Why I think Stormzy headlining Glastonbury is a huge step forward for Black culture in the UK…

It’s crazy to think that in 2019, we are still saying “first black” but any progress is appreciated.

On the 15th of November 2018, it was announced that Stormzy would be headlining Glastonbury 2019. Glastonbury, being the largest greenfield festival in the WORLD attended by around 175,000 people meant that this was a huge deal. Fast forward to Friday 28th of June 2019 when Stormzy takes to the stage. Stormzy is the first Black British solo artist to headline Glastonbury in its 48 year reign. If that wasn’t enough of a record to break he is also at 25 years old, the second youngest solo act to ever headline Glastonbury, the youngest being a 24-year-old David Bowie in 1971. However, Stormzy is used to being the record breaker throughout his career. He was the first grime MC to have a debut album go number 1 in the UK charts and has since had 5 UK top 10s. At a time where a lot of genres of music including rap or grime are blamed for the violence in London, I am glad the Glastonbury organisers gave Stormzy the opportunity to shine.

His stardom may seem random and quick to some but he has definitely been putting in the work from very early on. As a big fan of Stormzy, I have watched him grow from the beginning when he was releasing his videos and unique freestyles on his YouTube channel, which has just recently surpassed 1 million subscribers! . On top of his music, Stormzy is a voice for the youth in regards to saying and speaking on things that are happening in our society. During the Grenfell Fire, he was one of the key people rightly criticizing the government’s approach to the disaster. Stormzy is never afraid to get political in his music or performances and that is something to be admired.

In addition, he has collaborated with Penguin and started a Publishing company called #Merky Books. #Merky Books publishes around two to three books a year and is an outlet for a generation of voices. He holds initiatives for young writers to win competitions and a paid internship. Most recently, they have released “Taking Up Space…The Black Girl’s manifesto for Change” written by Black Cambridge graduates Chelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi. Stormzy mentions in his latest song ‘Crown’; “I done a scholarship for the kids, they said it’s racist, that’s not anti-white, it’s pro-black”. Stormzy is unapologetically black and is always finding a way to uplift and support his people despite the constant criticism. Stormzy also paved the way for a lot of Black British artists to see how possible it was to chart or to have commercial backing without having to feel the need to dilute themselves.

Knowing all this about Stormzy and having had the privilege of seeing him perform live at his sold out show in the past, I knew this Glastonbury performance was not going to disappoint and I wasn’t wrong. Filled with the most energy I have ever seen him have, his set consisted of his classic songs, a huge choir and backing singers, a very cute little girl with the sass to light up the world, dancers, bikers and so much more. One of my favourite parts of the performance was when Raleigh Ritchie came out and Stormzy had a little piece dedicated to the fact in the ballet world, black people no longer have to stain their shoes to have them in their skin colour as there are now shoes made for our skin colours.

We can’t forget the amazing duet with Chris Martin where they sang ‘Blinded By Your Grace Pt.1’ on the piano. Surely that iconic moment will go down in history. Stormzy always pays homage to those before him through his songs and this time was no different. He brought out two of the hottest young rappers in the UK at the moment, Fredo and Dave, who then performed their hit number 1 song “Funky Friday”. Stormzy later on gave a shout out to all the UK rappers before him and coming up after him. I think the key to the success of Stormzy besides his hard work is the fact he always remembers those before him and those after him. Despite his huge success and despite his co signs from living legends like Jay Z or Ed Sheeran, he never lets that overwhelm him.

Stormzy demonstrates to young black people that you can be yourself and still have people respect you. His confidence is a major lesson that we no longer have to keep quiet and hide away our talent in order to “fit in” or “not stand out”. It is great to see young Black kids growing up with artists like Stormzy doing so well in order to show them anything is possible. We should be at the stage in society where your skin colour should not be holding you back. His message has always been the same and he always gives glory to God. How on earth can you dislike someone like him? To me and to so many others, Stormzy is the chosen one. We are forever thankful that someone like him is representing the young black people. May his success forever reign and we will forever thank him for kicking down the doors for the ones after him.

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#NewMusicFriday Kintsugi EP by Lexi Tréble!

#NewMusicFriday is here and todays post is dedicated to the debut EP from Lexi Tréble!!

