Concert in LDN: Kaytranada / Vic Mensa / Sángo / Benji B 20 March @ O2 Academy Brixton + Review Opportunity!

London massive! This latest concert announcement is sure to be one for the books! The musical forces in KAYTRANADA, Vic Mensa, Sángo, and Benji B are coming together for a very special evening of jams on Friday, 20 March at O2 Academy in Brixton. Tickets are GBP 27.56 and may be purchased on Ticket Web. Show is 18 + and photo I.D. is required.

If you will be attending the show and would like to review it for the site in our From A Fan’s Perspective series, please shoot us a line at for more details.

Exclusive Interview: UK Rapper Ikes Talks The Evolution of The Rap Game In London, Bringing His Talents Stateside, & More!

Back in October 2013 during the clusterfuck that is CMJ week, I met a lovely Brit by the name of Ikes while out and about at Fader Fort. We chatted, got some food, party-hopped with friends, and kept in touch as he told me that he was a rapper based in London, that was really starting to get his feet wet in the US.

Fast forward a couple months and Ikes’ music and videos are plastered on all the major blogs. It’s amazing to see the love for him from the US, so I personally wanted to get to know him better on the music-side, by having him tell his story, via an exclusive interview with yours truly. Enjoy!

Tell us about your musical influences growing up, and when you knew you wanted to pursue music professionally?

I grew up in a Nigerian household in the UK, there was a lot of cultural African music. My Pops is very musically inclined, and his vinyl collection was crazy. He had a lot of African music, but then again he had a lot of Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Elvis Presley, Tracy Chapman, and everyone really, so I just picked up from there. I’m the youngest of six; my eldest brother was a DJ, and he just kind of passed it down. I looked up to my two oldest brothers, they were so musically inclined and that’s where I got most of the music from, cuz they really were the rap fans back in the day. They always brought home the latest Wu-Tang, Pharcyde; these are the people I grew up on you know? I always used to thief their tapes and stuff.

We have a genre back here [UK] called garage. It’s kind of like dance music but gritty. We used to emcee over music, and I did loads of that. When I got to what we call “college”, you guys call “high school”, the garage culture was evolving a lot, it was evolving into something called grime, this was in 2002.  A lot of people started getting into grime, and emcees became grime acts; I as an emcee became a rapper. I was just influenced by different things. I was listening to Nas, and Jay, Busta, Ludacris and Cam, this was Dipset-heavy era…this was the kind of music I was listening to, which I was heavily influenced by. I started rapping in high school [college in the UK], and when I got into university, I signed up for MySpace and put up some music. It was not mixed, the sound was awful! I freestyled on Ameriie’s “Why Don’t We Fall In Love?” record, I had a couple freestyles on there, I thought I was fly. I got a really, really good response, but the response came from America, not from the UK. I had all these Americans hitting me up, saying that the music helped them get through stuff, and that it really touched them, and that’s when I knew, it must have been 2005, but I knew I wanted to feel like that everyday.

Music Video: “Walk to Freedom”, which documents his most recent trip to New York.

You have your own music-focused creative development & marketing company called Port Mayfair. Can you tell us more about what you all do, and the inspiration behind the name? 

As I said, most love used to come from abroad, so we just took it there; I needed an international network. We got all entrepreneurial and I founded a lifestyle group which is Port Mayfair. Mayfair is in Central London, it’s very bougie, for the rich and famous, and very high-end, dining and clubs. The port is where the yachts all meet at one point, and so my idea is, ‘I don’t come from anything and I don’t have the big label, and I don’t have this big backing’ or whatever, but I honestly do believe in creating a product that is as good as a Kanye, as good as those people that are right up here. So when I say “Port Mayfair”, I’m just talking about really creative individuals colliding, and not compromising on product. I’ve just used “Mayfair” because that’s the area, and “port” is where we come together. I want to work with people who are top of their game; they may not have the name, but they are as good as anyone else that’s doing it. It’s kind of like my version of DONDA, basically. I understood coming into the industry that it’s more than music, and people have to buy into you as a person, and what you believe in; buy into you as a brand, you know?

How does rap music in the UK differentiate from that in America?

There isn’t a rap culture in the UK; there is a rap market, but there is not a rap culture. What that means is that we can’t birth any real rap stars here; you can’t make your name here. If you have a name already, there is a market for you, but you can’t make your name here doing rap music. You can make your name here doing “pop-rap” music, i.e. Tinie Tempah, Dizzie Rascal, but if you want to make “rap” music, not trying to discredit or throw shade on those guys cuz I like them, it’s a different genre and it’s not to be confused; they came from grime. A lot of what they call UK rappers are grime acts, but in order to promote them and market them across the nation, is by calling them rappers. They are rappers, they just don’t make rap music.

You were recently on a college tour in the US. What was that experience like?

I’ve recently come back from this college tour in New York, where I saw you. It wasn’t really a big thing, but it was good for experience. I did a lot of traveling and I met some cool people, you know? It just adds to the story.

What can we expect from Ikes, the artist, in the coming months? 

