Written by Stone for Hip Hop Speakeasy
You can listen to and download The Alexander Green Project on Bandcamp or simply by clicking on the link below. Enjoy!
It's all about the music!
Written by Stone for Hip Hop Speakeasy
You can listen to and download The Alexander Green Project on Bandcamp or simply by clicking on the link below. Enjoy!
So… it’s been a while, right? I won’t even try to find excuses or justify myself as there is really no valid reason why I have been away for that long, but I want to apologise to the readers of this blog and to the artists for kind of letting them down in the past weeks. I will do my best to catch up on all the things I should have shared for ages and hopefully get back to a normal schedule with regular updates. Now, to get things started the right way, let me tell you about an album I was introduced to a few weeks ago…
Once thing I love is discovering new artists and music, as you may already know. I actually haven’t done any proper research in quite a long time, but I can always count on fellow music lovers and even artists to put me on people I should really not be sleeping on. What happened here was that MC Dewey Decibel, who I told you about several times on Word Is Bond, introduced me to his label mate Fabian Akilles and his video for Comb My Hair (I actually posted this recently in my video updates). I immediately loved the song, its message and the visuals, and was therefore really happy to discover Akilles’ debut album Evil Round That Corner, from which the single is taken. While I usually listen to specific genres of music, I always love letting my ears wander into somewhat unknown territories or discover albums that blend several influences. Evil Round That Corner is among the latter. While you may think that it is just another reggae album as you listen to War, the opening track, you will quickly realise that this would be undermining the variety and eclecticism provided by Fabian Akilles. Every single track seems to go in a different direction, which is a great way to discover the artist and the extent of his skills. Comb My Hair clearly stands out for me, but it is definitely not the only amazing track on this album and the aforementioned War, as well as Think I’m wrong (ironically the most reggae-infused tracks of the album) are also among my favourites. As stated before, the album is a sort of musical melting-pot, mixing genres and moods, but the overall atmosphere is uplifting, encouraging optimism even in the face of adversity and leaves you feeling good, while you nod your head and smile. The constant going back and forth between light and darkness also makes Evil Round That Corner comprehensive and compelling. The last track of the project, Middle of the day, embodies the positive outlook on life that surfaces through the music and lyrics and is quite the perfect way for Fabian Akilles to exit the stage (probably not for too long though, as the 20-something minutes long, 8-track album possesses a high replay factor).
Now that you know a bit more about Fabian Akilles and his debut album Evil Round That Corner, I strongly encourage you to purchase it and spread the word around you. You can get it on but if you want to have a listen first, head to his Soundcloud page or simply click on the link below. Enjoy!
If you have been following the blog for quite a while, you should know that Jesse Boykins III is an artist that I particularly appreciate. After discovering him around 2008 (catch up with my introduction in case you missed it), I have been following his releases and collaborations with great pleasure. I first saw his live back in 2010, for Writer’s Block 2nd anniversary at Cargo and I was blown away by his performance. As he is in London once again and about to perform here for the fourth time, headlining the Jazz Café tomorrow for Aesthetic Sounds (with Ntjam Rosie opening for him), I got a chance to catch up with him and finally do a video interview. I was very happy about that, as he is a very interesting artist and human being, and I was looking forward to having a chat with him. I have to say my expectations have been reached and even surpassed, as this interview is one of the best I’ve ever done. Jesse Boykins III shares beautiful thoughts here and encourages everyone to live more spiritually and seek love and happiness. In this video, you will learn more about what he thinks and feels about London, headlining the Jazz Café, growth and maturity, The Romantic Movement, as well as many other interesting things. I need to give a big shout out to Sarah Fonteyne, for setting up the interview and inviting Jesse to perform at Aesthetic Sounds for the second time, as well as Jesse himself, for taking the time to sit and talk with me despite jetlag. All I have to say now is enjoy the video and I’ll be sure to enjoy the show tomorrow!
