Tag Archives: Hip Hop

humans of mac+mae: MC Bliss

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Something that is very special to me is the craft of hip-hop music.  For me, it’s a creative outlet and a form of expression that I have found, nothing else is like.  I can get ideas and concepts out in a creative way.  In a lot of ways, it’s like self-therapy.

When I have something that’s on my mind that I really want to express it; to be able to do that and tell a story but also combine it with a sonic landscape that evokes emotions of what I’m trying to tell is amazing.

The best feeling on earth is when you first create a song and you hear it back for the first time and it gives you those shivers, those goosebumps or tears, or whatever it is and you know you’ve plucked a chord, you’ve plucked a heartstring.  So hip-hop music, Love ya.

Bliss n Eso, Off The Grid - available from 28 April (blisneso.com)

Bliss n Eso, Off The Grid – available from 28 April (blisneso.com)

MC Bliss is one third of Australian hip hop trio, Bliss n Eso.  Since meeting in high school, MCs Bliss and Eso plus DJ Izm have broken records, won ARIA and APRA awards, staged spectacular live shows, and toured internationally.  

This Friday, they release their hugely anticipated sixth album, Off The Grid about overcoming personal struggles and establishing new beginnings – Pre order the album.  They’ve also just announced 4-city NZ Tour – buy tickets.

Inspired by the ‘Humans of New York’ series, we’re talking to our network find out what’s special to them, whether it’s a place, a thing, or a memory – Meet the “Humans of mac+mae”.

humans of mac+mae: Diaz Grimm

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Earlier this year I spent time visiting and working with the children of Leamington Primary school. At one point during the day I asked the children to stand in one place and do whatever they felt like doing when the music began. As I watched nearly four hundred children delve deep into their imaginations and intuition to move and act out how the music was affecting them, I was suddenly struck with what children truly are…. the future.

As a large amount of children proceeded to ‘dab’ (An internet driven dance craze stemming from American hip-hop culture) I realised just how much we influence these little people. Not only how they dance but how they talk, how they think and possibly the most important – how they feel. A dance move we as adults have allowed to spread globally through the internet had reached a relatively small primary school, in little old Cambridge, New Zealand. It made me question, what else were we exposing them to?

I scanned the crowd again and spotted a small boy no older than seven dressed as a police officer. He spotted my camera pointing in his direction and immediately went into character, this little innocent child acting as a policeman began shooting other children.

We are raising a generation who believe that policeman are supposed to shoot people, those who swear to serve and protect. We are allowing people to be treated differently based on their ethnicity and appearance. Young boys are being taught sexual education through pornography. Rugby players who are looked up to by so many are mistreating women and then staying silent when it comes time to take responsibility for their actions. Women are still being treated by society as weaker counterparts to men. Politicians are blatantly lying to the public whilst making decisions for entire countries that only benefit a handful of people. Global warming is being treated as a joke by closed minded adults. The animal agriculture industry that is destroying the health of the earth more so than any other industry is being protected by walls of money.

We’re passing down a celebrity run culture that adds greatly to our children feeling inadequate, feeling like what they have is not enough and that certain people’s lives are worth more than others. A culture that heavily pushes the idea that monetary wealth is the answer to all of life’s problems. One of the most dangerous mindsets a human can hold.

But we cannot blame each other for our planet’s current state. The politicians, the rugby players, the celebrities, the racists, the sexists, the porn industry, all of the above at one point in the not too distant past were our children. They didn’t begin life as they are now, they were raised and nurtured to become the pieces of our society that they are today by the last lot of adults in charge of moulding the putty of our society.

But it was not only fear for the future I felt as I looked around these kids, I also found hope. A young girl wore a t-shirt with the words “Vote for Chloe”, a 22 year old women running for Mayor of Auckland city who believes in a system that works for everybody. A mini version of Chance the rapper, a hiphop artist dedicated to serving the people whilst simultaneously proving that major labels may no longer be in control of the music industry, danced gleefully with a mini doctor. A vegan supporting flag flew proudly past me, Ironman and Superman played hand games and multi-cultural circles of kids shared laughter with each other.

The scale of the task may seem daunting but if we have managed to raise the last lot of children to become who they are today then there’s no reason we can’t raise the next lot of children to become something better, a society in which all the inhabitants of earth are equal and have a level playing field in the pursuit of happiness. With or without our input the children of today are going to become the adults.

