Live Review: Joey Bada$$ x Pro Era @ XOYO

Hip Hop is alive and well, as evidenced at XOYO last night, where New York hailing Joey Bada$$ and his Pro Era strong entourage well and truly proved any disbelievers to be, without a doubt, wrong.

Having been steadily garnering a following since his emergence onto the scene some few months ago, Bada$$ touched down in London town where he showcased the lyrical ability and depth he has become so well known, and loved for.

“A lot of UK artists think it’s all about being nonchalant with it. No. We want to see you performing like it’s the last show of your life.” tweeted co-founder of music blog SME following Joey’s bada$$ performance (sorry, I couldn’t help it.) “Fun is cool,” he continued.

And if ever there was any doubting the matter, watch a Joey Bada$$ performance.

Repeatedly diving into the packed out crowd that read like a who’s who of the music industry and a ‘Where’s Joey?’ type Wally book, the desperation and need for someone to reaffirm the original principles of hip hop were acutely felt with the urgent, almost angry – were it not for the broad smiles on the protagonists faces – way in which bar for bar was spat through overexcited lips.

Performing a catalogue of previously released songs (Survival Tactics was energetically played out twice), the trio then erupted into an impromptu freestyle, seemingly as a thank you to the audience who were witness to their “best show ever.”

And if ever there was any doubt of the extent of their charisma, the loving crowd swelled and broke like waves against the stage, all too happy to obligingly sing “happy birthday” to Pro Era’s Kirk Knight.

Gallivanting their way around the stage, charming the crowd and pulling up girls left, right and centre to wipe their sweating brows and lovingly pour water down their parched throats, like true veterans, it will most probably come as a surprise to learn that Bada$$ and crew are not even legal in the UK, let alone the US.

A trawl of the internet failed to deliver me the quote I was looking for but it goes something like: “Don’t praise the youth for being young, it’s the only thing they have no control over and will inevitably lose.”

But for Joey Bada$$, the praise comes fast and thick. Regardless of age, gender, colour, nationality or planet he hails from.

In a world of the try hard, overdone and redundant, Joey Bada$$ and his too big (and too on show) boxer shorts are effortlessly cool.

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Review: WigWamBam @ Queen of Hoxton

Poor, poor Londoners – we don’t have campfires or girl scouts or smores. But, luckily, we do have the Queen of Hoxton.

WigWamBam pops up at the Queen of Hoxton to make those winter months slightly more bearable. Boasting a tipi atop a rooftop overlooking the Shoreditch sky line, expect roaring fires, a meat-topped grill, buttered rum, mulled cider and a host of entertainment lined up.

Forced back out into the howling wind due to a distinct lack of food that DOESN’T include pork (the menu varies day-to-day and my Muslim friends were unlucky enough to venture upon the meat-topped grill on a day where pig was the serving) we unfortunately missed out on the nights entertainment.

Bar the food problems, seating was also a flaw. Hacked off treetrunks massively taking away from the comfort, cosiness factor that is the be-all and end-all of WigWamBam. Bean bags! Reclining chairs! A bed, perhaps? Come on WigWam! Didn’t you know it was a massive effort to pull ourselves off the above in order to get to you?

That said, anything that makes winter less daunting is my best friend. And the WigWamBam certainly does that.

WigWamBam is at the Queen of Hoxton, 1-5 Curtain Road, and is open Monday to Friday 4-10pm and Saturday 6-10pm until March 2012. More information can be found here: www.queenofhoxton.com

Joss Stone performs at Londons Under The Bridge | Live Review

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By track two of her sold out, intimate show, powerfully soulful singer Joss Stone inspired a school boy crush on every single member of the audience at London venue Under The Bridge on June 6. Having sold 11 million albums by the age of 24, the Devon-raised songstress seems to be secure in the knowledge that she’s got us whipped; with bare feet, untamed hair and a show which may have been deemed unprofessional, had it not been so damn enchanting.

“I’ve had a bit of a wardrobe malfunction,” laughed Joss within minutes of the show starting. “I hope you don’t mind but I’m going to sing this song holding my boob.”

Read the review in full over at SoulCulture

Maverick Sabre at Roundhouse, London | Live Review

Hailed by many as ‘the male Amy Winehouse,’ Maverick Sabre – who has sold over 500,000 copies of his debut album, Lonely Are The Brave, in the last four weeks and reached number two in the album chart – is the name on everyone’s lips. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone – evident in the impossible to pinpoint demographic that flooded Camden’s Roundhouse and filled every nook and cranny for the sold out show on Saturday the 10th of March.

