Category Archives: Music

Top 15 Countdown: Female Rappers

Welcome to the first of a regular series on Kureen called the Top 15 Countdown. This week we look at the 15 greatest female rappers ever to spit bars.

15. Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes

Despite enjoying a successful solo career and three No. 1 hits as a member of TLC, Lopes’s personal life was marred by her rocky relationship with American football player Andre Rison, and in 1994 she was arrested for burning down his home. Lopes died in a car accident on April 25, 2002, in Honduras at the peak of her powers.

14. Yo-Yo

Yo-Yo (born Yolanda Whitaker) is among the most sophisticated and unpredictable female rappers of all-time. Despite refraining from an overtly feminist tack, she dealt with issues of sexual restraint and self-worth in young women.

13. Rapsody

With her polished and distinct style, Rapsody’s wordplay and flow are virtually unparalleled in both delivery and execution. Still only 27 years old, the North Carolina resident remains one of the most promising forces on the contemporary hip-hop landscape.

12. The Lady of Rage

Though she had made more than a dozen appearances on soundtracks as well as albums from her Death Row Records cohorts from 1988 onwards, the Lady of Rage didn’t release an album until 1997; the explosive Necessary Roughness was worth the wait.

11. Foxy Brown

Diminutive Brooklyn-based MC, model and actress whose brash style helped mould a generation of sexually-activated female rappers. First hit the scene in 1989, aged just 15.

10. Salt-N-Pepa

All-female rap crew from Queens whose assertive rhymes, topped with a dollop of feminism, earned them worldwide success. The group, consisting of Cheryl James, Sandra Denton and Deidra Roper, was formed in 1985, peaking a year later with the release of seminal album Push It.

9. Bahamadia

Philadelphia rapper whose unique monotone delivery and crafty rhymes wooed critics in the 1990’s, Bahamadia rose to prominence on the hip-hop scene as the female protégée of Gang Starr’s Guru, and lent her smooth-flowing lyrics to a variety of projects during the latter part of the decade.

8. Eve

Former member of the Ruff Ryders crew, her photogenic looks and impudent rhymes, Eve was number 48 on VH1’s “50 Greatest Women of the Video Era” list. Another female rapper to seamlessly transition into acting.

7. Da Brat

Chicago-based spitfire who burst onto the mid-’90’s hip-hop scene with her bold, defiant delivery.  Her debut album, Funkdafied, sold one million copies, making her the first female solo rap act to go platinum.

6. Missy Elliott

Individualistic female MC who altered the hip-hop landscape with her eclectic, innovative, sexually charged rhymes, buoyed by Timbaland beats. Recent Bestival headline set was a noteworthy example of effectively keeping a large audience on a short leash.

5. Lil’ Kim

Fiercest, most provocative, and most infamous female rapper of the late-1990s, Kim lost steam as her career entered the 21st Century, but her legacy remains pivotal in the evolution of female hip-hop.

4. Nicki Minaj

First stepping into the spotlight as an affiliate of Lil Wayne, the quirky, cool Minaj went from mix-tape queen to bona fide superstar with a string of successful releases. Regular surgeries have rendered her barely identifiable in a physical sense when placed alongside the Minaj of the late 2000’s, but her rap game remains tight.

3. Queen Latifah

One of the first politically conscious female rappers, selling nearly two million records worldwide as she feuded with Foxy Brown. She later became better known for a successful acting career and talk show.

2. MC Lyte

Trailblazer who came to the fore in the late 1980’s, becoming the first solo female rapper to release a full album with 1988’s critically acclaimed Lyte as a Rock. MC Lyte has long been considered one of hip-hop’s pioneer feminists.

1. Lauryn Hill

Singer, actress, songwriter, rapper and producer best known for being a member of the Fugees and for her brilliant solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Has become a virtual recluse in recent years, distancing herself from the music industry excepting the occasional low-key venue.

 Agree with the list? Think we missed someone out? Let us know in the comment section below!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me.
I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Festival Season 2016: Who’s playing where this summer?

With the UK music festival season rapidly approaching, there are now more choices than ever before for the weekend raver. Dom Kureen takes a look at some of the most notable events and how they’re shaping up so far.