I’ve finished the EP, it’s called “Outside In”. The name plays off the fact that I’ve had to go outside to build a name, with the intentions of  building a name outside to get back in to the UK. I’ve worked real close with a guy named Edward Nixon, who’s the chief engineer of Grammy Award-winning production team, the Justice League. I’ve got this international team now, and we’re ready to deliver “Outside In” to the masses. We don’t have an exact date for the release, but we know we want it to be summer. We want people to want the project, if that makes sense. I’ve got a load of material that is not on the project that we will use to get that buzz going.

It was a pleasure chatting with Ikes! Look out for his latest EP, “Outside In”, coming later this summer. Also be sure to check him out on his official website, Twitter, and Facebook.


*Photos courtesy of Ikes 

“Architectonic” Brings A British Sensibility to Manhattan’s Lower East Side at Site 109, On View Until June 1st

The details
The details

Presented by The Cynthia Corbett Gallery, “Architectonic”, a collaborative show between painter Andy Burgess and photographer Tom Leighton, opened to the public on May 1st at Site 109 in Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighborhood. The Cynthia Corbett Gallery is based in London and represents both artists whom are both from London as well.

An attendee viewing the works of Andy Burgess
An attendee viewing the works of Andy Burgess

Both artists have a strong theme of architecture in their works; Burgess painting many residential homes of the American Southwest, and Leighton combining photographs of famous sites and buildings from his world travels to create breathtaking images. Both Burgess and Leighton were present for the opening on May 1st.

A guest in front of works by Tom Leighton.
A guest in front of works by Tom Leighton.

It was lovely to meet both artists and chat in person about their inspirations. I was surprised to learn from Tom Leighton how much time goes into one of his works. For example, the piece in the photo above requires hundreds of layers in Photoshop, layering elements from various photographs including buildings, people, and nature elements to achieve the finished product.

Many thanks to Allen/Cooper for inviting me to this evening of great art. “Architectonic” is on view at Site 109 until June 1st. For more information, including gallery hours, please visit their official website.


*Photos by Andrea K. Castillo

Listen To This: AlunaGeorge


With the second annual Budweiser Made in America Festival right around the corner, this Labor Day weekend to be exact, I wanted to take the time out to formally introduce you to one of the acts I am most excited to see live in Philly; AlunaGeorge. AlunaGeorge is a UK based musical duo,  consisting of vocalist Aluna Francis and producer George Reid. Their sound is one of my favorites now, a blend of UK garage, R&B, electronica, down-tempo, house, and pop.

They’ve been bubbling under the radar for some time, recently bursting into the mainstream with their Disclosure collaboration, “White Noise”, but now, they are truly ready to take the United States, embarking on a multi-city tour throughout the month of September. They are touring their major label debut, Body Music, which includes the sexy single “You Know You Like It”. Check out snippets of the album below, now available for purchase on iTunes.

Are you digging the sound? Will you be checking out AlunaGeorge this fall? Sound off below!

Watch This: Idris Elba’s “How Clubbing Changed The World”


Originally aired on August 24, 2012 on London’s Channel 4, Idris Elba’s “How Clubbing Changed The World” is a gem for dance music and club culture nerds and historians. The documentary is a 120 minute film, covering the creation and evolution of house music in its beginnings in the US, its development and inclusion in British club culture, back to its current popularity in the US under a new moniker, electronic dance music or E.D.M.

There are in-depth interviews with the musicians, DJs, journalists, and club owners who have seen and experienced the evolution of dance music first-hand. Although the film focuses on British DJs and nightlife culture, it truly brings light to the global phenomenon of dance music. Check out the film below, if not for the love of music, for the love of Idris Elba!

Listen To This: Sinead Harnett


I’m starting to think that there is something in the water over in the UK, because all the music that has truly captured me lately has its home-base across the pond. Sonically, I’m drawn to the juxtaposition of UK garage, 90s house, deep soul, and R&B. Artists like Disclosure, Jessie Ware, and SBTRKT have made their mark in this realm, but there is a new kid on the block, and her name is Sinead Harnett.

Sinead stepped out onto to the scene a little over a year ago, providing vocals for Disclosure’s single, “Boiling”, off their The Face EP. Her slightly raspy, incredibly soulful voice provided another dimension to the otherwise down-tempo track. In addition to Disclosure, she has provided duet vocals and a hook for fellow UK artist Rudimental’s track “Baby”. She’s recently landed herself a record deal with the Black Butter imprint, so we can definitely look out for more from Sinead in regards to touring and new projects.

Listen to a few tracks below via her SoundCloud. Enjoy the sounds!

MANday Watch: “A Man’s Story” Ozwald Boateng


British tailor and designer Ozwald Boateng is one of my favorite men on the planet. Aside from designing his namesake collection housed on Savile Row in London, and having a stint at Givenchy, Boateng is one of my favorites because he has impeccable personal style. His personal style upholds the precision cut silhouettes he designs with an almost carefree bravado (if that even makes sense, makes sense to me!). He uses luxe materials in fearless colors, which are always commendable in menswear in my book.

In 2012 he released the film “A Man’s Story” which documents the evolution of his brand as well as his personal life over a series of years. We get an inside peek into his daily life; the time in the workroom, his relationship with his family, his world travels and more. He is quite an inspirational dresser! I don’t want to give too much away, but  I highly recommend this film as the viewer gets a a first-hand look at the life of a man in fashion. Trailer below.