Say What?

Just A Mess About- Messy Music (Exclusive Mixtape Review)’s Jada Guest was lucky enough to get a copy of Messy’s – ‘Just A Mess About’ early in the run up to the release this coming #MixtapeMonday and she has kindly given us an insight on what to expect from this mixtape. Please read on to see if she thought Messy was simply, just messing about.

Propelling us directly into many lyrical liaisons, ‘Just A Mess About’ quickly proves itself as far more than your average mixtape. To be perfectly honest, it’s a pretty tidy piece of work, as you are soon to find out.

‘Destined To Make It’, an ideal opening to the mixtape, is an insightful and enlightening track that pinpoints the most memorable events in Messy’s musical career so far. He steers us with ease through this mixtape, snatching the listener’s attention with his distinctive voice and intelligent lines; right on the button! ‘What You Wanna Talk About’, a track whose video has been circulating for a good while now, carries an array of clever lyrics. Other tracks include ‘Going Going Gone’, an exciting combination of a powerful beat, catchy hook and an outstanding contribution from fellow South London rapper, Youngs Teflon. Another, entitled ‘Certified G’, boasts striking vocals from King Zion and features Fix Dot M, Young Marv, Krept and Konan; all healthy additions to the track. By its own nature this tape marks Messy’s musical progression. In tracks such as ‘Wilderness’ and the emotive ‘Losing All My Friends’ we are reminded of his flexibility and confidence as an artist. In ‘Standing O’ his flow is on point and the delivery of his words effective.

Besides his ability as a lyricist what I like most about Messy is that he raps what he wants to (minus the small exception of ‘What You Wanna Talk About’ of course). It’s refreshing to hear an artist move away from the accustomed, and now almost routine topics of guns,cars and girls, to which many rappers gravitate. He does talk about girls, don’t get me wrong, but not to the extravagant extent of some. Emblazoned across Messy’s persona is soaring ambition. He has the ability as well as the work ethic. As his name suggests he is quite capable of creating musical mayhem, but in the best possible way of course.

Conclusively ‘Just A Mess About’ provides an extremely positive and thoroughly impressive glimpse into Messy’s capabilities. There is always room for improvement and progression though; Messy is still young and has plenty of time to become a greater musician.

And So The Mac Is Back: King Zion ‘Return Of The Mac’ Mixtape Review (Exclusive)

For many,  ‘Return Of The Mac’ serves as a hearty introduction to King Zion. A young man blessed with a more-than-decent set of lungs, that for too long have been resting. He was always meant to sing and undeniably this is the mixtape that shows us that yes, he sure can.

From the start it is clear Zion isn’t new to music. Immediately obvious is his ability to make powerful, emotive and honest music which tracks such as ‘So Reeel’ and ‘Don’t Know My Heart’ best showcase. His voice is rich and powerful, a breath of fresh air and certainly a much-welcomed return.

Apparent throughout is Zion’s easygoing persona, naturally delivered in many of the mixtapes catchy hooks. ‘Horny Girl’ and ‘Could This Be Heaven’ are perfect examples. The latter a hook probably best not sung aloud. ‘Hood I Know,’ a peaceful and thought-provoking track, is well suited for Zion’s vocals and without question stands out. There is something special about this one.

Other stand-outs include ‘International Dancer’ and ‘Down On Me,’ both amusing and lively tracks that highlight his flexibility as a musician as well as providing an ideal sprinkling of energy amongst some of the more mellow tracks. As a female, if you don’t begin dancing here, there’s no hope for you. He needs a girl that can wind for him.

Honestly though it is difficult to fault anything. Zion’s vocals are consistently on point- as I confidently expected- and features from the likes of Strapzy, Fix Dot’M, and Young Mad B (to name only a few) fit well with the melodies.

Overall the music is relaxed, an approach that works well. Whether or not his lyrics are an insight into some of his own personal experiences, or just good storytelling, each track feels real and totally honest.  Seductively, Zion captures the attention of his listeners, his creative palette is vivid, and with this he paints a perfect picture of himself as an artist.

Definitely ‘Return Of The Mac’ is an extremely exciting insight into Zion’s oozing potential as a talented singer and songwriter. He seems to be in a great place musically and the mixtape is a good reflection of this.

It’s a grand comeback and I think it is fair to say King Zion can confidently wiggle back on his crown. From here he can only get better.

Say What?

So what happens when you put Tippa Irie and Lady Chann on the same riddim? The ‘apotheosis of fast chat’ and the ‘aurally explosive’- together. ‘All the time lyric a rhyme’ and ‘the treble to your bass’. Sparks should indeed fly because the Saxon deejay is still jumping on the same riddims as the ‘dancehall queen’ of today. This says a lot for his longevity, and subsequently, the longevity of 80’s dancehall. Would Lady Chann be the same MC we hear today without the likes of Tippa, Maxi Priest and Papa Levi? These youngsters have a whole lot to be thankful for and it isn’t just us who thinks so.

