First of all, a disclaimer and a (kind of) apology: I am not a professional journalist and this quick review is not intended to be the most well-written, perfect analysis of the show I was blessed enough to witness tonight. What it is though, is an extremely biased and emotional reaction to something that touched me, made me feel good, made me want to cry and to laugh, or to put it simply, made me feel alive. After missing Lianne La Havas several times when I was in London, I finally had a chance to see her live in Marseille tonight and I had the most wonderful evening, as I knew I would. To the simple question, Is Your Love Big Enough? both Lianne and the audience replied by a beautiful, joyful and powerful YES! tonight and I need to say I was pleasantly surprised by the energy and atmosphere here in Marseille. I haven’t been to any concert in my hometown in years and I didn’t really know what to expect but my fellow Marseillais blew me away, as they apparently did Lianne. The young singer didn’t disappoint of course, and the incredible quality of her vocals and guitar playing, as well as that of the band, associated with a very receptive and involved audience made for one of the most amazing concerts I have ever attended.
Since I discovered the Lost & Found EP, my love for Lianne La Havas and her music has grown steadily and her wonderful album, Is Your Love Big Enough? was only a confirmation of her talent, as a songwriter, singer and musician. Both albums are in heavy rotation in my iTunes and her music has become almost necessary to me. Seeing her on stage and listening to Gone, Lost & Found, or Elusive, my three favourite songs, made me feel slightly overwhelmed and emotional. Obviously there’s nothing like live music to share emotions and bare your soul, so the rendition of those songs, more precisely the first two, brought tears to my eyes. Speaking of Lost & Found, I already told you how special this song was for me, but I have to admit it hurt a little bit to listen to it tonight, as it brought memories back to my mind. I don’t complain though and as writing and performing the song must have been cathartic for Lianne, listening to it surely is for me. Those words she sang were things I could have written (I actually did on several occasions) and they make me feel close to her, in a way. On a happier note, I have to highlight a few things, like the performance of Is Your Love Big Enough? and Forget, where the incredible energy of the singer, her band and the audience made those two songs the most entertaining, joyful and energetic moments of the night, complete with hand-clapping and singing from the whole venue. After Lianne and the band exited, we were obviously having none of it and the anticipation before the encore was growing, which is usually one of my favourite parts in the concert. I can’t imagine how it must feel for a singer/band to hear an audience so in love with their music that they will not stop clapping and cheering until they reappear on stage. When she did come back, she was only accompanied by two guitarists and a percussionist at first, and did a wonderful rendition of Empty, which is another of my favourites on the Lost & Found EP. Finally, she closed the show beautifully with Elusive, which I was waiting for anxiously, and Age, apparently one of the crowd’s favourites. As I finish writing those lines, still on a high and having flashbacks of the night, I can’t but feel blessed, once again, to be able to witness such wonderful moments, where music unites people and make them forget about everything else around. Moments like these, when love is flowing abundantly around, are ways for the universe to remind me how beautiful life can be.
P.S. I didn’t take any picture or record any part of the show, because I wanted to enjoy the experience fully for once, feeling the music and letting myself be submerged by the atmosphere of the venue without the interference of technology. You should try it once, it’s quite amazing…
If I don’t have any video of the concert to share with you, I won’t let you leave this page without giving you some beautiful visuals to enjoy… A few days ago, Lianne released a two-part story, with a video for Elusive and one for Gone. I think by now you know that those two songs are among my favourites and I have to say the videos make me appreciate them even more. As was the case with Lost & Found, the visuals only enhance the power of the songs. Enjoy!
Tonight was one of the best nights I’ve had in a very long time and I feel that sharing it with you and FINALLY updating the blog is probably the best way to keep celebrating. I won’t go into too many details about the reasons why I have been M.I.A. for so long but let’s just say that one of them was a general lack of inspiration and motivation. You know, shit happens (excuse my French). Tonight though, I feel a renewed sense of belonging, a revived faith in the power of music and desire to share it through my words. It all started with a long overdue meet-up with my Word Is Bond family before the gig. Obviously you don’t really care about my personal life, but all I wanted to say is that it was a breath of fresh air for my mind and everyone’s motivation and excitation was contagious. It’s difficult to feel down and idle when you are surrounded by people who are so active and enthusiastic about what they do. They reminded me about myself when I started the blog and I finally got a glimpse of hope, reminding me that everything was still there, waiting for me to be ready again. The time has come, ladies and gentlemen, and I couldn’t be happier about it!
