Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Music Moment...

Patience seems to be a rare thing these days. We zoom around our daily lives, demanding everything be done now. The same can be said about music. Songs that slowly build up to a drop have been sacrificed for short, snappy pop tunes that have a decent beat but poor lyrical content.

However, this may be slowly changing. This year, the XX (amongst others) have proved that mainstream success doesn’t have to be loud, fast paced and in your face. Music can be slow and melodic and graced with soft vocals.

James Blake continues this trend with his debut single, ‘Limit to Your Love’. Originally a Feist song, James Blake has reworked it completely, creating a song which isn’t afraid to embrace silence. Blake’s vocals dip in and out of the song, making the listener wonder what is going on. Blake also mixes the piano with a Dub beat, creating a sound that my friend has coined as ‘Soulful Dubstep’.

Runner up for the Critic’s Choice for the Brit Awards (behind Jessie J) and championed by Radio One’s music glutton Zane Lowe, 2011 looks like a big year for James Blake. His self titled debut album will be released on the 7th February 2011.

‘Limit to Your Love’ is out now on iTunes.

Click here to hear the original.

Monday, September 13, 2010

"I love how Lady Gaga is grooming Beyonce, and she's allowing it to keep up with Rihanna."

A Screen Too Far?

Unlike TVs, phones, computers and the format we use to listen to music, books have been largely resistant to any technological advances. Books are still…books. Made out of paper and all the pages are bound together with glue.

Books have been resistant to change, that is, until now. Now there are all sorts of E-book readers flooding the market. (For the luddites, an E-book reader is a device that can store hundreds of books electronically. Like an iPod. For books.) The iPad has iBooks (surprise, surprise), where thousands of titles can be downloaded on the iPad and read at the owners comfort*. Amazon has also got their own E-book reader, Kindle. It, like the iPad, stores thousands of books. And it isn’t even twenty centimetres in length.

This all sounds like good stuff. Of course it is more practical to own an E-book reader than to lug around a handful of books. But do I need another screen to look at? I own a CrackBlackberry, which constantly provides reasons for me to look at it: text messages, emails, Blackberry Messenger messages (of which sixty-five per cent are nonsense) Facebook (more nonsense), Twitter updates and a growing number of apps. I’m currently staring at an oversized monitor, typing this out. Every so often my eyes flick over to the TV. After a night out I tend to flick through the pictures I’ve taken on my digital camera. Even in the mornings I stare at the screen that tells me when the next Underground train is arriving (this is mainly because on the London Underground a minute can last anywhere between thirty seconds to three or four minutes).

Owning an E-book reader would be the straw that broke the camel’s back. I cannot bear having something else with a shiny screen to look at. @Dan_Gould (via @TarikF) summed it up perfectly (if you replace the word ‘computer’ with the word ‘screen’):
The traditional book is simple, yet effective. Sticking it behind a screen will not make me want to read any more than I do now. An E-book reader is just another example of how heavily reliant on technology the world is becoming.

*In my opinion, reading from screens is about as comfortable as having a pen jabbed into your arm. But that’s just my opinion.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Overheard Articulation...

"They say African people are lazy, now they know what the Sun does to people."

-My Mum, commenting on the temperatures the UK is currently experiencing.

A Music Moment...

I first heard Ben Drew, aka Plan B, through an old battered Nokia phone, standing at the bottom of the P.E stairs, listening to Charmaine, taken from Plan B’s debut rap album Who Needs Actions When You Got Words. It’s four years later and Plan B is almost unrecognisable on his second album, The Defamation of Strickland Banks. Here, Plan B has opted to sing instead of rap, and his music is now reminiscent of Motown records of yesteryear. This has bought the twenty-six year old massive success this year, with his second album debuting at number one. Prayin’ is the third single to be taken off the album, and the video is a continuation of the story that started off with the first single, Stay Too Long. Cameos in the video come in the form of Huey Morgan of the Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Kenrick Sandy of Boy Blue Entertainment.

Prayin’ is available to download from iTunes now.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Overheard Articulation...

"Note To Self: Assassinate Prime Minister"

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

High On Art...

Normally, I don’t promote anything other than music on my blog, unless someone asks me really nicely and/or I feel like it. However, I feel I must let you know about HAHA Magazine. HAHA Magazine is a fairly new arts and culture magazine that ‘celebrates art in all its forms’. Even though it is an American based website, there is so much content on there that it’s hard to know where to begin. There are photographs, blogs, exhibitions, videos and oh so much more. Check it out:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Music Moment...

Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine has had an amazing year. Her debut album, ‘Lungs’ has been critically acclaimed, gone platinum and was also nominated for the 2009 Mercury Prize (which went to Speech Debelle…I haven’t heard of her either). She burst into the mainstream with last summer’s hit, You’ve Got The Love (a Candi Station cover), which she then performed at the 2010 Brit awards with Dizzee Rascal. Florence + the Machine have sold out in every venue they have performed in, and it’s easy to see why. I went to see her this week, and she was amazing. Energetic and lively, she emerged from a giant disco ball and didn’t stop moving. She created an atmosphere that was electric and everyone in the audience felt the buzz. I was often lost in the melody provided by her live band and choir. I thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle.

‘Cosmic Love’ is the last song to be taken off ‘Lungs’ and it is released on July 4 in the UK.

Check out The XX remix of 'You've Got The Love'. Florence reminds me of this woman.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I'm Dark-Skinned... and What?

In our society, we place great importance on wealth, youth and appearance. However, it seems that we’re sliding backward towards a time where lighter skin is favoured over darker skin.

