Embracing the roots of Hip Hop!

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Yoshi Riot is put­ting Manchester on the Hip-Hop map. Since releas­ing debut EP ‘Smoke Me I’m Dope’ two years ago he’s fea­tured in numer­ous col­lab­or­a­tions includ­ing ‘Ter­minal Testi­mony’ with Jister and ‘Ain’t No Use’ with fel­low man­cuni­ans Led­die & Smoggy. 2014 has seen him adopt an assidu­ous work­flow, already hav­ing released two EPs, ‘The Work­ing Classy’ and ‘The Stretch’, early August will see the release of debut album ‘Con­trast’, a bril­liant record that should cement his place on the UK hip-hop scene.

The album kicks off with ‘Let’s Go’, a great intro track that sees Yoshi deliver par­layed vocals over a soft and remin­is­cent beat, intro­du­cing us not only to his style and flow, what he’s about as a rap­per, but also what he’s about as a human.

Track 2 ‘Lately’ has a typ­ic­ally hip-hop sound beat that will please pur­ists such as myself. Yoshi adopts a sim­il­arly defin­it­ive style of deliv­ery and flow to match this and his tim­ing is expert, deliv­er­ing drawn out rhymes in a style remin­is­cent of Nas, the rhyme is com­pleted by the pen­ul­tim­ate word of the sen­tence with the last word car­ry­ing for­ward to the next line, not an easy feat to achieve suc­cess­fully, but here it’s been mastered.

‘It’s Deeper Than That’ is track 3 and has a sim­ilar style to track 2, giv­ing the album a good flow. In addi­tion to the hard-hitting old-skool drum pat­terns, the beat incor­por­ates some beau­ti­ful melodic and har­monic ele­ments, giv­ing a fur­ther dimension.

Track 4 ‘Like Ya Meant It (Drop)’ is an early high­light of the record. Yoshi deliv­ers some great word­play com­ment­at­ing on this generation’s super­fi­ci­al­it­ies and short­com­ings with impress­ive depth whilst main­tain­ing high qual­ity struc­ture, flow and rhyme. The chorus sees him adopt a more aggress­ive style of deliv­ery and incor­por­at­ing growls fur­ther demon­strat­ing his high abil­ity as an MC.

‘No Sleep (Cousin of Death)’ fol­lows as track 5 and per­fectly fol­lows on from the aggress­ive style of track 4 with a laid­back, clap-along beat and par­layed vocals. Packed full of relent­less word­play and well timed deliv­ery this track is another high­light with its smooth-as-vinyl-lining hook and chilled vibe. This chilled vibe is con­tin­ued with track 6 ‘Light­speed’ with instru­ment­a­tion remin­is­cent of early Speech Debelle mater­ial and a shuff­ling beat. Yoshi deliv­ers more high-grade word­play with a defin­it­ive flow and catchy hook.

Track 7 ‘Con­trast’ fea­tures the records first guest spot in the form of Smooth Jezza, whose verse is hip-hop gold with amaz­ing flow. Fol­low­ing the style of the pre­vi­ous track the vibe is kept chilled with a laid­back beat. ‘Signz’ fol­lows as track 8 with another guest appear­ance, this time from Gen­esis Eli­jah. A simple yet effect­ive beat is accom­pan­ied by both MCs deliv­er­ing socially aware lines about hid­den truths and oppres­sion, dis­play­ing their appre­ci­ation for hip-hop’s often for­got­ten fifth ele­ment; know­ledge. Great pro­duc­tion, giv­ing the beat and the bass their sep­ar­ate sonic zones, also adds to the effect­ive­ness of this track; another highlight.

Track 9 ‘Breath’ sees Yoshi return to a more aggress­ive style, which sits per­fectly after the laid back vibe of the pre­vi­ous few tracks. In spite of the aggress­ive style, the tempo of the vocal is laid back which gives a great con­trast and also demon­strates Yoshi’s tal­ent for deliv­er­ing the notori­ously trouble­some ‘slow-rap’ with amaz­ing ease, really high­light­ing his tal­ent as an MC.

