Jam of the Week: Rye Rye – Keep Up

Rye Rye album 2012, crop (620x349)Calypso-flavoured swagger for the summer. That’s Rye Rye’s ‘Keep Up’ through and through. This Baltimore hip hop artist, whose colourful outfits often outdo many tropical birds, has the acid-tongued appeal of Azealia Banks or Nicki Minaj. And as well as working with MIA and Robyn, she’s also appeared in frat boy action flick, 21 Jump Street. Continue reading

Reasoning with Self EP launch: Shareefa Energy and friends

D’Gaf, LondonGolden Blue and Shareefa Energy, D'Gaf, Jul 21, 2015, by Aaron Lee (1920x1080)To see spoken word poet, Shareefa Energy, and her performing friends is to witness a bountiful celebration of generosity and positivity. A celebration that smacks in the face of the continued tokenisation of women with agency in our society.

Shareefa launched her debut EP, called Reasoning with Self, at D’Gaf in Leyton, Tuesday evening, July 21, and to mark the occasion she organised her own spoken word poetry night with a guest line-up of all-female acts. What follows is simply a taste of what these eloquent sisters had to show.

The reasons that we’re here
When she took the stage, Shareefa made it clear that she wanted to put on this event, which she organised herself, to showcase the talents of some of the women who’ve influenced and inspired her own writing and development.

This EP was created with the help of London producer, Meandou, who approached Shareefa about blending her vocals with music. “Growing and working on yourself is a continuous thing,” said Shareefa of the title of her EP. Healing is a central focus for her, and you get the sense that Shareefa’s poetry is borne of a need to mead one’s self through expression.

The EP itself, which Shareefa performed, with a little assistance from fellow poets, Golden Blue and El Crisis, is packed with nuggets of vitality; reminders of perseverance, perspective and self-belief. There’s a real catharsis to her words (“Be careful what you criticise / And take lessons from your own advice”), which she articulates with a warm delight for all to see on stage.

Dressed in traditional Indian garb as she sifted through hardback notebooks, stuffed with poems, Shareefa also shared musings on truth, compassion, heritage and identity. This up-and-coming poet and community champion, who’s “used to only picking up a pen when everything in life seems absurd”, has vibrant material to share. You’d be doing yourself a favour to take notice.

First word
The remainder of the night was hosted by Shareefa’s childhood friend, Trillary Banks, with support from Golden Blue. But her chosen acts and fellow supporters did give a good insight into where she may take her art next, and the vibe you might expect from future events she organises.

Words are what this night was all about. And poet, I-Sis, filled the minds of those present till they were overflowing with her witty, “intellectual detoxification”: ‘Why Write’, a poem that would put a smile on the face of more than a few A-level English teachers, for sure.

A girl and her guitar
Musicians, Caroline Archer and Rukea, put on rootsy acoustic performances that, each in their own way, touched the audience. Archer with two unhurried tributes to her late father, plunking her guitar strings softy, as she longed to sit there and listen to his tales. And Rukea with her silken, Jessie J-like tones, weaving words of love and heartbreak in the air.

Femme finesse
All eight of the night’s female performers had strong sentiments to express. Being women of colour living as part of their specific British diasporas, identity and heritage were recurring themes in their work. Turkish poet, Güneş Güven, shared a poem about resistance, and another about hope. “Sometime in order to breakthrough, we have to break down,” she said of her challenging year so far, which has only been made more tumultuous by the recent terror attack in Turkey.

Poet and hip hop MC, Eyesis-Star, connected strongly with the audience with her boisterous, autobiographical bars (“I know there’s more to life than workin’ for a salary / I wanna spread my wings and fly away / I really wanna see a better day”).

Rara, the second poet to perform, dropped a parade of sizzling stanzas with her politically and socially aware poem, ‘You Fit the Description’, which mused about the discrimination black and non-white people face from the police, citing facts and figures, and drawing imaginative parallels between gang culture and the boys in blue. A new poem about an abusive father (“My father’s an artist, and I was his canvas”) chilled the room temperature considerably, so raw were her words. Rara doesn’t hold back. A glowing addition to the spoken word scene.

The biggest applause of the night, save for Shareefa’s, was directed at West African poet, Golden Blue. Preaching sonorously, her reflections on what it means to be female (“Remove all doubt that your existence is for somebody else’s entertainment”) and her frustration with living in the UK (‘Thiefin’ Set of People’), with its name-brand clothes, monarchy who wears African bling, and a government that’s ready to “hustle” the poor at every turn, had the audience hollering their approval and stamping their feet.

A wiser man than I once told me: “we write to raise people up”. And, through their poems and performances, that’s precisely what Shareefa and her band of word-weaving sisters are doing.

Reasoning with Self by Shareefa Energy is out now, via NLT Productions. It can be downloaded via her official website.

Image: Aaron Lee

Jam of the Week: Birthday Boy & Allie – I Can’t Wait

Allie & Birthday Boy (700x329)Patience is a virtue. But a mind fixated on passionate love-making rarely stops to consider anyone, or anything, else accept it’s beloved. That’s the emotion in Birthday Boy & Allie’s ‘I Can’t Wait’. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: Malice & Mario Sweet – Superstar

Malice & Mario Sweet - SMS (700x394)Terrel Wallace, better known as Tall Black Guy, has been doing it real big this year. Back in April, he put out the outstanding instrumental sizzler, ‘Solar Coaster for the People’, as part of a compilation for First Word Records. He’s been spreading soul power with his sublime DJ sets in London, and his first at Glastonbury. And his latest production, ‘Superstar’, with wife and husband duo, Malice & Mario Sweet, is a rarefied, old-school stonker of a track. Continue reading

Little Boots – Working Girl review

Little Boots - No Pressure artwork (2000x1125)Victoria Hesketh, aka Little Boots, has steadily been refining her synth-pop sound since splitting from her major label, 679. And on her third album, Working Girl, she’s crafted a near-perfect collect of pristine pop. Continue reading

Moments We Remember: Barry Nugent on Metal Gear Solid

Chronicling stories of how gaming has changed us – one moment at a timeMetal GearSolid, PS1, 041, Psycho Mantis (1600x900)Title: Metal Gear Solid (Konami, 1998)
Format: PC, PS1
Spoilers: mild, gameplay-related

Today we’ve got a reflection on Metal Gear Solid, which is still recognised as one of the most ground-breaking titles in interactive entertainment bar none, from sci-fi and fantasy aficionado and co-host of the Geek Syndicate podcast, Barry Nugent.

The first 3D outing for the Metal Gear series, on the original PlayStation, is one that lives long in the memory of those who played it in the late 90s. Nugent’s recount of Solid Snake’s battle with the mind-reading Psycho Mantis is particularly special because game creator, Hideo Kojima, and his team, were pulling tricks that extended outside of the game, right into your hands and the hardware in front of you. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: Favela – Future Visions

Favela - Future Visions EP (960x540)More dance vibes this week from a brand-new producer: Favela. This enigmatic 22-year-old from Leeds emerged onto the dance scene at the end of 2014, when his track, ‘Gong’, began to attract attention on Majestic Casual. Now with a combined total of 2m plays and his dissertation in the bag, his debut EP, Future Visions, was released this week on Transgressive Records’ imprint, Paradyse. Continue reading

Moments We Remember: David Thomson on Lemmings

Chronicling stories of how gaming has changed us – one moment at a timeLemmings (1991), Psygnosis cover (682x384)Title: Lemmings (Psygnosis, 1991)
Format: Amiga, Atari ST, PC, various formats

Moments We Remember returns with a reflection on Lemmings from game developer, David Thomson. Continue reading