Spotify Playlist: TEN OF THE BEST – Week 6

totb playlist week 6
This week’s TEN OF THE BEST playlist has dropped and yet again it’s a banger. A fe selections from left field but a good listen all the same. Have a listen and decide for yourself. Enjoy!!!

 

(Scroll down to the bottom of this post for he spotify playlist)

Winner – Kardinal Offishal X Joey Montana X Celebrity Marauders X Pree
Telephone Love – Jah Cure
Badness – Mavado X Jahmiel
Liar Liar – Destra Garcia X Tanya Stephens
Ting Dem Land – I-Octane
Take It Down – JessB X Rubi Du
I Feel The Pain – Lutan Fyah
After Six – Juls X Tomi Agape X Santi
Love You Die – Patoranking X Diamond Platinumz
Hey Stranger – Reekado Banks

Hopefully you enjoyed this week’s playlist. Until the next time…

Check out last week’s playlist here.

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Spotify Playlist: TEN OF THE BEST – Week 5

week 5 playlist
TEN OF THE BEST is back with yet another installment for your listening pleasure. This playlist is a mixed bag as usual, but I’m sure you will enjoy it all the same. Have a listen to this week’s playlist and let us know what you think.

 

(Scroll down to the bottom of this post to check out the spotify playlist)

 

Sick – Jahmiel
Can’t Breathe – Kabaka Pyramid

“You haffi strong like Jnr Gong flagman”

Kakai – Shatta Wale
Weh Dem A Say – Blak Ryno
Most Original – Stonebwoy X Sean Paul
Yard N Abroad – Monkey Marc X Dre Island
Comfortable – Demarco
Fighter – Cham X Damian Marley
Pleasure To See – Queen Ifrica
We Are – Morgan Heritage X Kabaka Pyramid X Dre Island

 

That is us for this week folks, I hope you enjoyed this playlist. Until the next time!

 

 

Check out last week’s playlist here.

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Spotify Playlist: TEN OF THE BEST – Week 4

week 4 spotify
Another week, another TEN OF THE BEST. Staying true to form, this week we bring you another dope spotify playlist to keep you entertained. As usual, we bring you a mixed bag so strap in for another wild ride. Hope you enjoy this edition of TEN OF THE BEST. Check it out!

(scroll down to the bottom of the post for the spotify playlist)

This week’s TEN OF THE BEST playlist, in no particular order:

Melanin – Sauti Sol X Patoranking

We kick off this week’s playlist with this catchy gem from the Kenyan kings. Sauti Sol has been steadily growing their profile on the Afropop scene for a while. On this tune, they get assistance from one of my favourite Afro Dancehall artists Patoranking. The song itself has so much replay value and I can see it running a dancefloor or two. Big song no doubt. The video is dope too.

I’m Sanctify – Sean Paul X Mavado

When it comes to big names in the dancehall scene, you can’t get past Sean Paul and Mavado. The Gully Gaad teams up with Dutty Paul for a positive tune. The riddim is strong, and the vocal delivery is on point. What really captivated me about the tune is the message. Mavado and SP come through with an upliftment tune, and they nail the brief. Big tune!

Nobody Nuh Care – Jahmiel

Last year I included a few songs on Obsession riddim, and they were all big tunes. The riddim is still running tings on my spotify playlist so I had to include it. This time around we hear from one like Jahmiel, who comes through with a reality tune. I believe I have bigged up Jahmiel so much that I have exhausted all superlatives when describing his music. This song is crazy good.

Family Not Friend – Iba Mahr

Iba Mahr has been running things on the reggae scene for a while now. I have recently been listening to his music on repeat, and he’s one of those artists that rarely misses a beat. On this tune he’s on the One Love vibe. The riddim is very well produced, and Iba Mahr comes through with his signature vocals. The song itself so much pull up potential, so please Mr Selector PULL IT UP!!!

Afro Girl – Dotman X Mr Eazy

I must admit, the first thing that got me hooked to this song are Zimbabwe references. Then I found out that the tune was produced by Simba Tagz, one of Zim’s top producers. That said, the artists Dotman and Mr Eazi re big guns and they don’t disappoint. The vibe on this tune is too good.

Trueversation – Queen Ifrica X Damian Marley

Jnr Gong and Queen Ifrica in combination, nuff said. This song caught me by surprise as it is not usually the type of tune I’d play on repeat. I stumbled onto the song by chance and haven’t looked back. The riddim is nice and chilled, very well produced. The conversation is very mature, as you’d expect from the artists in question.

Lion In The Jungle – Jah Cure

Is it me or has Jah Cure been on a resurgence in the last few years? This song is on a riddim that you can expect to see featured in coming spotify playlists. This song is dope, and you know a big part of it is Cure’s silky vocals. Another upliftment/motivation tune delivered with conviction. Big tune!

Now – Romain Virgo

We turn things up a bit with this solid dancehall tune by Romain. Very rarely do you see man like Romain jumping on dancehall cuts, but when he does he often kills it. This is definitely no exception as he nails the song. It has an island pop vibe to it, but the dancehall energy still prevails. I can see this song shutting down a dance, no doubt about that.

Gyal A Mad Mi – Assassin aka Agent Sasco

Agent Sasco comes through with this laid back joint. What initially got me hooked to this tune is the riddim, which is mad to say the least. Add Assassin’s unique vocals to the mix and what you get is a top tune. One thing you can never deny the agent is his lyricism. The man has a way with words, and he’s definitely an artist we look up to lyrically.

No Oh – Konshens X Rickman

To wrap up this week’s playlist is another dancehall banger from Konshens. On this tune he’s joined by Rickman, who I know nothing about. The song is great though, and both artists do not disappoint from a vocal perspective. Nice song, which is definitely meant for the dancefloor.

 

That’s it for another week folks. I hope you enjoy listening to this spotify playlist as much as I enjoyed putting it together. Until next week!

