This New Edition Biopic Needs to be Funded. Immediately.

music, New Edition, Uncategorized

Over the years, we’ve been blessed with many biopics based on the lives of our favourite entertainers. From “What’s Love Got to Do With It”:

what's love

to “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&b”:

Aaliyah-movie

And who could forget “The Man in the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story *shudders*.

Flex MJ

However, when trawling through the internet late one night, I stumbled across something that could potentially trump them all.

ARE. YOU. KIDDING ME???

Clapping Gif

This is the story that I’ve wanted to see for years!!

A film that captures the highs, high-tops, lows, colourful outfits and terrible, terrible hair styles of the mid-80’s to the early 90’s. Damnit, this trailer has it all. For the uninitiated, New Edition were the original New Kids on The Block and spawned the career of Bobby Brown, Bell Biv Devoe and Ralph Tresvant.

It seems like the people involved in this trailer have actually captured the essence of what makes a good biopic – getting actors that actually resemble who they’re meant to be. Remember the guy that played R Kelly in the Aaliyah biopic *shudders*. He looked absolutely NOTHING like him.  Now let’s be clear; I’m not talking Jamie Foxx in Ray (the likeness there was uncanny) but at least let’s have a passing resemblance.

The actors playing Ralph, Bobby and Ronnie are a good match without being parodies. Shout-out to the wig people for capturing Ralph’s ducktail haircut from the “Cool It Now” video. If I was born during this era, I would definitely have attempted that hairstyle. And failed.

The outfits, dance moves and sets actually look professional despite it only being a trailer and the scenes of Bobby Brown gyrating slightly too hard in concert to the annoyance of his other bandmates are pretty funny too.

Yes, some of the acting looks a bit cheesy but it was the eighties, damnit. Why don’t YOU try saying some of those lines with Jheri Curl juice drip-drip-dripping from your forehead.

When the trailer came to an end and the stark realisation hit me that this wasn’t going to be an actual movie, it had me feeling like:

sad gif

BUT there’s hope because (seemingly with all things these days) if you contribute enough to crowdfunding, this movie could actually get made. So, to all my 80’s fans and lovers of good biopics, let’s all band together and get this thing made. The attention to detail in the trailer alone is second to none. And to be frank, this could be the best biopic that’s not the NWA film to be released this decade.

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New Music: Skepta – Shutdown

Drake, Grime, music, Skepta

Capitalising on what’s been a pretty eventful few weeks for North London’s finest, Skepta is back with Shutdown, the latest release from his upcoming album #Konichiwa. Reciprocating the love shown from Drake on Instagram back in February, Shutdown samples the Toronto superstar’s patios inflected speech  on the intro and then goes straight into an unflinching grime instrumental for Skeppy to flex over.

From Drake on Insta, to Kanye at the Brit Awards, it can only be a matter of time before Konichiwa is released. If the album contains banger after banger like this, then us UK heads are in for a treat.

The Rizzle Review: So Solid Reunion Tour!!!

music, Reviews, So Solid Crew, UK stuff

***GUEST REVIEW*** (by @wendiwrites)

As soon as it was announced in January that the So Solid Crew would be putting on a reunion concert, comments on the social networks were split between people being excited about it, and people automatically assuming that it would be a hot ghetto mess.  Fortunately I fell into the former category, and I’m so glad I did!

Doors opened at 7pm and as you’d probably expect, the process of getting into the O2 building itself wasn’t as straight-forward as it was when I came to see New Kids On The Block.  There were police at the top of the escalators at North Greenwich station, then a long queue outside (apparently for those with bags) as well as two police vans on either side of the entrance.  Inside the O2 we had to walk through the metal detectors, then to get into Indigo2 we had to have our bags go through the scanners.  I felt it only right to ask one of the bag check guys if our flight was on schedule.

