COMMON – BLACK AMERICA AGAIN

RELEASE: November 4, 2016

DEF JAM RECORDINGS

Written by Michael Grant, C.E.O. Of RePPiN4U

This album could never have come at a better time. Social media constantly talking about the new president-elect, protest rallies all over America, here’s me over in the UK watching from the rafters thinking ‘this could have been avoided so easily’, but then remember my own back yard committing a similar act by voting to leave the EU  earlier this year for the wrong reasons.

common-black-america-againConsider Common’s latest album as a form of escapism. Black America Again? How about Black Britain Again too? According to historians, the first people in this country were black…and if Britain and America are allies, we have a sense of relation to this project.

Common’s last album left Nobody Smiling and not in the way he wanted either. It was a shock to the system considering he and his producer No I.D. created a masterpiece in The Dreamer, The Believer. This time round, No I.D. is now the overseer, while Karriem Riggins is now the man behind the boards throughout.

Common & Bilal set it off by bringing ‘Joy & Peace’ to not just America but to the world. If you are an atheist, then this album is not for you! This is a very powerful intro praising the most high and dismissing anything material and the idea of ‘Big Brother’ watching. Straight after that, the pair bring it ‘Home’ over a Karriem Riggins beat which sounds like a classic Kanye sound which Mr West abandoned from the era of ‘Be & ‘Finding Forever’. Here Common speaks on a legacy he would like to leave behind after he returns to the essence.

Stevie Wonder is THAT DUDE. He doesn’t appear on just any hip hop album, and when he does, it is a moment. When the single was first released, it was only a 2-3 minute affair and I was like nah – this was lacking that epicness for a track of this magnitude. That was like a small portion of chips. The album version was what we were looking for, and Stevie smashed it with just one line! Initially I was hoping for Stevie to drop a verse at the end but I’m over that fact! There is a moment in this track where Common exclaims that Maria Sharapova is paid more than Serena Williams where the listener’s jaw may drop, but at the same time be not surprised.

Common switches it up with ‘Love Star’ featuring Marsha Ambrosius and PJ. This is a sure-fire single waiting to happen. Perhaps Common’s greatest love song since ‘Come Close’. The way this track closes out is such a mind zoning dreamy experience. He continues the

elena-pinderhughes

Elena Pinderhughes

romancing with some ‘Red Wine’ with Elena Pinderhughes (pictured right) (yes I see you sniggering when you hear the surname, I know what you’re thinking) a talented 20-year old vocalist/ flutist and Syd da Kyd, former member of Odd Future whose voice sounds reminiscent of a cross between Tinashe and Jhene Aiko.

 

‘Pyramids’ has to be an album highlight. Common’s flow and passion becomes increasingly frantic and aggressive as the track progresses. Something we haven’t seen since e=MC2 from J Dilla’s The Shining. He goes off in this track so much he had to pull up his own track. Using the Ol’Dirty Bastard Brooklyn Zoo sample only adds fire to the epicness.

Chances are we are ‘Unfamiliar’ with the angelic voice of PJ, who is not used to the love and attention that a man is giving her. Common is continuing to add-on to that wedding soundtrack to the hip hop couple here.

Syd Da Kyd and Bilal return for ‘A Bigger Picture Called Free’. In this food for thought track, Common reveals that the illuminati wanted to consume him in his career, and also details his growth and ongoing influences in just a few bars: “Used to rock Jabos and go out with bros
Tryna get lots of hoes till I got exposed/To a bigger picture called free, in the picture, it was me
Al-Hajj Malik Shabazz, Muhammad, and Noble Drew Ali/A side of Erykah Badu and Andre 3000…”

“I was rollin’ around, in my mind it occurred, what if God was a her?” Common, Faithful, 2005

As stated At the top of this review, America had the world believe that they were on the verge of getting their first female president. Now we may have to wait a little longer for ‘The Day Women Took Over’. Common and BJ The Chicago Kid paint a picture of empowered women and how they would rule the world in detail, in essence, showing Beyoncé how it’s done. Such a complete 180 from the hip hop that has been believed by mainstream media and the unknowing as a genre that degrades women.

John Legend rejoins Common in ‘Rain’. Common lets Legend go in with the piano to set the mood before Common goes into reflection mode… before talking of a ‘Little Chicago Boy’ named Lonnie Lynn Sr, this is Common’s tribute to his late father, and it is such a welcome return to hear his father’s wise words perhaps for the last time.

