungun came into his own and proved why he is one of your more favourite emcees. Tracks like Push and Dancing Shoes are guaranteed to put life into any party and had people throwing their best b-boy stance and Soccer am moves. The majority of tracks from Grown Man Business were giving an airing here with G.M.B (Just Like That) and the lead single, the summery soulful Forget Me Not were standouts for me.

Their was plenty of mutual appreciation from Yungun and Mr Thing after their long awaited appearances in Southampton, hopefully it won’t be too long until they are back in one form or another. With plenty of acts planned for Orange Rooms and Southampton the next few months, Hip-Hop heads down here are being spoilt for choice. In fact in a couple of weeks people we’ll be faced with the dilemma of whether they go see Sway at Nexus, or De La Soul at the Guildhall.

Amp Fiddler - Afro Strut...

Published by Warren Dell under on Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Known for being a part of George Clinton’s Parliament and Funkadelic groups while credited with introducing J Dilla to the drum machine, Amp Fiddler is drenched in soul. His widely anticipated second album Afro Strut picks up where Waltz Of A Ghetto Fly left taking us on a journey of nu-jazz, soul and funk that just might fracture your nose. You don’t expect the ordinary with Amp and his experimental fusion of music blended with untouchable vocals is very much welcomed after a two-year hiatus. This guys oozes class and confidence and doesn’t dilute his music for anyone, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

With that trademark drum beat rattling along you can tell the track Faith had Raphael Saadiq involved. Sharing production duties this serves as the albums opener and is almost the best cut overall with it’s chilled out feel.

Our very own Mpho Skeef assists on backing vocals of Right Where You Are as he declares his commitment to be right by his girls’ side. This is the first release and also has some excellent remixes for the house persuasion in you from Tom Middleton.

Ridin was recorded on this side of the pond and is the most up-tempo track on the album. It has an old school vibe to it that wouldn’t look out of place at an 80’s night, yet is still sounding so relevant today. We need more of this quality on the radio. That pretty much goes for the whole album as Amp has carried on where he left off after Waltz Of A ghetto Fly. He is currently on these shores touring and suggest you try and catch at the earliest opportunity. This guy is the real deal.

Wiley makes big boy moves to Big Dada...

Published by Warren Dell under on Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Congrats go to Wiley who has signed for the respected Big Dada label. After going with Boy Better Know for the 2nd Phaze and Tunnel Vision series, he'll now have the backing of label who have had success with Ty, Roots Manuva and recently Spank Rock.

Big Dada are quite a diverse label and are perfect for Wiley to get his music over to a wider audience while still having complete control. Something he was pleased to say on the labels site.

"I think it's good because all my life I've been looking for a creative control, to make an album that I'll enjoy listening to and performing... a grime album that I really want to make!"

It will be interesting to see if any collaborations with other artists on the Big Dada roster happen. I personally would love to see a Spank Rock and Wiley collabo.

Book review...

Published by Warren Dell under on Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Freakonomics by Steven D.Levitt & Stephen J.Dubner

Onto another book review that strays out of the music genre, but we can't be living that ghetto lifestyle 24/7 you know. Sometimes you have to step away and be entertained by other means.

While economics may analyse how individuals and societies seek to satisfy their needs and wants, Freakonomics takes a simpler view of things to get people into an economist’s way of thinking.

The subjects chosen at first may seem pretty random, but on reading one chapter you'll begin to understand the similarities between a member of the Ku-Klux Klan and an estate agent.

At first that may seem such a strange comparison to make but the way the authors break down their case you quickly understand each other’s common goal.

The reason behind having what would seem to be two different cases compared is to get people to become economists in their own right. By asking the right questions many of life’s everyday mysteries don't need to be so mysterious.

The subject of economics isn’t one that immediately strikes people as being very glamorous or sexy. It gets the least recognition when it comes to handing out the Nobel Prize in that field but the theories put forward by the economist Steven D.Levitt and his research will change the notion that economics is only about finance.

