July 29, 2021No Comments

How hip-hop and fashion struggle with masculinity

Men's fashion has been the continuous shadow of women's fashion for centuries. The stereotypes of men and fashion are smart, intelligent and practical rather than that of women which are considered decorative, impractical and pretty.

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April 22, 2021No Comments

Sustainable Shopping: How To Recreate Iconic Hip Hop Outfits

Just in time for Earth Day (April 22nd) we’ve curated planet-friendly ‘fits inspired by some of hip-hop’s most enduring sartorial signatures.

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April 15, 2021No Comments

From Billionaire Boys Club To Bionic Yarn; How Pharrell Williams Is Creating Impact.

From hit songs to business ventures in fashion, property and skincare the recently turned 48-year-old Pharrell Williams is transitioning his 90s hip-hop bad boy image to something profitable and spectacular. Behind the scenes his investment and business portfolio growing to be impressive.

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April 9, 20211 Comment

A Financial Brigade; How The Hip-Hop Industry Is Changing Wealth

Musicians have been known to have some of the strongest voices in the way of change. Hip-hop artists in particular are putting their money where their mouth is. With a small amount of research we discovered a whole world of investments, businesses and brands rappers have stored in their pockets.

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March 26, 2021No Comments

The Evolutionary Story Of Ghetts

Music is a capricious beast, which is why the industry can sometimes be a revolving door as artists come and go as the zeitgeists shift. The youth are often the driving force behind these shifts, which is why rap especially, is often referred to as a young man's game; as who better to be elected epochal spokespeople than the youth themselves? As the mainstays of yesteryear are slowly replaced by fresh blood, many of them fade into obscurity, try their hand at other occupations, or cling hopelessly onto their previous positions in office. At 36 years old,  conventional wisdom suggests that Ghetts should by now be falling into one of these categories. Instead, he’s turned out to be something of an anomaly; he’s just released his magnum opus  Conflict of Interest, railed the whole scene behind his album campaign, and debuted at number two on the charts.  

Before this purple patch, Ghetts spent most of his career as an under-appreciated genius, who was either ahead of his time or deemed simply not marketable. The quality of music could never be called into question, from his debut mixtape 2000 & Life (2005), Ghetts has been someone who has always pushed the envelope. The meaty 25 track tape may not be as succinct and lacks the continuity of his later work, but Ghetto (Ghetts’ previous moniker), was like a mad scientist frantically experimenting on each track trying to catch lightning in a bottle. Despite never quite managing it over the course of the 25 tracks, we’re nevertheless treated to flashes of his brilliance throughout, on standout cuts like “Sycamore Freestyle”, “Over” and “Pride”.  

Being one of grime’s earliest lyrical proprietors, meant that rather than following a well-traveled route, Ghetts himself became the cartographer, figuring out both pathways and pitfalls along the way. This journey into the unknown made Ghetts difficult to place for labels, and he hadn’t yet refined the lyrical ferocity that had quickly become his calling card. Determined to shake the early criticisms leveled at him, Ghetts released Ghetto Gospel (2007), which was widely regarded as his best body of work, until it was dethroned by Conflict of Interest & Ghetto Gospel: The New Testament. I remember first getting my hands on the mixtape from UK Record Shop, a proud moment for me, as I’d only been able to procure a bootleg version of 2000 & Life a few years earlier. When I first laid eyes on the cover, Ghetts with his hands clasped around a rosary, bowing his head in prayer, it was clear that he was once again taking the genre in a new direction.

Pressing play confirmed just that, as Ghetts draws you into the confessional with each track,  giving you more of Justin Clarke, the man behind the personas that have shifted grime’s tectonic plates. It's the first time we really get to see how multi-faceted Ghetts is; over the 21 tracks,  depending on the sermon, the service is lead by either Ghetts, Ghetto, or J Clarke, each providing us with something distinctive. Whether it's the hellfire summoned for the five and a half minute lyrical barrage on the iconic “Top 3 Selected Remix”, or the nimble quick-witted rhyme schemes on “I’m Ghetts”. The quintessential grime machismo is even traded in for vulnerable introspection on much of the latter half of the tape. One thing that is omnipresent throughout, regardless of who’s in the pulpit, is the water like flows; that bend and curve around parts of the instrumental like you’ve never heard before, coupled with Ghetts’ celestial lyrical capabilities; its little wonder that this wasn't his Boy In Da Corner moment.

