The weekend after Thanksgiving in the States, Saweetie is in an LA studio taking inventory of the backdrop for her Clash photoshoot.

“I think it’s really interesting how people build backdrops,” she notes. “You can’t even tell from the photos the environment you’re in.”

Prior to her shoot, Saweetie spent Thanksgiving at her grandmother’s house – the woman responsible for her moniker, as she called her “Saweetie” as a child. The name followed her to MySpace and now sublime rap stardom. “My grandma likes reading stuff about me, so when I tell the story of how I got my name she gets so excited.”

It was just around a year ago when Saweetie quietly dropped her aspirational ‘ICY GRL’ as part of her now-infamous car freestyles on Instagram. The clip was flipped over fellow rapper Khia’s ‘My Neck, My Back’ beat and eventually turned into Saweetie’s sleeper hit, unbeknownst to everyone. Especially herself.

“I loved the [Khia] beat a lot,” she explains, “so I kept playing it on loop in my car and was trying to figure out the flow. Then “can’t stop, won’t stop” just kind of flowed out of my mouth.”

Initially, she penned that little ditty to be self-motivational during a time in her life when she really needed it. “It definitely was a pep talk,” she adds, it ultimately becoming one for her new legion of fans.

The 25-year-old Bay Area vixen has had a whirlwind 2018 following that moment. Her critically acclaimed debut EP ‘High Maintenance’ arrived in the spring, led still by the charge of the infectious ‘ICY GRL’.

The Kehlani-assisted ‘Bae Mix’ fanned the single’s flames this past year, as Saweetie found herself collaborating with other big names like Quavo on his ‘Quavo Huncho’ track ‘Give It To Em’, Dua Lipa on the ‘IDGAF’ remix, David Guetta on ‘I’m That Bitch’, and ‘Up Now’ with fellow Bay Area rapper G-Eazy and London On Da Track. Those are just a few of the Ws Saweetie has racked up on her rise to the top, and she’s really just getting started.

“I think a lot of foundation was laid and a lot of hard work,” Saweetie says of her past year. “When you’re trying to grow and break as an artist, you have to meet the press and the radio stations and have all these conversations. This year was definitely a lot of groundwork for me.”

Saweetie got started writing raps at the age of 14, though it took her a considerable amount of time to hone her craft. “I didn’t always sound like this,” she laughs. “I sounded like I was just trying to memorise my raps, and that was it.”

With limited studio access, she finally landed a solid place to record two years ago, and is where she truly found her voice. “I was able to figure out what tone to use and what sounded good,” she explains.

A graduate of California’s USC with a major in Communications and a concentration in Business (plus a 3.6 GPA and full scholarship), Saweetie came out of the gate armed with an understanding of the wild world known as the music industry. It also helped her interacting with all different personalities. “Communications gave me the confidence to communicate with people and hold a conversation,” she says. 

Following her Clash shoot in LA, she was New York City bound in anticipation of the single ‘Pissed’, off her upcoming project. “I’m excited but kind of nervous,” she reveals. “‘ICY GRL’ set such a high standard for me, and I’m very thankful for the notoriety I gained from it. It put me up there, but now I’ve gotta come with it.”

The track is a chin check to the good ol’ social media commenters who offer their hot takes just for some lowbrow recognition. “So basically we have access to all of these comments, and I have to say a lot of my comments are good, but there are these people who come into your page @ing you and they like talking shit.”

She pauses and then continues: “I notice these things. I don’t respond to them, so they don’t think I notice but it gets me upset. We’re humans too, so I’ve gotta get a lot of stuff off my chest. That’s what ‘Pissed’ is about; it’s about me talking about people coming at me for no reason. And it’s like, why y’all pissed?”

Initially, her follow-up was slated for a November 2018 release, but Saweetie is taking her time, releasing a handful of singles before letting the full project loose.

“The songs that we have are really good and the project can use more songs like that because I’m growing every day,” she expresses. “I didn’t want to rush into it.” Working with the legendary likes of Timbaland thus far (who she describes as a “magic machine”), she’s hoping to continue to “work with dope people” to build upon her next work.

Saweetie has the luxury of time, though, considering she’s managed to solidify her brand in less than a year’s time and, like her introduction said, she can’t and won’t stop.