It’s been quite a while since I offered some video updates and I stumbled upon a few in the past days or weeks that caught my attention. I don’t usually post videos on their own, but when I see such quality, I have to gather some of them and share them with you. The songs are in different genres and the themes vary, but all those visuals have something in common: they are beautiful and inspiring. A great video only enhances a song and can sometimes make it even more touching, powerful or entertaining. Let me tell you more about today’s selection and why I love them so much…
Fabian Akilles is an artist I discovered very recently, thanks to Dewey Decibel and I’m sure glad I did! Comb My Hair, taken from his album Evil Round That Corner, is a very interesting and uplifting song that everyone should listen to and particularly little girls who sometimes don’t have the best of role models if you consider current mainstream stars. The video is very simple and straight to the point so I won’t tell much more about it, but leave you to enjoy the great song and lovely visuals. You can get the album via
Then, a wonderful video by Stevy Mahy, who is among my favourite artists and whose album The Beautiful Side of A Kreyol Folk Trip is still in heavy rotation. For this song and video, she teamed up with singer James Germain, to offer a beautiful tribute to Haiti and its inhabitants. The visuals are stunning and allow you to get a glimpse of what day-to-day life can look like on the island. Stevy actually started a charity that helps children receive school supplies, clothes and other useful goods. All I have left to say is enjoy the journey and support by buying Haïti chérie on
Another lovely video set in the Caribbean is offered to us by Sébastien Drumeaux for his latest single Sonjé Mwen (“Think about me”), that features saxophonist Jacques Schwartz-Bart. Everything is gorgeous here, from the music, the vocals and of course the breathtaking visuals. Watching this kind of video from rainy and cold London sure hurts a little, but at the same time helps me escape the greyness and dream of warm, welcoming lands like those I can see here. Sébastien Drumeaux is currently working on his new project and I will most probably tell you more about him in the near future. Until then, you can buy Sonjé Mwen on
Finally, some feel-good music made in UK, with this highly energetic and inspiring track courtesy of the HornDogz. For Movin’ On, the musicians teamed up with Ty, Peeda and Breis, who offer positive lyrics that match the musical atmosphere perfectly. London may not be all sunshine and blue sky 24/7, but people sure know how to enjoy themselves and make the most of what they have. Listening to this kind of track and watching visuals like those are sure to put a smile on your face and give you a great dose of motivation for the day. While you’re nodding your head, pre-order the track via Uptone Records.
Cilla K is a wonderful mutli-talented artist from Guadeloupe in the French West Indies who is currently based in NYC and is creating beautiful soulful and futuristic music that pleases my ears. I already told you about the singer/producer a couple of times, but in case you missed them you can catch up with my review of her debut album Fine Line, that was featured on Preach Jacobs’ online magazine Mo’ Betta Soul, or my write-up about New World Lullabies, her excellent sophomore album that was released a few months ago.
Now, to make my ears and yours even happier, she teamed up with fellow French producer Teru, who crafted this lovely remix for You know me better, taken from her latest album. I have to admit I am very excited and happy to present this track exclusively on The Wonderful World of Carminelitta and offer you a double dose of “Frenchness” to enjoy without moderation.
While the original was very laid-back and enchanting with the delicate piano notes, Teru flips it in a very interesting way with this remix, by adding some haunting electronic elements, while keeping the essence of the track. This is what I love so much about remixes, that ability that producers have to create something new and personal while paying homage to the original and respecting the artist. As I am listening to it now, I can’t help but be captivated by the dark, mysterious atmosphere created by Teru, which gives a certain depth to the lyrics. I am also very happy about this collaboration, as is always the case when artists I greatly appreciate decide to work together, and I hope Cilla K and Teru will create magic again in the near future (*sends a virtual wink to both of them*). Until then, I will play this track on repeat and urge you to do the same.
You can listen to and download Better (Teru remix) on Teru’s Soundcloud page, or simply by clicking on the link below. Enjoy the journey and spread the word!
I first heard of UK singer Lianne La Havas about a year ago, with the “Black Cab Sessions“, and she literally blew my mind. Months have passed and she is getting more and more recognition, deservedly so. After several releases and many performances, the talented lady finally released her debut EP, the incredible Lost & Found EP. I know I have a tendency to use this sort of adjective a lot and anything I post on this blog is always something I love, but some artists or projects touch me more than others. In that case, I sometimes feel words are not really appropriate to express the depth and extent of what I feel when listening to the music.
While I already loved Lianne La Havas voice and style before, I have to admit the single, and more precisely the video, Lost & Found moved me so intensely I couldn’t help but cry. I won’t go into details, but suffice to say that I could relate to the words and feelings expressed. The wonderful video only enhanced the atmosphere of the song and made it all the more powerful (props to Colin Solal Cardo for this masterpiece). As I was thinking about the song yesterday, I realised that this is the kind of music that is deeply personal, as it comes from the artist’s own experience, but also universal as people can relate to it, even though they haven’t been through exactly the same thing. I believe that is one of the reasons why this particular song is so beautiful and precious.
