I happen to love Calvin Harris. Don’t think I’ve ever not enjoyed one of his songs, and his next single, ‘Let’s Go’ is no exception. ‘Let’s Go’ is the third single from his upcoming album, and feels exactly like a number 1, if I’m honest, it feels like ‘We Found Love’. Don’t hold that against the track though, just enjoy it.
At the end of February, Ben Drew, widely known as Plan B, made a return to hip-hop. His new release, ‘ill MANORS‘, sees Ben back in the style he started up in. To many people, it may just sound ‘shouty’, ‘chavy’ or even ‘inflammatory’, but this only highlights much of what Ben tries to convey through his music. Problems in society. The uneducated mess in the UK – either academically or socially.
Obviously, we all know about last summer’s riots in the UK. Like many people, we probably all watched the ‘highlights’ on BBC News 24, somewhere abroad, far away from the smashed windows and excessive looting. Parents probably spoke about their ‘outrage’, then wandered off to get another glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and sit back in the sun. That may be a sweeping generalisation. So, if you read that, and get annoyed by it, then good. Because now you know how it feels. Despite the class divide Ben spoke about in an interview recently, the youth of the UK also got an absolute hammering. It was hard to be young whilst the riots were kicking off – even over here in Middle England. We were looked down on, and slated practically everywhere we went. I work in a near-by shop, and someone actually said to me, “Bet you wouldn’t mind going down there, would you? All you lot want is free shit!” The worst thing about that is that I had to laugh it off, I couldn’t stand up to him, and question why he said it, otherwise I’d have got the sack. Then I’d be playing even further into their hands. Another unemployed youth, eventually leading to being alienated by society. Catch 22.
In the make-believe Waterloo Road recently, you can see this. Yes, it’s Waterloo Road, famous for having a random lottery generator between: Abortion, Pregnancy, Hit & Run or Teacher/Student Relationship, each and every week. But this new series is about ‘tackling gang culture’. Watching Waterloo Road writers deal with a gang culture is exactly the way I’d expect my Hertfordshire school teachers to do so. Pretty badly. Obviously, they will never need to though, will they? But that’s half the problem, we’re so unaffected by the problems the riots exacerbated, that we end up fuelling the fire.
This is one of the many points Ben Drew made in a recent interview with BBC Radio 1xtra’s Mistajam. Speaking for over 40 minutes, it was such an inspirational, honest and raw experience to listen to, and it’s sparked that bit inside of me, that bit which made me decide to write this.
“It’s a very delicate process because we are tackling a very delicate subject and we have to get the tone absolutely right. Because I’m not trying to condone what happened during in the riots. It disgusted me, it made me sick, but it saddened me more than anything because those kids that were rioting and looting, they’ve just made life ten times harder for themselves. They’ve just played into the hands of what certain sectors of Middle-England think about them, and we have a big issue and prejudice in this country from certain ignorant sectors of middle class people towards the underclass, and an example of this is the word ‘chav’, which in the video I state stands for ‘Council Housed And Violent’… Just because you were lucky enough to be born into a family that can afford to give you a good education, doesn’t make you better than anyone, it just makes you lucky, and, again, certain sectors of Middle-England need to wake up and realise that, and stop ridiculing the poor and less fortunate.”
This whole section of the interview was such an eye-opener. I’d imagine a lot of you won’t see anything wrong with using the word ‘chav’ – as it’s so widely using in every form of the media, especially red-top newspapers. So why would you see anything wrong with it? What we need to realise is that, by using words like this, by pushing someone less fortunate than you away, you’re further fuelling the fire. Some of the paper’s coverage of the riots widened that gap between the people taking part, and the rest of society.
Ben finished that point, by saying this, “We are all just, in the simplest form, animals, and when we’re backed into a corner, we lash out – it’s a primal instinct, and it’s got nothing to do with class, that’s us as human beings. And I guess there’s a lot of kids out there in this country that feel like they’ve got egg on their face.” And I think that speaks volumes. Remember John Prescott lashing out and punching a member of the general public? “It’s nothing to do with class.”
Why I’m speaking about, and quoting Plan B’s words, then discussing problems many of us will never really understand or come across, and classing it a music article, may be unclear. But I think people need to see the more inspirational side of rap music’s words. As the riots’ wick was still burning, a Daily Mirror ‘journalist’ caused uproar with many artists in Plan B’s genre, which he wrote about. If you missed the article, Paul Routledge blamed the “pernicious culture of hatred around rap music”, and how it “glorifies violence”, and “raves about drugs.” I wouldn’t want to quote anymore of it, because my IQ level may start to drop. Blaming rap music for the riots is such a ridiculous statement to make. Many people saw Paul’s words, and then wondered how he had a job in modern day journalism.
Fellow artist Professor Green spoke out on Twitter about this back then, “Yeah ban rap music, silence our voices even more.” Then following it with, “Surely this isn’t about shifting the blame, but accepting responsibility? Neither my music or that of my peers is to blame for society and its faults. We didn’t create the tiers. If you’re all so smart how is it you’re confusing understanding with justification? I’ve said from the start there’s no justifying it.”
