Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Skatalites return to Cork!

Quite simply one of the most important groups of all time. Previous visits to Cork had been good, but their amazing gig in the Cruiscin was probably too limiting for such a band, while their Opera House show at the Jazz Festival didn't get the crowd it should have had really. Last night was perfect and i'm proud to have had them in the Pavilion, big thanks to everyone who came along and those who helped put it together, including Phil from Feile Africa. Here's a few of my pics and some from Rory Cobbe too who has more at

Some of my favs of 2008


Q TIP-Move
Superb single from "Renaissance" that beefs up an old Jacksons sampling Dilla loop from "Donuts" to great effect, this even had a cool video to match in a tidy return from the Tribe Called Quest legend
COCOA TEA-Barack Obama
My anthem of the summer from the Sly and Robbie assisted reggae man. There were literally hundreds of different Obama tributes in the last 12 months but this was easily the best and became a huge track in Cork as the enthusiasm for change sparked a worldwide feeling of optimism.
M.I.A.-Paper Planes
This was really a track from last year (sampling the Clash) but 2008 saw it go into overdrive as it became probably the most remixed track of the year in hip-hop. They all had a go and it even got to a stage where the track got re-worked into a new tune by T.I., who's "Swagger Like Us" ended up with a million versions too.
JAY Z Feat SANTOGOLD-Brooklyn Go Hard
A bit of a late entry but a funky collaboration between another of the best singers of the year and Jay Z.
Proper soul music from a great young singer who has finally stepped out of sister Beyonce's shadow with a superb album and amazing lead single.
ESTELLE-American Boy
Monster track that still sounds good!

MENAHAN STREET BAND-Make the Road By Walking
One of the big singles of last year is now expanded into a full length jazz soul opus.
Another soul classic from one of the best modern day songwriters, singers and instrumentalists.
Heavy beats and relaxed grooves made for one of the albums of the year.
ERYKAH BADU-New Amerykah Part One
A modern soul classic from a singer who has always been really interesting, this brought her back into the public eye!
ROOTS MANUVA-Slime and Reason
Hip-hop and reggae blended seamlessly together in another quality album from the U.K. rapper, check out the dub version too, it's equally brilliant!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Mash up the Dancehall!

Dancehall reggae has got a lot of bad press through the years. This has often been warranted in my opinion and the sexist and homophobic lyrics of some dancehall used to be as bad as even the worst gangsta rap. Their seems to be a curious machismo in much of dancehall reggae's past and it is often said that this "slackness" is a product of the ghetto's where dancehall stems from. The anti-homosexual and sexist sentiments in Dancehall music is a direct reflection of the male machismo/egoism in Jamaican culture. Personally, I'm glad that in recent years many dancehall artists have returned to the more conscious and positive sounds of roots reggae.
There is one place where the credentials of dancehall reggae have never been doubted. I'm lucky enough to have grown up going to a nightclub where dancehall was paramount, and it only seems like yesterday when me and my pals used go and check out Donkeyman spinning the best dancehall tunes in the Donkey's Ears and the Back Bar of Sir Henry's. Having taken over from him in Henry's I felt under qualified with regards to Dancehall and even though I was a big reggae fan it took me years to feel that i could spin that music with the same ability as Donkeyman. Thankfully I learnt from the best and luckily in Cork we have always had a good amount of people spinning the hottest rhythms from the Jamaican dancehalls. The likes of Dr Fiasco and Bellyman are regularly holding it down and always worth checking out if you like to hear the hottest grooves.

Dancehall has sporadically hit the mainstream over these years too but in many ways it's the same old story as when reggae dominated. The rhythms, many originally culled from reggae classics anyway, manage to get exposure eventually through pop or r&b hits. Just like with Bob Marley, there is one dominant artist who enjoys hit after hit, but it is fair to say Sean Paul will never enjoy the same kudos as the Wailers man. He is absolutely huge these days though and it is fair to say he is still a decent enough artist and he relies less on the novelty factor than the likes of Shaggy did when he was popular. Beenie Man, Shabba Ranks, Chaka Demus and Pliers are just a few more who have enjoyed success but for me the best dancehall flavours will always be the ones that have bubbled under the radar of the mainstream charts.
Capelton, Louie Rankin, Cham, Cutty Ranks and the likes have all been regulars in the dancehalls around the world in recent years and this is just the tip of the iceberg really. The rhythms and sounds are still absolutely banging and the music is as good as ever, but this is one form of music where you really need to be searching out the best stuff by digging deep and through the right networks. It's definitely worth it though because there are few musical forms that sound so good as when the vibe is the right the Dancehall is still king!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