At around 8.35 the host came on stage to start hyping up the audience, and a short while later he introduced the first of the So Solid Crew, DJ Oxide on the decks.  Oxide took us back to the good old days of UK Garage.  Most of us who were seated on the balcony were on our feet, and those standing on the ground floor just made it look like a rave.  I was in my zone when he played ‘Pulse X’ and ‘I Don’t Smoke The Reefer’ – my jams!!  After that little set, the host came back on to hype us up a little more and then introduced the So. Solid. Crewwwwwwww!

courtesy of pardonmyblog.co.uk

The vocal intro from their 2001 album ‘They Don’t Know’ was played, which then led into the famous sirens from Casualty and then the N the E the U T the R the I N with the O burst on to the stage to perform ‘Bound For The Reload.’  It was on!  (Sidenote: Neutrino’s body now… *fans herself*).  Next we heard the famous beat for ‘Oh No’ and Romeo (who changed his dapper suits about 3 times during the night) and Lisa Maffia came on stage to perform that and the remixed version.  We were bubblin’ hard!  That was followed by Megaman, MAC and Face performing ‘Haters’, then Neutrino coming back for ‘Up Middle Finger’.  Unfortunately they didn’t do the best part of that tune:  “When I say, you say, we say, they say MAKE SOME NOISE!”  Never mind, we were already making noise.  (During this time we spotted Chipmunk at the seats two rows in front of us, and Adam Deacon walking up the stairs on our left side).

Asher D came on to perform ‘Woah’, and other songs featured were ‘Rap Dis,’ (yes Harvey was there too) ‘Since You Went Away,’ ‘So Grimey’ (for which they had three girls dancing on stage, looking like they were pulled from any brothel – a bit random), ‘Deeper,’ ‘No Good 4 Me,’ and ‘Back In The Day.’  Swiss tugged at the heartstrings with his hit ‘Cry’ and JD did ‘Signal,’ then ‘It’s All Over,’ with Lisa Maffia.  Some of the highlights were Chipmunk (one of the special guests) performing a Movado song with Swiss, Megaman introducing us to his lookalike son, and one of my favourite moments; three female dancers performing an African-inspired routine to the instrumental of ‘Dilemma’ (one of the sexiest beats ever!).

However, the best moment came when the crew performed ‘They Don’t Know.’  It was followed by the introduction to the remix ‘Envy’ with Ms Dynamite’s vocals, and excitement was brewing in my belly.  Then Megaman tried to kill it by telling us that she was unable to make it and he wants us to sing her parts in the song, so after a rewind we all sang along with “Why dem all waaatching me/ Is it pure jeaaaalouseee yay..”  When it got to her verse – “When I step up on the microphone/explosive/ people learn to pimp an play like they know dis” – she came out on to the stage and everyone went crazy!  She only performed for that song, but it was a bit of icing on an enjoyable cake.

Of course we all know what the finale song was right?  Just before it started, Mega introduced us to the not-so-little kids we see and hear at the start ’21 Seconds’, then the whole crew came out to perform their number one hit, before closing the show with their ‘ritual’ outro.

The So Solid Crew did not disappoint at all.  They all looked as though they haven’t really aged in the last 10+ years (Skat D seemed to be the only member missing), the good vibe energy were there, and hopefully the police wasted their time that night.

Verdict:  Brrrrrap!

The Rizzle Review: Kanye West at the Hammersmith Apollo

Kanye West, music, Reviews

Two weeks ago saw the announcement that Kanye West was to play a surprise “one-off” gig in London. Fair enough that one-off gig quickly became two which became three before stopping short of a full-on “one-off” World Tour…but I digress. Having not seen Kanye West perform solo since 2005, I purchased tickets to the Sunday concert with all the swiftness of a Kim Kardashian marriage (that’s very fast).

However, the night before the Sunday show, reports quickly began to emerge via twitter that Kanye had been showing erratic behaviour during the show, ranting against the Grammy’s (even though he’s won about 12 of them), dissing Justin Timberlake’s suit and tie and (perhaps my favourite) ending the concert part way through the Goldigger verse; “…and on his 18th birthday, she found out he wasn’t his”. With all that being said, I was pretty eager to hear what kind of show we’d be treated to on the following night.