June

The London African Gospel Choir will be headlining at MondoMix Photo by Adam Gasson / Commonwealth Secretariat
The London African Gospel Choir will be headlining at MondoMix
Photo by Adam Gasson / Commonwealth Secretariat

Mondomix

Venue: Calbourne Water Mill, Isle of Wight
Dates: 3-5 June
Weekend camping price: £55

Headline acts
London African Gospel Choir, 7suns, Arhai, Soothsayers

Mondomix website

Isle of Wight Festival

Venue: Seaclose Park, Isle of Wight
Dates: 9-12 June
Weekend camping price: £208.20

Headline acts
The Who, Queen + Adam Lambert, Stereophonics, Faithless

Isle of Wight Festival website
Kureen 2014 Isle of Wight Festival review 

Download Festival

Venue: Donington Park, Leicestershire
Dates: 10-12 June
Weekend camping price: £195

Headline acts
Rammstein, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Korn, Nightwish

Download website

Glastonbury Festival

Venue: Worthy Farm, Pilton.
Dates: 22-26 June
Weekend camping price: £228

Headline acts
Adele, Coldplay, Muse, LCD Soundsystem

Glastonbury website
Kureen 2014 Glastonbury review

Blissfields

Venue: Woodmancott, Hampshire
Dates: 30 June – 2 July
Weekend camping price: £95+

Headline acts
Dizzee Rascal, Everything, Everything, Roni Size

Blissfields website

July

Fatboy Slim spearheads a sparkling Camp Bestival lineup in August
Fatboy Slim spearheads a sparkling Camp Bestival lineup in August

Love Supreme jazz festival

Venue: Glynde, East Sussex.
Dates: 1-3 July
Weekend camping price: £145

Headline acts
Grace Jones, Burt Bacharach, Lianne le havas

Love Supreme website

British Summer Time

Venue: Hyde Park, London
Dates: 2nd, 3rd, 9th July
Weekend camping price: £184

Headline acts
Florence & the Machine, Mumford & Sons, Take That

BST Website

Cornbury

Venue: Great Tew, Oxfordshire
Dates: 8-10 July
Weekend camping price: £200

Headline acts
Jamie Cullum, Bryan Ferry, James Morrison

Cornbury website

T in the Park

Venue: Auchterader, Perthshire, Scotland
Dates: 8-10 July
Weekend camping price: £205

Headline acts
Stone Roses, Disclosure, The 1975

T in the Park website

Latitude 

Venue: Beccles, Suffolk
Dates: 14-17 July
Weekend camping price: £192.50

Headline acts
The Maccabees, New Order, the National

Latitude website

Secret Garden Party

Venue: Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire
Dates: 21-24 July
Weekend camping price: £180

Headline acts
Primal Scream, Caribou, Lissie

SGP website 

Leefest

Venue: Secret location near Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Dates: 28-30 July
Weekend camping price: £89+

Headline acts
Lianna la Havas, Roots Manuva, Little Simz

Leefest website

Camp Bestival

Venue: Lulworth, Dorset
Dates: 28-31 July
Weekend camping price: £197.50

Headline acts
Fatboy Slim, Tears for Fears, Jess Glynne

Camp Bestival website

WOMAD

Venue: Malmesbury, Wiltshire
Dates: 28-31 July
Weekend camping price: £175+

Headline acts
Sidestepper, This is the Kit, Tettish

WOMAD website

August

The Flaming Lips will grace Wilderness festival in August
The Flaming Lips will grace Wilderness festival in August

Wilderness

Venue: Great Tew, Oxfordshire
Dates: 4-7 August
Weekend camping price: £164

Headline acts
Robert Plant, the Flaming Lips, Crystal Fighters

Wilderness website

BoomTown Fair

Venue: Ovington, Hampshire
Dates: 11-14 August
Weekend camping price: £170

Headline acts
Madness, Damian Marley, Leftfield

BoomTown Fair website

Green Man

Venue: Crickhowell, Powys, Wales
Dates: 18-21 August
Weekend camping price: £175

Headline acts
James Blake, Belle & Sebastian, Wild Beasts

Green Man website

V Festival

Venue: Weston-under-Lizard, Staffordshire + Chelmsford, Essex
Dates: 20-21 August
Weekend camping price: £189

Headline acts
Rihanna, Sia, Justin Bieber

V Website

Creamfields

Venue: Daresbury, Cheshire
Dates: 25-28 August
Weekend camping price: £200

Headline acts
Fatboy Slim, Tiesto, Above & Beyond

Creamfields website

Shambala 

Venue: Secret location nr Market Harbourough, Northamptonshire
Dates: 25-28 August
Weekend camping price: £109+