Check out this week’s spotify playlist below:

 

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Spotify Playlist: TEN OF THE BEST – Week 3

week 3
Now that we are back on track, it’s time to keep the ball rolling. This week we bring you another edition of TEN OF THE BEST, and hopefully soon this will become one of your bread and butter spotify playlists. Another mixed back for the masses, I hope you enjoy this one. Check it out!

 

(Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the spotify playlist)

In no particular order:

 

Forever – Mavado

The singjay has been running things in the dancehall/singjay category for a while now. He hasn’t shown signs of slowing down anytime soon. This song is solid, starting with the great riddim from armz house records. When it comes to the vocal delivery you know the Gully Gaad seldom misses a beat. Big tune, no doubt about that.

Moonlight Bright – Warrior King

This song is nice and I wonder how it slipped below my radar for so long. Warrior King is one of those artists who, for me, either smashes a riddim or is forgettable. On this occasion the man delivered in spades. The song sees Warrior King serenading a woman he has been feeling for a while. The riddim is solid, and the vocals and lyrics are on point. Big tune!

Fade Away – Romain Virgo X Assassin

Romain Virgo links up with dancehall’s very own Agent Sasco on this massive song. Talking about badmind and dutty hearted people, the duo deliver a tune that is stellar. The song was released back in 2016 and has been on repeat on my playlist since then. The video is pretty dope too so check it out.

Pass It On – Unchained XL

New Zealand’s fastest rising star, in my opinion, is Unchained XL. What works in the brother’s favour is his undeniable ear, which is evident in all his self produced songs. Not only does this artist produce his own music, he is a multi-instrumentalist, which is beyond impressive. His talents don’t end there, oh no, UXL is an incredible lyricist and you can tell that he takes great pains in ensuring that his songs hit the mark. This song is off his debut EP, Foreign Legacy, which is a solid project with no blemishes in my eyes. Check out the full EP here, definitely worth a listen.

Mad Me (Love Edition) – Popcaan

One of Dancehall’s biggest proponents in recent years, Popcaan has managed to maintain a high level. On this tune, Poppy comes through with a solid tune. The song, has a strong replay value mostly attributed to the tight production. Anyone familiar with this artist’s sound will know he rarely misses a beat, and this song is no exception. Big tune.

Heaven’s Gate – Burna Boy X Lily Allen

Burna Boy is probably my favourite dancehall influenced artist out of Africa. What I like most about this artist is that he has his own unique sound, which can’t be found anywhere else. On this tune, he gets assistance from Lily Allen, who does the job in terms of adding pop appeal.  That’s not to say that Burna Boy doesn’t hold his own in the pop stakes though, the guy oozes of star power.

Ngirozi – Winky D X Vabati Vajehova

For those of you unfamiliar with this artist, Winky D is simply Zimbabwe’s biggest urban artist. He has managed to carve out an intriguing career for himself, and this song is testament to that. On this particular tune he gets assistance from a group that sings traditional gospel. The subject matter is on point, and the production is on point which is another hallmark of a classic Winky D song.

Lawless – Cham

This song was releases in 2012, but it’s still a banger up to this very day. The tune randomly popped up on my spotify playlist the other day and I had to add it to this week’s TEN OF THE BEST. Expect more tunes from Cham in future playlists given that he has recently released a solid album.

Tell No Lie – Eesah

I recently got put onto this aritst’s music and since then he has been dominating my listening time. This tune is probably his most popular tune and for good reason. The production is solid, and the lyrical content and delivery are right on point. Play this song on repeat, it’s a big bad tune no doubt.

Fire In The Rain – Masicka X Kranium

This week we close off the playlist with a feel good tune by Masicka and Kranium. The vibe on this song is bubbly, and the delivery is as you’d expect from both artists.  Top tune for the masses and if must say so myself, it has enough vibes to run many dancefloor.

 

That’s it for another week and I do hope you enjoyed this edition of TEN OF THE BEST. Until next week!

 

Check out the spotify playlist:

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Artist Spotlight: Unchained XL

Welcome to the first ever Artist Spotlight, Shottaz stylee. The idea is to introduce you to artist’s we see working hard and are worth checking out. We hope to help you discover new artists, giving you an insight into who they are in the process.

 

UXL
Unchained XL. Nigerian-Kiwi Hip Hop Artist/Producer

To kick things off, we are honoured to have New Zealand’s fastest rising artist on the hip hop scene, Unchained XL. This is an artist who enjoyed a breakout 2017, and has already set himself up for a huge year in 2018. I could exhaust every superlative in the dictionary to describe his music, and I fear I still wouldn’t do him justice. His music first reached my ears when I heard the song, Walk Out, which was definitely a great introduction in my book. I then randomly found the video to Weight On My Bars, which really piqued my interest in what this artist has to offer. Throughout 2017 he has made significant strides in the NZ hip hop scene, making bold moves that are to be commended.

 

Off the back of the release of his debut EP, Foreign Legacy, I had the pleasure of chatting with Unchained XL about his music, his inspirations, and aspirations as an artist. Read the interview below for a better insight of who Unchained XL is:

(scroll down to the bottom of this post to listen to Foreign Legacy on spotify)

 

 

Max Shotta (MS) – Firstly, thanks for taking the time to have this interview with us. To kick things off, can you give us a brief introduction to who Unchained XL is?

 

Unchained XL (UXL) – I’m an Igbo Nigerian New Zealand rapper and producer. I blend traditional afrobeat-inspired textures and rhythms with various styles of hiphop, usually using a combination of live instruments and synths.

 

MS – You have just released the EP “Foreign Legacy”, which is arguably the hottest first quarter release this year, in my book. What inspired the Foreign Legacy project? And what are the main themes you’d like people to take away from the experience?

 

UXL – Thank you! I consider this project an important qualitative leap in defining my trajectory as an artist. The singles I released prior to Foreign Legacy, particularly “Global Citizens”, dealt with the tension of my dual cultures, and the resulting difficulty of defining my identity for myself. So this EP is about me having come to terms with who I am, and recognising the group I am part of – Afrikan Kiwi cultural pioneer. I’m deciding what kind of legacy I want to create and leave for following generations.