Even though the title track holds a special place in my heart, the other two songs you can find on the EP, Liar and Empty are equally beautiful and share this particular quality of universal intimacy. Dealing with love and relationships from different perspectives, both tracks are extremely well-written and once again testify to Lianne La Havas’ talent as a singer and songwriter. There is a seemingly innocent and fragile element about her appearance and voice that only hides her strength and is balanced by the darkness of some of the lyrics. Her musical atmosphere is quite particular as well, with a beautiful simplicity in the actual music and wonderful acoustic instruments that I love, along with a certain mystery that seems to be pierced only by people who have been through similar experiences. It is quite rare for me to relate to an artist and their music so strongly but it is always an extraordinary feeling that I cherish. As explained in my short introduction, it is not always easy for me to describe music that means so much to me so I will leave it at that and let you enjoy it for yourself.
Now that you have an idea of what to expect with Lianne La Havas’ beautiful Lost & Found, I strongly encourage you to purchase the EP via her website or on . Trust me, it is worth it. Also, because I simply can’t let you go without sharing one of the most beautiful visuals I have seen in a long while, here is the official video for the title track of the EP.
I first told you about Elom 20ce in the very early days of the blog, with an African vibes article that introduced him and his music. I am now very happy to present to you his new album, Analgézik. One of the things I appreciate most when following artists for several years is seeing them evolve, grow and progress. With this album, Elom 20ce proves his versatility and maturity, as he explores more personal themes and uses more varied instrumentals as a background to his well-written rhymes. While he still deals with Africa and its social or political issues, he seems to open up a bit more and share his moments of doubt and darkness. Music is an “Analgézik” though, and allows both the artist and the listener to soothe their pain and heal. When I listened to the first half or so of the album, I immediately thought of some of the 90s French hip-hop classics and more precisely solo projects by Marseillais MCs Akhenaton and Shurik’n (part of the group IAM). The music, the themes, the delivery, everything was reminiscent of this “golden era” and brought me back in time, when I discovered hip-hop and fell in love with it. Despite this throwback element, there is not only nostalgia and you can find modern elements in the instrumentals and of course the lyrics. After this travel back in time, I continued the journey with more eclecticism and some jazzy or even soulful touches that are a change from what Elom 20ce did on previous projects, which is most appreciated. On tracks like Ya Foye or Analgéblues, more precisely, the horns emphasise the lyrics and Kézita’s beautiful voice on the second track makes it one of my favourites of the album.
The lyrics, as mentioned earlier, are a mixture of personal experience and social/political commentary but are always extremely well-written and witty, a testimony to Elom 20ce’s incredible ability to use words to express his thoughts and feelings in a creative way. While Des ténèbres à la lumière (“From Darkness to light) and Le prix de ma conscience (“The price of my conscience”) are the most introspective tracks of the album and see the MC share his innermost thoughts, others like 05 Octobre 1990, Africa Is Not Dead, or Libres et sauvages are clearly dealing with Africa and the world, shedding light on some of the current social and political issues plaguing the continent. On those tracks, Elom 20ce is teaming up with long time collaborators Eklin, Bricce, Fenetik and RAO Staff, who give even more weight to the messages spread. Of course you won’t get all of the depth of the lyrics if you don’t understand French, but you should still be able to feel the energy through the music and delivery, which speak for themselves. You could also learn French, which is always a useful thing to do… With Analgézik, the Togolese MC proves once again how knowledgeable and talented he is, putting his lyrical skills and seamless flow at the service of his country and continent, by spreading messages that may not be heard or taken into account otherwise. What makes the album so interesting though, is that it’s not all about politics, since there is this personal element and above all a very literary, almost poetic approach to music and hip-hop, which is greatly refreshing.
Now that you know a bit more about Elom 20ce and Analgézik, discover the official video for Lumière, featuring Renya. This is one of the most beautiful tracks of the album and the visuals really do it justice.
Because there is never too much of a good thing, let me share with you the video for Ya Foye, another one of my favourites and probably the most positive and optimistic track of the album.
