Review: Jeremih — Don’t Tell Em’ Tour @ The Grand, Wellington

Gigs, Music, Review


The best part Wellington clubbers could learn from the Jeremih show on Wednesday night was; just because a woman whose a stranger to a man whose a stranger to that woman are getting down like they’re about to get it on — don’t mean they have to feel shame or get married, you don’t even have to know each others names…

I liked that.

The difference between Jeremih and say Mario’s last-minute, tour off the back of Australia, sell them cheap tickets and perform for 15 minute set, was the music quality.

Yes it’s pop/R&B. But there’s a section in Jeremih’s approach that steers him well away from other C-grade artists touring AUS and NZ recently. Listen to Late NYC. Then listen to All About You.  Then play ‘Birthday Sex’ on Jeremih….just for the fuck of it.

Some criticisms I’ve heard about the night is that they came out too late and people had work the next day; I’d also heard people say that the Grand is a dodgy venue to be at. TBH I really like the wood and brick interior, the balcony makes smoking convenient and when you’re peoples are all in there turning up, who cares where you’re at right?

Wellington needs to get behind these gigs more so Shan and Raw can keep bringing us more MUSIC like Jeremih. All too often I tell people what I did on a Wednesday night or the weekend and the answer I get is “Huh? I didn’t even know they were here”. (Freddie Gibbs, Bone Thugs, Lloyd).

The best part about going to a show held by Shan And Raw is the non-pretense; there’s a filtering system in the nature of their shows thats dictates: you come if you come and want to see the act because they’re good and that’s the bottom line; all the technical skill required to put on a 100-type show is there when these guys do it. The openers are chosen specifically (Jesse Antonio, Ray Tait – MMA). The DJ’s hold it down and set it off in between sets, in particular DJ Gooda, Marek and DJ Raw.

What’s needed is more attendance and open-mindedness at these shows. More foot traffic gives the promoters more options regarding who they can bring.

Who knows, maybe ‘International Wednesdays’ can become a permanent thing. $30 – $40 to see Jeremih is all good really. Personally, I’d like to see August Alsina before I die, or even before 2014 is done and then it would be moved to James Cabaret anyway. Not to mention, if we can build the momentum and really get into it, artists like Jeremih might be able to pre-know that Late NYC would be a joint we’d actually want to hear live in the middle of the club as opposed to a straight commercial set, maybe.

When DJ Gooda went to New York he said what he noticed about their clubs there is the party-goers ability to still get down to a slow beat and then take their energy back up again as the DJ’s set travelled along peaks and falls. Welly has different pockets of hip hop and R&B lovers who party separately but love the same music. We’re not too cool to open our minds and take the dance/hip hop/party scene up a couple notches…Are we? Surely not.

Check out our Chicago photo essay by Sara Coe. 

Review: August — Testimony, “So Bubble Gum And Shit [fuck that]”

Editorial, Music, Review


The reason the XXL editorial team fought so hard to get August Alsina on their annually anticipated Freshman class list for 2014 is because his verses are lyrical and true to the street; as far as raw, real-raps go; the difference is they’re in melody. He’s doing a Drake without the autotune and riding the wave in slow — most notably on topics far less fantastical than the inner workings of his love life.

Manny the news guy at XXL said on Hot 97, in regards to putting R&B on the Freshman (typically rap list) “I was with it, initially it was like hmm, but then it made sense because we are hip hop on a higher level, that’s our thing; it meant that we had to show the growth of hip hop and August Alsina, he made sense.”

Executive producer, Ebro Darden added “Singing has always been a part of hip hop” and went on to call those expecting strictly bars in ‘HIP HOP’, “Hip Hop purists”. Peter Rosenberg objected passively.

I met Lloyd’s DJ, Kelo, last year in Wellington before I knew about August and he was shocked we were still booking Chingy, he couldn’t say Lloyd, obviously. He was even more sad for me because I hadn’t heard of August yet. The next time I came across August was a 4/20 session over summer with my home girl whom I shall not name. She introduced me too squeegees — we’ll be friends forever and thus, I will always love August. So factor this into my critique.

August on Sway In The Morning:

SWAY: What kind of energy are you going to keep bringing to your music? Because I know, you sing about love, you sing about girls and all those things but what other kind of energy…

AUGUST: I mean, I can only sing about real shit man and what I done been through, ya heard me, like it’s so much shit that go on besides, fucking some bitches. It’s a whole…it’s real life out hea; and I think, you know, people kind of miss that…especially with singers sometimes man because they wants us to be so, yeah, just (clenches palms is) so bubble gum and shit. (Extends hand out) and they scared how people gon’ react. But fuck that, it’s real out chea.”

