it's the shiznit

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

Good dancing laugh but you should have worn a bra...

Published by Warren Dell under on Sunday, July 30, 2006
Everyone and their dog has had a say about the darling of MurdochSpace, Lily Allen. After much anticipation and the number one single Smile the album Alright Still is upon us.

The tracks you're already familiar with LDN and Smile are great tracks but it shows the strength in depth of the album when these aren't the strongest songs. There are probably seven potential choices for the next single from the upbeat Wonderful Things to the plea to her lazy brother to get off his ass (Alfie).

The cheeky lyrics will have her already being compared to Mike Skinner and it is at its mot prominent on Knock Em Out and Not Big. Other highlights include the take on post pub clubbing on Friday Night and the Shame For You.

In a time where girls are trying to have the perfect figure and that celeb look down it's refreshing to hear an artist not give a shit and be herself. While Paris Hilton et al has to rely heavily on their image to sell any copies of their CD it's good that Lily is about so much more. Hearing her sing about Friday nights on the lash have her down as someone we'd want to be with on a night out. Much better than some bimbo checking out the mirror all night. Her interviews are refreshing, blogs entertaining and despite heavily being labelled as the sound of the summer, has the talent to be delighting us for years to come.

That Beyonce petition...

Published by Warren Dell under on Sunday, July 30, 2006
Someone really had too much time on their hands when they decided to start a petition against Beyonce and Columbia Records over the Deja Vu video. The reasons are that the video doesn't reflect the standard of previous projects and the interaction between her and the other half is apparently unacceptable. Here is the aforementioned video. And if you have nothing better to do or aren't so worried about things like the conflict in Israel or whether there will be a 6th series of Curb Your Enthusiasm, you can find the petition link after.

Have you got nothing better to do?

A make or break album...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, July 27, 2006
According to various reports Jay-Z will make an album after all. I'll give you a few moments to get over how much an out of the blue shock this news obviously is for you.

When he announced his retirement I thought he would have managed to refrain from releasing another album for longer than the two and a half years it's been. But I suppose with the artists on Def Jam hardly selling big the CEO is (apart from Kanye) the only A star artist who can go out and match those 50 Cent numbers.

This is a big album that will see Def Jam going for broke. If it doesn't become a critical success then people will question why Jay bothered returning, commercially if Jay doesn't sell big then expect some artists to be released to cover costs of the undoubted marketing bonanza that will be rolled out.

Artists like DMX and Camron voiced their concern when Jay took the hot seat, and I'd expect more discontent from the remaining artists who may have their releases scheduled around the same time. Since Jay retired those artists have been striving to fill the gap with the added pressure of that gap being vacated by their new boss. It could easily be taken as an indirect diss that on being unhappy with sales numbers from Ghostface and the unpredictable forecast of the upcoming Roots and Lupe Fiasco figures, Def Jam's acocunts need a long player from Jay. You can guarantee a big difference in how much these albums have and will be pushed in comparison.

Sadly with all this on the line and the news leaked that Timbaland and The Neptunes are already working on tracks for the album, it looks like the material won't stray too far from the formula of his catalogue. What I'm sure the rap world would want to see in light of the Reasonable Doubt anniversary is material to match that, or at least deliver the album we were promised when he dropped his final for the time being fling, The Black Album.

The hype surrounding the album was building up all year with the promise of 12 solid tracks - one each from 12 of the best producers around. Yet sadly all we got was an album that lacked any cohesion and apart from the singles 99 Problems and Encore was a poor way to bow out.

On Moment Of Clarity he rapped 'truth be told I'd probably be/lyrically like Talib Kweli' well this album should be that one. To come out with another album talking about Cristal (Dom P) cash, clothes and wifey, would be a disjustice to himself and Hip-Hop. Instead make the album deep down he's always wanted and maybe surprise us a bit.

If Premo can make a pop hit for Christina Aguilera, then I'm sure he can ignite the passion to make a classic Hip-Hop record for Jay. Surely Dr. Dre owes Jay a favour for all that ghost writing, Kweli is hardly going to knock going toe to toe and maybe just maybe Memphis Bleek will actually hold the weed and leave the mic alone. Rick Rubin gave Jay his hardest sounding hit for years and would surely welcome working with him again.

Sadly, I expect something more on the lines of TRL crossovers, Beyonce choruses and another 'thanks for letting me spit 16 bars in return for holding your chain' verse from Bleek.

This album has more than a need for getting five mics and platinum plaques surrounding it - it's detrimental to the future of Def Jam. A lot of people in Hip-Hop get lamented for living in the past and craving those golden era's, but maybe a trip to the past will ignite a stale scene and help towards it's future...

