Here is one of the many posts that have been waiting in line for months and that I absolutely wanted to share with you. I guess “newness for your ears” may be replaced by “long overdue” in some instances, but as I stated several times on this blog already, better late than never… Why did I want to tell you about this project that came out several months ago? Well, it’s quite simple: few artists have this capacity to blow me away on first listen. K.I.N.E.T.I.K. is one of those. If you are not yet familiar with him and his music, then I consider it my mission to get you acquainted. I first discovered him when he was part of Grand Central, one of the most famous hip-hop duos in London, and I have followed his adventures ever since (however late I was). After seeing him on stage when the group opened for Black Milk during one of his shows in the English capital, I was impressed by his flow, witty rhymes and energy. While the dynamics in Grand Central worked quite well, I have to admit I’ve always preferred his solo endeavours and I was happy to learn he was still working very hard after the split, releasing projects and videos on a regular basis. The latest to date is the one I will now tell you more about, the last instalment in his album series, The Kinesis Thesis Vol. III.
Whereas many talented MCs and producers stand out from the crowd in my opinion, a handful amaze me with the quality of their writing, flow and concepts. With the three volumes of his Kinesis Thesis, K.I.N.E.T.I.K. presents a very interesting project that is both deeply personal and universal. Dealing with past experiences, family, love but also society and its ills, the MC provides the listener with food for thought while making their head nod. For this last release, he surrounded himself with some of the most talented MCs and producers the UK counts, which obviously gives great results. Whether it is anthem-like tracks (Here we go, Year of the underdog), positive statements (Flying high), personal and intimate tales (Gone, See the sun, Fatherhood) or social analysis (Products of the city), K.I.N.E.T.I.K. excels at touching the listeners by making it easy for them to relate to his words. For the writer that I am, words are very important and it’s always a pleasure to witness the artist’s impressive lyrical skills. Both a realist and an optimist, the MC infuses his music with an honesty and intelligence that are highly refreshing. Placed at the very end of the project, the track that sums up the whole Kinesis Thesis series is one of the best examples of K.I.N.E.T.I.K.’s mastery in terms of flow and lyrics. Number 3 never ceases to amaze me, especially because of the great amount of knowledge it is filled with. Explaining the concept of the three albums in a very creative way and making it easier for the listeners to understand his thought process, the MC closes the chapter in the best way possible. The good news is, he doesn’t seem to be willing to stop anytime soon, which means I will probably tell you about him again in the near future. In the meantime, catch up on all volumes of the series if you don’t have them already.
You can download The Kinesis Thesis Vol. III on K.I.N.E.T.I.K.’s Bandcamp, or simply by clicking on the link below.
Now that you know more about K.I.N.E.T.I.K. and his latest album, you can enjoy the visuals! Here is one of my favourite tracks and videos, the very positive Flying high.
Another great track in a different genre, Products of the city life presents a somewhat grim but realistic picture of what life in London can be like. The visuals only enhance the lyrics and could almost make me miss the capital…
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.
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!
I first told you about Chicago jazz pianist Greg Spero with a “spotlight” after I came back from my trip to the Windy City and I am very happy to have met him again, this time in London. It was a great pleasure for me to finally see him on stage and to attend the wonderful event that was the Buddy Rich 25th Anniversary Memorial Concert at the Palladium. The quality of the music was incredible and both the band and the special guests blew me away. After such an amazing event, it was also very nice to get to spend some time with Greg and to record this interview, where he tells us more about the actual concert (including some interesting insider revelations), as well as his upcoming shows in England and Germany, among other things. He is not only a very talented musician, but also a very enthusiastic individual, whose energy and positivity are contagious. Without further delay, let me introduce you to Greg Spero…
Now that you know more about Greg Spero and what he’s up to, discover the video he mentions in the interview, where you can get a glimpse of the new direction he is taking with his music. The footage was taken during one of his performances with drummer Makaya McCraven.
The first time I read about London singer Szerdene was back in January 2010, when I discovered her Collage: The Demo on SoulCulture. Over the months, I was always delighted to discover her new singles and collaborations, including her work with Dutch singer Mar (if you have never heard their rendition of April 14th, do yourself a favour and head over here). It is therefore with great pleasure that I learned about her brand-new project, Patchwork The EP, released via Wonderful Ear Records. Of course, I couldn’t not share such beauty with you! In case you are not familiar with Szjerdene’s music and her amazing voice, this should serve as a great introduction, before you discover her previous releases. Freshly signed with Plug Research label, the young Londoner is getting more and more shine on the independent soul scene, deservedly so.
