Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Dont Jealous Me touches road

The soon-to-be media mogul Smokey Barz (or has he fully changed it to SB now), takes the YouTube smash DJMTV to the roads. Good job too cos I thought the bedroom ting got a bit stale out, if I'm honest. My opinion innit.

Add a hidden camera and this could very well be the best black hidden camera/prank show on mainstream TV ever. It's funny without making a complete fool of himself and his people's thus making quality cringe-free TV.

Come through BBC3, give us a long-overdue decent black comedy.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Trey Songz interview

Trey Songz returns minus the braids, with Stargate produced lead single 'I Need a Girl' lifted from his 3rd album entitled 'Ready'. The forthcoming lp's production reads like an all-star team sheet ranging from Stargate, Jermaine Dupri, Brian-Michael Cox and Sean Garrett to the man himself. This set sees Nokio traded as co-executive producer with Johnta Austin who has written hits for Tyreese (Sweet Lady) Mary J Blige (Be Without You)and helped mastermind Mariah Carey's comeback (We Belong Together).

PyroRadio.com sat with Trey Songz to speak on his disappointment with previous album sales, why he teamed up with the 'typical' hit producers as everyone else, create his celebrity dream girl, find out the real reason behind the single 'I Need a Girl' and whether he dates fans.

PyroRadio.com: 2nd time over here, how you enjoying London?
Trey Songz:
It’s good. I just got here.

PyroRadio.com: You feeling the London ladies?
Trey Songz:
I haven’t seen any but the ones who have interviewed me [grins]. But yeah, I love the London ladies.

PyroRadio.com: You were nominated for your first Grammy award with ‘Can’t Help But Wait’, is that your proudest moment to date?
Trey Songz:
Erm, yeah. Music accolade yeah.

PyroRadio.com: What’s your proudest outside of music then?
Trey Songz:
Outside of music would be taking care of my family everyday.

PyroRadio.com: I heard you bought your mum a house.
Trey Songz:
Yeah man, that is my proudest moment. That’s what it was about for me.

PyroRadio.com: Did the success of Can’t Help But Wait give you an indication of what people want to hear from you?
Trey Songz:
It did in some ways. That shows what radio programmers and people who make decisions on what records get played want to hear. I know what my core fan base want to hear and that shows the way to gain more fans. You need records that will increase the people who are exposed to your music and those type of records do that. Once they are exposed to your music they can be adjusted to hearing - because those who heard Can’t Help Wait, also heard Long Gone Missing, and other album cuts eventually.

PyroRadio.com: Has that had much of an effect on what you’ve recorded for your new album 'Ready' then?
Trey Songz:
Most definitely, we’ve taken a lot of different directions. This is the album that I think will embody everything that I am musically; whether it be Hip-hop, crossover appeal, a balladeer, whatever. This album encapsulates them all.

PyroRadio.com: You’ve got the voice, the songs, the girls love you but the album sales of Trey Day and I Gotta Make It don’t reflect that. Was you disappointed with the sales of the last album?
Trey Songz:
A sense of disappointment definitely came with the first album [I Gotta Make It], the second album [Trey Day], I think that the drop in sales was across the board. Even artists who were huge weren’t selling as many albums as they usually would have, so I take it all in my stride and I’m blessed with what I have. I pray to have more and work to have more, and make sure the quality of my work is outstanding to have more. I never wimp around or whine about anything I feel I should have gotten because if I didn’t get it, I wasn’t supposed to, so I work until I do.

PyroRadio.com: Your first single is ‘Brand New’.
Trey Songz:
‘Brand New’ is actually a street single. The first single is 'I Need a Girl'. ‘Brand New’ is a warm-up record. Like I mentioned earlier, I think this album, cohesively, will apply to all my fans and all genres of music I want to tap into, or have tapped into. ‘Brand New’ is the song that will tap into the Hip-hop fans, to the mixtape fans. Then you’ve got ‘I Need a Girl’ which is basically ‘Can’t Help But Wait’ on cocaine.

PyroRadio.com: 'I Need a Girl' is another Stargate song. A lot of people criticise artists for going with hit producers and songwriters, because it stifles the variety of music being produced. What’s your take on that?
Trey Songz:
The harsh reality is that if you don’t do certain things or make certain sacrifices creatively, or even business-wise, you could sacrifice your career. You think about Trey Songz, you think about how many people say he is under-rated - I’m speaking about myself in third person just so you can get the full picture - you think of Trey Songz you think of his first and second albums which as you stated, they both didn’t sell what you would have thought they would have sold, or someone who’s familiar with the work thought they would have sold.

Yeah, I have a hit, yeah I’m Grammy nominated, but I’m two albums in. It costs money to make a project, costs money to make a video, it costs money to promote make an album. At this point, if Trey Songz doesn’t cross all the way over, this is a non-profitable product. So at this point its about going for the gusto. ‘I Need a Girl’ is not a record that is outside of myself and not comfortable singing. I think it is a song I’m comfortable singing, just showing growth in what I am, and what I want to be.

Of course, people criticise and say ‘Oh, he just wants to crossover’, but who doesn’t? It’s like when people say when you get money you change, who doesn’t? Why wouldn’t you change when you get money? Why you wanna stay the same for? You aren’t evolving.

PyroRadio.com: You've mentioned appealing to the masses, will there be any Autotune on this album?
Trey Songz:
No. There’s an interlude with just Autotune on. I use Autotune when I play about on my mixtape stuff. But erm, nah, I’m not too fond of it as far as my project is concerned.

PyroRadio.com: As you stated, the first single is ‘I Need a Girl’, are you looking to settle down?
Trey Songz:
Am I looking to settle down? I think I need someone who understands what’s going on. That understands that its not all peaches and cream. When I say 'I need a girl', I’m informing all my fans of the stresses I am going through and just showing a bit of vulnerability.

I’m out here working hard, and sometimes I go back to my hotel room alone. I watching by myself. After all the screaming fans, I fall back and have nothing to hold that I love and care for. It’s very different having a woman, having sex with her and going to another city, then having a woman who you can talk to and understands your plight and what you’re talking about. That’s just telling them that I am human and I do have needs.

PyroRadio.com: But being an R’n’B star with money and girls adoring you must make it easy to get girls meaning you have many options. What’s going wrong?
Trey Songz:
I tend not to get involved with fans because they have a perception of who Trey Songz is and what they want me to be and I try not to ruin their dreams. If I do anything slightly outside of what they imagine in their heads, it might throw them off, so I let them have their moment and let that be. I kick it with girls who aren’t that interested in me as an artist, so they can get to me.

PyroRadio.com: I read that NeYo said he’s had about 100 groupies the other day. Bobby V said that isn’t many. What’s your take on that?
Trey Songz: I’d rather not. I’ll leave that alone [nervous giggle]

PyroRadio.com: Is that one too political?
Trey Songz: Yep.

PyroRadio.com: Create a dream girl from celebrities: face, body, personality etc.
Trey Songz:
Oh wow, that’s a good question. [Long pause] The face of the Victoria Secrets model, the original one [Heidi Klum], she’s bad. Shakira’s hips, Beyoncé’s waist. Whose ass? [Makes grabbing action with hands] It’s gotta be perfect. The legs of Rihanna, the abs of Nelly Futardo. I’ll take Beyoncé’s butt. Personality, I don’t know, she just has to be cool, funny and understanding.

PyroRadio.com: Did you have a celebrity crush when you was growing up?
Trey Songz:
When I was growing up? I’ve always loved Beyoncé. Always loved Beyoncé. From the moment Destiny’s Child came out, I [used to say] 'the light-skinned one with the braids'. That’s when all the girls were hating on her, now they all love her. I loved her way back then. It’s just a celebrity crush though. Hands in the air [raises hands in innocence].

PyroRadio.com: The ladies reading will want to know and 'the one' may be reading this; what qualities do you offer as a potential boyfriend?
Trey Songz:
I’m caring, I listen, and I’ll be there for you while I can. I’ll take you out and buy you nice things, but that’s regular stuff. Girls don’t really want that. They want it, but that’s not what they really strive for. They strive for someone that’s going to be listen, someone that’s going to be there through the hard times with them, talk to them and make them laugh and feel good.

PyroRadio.com: Most romantic thing you’ve done for a lady?
Trey Songz:
A couple Valentine’s day’s ago I stole the key to my girl’s place, then when she went in there, there were 100s of roses.

Request I Need a Girl on your favourite radio station/ available on iTunes
Album 'Ready' coming Summer '09
For more info: http://www.treysongz.com/

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Asher Roth interview

Watch official video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43pkqeamXe8

Hailing from a small suburban town with a population of just over 10,000 called Morrisville, Pennsylvania, the white, college dropout Asher Roth is far from your average rapper. He is hotly tipped for big things in '09 according to most industry insiders which has included gracing the cover of leading Hip-hop magazine XXL as one of the top 10 freshmen. Lead single 'I Love College' from debut album ' Asleep in the Bread Aisle' has surpassed 3 million hits on YouTube within a month of being uploaded and was recently selected as record of the week by leading Radio 1 tastemaker Zane Lowe.

Being hearalded as the hottest white rapper since Eminem has it's pros-and-cons, most notably the comparisons drawn. However, Em' wasn't the person who inspired the new white rapper on the block to pick up the mic. Asher bought Jay-Z's 'Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life' after hearing the Annie sample in the single of the same name. He name checks artists such as Mos Def and A Tribe Called Quest as artists he admires.

To mark the release of 'I Love College' (6th April) and 'Asleep in the Bread Aisle' (20th April), PyroRadio.com caught up with Asher Roth to find out why he hopes to go head-to-head with Eminem, if he's just a white guy trying to exploit black music and why he isn't a rapper.

PyroRadio.com: I Love College is the first single, what would you have been if you weren’t a rapper?
Asher Roth:
Well I was in school to become an elementary school teacher. I still have a passion to do that but in a sense this is an opportunity to educate more than 25 school kids in a classroom.