“I feel like what separates me [from other artists] is just me being me. I’m not trying to sound like anybody else and I feel like I’ve worked in solitude just to ensure that my sound is my sound,” she says. “I feel like I definitely put in a lot work, but still have a lot of room for improvement. I’m excited to see what I sound like next year because I learn really quick, so I’m just excited to see the growth that’s to come.”

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Words: Kathy Iandoli

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Sky News is reporting that music and video chain HMV could be on the verge of administration for a second time.

The firm was put into administration in the opening weeks of 2013, prompting a major re-think on the way it approaches retail.

A smaller, seemingly more robust operation, HMV recently overtook Amazon for online sales of physical music.

Sadly, it seems that these achievements could mask wider fissures within the company.

Sky News now reports that HMV "is on the brink of collapsing" and administration could follow.

Some 2200 jobs could be at risk if this was to occur – HMV have not commented publicly on the news.

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This has been a pretty big year for UK jazz, and one of its pivotal figures is Moses Boyd, who’s had an equally momentous 12 months.  

The South London percussionist – making jazz through a contemporary lens, coming at his work via grime, UKG and Afrobeat – has been busy to say the least. He released ‘Displaced Diaspora’, a full length project under his own name that has been nominated for Jazz Album Of The Year at the 2019 Worldwide Awards, featured on the seminal ‘We Out Here’ UK jazz compilation from Brownswood, contributed to the Mercury Prize-shortlisted Sons of Kemet LP ‘Your Queen Is a Reptile’ and played SXSW, as well as landing a Radio 1Xtra residency.

Just last month he collaborated with DJ Lag on the first music video from Lag’s 2018 ‘Stampit’ EP, which demonstrated Boyd’s skill and versatility but also the multiple genres he draws from: the high energy ‘Drumming’ has Gqom coursing through its veins – a broken-down, stripped-back South African house genre, taking its name from the Zulu word for meaning “hit” or “drum”.

We caught up with Moses Boyd to get his take on 2018, as well as a few things to look forward to in the next 12 months…

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Can you sum up your 2018 in three words?

We give thanks!

What was your own highlight of the year and why?

I’d say doing a drum workshop with uncle Tony Allen [Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer and drummer for Fela Kuti and The Good, The Bad And The Queen] is still my highlight.

I’ve spent years listening to his drum patterns, so to have him sat opposite me, breaking it all down was incredible. Records are one thing but seeing it first hand was unique. He’s a great guy, I see him fairly regularly on the road – and I always try and catch him in London if he's playing.

How did it feel to get the Radio 1Xtra residency?

It felt surreal to be honest. It’s something I didn't really plan or have in my sights to pursue, but I see it as an amazing opportunity not just for me but for a whole spectrum of music and artists that may not get the look they deserve.

It’s given me the chance to really highlight musicality and present it in a unique way to the masses.

What were the biggest moments in UK music in 2018?

I think Field Day festival this year was an incredible sign of how far the jazz scene has crossed over to so many different types of music lovers.

But I think generally across all genres the UK has been really present on the festival and touring scene – it’s great to see us in a space that’s been so heavily dominated by the USA for a long time, and hold our own.

Who were your top three UK artists of the year?

Nao, because she consistently delivers some of the best music out there. Her album ‘Saturn’ is something I've been listening to a lot – the production, songwriting and musicianship is amazing. 

Ghetts, because the consistency of his vision is so strong. His last album was incredible, and his live shows are amazing. You can see he's a man that puts the music first.

Ezra Collective – selling out KOKO months ahead, getting a playlist on BBC 1Xtra, a track with Jorja Smith…we just have to put some respect on them brothers. 

They're smashing it.

And top three UK albums?

Mansur Brown’s ‘Shiroi’, Tirzah’s ‘Devotion’, and Sarathy Korwar – ‘My East is Your West’.

We’ve heard you’ll be dropping a new album in 2019. Amazing! Can you tell us about it?

It’s a lot more relevant to where I am now sonically, and artistically. I feel I've best achieved one of my goals of fusing improvised acoustic music and electronics.

I've also been more focused on writing songs – in the sense of trying to achieve the same satisfaction I get when I hear a Motown production. Whether there’s improv or not, and how does the song feel as a whole – I’ve been really into exploring that with this release.