This is then backed up with Ben Drew’s recent words about the understanding of hip-hop, “If you don’t understand it, especially after hearing me speak about it now, and you’ve still got issues with the song, maybe you’re not as educated as you think. Maybe you’re educated academically, but you need to go out there and get some life experience under your belt. ‘Cause I tell you one thing, if these kids on the streets, on the estates, are so stupid, how come they can understand the outform of hip hop, and the rest of the world cant?”
Ben didn’t just go on about what was wrong with people’s views on society, he also spoke about how to begin to fixing them, notably about how there’s always someone you, as a family member, knows, that is less fortunate, “These people probably come in your house, spend time with your kids and eat at your dinner table, that’s that one person that you can take under your wing, and treat as one of your own and kind of help.” I’m not sure how much we can relate to this in my area, at least, but you’ve got to admit, it does sound like a productive method given to us by a clear-minded person who’s experienced this kind of method in his own house, and with his band members.
The setting up of an ‘umbrella charity’ also stood out as a great idea from Ben. This would allow minor charities, which have been set up by individuals within so-called ‘broken communities’, who have finally had enough of their communities way of life, and possibly through lack of support from the government, have taken it upon themselves to sort out the problems. Ben stated, “A lot of people feel they’re allowed to have an opinion, on the problems and issues we have within society, just because they pay taxes. But we all know the government don’t change quite a lot of the things they promise they’re gonna change, but we still expect them to, because they take our money. If we know that, then maybe, we need to start taking responsibility ourselves. Money isn’t going to change this issue. Especially when the people in control of our money and where they spend it, are politicians, because they don’t understand the world they’re trying to change.”
I don’t think I’ve read or heard a more reasonable view on this subject. Now the riots have passed us, and been swept under the carpet again in the papers, journalists have now got off that high-horse – albeit moving onto another similar one with the next ugly-headed problem, possibly revolving around X-Factor judges. “This is an issue we’ve had in society for probably longer than 30 years, and it’s never been front of the queue – ’till the riots happened. That’s what this song, and music video, and the film, ‘ill MANORS’ needs to do, and I, as an artist need to do, because I genuinely want to change things – and this is just the first step. Let me raise my point first, let me raise the issue, then if anybody wants to talk to me about how I think we can change these things, I’m ready.”
Music can help these problems in society. People like Ben Drew have the ears, have the respect of the ‘hooded youths’ the media banged on about; he can create a positive wave of influence within them. Encourage them to use that spark of talent in the right way.
“Sometimes I think people may find my methods unorthodox, but they have to be unorthodox, because that’s the world I’m trying to challenge.”
There’s so much more I could say, so much more could’ve been quoted from Ben’s interview. He spoke pure and utter honesty, about topics which so many other artists run away from. For that, we need to congratualte him. The success of Strickland Banks pulled in people, and Ben could’ve run off and taken them with him, created pop songs with no substance. But that wouldn’t be Plan B, would it?
“That’s when I come into my own, when I see injustices happening, and I talk about the unfairness of them”
‘ill MANORS’ is set to be released March 25th, then the album on May 7th, with the film dropping on May 4th.
Wiley has dropped the visuals for his album title track, ‘Evolve Or Be Extinct’ – which happened to be one of my favourites off the top album!
Watch below, and if you fancy, have a read of what other tracks stood out, of the 22 on the album here!
A while back, I brought you all a preview/review of Mikill Pane’s 4th EP – The Morris Dacner. And it was brilliant. I won’t write it all out again – that’d be pointless, so you can check the review and listen to each track for FREE over HERE
But today was the day when Mikill released the video for the opening (and my favourite) track, ‘Kings’. A great song in itself, but now backed up with great visuals, it’s even more engraved in my mind. Love it, and brilliant vocals from Yoshee as well!
In case you’ve been in exile for a few weeks, Ed Sheeran announced he had collaborated with Shady Records’ Yelawolf.
Being Ed Sheeran, he hardly made it easy – with only 10 hours to creae the 4 songs which feature on the EP.
My personal favourite is the opening track, ‘London Bridge’ – just the stripped back guitar from Ed, and Yelawolf’s very underrated storytelling style flow.
But each track offers something different, and it certainly doesn’t sound like it took 10 hours to do!
Listen to each track below, then download it for free FROM HERE.
Sitting at number 2 in the midweek album charts, Maverick Sabre’s debut album, ‘Lonely Are The Brave’, showcases the pure talents of the Hackney born singer/songwriter. An album mixed with old and new Maverick Sabre tracks, some even written when he was as young as 15.
I’d thought I’d draw off a couple of big name reviews of this album. Firstly, NME. Giving it a 5/10, they mention about how ‘his label’ push the “male Amy Winehouse” tag – at one point saying about ‘No One’ – “you can almost smell the beehive lacquer”, but then how the label ignores the Plan B likeness. To argue against that, I’d say let him be his own artist. He’s unique. End of.
Q Magazine, gave a fairer review, I guess. Despite giving it a 2/5, they did give it a decent write up. And although they thought it was ‘too one-paced’, they also said ‘he sounds like a force to be reckoned with’. They made a point about how ‘Let Me Go’ is the stand out track, and that it puts a downer on the rest of the album. I can actually see where they’re coming from there. I wouldn’t say I fully agree, but ‘Let Me Go’ does differ from the rest of the album. I wouldn’t say it took away from it though.