I had the privilege of hearing the EP a few days ago and honestly, hand on heart I have been playing it ever since. Having spoken to Lexi, it is clear her musical influences definitely come from artists such as Solange Knowles, IAMDDB, Lauryn Hill and many more soul/jazz/r&b artists. The EP title “Kintsugi” is Japanese and is the art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. According to Lexi this is relevant as for her she believes it relates to life and the idea of growing and healing with situations in life. The Japanese theme is also reflected within the artwork and visuals she has released. From this I knew this EP was going to be a meaningful piece of art.

The first track “Crash and Burn” is a brilliant opening track. I always talk about the importance of intro tracks on projects as it’s the first chance for the artist to show us who they are. As soon as the track starts and Lexi sings, I can tell this is going to be an interesting track. The juxtapositioning of the anticipation provided by the background music and the title of the track for me is perfect. She is singing about crashing and burning which indicates it is the end of something, but the music makes it feel like more is to come. I feel this song will be perfect in a movie or tv show where there is something about to happen, maybe a chase scene. A great intro track as it leaves you wanting more and wondering what other sound can be produced!

The next track “Go” starts off with a slower pace but picks up throughout. It’s funny because I feel Lexi’s voice is quite unique which is rare nowadays. This song is the kind that would sound even more amazing with a live band! The vocal ranges she exhibits in this song is the standout moment for me. I get the impression that she is telling the romantic interest that he should leave because of his actions and she is realising all she has is herself. The content reminds me of Beyoncé’s “Me, Myself and I” with the idea that you can only really rely on yourself. The uncertainty continues into the track “Distant Memories” as she sings “I find myself questioning love…you called me your muse but now I’m just your fool”. This is one of my favourite tracks from the EP as I feel the combination of the beats and Lexi’s voice have the best combination. The uncertainty continues into the track “Distant Memories” as she sings “I find myself questioning love…you called me your muse but now I’m just your fool”. This is one of my favourite tracks from the EP as I feel the combination of the beats and Lexi’s voice have the best combination.

The 4th track from the EP “Superficial” is my absolute favourite. The content/message, sound, compositing is just perfect. Again, this is another song that would be perfect live with an audience singing back. This song is the kind of song I would play for my little cousins in order for them to take the messages being put across. This is an important song in a society where most people are superficial and distracted by unmeaningful things. Lexi sings “Don’t be so superficial, there’s more to life…when you go outside live life to your fullest, don’t need no designer to feel alright”. Lexi reminds us that life is about the simple things and not the artificial moments. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of maintaining an image or impressing others but we have to remember life is for living. There is more to life than designer labels, Instagram likes or chasing boys or girls. This will be the first single released from the tape too so I look forward to seeing the video for this!

Love Me Right” is a powerful self-loving anthem. Lexi sings “I’ve got to love me right” meaning that love starts from within before anything else. Going with the theme of the EP, the end of EP focusses on the regeneration of Lexi. In the song she sings “I know that real love has got to start with me”;

We have seen how she was broken in the beginning and how through the journey of healing she is realising what is important and is putting herself back together. The final track “Look At Me Now” is the perfect ending to the EP as Lexi reflects at how far she has come “Look at me now, I’m not the same little child…oh how I’ve changed”. A self-reflecting therapeutic song where we see how much Lexi has grown and how she now sees the bad moments as lessons.

As the first realised EP from Lexi, this is pretty impressive. The EP stuck to theme and took us listeners on a journey through every song. Every song had its own meaning and back story while still keeping a unique sound to each. I have personally added every song to my ‘Vibes’ Spotify playlist and I hope this is the beginning of more music from Lexi.

Check out her music below as well as her socials;

https://www.instagram.com/lexitreble/

hyperurl.co/d9frh5

#ThrowbackThursday Old vibes….

Another week nearly done! Stay tuned for more posts in the next few days but for now it’s time for #ThrowbackThursday. Here are 3 songs that will have you reminiscing about the past.

Mario – How Do I Breathe (2007)

I’m a big fan of Mario and his older music. I’ve previously talked about his hit album “Turning Point”. This particular song is the first single released from his third studio album “Go” (2007) Mario’s voice is sensational in this song as he hits the high notes throughout. The song gives us the impression he has just gone through a breakup and is struggling to adjust to his life without his woman in it. I liked the pre chorus where he sounds like he is playing two people. He also plays the role of main singer and backup singer in the same verse. Overall this song is reminiscent of old school R&B and honestly the high notes are so beautiful to hear. Have a listen below!