Smile every time my face is up in The Source...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Buying Hip-Hop magazines that would like to lead us to believe that certain sub-standard acts are actually the future of rap stopped for me along time ago. But while buying records at the weekend and seeing Ice Cube staring at me from The Source I thought I'd give it ago. What's the worst that could happen as those Dr.Pepper adverts would like us to believe. It was their 200th issue so perhaps it would be nice to see what they would do for it. Looking at the cover while waiting to pay the early signs were encouraging, Lupe Fiasco was on the cover, Little Brother too. When I managed to flick through I realised it would only take one trip to the bathroom to get through the garbage inside. For a magazine that has been through the rough the last three years you would think they would use the 200th issue as an opportunity to reflect back on the good days while using it as a stepping stone for the future.

But ain't a damn thing changed. A guy wrote about a column he used to write many moons ago without actually revealing anything interesting from those days or give an opinion on anything like one would assume he used to. Seeing the likes of Dead Prez and the like is a good thing, but rather than giving them some valuable pages they had them instead commenting on slept on albums and songs they wished they recorded.

The mags reflection on the years of Hip-Hop in the time of The Source only made for a sad reflection of the calibre of acts they used to feature heavily (A Tribe Called Quest, Pharcyde) to the the noughties (Cash Money, Nelly & Chingy).

What once was a bible for Hip-Hop has seen better days and granted is still trying to turn around the damage left from the Benzino anti-Interscope era, but there is a still a long way to go before they will ever instill that excitement into buying an issue again, especially when you can find out pretty much everything on the internet these days.

This is a celebration bitches...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, July 20, 2006
I'm a massive fan of Dave Chappelle and was gutted when he went AWOL after being unhappy with the white executives at HBO and the direction of where his show was going. Some of the hilarious sayings from the previous two shows skits had begun to nag him when everywhere he went people would be shouting them at him. Below are two skits from the lost episodes now showing in America that go along with the mixed ratings it's been receiving. One is a hilarious skit about the new Tupac song and how ahead of its time the lyrics are, the other is perhaps the skit which made Chappelle realise he'd gone too far.

Do you want fries with that?

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, July 20, 2006
When Americans aren't watching or taking part in one of their beloved sports like men’s rounders or basketball, they like to indulge in another of their favourite sports - eating. Even though Soccer (sic) has become much more popular than it was a few years ago I would still say it falls below eating as far as sports popularity is concerned. I mean take a look at the size of this burger.

That's 50 pounds of burger to be demolished. Apparently it serves 30 but going by the size of the people last time I went to America I reckon half the number could do it. The bar made this to combat a rival pub that had outdone their original record breaker. Remember if you're thinking of tackling this then give the guys 24 hours notice. I think I’ve lost my appetite.
Make reservations here

An Indie biased selection...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, July 20, 2006
Sway is the sole black music artist in this years Mercury Prize nominations. He is unlikely to repeat the success of past winners Dizzee Rascal and Ms Dynamite as the trend of having Hip-Hop representation has slowly crept away. With the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Thom Yorke on a heavy weighted Indie presence the inclusion of Sway is a great pat on the back for the years of hard graft. Thinking of what other acts could have made it though sees me coming up short. Corinne Bailey Rae is more Radio 2 soul and Plan B's hate it or love it brand of grime may be too hardcore than innovative to win. Apart from that there isn't a lot I can think of. With albums from Yungun and Klashnekoff coming out in the next year it would be good to hear, but I feel someone like genre mashing Bugz In The Attic will fare better with their first long player.

Very fashionable...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, July 17, 2006
The Boy Better Know t-shirts have been selling like hot cakes whenever they've had stock in Uptown Records, all they are is a basic t-shirt with the now imfamous saying from the camp. T-shirts of famous Rock'n'Roll bands have always been a fashion item for the indie crowd and are easily available in the high street at H&M and Topman. In urban music it's not so big as that, people don't feel as cool if they are wearing a Jay-Z or 50 Cent t-shirt (unless your 12) but there are some t-shirts that over the last few years have had people chasing up all sorts of avenues to get one. It's The Shiznit takes a look...

Billionaire Boys Club

Pharrell's clothing label and now seen on any number of people from Jay-Z to Jermaine Dupri to El Hadji Douff. Yes he of spitter fame, I was walking down to the newly opend Bape store in Soho when they actually closed the shop so he could have a nose around. Terrible. The labels clothing is made in small qauntities to combat counterfit goods but this hasn't stopped the amount of t-shirts selling on ebay even now, three years after Skateboard P wore one in the Frontin video.