PyroRadio.com: How would you describe your character when you were in school? Asher Roth: I wouldn’t say I was the class clown, but I always got needs improvement grades on speaking at inappropriate times. I kept it light-hearted and fun. Teachers either loved me or absolutely hated me. I was a smart kid. I was a pretty good student but only when I wanted to be. I was stubborn in a sense where if I didn’t like a teacher, I just wouldn’t learn.

I have a lot of problems with the educational system as far as what they are teaching us. I feel like we are totally programmed for the cubicle and they almost discourage us from thinking outside of the box and asking why and why not, and if we ask why and why not they just reply “‘cos”. It’s a little strange.

I was always impacted by the teachers who closed the book and talked to us on how we wanted to learn. Kids learn visually, audibly - it’s all different. I feel it is like radio. Teachers get into it for the passion of teaching, and radio DJ’s are passionate about music, but then they are just told what to do and they can‘t go outside of that or they‘ll get into trouble.

PyroRadio.com: What drew you to Hip-hop opposed to another genre?
Asher Roth:
Coming from the suburbs I wasn’t involved in Hip-hop, I wasn’t in the scene. I was always on the outside looking in. I guess right around 13/14, my most impressionable ages, I started to gravitate towards the fact it was different, edgy, my friends were listening to it and that’s just group theory, if your friends like it you like it.

It was the only type of music that wasn’t in my household. My parents were listening to Rock ‘n’ Roll, Bruce Springsteen, Motown... my sisters were listening to the pop sensations. My parents didn’t really want me listening to it, so the rebellious side of me just got drawn to Hip-Hop. Your friends are more influential than your parents are gonna be.

PyroRadio.com: Which is your favourite era?
Asher Roth:
We were having this debate yesterday that it’s hard to compare MC’s because they are basically playing different games. Probably the early 90’s, ‘90-94. But that era when it was still about the music, when it wasn’t about ringtones or any beef or anything like that - I mean it was still prevalent but the dopest MC’s were live, everything was just fresh.

But then around the turn of the millennium is when it got confused and weird and started to talk about ‘Oh I got this and you don’t got this’ and east coast, west coast and got caught up in all the wrong things. Music is cyclical and it looks like its coming back. For the first time, there is actually a youth movement where there’s new MC’s coming in and the old ones are just calling it a day.

No one really wants to rap when they are 40 years old, your priorities change and you get to a point where you have your money and it’s time to settle down and have kids. I say all the time that if I’m rapping when I’m 40 then I’m pretty bummed out. I did it wrong.

PyroRadio.com: You’re only one mixtape deep [Greenhouse Effect] as opposed to those who have recorded many before getting signed. You’ve also got strong Internet fan base. A lot of older artists complain about the Internet - how have you used it to your advantage?
Asher Roth:
My fan base is going to be kids and that’s who are buying Hip-Hop albums. Like when I got into it at 12, 13, 14, I was pressing my parents for these albums and I was the one who was into it, my parents weren’t into it. Yes, you want the respect from the older generation, you always want to impress a 45 year-old with your words and be like ‘this kids actually wise‘, but in essence Hip-hop music is for the kids.

With the Internet - Facebook, Myspace and even Twitter now - people get a chance to not only buy into the music, but buy into the personality and the lifestyle. That’s what we were able to introduce through TheDailyKush.com, the Facebook, people were getting an entire presentation, rather than just basing the whole thing off the music. They got to see pictures, videos, this and that, and people were able to see what was going on outside of the music. If you think about the superstars, the superstars are the ones who were able to introduce themselves, rather than just their music.

The reason why I think my project is so successful is because I’m able to introduce a perspective that’s nothing brand new, but its a perspective that’s been neglected in Hip-hop, like what’s a white kid from the suburbs got to tell me. With ‘I Love College’, it’s just a celebratory song like let’s get together and enjoy ourselves. All I want is for people to be comfortable in their own skin, you don’t have to wear Nike and drink Gatorade to be cool, and you have to enjoy yourself while you’re here ‘cause life is so short. The media and society put a lot of pressure on kids to “be cool”.

PyroRadio.com: You’ve graced the Freshmen cover of XXL [along with Kid Cudi, Wale, B.o.B, Charles Hamilton, Mickey Factz, Ace Hood, Cory Gunz, Blu, Curren$y]; from the last top 10 freshmen by XXL only Lupe Fiasco and Plies made anything of themselves. What distinguishes you from the pack?
Asher Roth:
Well, for one I’m white! Everyone wants to know what the wild white boy will say. Everyone talks about the Eminem thing, but I have this one song on the album called ‘As I Am’ and it addresses all the comparisons. At the end of the day, being white and in Hip-hop, if you can breakthrough - I mean there are a lot of white MC’s, don’t get me wrong, but they are “underground MC's” - to the mainstream see success, mainly because they are white - it’s just the way it is.

There are a lot of white kids buying Hip-hop and of those kids - I’m not going to throw numbers around ’cause I don’t know statistics - but I’ve heard numbers like 80% of consumers are white kids from the ‘burbs. When they can see a rapper, because they are so influenced by Hip-hop, they see a rapper that they look like they are immediately attracted to that.

Right off the bat, it’s being the one white MC out of 10 that immediately set me apart. But at the end of the day, my music is very warm and light-hearted, and like I said it brings a totally different perspective. I’m not trying to make anything up; I’m just giving myself on a [CD].

That’s what I think ‘Asleep In The Bread Aisle‘, which comes out in stores April 20th in UK, April 21st in US is. It’s music which I think is important rather than rapping over rap beats. Not saying there is anything wrong with that, it’s just that I feel it is important to incorporate music into what you do: guitar solo’s, harmonica’s - there’s all different instruments on this album. And content man, I think that’s something that’s important to say something. Why waste anybodies time telling them how great you are and what you have and what other people don’t?

People don’t wanna to hear that. For a while the whole bling era was cool, but you have a roundtable discussion with your friends and everybody’s like “I can’t relate to that”. I’m trying to bring not an MTV reality series because that’s not reality, but just some reality to Hip-hop.

PyroRadio.com: Obviously, it helps you greatly being white but have you noticed any obstacles with being white?
Asher Roth:
Absolutely, there’s pros and cons with everything. For me, like you said, there haven’t been many white MC’s that have broken through to the mainstream, you can count them on one hand, so immediately when you come out as a white kid rapping it’s like “ah, that’s just Eminem’”, or “that’s just a Beastie Boy”. Your job as an artist is to distinguish yourself and differentiate yourself. That’s my job now because that’s just how humans get down, for them to make sense of it they compare it to something else. That’s not just because I’m a white kid rapping. If I was Latino, they’d compare me to B-Real because when someone asks you [you describe it as] “well, its like...” and you’re constantly comparing stuff to what it is.

The uphill battles are it’s still black music. Hip-hop will probably always be considered black music, so some people consider me just being a white kid trying to exploit make money off black music which just isn’t the case, because being young, yet, yeah I didn’t grow up in Hip-hop, but when I was in my most impressionable stages, [Hip-hop] is what raised me. This is really just what I know. I never wanted to be a rapper, I was just doing it, it’s so who I am, it’s not really what I do.

It’s interesting because the whole connotation to rapper and the whole white kid rapping is almost a joke. You see how it’s glorified with the big chains and baggy jeans, and it’s almost like a mockery. I’m not trying to fool anybody; who you see in videos and on records is who you’re getting right now. There’s no celebrity. With David Bowie, everybody knows the celebrity but they don’t know David Bowie. With me it’s just Asher Roth 365 days a year.

PyroRadio.com: There was a label battle which included rapping for Jay-Z.
Asher Roth: Yeah, that was fun, especially because that was the first CD I bought, and he was so inspirational with me getting into Hip-hop, so that was really cool. That was just starting when the whole MySpace campaign launched, I started to do the run around and we went to around everybody’s offices. It was wild in a sense of we didn’t have a demo out or anything. The music I was doing before with one of my sister’s friends from school didn’t really take any legs and it wasn’t who I was, so I wasn’t going to play that for executives.

All the stuff off the MySpace is what we were running with, but that’s not a demo; a demo of original music isn’t rapping over other people’s beats. I really had no music at the time. So these execs. had to base it off of just straight raps. Some people got it, some people didn’t, some people wanted to hear real music, but everybody was interested. You couldn’t deny that there was talent there, but potential and talent are very scary words, you have to turn that into something.
When you get into the music business, you have to sell records. There is probably a million rappers better than I am, but there are tangibles in what I do as far as being outgoing, being well-spoken, being able to sit down and talk to people. There are some celebrities and people who can’t do that. Performance - there’s a lot that goes into being a straight rapper and that‘s why some people breakthrough to mainstream and not.

Rapping for Jay was my test to see if I could be here or not. It was very impromptu to go rap for Jay-Z. My friend Shakir Stewart, RIP Shakir Stewart, said he would like me to rap for one of his friends, so I thought it was going to be a female intern, I make a hard right and I’m in Jay’s office. He’s all glowing and got his aura going on, it was like whoa! Some people would have shut down. When Steve Rifkind signed me, he put me through a series of tests. It was like a make-or-break moment.

PyroRadio.com: How comes the Jay-Z thing never worked out?
Asher Roth:
No music or he may not have been feeling it. Who knows? [laughs] But really like, from my take on things is Jay was like there’s no music to base it off. Yeah this kid can rap but it’s like what we were talking about before, there’s a lot that goes into it.

PyroRadio.com: You’ve stated how important it is to be someone the fans can relate to, but if this album blows up and sells a lot, how do you intend on staying grounded?
Asher Roth:
That’s going to be another battle, man. I mean, it’s so important for me to speak honestly and have integrity and actually be a spokesperson for a lot of people that don’t have a voice. It’s like we should have a voice. That’s not just white kids, its kids, people my age: black, white, Latino or Asian. We have an opinion, like you saw with the election in America. With the election of Obama, that was because of the young people, because there’s still the whole of middle of America that are like “I ain’t voting for Barack Obama because he’s a black guy".