Yes Lonnie Lynn Sr may no longer close out any future projects, but this ‘Letter To The Free’ is as triumphant and uplifting as it gets, and if you are not sitting there tapping your foot with feeling and passion in this track, then I think Hip Hop is not for you. Common’s last words in this track is as real and powerful as it gets: “We staring in the face of hate again/The same hate they say will make America great again/No consolation prize for the dehumanized
For America to rise it’s a matter of Black Lives/And we gonna free them, so we can free us
America’s moment to come to Jesus…”

common-black-america-again-ft-stevie-wonder-715x466

Absolutely amazing. Common has done it again people. He has righted the wrongs of his last album which is almost forgotten about, he has created a project where if the ignorant was to try to regard hip hop as degrading and influencing in a negative, this is the perfect album to erase that doubt for 2016. The jazzy, soulful and gospel elements which date back to our ancestors are used to uplift us and Common does it flawlessly. He has created something our grandparents would be proud of. Take a bow Lonnie Lynn Jr, this album can now be spoke in the same sentence with the likes of Be and Like Water For Chocolate. FANTASTIC.

 

 

 

GHOSTFACE KILLAH: IRONMAN – 20th Anniversary

Released: October 29, 1996, Epic/Razor Sharp Records

Written by Michael Grant: C.E.O. Of RePPiN4U

“To all my house bitches, Starks’ll be home soon
I’m on tour chill, catch me ’96 in June…” – GHOSTFACE KILLAH, Glaciers Of Ice, 1995

Ghostface Killah could never have said those lyrics on arguably a better track on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. Everybody has their favourite track(s) from that classic album but I bet a good percentage will say ‘Glaciers Of Ice’, while heads were screwing their faces, head nodding, and goosebumps on their bodies, their mind hit a record skip for that split second realising that Ghostface Killah was preparing for his debut album.

ghostface-killah-ironmanThe debate continues today just like the Pac & Biggie issue, and that is – which is better – Ironman or Supreme Clientele? Personally, I’m a Supreme Clientele guy, and I broke it down in a feature similar to the one you are reading now. But I’m gonna represent for the fans who prefer Ironman.

Once again, I will take you back to a 16-year old Michael Grant, approximately October 29, 1996, the day this album dropped. THIS IS MY STORY. GHOSTFACE KILLAH. IRONMAN. RHYME & REASON.

I had already left school (unexpectedly I might add), I landed a YT training course to become an accountant. NVQ level 2 at the Wolverhampton Chamber Of Commerce. Four days of placement, one day training. There I was all suited up, complete with a briefcase looking like a young man of the future. But on October 29, 1996, I didn’t care for my corporate looking image. I wanted to get those wallabees, that Wu Wear, that Helly Hansen and all that! I just got paid, and the first thing I did was buy this cassette tape. Yes I did it before paying my moms board, before my bus pass, before I even had a trim! I actually waited til I got to my cousin’s house, put the tape on while my cousin was playing Super Nintendo (The Saturn/Playstation costed too much at the time!)

  1. IRON MAIDEN F/ Raekwon & Cappadonna

Now I have never seen the movie ‘The Education Of Sonny Carson’… and maybe I should if it’s Wu-Tang approved. But I was rooting for the boy, I wanted him to put trademarks around the fool’s eye! Then the tune kicked in. GOOD LORD! Raekwon didn’t finish his verse, and I was like – PULL UP THE TUNE! PULL UP THE BLODCLART TUNE! If you are an avid listener of RePPiN4U Hip Hop Show, you would know what I did there!

2. WILDFLOWER F/ Jamie Sommers

First time I heard this, the instruments RZA used instantly reminded me of ‘Chessboxing’. Then I heard the lyrics… me and my cousin’s jaw straight up DROPPED. Before the Wizard of Poetry, before Domestic Violence, there was WILDFLOWER. February 17 was NOT A NICE DAY for Ghostface Killah! You could feel the anger in his voice! Wu-Tang are all about the real life stories… this woman messed up bad! My question is, where is Jamie Sommers in the world today? Answers on a postcard please – tweet me @MZATheInfamous!

3. THE FASTER BLADE F/ Raekwon

This to me sounded like it didn’t make Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, at least that was my impression. One of my questions to add to my list if I ever got the opportunity to interview the Chef himself. At the same time, it doesn’t as gritty as the Cuban Linx tracks, like I dunno, RZA’s music began to evolve because in this album, it’s like the tracks sound a bit more polished.

4. 260 F/ Raekwon

Once again, I never saw the Sonny Carson film, and I can see some of you reading this looking at me funny. Going by the sample, it sounded like the kid embarrassed the gang leader or something. Don’t worry – I will put it on my ‘see list’ now that I got that ‘KODI’ gidgets gadgets…

5. ASSASSINATION DAY F/ Inspectah Deck/Raekwon/RZA/Masta Killa

It was this tune when I learned the album was coming October 29, 1996. One October night prior, I was listening to Tim Westwood on Radio 1, remember back in the days when he played that official hip hop? And his Friday show was on from 11pm til 2am? Well it was one of those shows when he was interviewing the clan – one thing I loved back in that day, was when a solo album was coming out, the whole clan got interviewed. They announced the album release and they played this tune – it was exclusive back then – only Westwood had it. Heard this tune and I was hyped crazy!