The scene was set, covered in a white backdrop with a white sloped stage, the DJ’s built up the atmosphere playing tracks from Kanye’s Good Friday’s series before the main man himself slowly emerged from just behind the stage to “Way Too Cold (Theraflu)”. The crowd erupted, as did Kanye and it was pretty certain that this was going to be a show to remember, whether good, bad or ugly.

Kanye rattled through his substantial catalogue of hits in quick succession with minimal crowd interaction but maximum energy before disappearing off stage briefly. Emerging in a more somber mood wearing a bird mask, the show took on a different route. Kanye began rattling off songs from his “love it or hate it” 808’s and Heartbreaks album. It’s clearly evident that while this isn’t his most universally loved body of work (to put it mildly), Kanye definitely loves performing from it. And let’s ignore the fact that Kanye can’t sing.

Another thing that Kanye loves? Singing. Kanye went through the extended album version of Runway in true prog-rock style, stretching the song to roughly 10 mins. For the crowd at the front this became slightly uncomfortable, with people exchanging awkward glances as if to say “has this dude finished yet?”.

(pic from: thatretailchick.me)

Another mask change came later, this time with a diamond encrusted piece for Rihanna’s “Diamonds (remix)”. Good job the songs were good because at this stage, he’s erring on the wrong side of crazy, without going full throttle. However, we didn’t have to wait long for the next installment…

The encore song was “Touch The Sky” but as the song drew to a close Kanye started wailing like a banshee. The first couple of times it was cool. 8 screams in and it got a little awkward once again, before Kanye drops the mic on the floor and walks off stage.

How times have changed since I last saw Kanye at the same venue all those years ago. He’d shown glimpses of the ego that would eventually become his trademark (I seem to remember a rant on stage at the show where he lay on the floor just talking about the tabloids) but I wasn’t prepared for the mammoth fame that would come with his success and neither, it seems, was he.

Kanye definitely knows how to put on a good show. With no hype man in sight and with less extravagance than the Glow in the Dark or even the Watch The Throne tours, Mr West still managed to keep the crowd’s attention, even if for long periods they didn’t know what was going on. Kanye maintained creative control of the show throughout, ushering one of his stagehands away as they went to take away one of his masks and halting “All of The Lights” when he felt that the crowd weren’t rapping loud enough over the ‘MJ gone…our n*gga dead” part.

His choice of attire? A pristine white strait-jacket. Tongue in cheek? I’d like to think so. I really would like to think so. So that brings us to the scream at the end? To a seasoned Anguish at Amber Rose and Wiz Khalifa’s new born? Sorrow at Kim Kardashian trapping him? Anger at the Grammys? Or just attention seeking. I suspect it’s probably the last one but whichever reason it ultimately proves to be, like the concert itself, it is something that will keep his fans wondering and entertained for years to come.

Father Christmas vs Moses (Snoop Dogg): Epic Rap Battles of History

Christmas, Comedy, Moses, music, Snoop Dogg

It’s Christmas time and here are some of my favourite things: Father Christmas, a biblical message and…er…Snoop Dogg.

It’s a sad thing when parody rap is better than mainstream rap but I guess this is the state of hiphop in 2012. Either way, Snoop Dogg just about steals the show from Saint Nick on this one, sounding hungrier than he has on many of his albums in the past 10 years. Merry Christmas. B*tches.

