Friday, 27 February 2015

Why there weren't any blacks at the Brits + Kanye thing a bad look?

I wasn't even gonna address this but I had a vibes to so here it is.

Everybody's been asking why there weren't any blacks at the Brits, so I thought I'd give a few answers based on what I see happening out there today. Most of the people asking the questions will happily admit they don't follow what's happening in the national charts. How does that even make sense then? In an ideal world, you should have a little bit of knowledge before speaking on things you don't know. Otherwise, you're just spouting ignorance.

First things first, the Brits is there to celebrate the best of what's happening in the charts for a particular year. How they measure that, I don't know, but that's what it's meant to do. I also don't know the criteria for nominations, but whatever. Black artists accounted for a grand total of two nominations. George The Poet for Brits' Critics Choice and FKA Twigs in the Best Female category. Neither won.

The better question is where are the black Brits in the charts?

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Reggae Valentines Showcase (Freddie McGregor, Romain Virgo, Johnny Osbourne + more) was so live

So I went to the Reggae Valentine's show on Sunday night (15th February). First thing's first; big up the organisers - solid line up and nice change of venue. Too often these shows are just heritage acts at the Brixton Academy. The Academy is a big venue so it seems like promotors are limited with artists. Well, giving them benefit of the doubt.

Show started promptly at 7:30. Anybody that's been to a reggae show in the past will know how much of a big deal this is. Too often, Sunday night shows don't really pay attention to the fact tube finishes early, meaning a long journey back for people, who in some cases either miss the last half hour of the show or go across London on a mission. Leave's a bad vibe and people will eventually say they aren't going to Sunday shows as a result. Thankfully, this ended at 11pm on the dot!

Saturday, 14 February 2015

I spent Bob Marley's 70th at couple (free!) events in Kingston, Jamaica

So, as you should know 6th February is the day both Bunny Rugs from Third World and Bob Marley were born. Neither are with us in physical, however they're both strong in the world of music.

Bob Marley's birthday was celebrated with events across the island. I was fortunate to go to two. Maddest thing is I didn't even plan to be there for his 70th, I noticed the week before. Great coincidence. Must've been a blessing from the above.

February is reggae month in Jamaica, it begins with Dennis Brown celebrations as its his birthday on the 1st (I went down to Dubwise Wednesday for a tribute session. Big up Yardcoore) and there's loads of other events (including wicked ones for free) going on.

However, we're here to talk about Bob Marley's birthday celebrations. On the day itself, I went down to the Bob Marley museum at 56 Hope Road for the 'Legacy Continues' show. Very surreal experience. Like, I'm really at Bob Marley's house on what would've been his 70th birthday. And we were all there for the same reason, so it was a big community - Rasta's and baldhead's alike. Bob's a prophet. In years to come, there could be a religion after him. I mean, Rasta globally is more down to a love and raspect for Bob Marley than anything else if we're totally honest.

I walked in as percussionist Bongo Herman was on stage playing some songs - mainly covers and that of songs such as Sugar Minott "Oh Mr DC" and others. He was followed by the Uprising Roots band. Both delivered good enough performances for the slots.

Bob's famous blue Land Rover had been taken off display in the museum for a couple years as it was being restored. I know it's at least a couple of years because they mentioned it when I was there in 2013. I didn't even realise they would be unveiling the restored version on the day. It was only when I was told to get off a platform I stood on, I looked to my right and saw the Land Rover sign and they announced they'd be revealing it.

Friday, 6 February 2015

"We'll be forever loving Bob" Marley, the greatest, 70th hail up post

Title is a spin of "Forever Loving Jah", the penultimate track on Bob Marley's album, Uprising! It sits between "Could You Be Loved" and "Redemption Song". Interesting when you check it was to be his final album before his physical left the green garden known as earth.

Bob Marley is the greatest person to make music in history. His impact and legacy say everything you need to know. Yeah, The 70th best-selling album in USA last year. It was in the top 200 the year before. "Legend" spends more time in the UK top-selling 100 albums than out of it, nearing on Abba's 4th spot for longest reign in the top 75 ever. And you can find him on Spotify top 100 albums too. And the 5th richest dead celebrity.

But I'm just using those stats as an example of his pulling power today. He's able to outperform most artists making music today, let alone people who made it then. Bob died aged 36, thirty-four years ago. He's been gone for almost as long as he was here. And when you check he scored his first international hit, "No Woman, No Cry", a mere six years before his passing, the music has lasted almost six times longer.

But where Bob shines is the bits you can't take to the tills. The fact his words still have as great, if not greater impact today. The fact uni students still hang posters on the wall. The fact mural's are still painted on walls across the globe. The fact you can go to anywhere in the world with a Jamaica flag and they say Bob Marley (and Usain Bolt). The fact people non-black people grow dreadlocks even though it doesn't really fit their hair and criticised by peers. The fact Rasta is a strong form of hippy culture for non-blacks. The fact reggae is listened to, practiced and played by people all over the world.

Not to say he did it single-handedly, but he's by far the most powerful individual to spread it. We're talking a man who holds the record for most attendees at a show in Italy in one night - attracting over 100k. Stadium's across the world. The main reason he isn't shouted about loudly is because (the sometimes backwards) Americans didn't get him while he was alive. And you know they control media.

Bob's legacy is far greater than just a musician - that's what he did. Bob put his thoughts, philosophies, beliefs and observations into music. Music was the vehicle that drove all of that to the hearts, minds and souls of the people. 'Cos that's exactly who Bob is - the people's champion. Really, he said what most of us believe, hence why it resonates. The ability to talk about stuff average people call boring in a pop-friendly way without compromising on the message. I mean, how many others had a moment like when he performed "Zimbabwe" at the Zimbabwean independence? How many could? For the right reasons, not commercial.

The narrative of Bob is marijuana and happy-go-lucky, feel-good music. As great a collection and success Legend has been, it doesn't reflect Bob's full spectrum. That's a lot of people's starting and end point of Bob. While you have "Get Up, Stand Up", there isn't a "Crazy Baldhead" or "The Heathens" proper militant, anti-establishment anthems. No "Jah Live" or "Thank You Lord" for his spirituality. No "So Much Trouble In The World" or "Rat Race" observations of the world. And those are the more popular ones. There are many album cuts worth digging into. Blame the corporates for the softening of his image.

When you consider Bob Marley moved from a struggling family in the countryside to a Kingston ghetto, then rose to be this world famous superhero prophet who sang from a perspective and informed by a faith that was alien to majority of his supporters, there is no greater. His black rights message crossed boundaries more than any black man before him. We need to be taught about him in black history month. Where do I start a petition?

Time alone has told. Happy 70th Earthstrong. Cos in our hearts, ears and minds, Bob will never die.

You can read a conversation I had about Bob Marley with the Queen of reggae and I-Threes member, Marcia Griffiths here

And my "hits on top of hits" post here where I put loads of songs that used Bob Marley riddims to make hits.