Tag Archives: rap

Live review: Alice Ivy + Miss Blanks + DVNA – The Foundry, Brisbane – 7/6/19

Fun and positive vibes were the name of the game at a bouncing Foundry in Fortitude Valley on Friday night (7th June).


Alice Ivy

In town to promote latest single ‘Close to You’, Melbourne beatmaker Alice Ivy was to play the penultimate show on a nine-stop tour in style, but if she was tired from yet another sizeable national tour, it certainly didn’t show.

First up was Gold Coast producer DVNA, who played a fun, earnest and endearing set to a filling Foundry, while taking time to thank her audience for coming along. Among a swag of smooth tracks, ‘Girl on the Move’ stood out as a soulful, glistening pop gem.


DVNA

Next came Miss Blanks, who dialled the sass up several hundredfold and truly got the party started in her typically brash and entertaining fashion. Between tracks the Brisbane rapper, and former Alice Ivy collaborator, was genuinely funny and self-deprecating, with set highlight ‘This Bitch’ bringing together everything good about her act: lyrical savviness, humour, profanity, and solid hip-hop chops.


Miss Blanks

This gig, however, was all about Alice Ivy. The Victorian producer and multi-instrumentalist was on top form from the get-go, as the audience increasingly let loose on a Friday night.

Switching between guitar, bass, electronics and more, she showed off her range across a swag of tracks from her debut album I’m Dreaming, but it was single ‘Close to You’ that we were here to witness in the flesh. The track, a poised and slick electronic pop number, went down a storm.

The good vibes increased with Alice Ivy thanking and expressing her love to everyone for coming, with fans returning the love many times over as the set came to a climax and a night of celebratory electronic pop came to a close with a sea of smiling faces spilling onto the street.

For Scenestr

Drake: Force of Nature

drake

HE MAY HAVE started from the bottom, but Aubrey Drake Graham is very much on top of the world right now.

Rapping is the 28 year-old’s bread and butter, but with fingers in the metaphorical pies of acting, business, clothing, management, production and sports, the multi-award-winner could never be accused of being a one-trick pony.

The focus, however, will be very much on the Toronto native’s musical skills when he performs for the first time on Australian soil, headlining Future Music Festival and completing a run of sideshows. Drake tops a bill featuring Swedish EDM superstar Avicii, English electronic stalwarts and 2013 headliners The Prodigy, rap-ravers Die Antwoord, Grammy Award-winning DJ Afrojack, as well as local favourites Hilltop Hoods, in what is another stellar line-up put together by the festival.

Future Music Festival director Brett Robinson told news.com.au of the organisers’ joy about securing the rapper in a less competitive marketplace following the demise of the Big Day Out.

“Scoring Drake for the festival is a big jawdropper,” he said.

“We have been able to focus on presenting the festival we really want with less competition in the marketplace and not being pressured about who is going to get what act.”

“And that has been very good for the budget too with ticket prices going down.”

An appearance at Brisbane Entertainment Centre two days before the Queensland leg of the festival is set to serve as a warm-up, with support coming from friend and frequent collaborator 2 Chainz, who is also booked to appear at the festival. The fact that promoters have confidence enough to book a slot at the 13,000 capacity venue when a festival appearance is already locked in says everything you need to know about the Canadian’s popularity in Australia.

Rising quickly from an acting stint on the small screen in Degrassi: The Next Generation to holding the record for the most number ones on Billboard’s R&B/Hip Hop chart, Drake is a genuine phenomenon, with 36 million Facebook followers in tow and close to a billion YouTube views to boast about. But how has an artist who didn’t even release an album in 2014 managed to remain at the forefront of Hip hop and R&B culture? The answer likely lies in the diversity of his output; from becoming rap’s hottest co-sign and second biggest touring star (after Jay Z), hosting Saturday Night Live and the ESPYs, to allegedly getting his wood on in Nicki Minaj’s Internet-breaking ‘Anaconda’ video.

Great things continued to happen for him despite a misguided swipe at Rolling Stone for pulling his front cover at the last minute in order to pay respect to the life of Philip Seymour Hoffman. He also claimed quotes he supposedly didn’t say about Kanye West made it into the feature, which the magazine belatedly published.

“I’m disgusted with that. RIP to Phillip Seymour Hoffman. All respect due. But the press is evil,” he Tweeted, before adding “I’m done doing interviews for magazines. I just want to give my music to the people. That’s the only way my message gets across accurately.” Rucking with the music press has been the downfall of many an artist, but Drake has managed to ride the critical storm and come out the other end smiling.