2012 – The Year That Hip-Hop Was Resurrected?

hip-hop, Kendrick Lamar, music, Nas
pic from cybergorrillas.com

Back in 2005, before David Guetta’s music had plagued the charts and Chris Brown was still America’s golden child (gosh, it seems like another lifetime), hip-hop music was arguably at its commercial peak. We had new artists such as Game, T-Pain and Kanye West, freely mixing with established hitmakers such as Jay-Z and Common. If you took a look at the charts, the dominant form of music was Hip-Hop, whether it be hardcore or more pop-orientated, there really did seem to be something for everyone. The emergence of the South was also something to be celebrated, adding a new style and new artists to the genre, with Paul Wall, Chamillionaire, Mike Jones and Slim Thug spearheading the movement. Then just one year later, in 2006, to much outcry and controversy, Nas declared “Hip-Hop is Dead”. Many rappers, particularly those from the South took offence to the statement, claiming that he was simply out of touch with the current musical climate. Even I at the time, thought the statement was a touch premature and perhaps a slight towards the sudden popularity of Southern Hip-Hop but then again, I was too busy making it ‘snap’ and listening to ‘Laffy Taffy’ to care.

However, fast forward to 2011 and there were grounds to believe that Nas’ proclamation had manifested itself. Save for a few of the big names (Jay-Z, Kanye West and Eminem) sales of Hip-Hop music were at an all time low and the style of the genre had shifted to an entirely new direction with the emergence of several “rappers” that did not seem to embody the lyricism or perfection of artists before. Sure, Waka Flocka Flame, OJ Da Juice (pronounced “Joo”) Man and French Montana can make some catchy songs but really, will we be playing their songs in 20 years time? I highly doubt it.

Gone was the diversity of subject matter and lush instrumentation and in came…

And…

Or even….

Again, there’s nothing wrong with this type of music. You might even see me getting crunk to some of this stuff occasionally…but there comes a time when you want to listen to something with a bit more substance and I think one of the major symptoms of the declining state of hip-hop was the lack of variation on the mainstream charts. My biggest bugbear with hip-hop in 2011 (and arguably 2012) was that when the majority of the output is like the aforementioned video, it starts to get a little bit (read very)…boring. I remember the days of watching ‘Yo’ on MTV and seeing DMX videos followed by Snoop, followed by Mos Def, followed by Eminem – a whole range of styles of hip from different areas. Nowadays, the south is the dominant form and even rappers who aren’t from the south are adopting this style (shout out to Drizzy Drake).

Nevertheless, Hip-Hop and I have a dysfunctional relationship: no matter how bad she treats me, I still come back for more, sticking up for her when I should really know better and leave her for something more befitting like house music or whatever the kids are listening to nowadays. But during the tail end of 2011 and throughout 2012, I’ve started to notice a few greenshoots of recovery in the genre which gives me hope.

A new wave of hiphop, mixing both old styles, new styles and everything in between has emerged. One of my favourite LP’s has been A$AP Rocky’s LongLiveA$AP. This guy has been compared to Eazy-E as well as harking back to a sound more commonly associated with the 2005 chopped and screwed movement. Lyrically, no new ground is being broken here but when the vibe is so catchy and the flow is so confident, it’s hard to ignore.

The past 12 months has also seen solid releases from relative newbies Childish Gambino (think Kanye for the recession generation), Azaelia Banks (a pre-Young Money era Nicki Minaj mixed with Grace Jones) as well  as older, more established hip-hop heads such as DMX, Lupe Fiasco, Rick Ross and the G.O.O.D music crew. However, it has been the last couple of months that have really seen the bar raised for 2012.

Nasty Nas used the experiences of his marriage breakdown with Kelis to spend the year putting in a series of stellar guest appearances before releasing arguably his finest album since 2001’s Stillmatic. Life Is Good was an expertly crafted, well rounded body of work that touched on mature themes as well as Nas’ classic storytelling. Unlike much of Nas’ previous albums, he seemed to have conquered his phobia of choosing good beats and delivered on the majority (Summer on Smash is terrible) of the tracks.

The Kendrick Lamar buzz was an altogether different beast. From building a strong underground following on the mixtape circuit, through to inking a major deal with Dr Dre’s Aftermath/Interscope records, the artist formerly known as K.Dot had the unenviable task of “bringing the West Coast back”. Faced with the kind of pressure and expectation known only by London’s 2012 Olympic athletes, it’s safe to say that with good kid, m.A.A.d city  not only delivered but produced one of the finest (if not finest) hip-hop albums of the year so far.  It’s not just in the lyrical delivery, the content matter or the beats (which in themselves are all pretty outstanding, but it’s in the execution of the project as a whole. It is designed to be digested in full, rather than as a collection of singles and tells the story of a young Kendrick (a good kid) on a typical day in Compton (the Mad City). For me, it took a couple of listens but from then onwards, I was hooked.

