charlie hearn’s round up of goings on in the worlds of rap and hip hop of late keeps us up to date with kanye’s forthcoming album, jay z’s long awaited memoirs, who exactly triumphed at the mobos, and david cameron’s favourite rapper, rhymefest.
Hip Hop music has a long history of providing the soundtrack to political unrest. From Grandmaster Flash’s ‘The Message’ to Public Enemy’s ‘Fight The Power’ and NWA’s ‘F**k the Police’, for every generation of rappers there’s a handful of bold individuals who aren’t afraid to voice their often controversial opinions. Although political Hip Hop does still exist, in recent times we seem to be more inclined to take a leaf out of Arnie’s book. Someone who hasn’t fared so well in this natural progression is Wyclef Jean, who was admitted to hospital at the beginning of this month suffering from symptoms linked to stress and fatigue. The rapper/producer who became the media figurehead of the relief efforts in Haiti was looking to run for presidency of the Caribbean country that’s struggled to recover from the devastation inflicted by this year’s earthquake. However, the electoral panel threw a spanner in the works when they pointed out that unfortunately Wyclef did not meet the 5 year residency requirements necessary to attain the position. Not to mention that he can’t speak French or Creole (the nations two first languages), these are the kind if issues that you would imagine might get flagged up before launching into an intensive political campaign in the middle of trying to record a new album, but there you go. Someone who appears to have a more feasible line in their political endeavours is David Cameron’s favourite rapper Rhymefest (pictured above). Earlier this month, the Chi Town native announced that he was going to run for office in November’s election. See what you make of his A Level media project, I mean election campaign video:
A man who isn’t abject to a bit of political action himself is Obama approved rap megastar Jay Z. Earlier this month the jigga man released details regarding his highly anticipated collection of memoirs entitled Decoded (pictured right). The 336 page long book is based around 36 of his songs and combines lyrics with music history and social commentary. A ridiculously intricate and impressively ambitious marketing campaign has recently been launched by New York ad agency Droga5 to support the official release of the book on 16th November. Fans are encouraged to engage in an international scavenger hunt that will take in 5 major cities across America and Europe. The entire operation revolves around Bing.com/Jay-Z and those willing to get involved stand the chance of winning themselves a signed copied of Decoded, as well as being entered into a draw for the top prize of a trip to Las Vegas to see Jay Z and Coldplay in concert on New Year’s Eve.
Sean Carter’s right hand man Kanye West has also been at the forefront of the music media this month in the lead up to the release of his 5th studio album My Dark Twisted Fantasy (pictured left). After the Taylor Swift debacle and all the kafuffle that surrounded it, it appeared as if Mr. West simply disappeared into thin air. In fact he went into hiding and flew out to Hawaii to begin work on a new record that will attempt to salvage his humdinger of a blooper that had threatened to tar his public image forever. The new album isn’t out until next month but already it seems as if Kanye is well on his way to forgiveness with the first two singles to be taken from the album (‘Power’ and ‘Runaway’) both receiving warm reviews without a sobbing country singer in sight. On October 23rd VH1, MTV and BET screened Kanye West’s first bash at directing, in the form of a 35 minute short film that uses songs and concepts from the album to weave an obscure tale that depicts Kayne falling in love with a phoenix (/super model). Is it a stroke of genius or just one big ego massage? A reoccurring question that crops up whenever Kanye West is involved - see what you think:
On 20th October the 15th annual MOBO awards ceremony was held at the Echo Arena in Liverpool. X Factor fodder JLS emerged as mildly controversial winners, scooping two awards for Best UK Act and Best Album. In the process they sparked the debate as to whether manufactured pop really has any place at a ceremony that’s meant to celebrate music of black origin and whether the increase in popularity of the awards has seen the organisers buckle under commercial pressure. Tinie Tempah also came out on top, winning Best Newcomer and Best Video for ‘Frisky’, the 3rd single to be taken from his debut number 1 album Disc-Overy. Plan B also picked up an award for Best UK R&B / Soul Act after his change in musical direction on new album The Defamation Of Strickland Banks. However, it was at the UK Music Video Awards that took place on 12th October where Plan B really cleaned up, taking home 4 awards including Best Pop Video and Best Art Direction for the lead single ‘Prayin’’ taken from his new album: