For musicians, NFTs offer a chance to provide fans with exclusive access to their content. There's no limit to what artists can do.
For musicians, NFTs offer a chance to provide fans with exclusive access to their content. There's no limit to what artists can do.
Psychodrama was the album where we sat back relaxed and deeped life a little more than usual. We’re All Alone In This Together? Music that throws you into the headlights of Daves scars and life.
Like many others, ‘Location’ was the first Dave song I truly knew the words to and served the summer of 2019 quite well. But during a pandemic, the summers were ruined and the music stopped flowing for a while. Albums were left on hold, Kanye’s Donda and Drake’s CLB finally got their release date and Dave’s album dropped at the perfect time.
Dave’s second album comes at a time of freedom. Where I, you and Sandra from next door aren’t forced to take that Tesco shopping trip to buy unnecessary purchases. The clubs are open and they’re gasping for new music to fill the last two years of confinement. But this album seems to be less about freeing and more about thinking. It's a story, a movie in the making and the life of his mum (Juliet).
Embodying a South London Shakespeare, Dave has created an album of soliloquies, speeches and acts. Its stories hold the weight that undeniably uplifts us out of our beds and makes us aim for bigger things. It’s more than an album but a story and artwork. Not to mention probably one of the best Dave has produced.
Like a good story, this album holds a beginning, middle and end. Its storytelling angles create a solid structure and lead us through the album. Much like Romeo and Juliet itself, Dave sets the scene with an eerie opening, mumbles and grumbles of anger in song 1. “We're All Alone,’ opens the album with a fickle and subtle ode to suicide, culture and the past.
The outro of the song is interesting in itself, a voicemail (classic hip-hop move) from a movie agent? This song is like the opening soliloquy of Romeo and Juliet; it's a song of memory, past tense and has a ‘live in the past’ kind of flow and to be honest, what comes next is suspected from Dave.
The party, dance and afrobeat style songs to follow are essentially act 1. ‘Verdansk’ so far the most popular track of the album holds a heavy snare beat and makes the perfect ‘shout these lyrics in the club’ vibe. But with a title that is literally a city from the game Call Of Duty the song is the anthem for any special ops agents on their mission (for imagination only.) This song is followed by Clash ft Stormzy which was the first song to be released off the album. Its popularity has died down but the ‘one’ repetition is one to get in your head and has been a festival favourite (sorry Headie.)
The next song is one of the best and most powerful collabs on the album. Featuring Fredo, Meeks, Ghetts and Giggs the follow and not to mention the lyrics are near perfection. It's a whole ‘fire in the booth’ setting and the gospel beat behind levels up the capacity of the song even further.
The next song is slower with a lighter beat but much heavier lyrics. ‘Three Rivers,’ features Theresa May as well as vocal news reports, first accounts and open discussions. This song debates the violence and change in the middle east as well as the tension between Britain and the Windrush generation. It highlights social issues deeper than the rapper himself but sheds a light on the truth. The outro of this song is another voicemail reading ‘the tide will tell me being black is an obstacle.' And followed by life advice about identity, it's one that makes us think ore.
We’ve come to the centre of the album, four songs each with a feature. WizKid, Boj, Snoh Aalegra and James Blake make these three songs about culture, partying and living. System featuring ‘Africa's biggest artist,’ has that ultimate Afrobeat style, bring the drink and we’ll bring the party type of vibe and it's not surprising it's one of the albums best songs.
However, ‘Lazaras’ (meaning God has helped) brings a vibration unmatchable. It brings politics, a genuine beat and an incomparable flow. Boj brings the Nigerian lyrics adding that spice to the song but Dave's flow on this one just projects his impeccable talent and it's a Culture Shift favourite. ‘Law of attraction’ produced by JAE5 is a slow-moving and easy listen to song. The Snoh Aalegra feature on this one fits perfectly with Daves love struck verses, definitely made for the girls.