It’s ridiculous that people still think this way. That’s why this youth movement is so important, I have a lot of black friends, so for me, I don’t even see that shit. Hip-hop is very influential, so it’s important for this movement to say “Look we have to get over that. We’ve got bigger problems” and Hip-hop will be very pivotal. I’m excited, 2009 is going to be a good year for Hip-hop and moving forward, because there are some fresh stuff coming in. It’s about aligning our priorities and making good music rather than making money.

If money changes me then I am not the person I thought I was. I have pretty good people around me that won‘t let me start to slip like that, and I think that’s super important. You need good people around you. Like you said, if and when you start seeing success and seeing a lot of money, things can start going left real quick, and you can start feeling yourself. My whole approach is to keep it honest and as real as possible. The costumers smart and they’ll sniff that out right out.

PyroRadio.com: Eminem’s long-awaited return album is scheduled to be released near yours. Do you see it as a hindrance?
Asher Roth:
It’s going to be interesting. It might be the best possible thing that happens. If Em’ drops the same time as me he’ll probably sell much more than me. It’s Eminem, look at ‘Crack a Bottle’ it went straight to number 1. He’ll probably sell more records than me, but it will drastically change the perspective because people will be like “they’re two totally different artists. Listen to Em’s album [then] listen to Asher’s album. There’s really no resemblance.” That’s what I always thought was interesting.

Of course growing up being 15/16 and rapping, you are emulating what you are hearing whatever you think is cool at the time. Everybody was listening to Em and I’m a white kid so Em was like our hero. At the same tip, I couldn’t relate to what Em was talking about. Lyrically he was a demon, the problems with his wife, his mother, the fact he had a child; I couldn’t relate to any of that.

Yes, we’re both white but the content is totally different human beings. If Em drops at the same time it’ll bring clarity to the situation, so I hope it happens. I know the label will be mad because they live by numbers, but I don’t live my life by numbers. I was meditating one time and numbers were running through my head like the matrix and the message was clear that I should stop living by bank account numbers, dates and times, and just live. I feel bad for the label. Concentrate on the message and the movement rather than how many records we’re selling.

PyroRadio.com: How did you come to naming your album ‘Asleep In The Bread Aisle’?
Asher Roth: I was sitting there talking to my friend Alalki.com, he’s a dope painter, and we were talking about some drunken stories. He was telling me about his buddy who woke up real hung-over at 10 o’clock in the morning, and was like “Man, I really need to get some Gatorade and some food”. He’s in the grocery store and they are running around getting whatever and they can’t find their boy, they’re like where is he? And he’s asleep in the bread aisle.

It was so contusive to what I was doing because the bread aisle, essentially, is money and money makes people do really ridiculous things like sell-out. We’ve seen it with people like Vanilla Ice to whoever. It makes them put on a character to sell records. With me, rather than trying to conform I try to respond by not showering wearing basketball shorts and just chilling.

‘I Love College’ is my world, I was there for like 2 and a half years, but for me that song was written in retrospect. I wish I could go to college for the rest of my life, but I’m gone from it now. Now my whole battle is everybody thinks I’m a frat boy rapper. I wasn’t in a frat, I’m out of college. My battle now is really introducing myself.

PyroRadio.com: Last question, on your MySpace you say you aren’t a rapper, at the end of Roth Boys, you say “Rapper of the year and I ain’t even a rapper”, yet on The Lounge you say you can’t define a rapper. What are you?
Asher Roth:
I would like to consider myself a songwriter, or a lyricist, or an MC or something of that nature. The reason why it’s just the connotation it’s picked up within the last 10 years. It’s just really that word. Like why is there be like 5 different words, MC, lyricist, rapper... like why are there different words?

I was waiting tables in college and I told one of my customers that I was leaving and I was going down to Atlanta to go pursuit a dream, and he goes “Oh what do you do?” I said a rapper and he just got up and left. Can I blame him? Not really. The connotation rapper has picked up is just negative. Rather than try to change this whole word rapper, I’m just gonna not consider myself a rapper. One of my girls was like “you’re making Rap music; you’re a rapper”, which is cool. You can call me whatever, but if I was to call myself something, it wouldn’t say I was a rapper. Not even to discredit that word, but I am not in that world.

PyroRadio.com: So is the writing on the wall for Gangsta rap in your opinion?
Asher Roth:
I think it’s about that time. It will be around, but if you look at The Game for example who was the last person to really come out talking that kinda stuff. Was he successful? Yes, but were people relating to it? No. You go to Los Angeles and Mexico that stuff gangs and stuff still exist but is that what we should be glorifying, no. People can disagree with me because there is a struggle in this country but rather than glorify gangs and make kids wanna join gangs I think we should concentrate on building and teaching rather than destroying shit.

April 6th I Love College
April 20th Asleep in the Bread Aisle
For more info and FREE Greenhouse Effect mixtape link go to:

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Paul Wall interview

Paul Wall burst on to the Hip-hop scene amidst a lot of hype surrounding Houston artists; a time when everyone had a chopped-and-screwed version of their album. Most notably, he was known for supplying grills to celebrities ranging from Hip-hop’s elite to Brooke Hogan. Since then, Mike Jones, Chamillionaire, Slim Thug and Paul Wall have all failed to maintain the hype they once had.

The People’s Champ returns with his new album The Fast Life which boasts productions from Play-n-Skillz, Akon, Travis Barker and features Akon, Too Short, Yung Joc, Gorilla Zoe, Lil Keke, Z-Ro, Chamillionaire.

PyroRadio.com spoke to Paul Wall to discuss his upcoming album 'The Fast Life', his return to Asylum, why he doesn’t care about platinum plaques and what Houston needs to get back to the top.

PyroRadio.com: Last time majority of people heard you was on Nelly’s chart-topper ‘Grillz’. Where have you been hiding?
Paul Wall:
I’ve just been on the grind tryna get it; I’ve been on the road doing shows, promoting. I’ve got a new album coming out in stores so I’ve just been recording. This new album I’ve got coming out is called The Fast Life. It comes out in stores March 24th and it comes out in the States and in Europe. We’ve a lot of great producers and collaborators, so we’ve just been in the studio working real hard.

PyroRadio.com: Are you still selling grills and are they still in demand?
Paul Wall:
We still selling these grills, mayne. These grills are selling like hot cakes. The website for the grills is http://www.grillsbypaulwall.com/. We’ve got a new store opening in Houston inside the Galleria mall. Matter of fact, we sell a lot of grills internationally. We want to come out to the UK and open a shop out there.

PyroRadio.com: And you’ve got a clothing line coming out.
Paul Wall:
It’s called Expensive Taste, and the website for that is http://www.igotexpensivetaste.com/. You’ll see some nice stuff on there.

PyroRadio.com: You’ve changed labels again; this time going back to Asylum from Atlantic. What was the reason behind that?
Paul Wall:
We’re getting a little more control over at Asylum; there’s a lot of great people over there, a bunch of team-workers who support what we’re doing and we’re happier to be in this situation where we have more control. We also make a lot more money off the record sales so that’s a good thing.

PyroRadio.com: Why did you move to Atlantic in the first place?
Paul Wall:
They have one hell of a machine over there where they get [products promoted]. One of the problems I had was I kind of got caught up in the shuffle because they’ve got so many top notch artists over there. They’ve got TI, Plies, Yung Joc, and Bad Boy. When I went over there you also had Fabolous and Twista. There were a lot of artists that I was caught up in the shuffle with.

PyroRadio.com: People’s Champ was certified platinum but the follow-up Get Money, Stay True shifted under 300,000. Do you feel like a new artist having to start again?
Paul Wall:
Well, I’ve got a new grind mind-frame. It’s time for me to get on the road and do what I did with the first album ’The People’s Champ’. With ‘Get Money, Stay True’ I was grinding but not like I was with ‘The People’s Champ’. So I’m just doing shows, going on the road, being in the studio and doing whatever I’ve got to do to get back into the same position and mind-frame. My whole mind-frame is back to where it was a couple years ago.

PyroRadio.com: There was a lot of criticism levelled at Houston rappers when you burst on the scene. Where you draw for inspiration when writing?
Paul Wall:
When I fell in love with Hip-Hop back in 1996/1997, around that era when I was a teenager - when I fell in love with Hip-hop. I just put my mind frame to where I was back then. When I go into the studio, I do my thing. Sometimes it take a while sometimes it just comes out.

PyroRadio.com: Some would argue that the Houston movement was just a fad and Houston‘s time has passed. How do you respond to that?
Paul Wall:
Well, that was definitely the peak in all of our careers, but that’s when we first got introduced on the international scene as the new thing. I don’t think it was a fad personally, but I think it’s just going to take us putting out some quality music, quality albums and getting our grind back on like we were back then for us to see that success on a regular basis.

PyroRadio.com: What theme have you gone with the album this time around?
Paul Wall:
It’s a little bit of the same old thing, but we switched it up a little bit. The whole theme of the album is ‘The Fast Life’. ‘The Fast Life’ is about grinding 25 hours a day, 8 days a week. That means sun up to sun down, grinding tryna get it. Along with that, you’ve got all the accolades of success. Clothes, money, jewellery - whatever you want. That’s what the whole album is about and the music is all based around that. We went for a little different sound; we worked with a whole lot of different producers. I hadn’t worked with Play-n-Skillz in a long time.

PyroRadio.com: During the past year you made up with old collaborator Chamillionaire.
Paul Wall:
They say time heals wounds, and in our case I think it did. As time went on we just kind of got tired of being mad at each other. It just came to a time when we put our problems to the side and let bygones be bygones. Pimp C, with the song 'Knockin Doors Down', when he shouted us out on there, for me it was like motivation and inspiration. I had a couple talks with him too and he told me to sort it out with Chamillionaire. It was a good decision I think because I feel happy with myself, I’m glad that I did it. We’ve been working together too. He’s done a remix to his song Won’t Let You Down, and he jumped on my song ‘Diamonds Exposed’. I’ve got another song he jumped on called ‘Keep it 100’ with me and Z-ro that he jumped on.

