#31WriteNow – Update

#31writenow

It was all good just a week ago. And yet in the past 7 days, I have blogged, ‘just’ four times. Now usually, this would be a massive achievement and don’t get me wrong – I’m happy to have blogged so much recently. But the challenge is called #31writenow and it looks like I will not reach my target of a post every day of August (or at least 31 posts during the month). That in itself is slightly disappointing.

To say that this challenge has been tough is an understatement. The first week was scary but there was just enough there to allow me to post content every day. The following week came and it was a struggle. By week 3, I skipped a couple of days…which brings me to week 4 which has probably been my worst week.

It’s not always through lack of content, but moreso…life! If I blog after work, it is more than likely that things will get in the way, such as gym, socialising and tv watching! I could probably make some drafts at lunchtime but then when would I eat my lunch? Or on the train…but I do like to have a little nap sometimes. Hmmm…

Well anyway, we are moving into the final week and I should really aim to go out with a bang by posting every (remaining) day this week. And then once 1 September hits, I can relax!! If there is one thing that I am learning so far from this challenge, it is that there is a whole wide world out there and so many different topics to blog about. Some of the topics that I have enjoyed writing most haven’t been to do with music at all and I think I will carry on writing about different topics after this challenge is over.

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Team GB’s Relay Team Made Me Laugh and Cry

Athletics, Dwain Chambers, Team GB

We all know the story by now. For all the money and resources that we have, the British are just not that good at athletics. If we ignore the (rightful) enthusiasm and euphoria generated by the London 2012 Olympics and get back to everyday athletics, we’re just too unpredictable. The World Championships in Moscow was definitely a prime example of this. For every success story in Mo Farrah and Christine Ohurogu, we also have the not so successful stories… step forward the Team GB Relay Team.

Adam Gemili, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, James Ellington and Dwain Chambers literally ran for their lives and put in a performance that earned them a bronze medal and one of the fastest times in British 4 x 100m history. We all rejoiced (obviously after celebrating Jamaica and Usain Bolt – the world loves Usain regardless of what nationality you are) at the team coming third as it wasn’t expected. At all.

Britain got the bronze but then after the initial shock and euphoria had died down, the commentary team started to rouse suspicions insinuating that the relay team had handed over the baton outside changeover zone. Elation turned to sighs of “uh-oh” as we saw the guys celebrating with wide smiles and a spring in their steps. Post-race interviews were excruciating to watch, with them all emphasing how perfect their race had been. Except it wasn’t perfect at all. You could just feel that something wasn’t right and I think deep down, the relay team knew that it wasn’t the race that they all proclaimed it was.

I was on edge throughout the interviews as Gabby Yorath and the other pundits reported on the fumble. The camera shot to a replay of James Ellington with a disappointed look just after the race as if he knew what had just taken place.

It was painful to watch the celebrations knowing that it was likely that they would be disqualified yet again for failing to get the baton round the track within the rules. 6 times out of 7 major championships, to be exact.

Sure enough at the end of the broadcast, we received the news that they had been disqualified. The mood of the studio took a downward turn and the end credits played. Failure once again.

The most memorable image of the World Championships for me is probably Dwain Chambers in his bowler hat epitomisng the English gent. Dejected, yet patriotic. Once covered in glory which quickly turned to embarrassment and despair. I guess things could be worse – at least we didn’t go out via a penalty shootout. Go team GB…

Source: dailymirror.co.uk


Rejoice! The Football Season’s Back!

Fantasy Football, Football

After what seems like a lifetime, the football season is finally upon us. For those of us lucky/unlucky enough to be addicted to football, this summer has been dry. And I’m not just talking about the weather.

It’s an odd numbered year, which means there’s (barely) any football on TV this summer. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Squat. No World Cup, no European Championships and not even the lame Olympics football event. These are the summers where we usually challenge our pent up footballing aggression into other sports such as Cricket, Rugby, Tennis or Cycling. Sure, we got behind Andy Murray and cheered him on during his momentous victory at Wimbledon, and we celebrated (albeit very briefly) Chris Froome winning the Tour de France, but let’s be real with ourselves – in hindsight, they didn’t quite hit the spot. They didn’t scratch that itch.

Source: telegraph.co.uk

This season feels like it could be an unpredictable one. The departure of Sir Alex Ferguson towards the end of last season and the appointment of David Moyles, means that Manchester United for the first time in 26 years are facing change. Then at the other extreme, Chelsea welcome the return of the self proclaimed ‘Special One’ and media darling, Jose Mourinho. Can lightning strike twice or will it be like going back to an old girlfriend – it sounds like a good idea at first but then you remember why you broke up in the first place…

Source: telegraph.co.uk

Away from the managers, the pre-season has been consumed by the fate of three guys: Wayne Rooney, Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez. Never has so much been said and yet (at the time of writing) nothing has happened!