Pimp Accordingly

The other t-shirt from the Frontin video was harder to track down and amounted in a lot of ebay fakes but the original was from a place called in and would set you back about. Not everyone could pull this bright yellow Playboy logo and pimp accordingly in writing off, more one of those t-shirts that looked better on someone in The Tunnel nightclub rather than some chav in Yates.

I got it for Cheap

The name of the Clipse mixtape in 2004 and could be seen on Pusha T in the Drop it Like It's Hot video. No more than a black t-shirt with white letters on saying I got It For Cheap, but was more suited for the hustlers and coke pushers out there rather than your saturday night out clubbing wear. Earlier than that the Virginia hustlers were at it with the 'Patty Cake Man' and 'I'm Your Pusha' t-shirts.

The Snowman

The T-shirt they tried to ban and a catalyst for some great free PR for Young Jeezy's marketing campaign. It took a while for the majority to know what it meant, but when they did there were calls for the sign of cocaine dealing to be banned. The snowman logo is good though, the Hip-Hop version of those illuminous smiley faces you see associated to the rave scene.

Free (insert convict here)

Considering the culture of Hip-Hop and it's birth from the more poorer areas of America, it's no surprse to read about the latest rapper that goes down for an iron vacation. Regardless of whether he was wrongly put down or not a rapper spending time behind bars isn't without his crew/weed carriers wearing a Free... t-shirt. The biggest showing of support was when Eminem wore a Free Yayo shirt for Fiddy's weed carrier at the MTV awards. Many in the audience didn't have a clue who he was then but they certainly did after and it helped push his debut single and album to gold. With all these free... t-shirts going around it's about time there was a change, and the excellent Straight Bangin blog are going the right way about it, by offering up a Reincarcerate Yayo t-shirt.

Don't play in front of the parents...

Published by Warren Dell under on Saturday, July 15, 2006
No wonder they say New York Hip-Hop is dead with these sounds coming out of the states always regarded as second best to the east and west coasts. This brand of Baltimore funk is ringing in a new era for Hip-Hop as Aaron LaCrate teams up with fellow Baltimore buddies Spank Rock and Amanda Blank (this girl has skills). Aaron is one of the first signings to the Milkcrate clothing labels new record imprint, and while this smells of something right up the hipsters street, it goes way beyond that. The artists here possess the skill that pay homage to the great lyrical flow of greats before them, but rips up the rulebook on how Hip-Hop should sound. Play this next to any Hip-Hop song on the radio now and you’ll realise just how lame the genre has become, but how refreshing these retro sounds combined with Game Boy beats are to the ear.

Gentleman, good night/Ladies, good morning...

Published by Warren Dell under on Saturday, July 15, 2006
The second of the big hitters to come out with a hotly anticipated single this summer is Justin Timberlake. His SexyBack track has been getting mixed responses much like back in 2002 when Like I Love You first hit the airwaves. On first listen you wouldn't have even known it was Timberlake such is the switch in vocal delivery, he is said to have gone for a more rock feel to his singing and it takes a few plays before you can start to get used to it. Still the track is a winner in my book and if the vocals at first take a while to feel familiar with, the funk of the Timbaland beat runs through the speakers and will have you moving along. With The Neptunes and Jive not getting along it seems that Timbo will be having a more prominent role in the album FutureSex/LoveSounds, out in September.

Only in America...

Published by Warren Dell under on Saturday, July 15, 2006
In what can only be described as 'only in America' a man is suing Michael Jordan and Nike Founder Phil Knight for defamation and permenant injury after being tired of being mistaken for the ex-sportstar.

The lawsuit is for a staggering $832million and covers 15 years of anguish, "I'm constantly being accused of looking like Michael and it makes it very uncomfortable for me," Heckard reportedly said. Yet when a television crew caught him on camera they spotted him wearing Air Jordan Tennis Shoes.

The guy also claims that he gets comments from people at the gym that he 'plays like Jordan'. Those Americans, you’ve got to love them.

Full story here

Just wondering...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Whatever happened to Koffee Brown?...

Why is L'il Wayne being talked about in the same vein as Jay-Z, Nas, Niggie et al?...

If Andre 3000 never made Hey Ya, would The Love Below have been so popular?

Was Big Boi pissed that Andre's change from rapping to singing overshadowed how great Speakerboxx was?...

How did Leo from The Streets choose Alicia Douvall over Sophie Anderton? Are you dumb?

Wiley - 2nd Phaze...