What are you looking forward to most in 2019?

I’m looking forward to making more sounds with more people. I feel I've achieved more than I set out to do already and I’m grateful, but for me now it’s about looking above and below, reaching out to artists to make things happen where I feel I can be of help.

I’m hearing so much good stuff from all the younger musicians I’m around, so I’m excited to see where they’re gonna go and what shockwaves they’re sending out to the world, as well as older artist – we often put the youth first and don't celebrate or support our elders enough too. I’m trying to help bridge some intergenerational gaps with a few projects I’m working on.

Ultimately, I’m trying to connect more good people together so that art and culture continues to flourish.

And what should Moses Boyd fans be looking forward to in 2019?

Whatever I do I put my all into it – there are all sorts of good things coming. things I’m really happy about.

So as long as people are open to what I’m trying to do, they can look forward to some interesting sounds.

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It's been quite the year for Cardi B.

Notching up a Billboard No. 1 single and releasing her debut album, the rapper lit up 2018.

It's little wonder, then, that the NFL were eager to gain her involvement at next year's Superbowl.

Maroon 5 will lead the Half-Time Show, and Cardi B was initially lined up to guest following an appearance on the group's recent single.

Speculation held that Cardi B was demanding a colossal fee and her own spot, but it seems that the answer is a little simpler, and more provocative.

A representative from Cardi B's team told Page Six: "The rumour circulating that she wants a million dollars and she wants her own set is false. There was never a firm offer to begin with for a performance. There [were] talks about it, but she was not particularly interested in participating because of how she feels about Colin Kaepernick and the whole movement".

#They continued: "But again, there was never a solid offer for her to say yes or no to regarding the Super Bowl."

Photo Credit: Ashley Verse

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Peter Hook is set to auction off an array of Joy Division mementos next year.

The bass player spoke to Rolling Stone recently, and revealed he will be selling off a huge range of memorabilia.

The items date back to the very beginning of the band, and will include the ticket stub for the fabled Manchester Free Trade Hall show by the Sex Pistols at which various band members first met.

Other items include a replica of the Vox teardrop guitar played by Ian Curtis in the video for 'Love Will Tear Us Apart', a signed copy of the 'An Ideal For Living' EP, and more.

Speaking to Rolling Stone magazine Peter Hook said: “We all wanted to succeed and we worked so hard against all the odds and these items document that journey and that struggle”.

He continued: “And it hasn’t got a happy ending, which makes it more poignant.”

A full list goes online from January 21st, while a hard copy is available to order online.

The full auction takes place on March 2nd.

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Noname is set to release a new track on New Year's Day.

The devoutly independent rap force released her debut album (proper) 'Room 25' a few months ago, and it earned a high placing in our Album Of The Year countdown.

Since then the creativity has yet to stop, with Noname continually working on fresh material.

Something new will ring in the New Year, it seems, with a new song set to land on January 1st.

Keep 'em peeled!

Photo Credit: Vicky Grout

Related: A Balancing Act – Noname Interviewed

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U2 pairing Bono and The Edge played a special set in Dublin on Christmas Eve for a homeless charity.

The Simon Community host an annual busking session at Dublin's Gaiety theatre, and the event gathers some top names.

Glen Hansard, Damien Rice, Imelda May, and many more joined forces, with U2's star turn perhaps being the headline-grabber. #

Bono and The Edge played an acoustic set, including a flurry of songs from their new album.

Performing a pair of carols, the duo also joined forces with some guests to play Darrell Love's classic 'Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)'.

Watch a snippet of U2's set below.

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King Midas Sound have shared a Christmas gift – 80 seconds of new music.

The collective have been largely silent since 2015, but appear to be stirring back into life.

Kevin Martin, singer/poet Roger Robinson, and vocalist Kiki Hitomi line up to form the group, with King Midas Sound sharing a snippet of new material.

Seemingly recorded at Cosmo Rhythmatic, it's short – little more than one minute – but it's a fascinating glimpse of what could lie ahead.

Tune in now.

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Jme is one of grime's pivotal figures.

One of the real architects behind Boy Better Know, his album 'Integrity' is perhaps one of the best British albums of the past decade.

Yet 2018 seemed to be something of a low-key year for the London artist. Springing into action on Christmas Day, Jme made a stellar guest appearance on Logan Sama's Grime Show.

