Song Of The Day #1
One of two seminal hip-hop albums celebrating its 20th birthday this past Saturday, 36 Chambers still sounds fresh to this day and is rightfully held up as a classic of the genre.
Song Of The Day #1
With festival season almost over in the UK, it’s time for the wellies and inadequately sized tents to retire into the lost depths of sheds and cupboards once again. But keeping that last reserve of spirit alive is the decade old, Isle of Wight-based culture fest Bestival. Organised by Radio One DJ Rob da Bank, along with his wife Josie, the event attracted about 55,000 attendees in 2010, smashing a Guinness World Record with a line-up including the likes of The Prodigy, Dizzee Rascal, Chase & Status and The xx, accompanied by Chic & Nile Rogers, The Flaming Lips and Simian Mobile Disco who were part of the goldmine of acts among others who returned this year. The 2013 lineup, spearheaded by the legendary Elton John, carried on the tradition blissfully.
What must be mentioned is everything before and in between the music though. The only way to explain the overall design of the festival is picturing The Creator herself infusing the Isle of Wight with flower petals, neon lights and a few drops of acid. In the outer section of the site deep within the campsites stood Temple Island; an organic land entwined with immaculately crafted overgrown foliage, leafy pods that you can sit in with your friends that hang over a pond and a tent with a spread of orange mattresses where you can sink into the bass of a well thought out favourites playlist.
Just round the corner, the David Lynch Foundation area, a collection of stands funded by the filmmaker’s organization for meditation and relaxation, hosting a massage parlor most importantly for people who brought cheap tents with no pillow or roll mat and other Zen pleasures. If you needed time to unwind during the night time there’s also the Ambient Forest, an illuminated ultra garden scattered with off key sculptures, an abundance of lanterns and deep hammocks. Want your festival experience to be educational? That’s cool too. Stumble out of the forest and head towards the main stage and you should find yourself in Tomorrow’s World, a pathway for the mind. The Besti-versity tent sits here, next to the Science Tent and Rob da Bank’s Music Club, with lectures and discussions, this year hosting Feminist Friday, a haven of feminist chats by women for anybody to drop by (irony ensued however when there’s a camera man at the main stage zooming in on ladies’ chesticles).
The energetic French Electro Swing collective, Caravan Palace were the first artists to properly awaken the main stage on Friday afternoon. They carried their set with vigorous violin playing, technical swing dancing and rapid scat vocals fronted by pixie looking singer, Zoé Colotis, their performance was adored universally regardless of their genre not being a common preference. Wu Tang Clan followed and were a sour disappointment for generally sober old me; their initial “Bring The Motherfuckin’ Ruckus!” entrance got the blood flowing and the keen anticipation of pre-noughties hip-hop got me hollering but that feeling of elation was deflated when Ghostface Killah was the only relevant member that made it to the UK, leaving the floor absent of big-name members like Method Man and RZA (a big blow since there were whispers of a collab performance with James Blake). The remainder of the crew weren’t that grabbing, howling a tired performance through shades and bucket hats to an audience of teens rolling their Crucial Joints.
If you were brave enough to give up the spot you gave your blood, sweat and tears for at the main stage, the bio-fuelled Bandstand hosted young Kentish singer-songwriter Will Joseph-Cook who strummed and sung soulful ballads to a chilled out, seated crowd with the support of his talented band trio. Overlapping slightly with the aforementioned was London lass singer-songwriter Jessie Ware, who embraced the stage donning a stylish and handsome black ship captain outfit, gloves and all. The live band carrying her abandoned the “indie-pop with a nostalgic hint of garage” vibe that her recordings have, particularly on the upbeat track, “If You’re Never Gonna Move”, presented instead was a more classic solo female flavour that differentiated her from the house links with Disclosure and SBTRKT. Miss Ware ended her set with the romantic tune “Running” and wowed the festival with a powerful vocal finish. Sam Smith graced the modestly sized Replay tent with an intimate, warm performance. Treating the audience to acoustic style renditions of “Latch” (his collaboration with Disclosure) and “La La La”; “Lay Me Down” was the highlight of his set though, reducing listeners to a silent sway.
Replay with Rob Da Bank proved to be a good stage for underground artists and dark horses throughout the weekend, London rapper/producer Ghostpoet gave a raw and gritty show with an off pace seamless spoken word -singing hybrid and up comer Barbarossa mapped out a mellow vibe on Sunday afternoon. Nile Rodgers with Chic got the entire festival going wild playing hauntingly addictive funky classics back at the main stage. Rogers educated the masses on his influence on the music industry, boasting of the works that he created and was involved in throughout popular culture, including Daft Punk’s dance track, Get Lucky dancing along enthusiastically with the fans from the side of the stage as it played the group out. Scroobius Pip vs Dan le Sac kept the juices flowing on Sunday evening at The Swamp Shack; beardy bard Scroob’s signature word vomit of social discourse through clever rhetorical questioning and torrential rain of colloquial jargon was awe-striking. The pair carried on entertaining the crowd (and themselves) between tunes with tongue in cheek teen tier jokes and left with the promise of new content in the form of third album Repent Replenish Repeat. Elton John was a give or take experience for people like me who don’t tend to romanticize the classic greats, even with the pilgrimage to get close enough to see him on stage being almost compulsory. The universally emotional mood he produced from playing clasic hits like “Your Song” and “Rocket Man” brought together the majority of the festival in a harmonious unison but there was hardly any stage interaction from the man himself due to some sound tech issues and there was nothing special done to immortalise his first festival performance in over 30 years, the set was followed by an unbelievable fireworks display exploding to the beat of hit tunes .
The real finisher (for those who are human and don’t have the physical and spiritual strength to carry on until breakfast time) was James Blake who turned in a near flawless set. He and his band opened with old fan favourite “I Never Learnt To Share”, following the regular formula of progressive, textured beats layered with overlapping soft vocals. The electronic wonder boy showed off his new work mostly playing tracks off recent second album Overgrown, “Retrograde” was a hit to the Big Top inhabitants giving off that pleasing hint of emotion and soul as he broke out of a sorrowful hum into the one sided dialogue of the track. The infectious head bop stretched across the crowd throughout the set until the band left and James Blake went solo with his Joni Mitchell cover “A Case of You”, an ideal closing song executed delicately, fiddling between classic style piano and a soothing singing voice, rising the atmosphere just past lukewarm. A candlelit date with Mr. Blake.
Bestival is without a doubt an event I could see myself returning to annually for a good deal of the future; I left the festival feeling like I could have repeated the same weekend ten times over, each time experiencing something refreshing and new.
Wu Tang is for the children… or maybe not if the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard's FBI file is anything to go by. Rich Jones of the hack-friendly Gun.io has unearthed the 90 page document on the former Wu Tang Clan member who died in 2004. Highlights, if you can call them that, include:
- Connections to the murder of Robert “Pooh” Johnson and Jerome “Boo Boo” Estrella. [p6]
- Connection to murder of Ishamael “Hoody” Kourma. [p13]
- A shoot-out with the NYPD. [p15]
- Arrest for felony possession of body armour. [p16]
- Connections to the Bloods Gang. [p17]
- Found in possession of large bags full of paper currency. [p40]
- Details of his being robbed and shot while staying in the Kingston projects. [p45]
Oh, and this:
You stay classy, Wu Tang.