"The Renaissance" by Q Tip

It's good to see Q Tip back with a new album. "The Renaissance" at first seems like a logical progression from his last full length official album in the 90's but on closer inspection the story is not quite so simple. The MC who first burst on to the scene with A Tribe Called Quest (and other Native Tongue affiliates like The Jungle Brothers and De La Soul) has been busy with the customary Hollywood acting career, but he has also had a number of albums that have never seen the light of day due to record company politics and other reasons.
So what happened? "Amplified" was his solo debut that did reasonably well even though it curiously dissapointed loads of fans of A Tribe Called Quest, who had recently disbanded after the under-rated "Love Movement" album. The last Tribe album was certainly not as mind-blowing as their first three, all bona-fide hip-hop classics, but it still had it moments. It was criticised for straying away from the traditional Tribe sound, but in reality, it was an album that again used some of the most cutting edge production in hip-hop, again supplied by Jay Dee aswell as Tip and Ali , the man largely responsible for their previous set, "Beats Rhymes and Life"
Hip-hop fans are a curious bunch sometimes. Back when Tribe released 'The Low End Theory", many were dismissive aswell, as it was a stark progression from their jazzy "Peoples Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm" debut. People quickly caught up though, and by "Midnight Marauders" even the harshest of critics conceded that this was the work of hip-hop royalty. The final two albums may have had people confused again, but now all these years later most critics and fans concede that the production of Jay Dee was simply years ahead of his time, and the Tribes later albums reward closer inspection.
Q Tips "Amplified" was way too jiggy for some, but after later Jay Dee (now known as Dilla before his death in 2006) work with Madlib, Frank n 'Dank and Phat Kat, it seems to make even more sense now. Quite simply, it's a banging album, and it stands up well nearly 10 years on. He then took a typical left field route with the curve ball that was the more off-centre jazz influenced Kamaal the Abstract album, but anyone who knew Q Tip will have recognised that this was similar to the material he had been sampling for years with the Tribe; it made sense to go straight to the source!
The record companies have been even more confused by the fans and the album, like much of his material since, was left unreleased and despite some interesting bits and pieces this decade "The Renaissance" is his first official full length since "Amplified". If you are even a bit of a fan, give it a chance and hear him out. It's an album that has the right ingredients for the notoriously safe U.S. market (Norah Jones, Raphael Saadiq and a big Jackson 5 sampling Dilla produced single culled from his "Donuts" set but above all it's an album brought to us by a guy who is generally ahead of the game, and who's music will always stand up despite the various fashions or trends of the day. It is not quite a hip-hop Renaissance, but like the Di Vincis and Michelangelos, he will stand the test of time.

This article was originally written by me for last week's Evening Echo check Downtown every Thursday

Monday, November 17, 2008

"After the idea, there is plenty of time to learn the technology"-James Dyson

I've always been of the opinion that technology is something that should be used to our advantage with regard to music. Coming from a background where i was a serious vinyl collector for many years this has sometimes led to some big dilemmas recently, and converting a lot of music to digital format gave me a lot of mixed feelings these last few years. Having used both digital and more traditional methods DJing i can safely say there is a lot to be said for both, and it simply depends on the person or scenario.
As a hip-hop fan, it is always necessary to pay respect to the role which technology has played in the music. The technological advances of the late 70's and early 80's provided the cornerstone for many of the great ideas springing from the harsh inner city boroughs of New York and elsewhere. In those days, rather than having to buy loads of equipment such as guitars and drums to emulate their funk and soul heroes, many music fans could now simply make music by grabbing a mic and assembling a groove for cheap.

These grooves were often supplied by a DJ operating on relatively cheap turntables, cutting up two copies of a record while the MC simply spat lyrics. Suddenly music was readily available for everyone and like the DIY punk and scene of a similar era, kids could now get records out on the cheap and on the fly. Years later it's much easier and dance music culture has moved on but now it may not be as easy to make your release feel as special as bringing out a 7 or 12".
As a DJ i can download more or less anything in 5 minutes but it will never replace the feeling of lusting after a vinyl record for years, and eventually tracking down a copy in a dodgy second hand shop basement full of dusty wax. I can now bring 20,000 tunes with me on CD or on a hard-drive, the same number of tunes that were once in my vinyl collection, but nothing will replace the feeling of flicking through the actual records with the original covers and the sleeve-notes and history that each brought.