Right, I’ll get on with it now.
It kicks off with Mav’s second single in the build up to the album release of this album, ‘I Need’. There are very few adjectives that could describe this track other than beautiful, captivating, and just stunning. A track he describes as his ‘simplest tune’, is just the perfect way to start the album. It was written in ‘different stages’, but began when he was just 16, when he was in Ireland. Again, can’t describe how much this song stands out amongst the whole of UK music.
Moving on to a slightly different direction, in the Isaac Hayes sampling track, ‘Let Me Go’ – the track which effectively began the fairly quick rise for Maverick Sabre, gaining much acclaim, particularly from Radio 1 and Chris Moyles’ team. Until watching the track by track interview, I had made the mistake that seemingly a lot of people had. In that ‘Let Me Go’ isn’t about being in an unhealthy relationship. It’s actually about Mav’s addiction to whiskey. (Listen to the lyrics, and it does make sense!)
‘Open My Eyes’ comes up next. Originally titled ‘Follow’, Mav says it’s a portrayal of the fake mentality that exists, and the short term attention it can bring. It’s the first track on ‘Lonely Are The Brave’ that won’t be widely known, so whichever track it was, had to be a stand out track. And ‘Open Your Eyes’ is definitely that.
‘Memories’ was first featured on Maverick Sabre’s, ‘The Travelling Man’ mixtape, and it sounds just as strong on his debut album, as it did back in 2010. Detailing his memories from when he moved over to Ireland, and his growing up over there, and other small things – ‘little bits and bobs’ as Mav calls them.
Our ears are then treated to ‘Cold Game’. Effectively a letter to one of Mav’s ex-girlfriend, after getting into a few fights in just the one night. The first verse is about what his life was like at the time, second verse about surviving all the fights, then the third one looks into the future, and whether he’s taken it too far this one time, and if he’ll survive it. Mav even described it as a slap to the face for him.
Next up, is the most recent single, ‘No One’. Again, another stand out track, that Mav describes as ‘another simple love tune’. Even if it is simple, don’t think anyone cares, because I’d say they’re his best.
‘These Days’ follows. A song based on the ‘loneliness of society’ and the loss of loss of loyalty. It’s a track that Q Magazine pulled out as one of their favourites from the album as well – and for good reasoning.
Then comes ‘Sometimes’. Originally on ‘The Travelling Man’ mixtape featuring Wretch 32, it’s used as a sort of introduction to Maverick Sabre. Written when he was just 15, ‘Sometimes’ has developed from a hip-hop/rap song into it being formed around his guitar. The video for this track (below) shows old of clips of Mav back in his childhood, and recently topped over 1 million views!
Following is ‘I Used To Have It All’, which keeps the standard sky high still. It details how Mav saw the world so differently back when he was a kid. “When you’re a kid, you think you’ve got everything… The more I learnt, the more negative the world would become.” got to say, when watching the interview; you could really see how much this track meant to him, seemed so passionate about it – which will always be a good thing.
Next on the album, is one of my favourites, ‘Shooting The Stars’. It’s when you understand the full ideas and stories behind it, that you realise its brilliance. He watched a few clips on YouTube of excessive force used by the police – the shooting of a guy in America, after he was calmly restrained, and of incidents of protests over here in the UK. Also, it’s based on the way some young people’s lives can be ruined by the simplest of mistakes. ‘Shooting The Stars’ is effectively a message conveying its title – in physical and metaphorical senses.
From one of my favourites, to another. ‘I Can Never Be’, heard on Maverick Sabre’s ‘Lost Words EP’. It sees a return to the ‘basic love tunes’, the first verse was written about an ex-girlfriend of Mav, and he realised that she wanted more than what he could give. Then the second is twisted in its meaning – in that Mav describes it as ‘putting himself down’. It’s another track plenty of people can relate to, and again, contains pure, raw emotion.
Making sure the album doesn’t tail off, is ‘Running Away’. “The purest chorus that I came out with at the time.” Describes it pretty much perfect, doesn’t need much more said about it. It’s just another beautifully raw track.
The penultimate tune, is a cover of Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ – originally used for a live session for Trevor Nelson’s 1xtra show – which was just after the riots. “What’s the point of me, after the London riots… doing a song about nothing.” It again demonstrates the ‘realness’ of Maverick Sabre. True to his roots, and also realises what music should be like, and used for.
Then, finally, comes ‘I Don’t See The Sun’. Mav stated, “If I could’ve called one song on the album ‘Lonely Are The Brave’, it’d be that tune.” I think with an album title like this one, it almost makes it stronger, by not having it fully associated to one certain track. But anyway, it does ‘sum up the album’ according to Maverick Sabre – a song that took one take, and conveys the stunning vocals, lyrics, and music that Mav has delivered on this beautiful debut album.
It’s says so much about the album, that all the songs relate to Maverick Sabre personally, but can still reach out to every single one of us. An album with proper messages, to himself, and the rest of humanity. Stunning.