PyroRadio.com: How about re-uniting The Color Changing Click and putting out an album; is that a possibility?
Paul Wall:
Man, I’d like to, I really would. I don’t think he wants to do that though, but I really would like to that.

PyroRadio.com: You have stated that you are an Obama fan.
Paul Wall:
For sure man, I’m glad he is president.

PyroRadio.com: What changes are you hoping he will make?
Paul Wall:
The biggest change that he has already made is he has motivated the whole country. Not just the country, I’ve been noticing around the world a little bit. I did some shows in Germany and Italy and all they kept talking about was Obama. It’s inspiration to get out and grind. We can make a change and change is possible. We’re going to get up on our grind, get up out of this recession, and move on.

Personally, the main things I’m look for are him to get us out of this recession and bring our troops home. Try to create peace where there’s war. That’s a hell of a thing to ask but it’s all we can ask for.

PyroRadio.com: On the flipside to a black president, did you experience any difficulties coming up as a white rapper?
Paul Wall:
Nah. I mean, difficulties coming up as a rapper, period. Like competition and all kinds of stress and pressure. I haven’t experienced anything extra being white.

PyroRadio.com: What are your expectations for this album?
Paul Wall:
Personally, we’ve achieved our success already by stepping our game up, stepping up the lyricism and production, so regardless of sales, we’re growing as a team. Myself as an artist and as a team we’re growing and I think that’s a good thing, as long as we keep growing.

Sales-wise, I don’t know everyone keeps complaining about sales being low, but regardless we’re going to put it out, grind as hard as we can and whatever we sell we gon’ sell. Being on Asylum, we make a lot more money off every record, so if I sell a 100,000 records we make a lot of money, so I’ll be happy with that.

PyroRadio.com: So you aren’t bothered about getting plaques then?
Paul Wall:
Sometimes people get their plaques but there budget was so high, they spent so much money getting to that plaque that they aren’t receiving no cheques, they not seeing no money on the back-end. Me personally, it’s not important for me to have platinum plaques on the wall, it’s important for me to have platinum pay cheques.

PyroRadio.com: Is there a stand-out track for you on there?
Paul Wall:
There’s a track I did on there with Z-Ro and Chamillionaire called ‘Keep It 100’, and it’s just a song about keeping it real and staying down and not changing with the weather. You know, staying down with your partners, keeping trill and keeping it 100. I really like that one.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Interviews Jah Cure 'Universal Cure' by Marvin Sparks

Universal Cure in stores April 14th
Jah Cure is one of Reggae’s biggest artists to emerge this side of the century with a story unparalleled by any other. Siccaturie Alcock was dubbed Jah Cure by popular Dancehall legend Capleton because he looked young and healthy, and he was “well preserved” as in “well cured”. The young artist was taken on tour by one of his early-influences-turned-mentor and Reggae Icon Beres Hammond.

Things took a drastic turn for the worst in 1998 when the starlet was arrested and charged for four crimes including Rape. The case was surrounded by controversy; a guilty verdict in a non-jury court and being sentenced to serve 15 years in prison based on the victim claiming he sounded like one of the perpetrators. To this day, Jah Cure maintains his innocence.

Whilst in prison, Jah Cure released 3 successful albums, gaining a global fan base from behind the prison walls with chart-topping singles, ‘Longing For’, ‘Love Is’ and the introspective anthem ‘Reflections (Behind These Prison Walls)’. The Cure returns with his much-anticipated first album recorded on the outside world ‘Universal Cure’.

Marvin Sparks caught up with Jah Cure to discuss life and maintaining his hype outside of the prison walls, clarify the mix-up with the Keyshia Cole feature and why he doesn’t want to clear his name.

Pyroradio.com: Over in Jamaica they were releasing information that you would be released on a certain date then throw out another date to kind of throw people off, but the response was still big. Did you anticipate the response you would receive upon your release?
Jah Cure:
Yeah, I expected that because I already knew that there was a lot of people looking forward to it. The authorities knew that there was going to be a [good turnout] so they kept shifting days, moved me from another prison and released me from somewhere else. So when the crowd came to that prison, I wasn’t there. They knew that everyone was out there waiting to see me come out, I was already being released from another prison at an earlier time.

Pyroradio.com: Your first concert in Jamaica was Curefest, how did you find that experience?
Jah Cure:
Curefest was good. A nice representation for me. It was 3 nights; the first night was the all-white party at the Starfish Hotel in Trelawney, the 2nd night was the spin-off between sound system selectors and the radio DJs and it was a nice vibe.

The third night was the Curefest in the second stadium; the stadium they built in Trelawney for the Cricket World Cup. It was a good vibe and it was a good turnout. Every artist in Jamaica passed through; Bounty Killer, Mavado, even Beres Hammond was there although he didn’t perform. We give thanks. Even Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry passed through.

Pyroradio.com: It must have been a very nerve-wracking performance.
Jah Cure:
Of course. The fans waited until 7am. I headlined the bill after all those big acts.

Pyroradio.com: Has it been hard adjusting to life outside the prison walls?
Jah Cure:
It couldn’t be hard you know, because prison was hard to survive, so out here it’s like 4, 5 times easier than where we were, so we learn to appreciate. We can’t see it as hard, because inside was hard. We know the free world as heaven and prison is hell! I’m just enjoying it. There is nothing hard with living life.

Pyroradio.com: Since you’ve been out, your presence hasn’t been there as it was when you were in jail. Is there a reason for that?
Jah Cure:
When I came out, there was so much to do. We were jammed up with work and we had a lot of tours and a lot of shows. For the whole year we were touring everywhere. Everywhere they would accept us, we would go so we wouldn‘t get much time to focus. Journey’s was a good song, My Life was a good song, ‘To Your Arms of Love’ was a good song, Sticky was big, I did Miles Away for Don Carleon late last year, so we’re picking up.

Journeys didn’t do well, but the people know Journeys. Journeys is a big song but I expected more of Journeys. I put My Life out, but we didn’t get much response because of the production. We were so busy on the road we didn‘t get to [promote]. But I’ve been here [in Jamaica] from end of last year so I’m recording more songs, and promoting the album. I promise the fans that they will be hearing more. We have some big songs to be dropping. Don Carleon has new stuff, RS productions has new stuff, Baby G, John John - we’ve got a lot of stuff out right now.

Pyroradio.com: You mentioned touring and as we know over here in the UK you’ve had problems gaining entry into countries. Which countries have you been to?
Jah Cure:
We’ve been to mostly Europe. We’ve been to Switzerland, Holland, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Norway - all those places we‘ve been to them. We’ve been all over the Caribbean. There are certain places we haven’t been able to touch yet. Its so much work; we haven’t been able to touch Canada or USA yet. We’re saving everything so we can do it big. Even Japan, all these songs like ‘Reflections’, the fans haven’t been able to sing with us yet. England haven’t seen me yet, and I’m looking for to coming to England. I hope the Government can hear [read] this and know that we need to come to England and replenish the Earth.

Pyroradio.com: What has the reaction been for you abroad?
Jah Cure:
Oh man, they love me and I love the people too.

Pyroradio.com: Moving on to your album Universal Cure, the first single is Mr. Jailer. Talk us through the concept of that record and how you came to write that song.
Jah Cure:
The whole concept of the song is that, it’s not just me who was locked up. People in the free world are in prison too. Within their mind, their work, within their situation in life. And even to the jail officer, letting him know he is a prisoner too. Although he’s not locked up but he still works there.

Pyroradio.com: What advice would you give to the youths who are on the streets doing crime?
Jah Cure:
A nation without the almighty is like a tree without roots, just like a nation without history is like a tree without roots. If our nation is lost without the almighty then we ask that the youths to look in themselves and find the almighty. Find the source of life that creates the goodness, because the good in life is the God in life. Love yourself and then you can love others. We’ve been killing each other for years, lets build ourselves for the future.

Pyroradio.com: On Journeys you sing, “We’ve got a lot to overcome and some battles to be won” - what did you mean by that?
Jah Cure:
Every living there’s a struggle, and sometimes you overcome that struggle and there’s some more struggles to overcome. Might not be as great as they one you been through before. In life, know this, nothing good comes easy, so when you`re heading to the top expect obstacles. Everyday in life is a battle for survival.

Pyroradio.com: You’ve always maintained your innocence over what you went to jail for, will you battle for your name to be cleared?
Jah Cure:
I don’t want to get myself killed because this thing is bigger than how people see it on the outside. I’m the one who knows what happened. I don’t want to stir up the thing and make it bad for both of us - because at the end people are going to be on my side and I don’t want to start a rebellion that causes conflict. We have to understand that. Its split; there are some people on one side and some on the other side and there isn’t any joke about it. If I insist to...

My name will be cleared to the most high. My actions will speak for me futuristically; he will know who I am and he will see who I am. My lifestyle, my livity, my words and my work will prove me to that day. I have nothing to prove to man because the almighty know my deeds.

The arms of law has failed me, so I don’t need not to go through any system. I don’t like courthouse, I hate courthouse and all these things, so I will take the end of my stick. At the end of the day, the world will know who is Cure after all. Jah is the one, at the end of the day, who gives justice. Man doesn’t give justice. Remember, man failed to give me justice before so there is never a time I’m going to have my freedom and let any man fail me the way he failed me before. Jah never fails me, man fails. Now I have Jah to deal with the rest.

Pyroradio.com: Green Grass is the first time many people heard you on a Dancehall riddim. What made you appear on that?
Jah Cure:
I don’t look at it as Dancehall, but that is how it was promoted. Stephen Marley and Jr Gong [Damian Marley] were on there as well. It was a crossover between Dancehall and Reggae music.

