Interview: 50 Cent – Animal Ambition

Curtis Jackson begins his revival

Curtis Jackson begins his revival

His come up in the primal phases of the millennium saw Curtis James Jackson III cast the lot of rapper, but for the past six years the 38-year-old has engaged in everything but. A collection of films, TV dramas and energy drinks have kept him duly preoccupied since fourth album Before I Self Destruct was released in 2009.

This year has marked a renaissance of soughts, a slew of conceptual records were followed by a landmark appearance at Summer Jam –the zenith of live hip hop –and a reunification with estranged childhood collaborators Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo (G-Unit). 50 Cent has returned to his essence.

Fifth full length project –pertinently titled Animal Ambition: An Untamed Desire To Win –was released on Monday, markedly without the aid of LA based label Interscope, as Jackson attempts to evidence that the independent rout can also prove fruitful for seasoned veterans, as well as aspiring newcomers. Not that Curtis has become complacent; his new material treads the problematic line between the incorporation of contemporary hip hop and safeguarding his artistic integrity, glowing with the crisp swagger and at times dark humour that endeared him to fans initially. We caught up with the rap mogul to talk Animal Ambition, Eminem and his approach to creating music in 2014. Continue reading

Tales From The Grime Generation: Jammer (Interview)

Tales From the Lord of The Mics Founder

Tales From the Lord of The Mics Founder

Veiled from the din of a hectic East End A road by a scrubby petrol station and a brooding rough-wood sycamore is the Lord Of The Mics head office. Inside, a couple of neatly arranged desks and a time-worn leather couch ring themselves around an expansive whiteboard heaving with black ink.

It’s mid-May and the launch night for the sixth instalment of Lord Of The Mics is descending, meaning that for Jahmek Power, aka Jammer, and the rest of the four-man team, the past week has been arduous. Scrawled under the header ‘Promo’ is a catalogue of deadlined tasks that need concluding if the event is to enjoy the success of previous instalments. (By all accounts, it was a pretty memorable experience.)

Armed with two bulging black bin liners, Jammer – wearing jeans, a tilted hat and a black t-shirt – scuffs the faded redwood carpet, stooping by the entrance to mount the bags atop of an already swelling pile. After a moment’s consideration he decides: “We’ll do the interview round the back,” nodding to the doorway at the far end of the office. A member of the team grins from the sunken sofa. “Round the back? That’s wrong!” The rest of the room erupts into laughter.

“Round the back” is a moderate studio room that glows yellow – the consequence of a solitary dangling fuzzy bulb and an absence of natural sunlight. At the far end, two plastic chairs, buffered with cushions, have been folded out. Mounted on a sandy computer desk is an Alto keyboard; peering from above, a framed red and white ‘Jahmanji’ print, Jammer’s debut album released on Big Dada in 2010.

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The Second Encounter: Maxsta (Interview)

The Maxstape 1.5 is out now

The Maxstape 1.5 is out now

The path leading to the Broadcasting house – home of the BBC – is grey, the pavement is grey, the buildings are grey and on this fledgling spring evening, the sky too is grey. It’s the first Monday of the new season, although the collection of clouds allude to something different.

Twenty minutes have passed since Maxsta (aka Ian Koromah) and I were supposed to meet. In that time executives, DJ’s and one renowned actor have all trundled through the BBC’s glass doors… but of the rapper, there is no sign. The sky begins to darken yet worryingly his phone skips through to voicemail; indicating that he is either wedged in the rush hour cattle drive somewhere in the depths of the London underground or worse – he is not showing. Answers eventually arrive – a text notifies me that he is lounged besides the entrance to BBC 1Xtra, wearing a Red jacket if there is any trouble spotting him.

Sure enough he is there, a towering concrete archway casts darkness over his small entourage and Maxsta’s red jacket stands out immediately. After we exchange greetings, Ian; apologetic, swiftly clarifies that it was the commute which had resulted in his delay and we begin to chat about his new project – The Maxtape 1.5 which was released on the 30th of March. It’s doing well on the ITunes charts,” he explains as we saunter towards the nearest Café, But I’m not too bothered with the statistics, I’m more looking out for the reaction from the people.” Continue reading

Tales From The Grime Generation: Dexplicit (Interview)

Dexplicit reminisces on the birth of the Grime scene

Dexplicit reminisces on the birth of the Grime scene

Inside a cramped Oxford Circus workspace, staff are making provisions for the impending dimness of another bitter London evening. Spotlights stutter into faint glows, auxiliaries to the dinged candle flames subtly flickering in the corners of the mellowed office complex known as Apartment 58.

Huddled on a chestnut-stained cushion, veteran grime producer Dexplicit (aka Dean Harriot) gazes through a smudged window. Beyond the glass, a cloaked sun concludes its bowed retreat over central London, dousing the heavens in shades of grey as it departs.

