Music
[ September 25, 2023 by amber.downie@sabaltd.org.uk 0 Comments ]

Usher to Headline 2024 Super Bowl in Las Vegas

Yesterday announced that R&B superstar, Usher, will take the place of the NFL Super Bowl Halftime Show headliner in 2024. With social media users having speculated over the past few weeks, this news comes as an exciting surprise for many, as fans now pitch out their setlists featuring selections of his nine no.1 hits.

Making his debut in his teens, Usher has sustained a brilliant career and has cemented himself as an all-rounder performer over the past two and a half decades. With hits such as ‘You Make Me Wanna…’, ‘Yeah!’ and of course ‘Confessions Part II’, anticipation is circulating across the internet as audiences await a setlist filled with plenty of hits.

The news has also sparked discussions on potential guest acts who may be performing with Usher. Suggestions include big names such as Justin Bieber, and Lil Jon, as well as Halftime Show alums such as Beyoncé and Rihanna. With videos surfacing of previous collaborations, this guessing game will bring excitement all the way up to the much-awaited Sunday.

Taking place at Allegiant Stadium on February 11th, Usher’s show brings another bucket-list achievement for the ‘Caught Up’ singer as this stage in his career only proves his status as an icon in music. This year will complete his Vegas residency entitled ‘My Way’ in honour of the 25th anniversary of his sophomore album. The concert has been famously visited by pop culture stars such as Keke Palmer, Taraji P. Henson, and Kim Kardashian – who was involved in the official announcement of the headline show. Usher is also set to release his newest album entitled ‘Coming Home’ which “ushers” in a new era for the singer and will be available on the day of his Halftime Show.

As the fifth show under the NFL’s partnership with Jay Z’s entertainment agency, Roc Nation, Usher will join the list of recent powerhouses in performances from Shakira, Rihanna, Snoop Dogg, Mary J Blige, and many more. With viewing numbers regularly reaching above 100 million, Usher promises the world a stand-out show, sharing in recent statement: “I can’t wait to bring the world a show unlike anything else they’ve seen from me before”.

BlogMusic
[ September 13, 2023 by amber.downie@sabaltd.org.uk 0 Comments ]

Hip-Hop’s 50th Celebrations in Full Force with Big Names Across Generations

As one of the most influential genres in music, the 50th anniversary of hip-hop continues to be celebrated a month after the anniversary of its official birth, with further events planned for the rest of the year. This week brought appearances and performances from big names in music, media, and even politics with celebrations in the US and UK.

 

Taking the Stage at the VMAs

Starting with last night’s MTV VMAs show, the hip-hop tribute saw performances from the show’s host, Nicki Minaj – a leader in the female impact on hip-hop. She evidenced the longevity of her career performing ‘Itty Bitty Piggy’ from her 2009 mixtape, as well as recent hit ‘Red Ruby Da Sleeze’. Another icon in the modern age of hip-hop, Nicki handed over to her own mentor within the industry, Lil Wayne, who performed one of his greatest hits ‘A Milli’, with LL Cool J following up with ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’ to an energetic crowd.

Representing for the early era of genre, the hip-hop pioneering group, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, opened the performance with ‘The Message’ – a song credited with moving hip-hop from just party music to having socially-conscious lyrics. Closing the night, DMC (Darryl McDaniels) performed Run-DMC’s cover of ‘Walk This Way’ with all the artists joining him on stage to end the star-studded show.

Recognising the Cultural Impact

Last weekend brought out even more hip-hop legends with celebrations taking place at the official residence of Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris. Acknowledging hip-hop’s huge influence on American culture, Remy Ma, Fat Joe, Common, Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick, and more gathered to celebrate the genre’s impact.

London also joined in commemorations with Youtube’s Legacy Party celebrating the impact on Black British culture. Held at the Royal Opera House, the night revelled in performances from British icons such as Ms Dynamite. The Legacy Party also awarded its inaugural Legacy Award to Koby ‘Posty’ Hagan for his contributions to the culture as the founder of the UK’s biggest music media outlet, GRM Daily.

Remembering the Origins

Hip-hop’s 50th anniversary is remembered on August 11th this year as it was on this day in 1973 that Jamaican-born DJ Kool Herc isolated the break in songs – the most danceable parts – and repeated them creating the technique of breakbeat DJing. He also incorporated a Jamaican influence of toasting (talking over the beat) – a style pioneered by U-Roy – which later evolved into the MC culture we know now.

The numerous celebrations taking place evidence the genre’s popularity and influence on the Western world. With further performances set to take place this year in honour of the anniversary, it is astounding to look at how far the genre has come in its 50 years of invention.

Blog
[ September 5, 2023 by amber.downie@sabaltd.org.uk 0 Comments ]

Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Keisha Buchanan Reflect on Racism in the Music Industry

This week, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Keisha Buchanan have garnered headlines for speaking on their experiences within the music industry. In separate interviews, Leigh-Anne and Keisha reflect on the racism they experienced within their careers as part of girl groups, Little Mix and Sugababes, respectively. These conversations carry on from the topics explored in Leigh-Anne’s own BBC documentary – ‘Race, Pop & Power’ – where both herself and fellow artists, including Keisha, shared their own treatment within the industry.

