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

Lowkey @ Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

“I’m an anarchist and an angry academic activist”

THIS July marked the return of UK MC Lowkey from his apparent retirement with the surprise release of hard-hitting single Ahmed. lowkey2

Within weeks the rapper, who in 2012 said he was hanging up his mic for good, announced a tour including a September 17 date in Cardiff. Continue reading

De La Soul @ Newport Centre

“Most crews are post-current while we’re forever”

“We go by the name of De La Soul and we’ve been doing this for quite some time,” explains Dave, aka Trugoy, unnecessarily as everyone in the Newport Centre appears familiar with the Long Island trio and their contribution to hip hop.

Dave, aka Trugoy, of De La Soul

Dave, aka Trugoy, of De La Soul

2016 marks 20 years since De La released ‘Stakes Is High’ – their response to the ghetto fabulous state of hip hop at the time and considered a re-introduction from some of the game’s elder statesmen. “Man every word I say should be a hip hop quotable,” raps Pos during that title track – and the crowd do know every line. Continue reading

Tarrus Riley @ 02 Academy, Bristol

“Hey DJ can you play that song?/Set the mood for me to hold a different energy”

BILLED as Tarrus Riley and the Blak Soil Band this show centred around the interplay between the rich-toned vocalist and band leader Dean Fraser.

Tarrus Riley

Tarrus Riley

The acclaimed saxophonist welcomed the headliner to the stage with a funky rendition which indicated for all Riley’s catalogue of love songs – and female admirers jammed into the 02 – there would be no letting up for the May Day Bank Holiday crowd.
Continue reading

Saul Williams @ Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

Chop my neck a million times, I still burn bright and stand, yo

“I’M inspired by people, you all have your own stories and thankyou for being part of mine,” is how poet and performer Saul Williams thanks a sold out Friday night crowd in Cardiff.

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The story Williams, whose music is perhaps best described as alternative hip hop, has come to tell is that of Martyr Loser King – a hacker in Burundi using the west’s easily discarded technology to spread chaos through the internet; “Hacker, I’m a hacker, I’m a hacker in your hard drive… I’m a virus in your system”. Continue reading

Macka B @ The Globe, Cardiff

It’s all about the 45/Something about the feel and the vibe

“MACKA B is always about social commentary,” states the veteran British reggae DJ as he launches into ‘Sex Machine’ and gets the crowd to chant its chorus, “She’s more than a sex machine/The woman is a human being”.

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It’s just one more song from a vault of danceheall favourites that typify the Wolverhampton native’s approach, honed over more than 30 years as a solo recording artist, of delivering positive messages to vibrant reggae rhythms. Continue reading

Soul in motion: Blackstreet, Keith Sweat and Omar

THIS autumn saw two of the most influential figures of modern soul and rnb performing in South Wales.

Omar at the Globe in Cardiff

Omar at the Globe in Cardiff


Teddy Riley and his reformed vocal group Blackstreet toured Europe with Keith Sweat, stopping in Newport in October, while British soul singer Omar’s latest UK tour included a Cardiff gig at the end of September. Continue reading