Children of Zeus @ Portland House, Cardiff

“I only know slow rapping over soul samples”

SIX months on from their last visit Manchester’s hip hop soul duo Children of Zeus returned to Cardiff for the penultimate date of their headline UK tour.


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Romain Virgo @ Tramshed, Cardiff

“And just like a knight in shining armour/I used my charm just to calm her”

ROMAIN VIRGO made his name as the winner of Jamaica’s Digicel Rising Stars talent contest in 2007 and more than 10 years on is touring the UK to promote his Lovesick album.

The route from talent show winner to stardom is more established on his home island than in European pop music but Virgo is a natural inheritor of the tradition of smooth as silk, male reggae singers. An impressive catalogue of singles have establish a reputation as a slick but considerate heart-throb. As his hour and a half on stage, that includes at least 25 songs, demonstrates – again in the tradition of Jamaican singers – it’s also a catalogue deeper than three LPs, of which Lovesick is the latest. Continue reading

Mykal Rose @ The Globe, Cardiff

“Guess who’s coming to dinner, Natty Dreadlock”

MYKAL ROSE created history with his former Black Uhuru band mates when, in 1984, they won reggae’s first Grammy award for the album Anthem.

The legacy is the singer is often referred to with ‘Grammy’ inserted as a middle name and his current UK tour is billed as Sounds of Black Uhuru 1977-1985. Continue reading

Record of the year: The Story of O.J. – Jay-Z

“O.J like ‘I’m not black, I’m O.J’…okay”

THE seeds of the record of the year 2017 can be found in the seven months leading up to last January.


In May 2016 US cable sports channel ESPN released its five-part documentary O.J: Made in America. That August American football player Colin Kaepernick, while a member of the San Francisco 49ers – OJ’s hometown team where he brought his famed playing career to an end – remained seated on the bench as his teammates stood for the US national anthem ahead of a pre-season game. Continue reading

The Skatalites @ The Globe, Cardiff

AS the original house band of the legendary Jamaican recording studio, record label and soundsystem, Studio One, The Skatalites have long since ensured their legacy.

The ‘grandfathers of reggae music’ – or perhaps as they are best known – the creators of ska, The Skatalites are a band that lives on through their music. Drum beats, bass licks and all powerful horns that signalled the birth of the mighty Jamaican recording industry and morphed into rocksteady and reggae. Continue reading

Record of the year: Europe, The Final Countdown

IF the year was 1986 then perhaps the synth rock of The Final Countdown by Europe, the Swedes with big hair, would be the record of the year. When trying to decide the record that captures what 2016 was all about it is those songs inspired by big European dreams that make the final countdown.

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2016 has been a year of political shocks and upheavals and it also took one of the greatest artists of all time when Prince died in April. Other icons, from music, sport and politics, have all passed away throughout the past 12 months, seemingly abnormally so, leading to some to claim the past year has been one of the worst ever. Continue reading

Kano @ Tramshed, Cardiff

“This the motherfucking thanks I get from this scene?/Ten years deep, a thousand 16s”

IS any rapper ever satisfied their position in hip hop has been properly recognised and respected? Striving for acceptance, and resentment at any perceived lack of acknowledgment, still fuels so many MCs. kano

Kano is already recognised as one of the central figures in the emergence of the UK grime scene but that yearning for props is still evident.

2016 has however delivered a Mercury Music Prize nomination for Kano’s fifth LP, Made in the Manor, and a nationwide tour which brought him to Cardiff – and left the 31-year-old veteran in no doubt as to the esteem he is held in the capital. Continue reading