MUSIC THAT MATTERS – ICYMI: STÖJ SNAK INTERVIEW WITH NIELS SØRENSON

by Sara Harrington

Part of  a series exploring great music from the DIY music scene that you may have missed.

Hi Niels, thanks so much for letting me bother you with lots of questions! How are you doing today?

No worries. My pleasure. I’m pretty good today – currently in an airport, waiting for a plane to Copenhagen where I’m going to visit an old friend and see a Guns ‘n’ Roses show. Ten year old me is stoked.

So, I’m pretty late to the game and only just stumbled across you and your musical endeavours – Can you tell me a bit about ‘Stöj Snak’ and how it started and who is involved?

Stöj Snak is a ScreamerSongwriter band from Denmark. I started Stöj Snak as an acoustic solo act around 4 years ago – basically just me recording songs in my apartment as a hobby project. It was never meant for anyone to hear.

Since then the band has grown to a four piece with drums, washboard, upright bass and other trash instruments but the attitude towards the music is still very much the same – we do everything ourselves and because it’s fun. It’s basically the antithesis to Guns ‘n’ Roses.Continue Reading

GENTRIFICATION AND DISAPPEARING NIGHTCLUBS

by James Anthony

In my first year of university, I had the pleasure to live on Prince of Wales Road in Norwich, one of the most dangerous roads in Norfolk and one of England’s worst drinking areas in terms of late-night violence. While it might not have been for everyone, I honestly loved the feeling of being at the heart of the city’s nightlife and counted myself week in week out as one of the thousands of club-goers descending onto the strip. For me, nightclubs are a way to relive stress, relax and enjoy yourself alongside scores of friends and strangers, and represent a sort of coming together of people of all different backgrounds to lose yourself in the dance.Continue Reading

THE 20 BEST RADICAL MUSIC RELEASES OF 2016

By Chris Jarvis

Yes, yes, we all know that 2016 has been an unmitigated cluster-fuck, with rising fascism, worsening humanitarian crises and intensifying conflict. In moments of darkness, many of us turn to the arts world – especially music – for comfort, for release, for explanation. With David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Glenn Frey, Paul Kantner, Maurice White, George Martin, Phife Dawg, Erik Petersen, Leonard Cohen, Nick Menza, Greg Lake, Sharon Jones, and too many others all having passed away, many have found music to have also fallen on dark times.

That notwithstanding, 2016 has been a year of some undeniably and uniquely brilliant music too, especially music that espouses messages of a better world, of political analysis, of radical alternatives. Here are the 20 best of those radical releases from the past year.

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A PLACE FOR POETRY

by Candice Nembhard

The Nobel Prize for Literature is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated and respected arts prizes in the calendar year. Previous winners include Harold Pinter, V.S. Naipaul and Toni Morrison – all of whom have gone on to achieve worldwide and commercial success. This year’s prize was awarded to singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, who – surprisingly – only ever wrote one novel. The Blonde on Blonde singer was awarded the honour over rumoured nominees Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Haruki Murakami.‘Having created new poetic expressions within the American songbook tradition’, Dylan’s surrealist, stream-of-consciousness protest lyrics have been given the Nobel stamp of approval – but what impact does this have on our understanding of this increasingly popular form?

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A SEAT AT THE TABLE

by Candice Nembhard

‘A Seat at the Table’ is the newly debuted project by the enigmatic Solange Knowles. The 21 track album marries intricate layers of R&B with densely packed lyrics, carving open a bigger space to discuss the beauty of black creatives. With features from the likes of Kelly Rowland, Q-Tip, Sampha and Kelela – not forgetting incredible production credits from Raphael Saadiq – there is no denying that Knowles is opening and changing the space for admiring and respecting black creativity.

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SKEPTA, CHANCE THE RAPPER AND RAP’S DIY REVOLUTION

by Mike Vinti

The last week or so has seen the release of two of the most anticipated projects in recent musical history; Skepta’s fourth album Konnichiwa and Chance the Rapper’s third mixtape Coloring Book.

With both MCs having made a name for themselves over the past couple of years as being pioneers in their respective fields of rap music, the release of their full length efforts has served to cement their reputations and effectively crown them as kings of their respective sides of the Atlantic. However, while both projects are excellent musically speaking, what’s most interesting about the hype surrounding both Chance and Skepta is that they’re both totally independent artists.Continue Reading

BLAST FROM THE PAST – CHRISTINA AGUILERA: STRIPPED

by Carmina Masoliver

I have a strange memory of Christina Aguilera performing Genie in a Bottle on Top of the Pops and my dad asking if I liked her songs. Strange, because it’s so unremarkable to be kept inside my head. At this stage I her career, she had made her big break, and soon enough I was listening to her album, with hits such as What a Girls Wants and Come On Over (All I Want Is You). Yet, it was three years later, when she released what I will always think of as her best album: Stripped.