Pyroradio.com: Are there any plans to record on more Dancehall riddims?
Jah Cure:
It was just a vibe; if it comes again it comes again. It wasn’t planned.

Pyroradio.com: The song that’s getting a lot of airplay right now is ‘Call On Me’. It is tagged as featuring Keyshia Cole but is not listed as her featuring on the album.
Jah Cure:
We were supposed to [record it together] but we never got to. [The singer on the track’s] name is Phylissia. Keyshia Cole was meant to sing on the track but because the album got pushed back so many times, we just put Phylissia on it to save time.

Pyroradio.com: Speaking of international collaborations, you did a track with Flo Rida. Are there anymore collaborations lined up?
Jah Cure:
Yeah, I’m looking to do a track with The Game and Mavado. I’m also putting something together with TI and the same girl Phylissia. We are working on it right now, I have the tracks right now.

Pyroradio.com: What was the thinking behind the album title Universal Cure?
Jah Cure:
Music speaks the universal language, and the love is the universal language. We are trying to heal the people with music. Universally to cure.

Pyroradio.com: If you had the power to cure one of the worlds ill’s what would it be?
Jah Cure:
I would cure AIDS. The biggest disease that is killing millions of people around the world. If you cure AIDS any other disease would be like second to cure.

Pyroradio.com: What message would you like people to take away from your album?
Jah Cure:
The album is singing about love, freedom, the struggle and the journey. It’s talking about universal cure, because people are living in sickness. Everyday people are catching AIDS around the world. People living in sickness to upset the cure. Just letting them know that love is the cure.

Pyroradio.com: Lastly, what effect has going to prison had on your music?
Jah Cure:
It has no effect but positive effect; I got a lot of inspiration out of the stress.

Universal Cure in stores April 14th

Jah Cure featuring Phylissia - Call On Me

If you liked this, feel free to check Beres Hammond:


Morgan Heritage:




Tarrus Riley


Monday, 16 March 2009

Official Tribal Skank Video

They've upped the levels with this one. Easily the best video to drop in the UK Funky scene. Well executed concept which could quite easily have come across corny, shot very well and tunes got a little bounce to it. Coming off the back of the smash 'Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes', comparisons will be there. Instead, they brought out their own vibe.

Not sure if you'll catch me bussing this in the dance - too much prancing side-to-side for me - but it looks good. Who am I kiddin'? Man will dun da dance and spice it up with my owna ting. Coming to a shoobs near you!

Perempay & DEE featuring Katie Pearl - Feel It In The Air

Here it is:

I can see where they wanted to go with the vid, but (and a very big but) it's very, erm, marmite. Gotta say, it isn't my cuppa tbh.

Feel the tune? Buy the tune. If you're feeling the tune, but hate the vid, still support the tune or else they'll jump on the bassline/electro ting! Available to purchase today:


Saturday, 14 March 2009

50 Cent premieres Rick Ross Baby Mother Sex Tape

If you aren't familiar with the beef between Pimpin Curly and Officer Ricky, get familyar!

Originates from Rick Ross dissin 50 on The Inkredibles produced banger Mafia Music.

"We're steppin on your crew 'til the motherfucker's crushed
And making sweet love to every woman that you lust
I love to pay her bills, cant wait to pay her rent
Curtis Jackson baby mother aint askin for a cent
Burn the house down, you gotta buy another..."

Fifty responded with a (lame) diss to which Rick Ross issued a 24hour deadline to make another. Fif' declared war, telling Ricky he's going to end his career

Fiddy's first step was to interview Ricky's first baby moms, Tia, talking slick about Ricky being broke, which was later backed up by a financial affadavit released by Fif'. Took her and her bestie shopping for mink coats.

Second was going to head of Def Jam South DJ "We The Best" Khaled's mum's house and place of work. Why? Fif' claims Khaled put the battery in Rick's back to get publicity because Khaled's first release, Ace Hood, flopped.

In between these he has created a cartoon series and sketch show starring alter-ego Pimpin Curly

This vid takes beefing to new levels. For his next trick, he has released a porn x comedy video starring Rick Ross' second baby mother/call girl Brooke. Pimpin Curly's commentary is hilarious. The innocence combined with immature excitement in the delivery is a winner. Although its a porno, it's worth watching for comedy value alone. How this man keeps raising levels is astonishing.

Key quotes:

'Look at the stretch marks on the stomach from Ricky's daughter''

"The nigga licking on the Ricky tattoo"

"That's the poom poom, punany, the puma, the pussycat"

"She bobbing and weaving Ricky like a professional fighter"

"Nice little slut here"

Too deep? I don't know but what I do know is this beef + Pimpin Curly has rejuvenated the previously lack-luster 50 Cent. He needs his own sketch show.

Back in 2001, Nas recoreded 'Ether', fast forward 8 years and this is probably the digital ages equivalent. Will Rick Ross's superbly produced Hip-Hop keep him afloat or will he possibly be the second career suicide of '09? One things for sure, people with cobwebs will stay away from Fif and his alter-ego Pimpin Curly

Friday, 13 March 2009

Marvin Sparks recommends: The-Dream 'Love vs. Money'

Been banging the singer-songwriters debut album/personal classic Love/Hate since it first dropped back in Xmas 07. It was the soundtrack throughout the whole of 08. Now, he returns with the follow-up, titled 'Love vs. Money'. Needless to say the guy all the R&B dudes want to be done it again.

Couple recommendations:

Jump-off single 'Rockin That Thang'. There is an 'All-star Def Jam' remix but the original is better to me. I don't really want to hear 2 rappers past use by date and a copper on a R&B track. Luda merk'd tho

Having created J. Holiday's smash debut 'Bed' and Usher's 'Trading Places' LOS Da Maestro and The Dream link up again. To me they are as good if not better than his partnership with Tricky Stewart. Exibhit A:

Want a killer slow jam? Kells comparison was evident from Love/Hate but this is bound to draw comparisons. R. Kelly - scandal - old man wearing bling =

Other hot tracks: Fancy and Love vs. Part 2. Walking on the Moon with Kanye will be the single that turns him into a household name. Mark my words (letters)

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Joe Budden 'Padded Room' Interview


It has been a tumultuous journey for Joe Budden since the summer 2003 smash-hit 'Pump It Up' dominated the airwaves. Circumstances leading to his departure from Def Jam in 2008 include an album being pushed back, pushed back further, then shelved indefinitely leading to rumours of being black balled by Def Jam label head and Joe's former idol Jay-Z.

During his hiatus from the commercial game, the 'King of New Jerz' has maintained heavy street buzz and strong Internet fan base through releases of the underground classic 'Mood Muzik' mixtape trilogy. Controversy is never far though, his on-again, off-again beef with friend-turned-foe Ransom, Saigon and incarcerated Mobb Deep wordsmith Prodigy has meant he is renowned as one of the fiercest and most feared lyricists in the modern game.

Joe Budden returns with 'Padded Room', his long-overdue follow-up to his Gold-certified self-titled Def Jam debut released through his new home, the popular indie Amalgam Digital. Marvin Sparks caught up with Joe Budden to discuss everything from life after major, vlog sites to putting his girl arse on blast and possible wedding bells.

PyroRadio.com: This new album is released being released independently through Amalgam Digital. After being on Def Jam for 3 years what did you learn from being on a major?
Joe Budden: I don't think we’ve got enough time to explain. I learnt that, that situation didn’t work out particularly well for me. I take it as learning experience. I achieved a dream of mine which was to sign to a major and put an album out. I got some information and knowledge, saw the inner workings and then I left. I take it as I took a little tour of the place.

PyroRadio.com: Now there are rumours that you were black balled by Def Jam. Why would a company want to do that to their own investment?
Joe Budden: This industry is totally based on relationships and things of that nature. Black balling is when someone with more authority than you starts making calls, and making moves and actions to make sure your career doesn’t progress. Its like a roadblock. I wouldn't be surprised if I were black balled. With the way the industry is going, it is going to make it a lot less possible to black ball somebody.

PyroRadio.com: Given the chance, would you go back to a major label situation?
Joe Budden: I may. I love to stay open-minded and I don’t like to just shut down opportunities before they are presented, but that's not where I am right now. Where I am now is Amalgam Digital. We’ve had a healthy lasting relationship, they’ve treated me with the utmost respect - respect I feel an artist of my calibre should be treated with - and I’m good right now.

I’ve been blessed enough to have the following that will follow me wherever I am and that is evident. A major is the last thing that is on my mind. But that’s still not to say I wouldn't entertain the idea, it’s just not where I am right now.

PyroRadio.com: Many rappers would have given up and been tempted to do something else for a living. What kept you from doing the same?
Joe Budden: I’m a fighter, I’m a survivor, I’m resilient, I persevere - I’ve been faced with way more difficult hardships than someone just trying to put a halt to my music career. Trials and tribulations that I have been going through my entire life, so this little bullshit about a guy not letting me put an album out, or trying to halt my progression, that’s nothing. That's a small thing to a giant. Music kept me sane. I love music too much. I’m too passionate about music to let anything or anyone come in between me and my love.

PyroRadio.com: Much has changed since you first entered the rap game. Many are saying Hip-Hop is dead. What would you say the game is missing?
Joe Budden: I wouldn’t say; I’m solely focused on Joe Budden. I’m not sure the game is missing anything. I think certain things are just harder to find than others. If you look for it you’ll find it.

PyroRadio.com: There was a period where mixtapes were more in-demand than people’s albums. Coming off the back of 3 successful mixtapes, how does making an album differ?
Joe Budden: It’s the same frame of mind; you want to go in and put your best foot forward and record the best music in that period, and that's what I did. I just approached it differently in terms of the message I was trying to get across and the overall concept of the album differs from the Mood Muzik series, but its still Joe Budden. It’s still lyrical, it’s still conceptual, and it’s still true to who I am.

