Jam of the Week: Common – Letter to the Free

Common - Letter to the Free single (630x354)Storied hip hop artist, Common, has long placed conscious messages at the centre of his music. Responding to the testing events that have gripped the United States, he shared the thought-provoking ‘Letter to the Free’ this week. Continue reading

Solange – A Seat at the Table review

Solange - Cranes video still, 01 (1280x720)It is said that the tough times are the true measure of a person’s character. By that definition, Solange is empress, artist and saviour all in one. Eight years after this maverick R&B singer’s second album, and four years since her cathartic portrait of a break-up (True EP), she has gifted us with a bold, vibrant album about freedom and the worth of her people. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: Solange – Don’t Touch My Hair (ft. Sampha)

Solange - Don't Touch My Hair music video still, 01 (980x490)Surprise digital album releases have simply become the “new standard” for a section of big-name artists. Still, Solange’s reveal of her first full-length album since 2008, A Seat at the Table, was enough to send the R&B faithful into a spin last week. Continue reading

Hip hop, misogyny and the media: why ASAP Rocky’s diss is damaging much more than Rita Ora’s self-esteem

ASAP Rocky, Rita Ora collage, BS, FG, 2015, AL (1080x608)We’ve been here before: egoistical, millionaire rapper insults famous female he had a fling with in “gross misogynistic” song lyrics that have “sparked outrage”. But that’s why you’re reading this, isn’t it? Because hip hop’s ASAP Rocky* has called UK pop singer, Rita Ora, a “bitch”, and much worse, in a song from his newly released album, At Long Last ASAP.

Right now, you might be thinking: “big deal, hip hop artists do this all the time”. Or, perhaps: “ha ha ha, the bitch deserved it”. I’m no fan of Rita Ora, but, as well as being an unnecessary knock to the singer’s self-esteem, Rocky’s diss, in ‘Better Things’, adds fuel to the already-strong belief that hip hop is, and should be, solely about narcissism, hatred and misogyny.

Well, here’s the thing: hip hop’s got 99 problems, and “bitch” is just one. Continue reading

Tunage: Prince – Baltimore

Prince - Baltmore single (750x422)On Sunday, May 10, Prince performed at an impromptu concert in Baltimore intended to bring some much needed unity and peace to the city, which is only the latest area to see the death of a non-white citizen, Freddie Gray, in this case, spark racially-motivated protests and riots. Alongside the show, he’s released aptly named ‘Baltimore’, featuring Eryn Allen Kane, a song with a sentiment that couldn’t be more plain: peace. Continue reading

Choice Cuts: De La Soul – De La Soul is Dead

Tommy Boy / Warner Bros Records, 1991
De La Soul, by Robbie Jeffers, 2013/4 (1035x582)The hip hop albums of the 90s were dense. Not just in length, but in concept and originality too. And De La Soul’s second album, De La Soul is Dead, is as about as dense a 90s hip hop record as you’ll find.

Opting to avoid record labels in favour of keeping more creative control over their music and relationship with their fans, the De La boys – Kelvin ‘Pos’ Mercer, David ‘Dave’ Jolicoeur and Vincent ‘Maseo’ Mason – recently turned to Kickstarter to crowdfund their comeback record (at long last). The funding round for their new album, And the Anonymous Nobody, ended today with a whopping $600,875 from 11,169 backers. So, for those that are less familiar with this pioneering hip hip trio, now’s the perfect time to look back at one of my favourite De La albums: De La Soul is Dead. Continue reading

Does liking rock music make you ‘less black’?

Shingai Shoniwa of Nosiettes, by Kmeron (Oct 2009) (1448x815)So it turns out I’m wrong. Musical prejudice is alive and well here in 2013, despite the internet and its supposed ability to make the digital age a more progressive one. Continue reading

Journalism that makes me aspire to be a better journalist

Absent from the Academy still 01, by Nathan Richards

When I decided I wanted to be a journalist the biggest attraction to me was having the chance to meet new people and tell stories about them. Heroic people, frightening people or maybe just ordinary people.

But somewhere along the way, I realised what has kept me at this for the relatively short period I’ve been doing this is because I want to change things. Continue reading