Not happy with only taking verbal potshots at the media, he has been involved in so many beefs with other rappers that there is an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to them. Perhaps most prominent was his diss trade-off with rap mainstay Pusha T, in which the two traded lyrical and online blows before Chris Brown became the new target after an alleged incident in a nightclub.

As well as having his share of first-world problems, Drake hasn’t always had a life of glam and glory. Writing about the origins of his single ‘Started From The Bottom’ on his label’s blog, he said “I feel sometimes that people don’t have enough information about my beginnings and therefore they make up a life story for me that isn’t consistent with actual events. My family and my second family (consisting of the best friends anybody could ever have) all struggled and worked extremely hard to make all this happen. I did not buy my way into this spot and it was the furthest thing from easy to achieve.”

It’s perhaps unsurprising then, with such a willingness to roll up his sleeves and put in the hard yards, that Drake is so heavily involved in a number of successful enterprises outside of music. As global ambassador and member of the executive committee of his hometown basketball team the Toronto Raptors, he is subtly and successfully merging his love of sport and music. His record label October’s Very Own (OVO), which he founded with longtime friends Noah ‘40’ Shebib and Oliver El-Khatib in 2012, is home to a small roster of North American rapping talent, with ILoveMakonnen, PartyNextDoor and Majid Jordan being standouts. Building the OVO brand into a multi-faceted business which includes a clothing range and the OVOFEST festival – the latest of which featured Outkast and the man himself – Drake has proven himself to be equally adept at raking in the dollars via non-musical methods as he has done via rapping.

As far back as 2009 he was writing the lyrics “I want the money/Money and the cars/Cars and the clothes/The hoes, I suppose,” for his song ‘Successful’. Fast forward six years and he’s got all of these things and more in the palm of his hand. Now it’s Australia’s turn to feel the force of Aubrey Graham.

DRAKE PLAYS BRISBANE ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE, BOONDALL, MARCH 5 AND FUTURE MUSIC FESTIVAL, DOOMBEN RACECOURSE, MARCH 7.

For Scenestr

Record review: 360 – Utopia (2014, LP)

360 utopia

If you believe everything you read on the Internet and most music press, then you either love or hate Matthew James Colwell, a.k.a. 360. The likely truth, to which this reviewer can relate, is that you’re probably one of the silent majority of music fans who simply couldn’t give a fiddler’s fart about the 27 year-old Melbourne rapper’s music or persona, and the only reaction the constant “is he or isn’t he a sell-out/scumbag/self-obsessive” questions bring about is a jaw-cracking yawn. On his third album’s opener ‘Still Rap’, he tries to address the common criticism that his music is too “pop” and that he can’t rap… on a track that is ironically one of the most “pop” here. Lyrically, there’s no real direction throughout; the bulk of the subject matter involving sulky reflections on the price of fame (literally, on ‘Price Of Fame’, featuring Gossling) and getting sober, as on ‘Must Come Down’, ‘Early Warning’ and ‘You And I’; the latter coming off like a bad Temper Trap B-side. Ultimately, there’s very little that stands out, and each song plods along at a similar pace with no real zip or zeal. ‘Uncle 60’ may be the biggest rapper to come out of the Australian scene, barring Iggy Azalea (if she’s still being considered an Aussie), but this latest pop-heavy, rap-light stab at hip hop utopia shows that he could really do with a bit more musical meat if he wants to continue to be a heavyweight contender. (Inertia)

For mX

Record review: Remi – Raw x Infinity (2014, LP)

remi album cover

Last year, Melbourne rapper Remi Kolawole dropped the single ‘Sangria’; a blissed-out scorcher of a tune that spoke of the joys of summer, sun and getting sh#tfaced. There’s always a time and a place for songs like that, but the 22 year-old’s lyrics have moved on from those hazy days in the bars of Brunswick, to somewhere where the present isn’t looking quite as rosy. Like a rabid greyhound out of the traps, Remi – backed by Sensible J on drums, production and DJ duties, and Dutch on beats and production – sets off at speed from the start and doesn’t let up, with many a sacrificial rabbit in his sights along the way. He has insisted in interviews he’s not a particularly political rapper, but lines on the title track like “Tony Abbott and the Government / Need to get on the boat to Iraq and sh#t / Take a walk down the Gaza Strip / They’ll either wake up or get blasted then” say something different and show something Australian music needs a lot more of in 2014: guts. There are party tracks too (never fear), and ‘Livin’ might be the best one here; a controlled diatribe against workin’ 9 to 5, while ‘Tyson’ is brutal braggadocio at its best. While this is only Remi’s second album, after 2012’s Regular People Sh#t, it feels like the work of a seasoned pro. This guy is going to do big things. (House of Beige)

