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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Interview: Angel Haze

Cocksure and seemingly dauntless, 21-year-old Angel Haze has an undeniable confidence in her musical offerings and abilities – a facet perhaps aided by the abundance of support and excitement surrounding her every move. Erupting onto the scene with ‘New York’ and accompanying mixtape, the ferociously spat offerings leave no doubt that a star is ascending. The Virginia hailing rapper recently sat down with The Wrap Up’s Alya Mooro to talk stereotypes, sexuality, and her duty to honesty…

The Wrap Up: Assuming your surname isn’t Haze, what is your birth name and what inspired your artist name?

Angel Haze: My birth name is Raee’n Wahya. The inspiration is just like metaphor – basically for being high, in every sense. And also because I thought; “if I were a porn star, what would my name be?” and that was just really the root of it.

TWU: The buzz around you right now is strong and steadily growing. Can you tell us a little bit about the steps leading up to this moment?

Angel: It was a lot of work! I feel like most of it was just cultivating and sculpturing and making my craft as good as it is now, so it can be recognizable to anyone… That took a lot of effort, and a lot of time where I spent being told by my manager, “you’re not good enough yet to come out, you’re not ready…” So I had to basically recondition myself and rework everything in my brain and just go for it from a different standpoint. Doing that and moving to New York, especially, and deciding to write and do my EP there, it made everything just a lot easier.

TWU: You haven’t lived there long but judging by your first single ‘New York,’ the city means a lot to you. How has it inspired your sound and what’s your favourite thing about it?

Angel: The craziness of the city, the boldness – you can walk down the street and see a girl sitting on the bench with her boobs out. It’s unexpected, it’s always something – it’s always something different and the culture is crazy and – you hate it but no matter where you go when you remember New York you remember loving the parts that you love.

TWU: You were raised in the Greater Apostolic Faith, a church you described as “a cult.” What impact do you think those experiences have had on your music?

Angel: I think overall it’s made me a more observant person. It made me learn quicker through experience… my own experience and those of others…. It was a bad experience but some really good things came out of it. Now, I just develop my own opinions on everything, and rework everything for myself instead of trusting what someone says just off that.

TWU: Your lyrics tend to be very honest. Do you ever have to tell yourself ‘hold up, that’s too deep?’

Angel: No, and you’ll see that in about a week when I release a new song. You’re gonna be like “Woah! Okay wait…”

For me it’s really important to be honest because if you’re selfish with your truth you’re also selfish with like, the light you can present to another person. It’s always important to be honest about everything because people in the world are going though exactly what I went through like… three days ago. And I could say “hey you shouldn’t walk over that thing you might fall in a ditch and die,” or, I could say nothing and then let them walk there and die… It’s always about being honest so that people know that they’re not alone in the world.

TWU: You recently said the Angel Haze persona is, in a way, the thing you don’t have the guts to be. How would you describe the other side of your personality?

Angel: It’s very shy and timid and standoffish. I like to be alone a lot – I’m really introverted. When I’m Angel Haze you see a totally different person, and that’s the person I want to be all the time but it takes too much energy and too much fearfulness to be like that… All I have to do is say “Angel Haze I summon you’ and then she comes and… it’s a problem.

TWU: We hear an Azealia Banks collaboration is in the works – when can we expect that? And do you have any other collabs lined up?

Angel: Our schedules have been so cluttered lately… I like to do in studio recording with people that I work with so… whenever the time presents itself; I think it’ll be a great collaboration. [Other than that] I don’t know if they’re ones I can necessarily speak on, but… I did one recently with Rita Ora… I’ve actually done something for Vince Kidd’s album… so that’s going to be really cool. I want to work with Adele, but everyone knows Adele does not work with people.

TWU: Female artists of the 21st century such as yourself, Azealia, Gaga, Ke$ha and others have reportedly come out as bisexual. Why do you think this is happening now and what impact do you think it will have on people’s mentalities?

Angel: I think it’s just the world we’re living in, it’s shifting, it’s changing… It’s more okay to be who you are than it ever has been… I think it resonates the fact that you can really do and be anything you want. And really sexuality doesn’t define you, it doesn’t limit your talent, it doesn’t limit your skill set. Just be you. And that’s the best way to be.

TWU: A UK female rapper named Lioness has a song called “Good for a Girl,” inspired by her annoyance of always being told she’s ‘good for a girl.’ Do you think feel that that is a reality of the music industry? Or have artists like Nicki Minaj facilitated the path for women like you?

