Integrity by JME

Two years ago, If you’d have told me that one of my favourite ever albums would end up being a rap album, i’d have probably laughed. However that is just what Integrity by JME has become.

I should mention early on that I don’t really have any knowledge of rap music in general; only what I’ve picked up over my past 12 months or so of listening to it. But it really has grown on me, and JME’s latest album was a real gateway drug.

Some of the cleverest lyrics I’ve ever heard

The first thing that stood out to me about JME was his interesting ways of writing and forming rhymes. He has a real talent for writing with clever, and sometimes even humorous, lines. The album’s second track, “96 Fuckries” has one of my favourite verses in:

I roll with Aaron and Aaron
Frequently I get stopped by the gammon
Because my whip looks like it should be owned by Jeremy Clarkson or Richard Hammond
Feds pull me like I’m a drug baron
Chatting bare shit, can’t understand ’em
In the stereo I got Krept & Konan
In the boot I got my creps and my Canon
I don’t own a BlackBerry
Ask for my pin and get slapped heavy
Call me a rude kid or a maniac but beats?
I ain’t sharing ’em like Teddy

from 96 Fuckries by JME

Just to point out one of the cleverest parts of that song above, specifically in the last two lines: “Call me a rude kid or a maniac but beats? I ain’t sharing ’em like Teddy”. A mate at work explained to me: Teddy Sheringham is a football player (I aint “Sheringham” liked Teddy). Get it? Such clever word play and the album Integrity is littered with clever word play like that.

For example, in one of the album’s later songs “Don’t @ Me”, featured guest – and JME’s brother – Skepta raps the following:

Hi hater
Why you wanna diss man online then say “hi” later
I already said don’t waste my time
Now I’ve gotta tell ’em don’t waste my data
I don’t wanna write a diss track for an MC
Nah, I don’t wanna waste my paper

from Don’t @ Me

In fact every line on this album is expertly written and performed by both JME and the guests featured throughout.

Wide range of talented guest artists

“Integrity” also has featured a host of other great rappers from the same grime scene. Jammer; D Double E; Big Narstie; Skepta and Giggs to name a few.

Arguably the album’s biggest song was the one that Giggs features on – “Man Don’t Care“. I say featured, but I think the split is pretty much 50/50 between the two of them. I actually heard JME speak in an interview recently about how “Man Don’t Care” came to be finished. I find it interesting hearing about how great songs and albums came to be.

Skepta, as mentioned before, is actually featured on two of the album’s songs, “Don’t @ me”, as mentioned above, and “Amen”. And he kills it on both.

Big Narstie is always great to listen to, whether giving advice as Uncle Pain or killing it on Fire in the booth. On “Integrity” he features on the track “Break You Down” and he doesn’t disappoint. He gives it the gusto that any fan of Narstie’s would expect from him.

I can lip-sync Integrity

The closing song, which is also the title track, “Integrity” is my favourite song on the album. This song is as great an introduction as any to JME’s music – you’ll be introduced to his skill as a writer, rapper, producer and his ability to weave his sense of humour through his lyrics. The guy absolutely nails it on every song I hear him on and I’ve heard the song “Integrity” so many times now that I can almost lip-sync it perfectly.

Interview with Roslyn Moore

This week I am excited to share an interview I did with one of my favourite lady performers at the moment – Roslyn Moore. You should be listening to her music, specifically her awesome album, “Hazy (A Desert Opera)“. I wrote a review of the album recently and can’t recommend it enough.

Roslyn is part of a genre of music known as “Sadcore” and works often with another favourite of mine, “Scarlett Taylor” who I interviewed last month.

Without further ado let’s chat with Roslyn Moore.

