On 25th January MTV brought their Blackberry sponsored Brand New for 2011 project from the TV and internet screens and live to North London’s KOKO. The first night of the MTV live shows, the sold-out concert featured an urban line-up with Tinchy Stryder headlining [pictured above].

I’m continually impressed with how many mobile phone and technology companies are beginning to understand the real commercial prowess their technology can enable. Blackberry, who’ve long-recognised that their unique selling point is communication, invited audience members to add the event’s special Blackberry Messenger pin to send messages, which appeared on a big screen between performances. Performances were also segued with VTs of the Brand New for 2011 candidates, which include two of the night’s acts, RD and Jessie J.


Female R&B/pop trio RD (Ruff Diamondz) were first to take the stage. Formed of rapper Chronz, and singers Martika and Troy, the group’s current single “Do It Like Me” samples Dead Prez’ “Hip Hop” and the trio have seen themselves receiving TLC comparisons since they emerged in 2010. While I struggle to concur with this suggestion, the girls delivered a solid performance – in matching attire they exhibited well-choreographed dance moves and an exciting energy that led me to believe I’d be a big fan had they come out when I was a pre-adolescent.

The girls were followed by my highlight of the night, Jessie J.

The Essex-born singer took the stage boldly, opening with the ballsy “Mama Knows Best”, belting out the track while she strutted across the stage in little more than tights and heels. “I talk a lot,” Jessie professed between songs, before continuing to talk to the crowd.

Aside from talking a lot, Jessie’s performance also exposed another habit of hers; she often self-depreciates, in a manner which made me feel like she was eager to impress the notion to her fans that she’s merely ‘one of us’. My thoughts seemed to be cemented by her performance of “Nobody’s Perfect”, which she introduced by saying, “Not one person in this room is perfect!”

Jessie next performed her album’s title track, “Who You Are”. Stripping back the instrumentation to just a guitar, Jessie delivered an emotional, acoustic performance of the song. Whilst I didn’t shed any tears like SoulCulture scribe Billi John who watched her perform it at her live show in Scala, I felt myself deeply moved as she told us to be who we are, flaws and all.

Fellow Essex artist Devlin joined Jessie onstage for on her current single, “Price Tag”, adding his bars where B.o.B’s usually sit. Closing the show with her breakout single, “Do It Like A Dude”, Jessie thrust her crotch and mean-mugged through the performance, and left the stage to a rapturous response.


Headliner Tinchy Stryder took the stage with “Take The World”, taken from his latest album Third Strike. R&B singer Cherri V assisted him on vocals, and demonstrated how underrated she is as a vocalist as she exercised her exceptional pipes.

Tinchy served the audience with a career spanning set; performing his chart toppers, “Take Me Back”, “Never Leave You” and “Number One” (which he and N-Dubz front man Dappy closed the show with), his older tracks like “Stryderman”, his guest verse on Diddy-Dirty Money’s UK remix of “Hello Good Morning”, and some of his grittier tracks, such as “Famous?” and “Gangsta”, which saw him freestyling over Drake’s “Over” in it’s intro.


The performance one of last year’s biggest commercial grime tracks, “Game Over”, saw four of the six features on the track, Professor Green, Giggs, Devlin and Chipmunk, all join Tinchy onstage. Tinchy’s other feature came from Canadian songstress and labelmate Melanie Fiona, on their single, “Let It Rain”.

While I didn’t feel the show needed a headliner who wasn’t on the list – I’d have preferred to see a few more of the finalists from MTV’s Brand New for 2011 set than a forty-five minute Tinchy set – Tinchy Stryder’s growth as a performer was notable. While much of his performance made me feel like he’d been studying a few Jay-Z concert DVDs, the pint-sized emcee commanded the stage with presence.

Fans can still vote for their favourite finalist for Blackberry presents MTV Brand New for 2011 at www.mtv.co.uk/brandnew.