PyroRadio.com: Did you have to make any songs you wouldn’t usually for the crossover appeal?
Joe Budden: I made one song, ‘The Future’ with The Game, but I didn’t make it to attempt to crossover, I made it because I wanted to make it. I think it is just a great record. I didn’t make it with any other idea in mind.

PyroRadio.com: One thing every fan loves is music comes across as therapeutic to you. Is there much that you don’t share?
Joe Budden: I share everything. Everything. I’m like an open book.

PyroRadio.com: Being on an independent such as Amalgam Digital, how important are avenues like World Star Hip Hop and VladTV?
Joe Budden: They are not so important to me. Anything that’s to do with new media is extremely important, and it’s a well working relationship where you have vlog sites like World Star. Of course when they are putting up a clip of Joe Budden it’s promoting me, but please believe they are putting it up there for reasons of their own. It’s just like anything; anything that has its pro’s has its con’s. Often at times, I’ll be put on these vlog sites without my permission and it’ll depict me in such a negative light. So I mean, it doesn’t always work in my favour.

PyroRadio.com: Promotion is one of the aspects which hinder indie's. What other avenues are you using as a form of promoting?
Joe Budden: As far as promoting - I wouldn’t call it promotion, I call it making people aware. The only difference between being on a major and an independent is a major has the power to force feed something down your throat and they have the funds to do that. The independents put the good shit out there and often if people aren’t looking for the good shit, they won’t find it and it’ll fall by the way side. I like to make people aware.

PyroRadio.com: A lot of your core fan base is on the internet, do you read many forums and blogs?
Joe Budden: I read every forum and every blog, and every message board, and every chat room. I read it all. There's nothing online that I’m not aware of.

PyroRadio.com: How do you deal with people saying negative things about you?
Joe Budden: I don’t. It phases me none. I have the thickest skin in America.

PyroRadio.com: What are your opinions on rap beef?
Joe Budden: I don’t have an opinion on it. I usually deal with it when it comes my way, it’s healthy and I don’t think there’s anything wrong it. Unfortunately, today we are dealing with individuals who don’t rap too well, so they need to resort to doing other things involving a rap beef. Hip Hop is not the UFC, it’s not the MMA, it’s not for gangsters, murderers and killers. I think if it was for all of these things they wouldn’t be rapping. Other than that I love it.

PyroRadio.com: What are your favourite diss records of all time?
Joe Budden: I like Hit ‘Em Up [2 Pac], No Vaseline [Ice Cube], The Bitch In You [Common] - I like a few. Erm... Takeover [Jay-Z].

PyroRadio.com: What are the essential qualities to a good diss record?
Joe Budden: It will change everyone’s perception of that person, or it will really showcase one’s fault in ones character, and having one question their own character.

I feel myself getting into another one soon. I think I read something this morning that I didn’t like, but I’m going to wait until I confirm it before I start tearing somebody up. If I can confirm that said individual said said bar, then I’m going to tear his ass up.

PyroRadio.com: There’s a copy of ‘Padded Room’ floating about which had a lot of people were questioning why you left the Fabolous and Ransom track on there.
Joe Budden: I didn‘t do that, that’s the bootleg. That was a bootleg and whoever leaked it out there put that on there.

PyroRadio.com: Will you reveal which rapper’s girl you got with?
Joe Budden: No, of course not.

PyroRadio.com: We have to talk about your own girl Tahiry, the Internet’s been going crazy about her. You must have a lot of security in your relationship to film and put her on the Internet.
Joe Budden: I would say so. I would say I’m extremely secure. She may tell you differently, but definitely [secure]. What we have has been worked on and is 5 years in the making. There’s a foundation, it’s not just shallow. It’s nothing that I worry about. Anything that is built up strong enough will take a while to be broken down. Certainly not the Internet.

PyroRadio.com: Will we hear wedding bells anytime soon?
Joe Budden: Definitely! Definitely! Definitely! I don’t know when but I know that she is the one for me and she knows that I am the one for her, so we’ll figure out.

PyroRadio.com: Is there any truth to the rumours that you are working on Detox with Dr. Dre?
Joe Budden: I received a call quite a few months ago that they wanted me to fly out and help out with some things, but it never materialised.

PyroRadio.com: Finally, will we get Mood Muzik 4?
Joe Budden: No time soon. Nooo time soon, at all.

PyroRadio.com: Any final shouts?
Joe Budden: I wanna thank you for having me, I wanna tell all the Joe Budden fans, the soldiers to go on JoeBuddenTV.com for anything happening with Joe Budden. And May 1st, I want everyone to go to TahiryTV.com and ‘Padded Room’ is in stores now.

PyroRadio.com: Oh, can you shed any light on what is Tahiry TV going to be about?
Joe Budden: You’ll have to set-up an interview and ask her yourself.

In case you can't see what Joe is amazed at in the above pic:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Michael Keith (Mike from 112) Interview

Shouts to Donna Torrence and PyroRadio!

As one quarter of Atlanta’s R&B boy group 112, Mike, now known as Michael Keith, enjoyed much success including platinum selling albums, a Grammy award and many classic R&B hits. However, in 2007, Michael Keith left the group citing members Q and Daron were taking an unfair share of the royalty cheques.

To mark the release of his self-titled album (http://www.michaelkeithonline.com/ to purchase), Marvin Sparks caught up with Michael Keith to discuss his feelings on R&B and Autotune, if he’d return to 112, auditioning for Making the Band and whether or not Notorious was an accurate depiction.
Marvin Sparks: What was the best thing about being in 112?
Michael Keith: One of the best things was the unity we had as a group. We were able to do a lot of special things as a unit. I honestly feel like we hadn’t reached our apex but at the same time I think we accomplished a lot and influenced a lot of artists who came after us. I would definitely say that was one of the best accomplishments that we did.

Marvin Sparks: We all know about the hysteria and dedicated female fans boy groups have. What would you say was the craziest or best thing you received from a fan?
Michael Keith: A record sale. The longevity of an R&B act nowadays, statistically, is about 2 to 3 years, which is about an album and maybe a second one. It was just by the grace of God that we didn’t suffer the sophomore jinx, so we were able to keep going. It will be 13 years this year since we first started out, so to me that’s the greatest gift I have got from the fans; the love and the support.

Marvin Sparks: 13 years is a long time. Even though you left because of unfair distribution of royalties, it must still have been a hard decision to leave.
Michael Keith: Like I said before, I felt that we had so much more left to accomplish. I really felt in my heart of hearts that 112 was this generations New Edition, this generations Boyz II Men, and this generations Jodeci. I really felt like we had the potential to be one of those super-groups, but I honestly feel like we didn’t reach that point. In my heart, I felt like we had some unfinished business to do, and if anybody knows me I’m never one who leaves business unfinished.

Marvin Sparks: Are there any plans to get back together for a follow up album to Pleasure and Pain?
Michael Keith: I’m going to be honest with you and say I’ve grown and lived long enough to never say never, so if that was to happen in the future I will welcome it under the right circumstances. I never felt like we had accomplished all that we could have, but right now I’m so focused on my solo project and everybody else, from what I know is focusing on theirs, so I don’t see it happening in the near future.

Marvin Sparks: Do you feel that the fact you weren’t a lead vocalist on singles helped or hindered you in becoming a solo artist?
Michael Keith: I think it did both. I think it helped because a lot of people will hear my voice relatively for the first time. Unless you are a die-hard fan and you’ve been to the concerts, you are a family member and heard me sing in church, or you were a member of 112, you just don’t how well I could sing. So when I do sing and take it to the next level, people always amazed like, ‘Damn, why haven’t you been singing [lead]’.

But the reason was we had a formula and a niché with Slim singing all the leads. Everybody knew that and understood that that was going to be the way that we were going to be distinct from the other groups that were out there at the time. It definitely helped because it saved my voice for 13 years. I definitely feel like I have the best [voice] left out of all the guys because I’ve had mine on reserve and just been singing when it was time to go onstage.

As far as hurt, well I wouldn’t say hurt, but it is causing somewhat of an issue coming out with newer people who are not aware of the music. To a lot of people I am a new artist, but its cool. I don’t mind a challenge. Baseball player Joe DiMaggio said ‘I play as if it is the last time I’m ever going to play baseball, because there maybe someone out there who never knew I played baseball’. In my mind that’s how I have to perform and sing in case they’ve never heard a 112 or Michael Keith record.

Marvin Sparks: Would you have auditioned for a program like Making The Band?
Michael Keith: Absolutely not! I couldn’t have done it. You got to understand that with Puff we never had that sort of relationship with Puff. We had a real working relationship with Puff; we were real cool and we were all starting from the beginning. Of course he had [Notorious] BIG and Craig Mack at the time that 112 came aboard but Bad Boy as a record label were still growing and developing. Puff is a multi-millionaire/billionaire now versus back then everyone was trying to get their grind on.

It’s kinda like you have a phase 1 and 2; [now] is like phase 2/ phase 3. I was in phase 1. The original 5. [Notorious] BIG, Craig Mack, Total, Faith [Evans] and 112. I couldn’t have done Making The Band. I would have tried, but I think it was more about the TV aspect than the music in my opinion.

Marvin Sparks: Are you feeling the direction RnB has gone in with emphasis being placed on Euro-dance sounding tracks and Autotune?
Michael Keith: These artists nowadays that are just limiting themselves to being in one scenario; being in the club, out the club, you’re about to go to the club. Those artists really get under my skin. Reason being is we are so much more artistically evolved than just doing one type of song. I can appreciate a Kanye West, a Timbaland, a Justin Timberlake and a Michael Keith, you know.

I’m going to be honest with you, I can actually sing. A lot of these cats now... it’s cool because its for the times now and its no diss to these artists or anything but the whole autotune thing, I feel is just a fad outside of T-Pain. Everyone is just trying to follow that dude, so its a sound that will fade out eventually with the exception of him because that‘s his thing.