Tion Wayne Ft Afro B – Bae (2015)

“Throw away your man he’s dispersable” is how this song starts and what a line! UK rapper Tion Wayne uses his cheekiness and sauce to deliver a bar! At the time of this release Afro B was getting more recognition for songs as well as his mixes. Fast forward to now and he has one of the biggest songs and Tion Wayne is also flourishing and shining. For me the harmonies from Afro B mixed with Tion’s pronunciation of certain words make this song unforgettable. Have a listen below;

Plies Ft Ne-Yo – Bust it Baby Pt 2 (2008)

I used to love this song when it first came out. At the time, I remember at the time, the video debuted on the BET show 106 and Park and stayed on the countdown for over a month! As a fan of Ne-Yo, I think his contribution to the song made it a hit. His verse for me was the best part of the song as it slowed it down a bit in contrast to Plies’ active style of rapping. The song is definitely not for those under the age of 16, that is for sure! Have a listen below;

Jhene Aiko Ft Kurupt – Never Call Me (2017)

This is one of those songs that if you know, you know! The song is based on Jhene’s broken relationship with her ex-husband. I’m assuming due to the title, miscommunication was a major factor in the breakup. The song also contains a snippet from American rapper, actor and former Executive Vice President of Death Row Records, Kurupt, who is also a close friend of Jhene and gave her advice while she was going through the breakup. In the song she addresses the fact that they both knew they had nothing in common “We never shared anything but the drugs, we were both numb, never had anything real between us” which is quite a sad revelation. Another fact is that Jhene actually has two video versions for this song. One is the Slauson version which explores her African American roots and upbringing. Slauson is the area in America she grew up in and the video features the late Nipsey Hussle who of course is the King of Slauson. The second video focuses more on her Asian side as she dresses up. Have a listen below;

New Music: What I’ve been listening to…

Hey everyone, just an update on some of the latest music I’ve been listening to at the moment. Last week was a big week for music releases so stay tuned for some album reviews soon!

Chris Brown Ft Drake – No Guidance

FINALLY!!!! This collaboration has been LONG overdue!!! When I first heard the song I thought it was an old collab that had just been leaked but Chris confirmed it was new and released it. It’s nice to see that the two have sorted out their differences because I would argue that they are possibly two of the most talented artists we have at the moment. The song feels like a joint song rather than one featuring another. The end of the song when the tone changes and Drake has his verse sounds like an old school Drake vibe. Chris kept consistent energy too. I hope this is the beginning of a lot more collabs between the two.

Skepta – Gangsta Ft BBK

Skepta has finally released his new album ‘Ignorance is Bliss’ and it contains a few features. The premise of the song is focusing on people that act like they’re not. This song features some of the members of BBK. For me though, the stand out verse is from none other than Skepta’s blood brother JME. My favourite lines from him would have to be when he says “Waste of money and time, please stop (trust). You cannot buy gangster from shop, bare logos, bare designers you lot are looking like F1 drivers”. This is the idea that people equate status to the amount of labels they wear when really they look more ridiculous. Have a listen below;

CE Ft. Wavey – Drown

CE is back with another one. This time he recruits Wavey and the song is one of those songs that you would want to zone out to. It will have you singing “baby don’t tell me you’re leaving” after hearing it, trust me!

Skepta – What Do You Mean Ft. J Hus

I’ve repeated so many times that J Hus is the king of hooks! Have him on a song and it is an instant hit. Hus has the ability to give special meanings to normal words. The beat of this song was produced by IO, who has previously produced a lot of Dave songs. Someone mentioned that this song sounds very similar to 50 Cent’s song “If I Can’t” and I have noticed it ever since! Hus and Skepta bounce off eachother . As usual there are many quotables from Hus such as “You’re on the other side if you aint on my team“. A great paring.

Rotimi – Love Riddim

Rotimi is back with another slow jam for us. I love how his voice makes me feel. As a Nigerian, I hear the African influence in his music but as a r&b lover I also hear his influence from that genre. Have a listen below;

Mo Stack – Respect & Love

UK rapper Mo Stack has finally dropped his anticipated debut album. I will do a personal review on the project as a whole but this particular song has been on repeat since I first heard the album. It has such a fun vibe, I hope there is a video going to be released for it.

Tyga Ft. Chris Brown & J Balvin – Haute

Anytime Tyga and Chris Brown have a song together you already know it’s going to be a hit! This song is no different. I like the addition of who seems to be the star of features at the moment, J Balvin. I’ve always said how much I love the Spanish language in general and in songs so his addition was definitely a pleasure for the ears.