Which brings me to the title of the blog post. This is probably the weakest era in terms of hip-hop music that I can remember. At least in the jiggy era, you still had a healthy mix of hardcore and crossover hits. At the moment, we have an abundance of ignorant music in the charts at the expensive of other topics. Albums like Life Is Good and good kid are like shining lights in this current era of mediocrity, but they do offer hope. It’s usually in times like these that a new movement is born as a reaction to the watering down of the mainstream: think punk as a reaction to Disco in the 70’s, grunge as a reaction to squeaky clean pop in the 90’s and hip-hop as a reaction to social injustices (as well as party music).

Has Hip-Hop as we know it been resurrected? Was it even dead to begin with? rather than being dead, I would say that Hip-Hop is actually starting to show some green shoots of recovery. Here’s hoping that these two albums as well as the artists mentioned earlier see rappers up their game and Hip-Hop regain its diversity and integrity once more.

Funk Fridays: Tom Browne: Funkin’ for Jamaica

Funk Friday, Mariah Carey, music, Snoop Dogg, Tom Browne

1980; the beginning of my favourite decade of music. The year that former movie star Ronald Regan stunned politics by becoming the President of the USA, millions were hooked by Dallas’ ‘Who Shot JR’ saga; and the summer Olympics controversially came to Russia. Alas, those events pale in significance to one of the finest musical contributions not just of the decade but of all time *Kanye voice*, when Tom Browne produced this classic anthem, Funkin’ for Jamaica.

 

Tom was a jazz musician in the late 70’s but found fame when this hit blew up. Starting with the blare of the trumpet at the beginning and building slowly, with the addition of the drums, then the piano and bass, the groove is irresistible. Becoming a chart hit in both the UK and the US, this song is still a firm favourite decades later.

 Along with Funkadelic’s Not Just Knee Deep, this has to be one of the most sampled songs in hip-hop history and seems to be one of those songs that you turn to if you are in need of a hit – budding producers, take note. I could probably go on for ages listing the number of times that this song has been sampled but alas they cannot touch the original. However, here are a couple of my favourites anyway:

 Mariah Carey, even during her kerrraaazzzyyyyy ‘Glitter’ period had the sense to use this song on a track with the former James Brown for the 00’s man of the moment, Mystikal back in 2001. ‘Don’t Stop (Get on The Floor)’ was a quality song from the Glitter soundtrack that brought Funkin’ for Jamaica right up to date.

 

On Snoop Dogg’s classic ‘Whats My Name’ the little known club remix (and quite possibly the best remix known to man) uses the Funkin’ for Jamaica bassline in the body of the track before substituting the chorus with “Snoop Doggy Dogg, that what he is….let him get in to you…” Ahhh, the Deathrow label. Experts at making crude choruses sound so darn catchy (shout-out to Nate Dogg on “Ain’t No Fun”).

Funk Fridays: Cameo – She’s Strange

Cameo, Funk Friday, music

If I mentioned the group, Cameo, to you. I guarantee two things would come to mind: the red leather cod piece… And Candy (now hijacked, to my chagrin as the electric slide song). But let’s not succumb to the masses, for as fine as Candy was/is, that was not all that Cameo was about and this post celebrates one of their other classic songs – She’s Strange.

