Cody ChesnuTT - Landing On A Hundred | Album Review


When Cody ChesnuTT snuck up on the scene back in 2002, he was cursed with folly of any new, slightly unique artist – hype. His modestly labelled double album The Headphone Masterpiece was recorded on a four track in his home studio/bedroom giving him instant indie credibility.

It was an indulgent 36 track piece that could have actually been a ‘classic’ if it had been trimmed sufficiently. Nonetheless, it was an album that gained traction after ?uestlove and The Roots got hold of it and re-recorded one of the stand out tracks the album, "The Seed," and kept him on the vocals. Suddenly everyone from so called neo soul fans to indie music aficionados to music media (apparently he was the ‘new Hendrix’. Presumably because he was black and can play guitar) were all lining up to sing his praises.

The hype machine decided he was to be next big thing. Only he wasn’t - and not through lack of talent. He simply disappeared into the ether and people simply stopped talking about him. There are claims that he was stuck in a mire of addiction while he himself asserts it was to start a family. Either way, after a decade, he is back with a new effort Landing on a Hundred. Read more


'Looper' brings completely fresh approach to time travel | Film Review


Time travel has always been a fascinating subject in popular culture. It is notoriously hard to make a time travel movie whilst keeping an eye on all the various paradoxes that will undoubtedly appear. Somewhere around the '80s two seminal pieces of film making changed all that - The Terminator and Back To The Future.

What directors James Cameron and Robert Zemeckis showed us was that if they make a movie fun enough we, as an audience, would be more lenient towards the plot holes. This allowed for a slew of excellent films that ranged from the dark 12 Monkeys (more on that later) to last year’s whimsical Woody Allen comedy Midnight in Paris. The fact we are less pedantic about loopholes is what allows the new Rian Johnson movie Looper to be such a triumph. Read more


Brothers With No Game, Ep. 4: Recession Dating | Web Series

There is an infamous sketch by Eddie Murphy, in the classic stand-up Raw, where he explains that if you are starved of crackers and someone throws you one, you automatically think it’s ‘best damn cracker I ever had’. He then goes on to explain, once you have had it for a while you realise it’s ‘a regular ass cracker’. I am beginning to feel that Brothers With No Game is a regular ass cracker.

When the web series started, there was such a lack of programming that spoke directly to the young black demographic, that we welcomed it with open arms. The more you watch, the more you realise how clunky it can be. But in all fairness, this is probably their most coherent episode and they never lack ambition. Read more


Cody ChesnuTT charms at intimate, interactive night in London | Live Review

The Jazz Cafe in London has been a host to some great artists in its 22 year history. From legendary artists like Roy Ayers to more contemporary musicians like D’Angelo and Raphael Saadiq, many graced its small stage standing next to a (infamous but no longer existing) pillar that simply read ‘STFU’.

The vision was always for it to be a home for artists to play in an intimate venue with little pretension. A good venue should never be generalist; it should work for some and not for others. What tends to make a place like Jazz Cafe unique is people still remember performances from years gone by because that artist and that venue simply fit. This is exactly what happened last Thursday.

The night was billed ‘A Conversation With Cody ChesnuTT’ - which in my eyes sounded like it had all the trappings of a gig with the pretence level set to maximum. However I really like Mr ChesnuTT’s music.

He seems to shun the limelight while having an enigmatic level of talent. Outside of his fanbase, most people remember him from the classic "The Seed 2.0" where The Roots retooled his song and wisely kept him on the vocals. This was the closest he ever got to a mainstream record and it appeared to show on the crowd that started filling up the sold out venue; with a decidedly bohemian vibe about them that seemed to draw from a wide well of backgrounds.

I was curious to see how ChesnuTT intended to have this ‘conversation’ with the crowd. Was he simply going to dish out some anecdotes between some fan favourite songs and go home? It turns out, unsurprisingly, that convention was still not in his playbook. Read more


Ice-T on The Art Of Rap: why new rappers weren't featured, innovation in rap & more | SoulCulture TV

"To tell a true story you have start at the beginning."

On his recent visit to London to promote his new documentary From Nothing To Something: The Art Of Rap, Gangsta Rap pioneer, actor and now documentary director Ice-T took some time to talk to us at SoulCulture, dropping gems of wisdom on the absence of newcomers in his film, the competitive nature of the genre, innovation in the future of rap and more.Read more


Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap (Dir. Ice-T) | Documentary Review


No art form or genre has ever had to justify its very existence the way hip hop does. Whether it is the various accusations levelled at it as having negative effect on society, or the broad generalisations that question its very validity as an art form, it remains a source of huge debate from its very inception. It was always viewed as the new brash kid in school who always has to justify himself.

Well, this kid grew up and has become a force and is becoming harder to ignore as perhaps the voice of the 21st century. This is, of course, amazing considering where it all started. And this is what Ice-T's new documentary Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap attempts to tackle. Read more


Frank Ocean - channel Orange | Album Review


The most immediately striking aspect of channel ORANGE upon first listen is how palpably mature an album it is. I know there is a necessity to categorise musicians by genre, but it’s simply impossible to box Frank Ocean in the R&B category with artists like Chris Brown and Trey Songz. While his so-called peers embrace the current electro-centric wave, Frank is fighting a lonely battle to restore credibility to an ailing genre. Read more


Obama and the homophobic black community: How we turned into sexuality rednecks

November 4, 2008. A historic date where a nation came together and broke a barrier that many felt they would never see in their lifetime. Barack Hussein Obama had defeated John McCain to become the 44th President of the United States on a manifesto of sweeping changes from the dark era of his predecessor, George W. Bush.

