Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Dream releases free album 1977

Today Terius Nash, aka The Dream, dropped his free internet-download album 1977 under his birth name in advance of the release of upcoming album proper, The Love, IV: Diary of a Mad Man. The 11-track album, featuring guest spots from Pharrell and Big Sean and introducing Casha, is available direct from his official website. Earlier Nash tweeted in regards to the album: "this one was done with no politics and Pressure. Its Free literally and figuratively." Check it out for yourself, just click HERE for the free direct download.

Def Jam, who Nash is signed to as The Dream, are unsurprisingly unhappy about Nash defying them and going ahead with a free release, and he even announced that he's filming videos for the album too. 1977, which is also the birth year of Nash, is an introspective downtempo album mostly made up of breakup songs, so if that's your kind of thing you'll probably dig this. Here's the tracklist:

01 Wake Me When It's Over
02 Used to Be
03 Long Gone
04 Ghetto (feat. Big Sean)
05 Wedding Crasher
06 Rolex (feat. Casha)
07 Silly (introducing Casha)
08 1977 (Miss You Still)
09 Wish You Were Mine
10 This Shit Real Ni**a (feat. Pharrell)
11 Form of Flattery

Add to FaceBookAdd to Twitter

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Beyoncé - 1 +1 (Official Video)

I don't know what's more annoying, the song or the video. Beyoncé sweats glitter, blows smoke out of her mouth, whips her hair around in slow motion, walks through a wall of water and when she runs out of brilliant ideas she sticks on the ol' mirror effect. It must have taken her a while to come up with that, especially if she can only do basic math.

Add to FaceBookAdd to Twitter

Don't need another one when we got one another

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Yoü & I - Lady Gaga (Official Video)

On August 2nd Lady Gaga made a promise on Twitter that her 1000th post would be a link to the official video for latest single Yoü & I, and last night she delivered on that promise ahead of its scheduled premier on MTV on Thursday. The 25-year-old superstar used tweets 997, 998 and 999 to say "F*CK. THURS. DAY." Her 1000th tweet was a link to the video marked with the words "You must love all + every part of me, as must I, for this complex + incomprehensible force to be true."

Featuring Gaga-on-Gaga make-out action (Gaga plays her own male alter-ego in a scene where she plays a piano in a crop circle), Gaga nudity, mermaid sex and oddly choreographed dance sequences it's certainly a bizarre trip. See for yourself:

Add to FaceBookAdd to Twitter

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Watch The Throne; Jay-Z, Kanye West and the American Dream

Originally intended as a 5-track EP by Jay-Z and his protegé turned superstar Kanye West Watch The Throne evolved into something much bigger than initially planned. The recording process, taking place across hotel rooms and studios in Hawaii, Australia, New York, France, England, Dubai and Los Angeles, resulted in numerous incarnations of the album which were scrapped or re-done due to creative differences. Being one of the only major albums of recent years to avoid an internet leak it was finally released on August 8th through Kanye West and Jay-Z's own labels Roc-A-Fella Records, Roc Nation, and Def Jam Recordings.

Featuring guest vocals from Beyoncé, Frank Ocean, La Roux and Bon Ivor's Justin Vernon and production from the likes of The Neptunes, Q-Tip, RZA and Swizz Beatz plus (expensive) samples of James Brown, Otis Redding, Nina Simone and Curtis Mayfield it's a hefty concoction of talent, influences and money put together by two of hip hop's biggest names. It's an album rife with radio-friendly hooks and stellar production but one that lacks unity and direction as a whole, one might call it eclectic or uneven depending on which way you look at it. West's audacity and spontaneity leads either to moments of inspiration or clumsiness (he's still going on about that South Park episode) while Jay-Z is more restrained and ultimately comes across as more consistent.

As you would expect with that title and cover art the topics of fame and luxury permeate much of the album as the pair celebrate their success rather awkwardly at a time when global economy is still recovering from major blows. Nonetheless it is not entirely self-congratulatory and gloating as some critics have brazenly stated, but the message does seem at times either didactic or muddled. Take Murder To Excellence for example, which begins with a focus on Black-on-Black murder before shifting over to look at success in the form of wealth. West delivers a stellar verse in the first half, "And I'm from the murder capitol where they murder for capital... I feel the pain in my city wherever I go, 314 soldiers died in Iraq, 509 in Chicago," which is later juxtaposed against the emptiness of the rags to riches American Dream of success as Jay-Z comes in with "I'm all dressed up with nowhere to go" and West replies "new crib, watch a movie 'cause ain't nothin' on the news but the blues, hit the mall, pick up some Gucci now ain't nothin' new but your shoes." They seem equally dissatisfied and intoxicated by gaudiness, critical of Capitalism yet completely obsessed and consumed by it.