Source: aumtrails.com

So as we all, get ready for the first matches and prepare our fantasy football teams, based on nothing more than media hype, speculation and a ‘hunch’, let us all rejoice that normality has returned to our Saturday afternoons and we can breathe a sigh of relief. Bring on the Premier League! *whistles the Match of the Day theme tune*

Throwback Thursday*: The Deathrow Era

Uncategorized

*This is my first Throwback Thursday post. I may not decide to do it again….you know on the basis that I already do Funk Fridays and all…but whatever – it’s my blog so I’ll do as I wish.

One of my favourite eras in music was the early to mid-90’s and in particular, the G-Funk era. I was too young to remember it and definitely too young to listen to the songs but from doing my rap homework over the years, it just seemed like an exciting time in hip-hop.

The label leading the charge was Deathrow Records, founded by superproducer Dr Dre and the imposing Suge Knight. Now although Suge wore a lot of red and had a beard, let’s put matters to rest. This guy was the antithesis of Santa Claus. Suge was responsible for a lot of the money being plowed into the label and of course this money was acquired by legitimate means…*cough*. Anyhow, despite the somewhat questionable nature of the foundation of the business, it was responsible for some of the best hip hop music of all time and at one time – the best roster of artists: Snoop Doggy Dogg, 2Pac, Tha Dogg Pound, Dr Dre, Nate Dogg? Oh come on. Those guys weren’t playing fair.

Source: savagecinema.com

From the period 1992 to 1996, the focus of hip hop shifted from the East Coast with its baggy jeans, timberlands and jazz/soul samples to the West Coast with it’s khakis, braids, Funkadelic samples and that Cali sticky icky icky. Oohwee. Number one song after number one song.

Arguably, the drama outside the music brought an air of ‘realness’ to the label and only enforced the label’s popularity. From 2Pac’s numerous brushes with the law to Snoop Dogg’s murder charge, as well as rumours of Suge Knight dangling Vanilla Ice from a top floor window (sounds hilarious every time I think of it). However, it was this aspect that ultimately brought its down. Dr Dre reportedly grew tired of the hectic lifestyle leaving the label in early 1996 and then 2Pac’s death in September 1996 meant the label was doomed. When Snoop Doggy Dogg left in 1997 to embark on an ill-advised interesting career with No Limit records, the jig was up.

While many choose to look at the negatives surrounding the record label (and there were definitely a lot of those) it’s important to remember that it was a black owned label that was competing with the major players in the game back then. And of course who can forget the classic albums released during that period?? The Chronic, Doggystyle, Dogg Food, All Eyez On Me. It was definitely a whirlwind period in rap music and one that I wish I could have fully enjoyed at the time. To mark this Throwback Thursday, here are some of my favourite videos:

King Kendrick Lamar? – The Rizzle Report

Beef, Big Sean, hip-hop, Jay Electronica, Kendrick Lamar

The internet went kerrrrazy today when Big Sean dropped his newest song, Control ft Kendrick Lamar and the elusive Jay Electronica. Unless, you have been living under a rock, you will know that the following is true:

  1. Big Sean is regretting putting those two on the track with him
  2. Jay is annoyed that his otherwise solid verse is now an afterthought
  3. Kendrick has reignited an interest in lyrical content in commercial hip-hop (finally!)
For too many years mainstream hip-hop has become a watered-down version of itself. In fact, it’s almost veering towards parody (see: Trinidad James and 2 Chainzzzz) where fads, clothes and trap beats far outweigh the lyrical content that saw it ascend to the top of the charts from the mid 90’s until the mid 2000’s.
Aside from the regular big names such as Jay-Z, Nas, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, (who are as much ingrained in popular culture as they are in the hip hop culture they were born into), Kendrick Lamar is arguably the biggest star of the new breed of MC’s. He has been dropping stellar guest verses, as well as two critically acclaimed full length projects for a couple of years now but a popular debate that I’ve been having with my friends is whether he is just the best of a bad bunch or if he’s the real deal?