Headline acts
Sister Sledge, TBC

Shambala website 

Reading/Leeds 

Venues: Reading, Berkshire + Wothersome, West Yorkshire
Dates: 26-28 August
Weekend camping price: £205

Headline acts
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foals, Disclosure

Reading/Leeds website

Victorious

Venue: Southsea, Hampshire
Dates: 27-28 August
Weekend price: £50+

Headline acts
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Manic Street Preachers, Will Young

Victorious website

September

Robert Smith of The Cure: Great hair, better eye-liner
Robert Smith of The Cure: Great hair, better eye-liner

No.6

Venue: Portmeirion, Gwynedd, Wales
Dates: 1-4 September
Weekend camping price: £195

Headline acts
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Hot Chip, Bastille

No.6 website

Bestival

Venue: Robin Hill park, Downhill, Isle of Wight
Dates: 8-11 September
Weekend camping price: £218

Headline acts
The Cure, Major Lazer, Hot Chip

Bestival website

Let us know if you’re going to any festivals this summer, and who you’re looking forward to seeing in the comment section below!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me.
I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Festive 15 for ’15

Award winning music journalist, Dr Jonathan O’Shea, kindly agreed to share his top 15 tracks of 2015 with Kureen – let us know your thoughts in the comment section below the article. 

Chemical Brothers

The Festive Fifteen, my favourite tracks of the year, has become an accidental annual tradition (I think this is the seventh one) and was initially inspired by John Peel’s Festive 50. Like pointless paper crowns, turkey incineration and being derisive about sprouts, this is one seasonal routine which is set to continue ad infinitum.

Between Christmas and the New Year, I like to pore over the music that’s been pumped into the ether over the past twelve months and somehow make sense of it all by pointlessly ranking it. Then I present it to the world in classic chart countdown style: 15 to 1 (not to be confused with William G Stewart’s bad-ass 90s game show).

So here’s the Festive Fifteen ’15;

15. What Went Down – Foals

Pulsing, persistent beat and increasingly frenzied lyrics from the inappropriately-named indie rockers.

14. Leaving the City – Joanna Newsom

The planet’s most unique and oblique pop-harpist takes a leap into new, questing territory, with a less sparse, more densely developed sound than usual.

13. Mr Noah – Panda Bear

Some pretty weird-ass stuff here, about a dog being bitten on his leg…? Sounds like it was recorded on a demonically distorted hurdy-gurdy in 2048 and sent back in time through a subterranean vortex.

12. Go – Chemical Brothers ft. Q-Tip

Begins amid frantic bongos and slashing light-sabres (honestly); Q-Tip’s muscular rap provides the backbone for a Daft Punk-style synth-a-thon.

11. Go Out Blur

The kind of swaggering anthem Damon & co relentlessly pumped out in their prime.

10. Singularity – New Order

One of the darker tracks from Music Complete focuses on dissatisfaction with everyday inertia and mourns the loss of ex-bandmate Ian Curtis.

9. Tutti Frutti – New Order ft. Elly Jackson

Could easily be filed under ‘90s nostalgia, but a beguiling duet with La Roux’s Elly Jackson elevates this playful track to something more airily uplifting.

8. Detroit – Gaz Coombes

Probably the finest moment of the ex-Supergrass frontman’s solo career. A tale of longing for home while in a distant land: effortlessly melodic, with a soul-stirring arrangement.

7. City – Spring King

Breathless stomper; designed to thrash about in the dark to. Repeat: “Who am I? What does it matter?”

6. Strange Combinations Teleman

Gently insistent and mildly hypnotic stuff. Perhaps the strangest combination here is the electro beat and mild-mannered vocal style, but it works wonderfully.

5. Borders – M.I.A

Controversial subject matter – the refugee crisis and a ‘f*ck the system’ message – delivered in typically laconic style. Sure, it’s a little lyrically banal, but at least she seems to stand for something.

4. Bodies – Farao

Totally irresistible combination of plaintive Scandinavian vocalist and inexorable rhythms.

3. Swords (Matahdatah Scroll 01 “Broader Than A Border”) – M.I.A.

Opens with the rhythmic clashing of swords and a pulsing beat which underpins a culture-clash classic. Check out the genuinely awesome M.I.A-directed double video for this new track and 2013’s ‘Warriors’.