 

MS – Being a Nigerian, born in the UK, raised in New Zealand. What are some challenges, if any, you have faced in trying to breakthrough in the music industries in NZ and abroad?

 

UXL – Not being “Nigerian enough”, nor being “Kiwi enough”, which in some ways, I think, puts a limitaiton on my relatability. But I think this could eventually work in my favour, as there are a number of third culture kids – not just of Nigerian or Afrikan descent – who have grown up and strongly identify with this kind of thing.

 

MS – You seemed to find a unique balance on this project, as in every piece of the puzzle seems to fit perfectly with regards to production, conversation, and features. What was the process like in arriving at the final product that you delivered to the masses?

 

UXL – Thank you. The original plan wasn’t to create a body of work, it was to release consecutive singles. This was for a number of reasons, but mainly because at the time I was still working full time and felt like committing to an EP or album wasn’t my best use of the little time I had.

 

“E No Dey Easy” actually came out late last year, and “But Do They Know” was finished even before that and remained unreleased. These two tracks I felt were the first two that really defined my “afrofunk hiphop” sound. “But Do They Know” especially was lyrically a summary of what Unchained XL is about. I eventually changed my mind and decided that a body of work could be of high value, as a strong statement to the NZ industry as to who I am. So I decided to work toward an EP and include both tracks on it.

 

My goal in creating the other three tracks was to keep everything sonically consistent by maintaining a strong presence of afrobeat textures, but at the same time I wanted to switch it up in terms of the styles of hiphop that were being integrated in. So on there you have Trap, Grime, Boom Bap etc, all unified by afrikan percussion, guitar ostinatos, retro basslines, electric piano riffs and other key features of afrobeat music.

 

MS – Speaking of features, are there any artists that you would have loved to have on the project that you weren’t able to get across the line? Which artists are you looking at collaborating with on future songs?

 

UXL – To answer the first question; no. I thought Nuel, Phodiso, JessB and Azubuike were exactly what I needed at the time. They provided amazing diversity and consistency.

 

In terms of future collabs, there are a few people I’ve connected with overseas who I’d love to create with. Tumi Williams (Afro Cluster, UK), Magugu (UK), Pia Renee (US) and Leah Concinaldi (US) are all folks I’m in talks with at the moment.

 

live show
Unchained XL and his Live band running tunes

 

MS – You run an amazing live show series called “Afropolitans” in Auckland, can you give us a brief idea of the concept behind the shows, what inspires them, and what the vision is moving forward?

 

UXL – My goal so far is to give Afrikan NZ artists another platform. I say “another” because I recognize there are other initiatives going around, which is great. My focus is on hiphop, soul, funk and groove. The idea ties in to Unchained XL being about cultural “architecture”, as everyone involved is a steward of at least two cultures, some of us many more. We’re all getting together and drawing from our many cultures to create a unified new one, I think.

 

The plan moving forward is to hopefully inspire young artists on the come-up to want to get involved. Afropolitans 3, which I’ve just locked down the line-up for, will be the first Afropolitans that I’m not performing at, which for me represents the fact that it is a platform for others and not just a chance for me to play shows.

 

MS – Another thing that stands out, for me at least, is that all your visuals to date have been top quality. How involved are you throughout the process of creating your music videos?

 

UXL – Thank you! The three videos I have out so far were just my good friend Geoff and I coming up with a simple concept and nailing it. They’re all very low budget and simple, but I believe they are effective. My theory is that as long as the concept is sound, the performance is tight and the camera is half descent then it’s sufficient for a great clip. I usually come up with the concept and general ideas of the shots, then Geoff executes and edits, and it turns out great.

 

I’ve just finished filming a video for “But Do They Know”, and this one was funded by NZ On Air, so I thought I would hand over the concept and execution to a team and be much less involved. We had some fantastic shots so I’m confident it’s going to be awesome, and a good step up from my previous vids.

 

MS – I noticed that you recently made the transition into being a full time musician, how difficult was it making the switch? Can you give us an idea of what your typical day looks like as a full time muso?

 

UXL – Because I was spending so much time on the peripheries of my day doing music previously, the transition wasn’t too hard. There were specific short term goals to achieve that I was already working on, so I hit the ground running. The more I devoted my time to it, the more doors I saw slowly openining, which required more of my time. So the potential problem of having nothing to fill out my days was not a problem at all.

 

The money side of things is a different story, however. I’m blessed to have the support of a great wife who is holding down the breadwinning at the moment, who is also great moral and practical support. That, in combination with sensible budgeting, makes things more than manageable for the time being. Plus, the belief that this will only be a temporary situation is one that keeps me going.

 

My day typically looks like admin, admin, admin, and admin. Haha but in all seriousness, I do a lot of emailing, usually in the morning, and if I’m not disciplined in sturcturing my day, the whole day turns into emailing. But if I manage to set a plan before hand, I’ll end up doing some personal development (i.e. practicing rapping, singing, piano, bass, etc) and production work as well. Then in the evenings I may have band rehearsals, or networking at gigs, etc.

 

MS – Who are your main musical influences? In a few words can you describe what about them inspires you?

 

UXL – M.anifest, Jidenna and Black Thought. M.anifest for his afrikanness and unique hiplife sound, as well as being an exceptional wordsmith. Jidenna as an igbo-western hiphop role model, and Black Thought because, well, did you hear his 10 minute freestyle?

 

MS – What can you expect from UXL in the future near and far?

 

UXL – Black Excellence.