At street level, the capital’s habitual rush hour sluggishly stirs into motion, suited commuters emerging in spots and blotches, crawling over the splintered pavement, making plays for the Starbucks across the street or scuttling out of view into the adjacent Tottenham Court Road tube station. Continue reading

Interview: Ghetts – The Rebel With A Cause

The Rebel With a Cause

The Rebel With a Cause

It’s mid-morning in Hoxton, East London, and Justin Clarke has departed the backroom of Brick London Press agency to restock the permit for his car lodged outside. During the forty five minutes we have been chattering, tinges of alter ego’s Ghetts and Ghetto have flickered into conversation but J Clarke has chiefly governed proceedings.

In an age when artists annually rush out albums, the wait for Clarke’s debut effort has been a slow burn. The 29 year old, who grew up twenty minutes away in neighbouring Plaistow, has been threatening to release a full length album since 2010. Four years on ‘Rebel With a Cause’ has been fine-tuned, and will at last be unveiled on March the 9th.

With traffic wardens staved off for another hour, at least, Clarke strolls back in and slouches down in his seat to resume where he left off. “I’ve never stopped making music, I just stopped releasing it,” he says, before the buzz from his iPhone threatens to interrupt proceedings. Shifting it to one side, he chuckles, “I’ve made about 150 tunes for this album alone…Really I don’t even have to do anymore work.” Continue reading

Next: Isaiah Rashad – Cilvia Demo

The TDE newcomer prepares for his grand opening

The TDE newcomer prepares for his grand opening

The half-pint city of Chattanooga, Tennessee has long been overshadowed by Memphis; it’s more prosperous cousin four hours west. In fact Chattown; as some call it, has garnered little attention since locals revelled in the success of city native Usher and the release of Confessions in 2004. A decade on residents of The C prepare to have their vocals amplified once more as twenty two year old Isaiah Rashad gears up for the release of his debut EP the Cilvia Demo later this month. Last year the rap newcomer was scooped up by Top Dawg Entertainment; the latest contingent in a string of independent imprints that have breathed new life into a previously ailing genre. Continue reading

Interview: A Journey Through The Young World With Adian Coker

Adian Coker Talks 'Young World.'

Adian Coker Talks ‘Young World.’

In a bustling East London coffee shop 25 year old Adian Coker sits perched on a coffee brown leather cushion; after spending the last half hour probing several café’s in the cold of Shoreditch he gratefully swarms both hands around a steaming cup of tea. To his left sits his manager Michael, a French national who has found home ten minutes away in Bethnal Green. One month has passed since he aided Adian in the release of second mixtape Young World; a stirring voyage through the galleria of South London. Originally intended as an expansive chronicling of his thoughts, Young World was without warning morphed into a contemporary social depiction of the life and times on Greenwich’s Barnfield Estate.

He takes a sip before starting, “In the end this CD being like a social commentary but I didn’t even realise it. Really and truly it’s an exploration but it’s not glorifying anything, it’s not justifying. I’m just telling you this is what happens.” Continue reading

An Interview With XO Man

An Interview With XO Man

An Interview With XO Man

2013 was no different from 2012, 2012 no different from 2011 and so on; an array of artists made last ditch plays for the realms of pop serenity and the majority failed. This development is no longer bewildering but rather inevitable. However, as we drew closer to the end of this the calendar year, one rapper attempted to play things a tad differently. Continue reading

Andre Villas Boas and The Tale of Benjamin ‘Lefty’ Ruggiero

Andre Villas Boas and The Tale of Benjamin ‘Lefty’ Ruggiero

Andre Villas Boas and The Tale of Benjamin ‘Lefty’ Ruggiero

Whilst many spend decades finding their calling in life, both Andre Villas Boas and Benjamin Ruggiero embarked on their career paths relatively early. The former, born in Portugal’s second city Porto, originated as a covert scout compiling dossiers on the intricacies of local rivals for hometown manager Bobby Robson; the latter arose as a fleet footed street soldier on the pavings of New York; his bond with the Bonnano crime Family moulded by the time his twenties had swung onto the horizon. Continue reading

The Curious Case of Gaston Ramirez

Ramirez's tenure in England hasn't gone according to plan.

Ramirez’s tenure in England hasn’t gone according to plan.

“Gaston is right up there with the best. His technique, control, use of the ball and understanding of the game is different to anyone else.” – Southampton centre back Jose Fonte

It’s an overcast February afternoon; the scarcity of fans present in a relatively unoccupied DW Stadium belies the importance of the game being played on the field. Southampton trail relegation rivals Wigan Athletic by the solitary goal and with every misdirected pass agitation amongst the away faithful swells. After a notable draw with Everton and a spirited yet ultimately fruitless performance at Old Trafford, defeat here would certainly undermine the impressive start made by new manager Mauricio Pochettino. The clash with Wigan was primed as a fixture in which credible performances manifested themselves into something more palpable; points on the board.

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