Published by Warren Dell under on Tuesday, July 11, 2006
It wouldn’t be too far fetched to call Wiley the ‘godfather’ of Grime such is his standing in the scene. His first album ‘Treddin On Thin Ice’ may have disappointed sales wise but this hasn’t stopped the anticipation from fans and labels alike for ‘Da 2nd Phaze’. Instead of taking the reputed offers from Big Dada and Mike Skinner’s label The Beats he’s gone ahead and released it on his own through the Boy Better Know start up and has seen it fly off the shelves in the underground music outlets. Whether it’s party flavours ‘Eskiboy’ & ‘I Like' to the pirate radio anthem ‘Gangsterz’ Wiley has all bases covered. It’s not all eski-dancing and gangster bravado though as the strain of 9-5, ‘Carry Out Orders’ and the uplifting plea to not be a follower, ‘Be Your Self’ shows diversity not usually associated with Grime artists, making this an essential release for the scene.

Your biggest fan...

Published by Warren Dell under on Tuesday, July 11, 2006
One of the most informative Hip-Hop sites around in Unkut is running a competition to find Hip-Hop’s biggest Stan. Every fan at some point has to have met an artist whether it’s their favourite or not. I remember a friend stumbling up to one of Aspects after performing and drunkenly asking how he got there rather than a more suitable how’s it going. I myself made a drunken fool of myself by telling Sway how good DJ Turkish was because when we went to see them at the Islington Academy we got lost and bumped into him who then led us to the venue. None of that is as bad or as cringe worthy as what I imagine will pop up though.

Did they buy some different colour sand?...

Published by Warren Dell under on Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Boy Better Know at the Isle of Wight festival...
YouTube is a goldmine for the weird and wonderful and can also uncover some gems like the above link of the Boy Better Know Collective at the Isle of Wight festival from a month back. It's a preview of a documentary by Switched On Productions but at the moment there is no news on when this will see the light of day. It's definately a big look for the scene though with an appearence at a festival that is very much all about the Indie/Rock vibes.

No one's lovin it...

Published by Warren Dell under on Thursday, July 06, 2006
While most of the notes I write concern this here music, I like to get my knowledge on as much as the next and have just finished reading the inciteful Fast Food Nation - What the All-American meal is doing to the world.

Now I'm sure you saw SuperSize Me and if what happened to Morgan Spurlock didn't put you off eating McDonalds, reading Fast Food Nation will put you off any kind off fast food.

The book covers more than just 'eating all this junk food will make you fat' but looks at the overall impact the fast food meal has on the rest of America, and how it's starting to spread out to Europe too. Any town or city high street looks the same wherever you are due to the influx of fast food chains and someone in Japan is eating the exact same burger from the exact same menu as someone in Germany.

The author looks at the working conditions of employees for the slaughterhouses that provide beef to the big players to how these people are exploited. There was a case where a man who have both arms severed from a machine was made to sign the companies waiver of liability form with a pen in his mouth whie waiting in the emergancy room.

Obviously McDonalds doesn't come off very well in the book as they were the first to really capatilise and push the minimal skills approach to serving food but the author doesn't so much stick the boot in but rather reveals the wrong doing that's going on in order to make your own judgement.

The proof is there but some people just can't resist to succumbing to one of those burgers as they can't resist the taste. I myself haven't been able to eat from fast food places for a while but can't deny that when I walk by one the smell is nice and throughout reading the book I was hungry for one.

But you may be surprised when you read that on visiting a factory that the smell of fresh fries and straight off the grill burgers were from a chemical formula made by scientists and sprinkled on some paper, rather than the real thing in front of him.

When I was a kid I used to look forward to being treated to a McDonalds as it was always deemed such a happy place with many of the processes used to promote the brand to children the same as that of Disney, in fact the founder of the McDonalds Corporation, Ray Kroc and Walt Disney were both from the same area.

While everyone knows that too much junk food is going to be bad for you, a trip to McDonalds every now and then isn't exactly going to kill you, but on reading this it will make you think twice upon visiting those golden arches and other such establishments.

Dave Chappelle Block Party...

Published by Warren Dell under on Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Dave Chappelle’s block party may have only just been released in the cinemas over here but thanks to the ability of my trusty Tesco bought DVD player, I managed to watch the yanks DVD which has been out for months now.

Block Party goes back to 2004 when Chappelle gathered some of his closest buddies to put on a good old fashion knees up. Or what in America is known as a block party.

This isn’t one of those straight up concert DVD’s that seem everywhere in the Christmas build up, but more of a documentary thanks to director Michel Gondry, he of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fame.

Rather than the quick editing that makes concert DVD’s look like some flashy promo the work here gives the viewer a better impression of the action and helps you get the feeling of what it was like to be there.