A bumper festive edition, the DJ roped in sets from Manga, K9, Discarda, and many more, but Jme was undoubtedly top of the bill.

An extremely rare radio set, it gave a few pointers as to where the rapper might go next, and reminded us all that he remains one of the most naturally gifted figures in grime.

Tune in now.

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Saba’s hands move adeptly across a PlayStation controller, as basketball players glide up and down a simulated court. He’s lobbing quips at his brother Joseph Chilliams, whom he’s playing in NBA 2K19, while producer DaeDae works at the computer, the newest Jumanji movie muted in the background. It’s just another Tuesday night in their new recording studio, tucked away in Chicago’s West Town neighbourhood. 

“It feels like some 8 Mile shit,” Saba says later, in the studio’s vocal booth. “It feels like we’re in a movie or something.”

This has certainly been a banner year for the Chicago rapper: in November, in support of his most recent offering ‘Care For Me’ – a project lauded by many as album of the year – Saba embarked on his first tour of Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea, and in 2019, he’s headed on another European tour.

But he didn’t leave Chicago without honouring his cousin and fellow Pivot Gang member, John Walt, who was stabbed to death in February 2017. On 24th November, Pivot threw the second annual John Walt Day, a sold-out benefit concert held on Walt’s birthday, with proceeds going directly to the John Walt Foundation.

The nonprofit – helmed by Saba and Walt’s mother, Nachelle Pugh – provides money, mentoring, and other support to young Chicago artists, selecting a handful of fellows each year and awarding them with $1,000 grants towards further pursuing their careers.

“As a person who has always been like a product of similar foundations and open mics, I understand the importance of feeling like other people care,” Saba says. “I wanted to do my best to try to get involved in the city in different ways and more ways than just music. The foundation is our way of giving back. It’s unfortunate that it started from a place of tragedy, because this is a thing that we wanted to do regardless.”

‘Care For Me’ is underpinned by that tragedy. Over the course of 10 songs, the 24-year-old uses the project as a means to celebrate the life of, and mourn the loss of Walt. Though his passing pulled the six core members – Saba, Chilliams, MFn Melo, Squeak, DaeDae, and Frsh Waters – even closer together, a resounding solitude still echoes throughout ‘Care For Me.’ Saba mourned alone.

“I spent my whole year trying to place myself in front of people, put myself in rooms with people, and I was trying to avoid being alone,” Saba says. “One day I got invited to [an event] that Melo was supposed to go with me to, and he wasn’t able to go. I was about to hit up Walt to go, and it was like a crazy feeling. I broke down after that and I was alone so I didn’t really have anywhere to go – I had to just face it.”

‘Care For Me’ becomes an exploration of solitude, the inescapability of that feeling, even when surrounded by family and friends. It’s an idea Saba cuts to straight away, on the contemplative opening track ‘Busy / Sirens’: “I'm so alone, but all of my friends / But all of my friends got some shit to do.”

What becomes the album’s through line is a sense of care – how to care for oneself, how to care for others – in the face of mortality. On the self-referential ‘Calligraphy’, he chooses another meditative moment to clarify why he raps, while on ‘Life’ a panicked Saba considers the hardships that have scored his life, including his mother’s struggles, and the death of his uncle, grandfather, and Walt.

Even with the standout song ‘Prom / King’, a vulnerable, seven-minute account of Saba and Walt’s relationship, and Walt’s death, Saba sees a break in the clouds. A sense of promise pervades the religiously-tinged closing cut ‘Heaven All Around Me’, where it seems as if Saba raps from the perspective of Walt, as he’s being released into Heaven. That hope has since resonated within Saba’s life.

“I think the grieving has changed into like more of a reflection,” he explains. “[Pivot has] come so far and so much closer together. It’s kind of like all of our eggs are in this basket, and right now we’re just riding it and pushing.”

“I think that’s one of the interesting things with Walt passing, cos now it’s like a voice in the back of your head – when you’re not working, telling you to be working,” Saba says. “It still doesn’t really feel like Walt passed, which I’m sure is crazy to say out loud. But it doesn’t really feel like Walt passed. So it’s a little easier for me to just go to the studio and keep making music.”

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Words: Tara Mahadevan

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