‘’Maybe I Could’ fol­lows as track 10 and again sees a laid back beat accom­pan­ied with slightly more aggress­ive vocals this time with a smooth hook provid­ing a pleas­ing con­trast. Once again the pro­duc­tion of the beat has been handled expertly giv­ing a really atmo­spheric sound and let­ting the vocal sit beau­ti­fully. With lyr­ics about love and rela­tion­ships this track’s matur­ity gives a refresh­ing change from the overtly chau­vin­istic sub­ject mat­ter of most chart hip-hop today. Track 11 ‘Call Me When You Get This’ makes bril­liant use of sampling and more par­layed flow from Yoshi pro­duce a sound remin­is­cent of golden era hip-hop from the 90s or an early Kanye West sound.

Top female rap­per Led­die (of Led­die & Smoggy) fea­tures on track 12 ‘Yes Lord’ and the com­bin­a­tion of her and Yoshi really cre­ates a spe­cial sound, a suit­ably aggress­ive flow is delivered by both MCs and a start-stop beat allows the vocal lines to cre­ate their own rhythms, fit­ting around the track and cre­at­ing am awe­some sound. Led­die is a bril­liant MC and her appear­ance here really show­cases her tal­ent. A catchy hook sung by Yoshi and Led­die fur­ther adds to the great­ness of this track; gold-standard hip-hop.

Track 13 ‘Nat­ural Selec­tion’ con­tin­ues with the stop-start beat style, leav­ing space for the vocal to stand alone, and it works really well. Another guest spot from Jister also sits well, giv­ing the track greater dimen­sion. ‘Hello Sun­shine’ fol­lows as track 14 and sees a return to a chilled vibe. The vocals are delivered again with great tim­ing, wrap­ping around the beat. Track 15 ‘Do What I Gotta’ returns to a golden-era sound, employ­ing a rever­ber­ated beat and a great vocal flow with relent­less rhym­ing and bril­liant word­play, but again it’s word­play with mean­ing, which is always welcome.

Track 16 ‘2nd Gen­er­a­tion’ was released earlier in the year in the wake of the UKIP debate and deals with Yoshi’s take on the ‘immig­rant bash­ing’ that’s all too present. Hav­ing fam­ily ori­gin­at­ing from Rus­sia, Hun­gary and Yugoslavia gives him an in-depth know­ledge of the sub­ject and he’s clev­erly passing on that insight to the listener, whilst main­tain­ing a great flow and much word­play and rhyme. This track marks another high­light of the record, hand­ling such a con­ten­tious social issue with such matur­ity and ease sug­gests real poten­tial for Yoshi to go far on the hip-hop scene inter­na­tion­ally and show­cases his integ­rity perfectly.

Track 17 ‘I Miss You Some­times’ is the best track on the record, I won’t go into depth on the sub­ject mat­ter, but Yoshi pitches it flaw­lessly with a breath­tak­ingly emotive deliv­ery over a remin­is­cent beat, high­light­ing music’s abil­ity to break the fourth wall and hit listen­ers on another level.

‘Shine On’, track 18, has another catchy hook and returns to the more upbeat vibe. Yoshi spits some impress­ively intric­ate lines at pro-speed and switches between rap­ping and singing without issue. The inclu­sion of horns and synths in the beat give a great sound that accom­pan­ies the vocal bril­liantly. Track 19 ‘If There Was Any Other Way’ fea­tur­ing TS17 Pro­jekt has a sim­ilar sound to the pre­vi­ous track and sees Yoshi con­tinue to show­case some impress­ive vocal ability.

The record closes with ‘We Don’t Have Forever’, a laid back track where the focus is on the vocal, which works per­fectly as the final sound, cement­ing Yoshi’s abil­ity dis­played through­out the album. Intel­li­gent and intric­ate rhyme pat­ters and word­play, and a simple beat all work together to cre­ate a clas­sic hip-hop sound with a mod­ern stamp.