Now, the best part of the night was of course seeing Oddisee on stage for the first time and I have to say I am still high and energised by the amazing show I witnessed. Oddisee is an artist I have a lot of respect and appreciation for, even though I don’t know all about his career and releases. While I am more familiar with the producer than the MC I have always enjoyed all the music I heard from him and I was really anticipating witnessing his “live” prowesses. Not only did he blow my mind with his lyrical dexterity, but he also exuded an incredible positive energy that made it impossible for me not to smile and enjoy myself. Sharing the stage with amazing musicians who also happen to be some of his best friends, he created a very intimate but welcoming vibe that allowed everyone to feel like they were part of a family. I don’t go to too many hip-hop shows, especially these days, but this one reminded me of the time I saw Ty (also at the Jazz Café), in terms of exchange with the audience. The whole point of doing a live show is to get to share with your listeners and it is always wonderful to feel uplifted by the music and to have your mind, body and soul moved by the artists and their energy.
I didn’t know all of the songs he did tonight, but whether I recognised them or not, I was equally entertained and touched, unable to suppress smiles and head nods for the whole duration of the show. In addition to Oddisee’s perfectly seamless and versatile flow, which was most breathtaking during his freestyles, as well as his lyrical mastery, what really impressed me was the quality of the live band. All the musicians were not only truly gifted, but they had smiles on their faces and danced all through the evening.
Special mention to Olivier Daysoul, incredible musician and vocalist who really blew me away. I knew about him and already loved his music, but seeing him doing his thing on stage made me appreciate him all the more. His cover of MJ’s Can’t help it was on point, as was his revamped version of Long Distance Relationship. Also, as a very nice surprise, the legendary Omar blessed the mic for a song and made the night even more memorable for me. Last but not least (actually first guest of the night), UK MC Tranqill really impressed me with his rhymes and flow, leaving me wanting more. Going back to the very start of the evening at Jazz Café, I need to give props to Eric Lau who was on DJ duty and set the mood just right with an excellent blend of soulful hip-hop that allowed me to get an early start on the head nod. All in all, this was one of the best concerts I have ever attended and probably a life-changing moment (no, I am not exaggerating).
Since I forgot to bring my camera recorder, I will leave you with “non-live” music from Oddisee and urge you to go see him if he is coming to a town near you. Enjoy and don’t forget to support his music. My signed copy of Rock Creek Park on vinyl makes me happy and it should do the same for you, even if it’s not signed and it’s not mine. You can also get People Hear What They See via Mello Music Group.
Tensei, the duo of Chicago producers Simple X and Midas Wells, is getting more and more exposure lately and recently signed to Plug Research, after being featured of an EP created by the label with their excellent remix of Bilal’s Robots. Despite the fact that they have worked on many remixes and may be largely known for those, they shine as bright when it comes to creating their own tracks and this lovely EP is only a confirmation of their talent. Presented as an introduction to their work and a prelude to an upcoming full-length album, One will rejoice fans and probably enrol many more among appreciators of instrumental music and open-minded music lovers. There are many reasons to love this EP and I will now share a few with you.
Whether you are familiar with Tensei’s music or not, this EP will serve as some kind of appetizer, a snippet of what they are capable of and of just how eclectic their music can get. With all the different moods, atmospheres and influences, from trip hop to soul, hip-hop, latin and afrobeat, electro, rock or jazz (just to name a few…), Simple X and Midas Wells offer a very comprehensive and encompassing project that allows the listeners to appreciate all the different things that inspire the producers and colour their music. Such a lively and rich palette could look a bit too overwhelming, but it works quite well and you can get a different picture with every track, as you would get a new story with every chapter in a collection of short stories. You can go from a spaced out electro track to a very chilled, soulful one, followed by another one that will be smooth and reggae/dub influenced but never get an impression of inappropriateness, as all those atmospheres you explore are just One after all.
There is also a cinematic dimension with some of the tracks, especially with the hypnotic and high-energy Fly Trap (instrumental version), which reminded me of Asia and could very well have been the score for an action movie, played during a battle or a crazy motorcycle ride in the streets of a busy metropolis (I know, my imagination runs wild sometimes). Basically, this One EP is a journey for all your senses and will please your ears as much as your mind.