On May 5th, Testimony sat at fourth on the Hot New Hip Hop chart, underneath Pharell’s GIRL and infront of the Marshall Mathers LP 2 and YG, My Crazy Life. The dude’s doing something right.

There are tracks from his EP Downtown that made it with him to Testimony BUT reworked — also it would be a shame for Numb fans to never hear Ghetto feat Yo Gotti or I Luv This Shit feat Trinidad James.

I love ‘Testimony’ because the 20-year-old, if he keeps at it, will influence not only R&B and pop, but rap music too; like Isaiah Rashad said at the round table,

“He sing (Chance the Rapper), he sing (Kevin Gates), he sing (Vic Mensa), I sing, he (August) just may not rap as much.”

August said it good too: “To me what hip hop is, is like, a ni**a’s struggle and a ni**a’s story, where he truly come from — who you are as a person — as a man. I do that in my music. I tell my real story — I put on for the hood. I was homeless just a few years ago and now I’m here. I’m blessed.”

Here’s his freestyle:

Other R&B Gangstas to remember:

(In no particular order)

Max B

Warren G

Nate Dogg


Lyfe Jennings (My ultimate favourite R&B Gangsta)

R Kelly


Alicia Keys


Mary J Blige


Angie Stone


Left Eye

Erykah Badu


Photo essay: Chicago, 2014 — Sara Coe

Art, Culture, Feature

Sara Coe

I’ve had a five-year unexplainable love affair with New York. But now New York has competition, and his name is Chicago.

When I heard my good friend was moving to Chicago for three months, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to visit him. I always wanted to visit Chicago, I knew it was going to be an amazing city, purely based on the fact it produces great music. And for it to have inspired such great music (Le Common Gil Scott-Heron, Kanye, Lupe etc), I thought ‘It must be one special place.’ And it was.

…And Oprah is from Chicago. Don’t hate. I love Oprah.

Chicago has been getting a lot of media attention these days for being a dangerous city. Last year, it even passed New York for being the murder capital of America. Maybe it was because I didn’t really venture into the really dangerous places but I didn’t feel unsafe at all. It was friendly, the vibe was soulful and I loved the people.

I’ve been living in Japan for the last four years and although I love Japan, I missed the friendly and random interactions I had with the people in Chicago. Here are a few pics of my adventures.

Love you Chicago.


Follow Sara HERE.

Review: SZA — Z

Feature, Review


“Lately I’ve bee questioning, am I all that I pretend to be. I doubt it.” — SZA, Green Mile 

Z is the début EP from TDE beauty SZA. This crew don’t play, these men (more specifically) don ‘t play, bringing us a female vocalist that would be sharp in indie, hip hop, pop, r &b…whatever genre you like.

With her album cover resembling something sweet like a sugar and floral coated…adornment; SZA’s voice does not take long to warm up to, predominantly due to the style driving it.

Her vocals are delivered in a natural, I am not trying type-of-way and it’s the production choices that carry tracks 1-10 cohesively, as a solid package.

She reminds me of Corinne Bailey Rae, Lykki Li, and Vanessa Abrams from Gossip Girl, i.e. the stunningly beautiful weirdo who sings about boys on ‘HiiiJack’ and then gets together with Kendrick Lamar for the song ‘Babylon’ singing “I can’t recall the last time I took adive from anyone, shaped like a figure eight, who trusts pretty girls anyway”?

There’s a fusion between synthetic and ambient samples on Z that really, really work. The sound is not new, but for an artist being dropped into the ‘neo soul’ category, SZA and Z are extremely — forward.

It seems appropriate in this case, that Top Dawg Entertainment be labeled an indie label. SZA holds the writing credits for Z and it is this aspect that holds her in higher esteem than other female vocalists; production credits go to  Emile HaynieMac Miller and others. A new term I’ve learned on Wikipedia since reading into SZA is this: PBR&B also referred to as R-Neg-B, hipster R&B and alternative R&B. Would I put her on the same list as The Weeknd, Frank Ocean and Miguel…. Yeah. 

Because Z drips and pulsates with that same edge, style and soul; with SZA walking a very fine line between sas, sex – all while raising a fist in the air. Gen Z is here.