 

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Hard Work, Dedication – The Money Philosophy

hard work
Last week I wrote about patience and highlighted how it contributes to success. Another key component to achieving success is hard work. In order to achieve your goals, it’s important to ensure that you work hard throughout your process. Floyd Mayweather Jr, a great athlete of our time, immortalised the phrase “Hard Work, Dedication”. This is a catch phrase, no doubt, but its essence can never be understated. People often complain to me about not getting what they expect out of their grind. When I probe them about steps they take in pursuit of their goals, most of them clearly lack dedication. In my own journey, I have found that half my success can be attributed to being dedicated to my cause. Hard work is one thing, but dedication completes the cypher. In this post I explore this concept and how implementing it can reap great rewards.

 

The lazy guy never wins, EVER!

If you were to sit down and have a discussion with my high school teachers, one theme immediately becomes apparent. If I had a dollar for each time I was told I had potential with the absence of dedication, I would be extremely rich. Simply put, I was a lazy individual throughout high school. I was that student that would scrape through every test/exam without applying myself. I passed, no doubt, but I seldom achieved stellar grades. Needless to say, this used to frustrate my parents to no end. I was confronted by the need to work hard, and truly apply myself, in my first year of university. I tried my high school approach of just scraping by with little to no application, and I earned myself a date with summer school. I’m glad I learned that lesson early.

 

A lot of blood, bucketloads of sweat, and a fountain of tears…That’s the formula

After my first round of summer school, I adopted a diligent approach to my studies. I would apply a significant amount of my precious time to studying. I attended all my lectures and labs (sober), and religiously participated in study groups. The fruits of my labour were immediately apparent as my grades hit the roof. Around this time I met a producer who had the same approach to his music, codename Amin Payne. Over the 2 year period we worked together, I learned a lot about being diligent in the creation process. This was a guy who had a computer science degree, yet he hadn’t spent a single day in an office. He worked in hospo to support himself, and used all his extra time to create. The Yung Shottaz can attribute our very first release to Payne. Up to this day I look up to his grind, here’s why.

 

When the going gets tough, WORK HARDER!!!

Based on the formula of working overtime on the creation process, I can boast a number of self released projects along the years. I was able to take my learnings from uni, and my time working with the likes of Amin Payne, to ensure I made the most of my time. It’s safe to say that hard work is the root of all my successful endeavours. It helps that I have many  experiences to draw from, which drive me to keep focused throughout my processes. There have been times when I have been right at my limit, close to being burnt out, but I have been able to dig deep and push harder. The ability to stay focused on my goals, and diligently work hard towards achieving them has been the difference.

 

I mentioned earlier that the essence of the phrase, “Hard Work, Dedication”, can never be understated. It doesn’t matter what your grind is, it is folly to think you can achieve success without applying yourself. I realise that success is subjective, and different people will have their own definition of success (see my next post). The one takeaway from this particular post, though, is you have to put in the hard yards if you expect to reap benefits. I know the idea of working hard, overtime even, falls under the “easier said” category but that doesn’t make it less relevant. Nuff said.

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Spotify Playlist: TEN OF THE BEST – Week 2


TEN OF THE BEST has returned in 2018 after a significant hiatus. A lot has been happening in the background, which has meant that our content has suffered. We’re back though, and to make it more interesting the bro Hlats has committed to contributing to this spotify playlist moving forward, hence last week’s post having his personal touch, which is awesome given that the brother has impeccable taste in music. You can expect some playlists packed with bashy dancehall and lyrical hip-hop, so if that’s your cup of tea subscribe to the blog to ensure you get your fix when the posts get published.

Now that we have covered of all the housekeeping, let’s get down to business. We kick things off with a mixed bag, as usual, and I can safely say these tunes have been dominating my spotify playlist in the last few months. Check it out:

 

(Scroll down to the bottom of this post to check out the spotify playlist)

In no particular order:

 

Big Bad Soca – Bunji Garlin

If you like soca, you will absolutely love this tune. It has a big carnival feel to it, and if you know anything about Bunji Garlin you’ll know that the man always delivers. The song has literally been on repeat since I first heard it on spotify sometime in January. I also make it a point to play the tune to every person that gives me the floor. This tune is packed with vibes, big sound!

Red Rose – Mavado

Probably my tune of 2018 so far. You know the song is quality because the one like Stephen ‘Di Genius’ Mcgregor is on production. The combination between the two is responsible for some of the biggest dancehall hits over the years. This tune is certainly no exception, the riddim is nice and the gully gaad does not disappoint with his delivery. FYI, the Shottaz has a bootleg version on this riddim.

Stay So – Busy Signal

Big ups to the one like Danny 2 Chains aka D2C for putting me onto this song. I was chilling with the bro on my last day in New Zealand and he put me onto a few big tunes to send me on my way. The song itself is a banger, classic Busy Signal on the type of riddim he normally dominates, again no exception here. Big riddim, big vocals, madd tune.

Success – Jahmiel

Jahmiel’s contribution on Dancehall Symphony riddim is a solid one. TEN OF THE BEST regulars from last year can testify that I’m a big fan of this yout, and I generally think everything he touches is gold. On this tune I feel he put yet another good foot forward.

Body Happy – Konshens X Shaggy

A laid back tune from one of Dancehall’s most consistent artists. On this one he collaborates with one of the most commercial dancehall artists. The riddim has a house/trap vibe to it, which surprisingly works. I recently found out that this tune is part of an album that Konshens recently released, though I am yet to check out the full project. Shaggy’s verses are boss btw. Great song this!

Grave Yard – Tarrus Riley

Tarrus Riley on a Rvssian (Head Concussion) riddim, talk about another historically dope combination. This tune is typically Rvssian in that it has a dark feel to it, and Tarrus obliges with a fitting theme for this song. Expect a few other tunes from this riddim in later playlists, it has some solid cuts on it.

Baba Vashaya – Celscius

Arguably Zimbabwe’s most talented vocalist, that’s my call and I’m sticking to it. Celscius has some silky vocals and his range is just unbelievable. This tune is off an album he released late last year. It’s a solid tune with a rather deep/sad theme, but dope tune all the same. For my non-Shona speaking folks, it’s a song about the death of his father.