6. POISONOUS DARTSthe-mystery-of-chessboxing

True story – this tune actually relates to around December of 1997. Me and my cuz rented ‘The Mystery Of Chessboxin’ (Ninja Checkmate) kung fu film. Now we rented it only because of the film’s title. I said to my cuz, I am pulling out the (landline) phone cord so that NO ONE calls while I’m watching this film! What followed was the samples used for this tune right here, and I lost my mind, jumped out my seat the whole nine and it still stands as one of my favourite ever kung fu films of all time. How can you NOT love the Ghostfaced Killer? Best bad guy ever. He used to say the most out-of-order dialogue in the film “Chow Fan Lun, how are you? You’re gonna die today! Do you recognize this technique? (5 Elements!)” and I was like – WROOOOOOOOOOOY!!!!!!! But then, the film ended, plugged the phone back in, hit ‘1471’ and found out that a good friend of mine just gave birth to her son. I felt like a fool after that, yet at the same time, so happy for her.

7. WINTER WARZ F/ Raekwon/U-God/Masta Killa/Cappadonna

I remember a particular time when me and all my Peoples from Aldersley High School were on the bus, and we were debating which was the best tune on each Wu album, everyone had their favourite and one dude shut us all down – “Winter WAAAAAAARZ!!!!!” Yes – this tune will forever be known as the tune that Cappadonna killed with his 52 bar killer bee assault, and ever since that time, heads were setting for Cappadonna’s debut album. Two years wasn’t long of a wait considering we had Wu-Tang Forever, Killarmy’s Silent Weapons album, and Gravediggaz sophomore album in between. Big up Cappadonna for deciding to make a video for this nearly 20 years later, I love these sort of videos where you just vybin with your peoples and there’s hardly no direction, just roll the tape and go along with it. THAT IS A HIP HOP VIDEO PEOPLE! I just wished it was a full clan video though. I envisioned it being a similar setting to GZA’s Shadowboxing video, all cold and dark and people in that ‘Winter War’, so to speak so it would be like a sequel to that video.

8. BOX IN HAND F/ Raekwon/Method Man

Before there was Wu-Massacre, there was BOX IN HAND! Now at this point, Method Man was still my favourite Wu-member, Ghost was already showing signs that he would become my favourite Wu-member and artist of all time. So I was mad looking forward to this tune. I couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed when I first heard this, the intro, I was like – Oh here we go! This gonna be off the hook! Then RZA changed the beat and I was like – aaah… the disappointment didn’t last long though, Method Man went IN!!!! “This rap sh!t bust yo’ gums, and leave you stunned/Pull your plug, now you can’t function/There’s no to-tal or sum to this equa-tion, you fro-zen/Many may come but few are cho-sen/Pretty n!&&@$ want to play the war po-sin/When the ruckus come, they be the first to get their shine stolen/Do or die, it be I, Meta-physical Man/Holding court from my Wu, indivisible clan…”

Now I’m listening to the unreleased version, and I can see why RZA decided to put the other version on, I’m not even sure if Box In Hand when was meant to be the title! Another Wu-Tang Mystery to solve!

ghostface-premium-2-13-2013

If you remember buying the cassette, you may have noticed there was a large gap at the end of side 1 of the tape… like over 5 minutes?! So this is another true story… Wu-Tang released the Triumph single in 1997 and hit the UK top 40. Usually I’m not down with pop music but that was a proud moment for me and hip hop. But on the b-side was the Hidden Chambers Remix of Wu-Gambinos. So what did I do? grabbed some sellotape wrapped it over the protective covering of the tape and recorded Wu-Gambinos Remix on it. Call it an unofficial Bonus Track.

9. FISH F/ Raekwon & Cappadonna

The TRUE MASTER! At the time arguably his best track he produced since ODB’s Brooklyn Zoo. This tune hit the rewind button crazy!!! The spooky thing about this tune is, Cappadonna states, “When RZA do his thing motherf***er, I’mma do mine..” How true is that statement now 20 years later? RZA basically said to Ghost, you’re in charge of the next Wu Album! Has the Abbott thrown in the towel? I hope not. Ghost’s ear is powerful, I’m sure he can still get some bangers out of RZA…

10. CAMAY F/ Raekwon & Cappadonna

Once again we see early signs of Ghost Dini – The Wizard of Poetry here. TELL THE TRUTH – How many of you guys said this to a woman: “Yo you sexy motherf****r, damn what’s the recipe?/You make a n!&&@ wanna god damn!/Can you cook darling?” I can say this: I’ve never said that to a woman outright (I have my shy moments) but I have at least thought it and at the most – sent a text saying that in the past!

11. DAYTONA 500 F/Raekwon & Cappadonna

Confession time – I hated this song at first. Yeah I said it. I thought it sounded like something from Top Gear. But guess what? The tune was in my head and it was telling me – you WILL like this tune! Lo and behold – it worked, and I think the 8 player Daytona game at Sega World Strykers (R.I.P.) played a massive part in it. Normal people heard the Daytona game music. Wu-Tang fans heard this while playing that game and that’s real!

12. MOTHERLESS CHILD F/Raekwon

This was the very first track I heard from the album because this was originally on the Sunset Park soundtrack… remember those days? When tracks from a film soundtrack were hot and was actually relevant to the film? Great shout to Aaron Hall as well… where is he as well? He joined the missing list on the milk carton with Jamie Sommers! Answers on a postcard please!

13. BLACK JESUS F/ Raekwon & U-God

The crazy thing about this is, Wu were speaking 5% terminology from the get go, and it really didn’t clock on to me until this album. Up until October 29, 1996 I was raised to believe that Christianity is THE RIGHT religion. This skit made me think for the first time like whoa… no such thing as Adam & Eve? God exists within me? The black man is God? I was intrigued. Then the beat hit. I was like – PULL UP THE TUNE! PULL UP THE BLODCLART TUNE! RZA came with some church choir crossed with some epic Samurai Showdown type music! And U-God – that man went IN!!!!! To me it was like the longer this album went, the more epic it became.

14. AFTER THE SMOKE IS CLEAR F/Raekwon, RZA, and the Delfonics

I love the hook in this, because I still believe it. After the smoke is clear… Wu-Tang/Delfonics NUMBER ONE! Tunes like this are reasons why we the fans miss the old RZA and not keen on this Bobby Digital persona that he can’t seem to put aside. The Cure album never came, and you know what? Even if it did, people today would still turn round and say hip hop is…. yes the D-WORD.

15. ALL THAT I GOT IS YOU F/ Mary J. Blige

Ghostface says – “this is dedicated, to all those who went through the struggle”… Yep, that was me back at 16…. but nowhere near as bad as Ghost. I made that decision to leave school at 16 and find work because I knew I wasn’t as well off as some of my other peoples. Every year I used to hear them say ‘I went to Jamaica/Cornwall/Spain etc..’ I never stepped out the country until I was 29. Not only do I look back at this tune and think ‘you know what, I was ok, I was instilled with the determination to work hard’, but also I say this is dedicated to all the ‘millennials’ who always claim they are stressed or whatever but there they are updating their Facebook with their iPhone. There they are with their 4KTV hung up in their house, there they are with roof over their head and well fed, quick to order takeaway online every night but cannot roll 2 dumpling to save their life. Thank god for Nas… Life is good!

16. MARVEL F/RZA

You see this tune here? This was the start of the Bobby Digital persona as far as where the music was going. The signs started here. When I first had the cassette tape I didn’t have this as a bonus track though. I have yet to see someone use RZA’s lyrics as a chat up line and see what happen to them! Imagine whispering in a woman’s ear in a club like ‘let me plant my dynamite deep inside your core, the explosion stops your menstruation patiently waiting nine months for deportation…” Yep… I can see that going down well…!!!! By the way Kudos to RZA for keeping the beat going!

17. THE SOUL CONTROLLER F/ The Force MDs

This was the original bonus track I had. I remember my cousin loved this tune! As far as he was concerned, this was his favourite tune on the album… I wasn’t so keen at first, but that happens a lot with me! I’m surprised the sample issues prevented this track appearing on later copies of Ironman though, I mean, it’s been sampled a million times. The skit at the end still holds true, especially if people concern themselves with what we should be listening to on the radio…

GRANTFACE KILLAH

I kinda wished that Ghost was doing something similar to Ras Kass in a sense that he’s celebrating his Soul On Ice 20th Anniversary or Nas when he celebrated Illmatic. Ironman should be up there too. But I’m sure if he doesn’t, we the fans will. At time of this feature, I know he’s on tour with Rae… but according to RZA, Ghost now has the keys to the next Wu-Tang Album…Ghost’s ear has been powerful throughout from Ironman all the way to 12 Reasons To Die Part 2, all this plus Supreme Clientele 2? To those who still talk that Hip Hop dead nonsense, THEY ARE THE PROBLEM as far as I’m concerned.

APOLLO BROWN X SKYZOO: The Easy Truth

RELEASE DATE: September 30, 2016

UK RELEASE (Physical Copy): October 14, 2016

MELLO MUSIC GROUP

Review by Michael Grant, C.E.O. of RePPiN4U

“I’m far from being God, but I work goddamn hard…” Jay-Z, Breathe Easy (Lyrical Exercise), 2001

That line right there is how I can describe Apollo Brown. Back in Jay’s peak of his career, he was delivering quality albums year in year out at roughly the same time. Over the past few years, Apollo Brown has delivered quality with Ugly Heroes, his own project ‘Grandeur’, Ras Kass, Guilty Simpson, Ghostface Killah, O.C. and more and has done it consistently every year. Who is the next contestant to be blessed with Apollo Brown’s soulful sonics? They call him S-K-Y-Z-O-O!

apollo-brown-skyzooTake away all of Jay-Z’s riches, and the super stardom and replace it with flawless credibility and respect within the hip hop community, you get Skyzoo, who incidentally, looks up to Mr Carter as demonstrated by recreating the classic Reasonable Doubt. The news of the combined force of Sky and Apollo has blown fans away… but is it a guaranteed classic waiting to happen? We thought that with Common and No.I.D. with Nobody’s Smiling, and look what happened there.