Marvin Sparks: What separates you from what’s already out there?
Michael Keith: We are a copycat industry. If something’s hot everyone is going to gravitate towards that. What separates me is I don’t care about what’s going on with the industry. I’m going to do what I feel is best for me. My mood is having songs with substance. Songs that can be listened to 20 years from now. Not something that is hot right now and that‘s it. My whole thing is making songs that you can listen to, your grandkids can listen to, your grandkids grandkids can listen to.

Marvin Sparks: Your first single is ‘No More Tears’, tell us how that came about.
Michael Keith: When I write music I converse with a lot of people, and with ‘No More Tears’ I sat back and listened to how a lot of women don’t view men in the light that I think men should be viewed in. Someone that is a provider and someone who can take care of the home. Over here in the States, a lot of women don’t view black men as dependable dudes who can stay in a relationship and be a one woman man. I wrote that song so I could say there are some good dudes who appreciate one woman and what they do. It was just a song I wrote to say there are a lot of good dudes and I’m one of them.

Marvin Sparks: Do you have any advice for the guys struggling to maintain a good relationship with their female?
Michael Keith: Just listen. Women always tell you want by they do it in a way that you have to really be in tune with them. If she tells you for no apparent reason that she loves roses, duh, that’s her telling you ’Fool go out and buy me some roses‘! Or do I look good in this dress, obviously she wants you to say ‘Yes baby, you look good in that dress‘. She has it down in her head what she wants, she just wants you to reaffirm what she knows or wants to hear. A tip for everybody, just go along and say yes!

Marvin Sparks: What were your initial ambitions with this album?
Michael Keith: I’m gonna be honest, I want to be legendary. I know I have high hopes but I’ve done basically done the impossible with 112 and coming from the humble beginnings that we came from and able to be so successful. We won a Grammy, record sales, going around the world - being in the UK and seeing these different people, so I definitely feel like I can set the bar high fir the things I would like to accomplish in my solo career. I want to be known as this era’s Marvin Gaye, or this era’s Donny Hathaway, or Stevie Wonder. I don’t want to be one of those one-hit and go dudes.

I think this album epitomises that. I’m talking about what people have been speaking about for years; why is a situation like this, why is love like this, why does love hurt like this? I’m not afraid to talk about these situations because these are things I have questions about, and maybe through my music we can find the answer. I want to be like Kurt Cobain, or this generations Bono; one of those universal artists.

Marvin Sparks: As someone who knew Biggie, how did you find the film? Was it accurate?
Michael Keith: It was accurate, it was a very good movie. I’m going to be honest with you, towards the end I couldn’t look at it because it just took me back to when it all went down, so I had to leave the theatre because it was that heartbreaking for me. I honestly thought that I had got over that, with it being 11 years and all that, but it still hurts.

1st single: Michael Keith - No More Tears

Friday, 6 March 2009

Kojo Comedian - Black History Month interview

Thanks to Man Like Kojo and lovely lady like Afryea.

When I remembered October is the month we celebrate ‘Black History Month’ my initial thought was to write a profile on some guy who is dead and doesn’t have much significance on today. I then came to my senses and though forget celebrating the past whilst complaining "They don’t make ‘em like they used to," when there are plenty of good role models out there that aren’t rated as role models. I went back to the drawing board, put Bashy’s ’Black Boys’ on repeat for inspiration and came up with a shortlist consisting of people who I thought should be classed as modern day role models. To narrow down what was quite a long list of people whom I could get into contact with I decided to discard everyone involved directly in music, but still kept those who are in the business of entertainment.

Many know the name or have seen the face. You may be able to match the name to the face and recite one of his famous jokes but hardly anyone knows the man and mind behind the jokes and Colgate smiles. The 28 year-old, self-proclaimed "Fresh Prince of Hackney" describes himself as, "An entertainer, a business person, someone that likes to have fun, someone that wants to see change in his community and someone who knows how to hide his pain." From last two descriptions I knew I made the correct choice. There were more than just jokes to him and I would be in for a deeper interview than most would anticipate.

Your favourite comedian’s favourite comedian Kojo gave Marvin Sparks his most personal interview just hours before taking to the stage in front of a sold-out audience at the home of comedy Hackney Empire. But this performance wasn’t just any comedy show, it was Kojo’s last big one before he sets out to fulfil his dreams of conquering the Yanks over the ocean.

The ‘thing’ some may call fate played a role in why Kojo chose to become a comedian. Whilst working with kids on holiday camp in the USA, part of his duties was writing skits for the children to perform on shows even though pre-written ones were provided. Then on a trip to a local supermarket he bought a DVD with Martin Lawrence on the cover, which he mistook as a film, but to his surprise it was a recorded stand-up comedy show. "When I first saw him doing that I was like ‘Wow!’ I didn’t know anything about stand-up or anything but I decided that’s what I wanted to do."

The main reason for his success is good old-fashioned hard-graft and upon his returns to London the work begun. Deciding to pursuit this latest career option a bit further, he enrolled on a workshop, which was similar to drama school called The Comedy School with comedian Rudi Lickwood and director Keith Palmer. During this time he honed his comedic skills, learning invaluable techniques such as, "How to make people laugh without seeing you, pacing across the stage and making everyone that’s paid feel apart of your show," which to this day he credits as, "Little tricks which have helped me."

He counts legendary comedians such as Martin Lawrence, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle as influences but: "My first were Curtis Walker Gina Yashere, Slim, Rudi Lickwood, Toju and Real McKoy. Real McKoy was my first real experience of black people being on telly being funny."

I would feel like I’ve short-changed you all if I were to regulate the rest of the interview by drawing numerous quotes here and there, and simplifying what Kojo said. From here on in you're on your own. Enjoy...

Marvin Sparks: How would you describe your comedy?
I hate the word real, but at the same time I think my comedy is honest. It isn’t genius; it’s everyday living. I live life to the maximum, so through living life to the maximum it allows me to have more to talk about. If you live doing the same things everyday then that will show in your material.

I like to challenge myself; I get bored very easily, so with my kind of comedy I think people can relate to easily. For instance running for the bus and missing it. That’s the kind of comedy I do and is something we can all relate to. I like to keep things simple. It’s like with music, if you have a simple beat and you throw a good MC over it then it’s a classic, but if there are too many beats going all over the place you get confused.

Comedy is basically a real-life situation jazzed up. Out of all the jokes that I have done, the realest joke, and my personal favourite, is a joke where I talk about asking a girl for her number, she gives you the wrong number and you can’t accept that it’s a wrong number so you change the digits. Just little things like that are things that we’ve all thought about doing or have done because you don’t want to accept that you got the wrong number.

I’ve got another (joke) where I talk about having a good dream and waking up but wanting to go back to sleep for that dream. When you deliver something like that the audience are just like, ‘Rahh, I thought that was just me!’

I think the greatest comedians are those who can show humiliation and are able to laugh at yourself. I laugh at myself. It’s all well and good me talking about someone in the audience but if I can’t talk about my own sh*t then that’s what draws your audience away from you. I feel as though my audience is at arm’s length; they’re right there and I can speak to them. Even when you come to my comedy club I’m right there. It isn’t like, ‘Oh wow there’s Kojo!’ I dress like my audience, I look like my audience and I always want them to know that I’m one of the people. I call myself the people’s comedian because I think I look like my audience and that is something that Leo Chester said to me.

Marvin Sparks: You’ve done various jobs presenting, both on kids TV and on stage at music concerts. How did you enjoy presenting?
Presenting is something that came as part and parcel of the entertainment business and saw it as the next step for me. I started watching CBBC and seeing a lot of people doing presenting and thought it was the next step for me and not just being known as a comedian, hence this show is not just a stand-up show. I’ve got interviews with guests, friends of mine. It’s not just Kojo doing a stand-up show. I want to shy away from that. I have nothing to prove in terms of stand-up. I’m just going to chat to celeb friends of mine and really find out who they are.

We don’t have a black Jonathan Ross show. And for me I shouldn’t have to say a black Jonathan Ross show, but we need to find out who our artists really are. When you find out who people really are, you have a connection with them. People spend money when they have a connection with you and that’s what tonight is about. We’ve got Giggs performing, Bashy performing, a guy called Dele, Yolanda Brown on the Saxophone. I’m interviewing the AdULTHOOD guys, Fundmental and Jeanette Kwakye. Just a whole bunch of people that you see on TV and think ‘I know who you are on television but I don’t know who you are.’ When you connect with your audience there’s nothing more powerful than that.

Marvin Sparks: I personally feel you are in a position where you could replicate what Richard Blackwood did and have a show on mainstream television and bring through act to the mainstream. Why haven’t you decided to do this?
My thing is that I’m one person and I find myself in a position where if Kojo doesn’t do it then it won’t get done. And that’s across the board of entertainment. I’ve done so many things for other people that I kind of lost time for myself. One thing that I have been happy with is I have been able to help others and still maintain my level. So for me it‘s like, I have a duty to help some people, but at the same time, being realistic, the more I help others is the less I help myself. It’s a career you’re trying to do and you have to know when to do things.

Marvin Sparks: Do you feel mainstream neglects black comedy?
Not black comedy, they’ve neglected black TV. I’ve always said the only time you see black people on TV is when you turn it off! That’s the only time black people are on television and for me it’s like you have to become valuable to them. If you’re not valuable to them then you have no arguments.

Its like our mum’s told us from a young age you have to work harder than a white person. Now you have to work harder than an Asian person so my thing is, know that and deal with it. Don’t use that as an excuse. Both of my parents were in prison from the age of 5. I was fostered but at the same time I’ve been in situations where I could have done things or I could have killed myself. F*ck that!

The idea is now I have to stop it here because it can’t continue. When people hear that they are usually like, ‘Kojo’s always smiling,’ but you’ve got your own sh*t as well. I don’t like making excuses; I like to give you solutions. I could stand here all day and start complaining but that isn’t helping anyone and it’s not helping me. For me it’s about stop making excuses and find a solution.