Indeed it would have been great to be there as Chappelle assembles a concert line-up that rivals no other. It’s not often you get to see all in the same show Kanye West (as the opener!), Erykah Badu, Dead Prez, Common, The Roots, Jill Scott, Talib Kweli and Mos Def. Throw in the reuniting of The Fugees as well and you can’t really put a price on that ticket.

To actually get into the block party you had to be one of the lucky ones that Chappelle approached when he went back to Ohio, where he spent his school years.

These golden tickets were handed out to a host of people who you wouldn’t expect to see at a block party – an old shopkeeper, two police officers and pretty much anyone that was lucky enough to be in the area when Chappelle travelled round his old haunts.

The story of how the block party was put together is intertwined with performance footage and although the music is great, it’s the unsung heroes that steal the show with the Ohio University performing Jesus Walks with Kanye and the odd couple who live in their home made abode right by the stage.

Chappelle may have given up on creating more episodes of Chappelle Show, but his stand-up will continue to be laughed and applauded at. Here he is at his best and is as much of a draw as any of the artists on parade. This winning combination coupled with people from all walks of life combine for the community feel of a block party.

They done, done it again...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, July 03, 2006
You’ve got to hand it to MTV, when they’re not promoting G-Unit as superheroes to kids they make some pretty entertaining shows. The majority may miss the point of what MTV actually stands for, in fact when was the last time you turned it on an watched a music video? But they do come up with some TV gold and at the moment the one that is killing it for me is Sweet Sixteen.

The show revolves around some spoilt rotten teen planning the party of their life, while throwing tantrums and generally showing off about what their parent’s money has done for them.

MTV has done brilliantly in making programmes that choose, whether the subject a celebrity or not, people who will come across as vein, spoilt or as embarrassing as you like. We’ve had The Osbournes (the rich equivalent of some council estate family arguing) to the IQ of 10 (between them) of the Simpson sisters, Jessica and Ashley. Amongst that there have been the interesting (Making of the Band) and those that focus on the non-celebrities like The Real World, Date My Mom and Room Raiders.

But the subjects on those shows aren’t the only ones that make you cringe; these pubescent kids have more diva like tantrums than Mariah, are spoiled more than Rooney’s missus and have egos like Kanye.

Previous sweet sixteen’s have included a self-proclaimed party animal who got his dad to rent some girls to dance at his party, but then proceeded to be ill after drinking too much Red Bull and a girl whose brothers wanted to beat her date up. The same girl also had to put up with her mum from Thailand trying to steal the show, though if she is anything like the stereotype, then she’s used to being the centre of attention (ping-pong ten dollar and all that).

Sunday’s episode was probably the biggest exploits of a kid who uses in this case his dad’s wealth to get what he wants, and the lucky bastard gets it as well.

As son of record executive LA Reid, Aaron was always going to be in for a star studded bash and not only did he get the use of Jay-Z’s 40/40 Club, but had Diddy turn up, Kanye West perform and every teenagers favourite person in the record business Jermaine Dupri (shout to Kris Kross and Bow Wow) DJ for the night.

During the show he had a temper fit when some traffic blocked his entrance at the club, handed out invites with a personally recorded message on MP3 and is perhaps the youngest guy in Hip-Hop to have his own set of weed carriers. On getting dressed for the big night he had two guys assisting him with drying his hair and general grooming, while telling the others ‘I can’t do this without compliments guys’ when trying on outfits.

It’s not proven whether he used them to spike the punch bowl, standard procedure for any American sixteenth birthday party.

A great line in the show comes from the kids at the party on how this is the best night in their lives and their probably right when you see how crazy they get when they received their invites. The kids parents in these shows must be really popular with the other folks, but again this show is a great example that MTV may not be able to play your favourite Hip-Hop video, they will at least make you laugh.

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, July 03, 2006
Not wanting to start a debate or any arguments but Brighton probably has the biggest scene outside of London and their commitment to the cause is very professional. There aren’t many places that have their own dedicated Hip-Hop nights but the guys in ‘London by the sea’ are spoilt for choice. Those that know will already have heard about the month long celebrations that take play and this year is no different. As I write Rodney P & Skitz are going to be doing their show live in Brighton and heading up the activities of the month comes in the shape of the live day on Brighton seafront on the 15th July. Over 5,000 people watched the 150 plus performers and the link has all the details you need. The event is free and if this heat wave keeps up then we should be in for a good time. I believe there will be a CD in this months Hip-Hop Connection showcasing the event. A bit like the one given away with Touch last year (strange I know, that’s like Blues and Soul giving away a chopped a screwed mixtape).

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