This record show­cases Yoshi Riot’s abil­ity and tal­ent per­fectly and the pro­duc­tion has been handled mas­ter­fully; Con­trast is a bril­liant work of mod­ern UK hip-hop. There is poten­tial for Yoshi to go far with abil­ity this high and if he con­tin­ues to develop his sound we are undoubtedly in store for a clas­sic album in the not-too-distant future. At 20 tracks, this record is a long player, and amaz­ingly, it’s all killer and no filler. Highly recommended.


Micky Roots

Micky Roots

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Hip Hop In Numbers ft. Grandmaster Flash (@DJFlash4eva)

“Num­bers don’t lie check the score board”.

Have you ever wondered about the stat­ist­ics of Hip-hop? Ever wanted to know which record was sampled first? Who became the first hip-hop bil­lion­aire (you should really know)?

Num­bers don’t lie and Grand­mas­ter Flash has col­lab­or­ated with You­tube chan­nel All­time Num­bers to present the video “Hip-hop In num­bers” It isn’t all just about the music, there is a large amount of his­tory and records broken within the genre. In this video Flash gives the stats which has effected hip-hop for the good and bad, such as the ground break­ing “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang sold 60,000 cop­ies a day in 1979 and that it was the first sampled record in history.

It’s always inter­est­ing to find out the stat­ist­ics of hip-hop and how far it has come. From Dre becom­ing the first bil­lion­aire to Lauryn Hill becom­ing the first woman nom­in­ated for 10 grammy awards and leav­ing with five. It would be good for videos such as this to become a com­mon occur­rence. Bring­ing edu­ca­tion to mod­ern media is a great step, and bet­ter yet using a hip-hop legend to give the facts to those listening.

Hip-hop has changed a lot over the years and is forever evolving, but do con­sumers still take in the cul­ture and the his­tory. For example, sampling is a key tool to a lot of pro­du­cers, how­ever, do a lot of fans know that “Rapper’s Delight” was the first sampled record? Grand­mas­ter Flash is a hip-hop legend and is still rel­ev­ant today, this could be a great oppor­tun­ity for sev­eral legends in the genre to the fore­front and be big­ger ambas­sad­ors for hip-hop .

Check out the video and learn a bit more about hip-hop.

Hip Hop In Num­bers ft. Grand­mas­ter Flash:

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Zapatistas Live by Olmeca (@Olmecaone)

“Zapatis­tas Live” is a song writ­ten by Olmeca a Hip-Hop artist based in USA. The pro­duc­tions was inspired by the recent attacks and murder of Escuel­ita Zapatista teacher Galeano.

Inspir­ing us to take action Olmeca’s efforts have given him a place amongst social justice dig­nit­ar­ies speak­ing and per­form­ing along­side Dolores Huerta, Naomi Klein, Luis J. Rodrig­uez to name a few.

More inform­a­tion:http://olmecaone.com/
Read more about the Zapatis­tas: http://www.iamhiphopmagazine.com/?x=0&y=0&s=zapatista

Zapatista Live

While we stay dormant move­ment pro­ceeds and prevails

Many find it dif­fi­cult to recog­nize a move­ment with such longev­ity
They only shortly fought the army in a 12 day war
They didn’t take state power or cease con­trol
They didn’t real­ize a new con­sti­tu­tion
and those who par­ti­cip­ate in the other cam­paign only found confusion.

Heart­break for many they thought they would see Mar­cos in a ped­es­tal forever
But those of us who know the pro­cess know bet­ter
Many folks took in media’s sen­sa­tion­al­ism for many years
and when the lights were out many walked away angry and in tears
No photo ops and no auto­graphs so now you take another path?

Most dan­ger­ous than guns is aban­don­ment and believ­ing that no news cov­er­age means no existence.

up until 2012, say­ing Zapat­ismo was like speak­ing of an old band …
“they’re still around?”
And some of us con­tin­ued to be wit­nesses …
eyes on the earth soil from which hope grows

I saw them toil work through rain, thun­der storm and sun that boiled.
No media, no gath­er­ings, no non­sense, just exer­cising their right to be free.

