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Dirty Souf Yankee (Christina Mallas)

Interview: Craig David Shares The Keys To A Good Groove With ‘TS5’

The singer is back and better than ever by mixing his love for DJing and performing in one perfect package called TS5.

Like most musicians, UK native Craig David enjoys bomb a** music. While discussing his appreciation for artists of his hometown’s glowing grime scene, Craig reminds me of how a Stormzy track and trap jams share a similar BPM, leading everyone to the dance floor. “I keep my eye on people, I always like to see who's coming through because those guys become the next wave,” he says. It makes sense given the creation of TS5, a pre-game curated playlist that started out in his penthouse in Miami which now leads sold out shows across the pond, as well as appearances for this summer’s hottest festivals like Tomorrowland.

What makes up TS5 is solely Craig David. By honing in on his early talents as a DJ, the singer-songwriter performs his early 2000s classics like “Fill Me In” and “Walking Away” to instrumentals by Diplo’s creative project with Skrillex (“Where Are You Now”) and Dr. Dre (“Still D.R.E”). Seeing this unfold this week at his sold-out show in Webster Hall was not only impressive, but a work of art itself. Performing is one thing but to freestyle, ad-lib and mix records in between while keeping the crowd on a musical high is another.

“I'm seeing 14, 15 year-olds saying, ‘Have you heard of this guy named Craig David? He's got this new tune,’ and then you got the parents or older siblings who are like, ‘What? Let me school you with “Seven Days,’" he says about his newfound fan base. He's gained attention after finding fans in Drake and Justin Bieber, with the latter sampling "Fill Me In" for his 2013 track, "Recovery." “It's the most exciting thing because it gives me that leverage of being very brand new to two generations," he said.

Instead of riding the wave of today’s mixy sounds in R&B and hip-hop, the singer-songwriter has stayed loyal to his blend of UK garage by working with acts like Kaytranada for his recent album, Following My Intuition. Met with critical acclaim (and a gold plaque in the UK), the singer is hoping to bring his unique groove back to America on his terms.

Sit back, relax and take some tips on how work the party and a comeback from a pro.

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VIBE: Wednesday’s show was pretty phenomenal. It had a perfect blend of DJing and a live set we've haven't really seen anything from an artist of your caliber. Where did that idea come from?

Craig David: Before my first album Born To Do It, I used to DJ. So I was using vinyls, twelve tens and making CDs to put money in my pocket. But after releasing the album, I started performing with a live band so it was one of those elements that I didn’t get carry with me. But six years ago, I got a place in Miami and started to throw house parties in my apartment called TS5.

It slowly crept back in organically from friends who were playing with my iTunes where one minute it would be a cool throwback Biggie tune and the next thing it would go to “Macarena“ or some kind of dance song. So I decided to reign it in and got myself a Pioneer controller and started steering the music. Over a period of time, I thought I could add my tunes to the mix like putting “Walking Away” over “Still D.R.E.” It just felt like cooler way to it. I put the mixes on Soundcloud and the next thing I know, it was given to the radio stations and bam, fast forward we started doing shows in London with 250 capacity and by the end of the year, we got to 5,000 then we entered into a 17-date arena tour with 15,000 attendees. It's been a long journey but an incredible one.

Since you have those roots in DJing, how do you view the art in 2017?

For me, I have the highest amount of respect for DJs. There's a real skill set and ability to hold a crowd's attention for four to five hours, especially with an R&B/hip-hop and open format music. With EDM, you want to keep that intensity since it builds and drops, but with R&B, you want to bring people down then you give them a huge record throughout to the night so you're on the nice wave. I think the big difference is that from back in the day we used Technics twelve tens and I got to shape my skills by being in the club. [I remember the moments] where the next thing you know, the record is skipping and the needle is going crazy and the crowd is looking at you. You think, ‘Okay fight or flight.’ What do you do now? So I'd grab the mic and freestyle, ad libbing and singing while my other hand is trying find another record to put on the deck.

People are coming up to me after like, ‘Oh man, we love what you did with the singing and ad libbing thing and I'm like, ‘Bruh, if you only knew what was going on, it was all crashing.’ The technology you have in 2017 with Serato and the syncing of tracks is so simple. Before, it was about feeling the music. I actually had to touch the record, but now when I do my set, I utilize the technology. It's worked in my favor, but if it all went down, and the music stops for me, I would just grab the mic and do a 45 mins a capella set and I'd be cool with it. People would think it was just part of the set.