For mX

Remi: “I was trying to write stuff that was a bit deeper”

remi

REMI Kolawole began collaborating with Sensible J and Dutch in 2011, and the rapper’s lyrics have continued to evolve without looking back. The Melbourne trio’s new album Raw x Infinity takes a new, edgier direction, as on singles ‘Livin’ and ‘Tyson’.

“We’re just trying to show to anybody who had only heard ‘Sangria’ last year the direction we’re going in,” Remi says. “Our last album, Regular People S#%t, was quite an eclectic listen. A lot of people who have heard that album would probably be ready for our current album, but for a lot of people who hadn’t – as triple j opened us up to a much wider audience than before – this was a good way to let them know what they were in for when they were getting this album. We have beats that are heavily driven by strong drums, live musicianship and there are no samples on ‘Livin’. I guess it’s also a bit deeper than ‘Sangria’; we’re talking about how we’re all being told how to live, as opposed to getting pissed in Brunswick [laughs]. I guess that it’s more of a move to show people our range and what we’re going to do. We just really like the song as well.”

The 22 year-old is keen on embracing a wider range of subject matter, and tackles topics like racism and politics in his songs. But does he consider himself a political rapper?

“Quite the opposite [laughs]. I just write from the average person’s point of view. I can’t pretend to be anything more than I am. [Tony Abbott] doesn’t really speak to me or the people who are around me. Obviously that’s just my opinion, and that’s what rap is. If anyone agrees, that’s cool, and if anyone disagrees, that’s cool as well. It’s all quite progressive; we’re always trying to do something new. On this album, I was trying to write stuff that was a bit deeper. This was all stuff that I just kind of picked up, but by no means do I want to be considered a political or super-conscious rapper. I just write about what I see or what I experience, and I guess some of the political issues came out.”

New single ‘Tyson’ is a no-holds-barred blast of Remi flaunting his lyrical talents over a brutal beat.

“Obviously you should be sending a message,” he says. “That should be a part of what you’re trying to do. But at the same time, you can also rap just to rap and get it out of your system. You can write some shit that hopefully sounds cool, you know what I mean? That’s ultimately what ‘Tyson’ is; just straight rap braggadocio bullshit that I’ve tried to construct to be as entertaining as possible. All the stuff that I write is basically made up of my experiences, or stuff Sensible J, Dutch and I talk about. I could be anywhere; I could be on the bus and see something happen and write about that. On the flip side, with Sensible J; he’s making beats in his head while he’s at his computer at his day job, so you just got to let the music take you whenever, in the most un-corny and unclichéd way [laughs].”

The new material has earned the trio plenty of national radio play, which Remi happily embraces, albeit with a touch of caution.

“Up until about three or four months ago we didn’t actually have any management or anything like that,” he says. “So we always operate like nobody’s got our back, if that makes sense. We’re thankful for anyone who plays our shit, because the stuff we’re doing at the moment is lyrically and sonically different to what’s going at the moment. It’s strange to us if anyone picks up on that and we’re thankful for it. By no means are we banking our career on anyone, because I don’t think you should be writing your music for a station or a magazine or anyone. Those avenues should allow the artist to do what they do, then spread their music, not the other way around. I’m totally thankful for what triple j has done for us, as well as any other media coverage that we’ve received. At the same time, I’m not going to bank on the stuff we do being picked up or written about because that would stifle my creativity and the creativity of Sensible J and Dutch.”

The group’s upcoming calendar is a busy one, with plenty of chances to air the new material.

“We’ve got our national tour coming up; the Raw x Infinity tour,” Remi says. “Then after that, we go to Splendour in the Grass, which will be great. Then we’re doing a few other – perhaps two or three – nationwide tours before November. Then we’re going to Germany in November, and back in December to hopefully do a bunch of festivals. We’ll be doing a couple of showcases in Germany, and we’ll definitely be going over there just to kick it [laughs]. I’ve been told only good things about Berlin, so I’m pretty excited.”

RAW X INFINITY BY REMI IS OUT NOW.

For Beat Magazine.