Nas — Illmatic 20 years later

Editorial, Music, Review

Standing in front of the same man who proclaimed that “Hip Hop is dead” in 2006, last night the James Cabaret in Wellington, New Zealand was taken back to 1994 — a time when it was very much alive and still growing into the revolutionary genre and street news broadcaster it serves as today. Some people say that it was Illmatic that sparked such a development for the hip hop culture because it changed the way rap music was made at the time; it is recognized as the first album to feature more than one producer on it and valued as “the album that ushered in the era of superproducers”. As Busta Rhymes said in the 2014, Tribeca Film documentary, Time Is Illmatic: “What he was able to do lyrically, completely shift the climate of how the emcee was supposed to rhyme.”

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@nasnyc In Wellington 🙌🙌

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Nas told the sold out venue, “I was writing, thinking what I was going to say to you before I came”, what he did say stuck with me:

“It’s up to the hip hop generation.” He said reflecting on the diversity of the people in the room and the reach his beloved genre and culture had extended to after going for 40 years strong. “I don’t know what they’re doing in politics, don’t know what the Police are doing in America..It’s up to us,” he shared.

Review: A$AP Ferg — Trap Lord Leads A New Religion Down Under

Gigs, Music, Review

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A$AP Murder Clan…. Ride Wit The Mob. @asapferg

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“People from Harlem are cool cats,” says CK Paton, one half African-American, one half New Zealander who’s had the good fortune to live in both worlds. A$AP Ferg, from Harlem, played Wellington on Friday night to a sold out crowd. Bodega was like a giant mosh pit, which was cool, considering it was a rap concert; proving again, – as a renewed energy asserts itself in Wellington for hip hop and rap – we can actually sell out rap shows.

If I got to talk to Ferg, I’d ask if having such die-hard fans all the way in New Zealand like this was a surprise to him.

“Y’all are way more turnt than Christchurch,” he said at the after party, where his sense of showmanship had him standing on railings and tables — an instinctive reaction to performing in such a tight space, I thought, as I watched him being led out of VIP to hungry fans who’s paid a mere $5 to walk in off the street and witness the ‘Shabba’ star.

As an extra treat, the after party (hosted by Robin Fernando and Mazdef Productions) had Ferg’s DJ play a set at the Blair Street venue – Betty’s Function House. Once the mob members had taken off their white robes and gas masks, it was realised the DJ was TJ Mizell, Jam Master Jay’s son. Before I was told that though (if I’m unashamedly honest), all the gas masks had reminded me of, was Danny Browns lyrics in ‘Terrorist Threats’:

“O,K,K,K. We mobbing like we the black K,K,K… Don’t try to stop it, get in my way. You’ll get stomped like a Broadway play. OK.” 

These dudes got me feeling like there’s been a massive shift in the universe.

The A$AP Mob [hometown New York] have built an empire where their subscribers don’t necessarily have to understand or know where they come from, or how they live there; all they have to do is leave their inhibitions at home when they come to a show; once there all that is required is that they lower their head so eyes are floor-focussed, raise their fists above their head and shake it whilst shrugging their shoulders in time to the trap-style BPM (140 or thereabouts). This is how one gets ‘turnt’. Eating ‘lollies’ is also involved. So is spilling your liquor on others while bumping into them on purpose. As A$AP Mob apparel reads ‘A$AP Worldwide’, the crew which is made up of rappers, producers and fashion designers are seemingly recruiting fans who just wanna let go sometimes. The last time I remember such an effect on Welly kids was when Keak Da Sneak and E-40 brought ‘Hyphy’ to the mainstream and Welly kids were hanging out of subbed-out family vans, doors open and swinging as the driver rolled down the street at 10 kilometers an hour. It’s a beautiful thing.

This is what Ferg posted on Instagram about Wellington:

“It’s like they all left their brains at home” my friend Ramya, 25, said; observing Wellington’s particular style of turnt involved alpha males pushing girls out of the way to get a good view of the Trap Lord — weird.

Her brother, Prad, 20, replied, “You have to let go sometimes. If you aren’t people who turn up, then you’re not going to get it. I knew for a fact if I was going to Ferg then I’d have to lose my inhibitions and wild out, it’s part and parcel of the new young breed of hip hop. No one would do that at Jay Z or Common, but the new age is infused with punk almost, did you see the Hood Pope t-shirt? That’s so punk.”

Nevertheless the part that caught me the most, was, amidst all this craziness, and lyrics like “ladies, when that broke ass ni*** cum quick…What you gon’ tell him?…’Get the fuck out my face'”, [actually a fair call] Ferg also asked for the lights to be turned off and lighters and phones to be raised in the air because, he said, ‘I know many of you are on drugs and this is for anybody who’s ever had friends and family O D or friends and family who’ve never come back from drugs’. Mizell then dropped ‘Cocaine Castle‘ off Ferg’s album Trap Lord.

As the after party began to wrap, Ferg came back to his booth to find VIP had been invaded by fans; his champagne had been sprayed everywhere and then a tiny girl standing on the seats screamed really loud  and jumped on him so hard he lost balance. He, gentleman-like obliged her (and  as short as he is, she was tinier), as he put her back on the seat she’d jumped from and went to look for someone familiar. Ferg had done his job. Well. He left the club looking satisfied, with a look on his face like two down, one to go. He played Auckland next. Shouts out to Marek and Josh for throwing a memorable night for local fans, from Bodega to Betty’s.