Moments like that really push your creative senses. The performance felt like a house party, especially with the addition of the Following My Intuition tracks. What was the process behind that album?

It's an album where I wanted to throw myself in the place of the unknown. I worked with a lot of young and upcoming producers and songwriters. I really put myself out of my comfort zone since that's where all the magic happens. [I remember] when I went in with a young 18-year-old producer, it was like, ‘Oh man, Craig I love you back in the day, with "Fill Me In" and "Seven Days.’" It's flattering to hear, but at the same time, he's talking in the past tense. I was thinking, ‘Okay, put me in the vocal booth,’ and I'll give everything, freestyling, ad libbing, singing and just giving everything in that two or three minutes.

It's crazy cause I heard every single time through the call button in the studio, "Ooo Craig, you still got it." That for me that's what reignited the flame. I was working with so many different people and by the time some of the songs were released like “Nothing Like This" with Blonde and “Ain’t Giving Up” with Sigala they were on the come up with Number 1 hits of their own. But it was very natural to work with them since it served as a transition for me.

What was it like working with Kaytranada on “Got It Good”?

What a guy. I was listening to his stuff for a long period of time. We have two tracks together; "Got It Good" and "Sink or Swim" on my album and his album, 99.9 %. He's just wicked. I got the feeling from him that he's on the cusp of producers along with Nav where you're talking Dr. Dre levels, you're talking the whole Neptunes era where it only takes one song to cross over. I saw it early on and that's why I was so excited to work with him. He's sick.

Like minded people will always blend. Where would you like to take TS5 from here?

Not trying to gas the situation, but looking at where TS5 was from 10 people in my home as a pre gamer, to being in arenas with 17,000 people, or Glastonbury, where I was on the smaller stage with 1,000 people and ended up on the larger stage with 20,000, it shows me I can get it right back in arenas in the US. It blew my mind of where this went within a year.

I can see the Miami Airlines Arena from my apartment and I'm thinking, ‘I'm getting in there. I'm going to make this happen. I'm on a mission and when I get on a mission, it tends to pull itself together.

That's great ambition. A lot of people in America are gravitating towards the UK grime scene. Are there any acts in and out of that world that interest you?

100 percent. People like Stormzy and Skepta have the UK making waves in the grime scene and a lot of it has to do with the tempo of grime, which is like a 140 BPM and the tempo of trap/rap music is pretty much every club right now is around 70 BPM so they both collide really well. I think that those guys are killing it, J Huff is doing great stuff and there's a rapper I'm working with named AJ Tracy who’s making waves. In the states, there's Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper and I got a lot of love for Drake, I think he's fantastic. Even when you see the the people on the come up like Goldlink, I keep my eye on people, but I always like to see who's coming through because those guys end up owning the wave.

There’s the sound that you, Andre 3000’s solo work and many others that really gave shape to the sounds of 2000s R&B/hip-hop you hear in acts from today. There's this guy named Smino who does that good blend of R&B/hip hop in his music.

That's the beauty with music in the digital age. You’re always one follow away from experiencing something new. It's priceless and it comes through a good source. It's no coincidence that it happens.

The new album I'm recording now bends to that. I have my team and I'm around people that I know I work really well with so I want the R&B to flow. I'm very aware of what's happening in the streets so I don't need to listen to radio to know what's going on since I'm out there playing. I can test records on people like when I did Born To Do It, so it’s amazing for me. What I’ve learned is that if you stay focused and believe and actually walk the walk, anything is possible.

Check out tour dates for Craig David and his TS5 movement here.

Photos by Dirty Souf Yankee

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Solange Uses Her Divine Spirit To Calm The Mind And Body For "Bridge-s" Performance Piece

There's a serene feeling over the bodies standing in the iconic architecture at the Getty Center Museum. Jazzy horns, peaceful keys, and crisp guitar riffs gently interrupt the soothing silence as dancers dripped in marigold threads swayed to "Counting," a composition created by Solange. A series of odd numbers like "5", "7" and "9" are recited on a loop by half of her dancers while the others chant "6", "4" and "2." It's just a preview of her latest creation Bridge-s but felt like a dynamic meditation.

