As part of the 2018 Queen's New Years Honours list, Wiley has been granted a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

The Bow MC and producer has been recognised for his outstanding contributions to music, helping bring grime to the forefront of British music through a career that has spanned two decades.

Wiley said: "I’m honoured to be receiving an MBE. It feels like the school grade I wanted and didn’t get but now I’m finally there. I would like to thank my mother and father plus all family members and friends for being there for me when I needed them."

The award rounds off a banner year for the grime veteran, who released his autobiography, Eskiboy, earlier this year.

'Godfather II', Wiley's twelfth studio album to date, will be released on March 3rd 2018, the same day he headlines the O2 Brixton Academy.

Many people are hailed as great songwriters, as poets weaving beautiful words together with their own compositions. But in the pantheon of singer-songwriters, Leonard Cohen is an unmatchable presence, a shooting star untouchable to anyone else that dare put words to music. The likes of Bob Dylan, Nick Drake and Joni Mitchell are often held up as the era’s greatest songwriters, but for this writer Cohen exists on a pedestal towering far above the rest.

Tragically taken away from us last year, the Canadian wordsmith birthed one of his greatest albums, the rasping pop noir 'You Want It Darker' in the months before his death. Whilst this immortal document was rightly one of the most celebrated records of the year, it is now we celebrate the immortal debut album Songs of Leonard Cohen, which turns 50 at the end of the month.

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His 10 first studio songs, spanning two sides of vinyl, remains one of the poet’s greatest works. A collection that contains songs that remain his best loved, 'Songs Of Leonard Cohen' offers some of his most intimate and articulate meditations on relationships. A lot has been made of Cohen’s erotic despair, the way in which the wordsmith sounds sexy even when he is in a state of the utmost resignation. From the tender melancholia of 'Suzanne’s escalating verses to the dreamlike intensity of his lyrical anguish on 'Teachers', the way in which he rattles off his quatrains sounds intimate the whole duration.

Perhaps when people think of the lyrics of Leonard Cohen, the first thing that springs to mind is the poetic way in which he documents his plentiful romances. On his first record, the tales which he weaves together intertwine realism and metaphor, his vivid descriptions and frank lyrics able to conjure up the most graphic and stirring images whilst also detailing more profound meditations.

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Most poignantly this comes on Side 2 Track 1, 'So Long, Marianne'. His muse for this was Marianne Ihlen, a Norwegian woman he met on the Greek island of Hydra. Cohen and Marianne were together for seven of the years that preceded the release of 'Songs Of Leonard Cohen', with this track being the most evocative and beautiful of breakup songs.

“I used to think I was some kind of gypsy boy, before I let you take me home”, Cohen sings, of how he was a quote-unquote free spirit before he met her. Leonard’s love of her is powerful, eternally heartfelt, and whilst the song is melodically beautiful, lyrics like “your letters all say you’re beside me now, so why do I feel so alone?” feel riddled with heartbreak.

Marianne Ihlen went on to remarry (“I see you’ve gone and changed your name again”), but remained a dear friend of Cohen until her death, early last year. An aged Cohen sent penned a letter that said “Well Marianne it's come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine”.

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Another woman who is preserved for all eternity on this album is Suzanne Verdal, who Cohen enjoyed the most enchanting of platonic friendships with around the time of writing. However, whilst Verdal’s hospitality and friendship is so vividly depicted in the first refrains – “and she gives you tea and oranges that come all the way from China” – the way in which Cohen meanders through the verses of this track yearn for something all the more spiritual.

Constantly juxtaposing and comparing the idea of blind love in romance and faith as he sings, “and you want to travel with her, and you want to travel blind”, making this eternally one of his best known songs.

But although women often crop up as objects of desire in Cohen’s lyrics, he is never leery, never misogynistic; indeed, you’ll struggle to find contemporaries that paint such human portraits of their subjects. 'Songs Of Leonard Cohen' may not have the weight of some of the succeeding albums, 'Songs Of Love And Hate' and 'New Skin For Old Ceremony' being particularly heavy entries, but it is on this record where Cohen positions himself most as a close friend bearing all.

Since his first impression upon the world of recorded music, the things Cohen achieved and produced were nothing short of brilliant. From the similarly tender 'Songs From A Room', to the militarised synth pop of 'I’m Your Man', right up to the curtain call of 'You Want It Darker', Cohen boasts arguably the greatest bodies of work of any so-called singer-songwriter; a great, a genius, and a master that perfected his trade oh so early on in his career.

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Words: Cal Cashin

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Jimmy Cliff, Jamaican reggae icon, shares his lessons on life and the many rivers he's crossed…

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DO WHAT COMES FROM THE HEART

The kind of music I make comes from the heart and it comes from my experiences. It’s about the things that I observe in real life, and I express that in my music. So there is a whole universe there. There’s so much to express – some of it is deeper than others.

I was always socially and politically conscious, so it was natural for me [to express it in music]. I never had fear of doing it, wondering what people would say if I said this or that. It was just something that I did, so there wasn’t much I had to be afraid of.

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FIND YOUR PURPOSE

Do everything single thing in life with purpose. It’s for each and every one of us to realise what is that purpose, and once you realise your purpose it’s kind of plain sailing after that.

My purpose is to do what I’m doing. Each artist has to find their way. What is my way? What comes most naturally to me? And songwriting was just one of the things that came naturally to me.

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SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE

Lots of my peers that came up the same way as me lost themselves to drugs. And it came as a surprise. It was hard to lose them. I was always a health conscious person.

People often don’t realise where the problem comes from. If you get in with the wrong kind of people – meaning, people on a different path than you – then it can make you more inclined to do the same thing.