2. Dreams – Beck

Reminiscent of his upbeat ‘Guero’-era danceable demi-anthems, this track – devoted to the restorative power of dreams – is thickly layered with catchy aural confections…it’s surely the funksome highpoint of Beck’s meandering later career.

1. Don’t Breathe Out – Roots Manuva.

soul-stirring sample of portly baritone Barry White’s ‘Honey Please, Can’t Ya See’ forms the unlikely bedrock of this gloriously gospel-tinged track. The Walrus of Love’s slightly sickly love letter morphs into something altogether more mystical and compelling under the spell of Stockwell’s philosophical wordsmith.

Fin.

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa’s latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

Festival season 2015: Who’s playing where this summer?

With the UK music festival season rapidly approaching, there are now more choices than ever before for the weekend raver. Dom Kureen takes a look at some of the most notable events and how they’re shaping up so far.

June

Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac will kick off festival season on the Isle of Wight.

 

Isle of Wight Festival

Venue: Seaclose Park, Isle of Wight
Dates: 11-14 June
Weekend camping price: £208

Headline acts
Fleetwood Mac, Blur, The Black Keys, The Prodigy, Max.Lyrical.

Isle of Wight Festival website
Kureen 2014 Isle of Wight Festival review 

Download Festival

Venue: Donington Park, Leicestershire
Dates: 12-14 June
Weekend camping price: £215

Headline acts
Muse, Slipknot, Kiss, Faith No More, Motley Crue

Download website

Glastonbury Festival

Venue: Worthy Farm, Pilton.
Dates: 24-28 June
Weekend camping price: £225

Headline acts
Kanye West, Lionel Richie, Foo Fighters

Glastonbury website
Kureen 2014 Glastonbury review

Wireless 10

Venue: Finsbury Park, London
Date: 28 June
Day ticket price: £76.45

Headline acts
Drake, Rita Ora, Chance the Rapper, Katy B, Public Enemy

Wireless 10 website

July

Drake
Drake goes Wireless in July

Wireless Festival

Venue: Finsbury Park, London.
Dates: 3-5 July
Weekend camping price: £209.50

Headline acts
Drake, Jesse J, Avicii, Mary J Blige, David Guetta

Wireless Festival website

T2015

Venue: Strathallan castle, Perthshire, Scotland
Dates: 10-12 July
Weekend camping price: £194

Headline acts
Kasabian, Sam Smith, The Libertines, Kasabian, The Prodigy

T2015 website

Latitude Festival

Venue: Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk
Dates: 16-19 July
Weekend camping price: £200.50

Headline acts
Portishead, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Alt-J, Alan Davies, Jon Richardson 

Latitude website

Love Box

Venue: Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets, London.
Dates: 17-18 July
Weekend camping price: £93.50

Headline acts
Snoop Dogg, Rudimental, Bonobo, Jessie Ware, Cypress Hill

Love Box website

Secret Garden Party

Venue: Mill Hill Field, Abbots Ripton
Dates: 23-26 July
Weekend camping price: £190.50

Headline acts
Jungle, Public Service Broadcasting, Palma Violets, Menace Beach

Secret Garden Party website

August

Sam Smith
Sam Smith: Far too clean looking for the festival crowd

 

Boomtown Fair

Venue: Matterley Estate, Winchester, Hampshire
Dates: August 13-16
Weekend camping price: £155

Headline acts
Stephen Marley, Gogol Bordello, Flogging Molly

Boomtown Fair website

V Festival

Venues: Weston Park, Staffordshire / Hylands Park, Chelmsford
Dates: August 22-23
Weekend camping price: £189

Headline acts
Calvin Harris, Stereophonics, Sam Smith, Tom Jones

V Festival website

Reading and Leeds Festival

Venues: Richfield Avenue, Reading / Braham Park, Leeds
Dates: August 28-30
Weekend camping price: £205

Headline acts
Mumford and Sons, The Libertines, Limp Bizkit, Metallica

Reading Festival website
Leeds Festival website

Creamfields

Venue: Alex James’s Farm, Kingham, The Cotswolds
Dates: August 28-30
Weekend camping price: £154.50

Headline acts
Paloma Faith, Grandmaster Flash, Groove Armada

Creamfields website

September

Chemical Brothers
The Chemical Brothers sent in the clowns last summer

 

Festival No.6

Venue: Portmeirion, Wales
Dates: September 3-6
Weekend camping price: £170

Headline acts
Grace Jones, Belle & Sebastian, Ghost Poet

Festival No.6 website

Bestival

Venue: Robin Hill, Isle of Wight
Dates: September 10-13
Weekend camping price: £195

Headline acts
Chemical Brothers, Underworld, Duran Duran

Bestival website
Kureen 2014: 10 local acts you won’t want to miss

OnBlackheath

Venue: Blackheath, London
Dates: September 12-13
Weekend price: £89

Headline acts
Manic Street Preachers, Elbow, Madness

OnBlackheath website

Let us know which festival catches your eye, in the meantime here’s ‘Never going back again’ from the legendary Fleetwood Mac.