Let’s face it; music can be unpredictable, for example, N-Dubz at the Royal Variety Performance. Who would have thought it? Dappy vibing right in front of the future king of England. We live in a hectic and technology driven society that’s forever changing. All the more reason for us to remember and acknowledge what came before. In the year 2011, what is important is what is happening now. Who’s at number one? Which are the hottest MCs? Which rapper 50 Cent just tweeted abuse at? And so on. Sometimes it’s refreshing to take a step back and stare. So please, take a seat, and kick of your loafers. Today’s music cannot help but embody the beats of days gone by, something you’re about to find out.

The most natural place to begin is with the foundations; the bricks laid by the master craftsmen, the 80’s dancehall extraordinaire’s. They weren’t just any cowboy builders doing a quick botch job. They mixed that cement properly and built a solid, secure and inspirational house. Perfectly pointed, lots of doors and an open porch. The neighbours, or the many musicians that were to emerge following them, just couldn’t keep away.

“If you want to know where grime and the rest of the UK rave MC culture came from,” says Paul Meme, reggae music mogul, “Saxon Soundsystems live LP ‘Coughing Up Fire’ (UK Bubblers; 1984) should be the first port of call”. So, these are the guys who made fast chat look so easy. If you’re unsure on fast-chat 80’s style, you may be more at one with their spawn perhaps- Ghetts, Badness and the likes. Peter King is usually recognised as the first fast chat MC but Papa Levi (formerly of Saxon) released the first fast chat record ‘Mi God Mi King’ in 1984. The record hijacked the number one spot here and in Jamaica, a rarity for a UK artist and still the only one to ever have done so. Many 80’s dancehall deejays have since staked their reputation upon the composition of some of the biggest reggae hits this country has ever seen. Complain Neighbour (Tippa; UK Bubblers 1985) and Cockney Translation (Smiley; Fashion 1989) to name only a couple. Yet sadly they remain terribly underrated and largely unrecognised for the foundations they laid.

It is irritating really, that the integral parts to many of the UK ‘urban’ genres derive right from these greats, yet so many fans remain oblivious. 80’s dancehall, however unintentionally it worked out, is partly responsible for kick starting their engines. Inheritance none-the-less of fast chat, soundsystems, dubplates and clashing. You could say the 80’s lent it and jungle, breakbeat, dubstep and grime gave it an MOT.

In his own lane, and currently speeding straight ahead is Gabriel Heatwave, Rinse FM Dancehall DJ and the best placed man to agree that Saxon are largely responsible. Like an encyclopaedia of reggae, he talks enthusiastically and fast. For all he has to say, one thing is paramount. “All the 80’s dancehall veterans have been mad influential on the music we hear today,” he pipes. “If you look at British popular music in the last forty years it all traces back to reggae”. Arguing would be silly.

Argue it with Lady Chann and you may just be left in a bit of a sticky situation. She knows, her dad was part of the Exodus Soundsystem back in the 90’s, and she runs dancehall for the girls right here in the UK. In fact Chann is so enthusiastic about dancehall she gives Gabriel a serious run for his money. “I live it, breathe it and sleep it. Dancehall is so energetic” she says. “It connects with your soul, your sexual side and draws it out of you, its very liberating… I love it!”

The hottest track, by the baddest artist, and there’s an exclusive dubplate pressed. Much was the same in the 80’s and 90’s. If you’ve got the baddest sound around town to play a dub special of your tune at a popular dance, say, DJ Jamboree (Saxon; 1982) you were sorted. Everyone else would then jump on it. The Saxon dubplate of Dawn Penn’s track ‘No, no, no (you don’t love me) for instance replaced the original lyrics with ‘no, no, no you can’t test Saxon’. The track became an international hit.

Oh, and then there is clashing. The 2000’s brought us Eskimo Dance. The biggest UK MC’s, under one roof, went head to head. The likes of Dizzee, Wiley and D Double E. Many parallels could be seen in your typical 80’s sound clash. Play it strategically, make it convincing and aim to kill off the opponent in whichever way possible. Exclusive dubs with the hottest artists, the deejays chat or a countless amount of forwards. If either were forced to turn off their system, the other was hailed more than victorious. “Clashing in dancehall is just like battles in hip hop. Its healthy competition” says Chann.

“The dancehall sound was getting co-opted and the youth lost interest and begun to look for something new, emerging with new fragmented styles like jungle, drum and bass, garage and most recently dubstep” says Beth Lesser in her book, Dancehall: The Rise of Jamaican Culture (2008). Fast forward a little to November of last year when reggae ambassador and Kiss 100 DJ David Rodigan released his Fabriclive compilation. Its aim: to remind the fresh young dubstep fabric-goers the genres roots. Augustus Pablo, Cham, you name it. Dubstep evolves from dub reggae after all.

Uncovering some of the greats that influenced these modern sounds is exciting. Here is merely a snippet, a scratch on the acetate for you to explore. Reggae was “designed to make you skank pon the spot, weather you’re white or black, slim or fat, bald head or dreadlocks” so embrace it, please.



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