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WELCOME EVERY CHALLENGE

Challenges are something that I welcome. Without challenges I really don’t see how I would last or sustain, so I always look for something to challenge me. But basically, I like to stay current – that’s a big challenge. To always stay current with what’s going on in music, in each genre, each generation.

So I listen a lot. I observe a lot. And that way I see all that’s going on. I try to hang out with different people, people I can learn from. 

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LOOK AFTER YOUR BODY

Oh, absolutely I do exercise. You have to do that; you have to take care of your body. Got to do the exercises, watch what I eat, how I sleep, my thoughts, all of these aspects of things. I have to exercise and it has become part of me – not just a lifestyle; it’s just as important as brushing my teeth when I wake up in the morning… that’s the same as exercising for me.

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PRACTISE MAKES PERFECT

I would say songwriting is something you always have to work on. You always have to work on music. I have music on all the time. I don’t do it just to keep sharp or to keep myself in tune with the music, it’s just something I love to do, and I keep doing that.

Beyond that I know that I need to practise as well, because I’ve found out that if I don’t practise I lose things. If I go to a rehearsal for a tour, for example, I want to be ready, even more than the musicians.

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New album ‘Somerton’ is due this winter.

Photo via.

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Ghostwriting is one of rap's original sins.

Sure, no one will admit it, but each and every one of your favourite rappers have done it – even Jay-Z.

Joey Bada$$ shared the original version of Post Malone's titanic hit 'Rockstar' a few moments ago, and revealed that he actually ghost-wrote the track.

There's more to come in 2018, seemingly, so get used to seeing Joey Bada$$ material at the top of the charts.

Playing a delicate balancing act, Joey Bada$$ also shared a new Kirk Knight collaboration…

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U2 frontman Bono has declared modern music to be too "girly".

Ultra-masculine Bono – no doubt fresh from the gym, and other manly activities – spoke to Rolling Stone recently, and mused on the gender inequality within music.

But wait! He's not about to discuss patriarchal systems or even the refusal to deal with ongoing abuse, he simply feels it's a bit "girly".

"I think music has gotten very girly," he said. "And there are some good things about that, but hip-hop is the only place for young male anger at the moment – and that's not good."

The frontman added that his son Elijah – who is also a man – believes "believes that a rock and roll revolution is around the corner", with Bono saying he agrees with him.

"When I was 16, I had a lot of anger in me," he revealed. "You need to find a place for it and for guitars, whether it is with a drum machine – I don't care."

"In the end, what is rock'n'roll? Rage is at the heart of it. Some great rock'n'roll tends to have that, which is why The Who were such a great band. Or Pearl Jam. Eddie has that rage."

Oh dear, Bono. Oh dear.

U2's new album 'Songs Of Experience' is out now – find the Clash review HERE.

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Legendary composer Steve Reich will release new album 'Pulse/Quartet' on February 2nd.

The release brings together two works, 'Quartet' (aired in 2013) and 'Pulse' (aired in 2015).

Out digitally on February 2nd via Nonesuch, a full vinyl edition follows on March 30th.

In a statement Steve Reich considers 'Pulse' to be a "contemplative piece". He explains:

"In 'Pulse' I felt the need to stay put harmonically and spin out smoother wind and string melodic lines in canon over a constant pulse in the electric bass and or piano. From time to time this constant pulse is accented differently through changing hand alternation patterns on the piano. All in all, a calmer more contemplative piece."

Check out short excerpt 'Quartet: III. Fast' below.

Related: This Is Not An Exercise – Steve Reich Interviewed

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Frightened Rabbit have shared new song 'No Real Life'.

The band end their 2017 on a high, with the recent release of 'Recorded Songs' introducing fans to three warm, brave new tracks.

New song 'No Real Life' underlines their continuing creative vitality, a sparse, wonderfully atmospheric return replete with subtle strings and a tender vocal from Scott Hutchison.

It's an emotional return, blessed with some of the band's most fragrantly poetic lyrics: "I see the light in the crack of the doorway…"

Inviting fans to donate to their chosen charity – Alzheimer's Scotland – it's a touching gesture for the festive period.

Tune in below.

Don't forget – Frightened Rabbit will be performing 'The Midnight Organ Fight' in full next year… grab your ticket HERE.

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Lorde has cancelled a show in Israel, it has been confirmed.

The singer was due to play Tel Aviv in June 2018, but the announcement was followed by criticism in some quarters.

The BDS movement calls for a cultural boycott of Israel, and activists made their displeasure of the move known.

Lorde has now cancelled the show, saying "I'm not too proud to say I didn't make the right call on this one".

Her statement ends: "I hope one day we call can dance".

Check out the statement below.

Lorde's current gig calendar includes two shows in Russia, sparking claims that her statement is hypocritical given that country's widely reported human rights abuses.

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Maroon 5 and Big Boi manager Jordan Feldstein has died.

Only 40 years old, his career had already brought numerous triumphs, working with some of America's biggest acts.

The manager's roster included Maroon 5, Big Boi, the B-52s and more, making him one of the most powerful figures in the American music industry.

Sadly passing away on Friday (December 22nd) Jordan Feldstein – brother of Jonah Hill – is believed to have suffered a heart attack.

A number of artists and organisations have paid their respects.

Photo via

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James Blake has shared a tender re-working of Don Mclean's classic 'Vincent'.

The songwriter broke cover a few moments ago, sharing a brand new video performance.

Alone at the piano, James Blake de-constructs Don Mclean's 'Vincent' for a deeply individual performance.

Opening with the line "Starry, starry night…" before intersecting with the life of legendary painter Vincent Van Gogh.

A tender, intimate performance, the tale of a tortured artist might not be seasonal but it's certainly a rare treated from the gifted vocalist.

Tune in below.

James Blake 'Vincent' from James Blake on Vimeo.

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