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me.
I meditate and wash daily when possible.

101 great albums. No.7: Funkadelic – Maggot Brain

Maggot Brain, released under the Westbound label in July of 1970, provided a creative zenith for trailblazing all black rock band Funkadelic’s output, and was followed by a series of increasingly commercially appealing LP’s.

The imaginatively titled cut retains a raw, fervent energy that perfectly epitomises a period when psychedelics were regularly associated with mainstream artists. To coin a phrase; the way out stuff is way fucking out there.

The instrumental title track transitions through a slew of unsettling sections, with the late Eddie Hazel’s 10+ minute guitar soliloquy a spiralling model of traditional blues filtered through a hallucinogenic lens, effectively transporting listeners into a realm more commonly synonymous with the names Hendrix, Page, and Clapton.

Far from peaking too soon, the album continues to effuse through various hypnotic phases: “Super Stupid” shares an overview of low budget junkie-ism, flanked by strains reminiscent of embryonic Black Sabbath.

Funkadelic

Hit It And Quit It is a funk canticle exuding potency from the keys of pianist Bernie Worrell, who decadently dispenses with convention until the chorus kicks in.

Can You Get to That is a slightly more conventional pop tune that showed Funkadelic had a serious side, in spite of their penchant for the surreal, particularly when it came to social commentary (the track also featured Isaac Hayes’ female backing vocalists, giving it a further veneer of classic soul.)

Another stand-out, Wars of Armageddon (Sampled a decade ago by Optimo on the Psyche Out mix) is a knock-out-drag-down, knuckle dusting death match between the world’s best rhythm section and paranoid crowd scenes.

Maggot Brain remains a volatile recording to this day, bursting at the seams with larger than life virility; apt for a band going by the moniker Funkadelic.

Regrettably this is a release that has been overlooked by large sections of contemporary funk fans, rarely mentioned within a hundred breaths of other artists of the era such as James Brown, Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield.

Despite that admission, Maggot Brain is indisputably an album worthy of a place in the collection of any advocate of the genre.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me.
I meditate and wash daily when possible.

In Defence of Kanye

So it came to pass approximately 72 hours ago; another headliner announced, another bout of apparent outrage from picket wielding, apoplectic masses.

Kanye West

Glastonbury Festival purists have long vocalised their displeasure at bill-toppers they don’t deem fit for the privilege. In 2008 it was Jay Z who was pelted with bottles and ushered towards a prematurely aborted set, in 2011 Z’s better half Beyonce Knowles overcame initial scepticism with an action packed set, and as recently as 2014 no less than Metallica found themselves on the receiving end of the flak from disgruntled ticket holders.

To understand what this is all about, we need to delve into the Glastonbury archives, with the likes of The Kinks, Joan Baez and David Bowie headlining the inaugural events in the early 1970’s –all legends in the making who remained on the ascent, all far removed from predictable pop or mainstream hip-hop.

The trend of selecting upcoming, talented acts that hadn’t started to dim continued well into the 1990’s, with such luminaries as relatively niche duo Happy Mondays and World Party topping the bill.

It was this series of unpredictable, unaffected acts that apparently allured Glastonbury’s legions of loyalists, but inevitably as the scale of the festival grew so did the desire to appeal from a commercial standpoint, hand in hand with those notorious performers themselves craving the UK’s premier musical limelight en mass.

While it’s not entirely surprising that Mr West has had been the subject of petitions to have his name removed from the line-up, it seems that this 60,000 strong (so far) rejection is based almost entirely on the fact that the man himself is a bit of a tool, and shockingly not related to the ridiculous auto-tune voice machine he carries around in his bejazzled man bag.