Although the mixtape went down in grime’s annals as a classic record, critical acclaim aside, it garnered little else in the way of recognition from the wider music industry. It’s almost as if they were not yet ready to receive his musical blessings. Ghetts’ subsequent releases followed a  similar pattern of plaudits from the underground, but never reaching the firmament like fans believed he was capable of. One snub, in particular, saw Ghetts take aim at these industry heathens for not ranking him in the top 10 MCs in the country. Ghetts was well known by now for his warmongering, so these MTV panelists were just the latest to be put to the sword on his 2011 track “Who’s On The Panel”.  

The late noughties saw many MCs dabble in electro-pop, as by this time it was all but accepted that grime and its offshoots were not going to become profitable pursuits. Ghetts’ own dalliance with the sounds of electro, came in the form of a remix of his track “Sing 4 Me”. Although not the worst song to come out of this period, it felt like the selling point of the track was the instrumental and the catchy chorus, as opposed to what Ghetts really had to offer. The lyrical depth, the wisdom, and the mind-boggling flows, all in all, the compromise hadn’t been worthwhile. But at that time, in order to achieve any sort of widespread success, this was the price MCs had to pay.  Some paid in full and got huge returns. Tinchy Stryder, Tinie Tempah, and Dizzee Rascal, all emerged victorious from an era that was genocidal for many Great British MCs. For those that refused to pay the toll, lean years awaited them, but the loyal fans they’d accrued during their career thus far did too.  

For me, a member of this plucky band of Ghetts fans who’ve been listening for the last 15 years,  the last twelve months felt like we were witnessing the first refined droplets of a lifelong distillation process. “Mozambique” was the first song that trickled out, it felt like Ghetts crystallized all the elements that fans had loved about him into one singular track. He’s tried it before, but everything ranging from the way he maneuvered around the beat, to the way he was putting words together just felt like he’d finally zeroed in on the perfect formula.

As a fan, I asked myself whether or not the fandom was clouding my judgment: was this just gonna be another “critically acclaimed” Ghetts album? I know he’s great at making music, but is it genuinely going to connect this time? Then “IC3” dropped. The track brought together two elder statesmen who had both emerged from the lean years of the genre, bloodied and scarred, but both ready to claim the spoils of the hardship they had endured. For the old heads, after the war they waged, seeing Ghetts and Skepta on a track together was a moment in itself. Hearing  Ghetts’ verses confirmed that I wasn’t being led by nebulous fandom, and Ghetts was really in a  different headspace.

Fans have always been of the impression that Ghetts’ brilliance is wasted on the masses because most people don’t catch the complexities in what he’s saying, there are too many layers for the passive listener to truly appreciate. But with this run of releases Ghetts polished the process even further, the lucidity in his delivery, alongside the exactness in what he was saying, begun to awaken the masses to a virtuoso who’s been in their midst for over a decade. “Don’t tell me go back where I came from when the Queen sits there in stolen jewels. Cool. I go back with a chain on, and light up the place like Akon”. It’s direct, clever (but not too clever), and infinitely quotable.  Aside from great one-liners, Conflict Of Interest flows like an album that was made before the streaming era. Rather than a collection of singles, which many modern-day “albums” have become, Conflict Of Interest has been designed to be listened to from cover to cover. This method of consumption has been all but forgotten since the birth of the playlist, but Ghetts reminds us exactly what we’ve been missing. Each track is like a chapter in Ghetts’  autobiography, giving us continuity and expert lyricism in abundance.  

Those of us who’ve been with Ghetts from the start will be well aware of many of these anecdotes, but we’ve certainly never heard them like this before, and there’s plenty of easter eggs embedded in either the lyricism or the instrumentals themselves, that will keep the OG Ghetts fans happy. New listeners may initially be drawn in by the star-studded tracklist, but once Ghetts has lassoed them in with “Fine Wine” they’ll be unable to escape the journey he’s about to take them on.  Ghetts has done his major-label debut right, he’s not compromised on anything, he’s retained all his old fans, and certainly earned a whole host of new ones with the musical masterclass that he displayed on Conflict Of Interest. The most exciting thing of all is that it’s clear that his best years really are ahead of him…

For more on Ghetts, listen below to DJ Semtex' conversation with the Grime pioneer on the Hip Hop Raised Me Spotify podcast.

