Trapped In Grime

So my latest AAA Badboy Mix is here, and it’s Grime time.  I’ve been wanting to do a Grime mix for a while now. The original plan was more of a Bassline Meets Grime, club friendly vibe (which might come next) but then as I started buying more from MCs like Rocks F.O.E., AJ Tracey and Izzie Gibbs I wanted to have a mix more focused on them. Actually what ended up happening was a bunch of my favourite Trap influenced tracks from this year featuring a mixture of well-established and younger MCs, for whatever reason they’ve been the ones I’ve been listening to most at the moment.   I don’t think I’ve ever played any of these out in a club, but they would definitely tear it up with the right crowd.  You can click here to go straight to the mix if you can’t be arsed to read on.

I first got into Grime back in 2003 thanks to working with young people in South Wales, there was a healthy scene in both Cardiff and Newport back then.  Whilst working at a youth music centre called Immtech, I was in charge of the DJ rooms and all the local MCs would pile in to one room whilst DJ Oddz would spin instrumentals, including many of his own (before finally giving up music and finding religion he was a well-respected producer on the whole UK Grime scene), I also worked in places such as Channel View Leisure Centre in Grangetown and Butetown Pavillion where a lot of young MCs and producers hung out.  As well as youth work I was a presenter and producer on Beats FM so got to hear most of the night time shows first hand. Caveman and Chico’s show was a favourite and they played many local productions, including plenty of their own.  The two brothers are important figures in the Cardiff music scene with roots back to the rave days and spreading through Jungle, Garage, Grime, Dubstep and into the more recent House revival.  I’m pretty sure Richie Vee, who would later become BBC 1Xtra’s first Garage DJ, used to drop a fair amount of Grime in his Beats FM show at the time too (though my memory’s a little shakier on this fact).

Over in Newport, working in Pil introduced me to MCs like Barrington and Kingsley (perhaps better known as Asher) sons of Benji from Skindred / Dub War.  It was a great introduction and I’ve kept one lazy eye on the scene ever since, though it wasn’t til managing Astroid Boys years later that my love for Grime was restored in full, leading eventually to this mix right here.  Sadly, I’ve no Welsh tracks in here this time, I did message a few people to try and get stuff in here but it never came through and the newer stuff I already had didn’t really work in the mix.  There’s plenty of great stuff still out there though!

Trap came a while after, I came to that through Lucky Me when I started Chrome Kids back in 2008 and I loved it when producers such as Faze Miyake started blending the two.  Now it’s fairly common place for producers to fuse Grime and Trap, and so as I mentioned in the first paragraph, here’s a bunch of my favourite fusions from this year, brought to you under my latest alias, AAA Badboy –  Enjoy and do feel free to share about if you’re feeling it.!

Listen: AAA Badboy – Trapped In Grime

Also if you’re a Grime fan joining us at BoomTown this year, keep an eye out for the likes of Newham Generals, Big Narstie, Flow Dan, Nadia Rose and of course pre Grime favourites, So Solid Crew and Ms Dynamite.

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Welcome Everybody To The Wild Wild West

I had some of my favourite moments at the Old Mines stage last year. The likes of Amadou & Mariam, Scarecrow, Beans On Toast and Peatbog Faeries absolutely rocked it and I was totally gutted about missing John Butler Trio. It’s a pleasure to program, seeking out the most exciting Folk and World acts on the planet: the rebels; the boundary pushers; and the foundation acts that first took fusion music into the festival fields and made people take notice. I enjoy introducing these acts to a whole new, highly appreciative audience and proving that Folk and World fusion music is just as relevant today as it always has been.

wild west Boomtown Galleries 1-SS-0023

In our latest BoomTown podcast I explore a few of my highlights from this year’s Old Mines line up. There’s music from the likes of Rockabilly queen Imelda May, English folk star Seth Lakeman, Finnish hillbillies Steve N Seagulls and South African art jazz ensemble The Brother Moves On. Take a listen here but also check out some of the acts playing below that aren’t on the podcast!

Mokoomba

Saw this amazing Zimbabwean band at Colston Hall a couple of years back and have just been waiting for them to be back in the country at the right time for BoomTown. They are truly phenomenal.