The Interview

Please tell us about yourself in as many or as little words as you like.
I’m a bit out there. The more people I come in contact with, the more I realise how differently I seem to view the world than the average person.
Growing up, who were your heroes in music?
I don’t have a specific name to give. Everyone in music was inspiring to me. I always admired anyone who was able to express themselves openly through music. It’s not an easy thing to put yourself out there and be exposed in that way.
Growing up, who were your heroes outside of music?
Because I always felt so unsure of myself, I really admired people who were just the opposite. People who are unapologetically themselves. So many people live their lives based on what other people perceive of them.
Was there any defining moment in your life when you knew that you wanted to write, record and perform music?
I can’t say there was one defining moment. I’ve always been drawn towards music and wanting to make music, but I was always kind of shy about singing and putting myself out there. I never felt I was good enough. As time went on I just stopped caring as much about how I may come across to other people, and started living for myself. I never really had much of a desire to actually get out there and perform, but now that I’ve been able to create music I feel connected with, I’m much more excited to get out there and bring it to life!
Where do you get your creative energy from?
I draw a lot from my personal experiences and how I view the world. I also get a lot of inspiration from films I like.
What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
Performing at the Whiskey a Go-Go in Hollywood, CA and seeing my name on Hollywood Blvd. It was so cool.
What is your favourite Book?
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
What is your favourite Album?
This is such a hard one to answer! I can’t say I have one overall all time favorite album, but rather I go through different phases where I will binge listen to one album and it will be my favorite for that period of time and then I’ll move on from it.
What is your favourite Film?
Another hard one to answer! I love film nearly as much (if not as much) as I do music! So it’s hard to pick one favorite, but I really love Quentin Tarantino’s films. I’d say in general his are my favorite. But I have many favorites!
What is your favourite TV Show?
I don’t want a lot of TV and when I do it’s usually just on Netflix. I’ll watch as much as I can of one show and then move on to the next. I just finished Breaking Bad and I’m now finishing up Narcos. Really love both!
Do you have a favourite film/tv/musical soundtrack?
I can’t say I have a favorite soundtrack, but I do really love and enjoy music in film and television. It has such a large effect on the overall feel of the moment and adds so so much. I can’t wait to have my music accompany film or tv like that.
Are there any new albums you are binge listening to at the moment?
Lately I’ve been binging on Skeleton Tree by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I’m loving it. It was the perfect soundtrack to my recent trip to California.
You’re walking somewhere and your mp3 player has only a little battery left; You’ve only got time for one more song. What song do you play?
Asking all the hard questions! It would probably depend on the day, but off the top of my head I would pick Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd
What advice would you give to your younger self?
You are good enough to follow your dreams. Don’t put them off.

A Big Thank you

Thank you so much to Roslyn for taking the time to answer those questions. I always love to learn more about the person behind the music and Roslyn did not disappoint. At the time I contacted her she was actually mid-way into her tour, so I appreciate her fitting this interview into her schedule.

Take a listen to Roslyn’s music over on SoundCloud right this instant. That’s an order.

Everlasting Road by LOCK

About a month ago I shared an awesome song by LOCK called “Click“. I have been listening to this song quite a lot and had become a big LOCK fan based on it. So when I heard about their new E.P. “Everlasting Road“, I was well up for it.

The title song opens with a seductive, twangy, reverbed electric guitar. The vocals are just as seductive and leads into the explosive wall of sound that is the chorus. I can’t tell you how much this song rocks. The second song on this two-track E.P. is just as great, but with a slower tempo and calmer delivery.

Because I’d listened to “Click” over and over again, I kind of expected a similar sound with their E.P. When I heard it, I was taken back, and it has only got me more excited about their debut album. Each of their initial releases have had such an interesting diversity, and have been so expertly done, that for me it only points to a great debut album to come.

You can buy Everlasting Road on iTunes now.

Trying out Rise of the Tomb Raider on GNU\Linux

Linux gaming, for me at least, has always presented problems. The initial issue is the fact that the selection of games is very slim compared with what is available on Windows computers. I was however greatly pleased this month when Rocket League was finally made available, and the smoothness is just as smooth as on Windows. In fact the only reason I was still using Windows up until last week, was in order for me to play Rocket League. Pathetic, I know.