Bridge-s brings yet another magnetic piece into her series of interdisciplinary works that spawned after the release of her magnum opus, A Seat At The Table. The world was introduced to Solange's artistic side thanks to performance art pieces at the Guggenheim in New York and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

Composed by Solange and choreographed by Gerard & Kelly, Bridge-s was created with the pillars, beams, and columns around the museum in mind. Dancers and the orchestra used the space to their advantage, with tuba players catching the peripheral of attendees from afar.

Four rollouts will take place November 16-17, curated with a selection of films that include Black to Techno by Jenn Nkiru, AFRONAUTS and Boneshaker by Nuotama Bodomo, The State of Things by singer-songwriter Kish Robinson (Kilo Kish) and more. In its entirety, Bridge-s was designed to explore "transitions through time."

This was felt throughout the performance piece as dancers move with the intent of love, internal struggle, and unity. In a stunning zine designed by Sablā Stays, Gerard & Kelly shared the emphasis behind their modernist and inclusive approach.

"Our work, like hers, is part of an interdisciplinary effort throughout the arts and humanities to redefine modernism by critically engaging its prevailing narratives. By accounting for differences of gender, sexuality, and race. By focusing on intimate and collective histories. By centering our work around the body, dance and movement," they said.

Solange also opened up about the importance the museum and the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg played in the performance piece. "Both Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and the Getty Museum have sure strong distinctive voices spatially, and so the intention is that all of the work, the movement, the language, the songs all align with those principles," she said. "Working with Gerard and Kelly, who share many of the same philosophies on their approach to interpreting time and space through performance has really built the foundation [for] the spirit of this collaboration."

Like the rest of us, the artist watched closely the dancers glide across the floor, while bandmembers release enchanting sonnets with vocalists dropping a few high notes in between. Guests like Thundercat (and his Pikachu backpack), Kilo Kish, Dev Hynes of Blood Orange and Tyler, The Creator were also left speechless after the performance.

“I just want to thank you guys for allowing me the space to evolve, experiment and express new frontiers,” Solange said to the crowd after the assembly provided endless cheers.

Learn more about Bridge-s and get free tickets here.

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Scott Legato

Rick Ross' ‘Port Of Miami 2 Tour' Is Motivation To Hustlers Far And Wide

“I can spot a millionaire—from the guy working at the carwash,” Rick Ross said to a sold-out crowd at New York City’s Gramercy Theatre on his “Port of Miami 2 Tour.” “He got the rag hanging out of his pocket, to the way he rock his [pants]. I see the millionaire in him,” Rozay continued.

For nearly two hours on Tuesday (Oct. 15), the MMG bawse galvanized the hustler’s spirit, thanks to the preciseness of words used to explain his “came from the bottom” narrative combined with first hand accounts of the imperative mental spaces that dope boys experience.

But before Rozay graced the stage at the Gramercy Theatre, MMG’s baby boomer Yowda entertained the crowd for a brief set before passing the mic to lifelong MMG soldier Gunplay.

Rocking a black Dickies outfit, the Triple C member, who has been vocal about his cocaine addiction, stormed the stage with coke-like energy while mouthing lyrics to his sobering verse from “The Great Americans,” a song from MMG’s Self Made, Vol. 3.

Gunplay, who was actually born in the Bronx, nimbly bounced across the stage like a point-guard maneuvering through defense closed out his set with his under-the-radar street classics “Blood on the Dope,” “Bible on the Dash,” and his verse from Waka Flacka’s “Rolling.”

With marijuana smoke clouding the venue, liquor relaxing some concert-goers, and the clock inching toward 9:15 p.m., Rozay slowly walked toward the center of the stage—indirectly egging on the standing ovation by confidently nodding his head. Lex Luger’s “B.M.F.” instrumental blasted from the speakers for what seemed like minutes before the Dade County native dived into his verses.

The motivational concert commenced with the words: “I think I’m Big Meech, Larry Hoover,” here Ross is claiming his declaration to be financially independent---probably his No. 1 goal in life.

Less than two minutes into the start of Rozay’s set, The L.O.X.’s Styles P surprised the crowd by appearing onstage to deliver his verse from “B.M.F,” which was followed by ”Good Times (I Get High).” Surprises continued when Jadakiss appeared on stage to help his partner-in-rhyme run through their classic, “We Gonna Make It.”