Afriquoi

Undoubtedly the underground kings of African Fusion music in London and on the festival circuit. They mix up Gambian kora, Congolese guitar + Mandinka percussion styles with slamming jump up beats. It’s really exciting to have bands like this still on the rise.

Afro Celt Sound System

Although the last time these guys played we ended up on the receiving end of a fairly unfavourable rant from Simon Emmerson that sparked all sorts of discussions on his Facebook, we eventually made friends again and both learned a lot from the exchange. I caught them at Celtic Connections and it was fantastic, plus as Shooglenifty and Dhol Foundation are both playing on the same day I think some special guests are more than likely. Sad to see there’s been some division in the camp and we’re certainly not picking sides but I was greatly influenced by the band and Simon’s other productions so I’m looking forwards to hosting him and the band once again.

Beans On Toast

We’re getting pretty close to Jay’s Sunday sessions on the Old Mines becoming something of a tradition. There’s a lot of love for him here at BoomTown and with a different album release each year each set has been different too. Highly recommend whether you’ve seen him before or not.

Lau

I feel like we’ve turned a corner being confident enough to book Lau. They’re one of the finest Folk fusion acts out there but they’re an act that demand attention and with so much to see and do at BoomTown attention spans can be fairly fickle. However, I think we’ve grown up enough to allow for full appreciation and these shall be the perfect late Sunday afternoon treat for those who invest.



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BoomTown’s Wholesome Retreat?

If you’ve not been to BoomTown for the last couple of years you might well be surprised that the Whistler’s Green District even exists, but as I’m sure you’ve heard, the festival has come a long way! If you’re not familiar with the area which is where you’ll find things like the new Talks Tent and over 150 different kinds of workshops, then check this little video. Plus to explore the music of the area a little more have a listen to the latest BoomTown podcast hosted by yours truly. It’s been a pleasure to programme our brand new Windmill stage (which is looking epic), especially as it means getting in a bunch of great Funk & Soul acts including the one and only Craig Charles. There’s also some amazing Folk artists, from BBC Folk Award winners Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker and rising star Will Varley (see below video – this track also on the podcast) to the more fringe uptempo Folk acts (who are much more fun and dare I say talented than some of their industry approved counterparts) such as Rrradio Gee, Fitty Gomash and 3 Daft Monkeys.

Also if Folk or Singer Songwriters are your flavour then you also need to spend plenty of time in the Floating Lotus stage where the likes of Stick In The Wheel, The Rubber Wellies, Circe’s Diner, Patch & The Giant, Rhain or Cate Ferris can be found. If you don’t know these names you definitely need to listen to the podcast and look up the rest! Also keep an ear out for young sibling pair called Kuki & The Bard. This was one of my favourite tunes from last year.

It’s not all Folky on the Floating Lotus however. Just as Friday is Funk and Soul all day on The Windmill, Thursday definitely has a soulful edge (with a reggae twist) on Floating Lotus. Here’s a little playlist with the 3 bands playing that night, Mount Nakara, Benji & Hibbz and Jackson.

The district isn’t too far from the Lion’s Den and so for any hardcore reggae fans wanting a little change of scene you can pop over and catch Prince Fatty & Horseman, Ben Russell & The Charmers or First Degree Burns. Plus if you fancy starting the day on top form, then the legendary Mr Motivator will be hosting his morning workout on Friday and Saturday from 10am.

Of course if that’s all too energetic for you, then there are plenty of acts more suited to the areas more laid back and wholesome temperament, including pioneering ambient dub band Banco De Gaia who shall be easing the area into Sunday at 1pm, followed by feel good Australian band OKA who blend house, big beat, reggae-dub, Roots, Jazz and world music ‘in the mystic spiritual traditions of the Dreamtime’. If they don’t restore your soul after a big couple of days, then you might be in trouble.

I shall be trying to escape to this district as much as possible and I wholly recommend you check it out whilst you’re there. Also if you have kids then this is where you’ll find the KidzTown district which as well as all the amazing fun and games they have planned includes the Sandcastle stage where the likes of Joe Driscoll, Laid Blak, Glitzy Baghags and Professor Elemental are playing. Plus the Junior Jungle guys will be doing their Jungle Rave for the whole family.