To get around the lack of the other games, I have attempted in the past to set up wine in order to install the Windows version of Steam. However with this I found that the quality of the graphics and FPS suffered greatly. So I just gave up a went back to using a Windows PC, which always made me feel dirty.

Before Playing

Tonight I thought I would follow a guide to installing PlayOnLinux word for word, and try out my favourite game at the moment, Rise of the Tomb Raider. PlayOnLinux is basically a front end interface over the top of Wine. Wine, I should probably mention, is a GNU/Linux program that allows Windows programs to be ran on a GNU/Linux system.

As I type this, I have just finished installing the Windows Steam using PlayOnLinux. I am now awaiting Rise of the Tomb Raider to finish downloading so I can try it out. I’m not expecting great results at all, but just to be able to play it would be good.

I have actually completed the story line of the game but love the world so much I want to finish all of the side quests and get 100% completion.

Try to play it

It finished installing, I clicked play, and it game me an error. It says “Failed to start game (Invalid Platform)”, which is apparently down to a Direct X 11 issue.

Oh well, I guess it was never meant to be.

Hazy (A Desert Opera) by Roslyn Moore

Like people who remember where they were when JFK was killed, or Princess Diana, I remember exactly where and when I first heard Hazy (A Desert Opera) by Roslyn Moore.

I was in that midway state of consciousness between awake and asleep, listening to this album. I was enjoying it as an overall experience as my dozing in and out hindered my ability to latch on to the songs. That was until one song in particular stood up and smacked me in the face. That song was “Drama Queen”. It is fucking awesome. In fact I tweeted that exact thought right out then and there.

A manifesto for love’s losers

I imagine that this album was very cathartic for Roslyn to make. I know nothing about her personally, but the music comes across so personally and emotionally that it just has to come from somewhere real.

When I listen to the songs here I don’t feel down at all. I mean, I can imagine people listening to this music in completely different frames of mind. Perhaps you need music to enhance your depression; perhaps to need comfort to remind you that you’re not alone. For me, I see the beauty that has come out of pain and made something that the world needs – real, honest, art.

Hazy is a brutal manifesto for loves losers. That person willing to take a bullet for passion. At its best, Hazy is ride off the cliff hand in hand music.
Hazy (A Desert Opera) described on SoundCloud

Each song on Hazy (A Desert Opera) is completely unique to me. No one song bleeds into another and every song has its own idiosyncrasy that makes it stand out from the next.

“Malibu” is as great an album introduction as they come. It’s hard to talk about sadcore without somehow thinking of Lana Del Rey, but I got that sort of vibe in this song. But I also got reminded slightly of the singer from a band I used to listen to called Jack Off Jill.

When presented with a new artist I often can’t help but draw initial comparisons to other artists I like. But if I grow to like that new artist the comparison soon goes away. Before the end of Malibu the comparison was gone – I was officially a fan of Roslyn Moore.

Roslyn Moore

The next song, “The Burbs”, is where I fell in love with the album. While writing this post, I focused in on the words of this song and found I could vividly picture the song’s story in my mind’s eye. I couldn’t help but see the scenes play out in a Twin Peaks-esque town. A picture perfect idealistic town with a dark underbelly of taboo hidden just beneath the surface.

Or am I just thinking about it too much? – I don’t think so. The great thing about music, and art in general, is that every receiver’s opinion is valid.

I love the lyrics to the next song, “XO”:

someone cool like you
who tastes like you and smells like you
and fucks like you
someone who talks like you
and kisses like you and smiles like you
I really really need someone cool like you
who moves like you and plays guitar like you
and looks like you
someone cool like you
someone cool like you

XO by Roslyn Moore

I couldn’t mention a couple of songs with mentioning “Drama Queen”. The flow of this song just blows me away every time I hear it. The transitions between the song’s sections are so greatly done. How her voice and the accompaniment come together perfectly in the following passage just grabs me:

every time I close my eyes
I can see you in my dreams
I can see you through the lines
telling me baby, you’re such a drama queen

Drama Queen by Roslyn Moore

Curtain Call

Like many of the emerging artists of today, Roslyn has her music on SoundCloud where you can listen to your heart’s content.