After DiViNe SeVeN’s INTROSPECT LPlast week, I am catching up with another release I have been meaning to tell you about for ages. Shade Cobain, who is among my favourite producers, dropped his latest project TEARS on August 15th, in collaboration with JiLLz Worth’s Them Fighting Words and the album is, once again, a must-have. Big shout out to iNanz for yet another amazing artwork. Now, let me tell you why you need some “TEARS” in your life…
Shade Cobain describes his latest album as “the musical memoir of a 365 day grind” and once again puts a lot of himself into the music, creating a very personal, yet universal project. As he presents different steps and phases in this constant struggle that life is, including highs and lows, he touches upon an element that is still quite taboo in our society. Indeed, it is quite rare to hear people admit to crying or see them do it openly. Those tears may be due to anger, frustration, sadness or even joy and you can feel all of those emotions in the music, as the producer once more found the perfect samples and blending of instruments to reflect what was on his mind and heart. I guess this is me being too sensitive and emotional again, but I did cry when I first listened to the project.
As usual, a great importance is given to drums, which are hard-hitting and will most probably give you a serious head-nod but we can also find a wide variety of influences and genres, giving TEARS a more global reach and making it more than a hip-hop project. Another of Shade Cobain’s trademarks is present here, that is the relevance of the titles, which always emphasise the feeling expressed in the instrumental and make the music speak as words would.
As is sometimes (err.. often actually) the case, I got slightly side-tracked and overwhelmed by music in the past weeks and months, which created a delay in me writing this review. But this INTROSPECT LP is such a beautiful album that I had to tell you more about it. I hope DiViNe SeVeN and you won’t be too mad at me for taking so long and that it will be worth the wait. Now, let me tell you more about this excellent album…
One of the things I appreciate most about artists, on top of providing quality music, is their ability to evolve and explore different ways to express themselves, to touch upon new subjects or at least to approach them in a new way. As the title suggests, this INTROSPECT LP is a journey into the heart and mind of DiViNe SeVeN, where he is extremely open about what’s going on in his life and what his various experiences taught him. This is not to say he was not already sharing personal thoughts and feelings on other projects, but this is the overall concept of the album and he goes a little further than previously. He is obviously not the only one to create such an album, which sounds like a diary, but it is precisely because it is his that it is so original and unique.
What struck me at first as I listened to the album was the production, which is a slight departure from what he is usually doing, with a great use of soul and jazz samples, giving the album a particular, somewhat nostalgic touch. Once again, this is nothing new and many artists are using this kind of samples, but I feel it fits perfectly here and helps convey the feelings expressed, while creating the appropriate atmosphere for the listeners to immerse themselves in. There is a very intimate, thoughtful element on this album and the different vocals sampled as well as the instruments (mainly horns and piano) make us travel back in time at the same time as we discover the world DiViNe SeVeN is depicting. While he is talking about his past and current life, the music makes us reminisce on our own history and remember the good and bad times. Something else that is quite new and a very welcome addition is collaboration with singers, who add another smooth soulful touch that blends perfectly with the overall feeling of introspection.
After much anticipation following the release of The 29th Year EP and many singles, e.d.g.e. finally uncovered his new album All Flow Everything on June 24th (in collaboration with I.G.O.D., DJ Koast & The 9 Elements). As usual I am fashionably late in telling you about it but I hope you will forgive me. I have been a fan of e.d.g.e. since I listened to his previous EP and I was quite eager to discover his first solo album. Let me tell you a bit more about how I felt about it…
If you have never heard of Canadian MC e.d.g.e. before, this album is probably one of the best ways for you to get acquainted. It gathers all the elements that make him as talented as he is, while it explores different sides of his personality and talent. The main focus on All Flow Everything though, is “penwork”. e.d.g.e. himself repeats the word many times over the album and this is clearly one of the most important and impressive aspects of his skills. Being a writer and lover of words, I am of course delighted when I listen to this display of lyrical and technical abilities. There is a sort of balance in the album, between purely technical tracks which loom on the side of ego-trip and deeper, more meaningful ones, even though the two sometimes blend and overlap, but what is constant is e.d.g.e.’s seamless flow and incredible way of using words as tools, or weapons at times. This is the kind of music you just can’t listen to in the background while doing something else. You can’t but but be caught up in the rhythm of the MC’s delivery and be amazed at his lyrical dexterity. Metaphors, alliterations, assonances are used perfectly and make words sound like little characters dancing around. e.d.g.e. is therefore the conductor and makes sure we enjoy the ride.