With Patchwork The EP, you get a glimpse of what Szjerdene can do and with only four tracks, it definitely sounds as an appetiser which will make you eager to listen to more from the talented lady. Opening the project, we have Blue Lullaby, whose original version was featured on Collage: The Demo and which remains one of my favourite songs of hers. Deeply personal and emotional, it never fails to bring me close to tears, while Szerdene’s voice is sheer purity and perfection. Then, the delicate Turn also has a very honest element and the beautiful, discreet melody underlines the lyrics perfectly, allowing the listener to focus on every word and feel their power. As is the case with many of her songs, this initial simplicity is then overcome by a great energy and intense guitars, before returning towards the end. Much more experimental and darker, 4th Stranger takes you on a mysterious ride, where distorted sounds and Szjerdene’s ever so gorgeous voice create an hypnotic, addictive atmosphere. This may not be to everyone’s taste, but I can’t but admire the singer’s versatility and innovative approach. Finally, closing Patchwork The EP on a more soulful note, Go sounds like the perfect way to say goodbye, while remembering that we’ll definitely meet again. The lovely piano and angelic vocals are like a balm for your heart, a ray of hope after the rainy days and a promise for better days. With four tracks that are as different from one another as possible, Szjerdene clearly created a wonderful Patchwork which presents different sides of her art and shows just how promising an artist she is.
Don’t hesitate one more second and stream Patchwork The EP on Szjerdene’s Soundcloud page, before you head to to purchase the project. You can also click on the link below to start the journey.
Now, because there is no such thing as too much beauty, here is the official video for Blue Lullaby, one of the most incredible songs I’ve ever heard. Enjoy and don’t forget to spread the word.
I know this is not brand-new and you probably heard about it already, but I’m sure you’re eager to read what I have to say about it. Right?! Ok, so I’ve been following Eric Lau and his releases for a little while and I really appreciate his production. It is therefore always a pleasure to hear he has a new project out. I was also fortunate enough to interview the London-based producer for Word Is Bond a couple of months ago and he had very interesting things to say. With The Mission EP, Eric Lau teams up once again with Guilty Simpson, after a first collaboration on For The D back in 2007 and I have to admit the two of them form a winning team and obviously enjoy working together. The combination of the MC’s voice and the producer’s music may leave some skeptical on paper, but the EP proves that it actually works extremely well and they complement each other perfectly. Coming back to hip-hop production but sprinkling it with touches of soul, jazz and funk, Eric Lau proves his versatility and the extent of his talent. To make the project complete, he added the incredibly beautiful voices of Fatima and Olivier Daysoul, that make some of the tracks slightly emotional and enchanted my ears, as well as the skills of musicians Chris “Daddy” Dave, Alex Bonfanti and Damu The Fudgemunk.
Introducing The Mission EP by asking are U Ready, Eric Lau catches your attention immediately and the epic instrumental with heavy drums gives your head a will of its own, while your ears appreciate the lovely synths and get ready for 17 minutes of aural pleasure. You will actually not stop nodding your head all the way through, thanks to some amazing drums and catchy instruments. It is then time for Guilty Simpson to enter the stage and explain what The Mission is. As his seamless flow rides the head-nodding beat, the Detroit MC emphasises the need to stay humble and be grateful for what he has, while representing his home town and making sure he’s the best at what he does. After this statement, he is joined by Fatima and her gorgeous voice, and asks you Can you feel it? on one of the most soulful and beautiful tracks of the EP. He expresses his gratitude once again and how thankful he is for his life, reminding us that there is “not a second to waste” in this life and that “experience is learning from mistakes“. Those little gems of inspiration are much appreciated and fit the mood of the instrumental perfectly. Chilling for a bit, the MC then takes some time to Burn It Up on a very funky beat with a gorgeous bass that hypnotised me and made me want to burn one dance the night away. The lyrics are as laid-back as the instrumental and in true hip-hop fashion, Eric Lau introduces some samples that will be quickly recognised by hip-hop and soul heads (including D’Angelo sexy vocals, that make the music all the more sensual). After this smoking break, Guilty Simpson comes back with some great story-telling and the atmosphere gets a little bit darker with the beautiful piano. On He Said, She Said, the MC deals with failed relationship and karma, when miscommunication and different desires are tearing people apart. Probably the most personal track of the EP and one of my favourites, Yesterday is a way for the Detroit native to reminisce over his childhood and remind people that they shouldn’t take anything for granted. The lovely and emotional piano notes emphasise the reflective mood of the lyrics, while Fatima and Olivier Daysoul’s voices are simply heavenly and add even more depth to the track (those harmonies at the end left me speechless). Remembering friends lost to gun violence, Guilty Simpson shares yet another gem that people should keep in mind: “whatever it is, you better say it now“, as you truly never know what tomorrow may bring. Finally, Eric Lau ends this amazing EP with a most beautiful outro, where the gorgeous piano and jazzy vibes will help you reflect on the previous song and its lyrics, while giving you an irrepressible itch to press replay. Music that great is addictive, I have to admit.
