Monday, January 31, 2005

Shape of... a bitchin' track!

glisten: guest edition

Twin guns up today: music from Fiddy and Miccio.

She'll drink you under the table, son.


FORKSCLOVETOFU SEZ: Chantelle Fiddy is the Hut's overseas correspondent on the UK hiphop phenomenon that is grime.
Visit her site for more pearls of wisdom.
Today, Chantelle offers us a fairly thorough look at one of her favorite artists: the UK hip hop sensation Riko.
R. sounds like something special to me; give him a listen and see if you don't agree.
NB: Parts of this article appeared in Deuce Magazine, November 2003

Riko - "Freestyle"

Riko - "Popadoms [DJ Target Remix]" (Incomplete Edit)

Riko - "Don't Want You Back" (Incomplete Edit)

He did the crime and he’s served the time, so move over 'cause Riko is busting through with legal arms – his lyrics.

It’s been a rocky road for Zane Williams, 26, and he’s not denying it on meeting me in East London. After two stretches behind bars, Riko is back, his statement to the mean streets raw and defiled like a freshly massacred carcass. Seriously.

Back in the mid-nineties, MC Riko was one of Pressure FM’s leading jungle MC’s, tipped by many as the next big thing but getting caught up on the wrong side of the law saw a premature hold in his career. Having spent his time building up bars, Riko returned in late 2002. Within a month his name was headlining raves and club nights across the country such as Sidewinder, True, Eskimo Dance and Ministry of Sound’s Smoove.

Skiba and Shabba used to come and murk me. I used to class it as training, thinking ‘Well, next week I’ll be better’. They made me feel small” Riko says, shaking his head before smiling, “But now it’s different. Very different”

At raves such as New Jack City and Labyrinth, his mission was to make the crowd go home with Riko instilled in their minds.

“I jumped on Ray Keith and Nicky Blackmarket’s sets. I also remember once emceeing for Kenny Ken and he came over after and gave me a big zoot. He was saying ‘thanks’ cause the guy I’d taken the mic from was shit. That was BIG.”

Riko tried but gave up on the idea of getting back into education by studying Graphic Design. His name was growing ever familiar on the underground circuit, but Riko got caught up on the wrong side of the law. He found himself serving a five year sentence for armed robbery. Three and a half years later back in east London, finding his feet, it seemed that luck was on his side. Riko had fans, bookings abounded, the garage community had quickly accepted him, there was a fresh buzz around his name... but it just wasn’t to be. In 2003, he found himself back on lock down at Her Majesty’s Pleasure for a further five months after being found guilty of a commercial burglary he committed in 1999.

There’s no point beating around the bush: some people are already, or will be, put off by the apparent stereotypical gangster MC seen portrayed here. While he does chat the bad alongside the good, regardless of whether you like the verbal direction, Riko would prefer it if you saw him as a class A example of why not to judge a book by it’s cover. Now, Riko is in a position to use his experiences to educate others about the consequences of street life and, having been on the wrong side of the law, his messages are delivered with sheer power and determination.

“Man, I’ve changed over the years. I’m better... much better. I was terrible, I was a different person. It’s a weird feeling looking back, but I feel good now. Getting caught up with guns when I was 20 is my biggest regret. It's hard when it's put in front of you; people who have seen further than today stay away. Some people don’t even think they’ll be about that long, so they don’t think about next week, just "I’ll do what I can now". I’ve had enough time to see it all; I’ve done too much and crime really is long. I can’t go back to that.”

So was the transition from cell back to microphone blazing hard?

“All my old lyrics and the new ones I’d been building up just didn’t go. I was trying to be what I’m not; I was trying to be funny. I didn’t think you could chat wicked. The worst thing when I came back was when people said I sounded like (MC God's)Gift. But people can’t say that anymore.”

Where inspiration is concerned, Riko picks up a lot from those in the garage scene around him (including Viper and old friend B-Live) along with past experience, furthermore flexing an astute ability to write songs about a given subject.

“People talking about guns is sort of a bad thing I know, but it does sound good on the mic. But gun shots in raves that’s bad, there’s nothing good about that. I think it’s an idiot ting.”

“My album’s going to be very roadish. I’d like to be the UK’s answer to Fifty Cent - but without getting shot nine times. In America, it’s easier to get signed because they give the gangster stuff a chance, they help them do commercial tunes. No one helps us. The Dreem Team, the only national garage show, they're gone; they don’t care about none of us anymore.”

Regarded by those in the know as one of the most versatile MC's around, capable of spitting over any beat, his album will reflect this by featuring a culmination of the urban sub genres.

“I don’t really see any one music as me, I see MCing as me. Before I was really into the music, people would talk to me because they had to... or just NOT talk to me because I’m not supposed to be nice, am I? I’ve done bad things."

"But now people realise I can’t be that bad if I’m doing all of this, they’re giving me a chance and I’m grateful.”

Given the benefit of the doubt or not, Riko has got an insatiable appetite for word play and unlike many of his contemporaries, a package. He’s distinctive, aided by an excitable nature, an insatiable hunger for success, professionalism, humbleness and above all else, a whole lot of talent.

50 Cent? He’d be worth every penny.

His debut release in 2003, "Popadoms" (production courtesy of Dumpvalve’s Wizzbit aka Geeneus) received approval across the board from mainstream dance magazines Muzik and Mixmag to urban publications Deuce and RWD. Brand endorsement from adidas and Vauxhall hasn’t gone amiss either.

Riko has collaborated with Wiley, J2K and Breeze on "Pick Yourself Up," which went on to appear on Wiley’s debut album, Treddin On Thin Ice (although it should be noted Riko thinks his bars on here are dismal). Other collaborations with the likes of Target, Wiley, Danny Weed, Terror Danger (Aftershock/1Xtra), Pay As U Go, Gods Gift, Crazy Titch, Hyper and D Double E have met with considerable acclaim. The Target produced "Chosen One" (previously featured at The Tofu Hut) is a surefire underground anthem, and appears on the 679 Recordings compilation, Run The Road.

New tracks such as "Critical" and "Boogeyman" (number one in current independent record shop charts) are already tipped for even bigger things. Riko is currently laying down the finishing touches to his debut album while preparing for the release of the Roll Deep Creeper Mixtape Vol. 1, the Roll Deep DVD and the Roll Deep album (now signed to Relentless Records). He's also set to feature on Lady Sovereign’s album due out in early 2005 on Universal/Island Records.



FORKSCLOVETOFU SEZ: Anthony Miccio is a poprocka and th' Hut's expert on all things big, radio-friendly and glistening that might otherwise escape our more rockist readers earholes.
Anthony dispenses wisdom and choice bon mots at Anthony is Right.
Th' Hutster grew up being forced to listen to Back in Black, License to Ill and Slippery When Wet on the forty five minute busride to junior high every morning, so we're somewhat predisposed to NOT like AC/DC much... but we've learned to buck that trend.
In any case, pretending to not find some joy in "Rock 'n' Roll Damnation" requires more chutzpah than I can muster.

AC/DC - "Rock 'N' Roll Damnation"

AC/DC - "Love Song"

My favorite band of all time is Bon Scott-era AC/DC. Reliable, crass, hard-hitting, witty, honest, danceable rock that relentlessly espouses a self-aware but undeniably bad-ass aesthetic. People who can't tell the difference between this era and the years following Scott's death (except for the live version of "High Voltage" off If You Want Blood, You've Got It where Scott's voice is worn into a disturbing rasp) are idiots: for one thing, Scott could enunciate. "Rock'n'Roll Damnation," off of their finest and most underrated album, Powerage, is a (proto)typical anthem.

When my friend Veronica told me she had an mp3 or two from their early Australia-only albums (most tracks were re-released on High Voltage, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and '74 Jailbreak) I jumped at the chance to hear them. More Bon! More rawk! More...love ballads?

I already knew that their earliest work was their most diverse (The bagpipe solo on "Long Way To The Top" may be the only time I've noticed a sound other than guitar-bass-drums), but I still wasn't prepared for "Love Song," from the Australian version of High Voltage, with Scott cooing "When you smile, I see stars in the sky/ When you smile, I see sunrise" over the most Santana-esque solo of little Angus's life. It's a little rote, as the title implies, but this is as close as AC/DC ever got to asking us to listen to the flower children and a startling listen for true believers.