In recent interview with Channel 4 News to speak on how women are treated in the industry, Buchanan said: “Women in general – the magnifying glass on their relationships is actually quite odd to me… I think it’s especially harsh if you’re a person of colour. God forbid if you make a mistake.” This sentiment echoes her previous revelation in Leigh-Anne’s 2021 documentary where she was often labelled as a ”bully” and as a result often had her opinions disregarded. These comments are made even more notable when taking into account that she was the only black member of the girl group, Sugababes.

This experience has also been shared by Leigh-Anne as the only black member of the girl group, Little Mix. Now on hiatus and making music as solo artists, Leigh-Anne recently sat down with Rolling Stones to share that she is on a personal journey to heal from the racism she experienced within the industry, and even with Little Mix fans. In the interview, Leigh-Anne shared that her experiences with racism were often subtle where there were “little things [she] was questioning, but also feeling quite alone with it… [She] just pushed it down and down and down.”

Despite the issues they faced throughout their careers, both Buchanan and Pinnock demonstrate their determination and clear talent in new career moves within music as Keisha has an upcoming concert with her Sugababes band members next Friday at the O2. Equally, Leigh-Anne will continue her success in her solo career as her new single ‘My Love’ is set for release on Thursday 7th September.

Music
[ August 22, 2023 by amber.downie@sabaltd.org.uk 0 Comments ]

Stormzy Makes a Splash at All Points East Festival

Last weekend saw Stormzy’s return to a London stage at his headline show at the All Points East festival in Victoria Park. Stormzy was given his own show and was able to curate the day’s performance with guests such as Kehlani, WSTRN, and Knucks. Other days within the festival are also set to feature Erykah Badu, Jungle, and The Strokes.

Despite the typical UK weather bringing a downpour on the day, the ‘Vossi Bop’ rapper persevered to finish out his energetic set in the rain to an equally enthusiastic crowd. The shining moment came in the performance of his acclaimed song ‘Blinded by Your Grace’ which was only made more impactful in the rain. As seen in his recent Instagram post about the day, he shares his pleasure about the rain and how it has “become synonymous with his career”.

With his last London concert taking place last year April, Stormzy has since continued his musical and philanthropic impact with the release of his latest album with the same namesake as his headline show. As well, his charity #Merkyfoundation shared earlier this year that 30 new scholarships would be available to black students at Cambridge university for the next three years. With this recent concert performance, the Grime artist has once again proven the impact of the “Stormzy Effect”.

 

Music
[ August 8, 2023 by amber.downie@sabaltd.org.uk 0 Comments ]

N-Dubz Returns to the Spotlight with New Album

The London-born trio, and UK UNSIGNED alum, N-Dubz, is back on the music scene with the release of their latest album entitled ‘Timeless’. Playing with beats reminiscent of their musical prime in the late noughties, as well as exploring sounds of the modern-day influences such as afrobeats, this album brings the summer vibes to the UK.

Despite a hiatus of over 10 years, the appetite for N-Dubz is still found from listeners new and old. The ‘Timeless’ album marks a milestone in their comeback following their sold-out reunion tour across Britain last year. The group continues the momentum of their renewed popularity with performances set around the country’s open air parks this month – notably, with a stop in Gunnersbury Park in London this Friday.

The hip-hop group seem here to stay in a new era as the band member, Tulisa, shares plans for another studio album next year continuing their tradition of releasing works each year.

UK UNSIGNED salutes the continued success of one of our own.

Music

A Wild Weekend for Wizkid

 

This weekend, the Nigerian-born singer, Wizkid, enjoyed a number of career achievements as his music continues to take him to new levels in the UK.

The popularity of Afrobeats in the UK mainstream is owed in part to Wizkid’s iconic sounds as he has continued to cement both himself and the genre over the past decade. His career has included collaborations with names such as Drake, Justin Bieber, and Beyoncé, as well as a number of international award nominations where he regularly holds the title of “first African artist” in these feats.

This past weekend, his success has continued as he was awarded the “BRIT Billion” which acknowledges the achievement of one billion career UK streams. With this, Wizkid becomes 1 of 18 awardees, joining the likes of recent awardees Queen, Mariah Carey, and AJ Tracey.

This weekend also saw Wizkid’s sold-out headline stadium performance at the 62,000-seat capacity Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium. Wizkid delivered a show featuring his biggest hits to provide a party-like vibe for concert-goers. However, fans were left disappointed by the performance expressing their sentiments on social media. With sound issues, lack of special guests, and a shorter runtime than expected, the “Essence” singer suffered from poor reviews. However, his talent remains evident in the success of his discography as fans continue to root for the Afrobeats artist.