This Has Made My Day, Week, Month and Year

Kenan & Kel was always my favourite TV show growing up. The program I lived by and unashamedly downloaded and watched in its entirety about a year or so ago. It was a perfect blend of punchline comedy dealt within a maze of completely improbable situations, made possible by Kenan’s cunning and strategic nature and Kel’s lovable yet hapless persona.

For one reason or another, the duo have drifted apart considerably since the show ended in 2000, with Kenan Thompson rising to more national acclaim as part of the cast of Saturday Night Live (which he left earlier this year) while Kel Mitchell flitted through various TV appearances but never anything long-lasting or substantial. It felt as if they were worlds apart and a reunion was beyond the realms of reality.

So you could imagine my amazement and pure child-like giddiness when Jimmy Fallon brought the duo back together for the first time in God knows how long for a recreation of the much-loved ‘Good Burger’ act, made famous during the duo’s times on All That. I was immediately transported to the days when I was a youngster, tuning into Nickelodeon every day at 6pm for the latest edition of the show, and rapping along to the introductory song.

The sketch, performed on The Tonight Show, was simply brilliant, as Kel (who hasn’t aged since about 1997), playing Ed, recited some of his most famous lines, while the chemistry between Thompson and Mitchell proved to be just as strong as when they were a legit comedic duo in the late 90’s.

Even if Kenan & Kel never do anything together again, it was worth the 10-year plus wait to see two legends (my opinion, don’t hate!) back together again.

Thank you Jimmy Fallon, and thank you Based God, for this truly momentous occasion.


Another Defeat, Another Discussion About Liverpool


Liverpool had an evening to forget on Saturday after a 3-1 away defeat to deadly rivals Manchester United, the Reds’ second league defeat in a row. Much like the surprise loss to West Ham a couple of weeks ago Brendan Rodgers’ side found themselves ineffective against a hungrier United opposition. Christian Benteke’s wonderful overhead kick aside, this was another Reds performance leaving a lot to be desired.

There was one positive to come out of the result however – Benteke’s unbelievable strike made it two goals in five games for the Belgium striker and it is evident that his contribution this season will be invaluable. We were also without Phillippe Coutinho who, had he played, would have given us that extra dimension of creativity we needed.

Regardless of this, the result at Old Trafford has sent alarm bells ringing around Anfield about the future of Rodgers, with mumbles turning into shouts for his departure from the club – someone even hilariously set up a website to raise the money for the Northern Irishman’s compensation should he be sacked.

While a humorous yet deeply flawed gesture we will see that conclusions are being heavily jumped if we put our current league record into perspective. We have played five games so far, winning two of them and drawing one and, while the last two games have not been good enough, we still find ourselves in a better position than this time last season, when we had lost one game more.

Team ethic hasn’t perhaps been high and the squad has yet to develop into a fully working unit but, during a summer in which Rodgers brought in nine new players, it takes time for the new additions to gel with the old ones. To expect an immediate integration into the squad for the new players is unrealistic.


These are not excuses for team performances – it is evident that Liverpool need to step it up a level – and Thursday’s Europa League opening game against Bordeaux will serve as a welcome break from Liverpool’s woes in the league.

The Europa League is a great opportunity for Rodgers and the team, despite its gruelling schedule and the helter skelter effect it has on Premier League sides. We have seen from the likes of Everton and Tottenham last season that Europe’s second tier competition can be physically and mentally draining and can have an adverse effect on domestic results.

But Rodgers is now in a position where he has better strength in depth in his squad and he should utilise this in Europe. Especially since the winners of the competition then qualify for the Champions League next season – an alternative method of reaching the promised land. But in a difficult group consisting of Bordeaux, FC Sion and Rubin Kazan, we will have to be on our A-game every week.

Victories are always a great way to boost morale and a win, as well as a good performance against Bordeaux could see a translation of good fortune into the Premier League. Because we are too big a team to be going on an continuous losing sequence.

The Europa League can also see Rodgers experiment with the squad a lot more, both tactically and in terms of personnel. He could try to find the system that best suits his squad, with a 4-2-3-1 formation so far having varying results; perhaps testing the waters with two forwards alongside each other or the three man defence that worked well last year.

Rodgers could also give more starting opportunities to the likes of Jordon Ibe, Divock Origi and Danny Ings, three young and hungry players who would relish the chance to make the starting XI.

Liverpool simply need to beat Bordeaux on Thursday to avoid the kind of early season slump that can derail squad ambitions so early into the campaign. The team will have forgotten about the past two results and be looking to get back to winning ways, and so will Rodgers.