This is just a quick post to let you know that my latest review is now featured on OURshow’s blog. Big shout out to Conshus for the opportunity and for putting me on D-Voo‘s music. You can now discover his new album Weather The Storm through my review.
Also, I need to say that OURshow is a dope radio show that every hip-hop appreciator should check out. Based in Orlando, Florida, they play some of the best hip-hop from the indie scene, including some “homegrown Ozone” (Ozone = Orlando), which is quite cool! You can check them out every Saturday between 5-7pm (local time) and catch up with the podcasts on the blog. Tune in on OURshow
To get an idea of what to expect with Weather The Storm, discover one of my favourite tracks on the album, On My Own. A few other tracks are available on D-Voo’s Bandcamp
After discovering Kap Kallous’ universe with two previous projects, The TV EP and The She EP, that sounded like appetisers to my ears, I was quite impatient to hear his debut album, I Should Have Kept My Mouth Shut. I may have been overwhelmed at the time of the release and I have to admit I didn’t give it the time it deserved. But as soon as I listened to it I knew the wait was worth it. Why I took so long to write about it will remain a mystery but I hope you (and Kap Kallous) won’t be too mad at me for keeping “my mouth shut” for so long.
As soon as you read the title and see the album cover, you know you’re in for some raw, lyrically violent and brutally honest content, which is one of Kap Kallous’ trademarks. This is clearly not for the faint of heart, easily shocked or under-aged people, so if that’s your case you may as well stop reading now. What you may not expect, though, is a very eclectic and genre-crossing project, where the MC delivers lyrics providing food for thought over varied and original instrumentals. Apart from Nothings Free, which chorus sounds way too mainstream and unoriginal to my ears, I was very pleasantly surprised by the musical direction of the album, all the more so as I was not predicting such openness and variety. Thumbs up to Kap Kallous, then, for going beyond expectations and not being afraid to express himself by broadening his artistic horizons. With influences and elements borrowed to rock, electro or even dubstep, there is something for every one and your ears will probably enjoy this journey into different sonic dimensions. Whether you are an appreciator of those genres or not, there is a way for you to indulge in them as they are blended with others and sound more universal in this context that they may have otherwise. Despite this variety, a constant remains, that is the heaviness of the drums which will keep your head nodding hard to the rhythm of the beat.
Lyrically, there is no surprise. Kap Kallous is true to himself and the irony of the title will not be missed. It is quite clear the MC didn’t intend on keeping that mouth shut and I am quite sure people are grateful for this (well, those who appreciate his music that is – I guess some may be offended). His previous projects proved that he didn’t really care about what people may think and made it a point to say exactly what was on his mind. What I got to appreciate with the EPs, I can find once more on the album. More diverse than the EPs, which were very conceptual, the album allows Kap Kallous to express his thoughts and feelings on different subjects, from his personal life, struggles and love for music to more universal ideas on society, conspiracy theories or simply ego-tripping. Other tracks like Where Did She Go or Portrait Of An American Family are yet another occasion for him to showcase his excellent story-telling skills as well as his cynical but accurate visions on life and love. There is also a cinematographic dimension on several of the tracks, which is something I could already appreciate with his previous projects. All in all, I would say I Should Have Kept My Mouth Shut is the addition of the themes of TV/cinema/society we could find in The TV EP and a bleak yet realistic take on love which was the central element of The She EP, with more general or personal tracks which all exude a great energy, sometimes bordering violence but always very cleverly expressed. This album sounds like an outlet for Kap Kallous and I guess many of us can relate to this need to let off some steam and anger, to simply express what we have inside and that needs to get out. I can’t but salute the MC’s courage to do so, as it is quite inspiring and salutary.
Now, to get an idea of what I talked about in the previous paragraphs, I will share two of the official videos for the album. First of all, the latest is the visual rendition for Hush, one of the most energetic and compelling tracks, which shouldn’t leave anyone unmoved. As stated in the disclaimer, this is for mature audiences ONLY. You’ve been warned…
Then, one of my favourite tracks and one of the most original ones is the mesmerising Like I Do, with beautiful vocals courtesy of S.K.I.P. I find the video very interesting and a great interpretation of the themes and lyrics of the song. Once again, not for the faint of heart.
If you like what you’ve heard, head to Kap Kallous’ Bandcamp to get the album, or simply click on the link below.