FIA – Davido

This is a tune I have taken a liking to over the last few weeks, and it is thanks to hearing it repeatedly on an almost daily basis since moving to Melbourne. The tune has grown on me, and now I can safely say that this is a cool tune. It’s definitely one for the afropop purists, but it works nonetheless. Big tune no doubt.

Said – Nasty C X Runtown

Another tune that had to grow on me, though I rate both artists highly. The collaboration works on so many levels and I guess the visuals really help, so check them out on youtube. That said, the song is catchy enough for the pop fans without being too watered down. Nasty C is an artist I really rate because he oozes confidence and this song is testament to that. Runtown is and always will be a boss, so like I said it’s a dope combo.

Friendly – J Hus

A tune that has been on my playlist for quite a while, to say it’s a banger feels like an understatement. J Hus had a big year in 2017 and I’m looking forward to what this year has in store for the artist. The afro-swing wave has really been taking over and this artist has been standing on the frontline

 

That’s the first TEN OF THE BEST for 2018. Stay tuned for your weekly fix of tunes to vibe to when you’re out and about.

Check out the spotify playlist below:

 

Patience – An important key to getting the job done

patience
“Some of the smartest dummies, can’t read the language of Egyptian mummies, and ah fly go a moon, and can’t find food for the starving tummies”  — Damian “Jr Gong” Marley (patience)

 

Growing up I used to hear the phrase “Patience is a virtue” thrown around with reckless abandon. As time passed, I found myself using the phrase constantly without paying mind to the meaning. It’s a catchy phrase that rolls off the tongue effortlessly, and it generally applies in many situations. That said, I think it is important to explore this so called virtue “patience”. Before delving much further into my post, I think it’s worth noting that patience isn’t one of my virtues, but I digress.

 

I want it all, NOW!!!

During my 30 years of existence I have had to come to terms with the notion that good things take time. Another cliche, I know, but it’s true all the same. Very seldom do things happen overnight, and as much we expect them to do so, life just doesn’t work that way. Many times I have found myself feeling down because things haven’t happened fast enough. This is a natural feeling, yet recently I have learnt to be mindful of it. Being mindful is one thing, though, maintaining faith in the process is another thing completely. What do I mean by maintaining faith in the process? I’m glad you asked.

 

Trust the process

In every endeavour you will ever take, there will be a series of steps that must be followed. The process! Many a time, people expect to start seeing results the very minute they initiate a process, which is a farce. Oftentimes you will find that people give up as soon as they don’t see immediate results, call it instant gratification if you like. This is a problem because they stop putting in work long before the process starts taking effect. Instead, they should keep working even when it feels like they are banging into a brick wall trusting that the process is in effect. It is often the case that maintaining patience throughout the grind is one of the key ingredients in failed endeavours. Truth be told, I myself have been guilty of this dreadful sickness otherwise known as impatience.

 

Staying the course

Patience is key to staying the course, along with hard work and dedication. I will discuss the latter in my next post, but it’s important to stay focused on goals. In recent times I have realised the importance of staying patient and trusting the process. Having some 2 projects in the pipeline, both of which have been significantly delayed I have had to exercise a great deal of patience. It hasn’t been easy but I have realised that I always need to maintain a big picture perspective. Though I have a clear vision of how his year should pan out, I need to stay the course. One thing I have realised is that time is valuable, yes, but patience is key.

Check out the previous post about preparation if you missed it.

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The Importance Of Preparation 2 – Ironing Out The Kinks

importance of preparationLast year I wrote a post about the importance of being prepared in the context of recording sessions. To jog your memory, I talked about session musicians, which are essentially hired guns. I pointed out the importance of preparation so that a session engineer’s time is not wasted. This post is a natural extension to last year’s post, but in this instance I discuss the importance of preparation for live performances. Rehearsing is something that a lot of new musicians don’t give enough attention to, which is a crime.

The back story

Back in the Yung Shottaz days we never used to rehearse. We thought rehearsing was a waste of time given how dope we were. By not preparing for live performances we essentially played Russian Roulette when we did the shows. Because we lacked preparation, you didn’t know which Yung Shottaz would show up at a gig. We had some memorable performances along the way, but we also had a few stinkers. I feel we could have had more great sets if we put in the adequate time preparing for the shows. I vividly remember a few sets which were out of sync and lacking energy. We would jump off stage and I would literally want the ground to swallow me whole. I can safely say that we only had ourselves to blame because we didn’t set ourselves up to win.

The success story

Fast forward a few years and I met a brother called Triplelan. If you don’t know who Trip is by now, I’d suggest you go ahead and check out our song together here. If you like that tune check out all his other videos, he has a new one titled “NZ Darling”. Trip showed me the true importance of rehearsing regularly. The bro and his band rehearse every week without fail, whether or not they have any gigs. When they have gigs, they ramp the frequency of rehearsals up to three times a week in the lead up. What that does for the band is incredible, anyone that has seen these guys at work will tell you they never miss a beat.

What I learned

I got to experience the intensity of Trip’s band when we did the Okedeo release, which was an awesome experience for myself. When Hlats and I were gigging in 2016 we started rehearsing for gigs but we’d only rehearse for a couple of weeks leading up to each gig. It worked wonders for us, but I can safely say that moving forward we will be using the Triplelan template.

2017 was a good year for the Shottaz musically. We released our first project in over 3 years, and we laid a solid foundation. Stepping into 2018, expect a pivotal year for the Shottaz given that we are in talks to lock down some really high profile gigs. Trust me, those of you that will get a chance to come check us out please don’t hesitate. Bring on 2018!!!!

 

 

Family Matters – Keeping The Real Ones Close

familymatters
Nhasi ndirikuFARA and only the real ones know. I won’t even bother translating the shona phrase because the importance of the statement will be lost in translation. That said, I would like to say that over the last few months I have realised the importance of a strong family nucleus, and this is not limited to blood ties. Once you identify the people in your life that add value and are invested in your wellbeing, I advise that one should do everything in their power to keep those people close.