The chapter on “Why do drug dealers live with their mums?” is an intricate breakdown of the drug selling hierarchy that is no different to the corporate model of a company like McDonalds. Where people at the top make substantial wealthy gains while the foot soldiers carry all the risk for little pay.

Freakonomics is a book that should be read by anyone who wants to further their thinking of everyday issues. By thinking outside the box and taking a different approach to matter, like putting the fall in crime in America down to not an improvement in policing but abortion being made legal - Steven D.Levitt manages to make statements that on the face of it seem outrageous but when you think about it, make a lot of sense.

Has Beyonce turned Jay-Z soft?...

Published by Warren Dell under on Sunday, September 17, 2006
It’s been two years since Jay-Z took over the hot seat as el presidente of Def Jam and in that time he has managed to turn the label into a haven for R'n'B music. For a label that at one time was putting out albums by The Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and Run-DMC, their release schedule in recent times now includes Tearri Mari, Rihanna and Ne-Yo.

The label has always had a soft spot for R’n’B with Def Soul putting out records by Sisqo, Montell Jordan and Kelly Price to name a few. Now the label is giving the indication that they are looking for the next Mario, rather than LL Cool J.

Since falling for Beyonce in 2003 Jay painted a picture of a man who was happy playing the background and letting the missus shine. He didn't long to make records and had had enough of the rap game. It was now time for other avenues to take up his time and when the Def Jam position was announced, despite having limited experience with running Roc-a-Fella (a roster full of weed carriers) it was hoped he could bring back Def Jam as the 'in' label, back to its previous glory.

Their focus on rap music hasn't been top notch since his appointment and many of the labels roster have let their discontent known with DMX and allegedly Ludacris all airing their feelings on wax. DMX seems to think Mrs Jay-Z has something to do with it, which may explain his recent flip-flop fetish. "...He’s just not the same," DMX complains in Vibe magazine. "It's Beyoncé. He's a sucker for love. Thugs don't do flip-flops. Yo, no matter how much vacation I'm on - we been to St. Thomas, Bahamas, all the little islands - I don't wear no flip-flops. I'm never that comfortable, not even in my own house."

Has this softening up resulted in a change of output by the record label? Or is he worried that he may sign that someone who could take away his legacy. Although Ghostface would like to refrain from a Kobe Byrant filling Michael Jordan's shoes comparison, he was talked about filling that void and getting the commercial success he deserved, but his album ended up no better than his previous sales wise.

Now off the label after 22 years there LL Cool J recently added that his the focus on other artists may not be 100%, as Jay embarks on another tour ahead of his return.

“I think Def Jam needs to be a better promoter of Hip-Hop” speaking at the VMA’s “…I think Jay-Z does a very good job… of promoting Jay-Z.”

The talent on the label and promotional work was always in need of a shake-up, with a lot of artists no longer the draw they once were, but only sub-standard rappers have been brought in so far. Def Jam's biggest money earners have been Rihanna and Ne-Yo of late. Not to knock those talents but they aren't exactly what you envision when you look at those iconic record sleeves.

Jay-Z looks set to release Show Me What You Got as his first single from his out of retirement surprise comeback album. Either the director of the film classic Friday F Gary Gray or Hype Williams will shoot the video, which will be from the album Kingdom Come. With his mission to turn Def jam into the an R'n'B paradise it will be interesting to see what sort of direction he goes in with the album, which will feature production from Kanye West, Timbaland and The Neptunes. Pube head lead singer of Coldplay Chris Martin is set to feature on one of the songs. Already it seems this could be as disappointing as the Black Album.