Click here to read the rest of the review as written for SoulCulture.

Clement Marfo, Yasmin, Josh Osho, Lady Leshurr, Smiler, Cleo Sol at MOBO tour, London | Live Review

CEO Kanya King launched the MOBOS – the first awards show in Europe dedicated to celebrating urban music – in 1996. And with a reputation for obtaining the best homegrown acts for their yearly tour around the UK ever since, this year was no exception.

The penultimate night of the MOBO Live tour was held at the 02 Academy in London’s Islington on Wednesday, February 29. Despite being undoubtedly exhausted from a hectic week circling academies the country over, the acts put on a show that didn’t even hint at it.

Click here to read the rest of the review as written for SoulCulture.

Childish Gambino at CAMP, London | Live Review

Actor, comedian and rapper Donald Glover – known to the fans of his music as Childish Gambino – put all of the aforementioned skills into commission last night (January 25) when he performed at East London venue CAMP, with a set of new material from his latest LP of the same name.

Supporting act Josh Osho [who could very well be the UK’s answer to John Legend] warmed up the crowd with smooth vocals and a passionate performance. With elements of blues and a voice that at times cracked under passion, Osho performed tracks “Birthday,” “SOS,” “Redemption Days” and, my personal favourite, “Giants,” which with its rocky feel and deeply resonating chorus, seemed to strike a chord with an audience that were eagerly anticipating the arrival of Mr. Gambino.

And when he finally did arrive on the stage after a rather prolonged delay [which made us very thankful for the skills and music choice of DJ Semtex], the room erupted in cheers. Whipping off his hoodie, Gambino turned to face the crowd greeting fans with an almost matched excitement. “I haven’t done a show in a room like this in a long time,” he said, referring to the underground, low-ceilinged, intimate venue that is CAMP. “So I wanna burn this place down.”

Click here to read the rest of the review as written for SoulCulture.

& maybe you should just float, and free your mind. [My experience floating in a salt water vacuum]

“There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy” said Robert Louis Stevenson.

Its true. We scroll through our endless to-do lists with no thought of which (if any) of the items give us satisfaction, or make us smile. Of course life is not only about doing what makes us happy, but some part of it must be, surely.

Avidly reading ‘The Happiness Project’ (there will be an entry on it very soon) a lot of different things have been entering my mind.

One of the things the writer, Gretchen Rubin discovered through her happiness project is that if you are happy, it makes people around you happy too, and vice versa. Another thing she discovered is that money can buy happiness, if spent correctly.

Happiness comes differently to different people, and arises as a result of different things. That goes without saying. For me, happiness is often linked to having some quiet, alone time. Something I explored in The Importance of Being Quiet.

Floatopia.

With the above facets in mind, I was undeniably very excited, and intrigued when my brother told me about something called ‘Floatopia.’

Essentially… Floatopia consists of lying naked in a vessel full of salt water, and floating.

Its based on the idea that it has a number of benefits such as:
– Relieving stress
– Releasing Endorphins – the body’s natural painkiller and happy pill.
– Improving the condition of the skin and hair.
– Detoxing the system.
– Increasing creativity and imagination.
– Increasing circulation and energy levels.
– Balancing the left and right brain.
– Improving concentration.
– Assisting in the treatment of addictions, phobias and depression.
– Regulating sleeping patterns – one float simulates 4 hours of sleep.
– Relief from old injuries (especially back aches etc.)

My experience.

I arrived at the centre yesterday with no idea what to expect, but so excited, having had my brother raving to me about it for weeks.

Stripping down, inserting ear plugs (to prevent salt water from seeping into my ears) and settling myself into the vessel, my first thoughts were of apprehension. Unreasonable worries such as ‘What if I drown?’ and ‘What if I can’t get out?’

And as the minutes ticked by I was first greeted with an influx of the minor problems which bother me on a daily basis, along with my to-do list rattling and prattling its way around my mind.

And then nothing.

For an hour I floated in a vacuum, free from the outside world. And when I emerged… nothing mattered.

Its a difficult sensation to describe… that of being completely wiped clean. I didn’t fully believe my brother either when he gushed to me about. But thats exactly how it is.

One of my best friends called me with a problem minutes after I stepped out of the door, into the bustling street and back into ‘real life.’ I wish I could have told her how it so didn’t matter. Life is really good. It doesn’t matter, its all in your mind. Of course some problems are more serious than others but: “You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind.”

I spent hours walking around with a clean slate. One that I will certainly take much more care in re-writing on.