True, his recent output hasn’t come close to emulating the creative grandeur of College Dropout and 808’s and Heartbreaks respectively, but he remains an instantly recognisable franchise player within an increasingly facile industry, seemingly populated by skinny jean wearing children moulded at the knee of wealthy men with faces full of botox.

“My greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live,”

Kanye pompously stated ad nauseam in the early parts of this decade with his tail feathers gleaming, and although he has refrained from repeating that particular quote recently, his general mind-set remains as haughtily one dimensional as ever.

Kanye West

West is a musician who would deep throat himself on an hourly basis if he was limber enough, and never seems far away from a meltdown, with his perma-glazed disposition, as if he’s gradually transformed from the ventriloquist into the dummy.

2013 album Yeezus was an overly manicured, unashamedly commercial release that dimmed the star of a man who had a few years previously sparred on the same level as hip-hop heavyweights such as Jay-Z, Talib Kweli and Eminem.

Now he finds himself under fire from UK fans, although he’s likely to revel in the vitriol and put on a show that gives a proverbial (and possibly literal) middle finger to the Pyramid Stage’s mosh masses. Every urine sample tossed in his direction destined to be swatted from sight with disregard rather than disgust.

There’s no doubt that based on his musical back catalogue, profile and brand strength, Kanye West is good value for a lead role at Worthy Farm, and, much like Metallica last time out, the dissenting voices and Facebook chain letters will mean little now that every ticket has been sold.

Always controversial, the man who opted to name his child North West may segregate audience opinion, but love or loathe him there’s no denying his value as the kind of legit superstar that these stages fit like a bespoke designer suit, an apt metaphor for a society obsessed with fame and aesthetics.

Over to you Kanye.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me.
I meditate and wash daily when possible.

101 Great Albums. No.6: Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On

In 1971 Marvin Gaye sought to defy the pop blueprint that had come to identify the Motown label, instead delivering a profound, contentious chronicle of the political and social disparity present in America at the time.

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Motown founder, Berry Gordy, unfortunately did not share Gaye’s vision for revision, dismissing title track “What’s Going On?” as the ‘worst song he had ever heard’ and imploring his potentially pioneering artist to return to honey-bloated, tried and trusted methods.

Marvin indignantly rebuffed such a proposal, asserting that if the track wasn’t released as a single then he would never record for Gordy again, while privately confiding in family and friends that he felt stung by his mentor’s reaction.

Marvin Gaye

Following extensive negotiation, Motown acquiesced and the album’s title track was released, subsequently reaching the US billboard’s top five and acting as catalyst to an era of LP’s strung together by socially pertinent narrative.

To dismiss “What’s Going On” as a one track album would be frivolous of course. The inaugural glut of half a dozen songs are blended together with evident precision, and although a first listen may provoke criticism towards sentimental sameness within the first half of the album, it is soon discernible that this deliberately dovetails with closing cuts.

“Inner City Blues (makes me wanna holla)” arguably showcases the pinnacle of proceedings, with its timely mesh of multi-tracked vocals and gritty lyrics creating an affecting springboard that never threatens to outstay its welcome.

Others of note are the pleading “Mercy, Mercy Me (The ecology)” and effortlessly uplifting “God is Love”, the latter of which delivers optimism in spades, albeit from a religious standpoint.

At the eleventh attempt, Marvin Gaye produced a studio album that broke him out as a legitimate and conscientious solo-superstar.

In the embryonic stages of what was to become Cocaine dependency (and rarely sans-doobie in the studio) Marvin produced and recorded an album which set his career on a fresh (ultimately tragic) course – that’s a story for another time though.

“What’s Going On” topped the R&B charts in America in 1971 and is justifiably regarded as a trailblazing album of its time, as well as being integral to Motown’s shift of gears throughout a fertile decade.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me.
I meditate and wash daily when possible.

The Festive 15. Part 3: 5-1

2015 is upon us, and despite Marty McFly and Doc Brown’s claims to the contrary, we’re still not floating around on hover boards and there hasn’t been a peep yet about the production of Jaws 19

Something that can be relied upon is Jonathan O’Shea’s Festive 15. In the first editions we counted down from 15th  to 6th, now witness the top five singles of 2014 in all of their glory! 

5. Love Letters – Metronomy

Surely a day never goes by without this group seeing the word ‘retro’ written about them, but this is an authentic old-time hip-shaker of a tune. Video by Michel Gondry.

4. La Vérité – Frànçois & the Atlas Mountains

French is my second language of choice, so I can confidently decode at least 38% of this. But that matters not a jot, ‘cause it’s catchy as f*ck!