If he doesn't come hard with a classic set then it will be a crushing blow to Def Jam and the man himself. Hip-Hop may not be in such a great state depending on what you read but it's debatable whether we need another album from Jay. We knew all along he would return but if he comes out and delivers another Black Album or Blueprint 2, then it looks like it's back to being Beyonce's bag handler. Lets hope Beyonce hasn’t got those Roc-A-Wear trousers on just yet…

Like that fat kid in the playground...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, September 14, 2006
...a lot of digs are being thrown at Wiley right now. I seem to have lost count of the amount of emcees who've gone at him now. Whether they have been around for a minute or are just new in the game it seems going at him is one of the credentials if you want to be a grime artist. Currently Ghetto, Scorcher, Mercston, Wretch 32 and Devline are acting the school bully, to add to Fire Camp and pretty much 80% of grime emcees in the past. It's a backhanded compliment to his standing in the scene and while he has thrown lines back at them all in a couple of tunes he's kept focused by working on Tunnel Vision Volumes 1-4. Notice how JME and Skepta have stayed out of it as they prepare more material. If more emcees showed this focus and stayed out of throwing time wasting pot shots the scene would be in a much better state right now.

I don't really see how going at Wiley will make a name for yourself when nine times out of ten he's going to come back and pick you off with little effort. Hip-Hop has always had its fair share of beef but artists already have albums out, or at least it's to gain publicity leading up to an album release. Going at each other on Lord of the Mics and such is healthy competition, but I for one am finding this going at Wiley act tiresome. They say there is no money in grime, but if they spend more time beefing then there's even less chance of making some pounds and alienating any avenues to get it from venues not wanting to touch holding a grime night.

Speaking of that boy named William, Tunnel Vision volume 1 is now out from UK Record Shop and to preview on his murdochspace. Logan Sama did a free mixtape for Major FM messageboard users which is a quick fire shot of the scene and in the final bit of retail news another batch of Boy Better Know t-shirts are now out again. A must look for the autumn.

J Dilla - The Shining...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, September 14, 2006
J Dilla blessed the Hip-Hop and Soul world with some of its finest cuts down the years with his close knit circulated beat CD’s being christened ‘treats’ by Questlove of The Roots. The Shining was made before his untimely passing and is one last treat before he went to that cipher in the sky. His music always oozed soul and a feeling which is missing in so much music these days and despite being a short 12 tracks, it’s justifiably one of the albums of the year with its heavyweight cast of Common, Black Thought, Dwele, Madlib and Busta Rhymes. Even D’Angelo makes a long awaited appearance!

One of the standouts is the song Love featuring a much welcome return for Pharoah Monch. It’s been seven years since Pharoahe released an album and if J Dilla can make him sound like this then we have one hell of an album on the way. Bringing that feel good factor back to the music it celebrates Love without being corny, it’s strictly real talk over a beat that leaves you with the feeling of Motown.

A lesson in in the art of emceeing is E=MC2. A hard hitting bounce of a beat combined with Common's on point flow. How those that could ever have doubted Common’s mic ability when he made ‘Electric Circus’ I don’t know. He fired back last year with ‘Be’ and continues his hunger with a lyrical assault over a hard-hitting funk beat with Dilla inserting a rousing chorus. Strictly heavyweight stuff.

Loving Movin is a head nodding jam and the most experimental of the albums 12 tracks with the vibe dripped in the feel of a late night cabaret bar. J Dilla provides the feet tapping backing to Black Thoughts gusto for a rhyme, coupled with shout outs to your favourite emcees. Other highlights see two artists who Jaydee was responsible for producing their most standout albums, Common and D'Angleo combine on the laidback So far To Go and Jungle Love featruing newcomer Guilty Simpson is one to test your speakers with its heavyweight drumbeat.

He may have passed to make beats in the sky, but Jaydee will never be forgotten.

The video gets taken to task...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, September 13, 2006

After pushing the grounds of journalism with my first video analysis, it's time for a second and it's the Diddy himself that makes a return to our screens. The video is for Come To Me and features the lovely Nicole whatshername from the Pussy Cat Dolls. The one that does all the signing and is featured on just about everyone's songs at the moment. She's appearing on so many at the right now even I'm thinking of getting her on a track. I don't even sing or rap but do a mean R Kelly 'whoo' and could do that in the background while she prances around.