Visit the official AC/DC site.
Buy "Highway To Hell", an excellent Bon Scott biography.
Read this interview with Vince Lovegrove, a close friend of Scott's.
Choice quote: "They said to me that Bon was too old, that they wanted someone young. I told Malcolm that Bon could rock them til they dropped, that he could outrock them anytime. When I told Bon, he told me they were too young, that they couldn't rock if their lives depended on it."

Here's a big collection of spiffy roundup, all found courtesy of our omnipresent sidebar buddies. Thanks to the appropriate tipsters.

Musicblogger-on-break Tuwa (of the 'Shanty') can't stay outta the game; here's a concert review that he recently fired off to th' Hut:

At the suggestion of a friend I ventured out to see the Soweto Gospel Choir tonight. They came onstage, twenty-seven band members in brightly colored outfits, taking turns stepping up to sing lead and/or dance. On some of the songs, four singers would go to the drum set/keyboards/bass/guitar and perform backup. Many of the songs were traditional, with the strong harmonies you'd expect; some of them were more contemporary but performed traditionally... you haven't heard "Biko" until you've heard it with two drummers and two dozen singers! They sang a version of "Amazing Grace" that took the melody as more of a suggestion than a dictum; what they did with it was enthralling and earned them a standing ovation before they were half done with the concert. They also sang a number of medleys, one of which comprised the first half of the South African anthem.

As an encore, they came back out and played a song with a lead melody that was intermittently melancholy and full of gossamer beauty. Then they played a number with a ska rhythm and a 50s bubblegum pop melody; after that it was "Oh Happy Day" and another standing ovation; then ANOTHER encore: a wild funk/jazz tune.

All in all it was a great show, loads of fun! They're on tour now; check them out.

Paul Adams of The Neurons may well be an old fogey but I find him terribly endearing.

Stop by and he'll have a cuppa witcha.
Defining uncool? Your father thinks that The King of All Cosmos "looks like Bentley from The Jeffersons".

Those seeking to be down should hook up with the Prince and roll on.

Katamari trivia note: KD was apparently created by a student as a SCHOOL PROJECT?

Visit the KD livejournal community and CHECK OUT THE NEW SEQUEL MOVIES!
DINOSAURS! (open at yr. own risk)
Google Video Search has the potential to change the way we do research AND watch TV; I'll be excited to see this evolve over the next few years.
The Man Who Fell Asleep
We're already nosing February of th' new year, but if you're still trying to digest '04, this NYT Mag article detailing the year's best ideas provides an excellent recap... or instant nostalgia, if you're a VH1 fan.
Not to be a puss or anything, but the Ring STILL creeps me out a bit; I was very impressed. Now, with the American sequel on the way, there's new virals all over the web: A NEW tape-'o-death, a "no, really; it's TRUE" site and this somewhat Manson-esque warning page.

Also, check out the trailer for the sequel, this remarkably thorough fansite and this interview with Koji Suzuki, the author of the Ring cycle books.
Cigarro and Cervera es muy bueno.
"There are other worlds than these".
Complete episodes of Frontline = less Monday productivity.
Robin thinks this is beautiful and I agree.
Watch videos of NES classics being beaten at breakneck speed at Nintendo Records.

Strangely hypnotic.
I'm generally not much for CGI doppleganger remakes of past genius but this astonishing "Singin' In the Rain" Volkswagen Viral is KILLIN' IT.

I'm such a sucker for pop lockin'.

The VERY nice remix is by Mint Royale and is being released as a single in the UK.
Attack of the Kung Fu Watermelon
A sure sign you've been playing too much "GTA: San Andreas" is when you find yourself holding up a McDonalds armed with a samurai sword and a lead pipe.
Girl You Nasty: "a blog dedicated to sharing too much information."
I had been looking for a simple place to try out some iPod shareware programs to tweak performance and squeeze additional goodness from that little mother box, but almost everything out there is Mac oriented.

iPod Lounge to the rescue.
Squashed Philosophers is an undergrads dream: Spinoza in thirty minutes, Kant in twenty-three and Hegel in twenty-two means less time hitting the books and more time hitting the beer bong.
c30, c60, c90, GO!
Fine Art action figures.

I'm especially fond of the Arcimboldo, the Breugel, the Bosch, the Grunewalds and the Beardsley.
Would you believe that Penn Jillette is making a film version of the Aristocrats?

I MUST see this.


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