The album opens with No Church In The Wild, with tales of coked-up excess and late nights, which is followed by the glossy Beyoncé-driven track Lift Off which serves as a mission statement of ambitious grandeur for the remainder of the album to come, but one that the album never really reaches and sustains. Niggas In Paris tells more tales of excess, this time in the French capitol, but it's not until the fourth track, Otis, that Carter & West begin explicitly talking about themselves, but the focus stays firmly on wealth and the high-life. The gloating reaches a pinnacle as West raps "I made Jesus Walks, I'm never goin' to hell/Couture-level flow, it's never going on sale/Luxury rap, the Hermes of verses/Sophisticated ignorance, write my curses in cursive" and in the Spike Jonze-directed video for the song the pair are shown against a backdrop of a large-scale American flag, Jay-Z raising his arms in the air and smiling to his line "Build your fences, we diggin' tunnels /Can't you see we gettin' money up under you?" Ignorant? Yes. Sophisticated? Not really.

New Day sees them in a much better light, as they rap to their future sons about their hopes for themselves as fathers, the mistakes they've made in the past and the ones that they never want to make. It's a rare moment of poignant honesty that adds some emotional depth to proceedings. Welcome To The Jungle is another emotionally charged track that sees Jay-Z describing an introspective moment of personal crisis in the opening verse. In the second half of the track he references the dreams of Biggie and the death of Tupac in Las Vegas and then goes on to allude to numerous big-name rappers without mentioning their names, from P. Diddy to Lil Wayne and even himself. "My dreams is big /Reality set in /Let off a clip from a automatic weapon /Through shots in the door /It died in Vegas /Though it fought so hard /I knew it wouldn't make it" he raps, and it seems to me that with this statement he is referring to the view that the majority of 'real' hip hop died with Biggie and Tupac after which he acknowledges the materialism and superficiality that even he has fallen prey to; "Champagne for the pain /Weed for the low /God damn I'm so high /Where the fuck did I go? /I'm losing myself /I'm stuck in the moment."

If hip hop has been assimilated into the mainstream then Watch the Throne is a shining example of this ongoing hip pop movement. Despite the incredible production and occasional moments of brilliance the album is too confused and ultimately arbitrary; a hip hop album squeezed into a pop mold by two rappers who are clearly frustrated by capitalistic American society yet perfectly willing to pander to it in the name of success. Although both rappers seem to be aware of the ironies and contradictions of their roles and viewpoints, they seem unable to find any resolute direction or stance. The first half of the album revels in 'bling' while the second half of the album wallows in the emptiness of the American Dream; "I got my liberty choppin' grams up /Street justice, I pray God understand us /I pledge allegiance to all the scramblers/This is the Star Spangled Banner." It ends with Why I Love You, a look at greed and betrayal and the pair defending their "throne," asking their peers a question they could just as easily ask each other; "Me or the money, what you loyal to?"

For a long time the primary role models for young African Americans were rappers and athletes and these were the roles that were aspired to. With the election of Obama as the first Black president of the United States came a landmark historical moment. Carter & West are both in positions of power and influence, West caused a massive stir when he went on live television for an appeal for the New Orleans flood crisis and said that "George Bush doesn't care about Black people," so it's disappointing to see that when they come together for what should be a crowning collaboration with massive potential for scope they have very little to say and no inclination to put this influence and power to good use, whether in the form of a positive message for the youth of today or something provocative or subversive to elicit a reaction. The pair are instead almost entirely complacent, no doubt ready to reap the monetary gain from their diluted brand of hip hop for the masses, selling capitalism straight back to their audience despite the few moments of bittersweet honesty on display here. If Kanye West & Jay-Z see themselves as kings at the throne of hip hop then I'd say it's time for their reign to end.

Click here to read Ghostface Killah's hilarious review of the album

Watch the official video for latest single Otis below and the response song by Chuck D:

Add to FaceBookAdd to Twitter

Saturday, 13 August 2011

David Starkey and Issues of Race and Equality

Last night historian David Starkey made some comments on national television that really outraged me. Here is a clip:

What infuriates me so much is ignorant members of the middle class and people in positions of power perpetuating injustice, pointing the finger of blame and doing nothing but making the situation worse by maintaining racist biased views and clinging desperately to their self-imposed privileged position in society not realizing that maybe it's unjust views like theirs that marginalize sectors of the population and contribute to the overall problem. For Starkey to equate gang culture so strongly with black culture in the way that he does is racist and offensive. Did gang culture spawn from black culture? No. Gang culture has been around since the 1800s with the Chinese Triads and the Italian Mafia. We could discuss the glorification of gang culture in today's society through the media but is the Western media not predominantly controlled by White men? So it's fine to exploit when it suits financial profit and then it's condemned for having a negative impact on youth.
People like Starkey will throw the blame around until the cows come home and never take responsibility for how heavily Western society has been crippled by White patriarchal rule and favor.