America had reached a milestone that made grown men weep in joy and disbelief.

November 5, 2008, was also a significant date, for it was the day Proposition 8 was passed by the state of California. Prop 8, of course, was the piece of legislation that eliminated same-sex couples' right to marry. This was significant because an enormous percentage of the voters who helped this bill pass were black. Read more


ill Manors (Dir. Ben "Plan B" Drew) | Film Review



I honestly didn’t know what to expect from Plan B as a director, when approaching this film. ill Manors was gathering considerable buzz within the British film scene as damning critique of the current state of affairs within Britain. Many saw it as a possible explanation to last summer’s riots and or at least an insider’s view of the tabloid friendly term ‘Broken Britain’.

No Pressure then Ben Drew, no pressure. Read more


Brothers With No Game - The Web Series, Episode 1: The Heskey Role


Based on the popular blog of the same name, Brothers With No Game is a new comedic web series based on the exploits of four young Londoners. The blog gained notoriety for its plain spoken sense of humour and episode one of the web series attempts to recreate that - in fact, the episode is based on the highest rated blog they had so far; ‘5 ways you know you are playing the Heskey role with chicks.’ Read more


Uprising: Hip Hop & The LA Riots (Narrated by Snoop Dogg, Dir. Mark Ford) | Documentary Review



Sometimes the hardest thing to do when you look back at a unique situation is to assess its true impact. It is possible to mould the evidence to fit in with whatever narrative you ultimately choose.

Such is the case with the L.A. Riots of 1992: you either believe it was a turning point in the ever-evolving civil rights movement or merely a dark spot in American history where the opportunistic underclass exercised some "aggressive shopping." You can argue either way because you can cherry pick flash points to illuminate your point. The truth is, to view it either way would be simplistic at best because it indeed had elements of both.

Conservative radio host and right-wing firebrand Rush Limbaugh bluntly said that "the Los Angeles riots were not caused by the Rodney King verdict. The Los Angeles riots were caused by rioters," thereby removing any possible justification for the senseless acts. While many called the riots a means of "fighting back" against an oppressive system, how much was motivated by the actual Rodney King verdict? How much was motivated by chaos and opportunism? How much has changed since?

There are mixed answers to these questions, and Mark Ford’s incendiary new VHI documentary film Uprising: Hip-Hop and the LA riots merely flirts with them. Read more


Dwele at Jazz Cafe, London | Live Review


At last year’s corresponding residency at the Jazz Cafe, Dwele had a more than apt tribute for the late, great Nate Dogg. At the time I couldn’t help but think that this was a nod to a trailblazer in the industry who, through his success, allowed a crossover artist like Dwele to exist.

Nate Dogg was the king of West Coast hooks, adding a unifying R&B influence juxtaposed to the partisan rapping. He wasn’t Jodeci , R. Kelly or Ginuwine. He was unique in the sense that he was essentially a hip hopper who happened to sing. Add to that, he was the go to vocalist for the hottest producer at the time – Dr Dre. Together, they were behind some of the classics from a golden period of rap.

Dwele was an evolution of that but with palpably different influences. I mean Dwele’s script could teach today’s kids [I’m looking at you Frank Ocean and The Weeknd ] who claim the ‘word of mouth’ tag, what it really meant not so long ago. Read more


Anthony Hamilton at indigO2, London | Live Review



Many people predicted a couple of years ago with the advent of illegal file sharing and platforms like Napster that musicians would have to start being packaged differently. The whole music industry was (and still is to some extent) experiencing a paradigm shift. Artists were coming to terms that you simply cannot exist by merely releasing CDs made in the safe haven of a studio, where the best sound engineers tweaked and touched the record until you sounded perfect. If you wanted to start making money, you had to hit the road. Read more


The Help (Dir. Tate Taylor) | Film Review



When I first read the synopsis of this movie, I let out the most pretentious scoff you have ever seen this side of North London. I was instantly reminded by an interesting phrase used in literature and movies. A phrase popularised by Spike Lee in the early '90s when discussing movies like ‘Driving Miss Daisy’. That phrase was the ‘Magical Negro’. Read more


Safe House starring Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds | Film Review



Trailers are an art form within themselves. The director has anything between 30 seconds to four minutes to convince you that of all of the movies out there, this is the movie you want to watch. All the while, trying to find a fine balance between revealing important plot lines, scenes, cameos or just general giveaways that would tempt you to invest in their product. Some, literally, can qualify as stand-alone shorts, while others are cheap commercials who give away all the gags while implying there is more. All in all, we can all agree how crucial they have become crucial in the film making process. This brings me neatly to the film at hand... Read more


REVIEW: THRILLER LIVE

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Certain musicians should, nay, must have musicals written about them. Michael Jackson is undoubtedly one of these artists.Read more