Recently, I have been confronted by a lot of conflict within my inner circle and I found this to be extremely challenging. I have been in certain situations where some of my tightest bonds came into question and I found myself questioning ALL my relationships, and putting even the most innocuous conflict situations under the microscope. I’m glad to say that I was able to navigate around the major conflict, with some help in some instances, and that encouraged me to place more value on my inner circle (family) as these are people that would change the complexion of my life, in a negative sense, if they were not a part of it.

Another thing I have learned as a result of the aforementioned conflict situations is to be mindful of my contribution into the lives of my family. Sometimes, it is so easy to look at how your own life is being affected by other people’s actions, but it takes a great level of self awareness to be able to assess how your own actions contribute to said situations. Trust me, it’s not always easy to look into the mirror once you remove the blinkers, i.e. the subjectivity everyone invariably has towards themselves. The few times I have truly reflected on my own actions have been some of the most confronting moments I have experienced in my 30 years of human existence. Once I was able to come to terms with my shortcomings, I could then take decisive steps to improve my contributions into my family ties. That said, I am a long way from being where I need to be, but I now know what is required to maintain strong bonds with those that truly matter.

In closing, I would like to give a shout out to all the real ones who must surely know who they are. The peeps that have truly had my back in some really sticky situations, and have suffered some of my uncouth personality traits but have stuck by my side without flinching.  A big shout out to the ones that haven’t been afraid to point out when I have been off the mark, I’m proud that the ones that I consider to be real have never pulled any punches with me and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Shout out to my old man, who will probably never read this, but he deserves the biggest shout out because a lot of the values he instilled in me at young age are now paying dividends in my life, and though we have had a few rough patches along the way I am not ashamed to proclaim that I love the man to bits. This phase of my life is one of the most crucial ones and I with the family I am lucky to surround myself with, I am confident that everything will turn out great.

Big ups to the fam!!!

Check out the next post.

New Year – Fresh Beginnings

2017 was a great year for the Shottaz on many different fronts, we released our first project in 5 years, got this website off the ground, started a merch line with 2 initial designs, and managed to score a few high profile gigs alongside some amazing musicians. Something that most people may not know is that we were able to have such a pivotal year whilst myself an Hlats were in different countries. The brother relocated his family to Melbourne,  Australia, at the start of 2017 and has been focused on setting up his little ones in a new environment which left him very little time to focus on music. What afforded us the ability to be able to have a consistent year was the amount of groundwork we laid out in 2016. We put in a lot of work in terms of recording music and planning the content we intended to release throughout the year, and though we missed a few of our targets we were able to ensure a big year all the same.

Now we consolidate. This year we have another big year lined up with a significant amount of content lined up for the masses to devour. But the most exciting part of the equation is the fact that we will not be working as a long distance unit anymore. The Shottaz are now entirely based in Melbourne, after I decided to make the move across the ditch to link up with my family, and Hlats of course. This means that you can expect more quality content with higher frequency, and more exciting for me is the fact that we get perform together again after a year of essentially being solo performers. It’s definitely going to be a big year for the Shottaz fam so strap in and enjoy the ride.

TEN OF THE BEST: Week 23

TEN OF THE BEST is back with regular scheduling, and this week is a big one folks. It includes a song that has been making waves in Zim, and I we have been blasting it on a regular basis here in NZ. It also includes some really big tunes that deserve multiple replays at a time.

Check out the spotify playlist at the bottom of this post:

This week’s playlist, in no particular order:

Akiliz – Ammara Brown

We kick things off with this monster tune by the incredibly talented Ammara Brown. The tune has been out for a couple of months now and is taken from her upcoming, if not already released, album. The song is a cool metaphor for her Achilles heel, the guy that takes her for granted regardless of all the kindness she shows. You see what she did with the song name too? Pull it up until your heart is content, big big tune.

Still Feel Good – Popcaan

Popcaan makes the playlist for the second time in as many weeks, and this time he brings this positive tune about feeling good hehe. Nice tune with a very good vibe.

Yu Zimme – Stylo G

Talking about big tunes, this song leaves no doubt in the listeners mind that it is a monster tune. The riddim is infectious, makes one want to hit the dancefloor immediately, and you Stylo G brings his signature flow to make the song nothing but pure vibes.

Rock Your Body – Burna Boy

Burna Boy has been MIA from the playlist for a while now, but the artist returns with this crazy tune. With a chill vibe, the instrumental gives Burna the perfect backdrop to show off his versatility. Great tune.

Nana – Mi Casa

Mi Casa makes another appearance on the playlist with this top notch house tune. If you don’t know Mi Casa, look up their catalogue I promise you will not be disappointed.

G.S.O.A.T – Barrington Levy

I told you that this week is full of big tunes right? This one is no exception, with one of the greatest to ever get on the mic doing what he does best. Talk about not missing a beat, Mr Levy still has it indeed.

Love Ones – Jahmiel

When all is said and done, you will find that Jahmiel will probably have more appearances on this playlist series than any other artist and that is saying a lot. I’m sure you are fully aware by now that I am a big fan of this artist, and he seldom disappoints. This song is on a level, the message is proper, the delivery on point as usual, and to wrap it all up the production is tight. Pull it up selector.

Rocky Dub Road – Alborosie

Another artist that I absolutely rate highly is Alborosie. I lived his album “Escape From Babylon” at one point in my life and from that time I have always been a big believer in this guy’s music. This is a dub version of his song Rocky Road from the album Freedom & Fyah. Tune!!!!

Weekend – Conkarah

Conkarah is one of the few Jamaican artists that highly rated by the general population here in NZ. This song is a perfect example why, easily listening reggae vibes, with a poppy production and straightforward lyrical content. This is in no way a slight on the song or artist, everything works which is what ultimately counts. Really cool tune no doubt.