Playing a few gigs lately where i was pretty much using only vinyl, i got an incredible buzz and realised how much i love the format, the sound and the culture of these records. I never got rid of any of my main records anyway, and they will always be my pride and joy, and even though it's much easier to go to 90% of my gigs with a laptop and loads of CD's, there are times when it will have to be beautiful black vinyl!
Purists will shrug their shoulders and dismiss the young DJ's who have never bought a record, but I can honestly say that i would never begrudge youngsters the convenience of the format they use. There is no doubt in my mind that years of record collecting and crate digging has benefited my music knowledge, and i will always treasure this, but technology is there for us all, and there is nothing wrong with using it to your benefit. After all, it's what comes out of the speakers that really matters.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Barack Obama

One of my favourite tunes over the last few months-big ups to Mikki Dee

and another


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My interview with

Very good website on all things eircom league. Joe Sexton interviewed me last week on all things Cork City and it can be found here! Check his blog at Alan Smith, another Cork writer also does a good bit for, it's a very good website for keeping up with all the news on the Eircom league.

Extratime with ... DJ Stevie G

By Joseph Sexton

Red FM presenter and club DJ Stevie G is a well-known figure on Leeside. Known as the Godfather of the Cork hip-hop scene after his long residency in Sir Henry’s, Stevie has been very active in recent years, organising musical workshops for youngsters and supporting the music community. Although famous for his support of Manchester United, Ste-vie is a fixture in the stands at Turner’s Cross for Cork City’s home games. caught up with him last week to talk about City’s past and present, as well as its future prospects.

Q: How long have you been going to see Cork City?

Well, I’m old enough to remember the first couple of games. I would have been 8 or 9 back then. Now at that time there hadn’t been any team in Cork for a while. We’d all heard about the heyday at Flower Lodge back in the 70’s, but already by that stage I was already a big [Manchester] United fan. I always loved my soccer, and I went down to the games a lot during the 80’s. Of course it’s a big thing these days, it’s almost as if it has to be one thing or the other when it comes to following the national League or English football, but we never saw it like that. If anything, the two were complementary. I’d follow the Cork hurling and football teams, as well as the national team, and I went to a lot of games in 80’s. Like a lot of people, I found my interest waned during the Bishopstown era, but I still went to games regularly enough. Work commitments have got in the way at times, but for the last few years now I’ve been able to get down to see every home game. I’ll never claim to be a die-hard City fan, of course, but I’ve always followed the club’s progress throughout the years.

Q: Can you remember the first game you went to?

I can’t remember because I was so young at the time. I can remember there being a great buzz around the Lodge back around 1983, when Cobh had a good cup run. But my first City memory would be a cup game against Derry. The exact year escapes me, but I can remember it being a huge thing at the time. They brought a massive crowd down with them, as they always do. The game looked to be petering out towards the end, and then City nicked a goal in the last few minutes. I’ll never forget it. It could be nostalgia, but I remember it being absolutely packed down there that day- maybe more than 10,000. It was madness; people were already leaving, and they had to rush back in. That would be my first real memory anyway.

Q: Who would be your favourite City player over the years?

I’ve always liked strikers, so I’d have to mention Pat Morley. Everyone remembers Dave Barry of course; he was a great player over the years, pulling the strings from mid-field. I’d have a lot of time for John Caulfield too, another good, honest forward. Of course, there have been some great defenders down through the years, but I’d always be inclined to go for the front men, or those in the middle.

Q: And what about the current City team? Who would be your favourite?

These days it’s hard because you get attached to players, and then they’re gone. I thought Mooney was unbelievable in the short time he was at the club, but for me it’s got to be Joe Gamble. He’s got great energy levels. It’s great to see Colin Healy playing here too, but for me Joe Gamble epitomises the last few years. I know he was close to leaving recently, but he’s been here now for a while and I hope he stays put as the team rebuild.

