Here’s the next chapter in the story of the hip-hop boys from Oxford, GTA, who we’ve mentioneda few times on the blog. MC Chima Anya has now moved to London, where he’s working in a children’s hospital (remember Dr Anya is a trained medical professional by day, and rapper by night), and breaking into the London scene as a solo artist.
His new single is New Day, featuring Soweto Kinch, and produced by some bloke called Astronare, about whom I can find nothing on the web. The video looks a lot more slick and professional than the previous “home-grown” clips filmed around Oxford… you could say it’s a big step up.
Soweto Kinch (born in London but growing up near Birmingham) has a bit of an Oxford connection too. A pretty handy jazz saxophonist and rapper, he also has a degree in Modern History from Hertford College, Oxford. Now, whatever you think of jazz, hip hop or Oxbridge education, you’ve got to admit that that’s a pretty cool CV.
Anyway, if you’re in London in August, you can catch Chima Anya’s album preview gig at The Gramaphone, 60-62 Commercial Street E1, on Thursday 27th August.
Ever get the feeling that the torch has well and truly passed to the next generation? When we were starting one million dollars back in 2001, Iva Lamkum was still at high school.
But today, Iva is fully-fledged solo artist from who seems to be following in the lineage of New Zealand contemporaries Ladi6 and Hollie Smith. Certainly her deep-throated soul-jazz style recalls somewhat both Hollie and Ladi.
Her 2008 single Kung Fu Grip plays on Iva’s Asian heritage (born in NZ, Iva is half-Chinese, half-Samoan), and is the centrepiece of a début EP that mines consistently popular characteristics of the New Zealand scene – live old-school beats, jazz, and an organic r+b/soul aesthetic.
(A sidebar note: the trombone lick on Turn Around is played by Haydn Godfrey, an erstwhile one million dollars conspirator and one of a very few young professional trombonists in the NZ. He’s currently in Chicago studying with players from the Chicago Symphony.)
Earlier last year we talked about Oxford hip hop crew GTA. We quite liked their unashamed Thames Valley accents and Stax-sampling beats. The good news is that their début album The Way is now available everywhere.
Here’s the video for their new single Breakthrough:
As you might expect from an album recorded in Oxford, there aren’t too many stories of ghetto life to be heard here. MCs Chima Anya and Ineff are mostly interested in addressing their experience as young men growing up, finding their way in life (Chima is a junior doctor, Ineff is an accountant), running round town and chasing women.
And GTA are keen to point out, The Way is about life, it’s not about the town they’re from. Even if Ineff claims that “We’re the biggest thing outta Kidlington man” there’s little name-checking of suburbs or housing estates. As Ineff continues, there’s no point in giving shout-outs to a town that’s already world famous:
There’s a list of places that are simply blazin’
But I’m not gonna list the places
If you wanna know ask Tourist Information
The attitude is 100% positive, they both seem to know they’re lucky to be making beats and rhymes. And best of all it sounds like the guys had a lot of fun recording the album.
Despite its gargantuan size and frequent inefficiency, the BBC really is quite awesome – through the wonders of modern technology, Jay-Z’s headlining gig on Saturday night on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury was webcast live in hi-res video to the whole of the UK, as well as on BBC3 TV and BBC Radio One.
The crowd on-site would’ve been close to 50-60,000, and there were millions watching and listening nationwide. Disregarding the hype surrounding this gig, (and Zane Lowe‘s frothing-at-the-mouth introduction on TV), Jay-Z’s set felt like pop history in the making.
The Glastonbury coverage on the BBC and on the Guardian site has been great, and has permitted some other musical discoveries/reconsiderations. On the downside, it appears that MGMT as a live act may not live up to the awesomeness of their album. More positively, Vampire Weekend is well worth some further time listening…
A hiphop crew out of Oxford? You better believe it. GTA are a couple of lads making sharper waves than the Brasenose Mens’ Eight on the Isis during Torpids. They’ve already played support gigs for KRS-One, Amp Fiddler and Flavor Flav, and they sure sound like someone’s gonna pick them out of the City of Dreaming Spires and put them on a really big stage.
Perhaps being native of a smaller, slower town that isn’t Manchester, Birmingham or London has rubbed off on this crew… GTA’s soul-sampling intelligence is a bit of a change from the usual UK brand of gritty/grimy hiphop.
Their unusually sunny disposition and catchy beatmaking reminds me strangely of some of the Pacific-infused groups out of New Zealand, artists like Nesian Mystik and Tha Feelstyle.
MC Chima Anya has a dayjob as a junior doctor, so it makes sense that their home-made video for Wanna Be Myself is possibly the first hiphop clip filmed in an NHS hospital, with additional scenes taped at Cutteslowe Park in north Oxford. Chima Anya’s partner in rhyme is Ineffable, and he’s a trained accountant (all the better to count the loot when these guys finally make it big).
They’re working on an album, and their first EP Love is Here is available via Paypal, linked on their myspace page.
Everybody in the late 90’s had a house music period, right?….right?…..well, OK maybe not. But for some of us, there was something about clubs with purple carpet on the walls and cheap Heinekens on Thursdays that gave some of these tunes at least temporary appeal. But the appeal never lasted long.
So, in the spirit of archaemusicology, here’s Kriss Kross from 1992, remixed by Jason Nevins in 1999. And a clubbed-out version of Return of the Space Cowboy, perhaps most noteworthy for the sax solo at the end which revives all those Miami Vice memories….
Kriss Kross vs Jason Nevins – Jump
From Uni-Vs-Al: Epic/Sony 491968 [Buy]
Jamiroquai – Return of the Space Cowboy (Classic Dub Remix)
From Stillness in Time Single: Sony 6620256 [Buy on Vinyl]
Brooklyn Funk Essentials – Brooklyn Recycles
Brooklyn Funk Essentials – Stickman Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge
From Cool and Steady and Easy: Dorado DOR 022 CD [Buy]
BFE, one of the definitive American hip-hop-jazz crossover artists. Here’s the collective from their debut long player from 1995. Featuring Joshua Roseman (tb), Paul Shapiro (sax), Bob Rockmann, (tp) Lati Kronlund (bass and drum programming) among others.
In 1995, their version of Pharoah Sanders’ The Creator Has a Master Plan was an underground hit. In 2005, they’re still going.
And while I’m here, a welcome to freeman as a new occasional audioblogger and constant provider of thought-food. Also check out iwasdoingalright, an ongoing and evolving account of the trials and joys of learning to play jazz trumpet. I can tell you that this site is very accurate. Ah, memories….