In case you want to know even more about The Mission EP, listen to Eric Lau as he discusses the project and showcases some of the instrumentals.
I know you are dying to get your hands on this EP and I don’t blame you! You can get the vinyl from Kilawatt or hhv.de, among others (that includes bonus tracks) or download it on Bandcamp. If you are really in a hurry, simply click on the link below and enjoy.
When it comes to interviews, it’s always a pleasure to get to exchange with people you really appreciate, both as artists and as human beings. Erik Rico is not only one of my favourite artists but also a man I admire for his beautiful soul. I am therefore always really happy when I get a chance to catch up with him during his visits to London and to learn more about what he’s been up to and what he’s working on, as well as his views on music and life. In case you missed them, you can go catch up with our first interview and with our previous video interview. As his European tour came to an end over the weekend, Erik got busy one last time last Monday with a recording session with Matt Hughes from soulfulbeats, a frequent collaborator and now good friend. I was blessed enough to do this interview and then witness the recording session at the famous Uprock Studio in North West London, which really made my evening. We had a really nice chat about the tour, future projects or collaborations and more. It is once again a great pleasure for me to share those moments with you and I want to thank Erik and Matt for their time. Now, without further delay, discover more about Erik Rico and soulfulbeats…
Sometimes, it’s about the little things and how one leads to another. For example, going to see Raashan Ahmad’s show at Momo lead to bumping into Pugs Atomz, which lead to having a chat with him and deciding to do an interview. Simple, huh?
A few weeks after the show, I met-up with the Chicago, now London-based MC and got a chance to ask him a few questions about the English capital, the Electric, travelling and more. It was a pleasure to listen to his answers, as it is now one to share them with you. In case you are not familiar with Pugs Atomz, or if you want to know what’s he’s been up to, this is a chance to get a glimpse into his universe.
I first heard of Pugs Atomz on The Morpheus Soul Show, where he was a guest several times, either with The Electric (DJ Vadim, Sabira Jade) or with other guests and I really like his music, it’s spontaneity and cheerfulness. I actually listened to his last performance on the show with UK singer Greg Blackman, for the 6th anniversary and it was a great one. You can dowload the podcast in case you missed it.
Now, without further delay, here is my quick interview with Pugs Atomz…
Now that you know more about Pugs Atomz, discover his music with People in love, one of my favourite tracks from his latest LP entitled Enjoy. You can download the whole album on his Soundcloud page.
Phoenix James is a very busy man. The multi-talented, London-based artist has been working very hard on his acting career in the past months and you can see him in numerous short films, adverts and music videos. I first came across him about three years ago, around the time I arrived in London, when he was focusing on his spoken word career as Phenzwaan. Since then, I’ve been able to witness his growth as an artist and discover his acting talents. It is now a great pleasure for me to feature this interview with him and I want to thank him for taking some of his precious time to answer my questions. Now is the time to get familiar with Phoenix James, aka Phenzwaan…
First of all, in case there are some people out there who don’t know who you are, could you introduce yourself?
I’m Phoenix James also known as Phenzwaan, actor, model, writer, poet, recording artist, author.
You are a very busy man, always working on several different projects at the same time. Is it important for you to make the most of your time and be so active?
Yes, there’s a lot I hope to do and achieve and I’m not sure how much time I have been allocated to accomplish them all. I just have a lot of ambition and big dreams.
You are a multi-talented individual: writer and spoken word artist, model, actor, etc. You seem to always want to explore new territories and express yourself in varied ways. How different or similar are those artistic disciplines? Do you feel some things are expressed best in writing/on screen?
They are different but all similar in terms of connecting with creative energy. There can be different approaches for each but all are interlinked in that way. Some things are expressed better through different ways and mediums at different times but all are art, expression and creativity which I love.
You took on your career as an actor not so long ago but the list of your achievements is already quite impressive and inspiring. What motivates you to keep going? And is it important for you to be some kind of role model for younger generations?
So… it’s been quite a while since I last recorded a video blog (to say the least!) and I have been thinking about it for some time. The best thing to do is that case, though, is not to think but do. I may very well be the queen of procrastination, but I sometimes find some unsuspected resources and motivation, which has been the case since yesterday, with several updates, a late night followed by a late but very productive start. I assume if you are interested in watching my video blog you are in some way interested in me and therefore won’t mind me telling my life story (that of the past 24 hours in any case) too much.
But as high as your interest may be, I’m sure you’d rather watch and listen to me than read my words, so I won’t write pages and pages for this introduction and simply tell you than anything you need to know is contained in this video and that I hope you will enjoy it. More is coming, I promise. I will try not to wait for a wait until the next episode. Thanks for watching!
Oh, by the way, in case you missed out on episodes 1 and 2, you can catch up on my video blog and also watch a nice little video of my beautiful hometown, Marseilles (yeah, I am getting quite homesick lately).