While we have no real reason to panic at this stage of the season it would be a great sign of the team’s resilience to grab three points in Europe and never look back from the alarming performances of the past two games.


So Skepta’s Tim Westwood Mixtape…..Let’s Talk About It


The wait is over. We finally have a new project from the international man of grime, Skepta, who has collaborated with OG Tim Westwood on a brand spanking new mixtape. It’s not his hotly anticipated album Konnichiwa but it represents the Tottenham MC’s first full body of work since 2012’s Blacklisted. Skepta has even embarked on an refreshing marketing campaign for the tape, handing out copies on the streets of New York before before the entire 19-track project reached the internet.

Excitement for this mixtape had been sky high following Joseph Junior Adenuga’s announcement in July on New York radio station Hot 97 that his collab with Westwood was coming. Konnichiwa is a delayed process, but Skepta was getting ready to quench our thirst with a fire mixtape, with fresh new material that would hold us over until the tentative release of the holy grail.

But, after listening to the tape, I can say that I felt hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray and run amok. Eagerly expecting new material from Boy Better Know’s finest, I was disappointed to discover that there was only a couple real unheard tracks, and instead the tape was a collection of all the songs he has previously released over the last few months, including a couple from Blacklisted.

My immediate response was sheer frustration – “Really Skepta, really?” – I waited so long only to receive a bunch of songs that have been out for a minute now.

The only tracks from the tape I hadn’t heard  were his verse on Jamie xx’s “I Know There’s Gonna Be Good Times”, “My Crew”, “Frisco”, “Supposed To Do” and “Top Boy”, while the rest of the tape consisted of summer bangers “Shutdown” and “That’s Not Me”, as well as his collab with Wizkid and Drake “Ojuelegba” and his feature on Flatbush Zombies’ “Red Eye To Paris”.

“Top Boy” was dope, with Skepta’s trademark wordplay shining over a fire beat, while I preferred Frisco’s verse on “Good Times”. “Frisco” was a great song also, and Skepta’s freestyle on Westwood’s radio station, from way back in 2008 which is the final track of the tape, offers much perspective – Skepta is still just as hungry as back then, slewing the mic with ease.

I continued to remain conflicted and let down. But it began to make more sense to me – Skeppy was in New York earlier this week handing out the tape to passers by. Perhaps then, he is promoting the tape only  in the United States more generally, a country that, despite co-signs from Kanye West, Drake, ASAP Mob and Ratking to name a few, still might not yet be hip to the Microphone Champion.

It could be that he is limiting the mixtape’s exposure strictly to the States as a way to generate a new fanbase, knowing full well that his supporters back in this country will have already heard the majority of tracks on the tape. Whether its a smart marketing tactic or not, it can’t help but leave me wanting more.

Perhaps I expected too much – Skepta never really suggested that the mixtape would be full of brand new material. Maybe I just assumed it would do but, with every listen, you start to get the celebratory feel that this tape represents – an acknowledgement of the grime OG’s journey since about 2012, in which he has done his damn thing, how he wanted and when he wanted, gaining big friends in the process. He has stayed true to himself and his crew and the organic transition to an international star is the fruit of his labour.

I’ve now come to accept the mixtape for what it is and it was a happy musical reminder of the strides Skepta has taken over the past couple of years, strides he has taken on his own terms. It makes the wait for Konnichiwa all the more impatient….but the tape will have to hold me over until then.

Back To Football…..And Liverpool’s Struggle


It was just too good to be true. It was almost going too well for Liverpool after the first three games of the Premier League season. Two wins and a draw had Brendan Rodgers’ side lying in the top four, three points ahead of champions Chelsea and coming off an impressive 0-0 draw away at Arsenal.

The visit of West Ham, who had lost to Bournemouth in their last league outing, seemed to many a Reds fan a straightforward home victory and an elevation to double figures in the team’s points tally. It was anything but.

​Watching Liverpool crash to a 3-0 home defeat nearly a fortnight ago was like a bad dream, with constant horror following you, reaching unbearable levels until you wake up. The final whistle symbolised the wake up and the nightmare was the Reds’ incredibly poor performance.

Not since the 6-1 drubbing by Stoke on the final day of last season has Rodgers’ side looked so out of its depth, out of ideas, outthought and outplayed by an inconsistent Hammers side, that got its tactics 100% correct on the day .

Liverpool played right into West Ham’s hand, with predictable advances further up the field that were suppressed by the away side’s on-song defence. With a narrow 4-3-3 formation that limited the home side’s tendency to play the ball into goal, West Ham went on to blitz Rodgers’ defence with exceptional counter-attacking football.