I urge you strongly to get on SoundCloud, turn the lights off, and enter into Roslyn’s highly-emotive world of Hazy (A Desert Opera).

Churches by Scarlett Taylor

On my first hearing of Scarlett Taylor’s music I was reminded of Lana Del Rey and Chrysta Bell – both being artists I adore. But now I have listened to Scarlett’s second album “Churches” a few times, I now enjoy it on its own merits, no longer drawing comparisons to other artists.

Churches is tagged as being “Sadcore” on Soundcloud and I had to research exactly what that was. Wikipedia’s definition states:

… [Sadcore] characterised by bleak lyrics, downbeat melodies and slower tempos. The term is an example of use of the suffix “-core”. It is a loose definition and does not describe a specific movement or scene.Wikipedia definition of Sadcore

That seems like an accurate stylistic description, but the resulting feelings I get from the music, especially Scarlett’s, is anything but bleak or downbeat. I find nearly all music gives me a lift of some sort, and this includes “Churches”. From out of the darkness and delivery, the music uplifts and creates in me, the feeling of reflection.

Let us Pray

The album’s opening song, “Fucked Up”, was the first one I heard before knowing about this album. The song found its way into a soundcloud playlist and I found myself skipping back to listen to it again and again. Although I can’t pick out a bad song from the album, that opening song is still a stand out one for me.

“Fucked Up” opens with a drone effect and Scarlett’s voice, which immediately blew me away with both her power and the way she delivers. She manages to weave her voice around a song’s structure, dancing in the darkness of the song’s core, not being held in too tightly to the rhythm.

The second song “Crazy” stays in the same vein as “Fucked Up” and by now I was fully immersed in the world of “Churches”.

Scarlett Taylor“Imprisoned” is the album’s third song and it is actually a remix version that has found it’s way on. The song opens with a passage from rapper Zay, who himself is part of a Minnesota-based rap group, “The Truants”. This gives the album a new flavour and dynamic without straying too far from her signature sound.

At the halfway point of Churches there sits the beautiful ballad “Ignite”. “Ignite” strips away all of the drone effects and electronic backing and presents Scarlett’s voice bare with an accompanying piano. If I was to give you one song to demonstrate her abilities as a singer it would be this one. It’s so great. And its build up towards the end gives the song an equally beautiful climax.

One of the album’s most haunting songs for me was “Christmas Eve”. Her brooding vocals over a string pedal tone. So emotional and seems to pull me into it every time I hear it. It’s dangerous for me to listen to this one when I’m driving. Also it never fails to give me that Twin Peaks vibe.

Scarlett Taylor would sound great at the Roadhouse.

Miss Scarlett in the Ballroom with the haunting voice

Some people hear emotive music like this and immediately say things like “That sounds depressing” or “Is there anything more upbeat?”. These are people I want to slap.

I mean, yes, most people wouldn’t get dressed up to go for a night on the town while listening to an album like this. I probably would, but that’s another topic all together. But to dismiss music like this as depressing is, in my opinion, completely closed minded.

We are lucky to have artists like Scarlett Taylor, who openly bare their souls in their writing and performances; artists who remind us what it is to be human.

We don’t do friends round here. Round here it’s Brotherhood

I have been a big fan of both Kidulthood and Adulthood for a while now. I got really excited when I saw a bus drive past me recently with a big picture of Noel Clarke on the side. The only word I could make out as the bus sped past was “Brotherhood”.

Realistic and brutal with some tasteful comedy

Tonight I went to see “Brotherhood” and I was not disappointed whatsoever. This film was terrific – often grimey; always believable; and even occasionally really funny. There is a great scene in the film regarding a phone conversation and Sainsbury’s. That’s all I’ll say, but the whole cinema screen was in stitches at this bit.