But it exposed them to danger…
and for those years, the gov­ern­ment respon­ded with advanced tac­tics we are way too famil­iar with
gov­ern­ment pro­grams sur­round­ing lib­er­ated territory

Gov­ern­ment build­ing empty struc­tures next to the Zapatis­tas build­ing autonomy
Tour­ist attrac­tions next to cul­tural pro­jects.
one selling cul­ture and the other res­cuing it from cap­it­al­ist exposure.

health clinic with cyn­ical plots mimic death count in met­ro­pol­itan cit­ies…
while Zapatista clin­ics treat those who’ve poin­ted guns at their kids des­pite their polit­ics
… this per­spect­ive is prolific.

As eyes and cam­eras retreated guns and bar­rels con­tinue advan­cing
cops and mil­it­ary uni­forms pos­i­tion them­selves atop point­ing toward the crops!
Heli­copters hov­er­ing over stu­dents, kid­nap­pings, burn­ing homes and food that grows!
Medi­cine that grows?

The enemy knows the Zapatis­tas are real and so are their tactics…

For more dan­ger­ous to a gov­ern­ment isn’t armed con­flict but know­ing that they can be obsol­ete.
Obsol­ete because an entire people cre­ated their own good gov­ern­ment, schools and clin­ics
Their own col­lect­ives and in the pro­cess, came to fully grasp that the only solu­tion to liv­ing in dig­nity is to build it your­self.
Now theres an entire gen­er­a­tion of young lead­ers who grew up…not in a move­ment, but in a way of life.

The Zapatis­tas aren’t a thing of the past, but an undeni­able present.
the oppos­i­tion is simply revert­ing back to 1996 tac­tics killing teach­ers the seed keepers…

I hope we all respond back.
Respond with com­pañer­ismo, com­pañerisma
In the love with have shown and the love that hey have Given
I say respond!
At the expense of admit­ting that some only return when guns are drawn in a time of con­flict and media atten­tion
I say this… come back, respond…and show the world
this move­ment is not alone!

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Laughs And Lyrics With @Kloud9Reacher From OLTE!

Q. Intro­duce your­self to the IAHH Readers…

My name is Kyran Mitchell-Nanton. I’m an Actor and Music Artist from Lon­don and go by the name Kloud9Reacher (K9R) for my music. I also rep­res­ent an arts group called ‘One Light Tal­ent Entertainment’.

Q. Tell us a bit about your non-profit group One Light Tal­ent Enter­tain­ment (OLTE) and its aims?

OLTE is a per­form­ing arts group where are mis­sion is to give artists oppor­tun­it­ies in the arts industry to bet­ter their tal­ent and skill and a chance to show­case them­selves to the pub­lic by put­ting on our own work and pro­jects for them. A lot of young per­formers don’t have access and/or sup­port to all the inform­a­tion that can help them be the best per­form­ing artist they want to be, and as we are also young artists ourselves, we know how hard this industry is, which is why we do what we do. Our aim is to give a new light to the arts industry and sup­port artists the best way we can. We are a Non-Profit Char­ity group, and each pro­ject we do we fund ourselves and recycle back into the com­pany for future pro­jects for other artists.

Q.  One of your pro­jects KA Stor­ies is a com­edy series. How did it start and how effect­ive is com­edy when it comes to express­ing the more ser­i­ous issues?

Years ago when OLTE was just made up of myself and my best friend Ander­son St John Ingleton a lot of people told us we were really funny as genu­ine people and we should have a cam­era fol­low us around on a day to day basis. We were usu­ally branded as the black Dumb & Dumber or Ant & Dec. So we decided to make a theatre series called Kyran & Ander­son Stor­ies (KA Stor­ies) which also included a 3rd mem­ber with us at that time who is unfor­tu­nately no longer with us. It went pretty well but due to budget, funds and other com­mit­ments we couldn’t com­mit to it. Few years later we met a lovely young lady called ‘Holly Edwards’ who seemed to be the cherry to our cake and who also loved us both and our mis­sion we had for OLTE. We found out she was near enough as crazy as us and, she pushed us to cre­ate a web series out of it. About a year and a half later we released it!