Angel: At the end of the day it’s more difficult to break through because of the stereotype that some females have allowed males to set for them. The “sex sells,” the, “I have to be overly, hyper sexualized all the time.” … It’s so hard for a female to be taken seriously because that’s the tone that’s been set. Even though Nicki Minaj may at times talk about “oh I like bad bitches,” or “I’ll suck your dick” or something like that, she always comes with real lyricism. Or like, Jene Grae or Nitty Scott or people like me… I don’t talk about sex because, it’s not important to me and it’s none of anyone’s business… It depends on the people who are tastemakers now in this day and age to change what the perception of female rap is.

TWU: What’s your definition of success, in terms of achievement?

Angel: I think mostly, the only thing I really care about is affecting the lives of the people I touch… changing them in positive ways, and just continuing to be me, and have that be enough. That’s all I really care about in life and… obviously being super rich.

TWU: How was performing in Hoxton last week? Do you feel UK audiences receive your music differently than in the US?

Angel: F*cking insane. Insane. I was like wait… I have to breathe. I was signing f*cking ticket stubs and pictures and taking pictures… I feel like the UK, you guys genuinely f*ck with something because you f*ck with it, not because its been force fed to you. It’s like if I like it, I like it, if I don’t, oh well – I’m not going to waste my time saying all these negative things or whatever… I feel like the embrace that you’ve given me has just been incredible. Versus America, versus any other place its like; this is the place that’s the best.

TWU: Following ‘Reservation’, what’s next and when can we expect a debut LP?

Angel: I have a new mixtape coming out on the 25th [of October], and then after that there are going to be six or seven four song EPs. And then the album comes out next year in May. Working hella hard, man.

As written for MTV Wrap Up

Alya Mooro x Angel Haze

Should artists have their music released after they die?

At a time where technology allows the resurrection of musics late, great artists, the likes of Tupac to reappear unblemished before us via hologram, and posthumous albums emerge seemingly from nowhere, is there anything left sacred? And should Drake – or anyone, for that matter – be releasing music on someone else’s behalf?

With the emergence of ‘Enough Said’ several days ago – Aaliyah’s ‘duet’ with Drake on the Noah “40” Shebib produced track – the interwebs erupted and divided into two very clear sects; those who believed the track is awesome, and those who believed that Drake’s Aaliyah super fan status did not attribute him worthy to executive produce her posthumous album, and that someone like Timbaland or Missy Elliott should instead be awarded the honour.

But, the question of who is the reverse grim-reaper aside, perhaps it’s more important to consider if it’s ever acceptable to release someone’s music after they die. After all, isn’t their music the gift awarded to them, and us in turn? Shouldn’t they be the ones to decide how to package and present it?

This question is all the more important with new information which reveals that Aaliyah’s family have denied any and all involvement in her posthumous album. ”There is no official album being released and supported by the Haughton family,” said the late singer’s brother, Rashad Haughton.

Having obtained some of Aaliyah’s previously unreleased vocal tracks, Young Money’s Drake added his own verse in which he brags about his watch, laments various first world pains and appears to further diss Chris Brown after their brawl in a nightclub several months ago.

The extent of or lack of Drake’s prowess is not something that particularly needs to be covered in this discussion but, who said Aaliyah wants any of that on one of her tracks?! (Who said she was happy with those vocals to begin with or that she wanted them heard by the world?) But more importantly – who is Drake to change the legacy Aaliyah left behind?

Music producer Flying Lotus appears to feel the same way, saying “When I’m dead, don’t mess with my music. Don’t be having whoever ‘finish’ my demos n shit. Fuck that.”

Someone once said: “art is the desire of a man to express himself, to record the reactions of his personality to the world he lives in,”and as such, what emerges his wholly personal, and special, and private. That art and the people who bare their souls to provide this art become stars and phenomenons should not take away from the heart of the matter. Namely, that art is a form of expression, and as such, that the power, or the meaning, or the substance behind it should not be borrowed, or lent, or stolen.

Written for SB.TV

14-yr old Young Money R&B star Torion: How Huge Can This Get? | Interview

Young Money’s youngest signee Torion has been turning heads as of late with his mixtapes The Initiation Vol. 1 and 2: The Dream Sequence. The 14-year-old R&B newcomer, hailed by some as Hip Hop’s Justin Bieber, first emerged onto the scene in 2011 but as of yet not much is known about him bar some videos and an introduction from Lil Wayne.