After this appetiser, it is now time for you to discover the album, that you can buy on . You can also preview a couple of songs on Bandcamp, or by clicking on the link below. As usual, support is recommended and appreciated.
splash! is one of the most famous hip-hop festivals in Europe, if not the world, and I am extremely happy to announce that I will be there this year! For the first time ever, I will go to Germany but also attend a festival, something I have strangely never done before. Berlin is an amazing city and I have heard great things about it, which make me very impatient to visit the place and indulge in the cultural wonders it has to offer, which of course include the festival. Not only is the event itself very interesting, but the location is quite unique and makes splash! even more appealing. Ferropolis is actually a “half island” situated about 150km from the German capital and boasts five stages, including two open air ones. Also, in addition to the live shows, there are several side activities that represent hip-hop culture, like graffiti, break dance, skating, as well as debates and readings. That makes for a very intense and comprehensive three days of hip-hop, fun and entertainment.
While last year’s edition welcomed Aloe Blacc, Black Milk, Cypress Hill, Public Enemy and Janelle Monae (to name but just a few…), the 2012 line-up is quite impressive as well, with names like Nas, De La Soul, Nneka or Big K.R.I.T., once again to mention only a few of the numerous artists that will bless the different stages. I have to admit the first three are definitely on my list of shows to see and are among my favourites.
splash! festival will be held between 6th-8th July 2012 and promises to be a very exciting experience for me, camping tents and all. It will be a wonderful way to be immersed in live music for three days while enjoying all aspects of hip-hop culture and sharing those wide spaces with fellow music lovers. I will of course bring back a lot of memories, pictures and videos, to give you an idea of what you’ve been missing. In case you are interested in attending as well, information and tickets can be found on the official splash! Festival website.
Picture of Cypress Hill at splash! courtesy of Bildhauer Photos
Pumpkin is a French female MC I discovered quite recently thanks to producers Supafuh and Teru, who put me on her music and more specifically her previous album, the excellent Ainsi de suite (that I am very happy to own in its vinyl version). As the talented lady was in London for a few days, I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet her and do an interview with her. We ended up in a very nice old-school pub in Baker Street, which was the perfect setting for our conversation. In this interview, Pumpkin tells us about how she discovered hip-hop, London, meeting/working with DJ Vadim and Pugs Atomz, as well as previous and upcoming projects, among other interesting things.
Without further delay, let me present to you Pumpkin, in her own words…
Now that you know more about Pumpkin, (re)discover the official video for Ainsi de suite, taken from the album of the same name. The track is featuring producer/MC Supafuh and is produced by Teru. You can buy the album on Pumpkin’s Bandcamp page.
After Stevy Mahy, Meemee Nelzy and Cilla K, I have another beautiful lady to introduce to you, who is coming from the island of Guadeloupe in the French West Indies. Ines Khai is proud of her creole origins and creates music that incorporates many influences but always stays true to her roots. While I still have to listen to her debut album BwaBwa (shame on me), I was enchanted by her brand-new offering, the extremely uplifting Amazòn La (“The Amazone”). As I could discover in her bio, the singer spent her childhood in metropolitan France but was surrounded by Creole language, music and traditions from a very early age. Her influences for her first project also included “neo-soul” and gospel, as well as “kako mizik”, a Guadeloupean genre of hip-hop she discovered thanks to DJ Phonie and Exxòs. I actually didn’t know much about “kako mizik” until recently, when I watched Meemee Nelzy’s beautiful EPK, where the genre is explained by Exxòs himself, and I recommend you give it a look.
For Amazòn La, Ines Khai departed slightly from the influences mentioned above and focused on her creole heritage and more precisely the importance of the “ka”, this very powerful percussion that structures the whole album. I saw the name of Jacques Schwartz-Ba mentioned in the press release, which is the only one I recognised, and I could actually see similarities between Ines Khai’s new direction and the saxophonist’s only album I own (and listen to regularly), Soné Ka La. Percussions and drums are among the most impressive instruments and never fail to touch me deeply, as my heart follows their rhythm and beats in unison. The album is therefore very intense musically, with the addition of bass, guitar and saxophone that make it a wonderful sonic journey. The lyrics sound very powerful as well and even if I can’t understand all of them, I get a sense of what Ines Khai is saying and the themes she is touching upon in the different songs. As is obvious with the title, the beautiful singer is proud and strong, and wants the world to discover her history and that of her ancestors.
Now that you know more about Ines Khai and her music, discover the wonderful Amazòn La and start a journey through time and space to the rhythm of the drums. You can listen to and buy the album on her Bandcamp page or simply by clicking on the link below. As always, support is strongly recommended.