The last feature song opens perfectly on the theme “who’s your Juliet? What's the dynamic between the two leads? I guess we’re all just looking for a happy ending somewhere.” ‘Both sides of a smile’ featuring James Blake brings back that eerie setting at the start of the album but this time with a stronger essence of pain. Dave uses the lyrics to the best of his ability and questions his own actions, process and life. And after verse 1 comes a huge change in lyrics. A female vocal spouting anger, hate and hurt leads elegantly but abruptly on the beat and is followed by a chord change. This song is different from the rest and closes the feature section flawlessly.
After those four very different and exciting songs it's predictable that Dave gives us a softer contradicting ending. He wants us to take something powerful from this album and really hones down what he is good at (piano and storytelling.) The next three ‘twenty to one’ ‘Heart attack’ and ‘Survivors guilt’ are the last act of this movie soundtrack. Juliet had found Romeo by now and the reality of death, life and love is coming to a close. Time is coming to an end and in ‘twenty to one feels a rush of reality and is three minutes of soft vocals, harder beats and fast spat lyrics. This song isn’t a stand out at all but adds to the story of the album.
The next two outro songs get us thinking. ‘Heart attack’ is the most anticipated of the album and is said to be a follow on from Daves previous song ‘Panic Attack.’It begins in a similar way, we have a heartbeat, sirens and news reports of crime. It's an awakening song and the first line is matched to that of ‘panic attack’ reading ‘I bet them boys think I'm panicking,’ it's special and takes us to Dave's past as well as previous music that his die-hard fans recognise instantly.
This song really highlights London's violence and the impact it can have. It also has relations to ‘Lesley’ found on Daves Psyscodrama album with mentions of suicide and domestic abuse. This seven-minute song ends acapella with Dave’s mum crying out for help. Next comes survivor's guilt, a song with a sampled beat and the last in the series for a reason. It's heavy on culture, love and heartbreak. Dave is one of the only UK rappers to be honest and truthful about his mental health and this song is a reminder that ‘we’re all alone in this together.’
The album for me hasn't lived up to Psychodrama but in all honestly, they’re completely incomparable. This album is NOT for us to listen to on the bus or on our way to work. It's an album to sit and listen to when we need it. Like Daves previous music it still carries that therapy session feel. The features could’ve been better but if WizKid is on the album we’ll take it. The best elements of this album come from the music, production and lyrical flow Dave has perfected. Dave has shown his acting prowess on the small screen and has the ability to create atmospheric music and brilliant storytelling. Don't be too surprised if we soon see Dave behind the camera on the big screen as a filmmaker.
History, culture and art surround us daily but it isn't every day we’re at a music festival. It's been the topic of discussion for years and boundaries are still being crossed. So why is rich history and culture still being appropriated at music festivals?
Drinks, check. Ticket, check. Outfit made from stolen culture, check. With the festival season coming to a close the topics of discussions are the same as it's been for years. No change and certainly not much improvement. It's easy to put on an outfit and follow trends without thinking about where its origin. This is where it's easy to be a villain of cultural appropriation.
There's a fine line between appropriation and appreciation but where the defining point belongs is respect, education and acceptance. If you are wearing a bindi to a music festival you are taking a style with cultural significance and placing it in your culture without ode or respect for its original cultural reference/placement. If you are to wear a bindi to an Asian friend's wedding you are taking their culture, using it in cultural respect and placement and taking part in the culture. It's a simple question: Am I wearing this with respect to its original culture? And am I wearing this in a culturally appropriate scenario? If you’re ever unsure if your fashion choices are culturally appropriate simply don't wear it at all, you have to do the hard work, it's not about asking permission but having a conversation that informs you about your choice and the roots.
Fashion has been the culprit of appropriation for years. We’ve seen it on the catwalk, within music videos and now on the high street. And despite the harsh call-out culture of the 21st century, fashion seems to be making daily mistakes. It isn't just companies to blame, it's the consumer too. Some things weren’t meant for YOU to buy and wear and that's okay. So to make it easier Culture Shift has made a list of what not to wear and what to wear instead!
Yes, they’re colourful and full of culture, which is beautiful in itself but definitely not meant to be part of your festival outfit. Worn by most natives of North America, these spectacular headpieces are often made from horsehair, porcupine and animal feathers. They were popular on the battlefields and most tribes have speciality colours, shapes and materials. And besides, I’m not sure native ancestors would appreciate yesterday's cheeseburger and fries all over their culture headdress.