As I lowered the camera after taking this photo a warm sensation of understanding spread through me…  Even if we don’t manage to fix every issue within the next generation, it is my inherited responsibility as much as any other adult to give the children of today as big of a head-start towards a happier future as I possibly can. 

Cambridge local, Diaz Grimm, is a storyteller on a mission to turn hip hop on its head.  His lyrics stand out for their lack of violence and swearing and his four-album project (of which he’s released two albums), carry a futuristic sci-fi theme, telling tales of new civilisations and new society.  Grimm’s debut album, Osiris was nominated for hip-hop album of the year at the Vodafone NZ Music awards 2015 and he spent the first half of this year, performing at Texas festival South by Southwest, attending Coachella music festival and crashing industry events.  His sophomore album, 2077 is available to buy now.

Inspired by the ‘Humans of New York’ series, we’re talking to our network find out what’s special to them, whether it’s a place, a thing, or a memory – Meet the “humans of mac+mae” –    http://bit.ly/HoMaM

been | Jurassic 5

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“Together we, will forever be, high fidelity definitely”

These guys might be Jurassic but they certainly ain’t geriatric… having been around for over 15 years, with a few years break up due to people wanting to do new things, Jurassic 5 are well versed at giving lively and atmospheric performances. Auckland did us proud on Thursday night at the Powerstation – with plenty of ‘feedback’, J5 were evidently vibing off the energy from an enthusiastic audience.

Kicking off with ‘Somebody’, J5 introduced themselves, Akil the friendly wee dude with rastas, Marc 7even, Zaakir and of course the infamous Charli 2na. All backed up by Cut Chemist and DJ Numark scratching and spinning the silky instrumentals that make J5 so addictive. Cut Chemist and Dj Numark did a fantastic job of keeping the J5 juggernaut going as the mcs took a break after their 5 song back-to-back intro. We were entertained by the scratching session that took place via the wearable turntable/guitar set up that Cut Chemist had strung across his chest at the same time as Numark wearing a wearable drum machine. To the untrained eye they both look completely fake (the machines that is). But as Numark told a keen fan after the show, “yeah of course they’re real! You saw me playing it didn’t you!”. As they are notorious for, J5 gave a full on hype performance, suitably supported by Auckland’s own hiphop legends Midnight Gallery: 2 lively MCs and a great saxophone accompaniment.

Once J5 came on, the dance floor was packed out. In this intimate venue, although it can hold a solid amount of people, J5 were continuously connecting with the audience. Charli 2na event spent a lot of the performance taking people’s iphones and filming himself rapping and the audience singing along. It was quite a bizarre scenario for the camera-phone to become part of the show; the audience getting filmed by the performer who was then filming himself and returning the camera back to the audience member who had held out their phone so longingly! Wish I could see that video now.

Hilariously Zaakir was having none of these shenanigans and in opposite fashion to Charli 2na would fist bump people in the front row without even making eye contact. Meanwhile 2na gave his charming smirk and cheeky eyes to multiple (often female) members of the audience – a right tease. This, for sure, gave the night a special vibe as the barrier between J5 on stage and their Auckland hipster followers was broken down by constant communication. Making for a very cool encore where the last 3 songs were the choice of the crowd (once J5 had been begged to come back on stage that is) – I knew they weren’t done yet as ‘Whats Golden’ had been left out as a tantalising titbit still to come.

Despite the grace with which they are showing their age (the silver speckles in beards and fros), these guys haven’t lost a bit of their energy. They are all hosts to the most awesome and genuine grins, especially Akil and 2na who are evidently people people (if you get what I mean). But the main thing, of course, is their lyrics. J5 are poets without doubt. Their word order, their word play and the flow with which their rhymes syncopate and harmonise make for more than easy listening, more like lucid dreaming – “Don’t stop your dreaming, let yourself float upon a notion” Can it be that Cut Chemist and Numark are spinning a giant deck in the middle of the stage? And Akil is chatting casually to hyper active fans in the corner? How is it that these massive names, the guys that have provided the sounds for thousands of house parties, barbecues and bedrooms are suddenly there on Mt Eden road (a stones throw from my house) scratching portable vinyl playing guitars?! All quite surreal but made very real by the tunes – ‘Quality Control’, ‘Concrete Schoolyard’, ‘High fidelity’ and one of my old time fav’s ‘Juras finish first’. One thing I have always loved about J5 is their instrumentals. Despite their silky smooth and addictive vocals, their lyrics are totally brought to life by the flutes, keys and sax that all feature at some point alongside the bass lines that keep us all rockstepping. Akil even did a pretty special kazoo solo.