It was a result which brought Liverpool’s impressive start to the campaign to an abrupt end – after scoring wins over Stoke and Bournemouth and the draw at the Emirates, it immediately brought back huge question marks over particular players and tactics.

Defensively, Liverpool were a shambles, with centre-backs Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren both at fault for two of West Ham’s goals. After watching him attempt to play the ball out from defence rather than clearing it only to be robbed of the ball by Ezequiel Lanzini on the byline, it became clear that Lovren should not be playing week in week out. Or anywhere near the substitutes’ bench. Or even the matchday squad.

Further up the pitch, Phillippe Coutinho was sent off harshly and with that, the Reds lost its prime creative attacking outlet, with summer signing Roberto Firmino struggling to impress out wide and Christian Benteke looking like the loneliest man on the pitch – service to him was virtually nil.


Hopefully it was just a bad day in the office for the team but with eternal rivals Manchester United our next opponents, the need to get back to winning ways is sky high. Simply to arrest any potential dip in form and to firmly shift away from the disappointments of last season (a dodgy defence, a biteless attack and general disarray), before they rear their ugly head again.

Rodgers hit the nail firmly on the head in the aftermath of defeat that Liverpool were not creative enough and didn’t defend well against West Ham. This must be addressed when we visit Old Trafford on Saturday.

It still is the most anticipated game of the season when the North West giants collide, and one which never fails to disappoint. Since Sir Alex Ferguson’s 1986 pledge to “knock Liverpool off its perch” the match-up has become synonymous with the league itself, with United winning countless league titles since then and Liverpool still waiting on that first league triumph since 1990.

The encounter has also produced some of the best matches in Premier League history and, despite both teams somewhat falling from grace over the years, the fixture’s importance has not diminished.

I can still remember watching my first Liverpool-United encounter in December 1995 where we coasted to a 2-0 victory at Anfield thanks to a brace from Robbie Fowler. Going through the years, the Reds’ league double in 2000-2001, the monumental 4-1 triumph at Old Trafford in 2009 and Dirk Kuyt’s match-winning hat-trick two years later stick out as memories that will stay with Liverpool fans forever.

While results of that level of brilliance probably won’t manifest on Sunday, Liverpool need to start winning against the league’s giants – something they did just once last year – in order to establish themselves further as top four contenders.

It would be the perfect remedy to such an abysmal result last time out, but one which will be difficult given Coutinho’s suspension and our consistently worrying defence. But the Reds will be up to the contest given the importance of the fixture and a victory at Old Trafford, in addition to a good performance, would easily vanquish the nightmare of a fortnight ago.


Loyle Carner Is One Of The Best UK MCs Out Right Now



UK rap has never, for me, really been much to shout about. It has had its moments of pure musical magic (from the likes of Roots Manuva, The Streets and Skinnyman) to being warped into the pop realm, thanks to Dizzee Rascal, Tinchy Stryder and Tinie Tempah, just to name a few.

Despite some artists’ best efforts, the UK scene remains somewhat embryonic, yet to take that big leap to the country’s consciousness like its counterpart in the United States. But recently there have been a slew of young, conscious and hungry rappers who have turned heads with their compelling lyrics and production.

The steadily growing list includes Rejjie Snow, Little Simz (who’s making waves in the States right now), Jesse James, Isaac Danquah and Jay Prince as a collective of artists slowing gaining attention.

In this category also lies a young man by the name of Loyle Carner, who stands amongst his peers as a lyrical wordsmith. This is a dude who has clearly studied American rap and the grime scene, but is musically more aligned with the former in his rapping style and the beats he spits over.


I first got into him after seeing him selected by Complex as one of 12 British MCs to look out for this year, which brought me to his latest EP, A Little Late, released in September last year. I loved the EP for the laid back, boom-bap style of production provided by Rebel Kleff, and Carner’s relaxed tone and deeply personal lyrics that complimented the beats incredibly well.

Some may say that such a strategy is a risk, as the 20-year-old’s intense lyrics may put off the listener who might have expected something lighter considering the production. But the tactic succeeds in getting the South London MC’s messages across in a convincing manner, with an incredible flow that fits seamlessly into every song.

Family is at the forefront of his raps, as he eloquently and intricately professes his undying love for his rock, his mother, throughout the five-track project and mourning the loss of his step-father in standout track “Cantona”, a song that any rapper should be proud to have in his catalogue. Its one of the best lyrical performances on record that I’ve heard this year, delivered with a passion that I have come to love about Carner.