January 19, 2021No Comments

Drake Officially Becomes First Artist To Surpass 50 Billion Spotify Streams

Another day, another record for Drizzy. According to Chart Data's tweet, Drake is officially the first artist in history to generate 50 billion total streams on Spotify.

According to ChartMasters, the Canadian rapper has accumulated a total of 50,001,998,828 over the years. The impressive stats include 35,704,203,269 streams for songs in which Drake is credited as the lead and 14,297,795,559 in which he is a featured artist.

Of course, with his highly-anticipated studio album ‘Certified Lover Boy’ said to drop on January 29, the number of streams will undoubtedly increase significantly in 2021.

The news comes after Spotify revealed that Drake was the most-streamed artist of the 2010s, with his hit record ‘One Dance’ the second most-streamed song of the 2010s behind Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape Of You’.

2020 was also the year that saw Drake and Future take the top spot for YouTube’s top music videos in the UK for their track ‘Life Is Good’ while ‘Toosie Slide’ came in at number 10.

The record-breaking news comes over a decade after Drake first entered the Hot 100 at No. 92 on May 23, 2009, with his record ‘Best I Ever Had’. Over the years, the hitmaker has collaborated with Rihanna and Mary J. Blige to Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj, earning his stripes as one of the most successful artists of our era.

In the ten years since his breakthrough mixtape ‘So Far Gone’ dropped, Drake has released an impressive five studio albums, three compilations, six mixtapes and 55 singles outselling the likes of Jay-Z, Eminem and Tupac.

As we patiently await his sixth studio album, now is an excellent time to stream some of Drizzy’s greatest hits.

November 12, 2020No Comments

How Female Rappers Became 2020s Hottest Brand Ambassadors

cardi b, megan thee stallion, saweetie brand ambassadors 2020

Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion and Saweetie. Images: Instagram

While women in Hip-Hop have been dominating the global charts (and headlines) for decades, marketable ambassadorship roles have historically been reserved for a different breed of celebrity - mostly white, mostly actresses or pop singers and mostly with a squeaky-clean public record. In the last few years, notable improvements to this lack of inclusive representation have been made (Rihanna for Dior, Beyoncé for Adidas) but 2020 has seen a more palpable shift in the push for brand diversity. This year, three multi-million pound companies tapped some of the most successful women in rap (Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion and Saweetie respectively), to represent their businesses at a global scale. A move that not only celebrates the commercially-successful careers of these female rappers but also openly recognizes the power of their international influence. Scroll down to read more about these game-changing appointments…

 

Cardi B & Balenciaga

Campaign Launch: September 2020 

 

cardi b for balenciaga

Cardi B for Balenciaga A/W20. Image: Balenciaga

“I like those Balenciagas, the ones that look like socks” Cardi B famously rapped in her 2017 hit ‘I Like It’ and fast-forward three years later – the 27-year old is now the first celebrity face of the luxury label in five years. Announced via two giant billboards next to the Louvre museum in Paris, Cardi’s campaign sees her in a form-fitting black dress – true to her own personal style – with a nod to motherhood as she lays down surrounded by children’s toys. Shot during lockdown, the campaign also separately features some of the House’s internal creative team who styled and photographed themselves in the collection, but Cardi’s appointment is by far the most publicized, and headline-worthy imagery.  

 

Megan Thee Stallion & Revlon 

Campaign Launch: August 2020

megan thee stallion revlon campaign

Megan The Stallion, Revlon's new Global Brand Ambassador. Image: Revlon

2020 may not have been a celebratory year for most but for Megan Thee Stallion, it’s undoubtedly one of her best yet. Boasting a number one hit with her Cardi-collab single ‘WAP,’ the Texas-based artist also won Best Female Hip-Hop Artist at the BETs and was revealed as the newest Global Brand Ambassador for iconic makeup label Revlon. The first female rapper in the brand’s history to ever hold this title, the news was announced on Instagram, where Megan proved she’s more than up for the job by insisting on doing her own makeup for the much-applauded campaign. “I feel proud,” the rapper told Allure magazine shortly after the announcement was revealed. “I’ve loved Revlon products since I was a kid, and the company has a history that’s real close to my heart.”