The video opens the morning after the night before with what must be a typical night in the Diddy household with a couple of woman passed out from the Hypnotic, or maybe that Unforgivable aftershave he's now flogging. Some other girl appears and answers the phone and and answers that 'he'll be there'. Maybe it's another court date to attend for Black Rob or even Aubrey from Making The Band on the line.

Instead it turns out they are going clubbing and Diddy rolls in to make his grand entrance complete with Paul Wall grills. Now Diddy has the style and swagger when he has the suit look but looks like he's trying too hard when he has a baggy white tee on, the same applies with the grills. But this isn't ghetto vogue so back to the video.

Nicole makes her first appearance sat down singing her verse, really it should be her song as Diddy doesn't really say much. We then get treated to the first of Diddy's comical dance steps. You know when you're at a family gathering and all of a sudden the older members of the family have to take to the dance floor. It's something along the lines of that spectacle. For someone that danced in videos before his Uptown days he really should know better.

The whole song is about Nicole wanting some smuck to make a move but being too shy, it seems she had this problem in the Buttons video. What is it with these shy guys? Go Diana King. Diddy eventually tracks her down and we get some dodgy matrix looking video effect before he finally gets a hold of her, and he tries to impress her with the grandad moves again. It actually works. But don't be fooled that this will get you any dollsnatch in a club, unless you're worth the millions those moves need to stay on VH1.

Technically this video is no different than any other and sticks to the same hit the club then get the girl routine. But ample screen time for Nicole makes this one worthwhile watching, as long as you contain your embarrassment over those dance moves.

Myspace > Weed Carriers...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Being part of a rappers entourage can be a great thing, you get off the streets and are introduced to a world you would probably never see, hang out in clubs full of models who would never have dreamt of going near you, and in the case of Tony Yayo - release an album despite having no talent. All this in exchange for being able to tend to your guys needs and occasionally take the rap for things that go wrong. Known as the job of the weed carrier this role has gone to new heights with its official recognition. But although things may seem all rosy for the weed carrier, there is something out there that is threatening to put them out of a job. Not some jealous hood rat that wants their spot in the entourage but something that has become a bit of a phenomenon in the last year.

Myspace may be able to break an unsigned musician but it could pose a serious threat to credentials of the weed carrier. Now we know the majority of the rappers around don’t edit their own pages, instead it is someone else’s job to add you when someone wants to be that rappers friend. It may spoil the illusion but I just can't see Cam'ron pondering whether to add DipsetAdam as his friend when the latest catalogue carrying pink wear from Luis Vuitton is out. So does this responsibility fall to the weed carrier now? Before their job was just about polishing their employers ego and rolling the weed, now due to the demands of having an online presence, weed carriers are expected to know their Apple Macs from their Mac – 10s. As well as keeping their rolling game tight they now have to worry about a backlog of friend requests.

Maybe this is why Diddy employed Farnsworth as his weed carrier rather than Black Rob? Can Busta Rhymes really expect Spliff Star to filter out the Stans? Is Lloyd Banks responsible enough to make sure Fiddy has more friends than The Game? I can see this issue being as important as boasting about how much bling you've got as the importance of the internet and in particular myspace has on any musicians career. That Tom fella may seem all friendly being your first friend and all, but he could be responsible for putting weed killers out of a job. Soon rappers at the top of the food chain will have to start looking to recruit smart college graduates with a tendency for some Mary Jane when they look to filling the spots on their entourage.

Bugz In The Attic - Back In The Doghouse...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, August 31, 2006
After years of remixing other peoples tunes the 9 man group known as Bugz In The Attic finally get round to releasing their own long player, with ten years of making those funky dance numbers behind them. Back in 2004 we were laced with one of the songs of the year in Booty La La, featuring the lovely talents of Mpho Skeef, so we knew they had it in them to make their own songs.