I first heard the angelic voice of ArinMaya thanks to an article on Bama Love Soul, where they presented her previous project, the amazing Sound Of ArinMaya. I was immediately mesmerised by the lady’s voice but also deeply touched by the emotional and spiritual content of the EP. Since then, I have been playing this project regularly, while waiting for a new one and an occasion to listen to more of ArinMaya’s heavenly music. My wishes have been granted and I am fortunate enough to have been introduced to Let the Love Come, her new project in collaboration with Nick Cassarino, which will be released on June 14th.
While her debut EP was an eclectic collection of tracks showcasing her vocal skills over varied genres which allowed her to explore different sides of her personality/art, this acoustic album is more focused on folk and soul, with a very interesting concept, that of love. Probably the most universal and recurrent of subjects, love will never cease to inspire artists, offering them infinite possibilities to describe the way it affects people, uniting them or tearing them apart. Let the Love Come is therefore an exploration of all the different expressions of love, from the purest to the most harmful, from a spiritual point of view to an acknowledgement of its power. The title is an invitation, as ArinMaya and guitarist Nick Cassarino encourage you to open your ears and hearts, to surrender to the beauty and passion of love, to its addictive, dangerous but healing power. What you will feel, then, is pure emotion, thanks to the wonderful acoustic guitar which enhances the incredible vocals and lyrics. I mentioned several times how acoustic music is one of the most emotional and rawest ways to spread a message. This album is yet another confirmation of this statement for me. From the very first notes of Around to the last of Lemon Drops, I could feel chills down my spine, a smile on my face and a rush of tears to the edge of my eyes. I may be too sensitive for some but I don’t care. I feel blessed every time I can experience such beauty and it helps me keep the faith in humanity and the world.
As the guitar discreetly provides for an emotional musical pattern, it leaves all the space for ArinMaya and Nick Cassarino’s voices to shine. Because the melodies are stripped down, the focus here is on vocals and lyrics, with the slight touches of guitar underlining the beauty and power of the latter. I could go on for days about the extraordinary and heavenly voice of ArinMaya but I feel words wouldn’t even do it justice. There are some times when words can’t express such experience. You have to listen to her to understand what I mean. You have to discover this gift for yourself and be touched deeply by it to know what it is all about. It is clearly one of the strongest points of this album and the reason why I will never tire of listening to it. There is something addictive about it, this healing and soothing effect that it has will make you want more.
The lyrics all revolve around love and its various expressions. The three covers are a way for ArinMaya to pay homage to the creators of the songs, while putting some of herself in them and giving them a different twist. The different, more intimate dimension and slower or more lively pace allow the listener to really pay attention to the lyrics and feel the emotions they contain. Special mention for Nothing Even Matters, one of my favourite songs by Lauryn Hill, which becomes even more powerful and brought me to the verge of crying. The original songs explore all the nuances on the wide spectrum of feelings and emotions love can trigger off. From beautiful relationships made of trust to break-ups that leave lingering regrets, to self-love and a quest for spiritual meaning, the singers present a colourful and compelling range of interpretations of love, where you will most definitely find some pieces of yourself. One of the most inspiring and touching songs, Lemon Drops closes this project perfectly, spreading some very positive and inspiring messages, when ArinMaya states “I know the sun will shine” and declares that “love’s a key to heal humanity”. There is nothing much I could add to that.
Let the Love Come will be released on June 14th but you can already pre-order it on ArinMaya’s Bandcamp. You can also discover and download the beautiful Lemon Drops there, or simply by clicking on the link below. Open your ears and heart and let it come…
Sometimes, I have been wanting to update the blog for days (or even weeks) but didn’t really find the inspiration or haven’t taken some time to do so. Life has this way of clouding your mind and closing the door to creativity sometimes…
This lengthy intro will be a way for me to sort of make up for the lack of words on here in the past weeks. So, as there hadn’t been any Internet connection at work all day and I quickly exhausted the computer game possibilities, I decided to put pen to paper. What could I talk about, I wondered for a second.
Well, the obvious topic was the amazing evening I had last Sunday. As my birthday on Tuesday was some kind of a disaster, I will retrospectively take this night at XOYO as an early present and will keep that one in mind, trying to erase the 24th May 2011 from my memory.
Before I go any further, I need to give a huge shout out to Rah and all the soulBEAUTIFUL team, for putting together yet another awesome show. After the incredible performance by the Foreign Exchange at Cargo back in January, which started the new year with a bang, we were offered a phenomenal show by Black Milk and that deserves to be mentioned. Now, let me tell you more about what happened on Sunday 22nd May at XOYO, London…