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Kelburn Garden Party 2016

Festival season has been in full flow for me since April and there’s certainly been some fine musical moments along the way: Radiohead at Secret Solstice; Anoushka Shankar at Glastonbury; and Ibibio Sound Machine at Big Love to name a few, however it wasn’t until Kelburn Garden Party this weekend just gone, that I really felt like I’d discovered some new music. Not only is it one of the most stunning sites I’ve seen, with an incredibly warm atmosphere (despite the cold), but the music programming is excellent and as it’s in Scotland I got to see many local bands who don’t seem to play south of the border that often. Here’s some of my musical highlights from the weekend, I’ll put them in the order of my seeing them rather than preference.

I’ve seen Colonel Mustard & the Dijon 5 on a few Scottish line ups but this was the first time I’ve caught them, live. They appear to have something of a cult following up there which has obviously been built over a few years. There were a number of yellow t shirts & hoodies with Dijon 5 on the back peppered around the crowd and a number of noticeable unicorns (the only reference I could find to unicorns was in the song ‘Gay Icon’ but one of the band had a spectacular pair of unicorn leggings on, as well as other shiny unicorn based accessories). It was certainly a colourful crowd and they were a fun, colourful and refreshingly silly band who played a brass fueled cross between disco and 90s dance mostly.

Although we’ve only played one Scottish festival previously as Big Swing Sound (Knockengorroch, one of last year’s festival highlights), we were lucky to have a large and very up for it crowd for our set on Friday night, helped in no small part by the previous band who have the rather unfortunate name of Spliff Richards & the Snapping Turtles. They’re apparently made up from a number of Bombskare members (actually I have to shout out Bombskare, one of the UK’s finest ska bands, for being named as Britain’s best part-time band on a BBC programme recently – they’ll be playing the ChinaTown Courtyard at BoomTown this year) and play covers in a tearing and tight funk fashion with just a touch of metal. A lot of fun and they certainly pulled in a great crowd that thankfully stuck around for us afterwards.

Kelburn’s Pyramid stage may not be quite so epic as Glastonbury’s (made essentially from half a tepee) but I certainly enjoyed more music on there. My highlight though was Be Charlotte, a young trio centered around singer Charlotte Brimner. Although I’m no great supporter of Indie Pop generally, there was an unpretentious honesty about them that was refreshing and let’s face it, everything and everyone can be improved with a warm Scottish accent, plus all respects due, although still fairly raw and unpolished, voice, songs and music were all undeniably great.

Next up were a band I’ve been wanting to see for a long time. I think they’re one of the most under-rated acts I know and they certainly lived up to expectations. Starting with the Butterfly Song, an anthem for anyone looking to realise their full potential, and including all of my favourite songs alongside some fine whistling and kazoo playing, the wandering trio from Dublin, Newcastle and the Basque country shone in every style from old time Americana to Alt-Folk. If you’ve not seen them live, then make sure you catch them at BoomTown this year. They shall be performing on the Floating Lotus stage.

After many adventures around the site, such as the Prince rave deep in the woods and the boat party on top of a hill (where I caught a wicked up and coming dub dj / producer called Calculus) plus some more of the local cuisine that included vegan haggis samosas with Buckfast onions, we ended up back in the main body of the festival for Stanley Odd. I’ve posted about them before on my Scots, Knocks and Hip-hop post but it was great to catch them again, especially as they had a whole bunch of new material.

Although the temptation to gain a good spot for Haitus Kaiyote was great, we took the advice of festival programmer and co-organiser Chris Astrojazz and went to see New Zealand electro-future-soul group Sorceress, who turned out to be the perfect warm up for their antipodean cousins. I’m surprised I’ve not come across them before as they are the perfect fit for our old Chrome Kids show and apparently played both Hell stage at Glastonbury, the Jazz Café in London and Attic Bar in Bristol whilst they were here.

I probably don’t need to introduce Haitus Kaiyote to most of you, however I will say that they were one of the highlights of the year so far. It’s so refreshing to see such an experimental band do so well, if you haven’t yet seen them live, I advise you to catch them while you can.

Fat-Suit were described to me as Scotland’s Snarky Puppy. Although they are yet to clamber over the boldness of that description, they are indeed a fairly fantastic jazz band and certainly headed in from a similar direction to SP. Either way, they provide a perfect Sunday starter and the more than modest crowd are totally won over.
Of course what Snarky Puppy don’t have, not being from Scotland, is a little fiddle and folk like these guys. Although there’s only one token folk tune in the set, the band can obviously play both genres remarkably well.