3. Sisters – Cate Le Bon

Perfectly demented. What an outro!

2. Rule Number One – Telegram

Swirling, controlled chaos. Sounds a little bit like a futuristic Status Quo fronted by Stephen Hawking’s voice box, but don’t let that put you off.

1. Europa Geht Durch Mich – Manic Street Preachers

Such a succinct, politically acute and inexorable blast of polemic. Killer cowbell too.

What do you think of Jonathan’s Festive 15? Not a whiff of Justin Bieber, Wand Erection or Union J! Let us know which tracks you would have selected in the comments section below, and, as always, please share the article and invite friends to ‘like’ the Kureen Facebook page!

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa’s latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

The Festive 15. Part 2: 10-6

Guess who’s back, back again; Jon O’s back, tell a friend… Seriously – tell a friend and let’s get some new viewers for Kureen! In this second edition of the Festive 15 Jonathan O’Shea reveals the tracks that make up the first half of his top 10, narrowly missing out on a slot amongst the elite quintet.

10. Ghost Rider – Anna Calvi

Breathy vocals and discordant pangs of guitar knitted together by an insistent beat. The dark queen of alt-rock smothered this Suicide cover with characteristic high drama.

9. Would You Fight For My Love? – Jack White

It’s all laid out on the line by a mildly hysterical Jack White, beseeching his beloved to show him his/her balls (metaphorically speaking).

8. Luke Warm – Brockley Spears


Luke Warm – Brockley Spears on MUZU.TV.

You can never be sure exactly where this slinky, hypnotic track will wander next. A genre-spanning aural confection: try not dancing to it.

7. Blue Moon – Beck

Touches again on Beck’s classic ‘Sea Change’ era (as does the lovely recent ‘Say Goodbye’). Heartfelt and melancholic, yet strangely uplifting.

6. Verano – Linda Gulilala

Builds into something equally melodic and euphoric with a little early-Ash feel. Lyrics about a plasticine sea lion’s trip to the roller disco (I’m guessing, it’s all in Spanish innit.)

Tune in again tomorrow, when the make up of top five shall be removed from lock and key, and just who the heck will gain the coveted award for the best release of 2014 (a packet of lima beans and the charred remains of a 1989 UB40 goodie bag received from Going Live.)

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa’s latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

The Festive 15. Part.1: 15-11

Jonathan O’Shea returns to share his top fifteen tracks of 2014 over the course of the next three days. In this inaugural instalment, the 2011 ‘Midlands rear of the year’ nominee counts down numbers 15 through 11.

Gruff Rhys

The Festive Fifteen, my favourite tracks of the year, is on the way to becoming an annual tradition (I think this the 6th one).

Each Christmas holiday, I like to review the great new music that’s been produced over the past twelve months and make sense of it all by pointlessly ranking some of it and then clumsily boxing it up like a scraggy bundle of deep-fried chicken. Then I present it to the world.

Here, in the first slice of a triple-header, I give name five of the past twelve months’ stand out releases that narrowly missed out on top ten honours.

15. Temporary Ground – Jack White

Straying across archetypal White Stripes slide-guitar territory, and lending brilliant use of Lillie Mae Rische’s ethereal vocals, this song even has a gleefully ghoulish whistling bit halfway through.

14. Talking Backwards – Real Estate

For anyone who’s endured the silent torture of time spent with a loved one who only ever hears their own version of events. A delightfully dreamy way of airing a universal frustration.

13. Government Trash – Death From Above 1979

Sonic assault on…well, everything (I think). Three minutes of relentless ass-kicking anti-authoritarianism. “Nothing is free/Call the police/They dress to kill/I dress to die!” You get the idea.

12. Liberty (Is Where We’ll Be) – Gruff Rhys

Builds from a shuffle into a strident, if typically wry, ode to freedom (and Welsh pioneers.) Glorious pedal-steel guitar too.

11. Archie, Marry Me –  Alvvays

Instant indie classic. Melancholic Camera Obscura-esque vocals, wonderfully witty wedding-related lyrics about floral arrangements and bread-makers, and lilting 90s guitars.

Remember to tune back in tomorrow to find out which tracks made the cut for positions 10-6. If you do we’ll save a puppy, if you don’t we’ll slump into rice milk addiction and over zealous bouts of tea bag folding.

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa’s latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.