It’s been 10 years since Sky exploded on the scene with the 3-Day High with 9th Wonder, and 10 years later he hopes to recreate that magic this time with the Detroit Producer on The Easy Truth. 15 tracks amounting up to 52 minutes, it’s time once again to put the needle on the vinyl.

The intro, entitled Soapbox, comes with a simple philosophy of choosing whether to live life easy or hard, and while we would all love to live life easy (I see you with your memes of ‘live in a posh celebrity like home rent free but give up social media in the process) we appreciate the value of living hard to reap the rewards. ‘One Of The Same’ starts the album with piano chords and Sky’s trademark complex wordplay which gives his fans an ongoing challenge to dissect. Give Sky some Jordans & a Gold Chain and he’s good. You won’t see him wearing anything outrageous, living lavish even though he could if he wanted. He wants to remain relatable to his fans.

The album’s lead single, or video – ‘A Couple Dollars’, tells of Skyzoo and Joell Ortiz’ early life struggles. If Apollo’s heartfelt violins and the stories told in this track doesn’t touch your soul…I don’t think Hip Hop is for you.

‘Basqiuat On The Draw’ brings the viciousness out of Sky and his guests – Westside Gunn & Conway. Sky even acknowledges the Rap Genius website, while Westside Gunn kicks off his verse with Jay-Z line originally used in Encore from the Black Album. Again, if you haven’t caught the ‘Vibes’ from this album by this point, I don’t think Hip Hop is for you. Sky compares himself to Kool G Rap in one aspect and considers Apollo as Symphony music and cleverly puts it in one line.

Sky’s appearance on the Stretch & Bob show was so ill, he had to include it here. Sky becomes unreasonable and goes in over a classic boom bap beat which shall make the old school fans’ eyes fill up with joy. Sample heavy trainspotters will be hitting the YouTubeskyzoo-apollo-brown-promo after hearing ‘Spoils To The Victor’ and may have a new-found respect for The Carpenters ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’.

‘Visionary Riches’ is Sky & Apollo’s zoning out moment over a jazzy backdrop. Sky’s wordplay used here is reminiscent of what he did in ‘Dear Whoever’  from The Salvation album, and this blends real nice into ‘They pulled a Bentley In the Cover’.

Consider the next track a highlight on the album. J Dilla used the sample for Elzhi’s ‘Love It Here’, the Wu-Block used the sample to tell their Crack Spot Stories, A$AP Rocky and Kanye used the sample for their Jukebox Joints, but has Apollo & Sky flipped it the best in ‘The Flyest Essence’? Here Sky exclaims: “They bumping Dilla on they way to get a bird flew
Never would’ve tied them together, but that’s what words do
Apollo caught the loop like we waiting to get a turn thru
I told him leave the drums in the box, keep the nerds cool…”

The funny thing about it is another version has recently surfaced on online streams… could this suggest sample clearance problems? We don’t know but the plot thickens…

Apollo decides to turn the beat up a notch with ‘Innocent Ambition’. The first verse has Skyzoo explaining how he could have it all, then the second verse goes a complete 180 as Skyzoo explains how he can’t have a thing… sounds like he’s talking of experiences with his father when he was a child…around the same time Nas dropped ‘One Love’ from his Illmatic album, Sky talks of creating his own rendition in ‘Care Packages’.

As the album nears its close, if you streamed the album like I did, by now you would be seriously considering ‘The Payout’, and by its last track, if you haven’t been ‘Nodding Your Head Off’ to this, then I don’t think Hip Hop is for you. Sky shouldn’t have to tell you to Nod to it… it should be a natural reaction.

skyzoo

Dare I say this is more accessible than ‘Music For My Friends’ which is a great album in its own right, but The Easy Truth’s real comparison is Sky’s debut, where the production was handled by just one man. 10 years in, and Skyzoo has proved that he has longevity, his rhymes won’t be going in fumes any time soon, and he has proved that you don’t have to compromise your lyrical content to make it. As for Apollo… he can do no wrong. Can he be spoke in the same sentence with the likes of Pete Rock & DJ Premier? He has a very good chance. The question remains, who will be the lucky contestant to grace his beats next year for our ears to behold? Until that time, take the needle off the record.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KRS-ONE Live @Institute Birmingham JULY 14, 2016

REVIEW BY MICHAEL GRANT, C.E.O. OF RePPiN4U

“Let’s redo America’s infrastructure, beginning with the mirror, let’s start this summer…” KRS-One, From The Beginning Again, 2015

I had a question for KRS-One regarding this track at the q&a session earlier that day, and never got that chance. I wanted to know how he felt about the UK infrastructure… and I guess that would have been another show altogether. Prior to this, I heard the stories, that KRS hold nothing back on his shows and keeps it 100% Hip Hop. Not only did I want to find out for myself, but to see if anyone had the grapefruits to call the Teacha a ‘sellout’ because he was seemingly defending Afrika Bambaatta.