Q. What would be the highlight for you in the history of Cork City FC to date?

Obviously, there’s the Bayern Munich home game [UEFA Cup in 1991], and the away game too. Galatasaray also [1993]; being a United fan as well, United ended up losing to them just weeks later. City ran them close, and could have gone through, and that was great. You only have to look at what those Galatasaray players went on to do in later years. Then we had those great Euro runs in recent years, but for me it’s got to be winning the league in 1993 and 2005. I know they’ve won a couple of cups, but I just don’t find it to be the same thing. Winning leagues is the ultimate test for any side, so I’d have to go with those.

Q. What are your thoughts on the present uncertainty surrounding the club?

It’s unfortunate, but there’s so much good feeling towards the club. Of course, there is a fantastic hardcore support, but we do need bring in the wider public in Cork. I know there’s a huge ‘barstool’ thing; people go on about the bandwagon, and I know some people don’t want them. I can understand that. If you look at Munster, they were getting really low crowds even just a couple of year’s back, despite reaching European finals. We’ve seen situations with very low numbers heading up to follow the football side in All Ireland semi-finals, and then everyone’s looking for a ticket when they make the final. Even hurling, the real top dog for support, isn’t immune to this. City will have to look to draw in part of this element to grow. It’s important to keep the community thing going, and the hardcore is already there. Even through the last few months, the attendance has remained solidly above 3,000 a game.

I think the raw materials are there. With a bit more acumen, with a bit more support from the business community and some stability, the club can come through and improve in the future. The supporters trust is a massive thing; it’s great to see the fans pulling together. Maybe the club will end up following the Barcelona model, maybe not; but I don’t see the club going to the wall. Rumour has it that there are one or two people with muscle and ability looking to step in too, and I’d welcome that. These people apparently welcome the idea of getting [supporters trust] FORAS on board, which would be great. I’m sure it will all work out one way or another. Let’s not forget the mess Ramblers are in though- I think the FAI and the league have got to look after things a bit better but it can be done.

Q. Finally Stevie, what does Cork City mean to you?

It’s our local team. It’s the community. As I’ve said, the way it happened for me by the time Cork City came along, I’d already been crying when [Manchester] United lost. There was no City, there was hurling and football, and the stories of the great days of Cork soccer in the 1970s, Miah Dennehy and the like. So while I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t already formed the allegiance to United in my formative years, I’ve never had time for the whole barstooling thing. I can’t watch games in pubs myself, it does my head in. But what City means to me is the local banter. I’ve travelled to Old Trafford for years, but when it’s in your own town it’s just that extra bit special. You can’t beat that. We’re a sporting town, and it’s soccer right in the middle of town. Turner’s Cross is the place to be, I don’t think it was ever going to work in Bishopstown. It’s about local soccer, and the players we’ve seen especially in the last couple of years, but even going right back.

There are ignorant people out there who’ll say, ‘oh, I went there and the quality was crap’, but it’s not a bit like that. There’s better quality than a lot of top level soccer, all these hyped-up games on Sky and internationals; games with teams dogging it out for 120 minutes to get to penalties. Most teams in the league play good football now. Sure, there were times back in the day where there was a bit of hoofing, but sometimes you’ve got to hoof it too! But there’s quality football down there and a good vibe and I would encourage anyone to try it out. It’s fantastic. The Friday night thing is great also. For me it means that even with work I can make it down. It’s the perfect way to kick off the weekend. But most of all it’s about going down and getting behind your local team.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Norman Whitfield R.I.P.

Another great songwriter and producer passes on. One of the central figures behind Motown, the man is a musical God. I'll be paying tribute on my Black on Red show on Saturday on Cork's RedFM

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Impressionists and PPP at the Pavilion, and the final Jam Junior

Both at the Pavilion!