I was having a hard time at school, and listening to this album was the very definition of empowering. I had been pushed out of a friendship group during a time where looking back, I honestly believe I was depressed, and this escalated to the extent where I felt I was a target for lots of different groups at school. I did make some new friends, and remember connecting with one of them through a shared love of this album. This was before we had learnt to talk about why it is that Beautiful holds so much resonance with us, but fourteen years later and we are still friends, now sharing a love of bell hooks.Continue Reading

NOT YOUR PUNK – AN INTERVIEW WITH NIKOLAI JONES OF KING PRAWN

By Chris Jarvis

In 1993, a new icon was born. King Prawn’s incendiary sound emerged from London, and paved the way for countless other bands on a burgeoning and ever developing scene. Over the next decade, they would lay waste to notions of genre as album after album would reinvent punk, ska, hip-hop and hardcore blazing a trail for many others to follow. Sonic Boom Six, Random Hand, The King Blues all built upon the legacy of King Prawn. So diverse and innovative, they coined their own label to define their music – Wildstyle, and their rebel rousing songs combined with their flagrant disregard for musical convention led to comparisons with American rap-metal pioneers Rage Against the Machine.Continue Reading

SOUNDTRACK OF THE REVOLUTION – AN INTERVIEW WITH SPUD OF LOBSTER

by Chris Jarvis

The Midlands have been for many years a breeding ground for the very best talents on the UK ska scene. In the 1980s, it was the pioneering sounds of Coventry’s two-tone bands – The Specials and The Selecter that led the way. Nowadays, Birmingham has a lively and burgeoning scene of acts that are fusing traditional reggae and dub music with the energy and raw anger of punk and hip-hop. Building on the reggae vibes of Brummie legends such as Steel Pulse and UB40, Lobster and their peers have built a sound and a scene that brings together the many traditions of these musical legacies. Throughout this, they have maintained a focus on politics and conscious lyricism. Because of this, we decided to talk with Lobster’s frontman Spud about his and the band’s outlook and the implications this has for their music as part of our series Music That Matters.
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IN TRANSITION – AN INTERVIEW WITH JOSH CHANDLER MORRIS OF HOPE IN HIGH WATER

by Chris Jarvis

For years, Josh Chandler Morris was known as the energetic frontman of skacore band Anti-Vigilante, whose powerful stage presence, piercing sax segments and fast paced vocals thrilled crowds across the country including on tours with veterans of the ska scene such as King Prawn and Inner Terrestrials. Nowadays, Josh has teamed up with Carly Slade to form Hope in High Water, a two piece acoustic folk band, whose focus is much mellower and whose lyrics are less focussed on the political issues that Anti-Vigilante were well known for. But because of Josh’s background, The Norwich Radical decided to discuss with Josh his political outlook, how it interplays with his musical outputs and why his most recent outfit has decided to steer away from the politics as part of our series Music That Matters.Continue Reading

THE RADICAL’S YEAR IN MUSIC

by Mike Vinti

2015 has been a pretty incredible year for music, especially that of a socially conscious political nature. Kendrick Lamar cemented his position as the year’s GOAT (Great of All Time for you non-rap-nerds out there)  with To Pimp a Butterfly, Sleaford Mods gave a voice to the victims of austerity with their acerbic, bassline backed rants and grime blew up so fast that half the teenagers in the country switched from Hypebeast to Road Man in the space of a month. As it’s the time of year where every goddamn publication lists their top 10, 20, 50, 100 etc. albums we figured we’d run through the year’s best moments, in no particular order, with a special end of year Radical Playlist.  Continue Reading

HOW SHOULD WE TALK ABOUT MISOGYNY IN RAP?

by Mike Vinti

Between Spotify releasing data showing that hip hop is the most widely listened to genre of music, and the imminent release of Straight Outta Compton: The Movie, rap has been in the news a lot recently. With the spotlight firmly on Dr. Dre & Co., and in light of a fantastic article for Gawker by journalist and MC Dee Barnes, detailing the abuse she faced from the former NWA member and how women were excluded from the movie, questions have begun to be asked about the treatment of women in hip hop.

In many ways these questions are long overdue. As with many other genres, women have been all but erased from the popular narrative of hip hop’s history, and many rappers still use misogynistic language today. The latter of these is the most frequent, and most generalised, complaint levelled against hip hop and rap, and has been since the genre reached mainstream popularity. Continue Reading

THE WHITE BOY’S GUIDE TO GANGSTA RAP

by Mike Vinti

Since its inception gangsta rap has been a thorn in the side of the establishment. Brash, violent and loud, its explosion in the late 80s and 90s tore up the rule book of hip hop and reshaped the genre in its own image, introducing the world to the harsh reality of life on the streets of black America. With the cinematic release of ‘Straight Outta Compton’ a week away (August 15th) it only seems fitting to look back at some of gangster rap’s greatest and explore its legacy thirty years on.