Race shouldn't be an issue, but racism should be addressed. The balance of power should be addressed. If anything needs to be scrutinized here it's why people like David Starkey still exist in our world today and why the powers that be aren't doing more to educate our society and promote tolerance and equality.
David Starkey's viewpoint is racist, and it incites hatred in me and no doubt a lot of other people. How a supposedly respectable historian can go on national television and say something so biased is beyond me. He's ignoring the real issues of wealth and class in regards to the influences of last week's incidents in London and the UK. I am in full condemnation of the looters and rioters, they are criminals who should be punished, but nonetheless I don't really think they did as much damage to our economy as the bankers and investors that lent money that didn't exist and helped plunge us into this economical crisis in the first place so let us not forget that either. Perhaps Starkey has never heard of the saying that goes 'every time you point the finger you're pointing three right back at yourself'.

We as a people have a responsibility to rise up and stand against this kind of mentality as represented by Mr. Starkey. It is this kind of mentality that perpetuates the cycle of injustice that still exists in our world today and that is hindering societal progress towards greater equality because if people in positions of power or influence hold these views then why should they have any power or influence in the first place?

Friday, 12 August 2011

What Lies Beneath, Mert & Marcus for LOVE Magazine

Mostly known for their portraits of sophisticated, powerful women, Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott's photos typically lend an air of grace and unmistakable perfection to advertising. Their shoot for the latest issue of LOVE caught my eye as it veers away from their usual style, equal parts beautiful and disturbing it recreates Jeff Bark's 2007 series Woodpecker and reminds me a little of Gregory Crewdson's Beneath the Roses (2003-2005), with models bound & gagged and floating lifeless in water wearing Converse and the odd piece by Charles Anastase or Marc Jacobs. It also reminds me of the scene in Sam Raimi's The Gift where Katie Holmes' dead body gets dragged out of the lake, remember that? Anyway, I really like this editorial and so I thought I'd share it, check it out:

Here are two shots from Jeff Bark's Woodpecker series and below that is one from Gregory Crewdson's Beneath The Roses:

The latest issue of LOVE is out now with 6 different cover stars. Lara Stone was out of stock so I picked up Elle Fanning.

Add to FaceBookAdd to Twitter

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Wyld Wednesday at the W - 10/11/11

Here are some shots from our party last night at at the W Hotel London with Boy London. Thanks to Nicola Robinson & Miguel Dare for DJing with me, Boy London for throwing the party with us in celebration of their new development Boy Conflict (with designers Anton Douglas and Rebecca Hegarty) and for everyone who came last night including Rolling Stone-r Ronnie Wood and Boy London creator Stephane Raynor, we certainly had a WYLD time!

Our weekly Wednesday night is going on a three week hiatus before we return on the 7th of September, just in time for London Fashion week, so we'll miss you until then!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Riot, disorder, set the banks on fire...

Riots and civil unrest erupt in London following the fatal shooting of 29 year old Mark Duggan by police on Thursday in Tottenham. A peaceful protest turned to violence and looting which has now spread across the capital with further copycat riots popping up in other UK cities. Three days into the chaos and fires are still ablaze and crime is rampant with police struggling to contain the outbreak.

David Cameron has just given his statement, having only just returned to London from his holiday, and has stated that up to 16,000 police will be on the streets tonight and that all Met leave is cancelled with immediate effect. Cameron also said "If you are old enough to commit these crimes, you are old enough to face the punishment." Many are already criticizing his vague statement and his delay in getting back to the city with Twitter abuzz with public responses. British comedian Simon Pegg tweeted "Just seen on BBC news that
David Cameron has "condemned the sickening scenes" Thank goodness, I was concerned which way he'd swing." Yesterday musician M.I.A. tweeted “I'm going down to the riots to hand out tea and mars bars,” which she was subsequently criticized for, she has since deleted her post and recently tweeted "a five year old is walking round looting my cousin's shop." Not so funny any more is it 'Maya'?

Instead of David Cameron I think we need to get THIS woman on the TV and out on the streets to sort these youths out, ya get me:

On a serious note though, it is extremely distressing to think that there are such a high number of youths in London and the UK that are prepared to partake in mindless vandalism, violence and destruction. It doesn't really make you feel safe does it? With talks of Notting Hill carnival being cancelled and the Olympic games a year away I'm wondering what the further repercussions of all this chaos will be. Here are some more photos and videos of the trouble that's been going on:

The Turkish community in Dalston group together to drive out rioters:

Click HERE to read an article on the Guardian online talking about budget cuts and the dangers of gang culture published 12 days ago.

A website called Catch A Looter has popped up collating images of thieves. Vigilante action is not recommended but if you see looters bragging on Twitter you can report them.

Visit for info on how and where to help clean up affected areas if you can.

Add to FaceBookAdd to Twitter

Monday, 8 August 2011

Azari & III at Shoreditch House

Last night Azari & III DJ'd at Shoreditch House and played a short live set which included crowd favorites Reckless With Your Love, Hungry For The Power and brand new single Manic. Check out my photos from the event, my live recording of Manic (sorry the sound isn't better quality!) and the official video for the song further below!

The Men Who Fell To Earth DJs warming up

Azari & III take to the stage

Larry Tee & myself chilling by the pool

It was too cold for a swim

Add to FaceBookAdd to Twitter