One of the most exciting acts in modern day hip-hop and soul played in Cork on Saturday at the Pavilion. The Platinum Pied Pipers are now known simply as PPP and they have been causing quite a stir with some quality music that blurs the boundaries between hip-hop, soul, techno, funk and jazz.
Those who are already aware of PPP will not have been suprised at their brilliance, but for those who didn't make it, their sound is best described as future soul. They have already collaborated with the likes of Dwele, Sa-Ra, Ta’ Raach, Dilla and Tiombe Lockhart, and if you are aware of any of these guys you will be have some sense of the PPP vibe. Fans of their peers, such as Erykah Badu, Estelle, John Legend, Cee-Lo and more would also have enjoyed this and PPP producers Waajeed and Saadiq have regularly worked with all of these artists.
Their first album “Triple P” is a modern day classic, and it featured everything from bumping hip-hop with Dilla and to underground soul with Tiombe Lockhart. PPP are much more than this though, and their cover of Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave your Lover” hinted at an even greater diversity; one which new album “Abundance” seems set to explore even further. The first tracks released from the new album have an almost Motown and classic soul feel, but with PPP you can always be guaranteed that the sounds will be fresh and innovative aswell as funky. Waajeed and Saadiq joined me first on Black on Red for a chat and then the whole crew tore it up later on at the Pavilion. Karma and Koltrane were great on vocals and with extra live drums too this was a show that will live long in the memory. You couldn't meet nicer people, i'm proud to have had these guys in our club and on my show!
One of Corks best young music hopes kicked off their monthly residency at Jam in the same venue last Friday. The Impressionists have got even better since their Blastbeat battle of the bands win a few years ago and they are now a real force to be reckoned with as live performers. They have a new EP about to drop and they previewed some of these tracks by playing a blistering set.
As one of the many acts who played Jam Junior through the years I am particularly proud of the Impressionists, and I would like to take the time out to thank out all of the performers and indeed crowds who made Jam Junior such a success over the last few years. We had our last ever Jam Junior at the Savoy last week but the over 18’s Jam will continue every Friday at the Pavilion. At both the Savoy in Cork and the Boiler-room in Clon we had some great nights and everyone from Suzi K and Ian Ring to all of the rappers deserve great credit for helping making it so good. There are too many DJ’s and rappers to mention here now, but thanks to everyone for the memories. I've included some pics of the last one, with guests such as Gio and Bony plus many more! If i get time in the future i'll put together a proper tribute to Jam Junior.
When we started all those years ago, there were no proper teenage discos in Cork. The kids were ushered in and rushed out of venues such as Sir Henry's, where i used get annoyed about the fact that young people were treated like crap at teen discos. I loved all my years at Sir Henry's but when i moved to the Savoy I was determined to do teenage gigs properly. I didn't want it to be a take the money and run gig. Graffiti, Breakdancing, rapping and more are now part of almost every teenage show, and Jam Junior pioneered this in this country and set the trend. Now that others have caught up and now that many discos use this formula, there is not as much need for Jam Junior, but for so many people it will be remembered fondly.
In particular I was proud to have Bony performing on the final ever show, as many years ago as a 13 or 14 year old he alongside his then band member Jaae did their first ever gig there, and after becoming one of the most popular Cork rappers he has now become immersed in youth culture activity himself, and nurtures young talent at various workshops and youth centres around Cork. Out of all the great shows and performances over the years at Jam Junior, watching the likes of Bony putting his knowledge and experience to such good use makes me happier than anything. The youngsters he works with look up to him the way many of the young rappers and DJ's used look up to me when they first did gigs with us. The torch has been passed on and the music is in good hands. I'll still be doing other youth culture activities and workshops but it was time to move on from the big huge teen gigs at the Savoy. Jam Junior is now gone, but the Jam is far from over. This is only the beginning...........

This article was adapted from last weeks Downtown in the Echo

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    About Me

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    I'm a DJ from Cork in Ireland. I work with RedFM, presenting Red Drive, The Hitlist and my specialist show, Black on Red. I'm probably best known for being one of the main hip-hop/soul DJ's in Cork and Ireland. I've been DJing in Cork since the early 90's in legendary clubnights such as Sweat in Sir Henrys, Mor Disco, Free La Funk, Yo Latino and also Jam and Jam Junior at the Savoy and the Pavilion. I've also held down long term residencies at clubs around Ireland such as Brown Sugar at the Kitchen in Dublin, U-Turn at Ri Ra in Dublin, Jazz Juice at the GPO in Galway, Thompson Garage in Belfast, the Soul Clinic, Dee-Bop, Meltdown and Mo Bounce in Limerick and i've played abroad in the United States and the U.K. on numerous occasions. I also write a music column for the Evening Echo and i'm a regular contributor to the U.K.'s Blues and Soul, the longest running black music magazine in the world. These days i run the Pavilion, a music venue in Cork, which hosts my Jam night every few Fridays also you can catch me at