October 29, 2021No Comments

The late late review: Dave’s, we’re all alone in this together

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). 

Image Credits: Charlie

The Intro

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. 

Act One

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.

Image credits: Charlie

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.

Act Two

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. 

Act Three

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.’ 

Overall review: 

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.

October 27, 2021No Comments

The Problem With Music Festivals: Vibes Of Appropriation

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.

Cultural Appropriation vs Cultural Appreciation

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 & Festivals

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!

NOPE, TAKE THAT OFF!

Native Indian Headdresses:

Image Credits: I Use To Be A Highschool Feminist

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.

Black Hairstyles

Image Credits: Adele Instagram

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.

Bindis

Image Credits: Junkee

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.

Bucket Hats, Print Shirts & Side Pouches

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, THIS WILL BE BETTER 

Hair Accessories 

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?

French Braids

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.

Face Glitter 

Photo Credits: IStock

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. 

Power Suits 

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?

What needs to be done: 

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.

September 24, 2021No Comments

ESEA Culture: a reminder for conscious consumption

For decades, the Western world has been consuming ESEA (East and Southeast Asian) Culture, but do we truly appreciate its origin? 

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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 13, 20211 Comment

R&B Isn’t Dead; You Just Have To Know Where To Find It

R&B isn’t dead, but it has changed over the years. Looking back on R&B over the past two decades, I can see why some may say it’s dying out, but I refuse to believe it. The music scene is constantly evolving, and R&B is no exception. Agreed, R&B may not be in its prime like it was back in the ’90s, but it’s a genre that still has so much to offer and will continue to do so.

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March 28, 2020No Comments

Usher and Ella Mai Get One Last Party In Before Quarantine In “Don’t Waste My Time” Video

Photo Credit: Chris Parsons

This all feels so weird. You know - stay home, don't meet with friends, no more parties on the weekend. But surely Usher has saved us from the discomfort of not going out by giving us access to his very own house party in his new music video for "Don't Waste My Time". Just the other night, Usher connected with Ella Mai live on Instagram for the fans and kicked it over a conversation. With Usher broadcasting out of his LA home and Ella Mai from hers, it definitely felt like the R&B stars were speaking from one room thanks to the genuine chemistry they share.

They made the most of their time in quarantine by jumping straight in to IG, touching on their newly released single and video. R&B fans all over the world will know, when they hear "Y'all know what this is" on any intro of a song - that record has been cut by none other than So So Def veteran and producer extraordinaire - Jermaine Dupri.

Sharing his experience on the video shoot and speaking about the visuals, Usher expressed, “The chemistry and energy got brighter at the end of the video.” Discussing the recording process for the single, Usher admitted this is the first time Usher has been in the studio with another artist on any duet song. Ella Mai said “Wait, don’t tell me that you and Alicia Keys were not in the studio together”, referring to Usher and Alicia Keys 2004 hit duet record "My Boo" off the Confessions album.

This is the first official single from Usher but has given us sneak previews of songs he's been working on in the studio with Jermaine Dupri. They've both teased fans by expressing the possibility of a "Confessions 2" album, which you can imagine people going crazy over as it's been almost 14 years since the first instalment. Usher last collaborated with producer Zaytoven on a project titled "A" - paying homage to Atlanta where he resided and spent most of his life calling home.

The video to his new record is simply a get together with friends, one big celebration and boasts appearances from a long list of familiar guests. To name a few, you'll catch Snoop Dogg serving up treats in the kitchen, P Diddy's sons Christian 'King' Combs and Justin Combs doing their thing on the floor and of course Ella Mai adding some sauce.

We're not quite sure when the King of R&B will be back with more music for the soul, but for now - check out the video below to join his party.

July 23, 2017No Comments

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Kanye West’s New Album ‘’Ye’’.

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