This album may be deep in numbers at 18 tracks long, but with 9 people all fighting over the boards it was hardly going to be a short affair. Each of the guys may have their own different styles but rather than seeing a load of different tracks that give it a compilation feel, the various styles have been thrown in a blender to create the cohesion of a well rounded, funked out album.

As a bonus Booty La La is included but this wouldn't make the cut as one of the best five tracks, a testament to their creative talents. What would be the top five in my opinion are the spaced out funk of Knocks Me Off My Feet which reminds you off those perfect summer days. Don't Stop the music, I'm Gonna Letcha and Consequence are perfect floor fillers while the single Move Aside is a homage to the Rich Harrison go go beat produced 1 Thing.

Most dance producers or collectives go for years and years and never release an album, content with remix commissions and the odd single. Bugz In The Attic may not get the attention of Basement Jaxx with having only one album out so far, but Back In The Doghouse has, like those Brixton dance stars plenty of singles in vault to step away from remixers to fully fledged success.

Grassing up one, stop snitching nil...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, August 30, 2006
So it looks like the arrest of Busta Rhymes at Amsterjam was merely a chance for the NY police to grill him over the stabbing of his weed carrier earlier this year.

A Police source said "I don't know if this is normally something he would even be arrested for, but his bouncer was killed and he didn't want to cooperate”.

Not normally being arrested for assaulting someone doesn’t exactly show the police in good light when it comes to protecting New Yorkers, but Busta must have known the day would come where he would have to answer to the blue suits.

This whole ‘Stop Snitching’ stance has taken on trend setting proportions like the trucker cap, white tee and the saying ‘no homo’. Yet this new trend hardly has the subtlety of those last three.

Every time someone passes to the cipher in the sky through murder, fellow artists are quick to slam the police for their slackness. In the case of Biggie and Tupac they’re not wrong. But they’re hardly doing themselves favours by keeping to this universally accepted pact of keeping schtum.

After Busta’s weed carrier Israel Ramirez was shot he paid for his funeral and spoke about how close he was to him, yet will not talk. Is this because of the incompetent police or the knowledge that by snitching he will be next in line? Honestly, you would say yes to both, but surely it’s time for this ‘stop snitching’ thing to stop.

Stop Snitching gained its notoriety from a Baltimore based DVD that showcased drug dealers threatening anyone who turned them in with violence. Why not just keep away from the cameras? This then spread to t-shirts being made up that gained more popularity and in turn was taken upon rappers as the code to live by.

If you glance on the voice of reason Questlove’s Myspace page you see his quote as being ‘start snitching’. Now when I was at school you took the detention for possession of reading (looking?) at that lad mag in class, rather than grass up and lay pray to a playtime beat down. But playground rules don’t apply in the rap world. Even if it seems child’s play seems so appropriate for some of the rival crew beefing. So from now on I’ll be highlighting artists who get caught out against this ‘Stop Snitching’ mantra. Starting with Busta, it won’t be long till the next one pops by.

Start snitching…

Phuturehype Female Rapping/MC Comp 2006...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, August 28, 2006
The five finalists: Lexus, Lioness, Vdoublee, Oracle, Rdotc

Phuturehype have announced the date for the 2006 Female Rapping/MC Competition. The event is now in its third year and will take place on the 7th October at the Oh House in Bethnal Green, East London. In the lead up to the competition the 5 finalists have recorded a track ‘Phuture Journey’ produced by up and coming female producer CockTailMixer. The haunting boom-bap driven track sees emcees RdotC, VdoubleE, Lexus, Oracle and Lioness showcase their hunger and drive with their retrospective prose. Although they will be doing battle at the beginning of October the girls fit perfectly together on this female posse cut to make a complete song, rather than just try and out do each other with their bars. To hear the song for yourself you need to check out where you’ll also get to see the forthcoming video.

My first mixtape...

Published by Warren Dell under on Sunday, August 27, 2006

Reach for the download soon...