There were other elements of comedy now and again that offset the serious drama really well. Never cheesy or fake, in fact it was like a light cushion to soften the blows of the harsh world that Sam Peel lives in.

Brotherhood

This harsh world of West London gangs and crime was represented really well. I mean, I have zero knowledge of the world that the characters live in, but there were never any points that felt forced or fake. Every scene felt believable and was at times very brutal.

I left feeling uplifted

Despite the brutality of some of the film’s scenes and emotional turmoil that the characters went through, I left the cinema feeling uplifted. And speaking about emotional turmoil, Noel Clarke’s performance in particular was impressive. He plays as both vulnerable and as a bad ass during “Brotherhood”, and in both his performance is stand out.

It’s probably worth mentioning that there were no bad performances here. All were great, I just don’t want this write up to be massive, as it would be if I was to give all praise to where praise was due.

How this film got a ’15’ certificate I’ll never know. The C-bomb got dropped and I lost count of the amount of times I saw full-frontal nudity – men and women. I guess things have changed since I was a lad…

… gosh did I just say that?

Anyway, “Brotherhood” is an awesome film to be enjoyed as both a final chapter to the “hood” trilogy (Kidulthood, Adulthood, Brotherhood), or even as a film on its own. It’s been at least two or three years since I saw the previous two films and I still thoroughly enjoyed this one.

5 of my favourite moments in Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

There are spoilers below as I am openly writing about some of my favourite moments in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Please don’t read on if you haven’t watched the whole series. Unless you don’t mind spoilers that is.

Class Protector

It seems unbelievable that, even within the world of Buffy, no-one had noticed how the weird happenings and dangers that have plagued the students have somehow linked to Buffy Summers.

So it was great to see Buffy presented with a custom award at the school Prom towards the end of Season 3. That award was “Class Protector” and was presented by none other than Jonathan Levinson.

Giles takes the glory

Giles kills BenAfter Buffy beats Glory to a pulp with Olaf’s Hammer, she left the one-half of the shared body, Ben, on the floor. (Ben and Glory shared the same body, you see). She then warned him that Glory must never return, on pain of death.

As she walked away I remember thinking, “Oh Gosh, what a weak way to give a villain an open ending.”. That was until Giles came along and showed us a twinkle of his inner-darkness:

Giles: …[Buffy] couldn’t take a human life. She’s a hero you see. She’s not like us.
Ben: …us?

Where then Giles grabbed Ben’s mouth and nose and suffocated him right there, essentially killing him and Glory. Dark times.

Discovering The Body

In all of the fantastical moments of the Buffyverse, Demons and Vampires; spells and curses, it’s amazing how close to the human condition Buffy managed to stay. A crowning achievement of this was during season 5 when Buffy walked in on her mother, lying open-eyed, dead on the sofa.

Buffy finds JoyceNormally during Buffy the deaths were par for the course, with the slaying of Vampires and such, but this was the closest it got to real tragedy and was expertly handled by all involved.

I’d like to test that theory…

Possibly my top favourite moment, as it is with many people I think, is Giles’ cool as feck return to stand against the doped-up dark witch that was now Willow. Giles had been out of the series for a while, and in my opinion the series lacked slightly for it. But this made it all worth it when Willow, overcome with grief and high on the dark magics, met her match:

Willow: … and there’s not a person in the World who can stop me.
A bright flash of light knocks willow back several feet and on to her back. In the doorway stands Giles looking cool as heck.
Giles: I’d like to test that theory.

The Kids fight back

One of my favourite end of season finales was that of Season 3. This saw Mayor Wilkins finally reaching his ascension into… a giant snake.

Buffy graduation dayThat wasn’t the best bit though. The high point came when the school kids, who the Mayor was expecting for his first bite to eat, turned out to be armed to the teeth under their graduation gowns. Faster than sunlight they pulled out an array of weapons and gave him hell.