Reporting for SoulCulture, Alya Mooro caught up with the rising star over Skype to learn more about his inner workings.

Click here to read the rest of the interview as written for SoulCulture. : http://www.soulculture.co.uk/features/interviews/14-yr-old-young-money-rb-star-torion-talks-beginnings-success-how-huge-can-this-get-interview/

Are we moving back to ‘good’ music?

The term nostalgia describes a yearning for the past, often in idealized form. This phenomenon is something that has been sweepingly affecting many aspects of our day-to-day lives – the move to touchscreen, HD, computerized gizmo’s and electronized beats stirring in many a desire to return to more basic ways of living and enjoying themselves.

This return to the past and the move to quality over sheer quantity is something that has also become apparent in the music industry – exemplified in the fact that it was the likes of Adele and Ed Sheeran who took home the most BRIT Awards at this years ceremony.

In a time where Photoshop and auto tune reign supreme, a post-adolescent ginger and a phenomenal voice encased in a body which Karl Lagerfeld called “a little too fat” were the ones that stood out. What does this mean?

In a day and age where technology has given anyone and everyone the capability and capacity to hit all the right notes, it seems people are pining for a more authentic sound. Artists the likes of Maverick Sabre and Michael Kiwanuka whipping out their acoustic guitars and soulful voices – and artists the likes of J. Cole spitting poignant rhymes that reflects society – just in time to give people exactly what they have been yearning for.

Even those who provide the sort of digital facilitation that has become inherent in much of the music these days – the likes of Prof Machover – in whose lab games the likes of ‘Guitar Hero’ were created – have admitted the drawbacks of such technology. “I would rather hear a performance with true personal feeling rather than hear something perfectly in tune,” he said. Something, which it seems, more and more people are relating to.

Sales figures support this with Adele’s album ‘21’ the only album to have seen the number one spot so far this year. Maverick Sabre’s album debuted at number two in the UK charts, while Ed Sheeran’s ‘+’ was the ninth biggest selling album of 2011 in the UK.

This is also apparent in the controversy surrounding the use of auto tune in 2010’s X Factor, when outrage surrounded the bosses admittal to using the technique in improving contestant’s voices – making it clear that people do not like to be fooled by technology.

That’s not to say that the more ‘pop’ sounding tracks are doing badly. It’s undeniable that artists the likes of Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Drake and even Pitbull are doing as well if not better than ever. Meshing together crude, arguably pointless lyrics and mismatched beats in the hopes that an abundance of skin will distract from the above faults, much of today’s musical offerings are arguably not giving consumers and concert goes value for their money.

‘Talk That Talk,’ Rihanna’s latest and sixth studio album peaked at number three in the charts – proving both that she will undoubtedly be around for the long run, but also that while her singles tend to chart at number one, her albums have not reached that position once.

For as long as people need music to dance to, there will be ‘pop.’ For as long as we expect a quick regurgitation and turn out of musical offerings, there will be ‘pop’ – for the artists are only giving the consumers what they want. But it’s undeniable that at the same time as many of the artists and the music that they offer are becoming more commercialised, packaged and hastily whipped out – the demand, and often the delivery of the exact opposite is also increasing.

Good music has always transcended generations. We have forever been able to listen to the music our parents listen to – now, finally, they can listen to ours too.

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.

Gregory Porter – ‘Be Good’ | Album Review

Frank Sinatra and John Legend’s lovechild. That’s who I would compare Grammy nominated Gregory Porter to if I absolutely had to. That said, comparisons don’t do him justice. Having shot to fame with his debut album ‘Water’ in 2010, expectations for the follow up are high. But fans need not have worried.

With a timeless familiarity, Porters rich, soulful voice unleashes undeniably beautiful music – songs that would fare well on a theatrical stage; rich both in substance as well as in their ability to tell tales. This truth resonates particularly in ‘Painted On Canvas’, the albums opening number, where the earnest wistfulness of the track evades the speakers. His love for the jazz genre and his identification with it is evident in the extent to which the album is teaming with horn-heavy arrangements and soulful vocals. Exemplified in ‘On My Way To Harlem’, where the Californian-born New Yorker even goes so far as to name drop legend Duke Ellington, and sing: “You can’t keep me away from where I was born. I was baptized by the jazz mans horn.”

Click here to read the rest of the review as written for The House of Coxhead