In his verse, he calls out the names of the “new n*ggas” who are currently deemed to be the hottest in the game and goads them to step their games up. Furthermore, he proclaims himself the King of New York, despite hailing from Compton. These friendly lyrical jabs are what hip-hop has been missing. The art of beef died a long time ago with 50 Cent’s popularity and has been replaced with a mediocre landscape where everyone is best friends and all appear on each other’s albums freely. While there’s nothing wrong with a beef-free rap game (vegetarian rap?), hip hop was about the survival of the fittest, from the best breaker, to the hottest DJ, to the most innovative graffiti artist. When there’s no competition, the standard stagnates and people don’t raise the bar.
Is Kendrick the king of New York? I think the question is who is actually representing fully for New York these days? A$AP Rocky isn’t the most lyrical dude, Joey Bada$$ has great potential but I worry about his ability to turn from underground hero to full on King like Nas or Biggie. Jay Electronica needs to put out his mythical album and stop relying on the plaudits of Exhibit C. The crown is there for the taking, so Kendrick is taking it.

As far as the other guys on the list, I think J Cole can match Kendrick lyrically but whether he will react is another issue. Drake is actually surprising me this year with the straight bangers that he keeps releasing (half of the tracks aren’t even making the album) and despite it being fashionable to hate him (shout out to Amanda Bynes), he is a solid lyricist with crossover appeal.
One thing is for sure – people are talking about lyrics in hip-hop again. Whether it will last and people will go back to poppin’ bandz and twerking remains to be seen, but either way, it will be an interesting watch.
UPDATE

KEVIN HART AKA CHOCOLATE DROPPA JUST RAISED THE DAMN BAR!!! IT JUST GOT REAL!!!

The A21 Campaign

A21, London

This weekend saw hundreds of volunteers spend their Saturday in and around London raising awareness for a really important cause – the A21 campaign, which is a non-profit organisation aimed at preventing human trafficking through awareness.

One of the statistics that blew my mind was that there are an estimated 27 million slaves in bondage across the world. Furthermore, the average age of the victims is just 12 years old and only 1 – 2% of the victims are ever rescued.

The theme of the day was #27for27 – 27 people in 27 boroughs raising awareness for the 27 million slaves. We went around London dressed in black with tape covering our mouths and handing out leaflets to as many people as we could. The response was generally positive and we even managed to get some screen time with a film crew who were making a project with the aid of Stephen Fry.

While some people were genuinely interested in the cause there were some people that were particularly close minded – one guy saying “not bovvered” in a Catherine Tate style, stood out. Regardless of this, we managed to distribute all our leaflets and even received tweets from Channel 4 and made it into the BBC building. 
All in all, the day was a success and I am proud to have been part of such a great cause.

To learn more about the campaign, visit: http://www.thea21campaign.org/

Funk Fridays: Bar Kays – Freakshow on the Dancefloor

Bar-Kays, Breakin', Funk Friday, Ozone, Turbo

If there’s one tune that’s guaranteed to get me dancing regardless of where I am (in my house/on the way to work/on the tube) it’s this! But first, a short backstory…

As a kid I used to watch recordings of soul train, solid soul and top of the pops. One day I happened to come across a video called ‘Breakin’. It was the start of my lifelong interest in breakdancing and body-popping. One scene in particular took place at an LA beach involving a showdown between the good guys and the bad guys and, watched by a Lycra bodysuit-clad, pre-predator Jean Claude Van Damme, they got down to battle. The scene was one of many iconic scenes in that film but the soundtrack to the battle was provided by a band called, The Bar-Kays.

The Bar-Kay’s hailed from Memphis Tennessee and had a string of hits from the late 60’s to the late 80’s. Their affiliation with Otis Redding may be what propelled them to stardom but this song took them to greatness. The association with the film ‘Breakin’ may have meant that this song was not always given the props it deserves but make no mistake – this is a funk classic that stands the test of time. So excuse me while I get my robot on and start breaking on the beach. Enjoy.

Beyonce Gets A Haircut. The World Loses Its Mind

Beyonce, haircut

8th August 2013. A day that will forever be etched in the minds of every man and woman on God’s green earth. Beyonce Giselle Knowles Carter, the Creole queen of pop, soul and R&B has once again changed the landscape of all that is real in these streets. Those luscious locks with which we have seen many a dutty whine are no more, for in a move that has left many in open-mouthed awe, she has done the unthinkable. Put in a short lacefront Had a haircut.

Source: allurb.com
Thousands of fans the world over took to various social networking sites to voice their opinions. Some congratulating her on such a bold move, others in complete shock at how she could do such a thing. Currently there is no official word from Mrs Carter on why exactly she has gone down this route, although rumours of precautionary against the Fan that nearly ate her hair are completely unfounded.
Beyonce’s husband, Jay-Z, has insisted he is not to blame, despite uttering these lyrics on his latest album:
“Girl, why you never ready?
For as long as you took you better look like Halle Berry”.
We will keep you updated with the latest.