KRS ONE BHAMAs always massive props to VJ EDoubled & Mad Flow for warming up the set. What sets them apart from other DJ/MCs is they don’t just play the dope 90s hip hop anthems, they also bring their comedic antics and wit to the turntables. Notable moments were Edoubled teasing the crowd and locking off Pharoahe Monch’s Simon Says at the precise moment, exposing the crowd’s inability to recite classic lyrics and threatening to play some Drake… even though that was met with emphatic NO’S from the crowd, (and that was women alone!) it didn’t stop Edoubled spinning a bit of George Michael with Mad Flow freestyling over it! Edoubled will play pop tunes without hesitation all for the sake of entertainment and you cannot hate on that!

Massive shout out to the Break Mission dance crew , they stepped their b-boy game up knowing the Blastmaster was in the building. Shout out to Birmingham’s own Malik of MD7 & RTKal who never disappointed with his short set and a stellar performance, particularly when he went in with ‘A Dream Within A Dream’. He probably meant that literally and figuratively sharing the same stage with one of the greatest hip hop pioneers.

How does KRS cram in a 30+ year career into a 2 hour set? The only way he knew how. Storming the set with his biggest hits – Step Into A World, MCs Act Like They Don’t Know and South Bronx respectively, taking Break Mission’s skills to the limits, then demonstrating the true art of hip hop: freestyling off the dome, here he cleverly rhymes about the crowd filming him (myself included) and not coming to just enjoy the show but puts a twist on it, encouraging the crowd to film him as he speaks about technology ruining our society.

A great moment in the show occurred when KRS went full Teacha mode with ‘American Flag’, another great chess move here, 100% of the crowd were fully in tune with the lyrics spoken in the record, but the unfortunate likelihood might be that 85% of fans may not be aware of the new album ‘Now Hear This’ of which the track is featured, unless of course they purchased the physical copy of the album on the way out.

KRS channels his Caribbean upbringing in the track ‘Invaders’, he knew given the UK’S musical diversity and his audience’ most of which in the building have already celebrated their 25th birthday – he would be able to capture the vibe.

With all the hostility against the police in recent times, it’s no wonder that when the sirens hit and it was the Sound of Da Police, the roof blew off the Birmingham Institute… KRS closes his epic two-hour set by and dropped a freestyle off the dome uplifting not only his black people but also his white people as well, and it ended with him not even speaking in the mic and declaring himself a ‘just turned 50 year old.’

KRS ONE TELL EM

PRESS: Why don’t you have bodyguards, you know, like the other guys do?

GHOSTFACE KILLAH: Because I don’t need them muthaf***as. God is my Bodyguard… (The Pretty Toney Album, 2004)

Usually the performer will bow their head and say peace to the crowd, not KRS. His final words were ‘I’m coming into the crowd and taking pictures with everybody!’ Not a bodyguard or security in sight, KRS embraced the crowd in a Selfie frenzy. Yes this is the same man who earlier in the night said ‘technology is ruining our society’… he is right in one sense, because today I scroll my news feed and I see people turning their backs on KRS for his remarks on Afrika Bambaatta. But I can say this: If those same people said that on social media were in the Birmingham Institute, they were killing themselves just to get a selfie with the legend. I’ll leave you with that thought.

On This Night, KNOWLEDGE REIGNED SUPREME OVER NO-DOUBTEDLY EVERYONE.

 

 

INTIMATE Q&A WITH KRS-ONE @Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham UK JULY 14, 2016

REVIEW BY MICHAEL GRANT – C.E.O. OF RePPiN4U

“When you walk up to opportunities door, don’t just knock it… kick that b!tch in, smile and introduce yourself…” Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

On this day, that very quote was learned on many levels. Over here in the UK, especially in the West Midlands, we often gripe about our promoters not getting artists to perform in Birmingham. More often than not they usually appear in London and not everybody can get down there due to priorities and commitments. B.U.T. an event like this??? All that is thrown out the window. Miss an event like this, it’s on you. But fear not, RePPiN4U was in attendance, and captured a third of the show on camera.

krs one qa

I say a third because it’s a minor gripe I had with the show. It was meant to start at 3pm on the dot, and even BPT (Black People Time) was not to blame for this – Black People were at the Old Rep Theatre in Birmingham waiting from 2:36pm! A man such as KRS-One with so much knowledge to give to the people, two hours isn’t long enough. The Teacha turned up on stage an hour later. Not his fault but the organizers. It wasn’t like the audience grew impatient – they didn’t at all, but if it was our new Prime Minister Theresa May, if she begins her speech at 3pm, SHE BEGINS at 3pm and not a minute later.