I’m a big fan of old skool Americana vibes and Cera Impala & the New Prohibition play that very well. The trio are all fine musicians and Cera has a stunning voice with a beautiful stateside drawl.

It’s finally time to leave one of the best festivals I’ve attended in a long time. I’m fairly zenned out from a massage, despite being electrocuted and pummelled with a vibrator in the course of it (not like that – these were both bespoke massage machines) so the mellow and melancholy music of respected husband & wife duo Macmaster / Hay provided the perfect finale to the weekend. In fact when Mary Macmaster (also from The Poozies) translated one of the songs from Gaelic, it was about saying goodbye to one of your favourite places in the whole wide world. I couldn’t think of anything more apt.

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AAA Badboy – Heaven Takeover Mix (Glastonbury Exclusive)

shangrila

As I mentioned in the last post I shall be hosting a little AAA Badboy takeover at the Heaven stage in Glastonbury this year. The stage is over in the Shangri La area, definitely the most exciting and rebellious corner of the festival. Check the last post for times and more details but to get you warmed up or to console those of you who aren’t going here’s a quick little mix which features tracks associated to the acts which are joining me. There’s a few with Gardna including the Kreed produced Sunday, there’s also one of Kreed‘s exclusive solo dubs, a few Mungo’s Hi-fi classics and a couple of brand new remixes off the new Nice Up!Fashion‘ album to rep Nice Up! label boss DJ Shepdog who will of course be joining me also. Full tracklisting and link below and if you know anyone heading to the festival please share and help me spread the word out about Heaven on Saturday afternoon. I have it on good authority it’s going to be the sunniest part of the festival that day.

Listen: AAA Badboy – Heaven Takeover (Shangri La Exclusive)

Tracklist:

Gardna x Kreed – Sunday
Starkey Banton – I & I Saw Them Coming (Radikal Guru Remix)
Mungo’s Hi-fi ft. Pupajim – Bike Rider (Prince Fatty Remix)
Kreed – U.N.I.T.Y. Dub
Gardna & Fogata Sounds – Champion Step
Mungo’s Hi-fi feat. YT & Johnny Osbourne – No Wata Down Ting
Gardna ft Parly B – Inna Di Session [Prod. Stivs & Kelvin 373]
Asher Senator – To Whom Respect Is Due (Jahtari Remix)
Mungo’s Hi-fi ft. Charlie P – Traveller
Gardna ft Tiffani Juno – See The Vibe

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AAA BADBOY TAKES OVER HEAVEN (GLASTONBURY)

Okay it’s time to take my AAA Badboy alias into the fields! As the name stems from Access All Area festival passes (though I think BoomTown is the only festival to ever call it a Triple A Badboy officially) it makes sense, and as Glastonbury was essentially the birth place and breeding ground for my festival soul, then it’s only right I should kick things off there. So with that in mind I shall be taking over the Heaven Stage in Shangri La from 1pm – 6pm on Saturday afternoon with a bunch of inspirational peers, pals and extremely talented young upstarts. The afternoon goes like so.

disorda

1pm – Disorda

Not only did I spend a shed load of funds on mixtapes and vinyl from this man and his Suspect Packages in the late 90s and beyond (as did pretty much anyone into UK Hip-hop), but his own UK Hustlerz and Mind The Gap mixtapes introduced me to some of my favourite UK artists. I think it’s fair to say, he connected the dots that helped to bring about the UK Hip-hop golden age in the late 90s and early 2000s, however he also has a ridiculously extensive collection of Reggae and in recent times is more likely to be found rinsing out rare 7″ singles at Reggae events all over the country. He also hosts the excellent Dub Chronicles show on Kane FM which you can check on his Mixcloud account.

2pm – Gardna x Kreed

Been keeping my eye on Gardna since my mate Tom Swindell posted this video back in 2012. Since then he’s had some seriously killer tunes and I’ve been constantly impressed. As a big fan of the Reggae and Hip-hop crossovers it’s no surprise that it’s tracks like See The Vibe and Sunday that really excite me and Gardna seems to have found himself a decent niche in that sound. It’s also the reason he works so well in this line up and I originally asked him on his own, but having heard some of Kreed‘s production and having rinsed Sunday (which is a collaboration between the two) since it came out recently it seemed only right to invite him along, he’s definitely someone to watch in the future (though why wait till then, watch him now). It’s also his first Glastonbury so make sure you come and support (actually it’s Disorda’s too I believe).