 

Saweetie & Pretty Little Thing

Campaign Launch: June 2020

 

saweetie for pretty little thing

Saweetie X Pretty Little Thing. Image: Pretty Little Thing

PLT has worked with a notable roster of reality stars and Insta-models over the years but historically, these partnerships have purely centered around a single capsule collaboration. This year, the e-commerce retailers reached out to ‘Icy Girl’ rapper Saweetie for a partnership deal with a more admirable goal in mind – raising money for Black Lives Matter. Launched in June as many BLM protests were taking place worldwide, 100% of all profits from the 48-piece ‘At Home With Saweetie’ collection were directly donated to blacklivesmatter.org. In a statement, the UK-based brand not only acknowledged Saweetie's drive to raise awareness for this cause, but also how the actions of brands during this time needed to be a force for change. “PrettyLittleThing understands how important it is to speak up, step up and take action. We are committed to implementing positive change and giving a voice to our community. Therefore we will be donating all proceeds from the At Home With Saweetie collection to Black Lives Matter. Because we know, we’re always stronger, together.”

 

Hip-Hop's unquestionable influence on fashion was recognized way before 2020, check out some of the most notable catwalk homage's from the 90s and beyond: https://cultureshiftuk.com/hip-hop-influences-fashion-designers/

February 19, 2020No Comments

FC Killa Villa Reignite Classic 90s Hip-Hop With Football

Hip-Hop, football and fashion all in one. We introduce to you, Killa Villa.

FC Killa Villa is a brand you need in your closet, particularly if you're a 90s hip-hop head with a love for football. Killa Villa are a football collective and creative community who combine some of your favourite old school hip-hop artists and their classic albums on fresh football fabrics.

Established in 2016, the London-based brand have successfully showcase definitive figures in hip-hop culture through sport and lifestyle. There has been a huge rise in concept kits over the years as more and more brands partner together to create unique pieces. Through all of that, Killa Villa have been able to deliver something special by bringing back monumental moments in hip-hop, all to be relived through lifestyle products.

The collection of shirts have so far included a Nas x Jay Z inspired '1994 Dead Presidents' edition, as well as a 'Long Beach' piece to show respect for West Coast rapper Snoop Dogg. And if that's not enough, the coldest release being the 'Cream and Nike' collaboration which represents none other than Staten Island's very own Wu-Tang Clan - symbolising their most recognised song C.R.E.A.M.

The kits are in collaboration with some of the most renowned lifestyle brands we're all familiar with such as Nike, Adidas and Puma - guaranteeing quality in the fabrics themselves. The crests on each shirt have incredible amounts of detail in them which bring the apparel to life.

Find out more about Killa Villa and their collection at www.fckillavilla.com and be sure to follow them on Instagram at @_killa_villa.

September 23, 2019No Comments

Is J. Cole Really Done With Features?

Photo credit: @chasefade

The King of Dreamville announces "This is the last feature you'll hear from me".

J. Cole is known for many things from his rap style to his versatility in subject matters he chooses to rhyme about. But it's clear that he's blessed the hip-hop community with numerous features in the past year.

The North Carolina artist took to Twitter to announce that he's taking a step away from featuring on other artists records after the release of the recent DJ Premier produced Gang Starr record "Family & Loyalty" where he made an epic appearance.

"This is an honor to be on this song." Cole said. He then went on to say "This is the last feature you'll hear from me. Thank you to everybody I got to work with during this run." The one thing the game doesn't need is Cole disappearing until his next album. He recently got the Dreamville camp together to bring us the 3rd instalment of the labels compilation album 'Revenge of the Dreamers III', boasting appearances and features from Buddy, J.I.D., Ari Lennox, Earthgang and others.

Do you think we'll ever get to hear Cole feature on another track in the near future or is this it from him?

July 19, 2018No Comments

Drake Breaks Yet Another Record

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