God bless the blastmaster – before the session began he notified the journalist and the audience that he can ramble on so feel free to cut him at any given time… again, a pioneer such as KRS-One, you DON’T want to cut him out of respect, and he’s that guy that belongs in a small club of people who you could listen to all day and hang on to his every word.

Some of the things KRS speaks on, fans may already know, but to hear it live and in person is such a pleasure to behold. Highlights include his humble beginnings as a homeless person who sought help from his social worker who turned  out to be a hip hop fanatic, going on to form Boogie Down Productions. Then he went on to break down the concept of his first album ‘Criminal Minded’, the impact of the song ‘South Bronx’, and how Brooklyn was heavily habited by people of all Caribbean backgrounds which explains the influence in his music.

A particular favourite moment of mine was when he told a story of how his mother raised a young Lawrence Krishna Parker. He and his brother were playing basketball in the neighbourhood, when a taller, older kid confronted him and tried to bully him off the court, not only did a young Lawrence stand up to him, but he also defended himself and sent the bully home crying. In a twist, his moms would collar him for fighting with fists, but rather, fight with words, and it has become something he learned later in life as did I when he told the story.

Another great subject he spoke on added on from the #BlackLivesMatter movement. KRS brought up a good point that today’s 20-year old hip hop artist will come with an anthem which addresses that and will be remembered for years or decades to come and he guaranteed it. There has been a lot of great tracks that have come out recently in light of the events of Philando Castle and Alton Sterling, but mostly from established artists in which have been featured in recent RePPiN4U Hip Hop Radio shows on Wild1 Radio / BDSIR Network – (cheap plug but it’s not because I pay those bills) so with that said ‘here’s looking at you AFRO’…

He goes on to add-on from what Chris Rock was saying about black actors in Hollywood at the Grammys this year. Awards are given for great films like 12 Years a Slave and Training Day, but not even nominations for powerful films like Malcolm X. Why is that?

But the moment which everybody had paid their £5 for had come with the Afrika Bambaatta controversy. The audience’s ears were wide open for this, and KRS knew this subject would come up without coming up, it started from a question from a young lady in the audience regarding sexual violence in hip hop, and it led to this. KRS stands by his statement about not caring less because it was accusations and nothing to do with Bambaatta as a hip hop icon but as a human being, but went on to say if proven guilty Bambaatta would be dealt with. Here the journalist tried to challenge him but KRS was fully prepared. The journalist admitted defeat as she turned to the audience for another question to which the audience had to applaud KRS-One’s resiliency.

krs one police jewel

Which brings us to the epilogue of this review. The other minor gripe I had was that the event was unintentionally misleading. It was titled a ‘Q&A’ session. On a fans perspective, we felt we did not get the opportunities to ask the MC who is 1,2,3,4,and 5 questions (myself included), only two did, and they got an exclusive DVD of KRS’ teachings, this was because the host journalist may have gotten carried away with her questions which seemed 5 minutes long for the Teacha to digest. On a journalist standpoint, you have one of the greatest minds in hip hop history sitting opposite you, you will seize that opportunity to show your intelligence and ask him questions after all the research done and to her credit she did a tremendous job, but to fans it felt more of an intimate interview with KRS-One than a Q&A session and the journalist may have been out to establish herself, to that I cannot blame her – I would do the same. Also to her credit she may have covered subjects which we the audience would have asked him anyway.

Going back to Dwayne The Rock Johnson’s quote, an event like this may not happen for a long time, especially with an MC who made his 7th visit to the UK. Not much when you consider a veteran with a 30+ year musical career whereas other MCs have come to the UK more times who have been in the game not even half as much.

Props to Punch Records and Birmingham Music Scene for putting this together. Here is hoping for more events like this in the future.

RePPiN4U: THE EVOLUTION OF UK HIP HOP

RELEASE: JUNE 13, 2016

EDITED & PRODUCED BY MICHAEL GRANT, C.E.O. OF RePPiN4U

CO-PRODUCED BY PC THE PRODUCER & UK BIG PUN OF FATP PRODUCTIONS

MUSIC SCORE BY MR KEYES

CREATED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WOLVERHAMPTON

In this special documentary, RePPiN4U teams with distant cousins FATP (From Across The Pond) to take a special look at the evolution of UK HIP HOP. Starting in Wolverhampton, we take a look at the Beats A Bar music project open day, speak with the mayor, then travel up to Leicester where we talk to the guys behind Wild1 Radio’s #1 UK HIP HOP SHOW, then we return to Wolverhampton where we talk to Alex-Is on his album ‘UNEQUIVICAL’, and Reload, fresh from his trip from London where he opened up the show for Wu-Tang’s Raekwon The Chef. All this and more in an hour-long feature!