Revisiting Time: Chance The Rapper: Coloring Book (Mixtape) – #throwbackthursday

Okay! It’s been over 3 whole years (13 May 2016) since Chance The Rapper dropped his mixtape ‘Coloring Book’ and I figured I would do a post talking about that EP in honor of #ThrowbackThursday. Here are some songs from the tape that I still love and play today.

Chance the Rapper – All We Got Ft. Chicago Children’s Choir & Kanye West

Intro tracks are so important because it is the artist’s chance to showcase a preview of what is to come. Chance even states “Hey, this ain’t no intro, this the entree“. This intro did exactly that. The fact Chance features with one of his musical heroes and use of the choir and the instruments that were used in this song are a reflection of how much work Chance puts into his music and production. The theme “Music is all we got” sits well with me as I believe it is a strong and quite realistic truth.

Chance the Rapper – No Problem Ft. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz

You don’t want zero problems, big fella“! Love the intro to this song. This song is dedicated to the record labels that all rejected Chance. One of my favourite lines from the song is when Chance says “Milly rockin’, scoopin’ all the blessings out my lap” as he is now the one that is winning and has the last laugh. 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne fit the song so well too and yet again the production on this song is unique. The background vocals sound like a choir .

Chance the Rapper – Blessings Ft. Jamila Woods

I absolutely love this song. There’s something about Chance singing and singing with a stripped back vibe that is beautiful. Not to mention, the song is very religious as Chance sings about the glory of God. The song seems personal as Chance raves about how since giving his life to the Lord, he has received nothing but blessings and success. Jamila sings “I’m gon’ praise Him, praise Him till I’m gone, when the praises go up, (Good God) the blessings come down“.

Chance the Rapper – Same Drugs

This song is quite relatable for many people. Despite the title, the song has no affiliation or relation to drugs. The song is based on the concept that Chance and the woman in question no longer have the same interests anymore. Chance uses the analogy of Peter Pan in this song to describe the situation; “When did you change? Wendy, you’ve aged…I thought you’d never grow up“. The idea that like in Peter Pan, Wendy got on with life and changed/grew up. The song basically focuses on the reality that that with some people, you both move on and take different paths and it is just a part of life. I like that Chance mostly sings in this song as I genuinely believe his singing voice is so unique.

Chance the Rapper – Juke Jam Ft. Justin Bieber & Towkio

This is one of my favourite songs ever from Chance. The flow, the feeling I get listening to this song is unmatched. The song is basically Chance reminiscing about the past and a relationship. Apparently “Juking” is a Chicago term for a form a dance similar to grinding. Justin Bieber’s feature on this song was sensual too, his voice when he sings “We got so much history baby” was perfect for the theme of the song. The song is the type of song you could have on in the background and vibe to as it feels very chilled and laid back.

Chance the Rapper – How Great Ft. Jay Electronica & Nicole Steen

Not much to say on this song but Chance follows the religious theme and delivers this beautiful worship song featuring his very own cousin Nicole. The song gave me chills when I first heard it and the feeling has not gone away. Please have a listen and prepare to be inspired.

Chance the Rapper – Smoke Break Ft. Future

Another one of my favourites from the tape. I like the sound from Future on this song and the way they both compliment eachother. The song is Chance saying how much more free time him and his girlfriend need to make for eachother since the arrival of their baby. One of the most memorable lines is when he sings “We way too young to get old“, words to live by! Future’s verse sounds very shady but one of my favourite lines has to be “Please don’t get lost in the sauce, please don’t get lost in the sauce“. Typical Future lyrics!!!! The production on this song is amazing too!

Chance the Rapper – Finish Line/ Drown Ft. Noname, Eryn Allen Kane, T-Pain & Kirk Franklin

This is the longest song on the tape but is split into two. Part 1; Finish Line is based on the success and blessings Chance has received as he sings; “But who would think the raps would turn into racks? don’t matter, matter fact, it could happen to you”. Chance tries to show that his blessings can happen to anyone with faith. The flow switches up in the second verse where he speeds up while still maintaining his joy at his blessings. all demonstrating his versatility. Part 2; Drown is where Noname talks about how God has been there for her despite the fact she is going through a tough and horrible time. The common phrase repeated in this part of the song is “The water may be deeper than it’s ever been. Never drown“. This is the idea that no matter how hard life gets, never give up and always have faith because God is real and he is all powerful. He will always find a way to get you out the water.