Marvin Sparks: Aside from comedy, you are also a businessman. Give us the background on how the Comedy Club started?
I was one of 10 comedians who would always be on the Hackney Empire line-up but that wasn’t a true reflection of what the comedy scene was about. There are so many other comedians who don’t get the chance to be at the Hackney Empire; hence why the Comedy Club started. Now you’ve had Babatundé, you’ve had Fumbi, Eddie, Marlon, and Nathan, do you know what I mean? You’ve had all these young people now that don’t want to do Grime or be an MC, they want to tell jokes, and had it not been for the comedy club they may have swayed into being MC’s and the stereotypical stuff.

Now comedy is the new going out - the new raving. There are comedy shows here and there everywhere from me starting what I did. I’ve done my bit it’s down to people to cross that bridge themselves; I can take you there but you have to cross it and have your own path. Some people business right; some don’t. Some are meant to be businessmen, others the artist.

Coming back to what you said about Richard he was an artist - he wasn’t a businessman. For example, I have a TV and Radio manager but I still do my own thing. The best position you can be in when in this industry is the power to say no. I think when you’re in that position you can allow yourself to do what you want. I had to fight to get a show on MTV Base. ‘Fresh Prince of Hackney’ was sold out, then they were asking when’s the next one. We did ‘Young God’s of Comedy’ and we changed it up and that got the highest ratings!

So now I’ve got a regular comedy show next year. It’s going to be the MTV Base Comedy Jam, a regular comedy show and watch everybody come through that. Then you’ll see people in movies and things like that because we aren’t being seen.

I don’t like to complain; I just like to get things done and I make my noise through my work. I don’t like to sit in a room and complain about ‘Why black people don’t do this,’ I just have to look after what I can and see that it gets done.

Marvin Sparks: You’ve had a lot of celebrity guests come down and support. Who has been there and what were the highlights for you?
We’ve had so many people. The highlights for me keep getting crazy. The first highlight was when Bill Bellamy came down. Then we had Alex Thomas come down - he’s in every damn music video. When Dave Chapelle came down it was pandemonium! It was absolutely crazy. And the same night we had Stan Lathan who works with me now - you know the actress Sanaa Lathan? Her dad. He’s the director of Def Comedy Jam. When Chris Rock came down I saw road man acting like groupies! You know Chris Rock; he’s a hood legend so it doesn’t get much bigger than that for me. I thought that was it. Then we’ve had Damon Wayans come down, and the last couple weeks we’ve had Russell Simmons in the house Russell Simmons coming down is the man who created Def Comedy Jam. He was there because we just finished the Def Comedy Jam tour that I was hosting so he came to see what the UK talent was saying.

I’ve built Corks as a New York style comedy club. All the comedy clubs on that circuit are like the dungeons; you go downstairs, a room packed full of people sitting close together but they have come out to laugh. It’s not about how the venue looks, it’s not about how people dress; it’s about going out, having a good time and going home.

You go anywhere in America everyone knows where my comedy club is. Chris Rock phoned me, Damon Wayans phone me, Russell Simmons phoned me saying: ‘I’ve been told that this is the comedy club I need to go to,’ and that’s because for years I’ve bringing over the underground American acts, so they say anytime you go to London, you have to go to Kojo’s. Comedians fly over to do other shows and say ‘I want to do Kojo’s.’ It has taken me 5 years but I’ve built that brand. When you come to London you go to Kojo’s spot.

Chris Rock came and had a good time and came back to England again, just finished his show in Hammersmith and still wanted to come over to The Comedy Club afterwards but we were finished. It’s been years of grinding and going through bad times but it has been a necessity and has changed our community.

Marvin Sparks: Well it has definitely paid off for you. Plenty of times I and a lot of other people have gone to Corks on a Sunday and the queue stretches around the corner, then got near the entrance for the doors to then be locked because it’s full to capacity.
Kojo: Even this show [A Night With Kojo] everyone said I should have done 2 shows. The Hackney Empire said I could have sold out 3 shows. My thing is, I have never done things necessarily for money. I’m not money-driven, I’m thinking I want to be exclusive. When you hear Kojo you know to get your tickets immediately. I’ve changed the perception of some black people. You know not to go to Cork’s late because you won’t get a seat or get in. You know you have to be on time and that’s something that I am trying to change.

With [A Night With Kojo] 75 people have paid to stand because there aren’t any tickets left. People are saying ‘You should have done a second show,’ I say, ‘Well you should have got your tickets on time. If you got your ticket on time, you wouldn’t be complaining about a second or third show.’

Chris Rock sold out 15 dates in 3 days. 15 dates in 3 days! And you know why? These things don’t come around often. I’m trying to learn from them guys and get the respect that they have and do my sh*t right, because if I do my sh*t right people will respect it.

Marvin Sparks: Another one of your ventures is Kojo Angels. What was the inspiration behind that, and what is your aim?
Kojo’s Angels is an idea I had to help young women get involved in the entertainment industry. My phone has every number that I need to have in this business, nationally and internationally. Half of the contacts I’ve got in my phone I don’t need them, they don’t benefit me but that doesn’t mean that they can’t benefit someone else.

I feel that most of the kids that are doing something bad are doing it because of what they see not because someone said to go and do it. They see a culture and they think that’s what you have to do to go and get it. That’s the reason why I don’t choose to go into schools and sitting down there wasting breath talking to people; I’m trying to get quicker results. I get quicker results by showing and leading by example; how I behave and carry myself when I go out, where I go out, what I eat - you see what I’m saying? These are all things that count. People want changes but aren’t willing to change themselves.

So with this project, it gets a group of girls together who all want to do different things. A lot of people think that they are models but there are some that want to do hairdressing. Entertainment is a big word now. There are hairdressers, make-up artists, stylists, PR and journalism. These are all things that I have connections to so what we do is we get 15 girls together and we do work shops with them. We have people like Kanya King coming, June Sarpong, Angie La Mar.

It’s an 8-month project where we get the girls together and show them success. When you keep seeing success that’s all you know. Angie La Mar once said to me ‘If you hang around with 9 broke people, your going to be the tenth.’ Best believe that! If all your friends have got kids, you’re going to have a kid. And it’s vice-versa if you hang around with 9 rich people you will be the tenth. That’s how it goes because that is all you know. So for me it is important to get these girls in that environment. If you take them out of bad areas and show them something they never thought they’d be able to see. They’re going to MOBOs - and they’ve got a table - they’re going to all these premiere’s.

That is why I think Run’s House is the greatest show that has ever been on MTV Base. It’s not showing family that is dysfunctional like every other reality show, it’s a family that you think to yourself ‘Wow, I want to be in that family!’ When I was growing up, I wanted to be apart of the Cosby family; the generation after me wanted to be in Fresh Prince family because they were successful black people. Don’t show me all this foolishness about guns and killings and all that; that’s reality. I need something to escape from reality so this is what we try to do with the Angels.

They’ve probably got friends that don’t want to do what they want to do and that’s what holds a lot of black people back. I wanted to play football, but you have some people that want to be [selling items] or play Rugby, or they may want to do something else. But sometimes people think majority wants to do this so I may as well go and to do this, then I go and lose my dream. So what we do is take them away from their personal environment and put them around people that inspire each other and then we get amazing results.

Marvin Sparks: Along the way you have won many awards. Which ones have you won?
I’ve won ‘Special Achievement’ at Ghana Acts Awards. It’s a Ghanaian award for people who live here in the UK. The ‘Special Achievement’ award was for being a comedian and doing something different. I won Best Newcomer at the Black Entertainment Comedy Awards in 2002 I think it was. Then I went on to win Best Comedian 2005 and 2006 and they were the last time that the awards happened.

Marvin Sparks: Which one is the most important to you?
Most important for me is; you want to be the best at what you do, period. And the best thing for me was winning [Best Comedian] 2 times in a row. I’ve always said to myself I don’t want to be like everyone else, I have to think outside the box. I had missed out on the Real McCoy and all the other stuff, so I think when my generation of comedians came in we had to do more.

If I was in Richard Blackwood’s era all I would have had to do is be funny then I could go on TV and then I‘d get a deal. That’s how simple it was for Richard; I can’t do that. I have to go and do shows in raves and in front of kids. You can’t stay in the comedy circuit because its this big [makes a small space between thumb and index finger].

Now I headline the mainstream, I go and do the Jongleurs, the Comedy Store, I do everywhere. They are most of the shows that I do now and then I’m at my Comedy Club every Sunday. For me it’s doing the shows that count now, I don’t have anything to prove to the black community nor do I have to prove anything to the mainstream. Now it’s just time to pick the right shows and make the right moves.

Marvin Sparks: Proudest achievement to date?
I’ve done a lot of things and worked with a lot of people but the greatest thing for me in my Comedy Club because to this day it’s still the same reason. All I wanted to do was have somewhere to perform every week. I didn’t want it to be about girls, I didn’t want it to be about raving and partying and all that stuff, I didn’t want it to be about TV necessarily; it was just ‘When I want to see Kojo I want to go there,’ and that’s my signature spot. I think through that you’ve got a whole comedy scene now. A new comedy scene.

People that never saw Real McCoy or A-Force and those kind of shows that used to come on. People don’t know that. This new generation of comedy-goers are now knowing when a jokes too easy or if they’ve head a joke before. They are challenging the comedians a bit more; they’re coming out regularly now.

I remember I took the Comedy Club idea to Choice FM and they said ‘Nah. It’s nothing like what we do, we’re not interested,’ now they have their own comedy club. I book the Comedy Club. People called me saying, ‘Choice have stolen your idea,’ I replied ‘No they haven’t. That’s not my idea.’ I just saw a gap in the market and filled it. Now everyone’s doing it.

I wanted to have a club that I could perform at every week and make people laugh. And ’til this day 5 years later that’s exactly what the Comedy Club does.