With hip hop sounds similar to Ugly Duckling and A Tribe Called Quest but constantly progressing and refreshing, J5 have a summery vibe that deservedly makes them popular across the spectrum of music lovers, especially those who like something a bit ‘underground’. After two decades of being awesome – J5 are back with a vengeance, giving the southern hemisphere their best with style, harmony, intelligence and  innovation – ‘This is how we do it’ providing a catchy new track to hook in those coming late to the J5 train.

heard | Soulfest makes its way to NZ

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Earlier this month it was announced that New Zealand’s first annual Neo-Soul, Jazz and Hip Hop festival, SOULFEST will be making its way to Auckland this Labour Weekend.  Featuring Maxwell, D’Angelo, Common, MOs Def, Anthony Hamilton, Angie Stone and Musiq Soulchild, with more artist to be announced, this festival is shaping up to be a winner.

This unique Music and Cultural Festival is a celebration of some of the world’s finest contemporary Neo-Soul, Jazz and Hip-Hop Artists.  The 7 spectacular international artists have an astounding combined tally of 52 Grammy Nominations amongst themselves.  Maxwell,D’AngeloAnthony Hamilton and Angie Stone will all be visiting New Zealand for the very first time, and will be joined by CommonMos Def and Musiq Soulchild, plus a selection of some of New Zealand’s finest talent, still to be announced.

Over 10 live acts and DJ’s will feature throughout the 10-hour day.

Soulfest will also feature an expansive array of great “Soul Food”, and an excellent selection of wines, beers, spirits, great coffee and non-alcoholic options aplenty.

Soulfest will be a unique opportunity to see and hear some of the world’s finest artists in a cool, relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

VIP tickets will feature an exclusive front of stage area for a very limited capacity with access to the VIP bar, where VIP food outlets and VIP toilets are all on offer for the ticket purchaser.

Sunday Oct 26th (Labour Weekend) – Western Springs Stadium, Auckland

TICKETS ON SALE from www.ticketmaster.co.nz or call 0800 111 999 / 09 970 9700

Limited Early Bird Pre Sale tickets to Ticketmaster members on sale Tuesday 3rd June from 9am

Limited General Public Early Bird tickets on sale Thursday 5th June from 9am

reviewed | Jhené Aiko’s Sail Out EP

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New girl on the block Jhené Aiko has released her EP ‘Sail Out’,  which has firmly cemented her as a singer-songwriter we need to know about. Her career has slowly built throughout the years, from contributing vocals to B2K to featuring with Big Sean on hit track ‘Beware’ this year. She’s now signed to heavyweights TDE, and a lot of her smooth, indie R&B is matched well with fellow artists such as Kendrick Lamar.

As an EP, it’s meant to be a little bit lighter than an album and is to act as the segue between her 2011 mixtape and her soon to be released album. However, you do still get a feel for the kind of direction Aiko wants to go in – R&B that’s more contemporary, with a lot of rap features. She feels like a female Frank Ocean (who I adore), with lyrics that cover regret, the high of love. and general ups and downs of life.

The EP features Childish Gambino as well, another young star truly on the rise, with their single ‘Bed Peace’ released as a single earlier this year. Her smooth vocals complement rap so well, especially as she has that young and fresh sound as well. There’s still a wisdom in her though, as her songs reflect the struggles she’s overcome to reach the point of opening for Drake on his current tour.

While this EP hasn’t been released in time for the American Summer, its release has been perfectly timed for our Summer thankfully! Even the title ‘Sail Out’ evokes thoughts of summer and warmth, and this EP will pair well with ‘OJ and Jose” as Aiko says. It’s such a chill EP which we definitely all need to have on repeat. This taster EP leads me to believe that her album will be full of talent, fresh voices, and collaborations with amazing producers, and I am definitely looking forward to it.