His latest musical offerings have only served to heighten my fandom. ‘Tierney Terrace’ essentially carries on from A Little Late in production and content, with a great video which takes the viewer around his house, to add visuals to this family-centric track, in which Loyle continues to mourn his step-father’s death, and suddenly being thrusted to the position as the man of the house. It is unapologetically deep hip-hop that, quite frankly, isn’t for the light-hearted or those expecting a party, but those who have been through and can understand the same struggle.

Then there’s the beautiful “Florence“, featuring Kwes, an ode to Loyle’s sister with a hard as hell opening line; “She could be my freckled-face fidgeter, me but miniature”. He is in his element once again with this one and it shows a softer side to Loyle Carner and a diversity in his lyricism. And for more variety in his content, check out his Soundcloud page for tracks like “When Will I Stop Dreaming”, “Guts” with Kate Tempest and “Baby Grey”

Loyle is still a young man, in the early stages of his burgeoning career, with an abundance to explore musically, lyrically and in his life more generally but its already evident that there is a wise head on his shoulders and an exceptional talent in the UK right now in the boy from South London.

I Need Another Album From…..Madvillain


Its now been a good 11 years since one of the greatest hip-hop albums this century was released, the product of the dynamic relationship between two of the genre’s most obscure figures. MF DOOM and Madlib combined to create the highly exalted Madvillainy in 2004, an album that was so different from anything that was out at the time, with DOOM’s mysterious yet clever lyrics gelling with the Beat Konducta’s unconventional and psychedelic production, with sampled cartoon skits to offer comic relief inbetween.

I first listened to the album at the age of 16, when I was beginning to shift away from the rap my older siblings banged around the house (the Jay-Z’s, Biggie’s, Ludacris’ etc.) to projects outside of the perceived rap mainstream. Many of DOOM’s messages went over my head at the first listen, however. It was only after having the album on constant repeat, that I began to grasp Metal Fingers’ bars and his many intricacies and oddities that make him such a unique figure in hip-hop.

Meanwhile Madlib, through this album and his work as Quasimoto, with the Lootpack and his incredibly dense production discography, firmly established himself as my favourite producer of all time with genius beats which suited DOOM incredibly and demonstrated to me the boundaries to which hip-hop could be taken (I mean, come on, who else could make “Accordion”, “America’s Most Blunted” and Rhinestone Cowboy”?!)

I’ve been a full-on stan of the duo since then and every year I find myself praying to the most high for some new work. Madlib has said in countless interviews when asked the inevitable question of the duo’s developments, that it is entirely up to DOOM for when another collaborative album sees the light of day.


But for whatever reason DOOM hasn’t seemed to be on the same page as the producer, instead fitting in collabs with Danger Mouse, Jneiro Jarel and Bishop Nehru (just last year) in the same time span as the fans continue to persevere for that new Madvillain.

And I’m not even going to count Madlib’s remix of the entire album in 2008 which, while good in some places, just wasn’t what I wanted. There were snippets of the continuation Madlib suggested would be the theme for the next project with “Avalanche” and “Papermill“, two solid post-Madvillainy songs which showed that the dynamic between MC and producer was still strong and whetted the appetite for more output.

So imagine my excitement when, last year, a leaked email from DOOM to Stones Throw Records label head Peanut Butter Wolf revealed he had more or less completed recording for the new project, only for the email to be revealed as an April Fools’ prank (the levels of cruelness are so high for this one).

Then, back in July this year, two new Madvillain tracks surfaced online, but were almost immediately taken down. Both “Untitled” featuring long-time Madlib collaborator MED and “Travis 911” only served the same purpose – one-off songs to generate excitement that would then be snatched away.

At this point, I’m getting restless. DOOM and Madlib (but especially DOOM) simply need to reconvene and finish the next album. But if even Madlib is in the dark about DOOM’s progress, as he has explained before, then there’s really no telling how much work the supervillain is actually putting in, or when we’ll see the new project. At the end of the day if DOOM has enough time to work with other artists, surely he has enough time to finish the project that his fans are most impatient for?

I’ve definitely enjoyed both artists’ post-Madvillainy albums, particularly Pinata, Madlib’s collab with Freddie Gibbs last year, and DOOM’s NehruvianDOOM with Bishop Nehru also, but the duo of Madvillain is the creme-de-la-creme of both of their collaborative endeavours, and they must know that.

Their musical relationship is so identical and the fact that Madvillainy remains as fresh sounding today as it did 11 years ago is a testament to its genius and originality. Now, for Madvillain to build on that and f*ck the game up again with another classic, as they did in 2004, would be nothing short of a miracle.

Until then however, I’ll continue to pray every night.