Yeah Kfed, it's your b'day, get your groove on...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, August 24, 2006

Once you've picked yourself up off of the floor check these out

Martin Clarks monthly Pitchfork column debates Funky House v Grime

An interview with the co-founder of Okayplayer who isn't called Questlove

Atlantic Records A&R and XXL blogger DJ Sickamore breaks down how to get you demo heard

Still on the blog game plenty of artists have been dabbing their hand of late to give fans a little more incite. Mike Skinners myspace blog is full of the usual male antics and banter you would expect, including a day in the life of his The Beats label - where the toilet doubles up as the recording booth. Ryan Leslie is well known as breaking Cassie through (not in) but he is an artist in his own right and after his record label didn't put out his album he went started his Next Selection video blog, expect more of Cassie and Ryan going about his daily chores. Akira The Don's blog has been mentioned here before but is worth another and man of the moment Lupe Fiasco talks about anything from what he is currently doing to rare Japanese toys.

The life of Diddy...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ever wondered what a day in the life of a multi-millionaire and the richest man in Hip-Hop is like? Well now your dream has come true as Diddy lets us into his world on Myspace for a set of video segments that lead to his October release of Press Play.

Whether you like the guy or not you can't knock his entertainment value as witneessed on his cutting of hopefuls on Making The Band 3 or his turn presenting the MTV Music Awards last year. If you Stans out there wanted to know what Diddy's pee sounded like or what he ate for breakfast then this is for you. Check out what he describes as his perfect wake-up breakfast while discussing what must be an everyday problem in the Diddy household - morning breath.

See the guy may make millions but he really is just like you and me, even having one of those days in the office.

The reality of all reality shows...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, August 24, 2006

Reality TV shows are full of people wanting their 15 minutes of fame and the ones filled with celebrities are usually their last chance to grab the publics interest. But occassionaly you get to witness TV gold and BET have done what some TV company should have done along time ago. DMX: Soul Of The Man may never reach the UK but one needs to track footage down anyway they can.

We already know how explosive the guy is from his continual time in the press without any music being reviewed. Whether it's the constant arrests for reckless driving or the jail term for pretending to be an FBI officer, you know you're in for an entertaining ride.

Of the clips I've seen on Youtube and the reviews I've read viewers get to see DMX in the days leading up to his iron vacation, getting called Ja Rule by a 12 year old girl out in Arizona and the last family meal before the sentence. The clip above sees DMX trying Swizz Beats patience by being late for studio time while he checked out the fresh donuts and amazed at bazooka gum in a convenience store, "You get a joke and a piece of gum". Gold, wish we could get BET over here.

But let it be known, he'll eff a midget up.

The best of months...

Published by Warren Dell under on Tuesday, August 22, 2006
For model turned singer Cassie. First the internet goes wild with speculation that her lyrics to Me & U may not be as innocent as one seems. Then in what can only be described as amateur we get to see the unreleased video for the aforementioned single where Cassie does her best Paris Hilton. Just when you think the month couldn't get any better a cringe worthy live performance causes more internet heckling and causes the Diddy to take time out of his publicity for his new album to address her live wobbles. Is she the 2006 Lumidee? But clearly a lot better looking. Cleary...

MOBO nominations...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, August 21, 2006
Once again it's time for the MOBO nominations and every year begs the question whether they know what they're doing. Blues & Soul scribe Bigger is perhaps the most outspoken on the subject each year and I'm looking forward to reading what he thinks about this years list. Again there is enough ammo to be critical. Below is the nominations with my opinions underneath. At least they are finally going to show the awards live, but whether it will be worth watching is another story.

Best Group: Black Eyed Peas, Gnarls Barkley, OutKast, The Streets, Pussycat Dolls

BEP are more pop than anything these days and as much as I like Outkast they are only just about to release an album this month.