‘Piece it up with this peace and love
And this peace and love like the old days’
 –  Bed Peace

 

 

reviewed | ‘The Marshall Mathers LP2′ – Eminem

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I’ve always felt a bit ambivalent about Eminem, I’ll love some of his tracks then feel like sometimes he’s just being misogynistic, homophobic, and really ignorant.

This album didn’t really change my opinion that he’s a misogynist and needs to learn some new adjectives other than ‘faggot’, but I did gain a lot of respect for him in the sense that he is actually quite a genius lyricist, which is something you would hope for Complex’s #2 rapper of the 2000’s.

He also seems like he has grown up somewhat, and is more self-aware now. In one of my favourite tracks, ‘Legacy’, he raps about how as a kid he suffered from anxiety and paranoia, and didn’t understand why he was so different – something everybody can relate to – and in the last verse says that he actually really appreciates having such an imagination, as that is what feeds his craft. 

I used to be the type of kid that
Would always think the sky is fallin’
Now I think the fact that I’m differently wired’s awesome
Cause if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be able to work
Words like this and connect lines like crosswords.

Another favourite track is ‘Stronger Than I Was’ which is supposedly written from the perspective of his ex-wife, Kim. I agree with that theory, as it is a much softer song than what we’re used to from Slim Shady. The following track is the hit single ‘The Monster’ with Rihanna, which starkly contrasts the song yet still manages to flow together quite well. The song was co-written by Bebe Rexha, a name you should definitely keep an ear out for. You can also see his maturity as he apologises in ‘Headlights’ featuring Nate Ruess for all the times he’s slandered the people close to him in his songs, which I think shows a depth and really adds to his character.

His songs that feature guest vocals are actually the ones I like the most off this album, as they’re the least aggressive tracks – it’s as if having another artist contribute reigns the Slim Shady ego in. Sia’s contribution on ‘Beautiful Pain‘ makes the perfect closing track (ignoring the bonus track for some), and it would also make a great single release as well. There’s hardly any swearing as well, making more room for the important words that highlight his actual wisdom. It feels like a very cathartic track, as he’s getting rid of a lot of things that have hurt him in the past, which is a recurrent theme as seen in his apologetic ‘Headlights’.

This album definitely shows a more mature side of Eminem, and is seriously exciting me for his first NZ show at Western Springs next year. I’m interested to see how he’ll work with J Cole, but ‘Love Game’ featuring Kendrick on this album leads me to believe Rapture is going to be massive.

Make sure to pick up a copy of this album before Rapture 2014, and grab your Rapture tickets here before they sell-out.

reviewed | David Dallas – Falling Into Place

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Last week saw the drop of David Dallas’ latest album ‘Falling Into Place’, followed closely by the huge announcement that he’ll be supporting Eminem, J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar at Rapture next year. Massive, massive deal!

David Dallas has really come into his own now, and you can tell how much work has gone into his third studio album. He’s really tried something new, such as on tracks like ‘Runnin’, and it has definitely paid off. The album gives off a moodier, chilled vibe, with my favourite track definitely being ‘Gotta Know’ featuring Rokske.

At 13 songs, this album is a few songs shorter than The Rose Tint, but each song comes together to tell a piece of this album’s story. The album is also a lot deeper which is reflected in the mood – also a lot different to The Rose Tint. David Dallas has really grown when you compare the two – while The Rose Tint is still one of my favourite albums, Falling Into Place has a more relaxed vibe, and feels like a very intelligent album that evokes a lot of self-reflection.

It’s as if you’re following his success story as you listen – he is blowing up everywhere, and is currently trying to crack into the American market, which I have no doubt he’ll succeed in doing. “I got the new world in my view/On my journey I pursue”.

The album also features a number of wicked artists we know and love, such as PNC, and our favourite lady in pink, Ruby Frost, both opens and closes the album. It’s a true showcase of NZ’s musical talent, with Dallas also bringing back Fire and Ice as the producers. The result is a thoughtful album that just flows together seamlessly, and I feel it’ll definitely be one to chuck on during summer and chill to. It feels a little bit throwback as well, and is going to be an album that’s a classic for sure.

Get the album on iTunes, or pick up a physical copy at all good music stores. Definitely get your hands on this one sooner rather than later, and get excited for his support at Rapture next year!