Gangsta rap is hip hop’s bratty younger brother, fed on the social conscious rhymes of early hip hop but filled with the anger of a generation excluded from the yuppie party of the eighties.  Like punk before it, its church is broad, ranging from the smooth, sun-drenched rhythms of G-Funk, to the hard edged, sample heavy boom bap of Wu Tang Clan. Frequently criticised by those on the left and the right for glorifying violence and misogyny, scapegoated for the prevalence of crime in black communities, and beloved to many a hip hop head, the story of gangsta rap is the story of poverty in America, as relevant to this day as it was back in ’86.Continue Reading

HOME GROWN PART 2: GRIME

by Mike Vinti

Last time round we focused on the explosion of hip hop taking place across the UK, this week we focus on the UK Rap scene’s mainstay: Grime.

Grime initially took off in the early 2000s thanks to pioneering production and vocal stylings of artists like Skepta and Wiley, whose invention of ‘Eski-beat’ birthed grime as we know it. Characterised by double-time rapping and generally sticking around 140 bpm, grime is hip hop’s faster, louder, and often far more hype cousin. Unfortunately, I was eight years old in 2002 and subsequently missed out on a lot of ‘OG’ grime. In better news however, after a lull in which the closest thing to grime you’d find on the radio was Wiley’s rather ill-considered attempts at pop, grime is back. With it comes a wealth of fresh, young, talent, raised on the genre’s roots and unafraid to experiment.

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HOME GROWN PART 1: UK HIP HOP

by Mike Vinti

For the past few years, hidden away from the mainstream media, and even much of the music press, British Rap has been flourishing. Rap in the UK comes in two major forms; Grime and UK Hip Hop. The Grime Renaissance of 2014/5 has seen the genre reinvigorated, keeping the best elements of its mid-2000s domination and pushing its boundaries both in terms of lyricism and production. On the UK Hip Hop side of things, labels like High Focus and Blah! Records have been slowly gaining more and more of a following, carving out a fresh faced, DIY oriented scene and shrugging off the ‘crusty’ aspersions that have come with the genre for so long.

Due to the frankly immense volume of rap music coming out the UK right now, this article will be in two halves, each dealing with one side of Britain’s rap world ­­— this week, UK Hip Hop!Continue Reading

HIP-HOP, HUH?

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by Mike Vinti

Local festival Boom-Bap announced its line-up last week to considerable hype from Facebook’s ‘heads and a somewhat more muted response from the Norwich/ Norfolk public at large. Boom Bap, as the name suggests, is a hip-hop festival —  this year it’s taking place in the Suffolk countryside from 5th-7th June. It’s been running for a few years now and is part of an expanding hip-hop and rap scene in Norwich and the surrounding marsh-land between here and Yarmouth. So far they’ve announced Odd Future’s kid wonder Earl Sweatshirt and Skepta collaborating New York group RATKING as headliners, with cult legends Jehru the Damaja and Homeboy Sandman taking high slots on the bill as well. If you were to visit the corner of the internet where rap nerds meet, you’d find thread after thread of discussion and hype surrounding each of these artists, but talk to most people in Norwich or even at the youthful bubble that is the University of East Anglia and they won’t have a clue who you’re talking about.

This is no slight on those people, music is subjective, there’s a lot of it, blah blah blah, but I couldn’t help but wonder why in particular so few people, outside of those who are borderline obsessed, know about Hip-Hop in the UK?

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SILVANA IMAM, HIP-HOP, AND THE SWEDISH ELECTIONS

by Hannah Jerming-Havill

Sunday morning, 14.09.2014, there’s a slight overcast dulling Bristol’s sky, the tea is brewing and on the other side of the North Sea history might be written.

Recently however, the utopian illusion has been dissolving in accordance with the suffocating right-wing wave that’s been ablaze throughout Europe. In 2010 the far right, anti-immigration party Sverigedemokraterna (SD) gained seats in the Swedish government for the first time, which made the past elections dismally historical. Due to the coalition based structure of the Swedish government, SD gained quite a significant position of power, because neither the left-wing nor the right-wing coalition secured sole majority; SD had the power to swing the vote left or right with their 5.7% of government seats. As the left was outraged the coalitions broke down and Miljöpartiet (MP – Sweden’s equivalent of the Green Party) announced that they would rather shift their position and collaborate with the right-wing coalition than give SD such a power privilege.Continue Reading