We love com­edy in OLTE but at the same time we try and put out a mes­sage in every pro­ject we do. I think when it comes to even more ser­i­ous issues, com­edy can have an effect­ive part in it but it depends how you use it. If for example you are try­ing to send a pos­it­ive mes­sage about safe sex for example, using slap­stick com­edy may show the story totally dif­fer­ent from if you were to make it nat­ur­al­istic and com­ical lines came nat­ur­ally without you try­ing to force it in. I think that goes for any­thing you are doing. We done a play called ‘Karma’ back in 2011 which was our first debut which was a ser­i­ous drama based on Teen issues which revolved mainly around young preg­nancy, bul­ly­ing, dis­crim­in­a­tion and knife crime; how­ever there were some dia­logue in the play which was funny to the audi­ence (even though we didn’t intend it to be) because it was nat­ural and showed an example of the type of con­ver­sa­tions and situ­ations Teens get them­selves into, and this was great because it wasn’t just straight ser­i­ous because that’s not how life is. So yeah it really depends how you use it.

Q. You’re also a rap­per, by the name of Kloud9Reacher… when did rap­ping become a part of your life?

As a young boy, I was never even inter­ested in music. My mom played it a lot from old school to rare grooves but I wasn’t con­fid­ent enough to get involved in music or per­form­ing arts for that mat­ter. Never really appealed to me. In my early years of sec­ond­ary school how­ever, a young woman called Ruth from Lyric Ham­mer­smith done a drama work­shop for us and instantly knew I had Asper­gers Syn­drome which my teacher was amazed by because I don’t think my teacher told her I had it. Ruth said Lyric would be great for me to jump out of my shell and open me up because she saw I had a lot of ima­gin­a­tion. At this time, I would see all the boys at school spit­ting bars and rap­ping at lunch­time which I wanted to do also, and I did try to write some poetry, but was told I was rub­bish, wack and simply didn’t feel pop­u­lar enough to get involved. So my drama teacher and my mom pushed me to lyric theatre where I atten­ded an act­ing class and also found a spoken word class too and Lyric Theatre told me that I can be any­thing I want and gave me the con­fid­ence to step out my shell. Through Lyric, I found I was actu­ally really good at act­ing and spoken word, and from there that’s where the jour­ney began to where I am here now.

Q. Who were your biggest influ­ences in Hip Hop and why?

In terms of Hip-Hop then pos­sibly Lupe Fiasco or Sway and JME (I know hes Grime), but that’s if you are talk­ing only Hip-Hop. I listen to a lot of instru­ment­als and beats like Ta-Ku, Kaytranada, edit (love edit) Flume, Cin­im­atic Orches­tra, Sin­ima it goes on and on! My phone is filled up with beats. I’m inspired majorly by artists like Emeli Sande (love love love. Can listen to her all day), Celine Dion, Kirk Frank­lin, Victizzle, Dwayne Trumpf. I listen to a lot of Rare Groove, old school 80s 90s because my mom drummed it in my head from young. Although I can’t remem­ber the names to most of them, if you play the tune I would know it. Although some of these are not Hip-Hop artists, it helped open my mind to dif­fer­ent ways and ideas I can write all the crazy stuff that’s in my head.

Q. What mes­sage does your music send out? Are there spe­cific issues that you focus on?

Pos­it­iv­ity. I think that’s the easi­est way to explain it. I don’t want to sound like I’m sugar coat­ing any­thing because that’s not how it is. There is of course a lot of neg­at­iv­ity that hap­pens in this world yes, but I always try and put out a mes­sage that people know they can make the best from the worst. I talk about any­thing I feel like at present, there’s not a spe­cific area. So whether it’s a track I’m talk­ing about love, food and cook­ies, African cul­ture there’s always some­thing great you can take from it. I’m try­ing to inspire and uplift people not cut dreams and put people down.