SPECIAL THANKS TO EVERYBODY INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT.

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RePPiN4U Hip Hop Show updated

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IRON WIND – THE WARRIOR INSIDE

RELEASE DATE: SUMMER 2016, PROTECT YA NECK RECORDS

WRITTEN BY MICHAEL GRANT – C.E.O. RePPiN4U

“A samurai fears not death.

Struggles to triumph over evil.

And lives for one purpose –

TO DESTROY ALL ENEMIES!”

THE WARRIOR INSIDE 2Gamers may recognise that quote from the video game Samurai Shodown, but to Canadian MC Iron Wind it means so much more. While his inspirations – the almighty Wu-Tang Clan have based their music around Shaolin Kung Fu, Chess, comic books and the like, Iron Wind has taken the samurai code. he has done a unique thing of taking the Japanese martial arts culture and combining them into real life philosophies. Iron Wind wants to take his listeners into the samurai way of living on his sophomore album and allows you to explore The Warrior Inside: a 21-track deep feature film with the Wu-Tang sound which fans will love.

Throughout the album the majority of the tracks has wise words from a samurai master and sets the tone of the album. Iron Wind has mastered the art of merging the hip hop drum with authentic Japanese instruments better than any hip hop producer, dare I say better than the clan’s Abbott himself. It is not to be seen as an insult by any means, but Iron Wind has fully immersed himself with everything Feudal Japan.

The album boasts many highlights that will leave a lasting impression. Wu-Tang trainspotters will instantly recognize the sample used in ‘The Soldier and the Samurai’, featuring Warrzone. Both MCs mercilessly assault the track which was used by Ghostface Killah in the track ‘Purified Thoughts’. ‘The Sound Of The Battlecry’ might be the most smooth sounding track. Here, Iron Wind tells the tale of the Battle of Nagasaki, and the historical figure of Nobunaga Oda.

In ‘Feudal Lords’, Iron Wind is joined by Primordial Emcee, as they break down the life of a Daimyo, who is seen as almost god-like. Iron Wind goes into detail in the interview he had on our RePPiN4U HIP HOP SHOW earlier this year. Check it out below.

Another unique highlight on the album is the track ‘Lady  Snowblood’. This is a breath oflady snowblood fresh air as your usual rapper may have a track or two dedicated to the ladies in a forced attempt to get a radio hit by record companies, Iron Wind chooses to base his desires on one of Japan’s most famous femme fatale.

Iron Wind also has a knack for keeping a good thing going and keeping a promise of a promise as he brings forth part 2 of ‘Bushido Blade’. Samurai storytelling at it’s best displayed here which is begging for a video to be created.

‘Knuckle Up’ is a straight no-nonsense banger which sees Iron Wind lay down his swords and opts for his lyrical fists to crush any challenger in a good ol’ fashioned rap battle. He would wear ‘Samurai Banners’ on his back if he could while performing on stage.

When you find a time to stop trashing Iggy Azalea, check for ‘Wind Chill’ which features a

queen eyelysee

Queen Eyelysee

real female MC in Queen Eyelysee from Berlin Germany. The problem with some hip hop heads is they allow themselves to be more concerned with what’s happening commercially while gems like this are often overlooked. Then in ‘Kill Em All’, Iron Wind, Knowledge Born & Sammo Heung go all out pillage mode. But it is Knowledge Born who steals the show here with a scathing verse about how corrupt the American government is and us as people go the wrong way about trying to get justice.

…and no, that is not the same Sammo Heung you saw in Ip Man 2 that’s on this album.

‘Iron God’ is the album’s major posse cut. Iron God, Jux Diamonds and Ern Dawgy go in over an epic backdrop reminiscent of the Clan’s ‘Heaterz’ from Wu-Tang Forever.

Iron Wind & Primordial Emcee shows creativity in the tune call ‘S-word Skills’. Not only do they quote many fighting video games such as Street Fighter & Mortal Kombat, but just like Durrty Goodz did with ‘Bout my Ps,‘ they are Bout their S’s. ‘Wind Chimes’ sees Iron Wind & KillaWynd come together in a haunting track with those same chilling chimes throughout, coming with rhymes cutting swiftly like Ryu Hayabusa.

It’s evident here that we are seeing a more focussed Iron Wind who has stuck with the concept throughout, brought production, storytelling and creativity and took his skills to another level and is on his way to becoming a Daimyo, so to speak. When you listen to the content and the interview he had with us, you will find he has a deeper understanding than we could imagine of the Japanese martial arts. In this day and age not many projects go past 15 tracks and maybe this album could have done without a few, but saying that, this is a body of work which is deserving of the Clan logo of approval. All this album needs is some videos to bring out the visions displayed in this project. If GZA’s Liquid Swords was the Wu’s winter album, consider this the summer equivalent.