Best UK Female: Alesha Dixon, Beverley Knight, Corinne Bailey Rae, Jamelia, Keisha White

Jamelia has been changing nappys all year and Beverley Knight released a pop sounding album. Alesha Dixon has only just started her solo career and yet there is no place for Terri Walker.

Best International Female: Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Mary J Blige, Janet Jackson, Nelly Furtado

Nelly Furtado > Keyshia Cole? This one's Mary's but it does make you wonder what sort of criteria you have to match to get nominated.

Best UK Male: Kano, Lemar, Nate James, Plan B, Sway

This will be between Sway or Lemar but again Lemar's album is released just before the awards night. I'm sure Nate was nominated last year when he actually released an album.

Best International Male: Chris Brown,Jay-Z, Kanye West, Ne Yo, Pharrell Williams

Ok so we always knew he would make a return but has anyone seen Jay-Z release an album since 2003? Please let me know if he has so I can buy it.

Best UK Newcomer: Corinne Bailey Rae, Fundamental 03, Lady Sovereign, Plan B, Sound Bwoy Ent.

When I was trying to find these nominations I stumbled on the Wikipedia entry and it said that Choong Family were meant to be on this list but were pulled due to pressure from Def Jam who wanted Lady Sovereign on the list. A bit harsh if true but not all that surprising due to MOBO's credibiltiy these days. At least Choong Family have released more material than SoundBwoy Entertainment.

Best Song: Beyonce feat. Jay-Z - 'Déjà vu', Corinne Bailey Rae - 'Put Your Records On, 'Gnarls Barkley - 'Crazy', Mary J Blige - 'Be Without You, 'Ne Yo - 'So Sick'

Not exactly the best songs in the last year now. Too due the killing of the song that radio gave to it, I'd say Crazy pretty much has this one rapped up.

Best Video: Beyonce feat. Jay-Z - 'Déjà vu. 'Busta Rhymes - 'Touch It (remix)', Chris Brown - 'Run It', Kano - 'Brown Eyes', Roll Deep - 'Shake A Leg'

How do they choose this one? Out of all those Shake A Leg has to win because of the comedy factor. Who would have thought they'd see Wiley as an old man? Although he did look funny in the Pies video as a chubber. Not to pry though but shouldn't this have got nominated last year? And isn't that Beyonce video the one everyone is petitioning about? Hmmm...

Best Hip-Hop: Akala, Busta Rhymes, Kano, Kanye West, Sway

Sway won last year without releasing an album and was surely chosen as a winner to make MOBO look credible and seem like they are in touch with what is happening on the underground by recognising Sway's mixtapes. That's not to take anything away from Sway at all though as he is deserving of all his success. I doubt he'll win it for a second year running though.

Best R'n'B: Beyonce, Jamie Foxx, Mary J Blige, Ne-Yo, Rihanna

Probably the closest the panel have got to getting a fair selection of nominations. I'd pick Ne-Yo but reckon Mary will take it.

Best Reggae: Anthony Hamilton, Burning Spear, Damian Marley, Sean Paul, Shaggy

That Anthony Hamilton song is one of the best songs of the year period and as good as anything from a reggae artist. But a reggae artist he is not. Why not put him in the R'n'B catagory?

Best African Act: Batman Samini, Lebo Mathosa, P Square, Jose Chameleone, Tony Tetuila

I have to hold my hands up here and say I have no idea what any of these artists sound like so I hope they all deserve their nominations.

Best Gospel: Alan Charles, Kirk Franklin, Mary Mary, Noel Robinson, Nu Life

That Shackles song is still a floorfiller. It would be good to see the Uk's Nu Life win this one although that Kirk Franklin song is one of my favourites this summer. Take it to church!

Best DJ: Semtex, Shortee Blitz, Steve Sutherland, Tim Westwood, Trevor Nelson

If this is based on skills and ability then I would take Trevor Nelson and Tim Westwood out straight away. But if it does take into account personality as well then fair enough. Semtex or Shortee for me here. They used to have best radio DJ and best club DJ as seperate catagories.