 

This is one of my favourite songs because it just sounds so strangeeerie, almost like a Western. I think it also pays testament to Cameo’s willingness back in the day to embrace different types of music as the majority of the song is rapped. Alright, he’s not flipping metaphors and switching lyrical styles but back in 1984, this was hot ish. Probably. Ahh, the 80’s – a special time when singers were also rappers. Thankfully they don’t do that now. #noChrisBrown #noTreySongz

 

Special mention must go to the video, which incorporates so many elements that are just pure 80’s gold. The jheri curl bouncing in the moonlight, the day-glo colours and the most random shots in video history – a woman’s stiletto squashing a tube of toothpaste (at 1:28) and sensual cake eating (at 3:10). Those images have stayed with me for years.

 

Of course, such a classic song wouldn’t pass by without being sampled numerous times. Most notable ones are:

·        2pac – Young N****z: Blatant sample by Mr Shakur from one of my favourite ‘Pac albums, Me Against The World

·         Snoop Dogg – Crazy: One of my favourite songs from Tha Blue Carpet  Treatment. Took me a while to find the sample, but it’s actually in the hook “walking down the avenuuuue”. Not totally convinced it counts as a sample, more an ‘interpolation’.

·         Snoop Dogg – Leave Me Alone: More Snoop funkiness, containing him singing parts of the Cameo classic

The Rizzle Review: Cruel Summer

Kanye West, music, Reviews

The British summertime. Once filled with green fields, long, hot sunny days and short nights. Now replaced, somewhat rather harshly, with a few outbursts of sun, grey, gloomy days and umbrellas. Some would say that our Summers and the expectations surrounding them are rather…Cruel. Something that Kanye West has probably experienced during the making of this album. And if, on purchasing the G.O.O.D music family’s debut collection, you were expecting a body of musical  reflections on the effects of global warming, you, sir, would be frankly mistaken.

Instead what we have here is a slickly produced mixtape slash album featuring some of the “finest” talents in US hiphop today. But is it actually any good?

As an avid hip-hop fan, I’ve been waiting for this album for a good few months, dating back to the time when it was originally going to be released in the summer (and it actually made sense to call it Cruel Summer). In this time, Kanye released a whopping 5 tracks off the album (which of course everyone and their mother downloaded).

In all fairness, those singles all bump. Pretty hard. Special shout out to Mr Cheeks 2 Chaiiiiiiinz’s closing verse on the trunk rattling, Trap inspired Mercy; Ghostface Killah’s verse on the Ghost-sampled New God Flow and the grimey, dingey posse cut, Clique.

In today’s music climate, if you’re going to release 5 singles from one project, you are going to need a healthy collection of album cuts to back it up and to Kanye’s credit, there are a few notable other cuts here. R Kelly (love him or loathe him) puts in a stellar performance on the anthemic opener “To the World”. “Higher” features the Dream doing his best impression of a wounded, robotic woman and a rejuvenated Mase offering some choice words to his former Badboy labelmate/Islamic convert Loon (“you know I’m not Muslim my n***a, I’m about my bacon”). The exquisitely produced, 80’s sounding “Bliss” finds crooner, John Legend and socialite-cum-singer, Teyana Taylor both in fine voice.

But once you deduct those tracks, you definitely feel that Cruel Summer could have been so much more and unfortunately, there are numerous misteps. For all the reppin’ that Common does for G.O.O.D. music, he is criminally underused – just one short verse on the illuminati-ode, “In The Morning”. And D’Banj’s inclusion in that same song is downright laughable – some random crooning in the background. Almost a slap in the face for the whole Afrobeats movement.

In comparison, for some inexplicable reason Cy-hi The Prince is all over this album despite his lyrics being that of more of pauper.

Oh yeah, and Kid Cudi’s track ‘Creepers’ is boring. There. I said it.

Cruel Summer, for better or worse, offers a snapshot of hip-hop in 2012 (albeit doing so in a much slicker way than the average stuff that tops the charts these days). Lots of bass, slight paranoia, over-indulgence and some good punchlines. There was a lot of hype over this album and in all honesty, it was always going to be a tough feat. But compared to Kanye’s previous albums Watch the Throne and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, this album fails to take any of the musical steps forward that they did. It’ll still sell by the bucket load due to the extensive guestlist but frankly, there isn’t really much new ground being broken here.