During the 1960s, the term ‘Black is Beautiful’ was banded about, aimed to celebrate black people’s features and make people proud to be black. But nearly fifty years on, we seem to have forgotten all of this as whitening cream sales rise as people become more and more desperate to have the ‘perfect’ caramel skin.

Darker skinned people have nearly always faced disapproval, openly portrayed as savages or buffoons in the media (e.g. gollywogs). But these portrayals have always been by ignorant white people during the days where racial equality wasn’t so high on the list. These days, it’s people who should know better, people who aren’t white who seem to be pushing light skin on all of us.

I’m a dark skinned teenager of Ghanaian heritage. I’ve heard positive comments as well as negative ones. Now, people who make negative comments are stupid and ignorant, and usually posses an ego that has been inflated to a point where it engulfs the person. However, ego and/or stupidity are no excuse. People shouldn’t have to put up with these sorts of negative comments. Everyone should be allowed to be comfortable with whatever shade they are, whether they’re as white as snow or as black as coal.

I have been wondering what’s brought this intra-racial contempt on. I Googled something along the lines of ‘dark skinned contempt’ and two interesting articles came up. Tameka J. Raymond (aka Usher Raymond’s ex-wife) and British journalist/author Yasmin Alibhai-Brown both wrote interesting articles on this topic. Both blame the rise in popularity of lighter skinned people on the media. Raymond says: ‘Reading magazines, social media sites, watching our music videos, and television shows feed our appetites for all things ‘beauty’. Rarely, however do I see depictions of grace and elegance in the form of dark complexioned women.’ While Alibhai-Brown comments: ‘The beauty and fashion industries still maintain a closed shop when it comes to the selection and promotion of models. In women's magazines, on catwalks, even shop dummies, dark skin is rarely seen… Exceptionally, Naomi Campbell and Iman are permitted to strut with their white peers. Let's pray no bus ever runs them over.’

Now, I try not to use the ‘media card’ too often, as I feel that it is the first thing people blame when things go wrong, however, I’m willing to make an exception in this case. In 2008, L’Oreal ran a campaign for its hair lightening kit, featuring Beyonce. The public were outraged when the picture was released. L’Oreal was accused of lightening caramel-coloured Beyonce’s skin until she resembled a white girl who had spent two weeks in Ibiza. Of course, L’Oreal vehemently denied photoshopping the picture to within an inch of its life, but I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether L’Oreal is lying or not.

Also in 2008, Italian Vogue created its first ‘All Black’ issue, where all the models used in that issue were black. This issue sold out world-wide. However, many darker-skinned models complain that they cannot find work. The fashion industry’s excuse? ‘Black models don’t sell.’ Well Vogue clearly decapitated that excuse. The projection of just one type of beauty in the media excludes the majority of the population. If you aren’t tall, thin, and have light skin, I’m sorry; you just don’t cut it in this society.

Some people are so desperate to attain this narrow view of beauty that they’ll result to drastic measures. As previously mentioned, sales of lightening creams are rocketing; however some of these creams are not safe. Indy Rihal of the British Skin Foundation says: “Unfortunately, many skin-lightening creams contain illegal compounds that can damage your health; the most common compounds are high-dose steroids.” Regrettably, some people don’t heed these warnings and still carry on applying these creams until their face is three shades lighter than the rest of their body, or the veins in their face become visible, or until their skin develops a grey tint to it, ruining their face forever.

What is even sadder is the prospect of having a generation of young dark-skinned people hating their own skin colour. I came across a Yahoo Answers question, with a seemingly young person (I’m assuming a girl) wishing she wasn’t ‘dark skin black’ and asking whether ‘you guys do any bleaching cream that will made [sic] me fair skinned?’ They go on to mention that they are teased at school, and they want to be none other than Beyonce’s skin tone (oh, the irony). This case of self-loathing is increasingly becoming more common.

I think it’s down to all of us to promote beauty in all its forms, but I also think that I can be our generation that breaks the mould and ends this ridiculous, narrow minded view on what it means to be beautiful.

I'm dark-skinned. And what?

(Image thieved from here. Sorry.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Overheard Articulation...

"Alexander McQueen is dead... but maybe all his bags will go on sale?"

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Music Moment: Ones for 2010

It’s a new year so it is time for some brand new artists. First up is twenty-three year old Ellie Goulding from Herefordshire. After I initially ignored her first single, Under the Sheets, her second single, Starry Eyed grabbed my attention. Her voice sounds like she should be making folk music; however, when mixed with dance/electro beats the result is quite stunning. Starry Eyed is released in the UK on February 22nd, and her debut album, Lights is out on March 1st.

Next is twenty-four year old Marina Lambrini (LOL) Diamandis aka Marina and the Diamonds. The half Welsh half Greek songstress was second in the BBC’s Sound of 2010, only beaten by the above Ellie Goulding. Her first promotional single from her debut album, The Family Jewels, Hollywood, is full of clever lyrics about the American Dream. She has often been compared to Florence + the Machine, but the only thing they really have in common is the ‘and the’ in their respective titles. Hollywood is out now in the UK, and The Family Jewels is out on February 22nd (again, in the UK).

Lastly is twenty-one year old Swede Erik Hassle. After establishing a successful career in native Sweden, he’s now trying to conquer Britian. He’s already toured with Mika (erugh), Little Boots (meh), and Florence + the Machine (yay!). Even though I find him a bit creepy looking, and he looks like La Roux’s twin brother (don’t tell me you can’t see it), his debut single, Hurtful is a solid pop single. His debut EP, Pieces is also out now.

These girls debuted ten years ago. Click.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Overheard Articulation...

"Who says I can't take a dump in the urinal? I’m a temp and it’s my last day. I can do whatever I want!"