In Praise of Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean - 2012 press photo 01 (1448x815)It’s incredible how little I have written about Frank Ocean considering how many times I have played his music over the last four years, and how deeply it has touched me. Following the release of his second album, Blonde, in August, it’s high time I remedied this fact with a piece in praise of this singular artist. Continue reading

In memoriam: David Bowie

David Bowie mural, Brixton, Jun 22, 2015, by Maureen Barlin (1920x1080)News that David Bowie, the musician, fashion iconic and eccentric innovator, passed away today, after an 18-month battle with cancer, has shocked the world.

As I write, tributes continue to be posted by millions on social media, and if all the Bowie obituaries and editorials that have appeared in the last 12 hours were printed out and pasted together there could well be enough paper to cast a tether into space to rescue Major Tom. Continue reading

Hype your writers: spoken word excellence at SOAS University

Spoken word night, SOAS University, Apr 30, 2015, by Mohamed 'Mo Rhymes' Mohamed (599x337)Energised. That’s the way I am still feeling now, having returned from a spoken word poetry night at SOAS University, London. Hosted by poet, writer and teacher, JJ Bola, the evening (on April 30) was the final event in series that has grown far beyond what its organisers at the Decolonising Our Minds Society expected.

They’ve held events about “deconstructing social norms that are remnants of colonial thought” for last couple months, including a discussion with British-Jamaican filmmaker, Cecile Emeke, which had to be moved to a bigger venue because of sheer demand. The cosy chillout zone-cum-lecture space in SOAS’s main building was similarly packed for yesterday night’s parade of vibrant performances.

If I could show the sights, bring you the sounds and allow you to feel the exchange of energies at play that night, at Hype your writers like your rappers, with more than these simple words, I would. Videos were taken, but they’re never around when you need them and nor do they convey the full flavour in their 16:9 window frame. But, even without a poet roster or schedule sheet for this open mic night, I will try, right now, to give you a sense of what occurred. Continue reading

Visiting the ArcelorMittal Orbit

Olympic Park, London, Apr 27, 2015, by Aaron Lee, 02, OrbitThe view was astounding. You could see right the way across London, from Ally Pally in the north to Crystal Palace in the south.

Today I took a trip to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, and, thanks to the curiosity of my companion, found myself standing on the circular observation deck of the ArcelorMittal Orbit. Continue reading

Apple Watch: why it may struggle to become essential wristwear

Apple Watch launch, Apr 10, 2015, by Shinya Suzuki, 01 (3264x1836)Some of my previous assertions about Apple products have been, um… mistaken. When the iPhone originally came out, I had no idea what it was or what all the fuss was about. Three-and-a-half years later, I was singing the praises of Apple.

Of course, 11 months before that, I was ready to decry the iPad. Having inherited an iPad 1 in 2012, which I still use for entertainment purposes, work and occasional adventures out and about, I’ve realised the benefits of tablets over laptops in certain situations. In both cases, these products fill needs in the connected age, and can make life simpler (when coupled with self-discipline) in our increasingly busy society.

The Apple Watch, however, I’m not so sure about. Continue reading

Theresa Lola and Barney Artist, GNC’s Undisclosed

Theresa Lola, at South Place Hotel, by Aaron Lee, 02, (1920x1080)For discerning lovers of culture and music, newly launched night, Undisclosed, offers an alternative to usual regimented, tense clubbing experience.

Part clubnight, part talent showcase, this was a premier, of sorts, for the new monthly event, which is organised by north London DJ collective, We GNC, and happened at the South Place Hotel, London, on April 4. Continue reading

Mixtape: let’s get political – change begins with you

Tibet protest, Chinese embassy, London, Mar 07, 2015, by Chris Beckett (1350x759)If you live in the UK, you can’t fail to have noticed that we’re approaching another riveting general election. The three major parties – Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats – are all hoping their rhetoric will win you, and I, over. We’ve even got the Eurosceptic, borderline-racist party, UKIP, filling our screens this time.

If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you have at least some view on politics, and the decision makers who, like it or not, hold much of the power in our society. Continue reading

Solar eclipse 2015: reflections after it happened

Solar eclipse 2015, Svalbard, Norway, BBC, 02 (1366x768)As naïve as it maybe, I was expecting most of Britain to be plunged into noticeable darkness during its first total solar eclipse since 1999. That didn’t happen, of course. Instead, thanks to rampant cloud cover, myself and many others, were forced to watch what we could of this astounding, once-in-a-generation event via live news feeds over the web. Continue reading