I do take my hat of about the Luther Vandross tribute they have planned, I just hope they don't forget to mention Lynden David Hall and J Dilla.

No fries thanks...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, August 21, 2006
There seems to be no let up in the quest for what is surely one of the proudest records to hold in the Guinness Book of World Records. Well there is a lot of things more worthwhile doing but you have to take your hat off to the guys who are trying to create the world’s largest burger. I already mentioned the two previously noted record holders but Bob’s BBQ & Grill have blown them away with this colossus 78.5 pounds monster. It’s 23.62 inches wide and 13.78 inches high. The man behind it originally wanted to create a 60 pounder but it went a bit wrong, going more than double its previous record holder. I’ve always wondered how strange the people at the Guinness book job is, spending their days watching some strange people hell bent on breaking what most of the time are silly achievements. After travelling all that way I hope they gave the guy a slice…


Pharrell - In My Mind...

Published by Warren Dell under on Friday, August 18, 2006
Things don't always seem to work out when an artist decides they have had enough of being in a group and decide to go solo. Just look at Wu-Tang, none of the guys have really had an impact apart from the limited success of Ghostface.

Sadly Pharrell Williams has found it's not so easy to find success as a solo star. After he made Frontin from the also disappointing Clones album, he said he would never go the solo route. He may now be wishing he kept that word.

In My Mind has been pushed back so much that it's been eight months or so since Can I Have It Like That made us think he could actually pull off this whole Skateboard P moniker. Throw in a bit more of that and I was actually looking forward to his premise of half R'n'B half Rap material.

Sadly the longer it went on and with Pharrell in a better label situation than his Virginia buddies The Clipse, it looked as though it was a case of material not being up to par - rather than label politics.

Was he finding it hard to recreate the Neptunes formula without his partner in beats Chad Hugo? Is Chad the main guy behind the success while Pharrel plays the face and croons on the records?

On listening to In My Mind I would say it misses the board work of Chad. There is a reason why the duo has been so successful with their work in the past. But without Chad to bounce ideas off of, the production lacks any decent moments. In the past you couldn't get a Neptunes beat out of your head.

Despite the bad press the album has received that has gone a little overboard with its dismissal, there are still some bright points. Although if you were to fill out a school report out for the album it would be labelled 'must try better'.

The strongest cut comes first and is already overly familar, but after Can I Have It Like That the track How Does It Feel is catchy enough to be used a future single. Angle sounds like the pop radio friendly track it was on release while sticking with the singles - is Number One a marketing ploy to re-ignite interest in a fading marketing campaign? Or were two of the greatest producers always planning on working together? It sounds like the first one and if you've seen the video then I take credit if you can hear the song again without thinking that is the campest video of all time (no phobia).

That Girl featuring Snoop Dogg is the closest production wise Pharrell goes to being anything near a good Neptunes beat and full credit goes to the eighties pop sounding and Jay-Z featuring Young Girl. Best Friend and Baby Father at least give us a different side to Pharrell as he delves into the personal, but it feels out of place.

Singing wise Pharrel needs to be supported on tracks or be throwing in his falsetto cameos, the rapping was what I was most looking forward to hearing as that Drop It Like It's Hot verse was hot. Some of the lyrics stand up but others sound silly. Even laughable if heard from an unknown.

Production wise The Neptunes are spot on. Ok every now and then a couple of the songs seem like they were made in similar bulk to send out to artists, but then they switch up their style again. See Superthug, Rock Your Body, Drop It Like It's Hot and Hollaback Girl.

As they've shown with The Clipse, Kelis and in recent years Justin Timberlake they can make albums for people. But when it comes to making one for them they don't quite seem to pull it off. Clones was no great shakes, the Nerd Fly Or Die sunk while In Search Of was credible. In My Mind will be forgotten about quite quickly. From now on the two should stick to what they do best - producing hits for other artists. Promised so much a year ago, now it's here this listener is disappointed.

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