Happy With The Girls – Sizzla

Let’s tie this one off with a big tune by the one like Sizzla Kalonji. The man has been really going hard on the dancehall tip, and I must say he hasn’t been missing much with his tunes. Vibes.

 

That’s us for another week folks, I hope you enjoyed this edition of TEN OF THE BEST. See you next week.

TRADING SIXTEEN: Week 22 (Don’s Selection)

TEN OF THE BEST returns with yet another installment for your listening pleasure. This week I enlisted the services of my good friend Don, who is a big reggae/dancehall fan like me. You may have noticed me shouting him out in recent weeks, that’s because he regularly suggests songs that I should be paying attention to and he’s very seldom off the mark. This entire playlist is curated by Don so I hope you enjoy it. Boom

Check out the spotify playlist at the bottom of this post:

This week’s playlist, in no particular order:

Nuh Skylarking – Keznamdi

Keznamdi makes another appearance with another huge tune on a bad riddim. The riddim is very punchy and is an ode to the dancehall riddims that ran the dancefloor between 2000 and say 08/09. Great way to start the selection.

Golden Hold – Alkaline

Slackness alert!!! Alkaline comes through with a rather slack tune, which isn’t much of a surprise to be honest. The song though is great, with a nice riddim accentuated by Alkaline’s crisp vocals.

Fresh Cash – Mavado

Riddim up! Mavado makes a banging return to the playlist with this big tune on the Good Good produced Money Mix Riddim. If you recall, we had this riddim on the playlist quite a few weeks ago, and trust me this riddim can run a dancehall easily.

Strongest Soldier – Jahmiel

Jahmiel is an artist that has been definitely making all the right moves of late. I feel like he is under appreciated but the level of dedication he has shown over the last few years suggests that he is due to have his star grow in the very imminent future.

Feeling High – Vershon

If I’m not mistaken Vershon makes his first appearance on the playlist. This is another artist that has been making significant moves on the dancehall scene. Definitely one to watch in the very near future. Crazy vibes on this here tune.

Yeah Yeah – Aidonia

Another artist that is surprisingly making a debut on the playlist if I’m not mistaken. One of my favourite dancehall artists from the old Alliance days, dare I say it but I preferred his music to Vybz Kartel’s back then. The one thing that put a lot of people from appreciating the sheer lyricism that Aidonia possesses is his rather quick delivery topped with his very thick accent. If you listen close enough you will see why I rated him back then, and now he is a better songwriter so it’s only fair that the ratings increase.

El Chapo – Popcaan

So the bro Don has been harping on about this tune for a while and I somehow managed to miss out on listening to it until I started working this playlist, shame on me. This song is super cool, probably the best tune I’ve heard from Popcaan in a while, mainly because he goes back to the formula that helped him blow up. Tough lyrics over riddims that are easy to listen to, big tune!

 

Lehbeh Lehbeh – Ding Dong

This tune is cool. It’s a retake of Runtown’s Mad Over You, which you will find in the Week 9 playlist hehe. Ding Dong did well on it, but I don’t know if it’s just because I am a huge fan of the original tune. It’s great to see African music getting remade in JA, that’s a good sign that Afropop is progressing in the right direction.

The Right Place – Masicka

Masicka makes an appearance with a big tune. Play this one of repeat! VIBES!!!

 

Big up to the brother Don for taking some time to draft a playlist for your listening pleasure. Until next week

TEN OF THE BEST: Week 21

Greeting all, once again we do what we always do on Mondays and that is bring you the fresh edition of TEN OF THE BEST.  I would like to thank everyone that has checked in regularly and I appreciate all the feedback I have been receiving, long may it continue.

Check out the spotify playlist at the bottom of this post:

This week’s playlist, in no particular order:

My Girl – Sizzla

Dancehall Sizzla makes another appearance on this playlist. I have stated before that I hadn’t heard this particular Sizzla in a while, and I must state that I really started supporting Mr Kalonji thanks to his dancehall smash hits from the early 2000s, think Get To The Point, Smiling Faces etc. This may not be on that level, but still a big tune by a country mile.

Feeling Irie (Dancehall Remix) – General Degree X Tarrus Riley

The title states that this is a Dancehall remix, by I would correct that to say it’s more of a Reggaeton vibe but that’s besides the point. The point is, this is a monster of a tune and it has been on repeat on my playlist for a minute. The original song is General Degree’s contribution on Replay Riddim, and that is a big tune in it’s own right. The remix is on another level all together.

Power – Rapsody X Kendrick Lamar X Lance Skiiiwalker

Now this song is dope. I have heard people talking about the femcee Rapsody and I had somehow managed to avoid listening to her music until I bumped into her album Laila’s Wisdom. If you haven’t checked it I urge you to fix that as soon as you humanly can. This song is really good and it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Rapsody’s catalogue.

Are You The One (Reggae Is My Name) – Julian Marley

I have to firstly say that I am one of many people in my circle that have hated on Julian Marley over the years. Not because I don’t think he’s a good artist, just that in my opinion he doesn’t come close to his brothers when it comes to creating hits. What I can say is, that approach to his music and talent was unmistakably wrong. This guy has bags of talent and this tune is testament to that. Easy listening reggae.

Want It All – Ice Prince X Krept & Konan

Another older song from Ice Prince makes the playlist. Here Mr Zamani teams up with English super duo Krept & Konan to deliver a bouncy club tune. I actually heard it being played at a party not long ago and was pleasantly surprised.

Won’t Lose My Way – Iba Mahr

Iba Mahr returns to the playlist with yet another big tune. Again this is not a particularly new song, but I heard it for the first time not long ago and had to include it on the playlist. Big tune mi seh!!!!

Grown & Sexy – Damian Marley X Stephen Marley

The Marley brothers at it again with yet another big tune. This song is off Damian’s Stony Hill album, if you haven’t listened to the album yet please do yourself a huge favour and check it out. This song is very chill, and had to grow on my somewhat but has eventually become one of my favourite cuts from the album.