After years of appropriation, black hairstyles are finally getting the appreciation they deserve. We’re nearly there in wiping out appropriation of black culture but at this year's festivals many attended with braids, hair jewels and certain hairstyles only to be worn by the black community. We’ve seen appropriation on runways, high street brands and all across social media in the past century so by now it should be clear what to wear and what to avoid. But let's make it clear: No cornrows, no box braids and no Bantu knots. These hairstyles do however have exceptions (for appreciation purposes only). Take Adele for example. Her IG post of missing the days of Carnival and posing in her Bantu knots got some backlash but her intention was appreciation rather than appropriation. She was knee-deep in Jamaican culture, got her Knots done by a local hairstylist and danced the night away, and this is where the difference is clear.
A historical and cultural symbol of India and Southeastern Asia. The bindi is jewels, make-up and studs of the face often used for wedding ceremonies and religious holidays. Over the years, wearing jewels and face tattoos to festivals have become more and more popular. With high street brands such as ASOS, Newlook and Boots selling sets and marketing them around the festival season it's no surprise that the bindi is now an overused sight of summer days. With no cultural recognition whatsoever the bindi is the latest and most popular trend and continues to become a huge victim of appropriation.
We saw it from Alex at Glasto and pretty much the entire 2019 and 2021 festival season. The Air Max, baggy and grimey style is an ode to early Grime and Garage days, a little controversial when you’re at a techno festival. With the popularity of the BAFTA-winning show “People Just Do Nothing'', particular to the mockumentary style of comedy you'll see people taking on their own parody of this style. Smart wear like Patterned Moschino was the uniform that came out of 2Step and Garage - strangely enough, loafers, smart trousers and even a sports jacket were the go-to ensembles. As this evolved into Grime the footwear became more comfortable and as the tempo increased you would ditch loafers for Nike TNs, the smart trousers for shorts, especially in clubs abroad (think Spain, Cyprus etc).
Add in the styles of 90s rave Bucket hats, from EDM culture and baggies in bum bags it's no wonder we have the style we do today that resembles our friend Alex. The difference between Alex and general festival-goers is the love for the culture and the music - to literally know bar-for-bar and go absolutely ape shit when your favourite riddim is played. This is the art of posing, you’re either a real one or just a manakin. We all know a charlatan when we see one.
Okay, hear us out... We know you probably wore this to a 2011 One Direction concert but pick the right hairstyle and glitter colour to fit your outfit and away we go. It's cheap, easy to do and looks great all day. Yes, it might take out 3-4 washes to get out but a minor inconvenience at best. Pair with french braids, space buns or a simple down style, will the glitter look take over the festivals of 2022?
If you didn't sit around your whole lunchtime in secondary school braiding people's hair like this then you simply weren’t ‘cool.’ They stay out all day, good with all lengths of hair and most importantly belong to white and European culture! Add glitter for that extra sparkle or add some hair jewels if you please. 10/10 for comfort and creativity.
A fan of the 2015 Tumblr rainbow or not, face glitter has been used since the birth of festivals and goes back to the peace & love movement of the ’60s. Yet again the perfect colour match for any outfit, the only downside is you may have to apply every few hours but definitely worth the attraction. Pair with a colour-contrasting eyeshadow, neon top and some matching trainers. A definite summer looks for next year.
Now I know what you’re thinking, straight leg polycotton trousers and a tightly fitted blazer. No Clark Kent shit but definitely his alter ego Superman. Your Thor hammer may not make it through security but you can jump the queue with those drunken superpowers and by the time you make it to the stage you'll get a rush of power. So why not make your outfit a little more fun and wear your Spiderman, Tinker Bell and Aquaman outfit and even reuse it at Halloween?
We know things need to change but ultimately the chance is you, me and us. Cultural appropriation doesn’t seem to be sailing off anytime soon but to make its stay shorter we can start by making conscious fashion decisions. Ask yourself those key questions, leave room for education and think twice before leaving the house. We have a whole cold winter ahead of us and plenty of time to plan next year's festival fits. Let's make sure it's one that feels right and belongs to YOU.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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 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/