 

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Elite Mc’ing last night with @richforever . #Dblock #Lox #NYC

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After working up a sweat, a slimmer-looking Ross shedded his beige designer trench jacket. Dressed in all white—like the cocaine money that he raps about—with shining jewels wrapped around his neck and wrists, Ross played the visual representation of success to kids from every coast.

Ross proceeded the show with his get-money classics like “I’m Not a Star,” where when he rapped: “Nine for the slice, dummy that’s a Dan Marino/Talking quarterbacks, meaning talking quarter kilos,” concert-goers enthusiasm seemed to max-out as they rapped with words with Ross.

After performing a list of favorites like “Aston Martin Music” and “Hustlin’,” the Box Chevy anthem that set the rapper’s career in motion, and “Where My Money (I Need That),” Rozay surprised New Yorkers by inviting Brooklyn native Fabolous onstage.

The Young OG entertained the Gramercy with hits like “Breathe” and “Cuffin Season” before closing his set with his verse from Meek Mill’s “Uptown.”

As the night grew to a close, Ross decided to remind fans that it’s totally fine for hustlers to shed tears. With that, the 43-year-old delivered his masterful verse from Kanye West’s “Devil in a New Dress.”

The place erupted with emotion with lines like “Whole clique appetite had tapeworms/Spinning Teddy Pendergrass vinyl as my J burns/I shed a tear before the night’s over.”

 

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Elite Mc’ing last night with @richforever . #Dblock #Lox #NYC

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Tears continued to fall as Ross ran through the CeeLo Green-assisted “Tears of Joy,” a woeful hip-hop ballad that shows the imperativeness—from a dope boys POV—of financial freedom.

Overall, Rozay’s performance is not filled with animation and routines. His stage presence isn’t as strong as fellow hustler-turned-rappers Jay-Z and Pusha T. However, Ross’ words of encouragement are powerful tools that incites the “give me liberty or death” mentality that birthed the hustlers spirit of America, and birthed America.

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Kadeem Cobham

A$AP Rocky Returns To New York, Brings Out 50 Cent And Swae Lee At Rolling Loud

A$AP Rocky is late. At any other rap show, this would annoy people who waited hours standing in cramped spaces to see their favorite artist perform. At Citi Field in Queens – the home of the first edition of Rolling Loud in New York, a two-day hip-hop festival held this past weekend (Oct. 12-13) – it becomes a game time decision on how you want to end your night. As flocks of attendees made their way to the Fashion Nova Stage, you can already hear Lil Uzi Vert performing at the nearby Dryp Stage. Rocky fans who secured a spot at the guard rails next to me kept looking back, maybe contemplating giving up their position to rage with Lil Uzi. Wisely, they stay.

About 10 minutes have gone by since Rocky’s scheduled 9:00 p.m. performance, and it's starting to feel like this is all on purpose, to build a dramatic opening for the Babushka Boi, who finally returns home after a highly-publicized stint in a Swedish jail for allegedly attacking two men outside of a hamburger restaurant in central Stockholm over the summer.

Suddenly, without warning, someone screams “yeahhhh!” in the mic. That same person wearing a red puffy coat runs through center stage, screaming “yeahhhh!” again before returning to the main stage. Backed by a sizeable group wearing white Testing-esque ski masks, the wait is over. Get ready to mosh because Rocky is here.

 

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Thank you for a great close to night two Flacko! @asaprocky 🎥 @evanhammerman

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For New Yorkers, A$AP Rocky has created plenty of hometown moments in his rap career. Depending on your age, you were probably there when he and the A$AP Mob invaded Santos Party House in 2011 to do a defiant performance of “Pesos.” Or in 2012 when he brought his Long. Live. A$AP Tour to Roseland Ballroom with some help from his good friends ScHoolboy Q and Danny Brown. The inaugural Yams Day, initially held at Terminal 5 in 2016, has become an institution for the Harlem crew, promising a lifetime of homages to the late A$AP Yams by holding one every year, to increasingly bigger crowds and venues.

Rocky at Rolling Loud wasn’t just another Rocky show. It had more significance. Technically, Rocky already had his big U.S. comeback when he hit the stage at Real Street Festival in Anaheim, California on Aug. 11, telling the crowd, “I just want to say what I experienced was so crazy. I'm so happy to be here right now. That was a scary, humbling experience but I'm here right now. God is good.” He was later found guilty by a Swedish court but avoided further jail time.