Q.  Tell us a bit about your track ‘Sunset’…

Sun­set is a track about for­give­ness and under­stand­ing. From me try­ing to ask for­give­ness from past mis­takes that involved cer­tain people, to try­ing to for­give myself (which I find so hard to do), and try­ing to get people to under­stand to some point what even goes on in my head. At that point I had just come out of a rela­tion­ship and I was look­ing back on all the years I tried liv­ing like I’m some per­fect guy, and but­ter can’t melt in my mouth but really cer­tain things I was being a big hypo­crite and through that I messed up on a few things. I wanted to start fresh and show people what my inten­tions are and who I am. I love sun­sets because it’s a beau­ti­ful way to end a day for reflec­tion, lead­ing to a rest for the night and onto an epic jour­ney the next day.

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Q. The Hip Hop culture’s 5th ele­ment ‘Know­ledge’ is often for­got­ten by rap­pers today. How import­ant is it for you to share know­ledge in your music?

Its plays aspect as they say know­ledge is key, how­ever I have to be very care­ful because a lot of us mis­take Opin­ion for Know­ledge or think that we can read the syn­op­sis of Know­ledge and then hold a lec­ture or preach a ser­mon about how much we know. For me I try to have a bal­ance of Know­ledge and Wis­dom in what I try and put out, because although some of us have a lot of Know­ledge, a lot of us aint wise enough to use that for the best and pro­duct­ive things, instead for example we may use it on things that can decrease ours and other people value around us. I’m not try­ing to be that per­son. I gotta have the wis­dom to use the know­ledge I do have for great and aston­ish­ing things.

Q. What advice can you give people who want to get into per­form­ing arts but may not have the oppor­tun­ity to go to university?

Involve your­self in your craft as much as pos­sible. For example, if you’re an actor go and watch plays, films, get evolved in youth theatres, act­ing classes, mas­ter classes etc. If you can­not find work then make your own! Great places to get help around per­form­ing arts for example are com­pan­ies like Latimer Group, Lyric Ham­mer­smith, DV8 train­ing. Then you got act­ing classes and com­pan­ies like Iden­tity, MN Academy, King­dom and the list goes on (Google is your best friend here). Use your con­fid­ence in your craft to net­work because that’s one of the most import­ant things. So many oppor­tun­it­ies come by net­work­ing. For example this inter­view right here Rishma, would have never happened if I would not of met your sis­ter in a hair salon when I was going around shep­herds bush hand­ing out fly­ers to people about KA Stor­ies! Some of the greatest sing­ers have been signed simply by someone noti­cing them singing on a bus. Keep every­one like a gate­keeper to your oppor­tun­ity. Just because they are fam­ous, does not mean they can get you to far places! For example I went to BRIT School and stud­ied theatre there, and although BRIT is known for its per­form­ing arts, really and truly it’s down to the per­son and the work they put in. You can get the same edu­ca­tion and amount of oppor­tun­it­ies at a nor­mal col­lege; it’s all down to the work you put in. Sup­port in fam­ily is some­times hard as well. Even though my mom and dad encour­aged me to do what I like, not every­one has this. Don’t let that put you down, and to fam­il­ies out there whose chil­dren need the sup­port from them for their pas­sion, give it. People will tell you that you can­not do some­thing. How many times I was told I couldn’t get into BRIT, I couldn’t be a rap­per, I couldn’t be funny or an actor, and I done every single one of those things. YOU determ­ine who you are, NOT THEM. As Jim Carry said “You can fail in a career that you don’t even like. You might as well go chase and do what you love”. Finally remem­ber there’s noth­ing wrong with ask­ing for help but don’t rely on ANY­ONE except your­self because at the end of the day only you know for sure if you’re going to do some­thing or not.

Q. What are you cur­rently work­ing on and what can we look out for in the near future?

I myself am cur­rently work­ing on a music video for a track called ‘Roots’ which is a com­edy video giv­ing homage and based on African cul­ture. The team OLTE is work­ing on some great pro­jects and new stuff to launch for this year. ‘KA Stor­ies’ was just the start. If you want to find out more and keep in the loop then fol­low us on twit­ter @OneLightTalent and Face­book: One Light Tal­ent Enter­tain­ment. You can find us on You­Tube with that name too. Like­wise with me, fol­low @Kloud9Reacher and on You­Tube also. I’ll be put­ting out info of the track for people to get involved in very soon!

Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhali­wal