Dat U Luv – Konshens

Konshens has not made nearly enough entries into this playlist if I’m being honest. He is easily one of my favourite Jamaican artists over the years, and if you are into Dancehall music, you’d know how consistent this artist is in terms of churning out huge hits. This song is up there with the best of them in my opinion.

Mama – Mayorkun

Let’s take one more trip to Africa on this week’s edition, with this interesting tune from Mayorkun. You’d think he’s singing about his mother, but no he is paying homage to his love interest’s mother instead. Though I’m not sold on the concept, I think the song is very catchy and has found itself garnering several plays on my playlist.

There’s A Way – Wayne Wonder

Wayne Wonder makes his first appearance in week 21, but that’s no real surprise given how inactive he has been in recent years. He is arguably one of the most successful artists to come out of Jamaica, and for good reason. This song shows that the singer still has it, great song.

 

Hope you have breeze listening to this week’s playlist. Until next week folks!

I’m A Shotta: Shooting From The Hip

It has recently caught my attention that I have a personality trait which, depending on the situation, can be perceived as being good or bad. The other day I was out with friends and we had our night all planned out to a tee, what the others weren’t aware of was that there was a situation brewing that would eventually dictate the tone of the night. As we were enjoying our preloading session at my friend’s flat, I got wind of a gig which was happening on the opposite side of town to the place we had planned to party for the night, and lo and behold we ended up ditching our initial plan. Not only that, we ended up making our decisions on the fly, even though we had a clear plan in place. Luckily for us in this instance, we had an amazing night which I dare say wouldn’t have happened had we followed the plan.

I have a tendency, at times, of shooting from the hip, i.e. I have moments where I get random thoughts and ideas which I execute without putting too much thought into the decision. As a musician, this seems to have worked really well for me to date. A lot of songs have been produced as a result of this, though I must say that a few songs have fallen victim of this and remain unfinished. I have had the odd moment where I am in the process of writing a tune, which I would have been contemplating for a while, or building a riddim template for one of my producer friends to complete, and before I even realise it some random thought hits my mind and I end up going in a completely different direction. What seems to be the constant in many of the situations this has happened, is that the song or project I end up completing (the unplanned one) almost always tends to be really good. I’m not going to front though, sometimes this trait does back fire.

It’s one thing having random change of plans when you are working alone, or in a controlled environment, it’s another case altogether when you are working with several people or you are in a group environment. Apart from the situation I outlined at the start of this post, I have several instances whereby my spontaneity has created tension within the group. A few times I have found myself at odds with one or more of the group members which inevitably ruins whatever experience we will be attempting to create. I have also found myself in a few of songwriting sessions, especially back in the Yung Shottaz days, where I’ve gone as far changing the direction of a song halfway through the process. As you’d expect, this did not go down well with the others, especially the more prolific writers in the crew (I’m looking at you Hlats). Needless to say, other people rarely appreciate a sudden change in direction, and given that old adage about change that I can’t quite remember at this stage, even if the change is good it will most likely face resistance initially.

The question of shooting from the hip has come to the fore quite recently when planning our next moves, i.e. for the Shottaz and Blacq Alex. A few ideas were triggered, on the fly, by yours truly which were initially met with a bit of resistance but luckily for me I’m working with open minded individuals so once the benefits of said ideas came to the fore, my peeps came around. Keep an eye peeled for some new initiatives coming from the camp in the coming weeks/months. When they hit streets remember Max Shotta, the wild gun slinger from the Shottaz crew.

Peace

 

TEN OF THE BEST: Week 20

Oh yes, without fail we are back with yet another TEN OF THE BEST. This week is more of the same, an eclectic mix of different genres that I enjoy listening to. Not much else I can say so let’s get to it…

Check out the spotify playlist at the bottom of this post:

This week’s playlist, in no particular order:

Samankwe – HarrySong X Timaya

Let’s kick off this week on the right note. This tune is a banger, and I have to big up the homie Trip fpr putting me onto this song. The energy on this tune is crazy and the production is pretty nice too.

Feeling Free – Tarrus Riley

Tarrus Riley aka Singy Singy is the baddest man around, and on this song he brings the vibes we have come to expect from the guy. The song starts with a lazy vibe and it switches along the way. Great tune if you are a 4:20 guy hehe…

Impact – Alkaline

Alkaline is an undeniable talent and he has been responsible for many a big tune. This song is no exception. Energy.

In The Morning – Ice Prince X Terry G

This is by no means a new tune, but I bumped into it during one of my most recent commutes and I must say I had to pull it up a few times. Ice Prince seems to be one of them artists that just has this knack for creating great tunes.

Link Up – Demarco

Major slackness alert. Demarco sticks to his M.O when it comes to dancehall hits, and you know he didn’t hold back on the x-rated lyrics haha.

Generation – Jesse Royal X Jo Mersa

Two great artists combine on this very big tune. I am a big fan of both Jesse Royal and Jo Mersa, and I must say I had never envisioned this collaboration until it was banging in my eardrums, and it immediately made super sense. Monster tune this.

Energy – Avelino X Stormzy X Skepta

Your grime fix for this week. Big tune mi seh!!! Pull up selector

Would You Love Me – Raging Fyah X Busy Signal

Play this tune in a rasta party and watch the people go crazy. Great vibes on this up tempo reggae tune. replay value on a hundred.

Sold (Soca On Lockdown) – GBM Nutron

Soca in the building! This tune hit me out of nowhere and before I knew it I was playing it on an endless loop. The riddim is very nice and has a good bounce to it. Big song.

Friendzone – Sauti Sol

Sauti Sol is a really talented collective from Kenya and boy do they have some serious vibes. This song is really good, but if you care to check their back catalog you will see why these guys are so highly rated. Back to this tune though, I kinda like the angle they came with from a conceptual standpoint. Great tune.

 

That’s us for yet another week, I hope you enjoyed this one. Until next week…