No, this was different because Rocky came back to where it all began. The imagery of Testing, his latest album released in May of last year, was in full effect – the crash test dummies aesthetic, the smiley faces, the vehicles hanging on the rafters like ceiling fans. After sending his squad to stage dive, Rocky took off the fall appropriate outerwear, dressed in a Rick Owens long sleeve and all-white mid Uptowns, to keep the party going. “Praise the Lord,” “Telephone Calls,” and “Babushka Boi” already had this crowd wanting more turn up.

Rocky was in the zone. He took to the skies, standing on the hood of one of his suspended cars to rap “Gunz N Butter” and “OG Beeper.” As it lowered to the ground, he followed with a freestyle filled with that Pretty Flacko talk: “Look at me, get what you see, envision me/Brazen chains, is he Pusha-T or Mr. T?”

“We in fucking New York City right now,” he said after. “This is the home of the A$AP Mob, are you shitting me?”

Our first special guest: A$AP Ferg.

The pair have one of the best chemistries in hip-hop, shown in their buddy-buddy attitude and how seamlessly they work off one another. No matter how many times you’ve heard “Plain Jane” and “Work,” the songs still go off. When these come on, New York definitely doesn’t know how to be quiet.

“Ferg, you crazy if you think I’ma let you leave. You’re crazy,” Rocky said.

“Welcome home, Flacko!” Ferg replied, continuing with “Floor Seats.”

Ferg gave a special shout to day-one fans who have been with the Mob since their early singles, listing “Peso,” “Purple Swag,” “Get High,” and “Shabba.” Later, after Rocky brought out AWGE affiliates Smooky Margielaa and G4 Boyz, he playfully nodded to having no type after showing off his collection of bras he got from women who threw theirs on stage earlier. It was a tongue-in-cheek lead-in to the second major guest, Swae Lee, who performed “No Type” to the surprise of many. Rocky, who continued to hold his bras with delicate care, likened tonight’s show as a hip-hop Woodstock and he, the rock star.

“I don’t know about y’all, but when it comes to this New York City shit, this shit shaped and changed my whole fucking life,” he said, explaining how much he respects the OGs that came before him.

Born and raised in Harlem, Rocky started off with The Diplomats’ “Dipset Anthem,” with Juelz Santana’s verse causing a ruckus. Rocky wanted to move on to play more legendary New York classics, but his DJ, Lou Banga, threw off the vibe by accidentally playing songs by Bobby Shmurda and Pop Smoke. Modern classics, sure, but Rocky emphasized “legendary New York shit” from Queens.

Our third and final special guest: 50 Cent.

 

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First year in New York was legendary. @asaprocky @50cent

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Fif came out to “What Up Gangsta” with Rocky as his hypeman, rapping lines from the song like he was a youth again. It was two generations from two different boroughs reuniting in Queens, where 50 is actually from. Despite hiccups by the NYPD with preemptive cancellations of performances by Pop Smoke, Casanova, 22Gz, Sheff G and Don Q, this was a positive moment for the city and showed two rap eras can coexist. No rap beefs, no violence. Just good energy to help put the city on the map.

Fif stuck around to run through more hits such as “I Get Money” and “Big Rich Town,” but not after asking the audience if they watched Power. Clever promotion from hip-hop’s savvy businessman.

While the show was supposed to end at 10 p.m., Rocky was down to get lit until past curfew. He called on the A$AP Mob for a brief moment of silence for Yams before getting into “Yamborghini High.” Ferg, A$AP Illz, A$AP Twelvyy, and A$AP Nast all appeared to show love to Eastside Stevie.

“My n***a was a New York vet and at the end of the day, his whole vibe was just making sure everybody ate,” Rocky said. “Yams was a good-hearted n***a, trying to put n***as on…He was a good one. We lost a real one.”

The tribute only made the Mob’s performance of “Yamborghini High” that much more meaningful. Rocky and his crew could’ve left Rolling Loud fans with that. But they had one more thing in store, even after the fireworks went off and lights in the parking lot went on.

Tariq Cherif, one of the co-founders of Rolling Loud, presented Rocky with a Rolling Loud chain. After Sunday’s lineup featuring stars like A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Lil Tecca, and Young Thug, to give Rocky a chaining day in New York is how you end on a high note. His last song, “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2,” and it's opening lyrics couldn’t have been more perfect.

“Who the jiggy nigga with the gold links?”

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