The next Robin Fernando gig is Erykah Badu, April 10 in Auckland and School Boy Q and Isaiah Rashad in Wellington, Saturday, June 14th.

WDYFILWHH also has three digital album downloads to giveaway. Just hash tag ‘TRAPLORD’ to our Twitter by Thursday, May 8, 2014 and be in to win.

Review: Robin Fernando Presents Run The Jewels, Earl Sweatshirt & Danny Brown

Editorial, Events, Review

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“Y’all ready to fuck with the kid?” Earl Sweatshirt strolls out onto the James Cabaret stage in Wellington. The masses are already hyped up from Danny Brown’s set prior, so they ignite again. There is something to be said about clever promoters who bring artists when they are peaking in their cycle. The energy is better; the excitement, rawer; the show — a ‘wild as fuck’ success.

Robin Fernando presents Run The Jewels, Danny Brown & Earl Sweatshirt was one of these shows. Off the back of the Laneways Festival, happy Wellingtonians who couldn’t mission to Auckland or take time off work were treated to hip hop acts currently in their prime. “The king of all side shows” boasted the Facebook event..but then it isn’t boasting if you deliver, and that they did.

Run The Jewels, made up of previously solo artists Killer Mike and El-P, are an uncanny pair. However, when their flows lock into the beat, especially when they performed ‘Run The Jewels’ and their DJ let loose, scratching, it was cold. “Thank you for letting us make a living as rappers,” El-P said.

“This has actually been a good show Wellington, we WILL be back.”

El-P knows what’s up.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADanny Brown cruises on stage.“Hi. I’m Daniel.” He giggles. Oh my God. I heart this man. Gap toothed and frizzy haired, speaking with a slurr — he’s an indie-rap-God. ‘Other’ kids from all sorts of backgrounds were in house, turnt to the nines; eager to fuck with him. Performing tracks mainly off his latest album ‘Old’, it doesn’t surprise me that it was Danny Brown’s set that had me making a new friend that night, but not before fighting with him first:

Rapping ALL the words to DB’s tracks, something about my high tendency, to bounce my head, instead of jump up and down ruggedly, seriously irritated this fulla standing next to me. “Do you only know like five Danny Brown songs or something?” He yelled at me. I gave him a look like ‘fuck you’ and turned back to Danny. He kept going, but after one too many ‘bruh bruh’s’ yelled in my ear I finally asked this asshole what his problem was.

“Actually, my favourite song is Radio Song but he’s not going to play that tonight is he?”

‘Oh shit’. The look on his face flipped. “Is that really your favourite song?” He asked. I gave him a look like ‘SO’?!

“Nah, he won’t play that tonight,” he agreed.

“But do you want to know what the best verse is?” I ask…”His verse on Terrorist Threats with Ab Soul.”

Now we’re friends. As we bounced to DB, my new friend asks me to please understand he’d followed Danny to Laneways in Auckland and back down to Wellington (where he lives). “Look,” he shows me on his phone, “he even re-tweeted me.” After this, I don’t doubt that he is a huge fan, I’ll even say he’s a bigger fan than me. I definitely don’t know every verse and every ad-lib. He tells me more, “I’ve been surrounded by hipsters since yesterday…Fuck Hipsters! I even drove here from Laneways. And then you come and just stand in my spot..but XXX is the best album aye?”

Smokin & Drinkin comes on. It was like this:

Earl Sweatshirt. It’s safe to say New Zealand love Odd Future. ‘Earl Sweatshirt is just the man’ a 17-year-old who got caught lying about his age whilst using a fake ID told me after the show. “I mean I was keen to see Danny Brown, but my girlfriend’s like in love with Earl Sweatshirt.”

“Y’all motherfuckers know who I am?” Domo Genesis from Odd Future beams over his microphone. He has a good smile. The crowd were elated to see him— clearly they did. Looking down into the moshers from my rail, clusters of people below were sending smoke signals into the air; mixed in with sweat, it turned into condensation on the walls and ceiling, one of the homies mentioned he felt it drip onto his face. Errr. My friend and I followed the S O S seeming signals down into the mass of hipsters (shout outs to Tyler King). In real life, Earl Sweatshirt really does look like a young, old man — he’s not joking when he says so in interviews. His set was a showcase of where modern-day hip hop gets weird. But traditional hip hop heads and hipster fans were all there, together, getting down. If you were looking for an example of what the genre of Hip Hop is in 2014, this is it. Content wise, the music is still rugged and stereotypically ‘wrong’ and it poses the question, if y’all love this, then why don’t you love YG? As a crew, Odd Future have certainly nailed their market perfectly; with a few seasons of ‘nail’ left to keep banging on the head; it is their perfectly nonchalant, ‘C B F’ way of doing things which seems to have the youth enthralled. “Too black for the white kids and too white for the blacks, from honour role to cracking locks up off them bicycle racks,” Earl raps. He opens the door for EVERYONE to WANT to be at his show, allowing numbers to speak for themselves. Shout outs to Robin Fernando for making this happen. Shout outs to Laneways for having WDYFILWHH. Epic show.

` OG overall vox pop in the girl’s toilets — Laetitia, “These used to be my mums!”