3pm – DJ Shepdog

Not only the creator of some of my all time favourite mash ups and bootlegs (such as Skanking In The Way Of Control or Groove Is In Jah Heart) but also the main man behind Nice Up! Records, one of my favourite Reggae labels. Though not quite as prolific as most classic Reggae labels, the quality is undeniable and I’ve rinsed releases by artists such as Blend Mishkin, Mr Benn and Cut La Vis. Plus their latest release is a remix album that features classic Fashion Records tracks from the likes of General Levy, Johnny Clarke, Papa San, Pato Banton, Top Cat and Tenor Fly remixed by The Bug, Machinedrum, Radikal Guru, Special Request, Wrongtom, JStar, Toddla T & Melé amongst others. The results are as incredible as that sounds, and though you’d more than likely to catch some of these tracks in Shepdog’s set, you might as well grab the whole album now.

4pm – AAA Badboy feat. Eva Lazarus

Yep that’s me folks! Plus I’ll have the ever lovely Eva Lazarus joining me on the mic. I first met Eva as the singer for Dub Mafia but she’s also collaborated with the likes of Stanton Warriors, Dub FX, Jus Now, Danny Byrd and GotSome (to name but a few) and her solo shows are seriously taking off right now, she is truly a force of nature and a magical soul, it’s a pleasure to have her on the set. If you’re at BoomTown this year then make sure you catch her full solo show in the Hidden Woods.

I will also have a couple of the Pama International crew dropping by to showcase some of their new material. I caught their current line up at the London Int. Ska Festival and it’s killer! Plus I had a sneak preview of their new single (which as far as I’m aware will be out on the seminal Trojan Records later this year) and it’s a total winner, highly recommend making it down early to hear it.

5pm – Mungo’s Hi-fi

I think when it comes to festivals and reggae the only person who comes close to these guys is Rodigan and whereas Rodigan is a legend that has crossed over and been accepted into the festival world, these guys have it in their blood. They’re the only act I’ve thought to upload a whole set from on the BoomTown YouTube channel and every tune they played was one of their own or a dubplate (if you’ve not seen it yet, check it out here). Who would have thought a sound system from Glasgow could make such an impact in the Reggae world, it’s an honour to have them on this takeover.

Come back tomorrow for an exclusive mix I made for Glastonbury that features Gardna, Kreed, Mungo’s Hi-fi and some of the tracks from the Inna Nice Up! Fashion album.

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Zero Dinero – The Time Has Come

zerodinero

This release is special for me as it’s the first outing for one of my closest hombres, Nilkesh aka Zero Dinero. He’s always been a musical soul and as well as gathering a phat collection of vinyl he plays the Tabla and Harmonium, though previously I’d only see him break them both out during a ghazals session. More recently though he got heavily into production and after winning a battle with cancer he realised it was time to follow his passions, ironically a lesson he had already helped to teach me.

With his trademark focus and determination, once he was ready, he reached out to his two favourite MCs, Gift Of Gab from Blackalicious and Kool Keith to be a part of the release. Undoubtedly two of the greatest that ever lived they suit Nilkesh’s production perfectly and lyrically they are totally on point so I have to admit I had reservations when after being let down by a string of other emcees Nilkesh decided he was going to complete the tracks himself as a rapper. Thankfully he holds his own, with poetical lyrics that reflect his Indian heritage and general outlook on life and flows that show influence from classic UK hip-hop, the music we first bonded over when he quizzed me on the likes of Katch 22, Krispy 3 and Hijack.

For a first release it’s incredibly accomplished with an unashamedly true skool aesthetic, I’m really looking forwards to what else is in store. You can buy a copy from iTunes or Bandcamp or various other outlets and make sure you check out the video for Crowd Levitator above which was made with our mate and legendary graffiti artist Paris, who also happens to be the official artist for Coldplay, but I won’t hold that against him (sorry bro couldn’t resist). Paris also done the artwork for the vinyl.

Nilkesh is completely independent and has a family to feed so make sure rather than ripping this off Soundcloud or something you purchase a copy and if you need a badass DJ at your jam, then he’s your man! You can contact him on 07799148947.

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