The Bands Taking British Punk Back to Its Multicultural Roots

It’s a sunny Friday in June, and I’m struggling to make my way across a heaving room in Peckham’s DIY Space for London. I’m shoulder-to-shoulder with a bustling throng of people – a kaleidoscope of melanated shades – and the 20 steps it takes to reach a vantage point from which to see band the playing in the southeast London community centre’s main room feel like a thousand. Reader, I haven’t taken any mishmash of time-altering drugs. I just can’t make it more than a couple of paces at a time without being practically smacked in the face by everyone’s visible joy.

A woman thanks me for putting on the festival; another person says they’ve never felt comfortable in a punk space until now; someone else decides they wanted to see similar festivals happening across the UK. By the time I make it to watch Sacred Paws, guitarist Rachel Aggs is asking for “people of colour to come to the front” – a rejig of Kathleen Hanna’s Bikini Kill-era “girls to the front” demand. This is Decolonise Fest, and it’s the future of UK punk.

Read the full article at Noisey.

I don’t always get paid for my work, so if you’ve liked my pieces and want me to write more you can donate a couple pennies to keep me going in between paid work.

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Myth, the supernatural and black female storytelling in three 1990s classics

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Asked who the greatest storytellers in the world are, I’d be tempted to point in the direction of black women.

Why? Well we’re full of stories, passed down to us by our mothers and our mother’s mothers.

We can convey how we feel with a slight raise of an eyebrow. Our tongues tease around language to find the most delectable word or phrase. If a suitable word doesn’t exist, we’ll make one up, enriching the world around us with a new word to add to the lexicon.

Yes, we’re full of stories, yet we rarely hear black women’s stories in the media – and only very occasionally in the cinema.

Read the full article at BFI.

I don’t always get paid for my work, so if you’ve liked my pieces and want me to write more you can donate a couple pennies to keep me going in between paid work.

10 great documentaries about iconic musicians

Le Tigre sit on a kerb in front of a brick wall with bottles of water.

Lead singer in Bikini Kill, Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin, Kathleen Hanna was the central figure in riot grrrl, a feminist punk movement born in the US in the early 1990s. She’s also known for inspiring Kurt Cobain to write one of Nirvana’s most famous songs after spray painting “Kurt smells like teen spirit” on his apartment wall.

Travelling through Hanna’s life up to the present day, The Punk Singer shows Hanna struggling with her diagnosis of late-stage Lyme disease and the treatment she has to endure. While the film was made with Hanna’s fans in mind, treating them to unseen footage and candid interviews with contemporaries such as Kim Gordon and Lynn Breedlove, there’s an emotional honesty on display here that should prove affecting even to viewers with no understanding of Hanna’s work or influence. Sini Anderson’s film is a superb portrait of a once vibrant music icon looking back at her glory years with wonder.

Read the full article at BFI

I don’t always get paid for my work, so if you’ve liked my pieces and want me to write more you can donate a couple pennies to keep me going in between paid work.

Beyoncé vs Daughters of the Dust: How an American indie classic inspired Lemonade

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When director Julie Dash created the groundbreaking Daughters of the Dust (1991), a multigenerational tale of black women from the Gullah sea islands struggling to hold on to their culture, little did she know that 25 years later her work would be held up on the world stage thanks to one of the music industry’s most influential artists: Beyoncé.

The singer’s breathtakingly lush visual album, Lemonade (2016), tackled issues of black womanhood, southern traditions, race and female rage. Although Lemonade was the artist’s second visual album, it stands out as the first time the artist seems to have created music to soundtrack a standalone film. Given the subject matter and the detail paid to the cinematography, Dash’s film provided an obvious touchstone to inspire Beyoncé’s vision.

Read the full article at BFI.

I don’t always get paid for my work, so if you’ve liked my pieces and want me to write more you can donate a couple pennies to keep me going in between paid work.

Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson? Clearly it matters if you’re black or white

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When I first heard Joseph Fiennes, aka the nice looking lad from Shakespeare in Love, was going to be playing Michael Jackson, aka the most iconic black singer of all time, in Sky Arts new comedy anthology series Urban Myths, I knew there was absolutely no way this was going to work out well.

I didn’t know what the premise was going to be, the context or the story but I resigned myself to the reality that, this probably wasn’t going to be the onscreen depiction that Michael deserves.

My reaction aligned with numerous others when Fiennes’ casting as MJ was announced during the #oscarssowhite debate. Terrible timing but the Urban Myths team carried on.

The first trailer for Urban Myths was released this week and sadly we got to see how right we were about Fiennes. If you haven’t seen it yet, it is a cartoon-like depiction that could give you nightmares. It’s safe to say that Twitter reacted in the way that Twitter always does when something controversial happens; everyone had a laugh.

Read the full article at IBTimes.

I don’t always get paid for my work, so if you’ve liked my pieces and want me to write more you can donate a couple pennies to keep me going in between paid work.

In conversation with Trash Kit’s Rachel Aggs

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Very few people have made such an impact on DIY punk music as guitarist and singer Rachel Aggs. She came to most people’s attention in 2009 as part of punk trio Trash Kit. Their sound is complex, channelling experiment bands like The Raincoats and Marnie Stern with melodic harmonies and polyrhythmic drum beats. She went on to form the ultimate post-punk party band Shopping whilst also playing in the pop duo Sacred Paws.

Loved by music nerds, punks and pop fans alike, she’s an under appreciated staple on the DIY punk scene and as a musician her melodic guitar has become as recognisable as her sung-spoken vocals and tumultuous hair do that always covers her face ever so slightly. Her fame is slowly starting to rise though; Aggs was recently named by i newspaper as one of the unsung heroes of British indie music and has gone on tour after tour with Shopping, the hardest working band in punk.

Read the full article at Gal-Dem.

I don’t always get paid for writing so if you’ve liked my pieces and want me to write more you can donate a couple pennies to keep me going in between paid work.

Black outlook: why the marginalised need sci-fi more than ever

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The world changes, but our need to take a break from it doesn’t. From H.G. Wells’s scientific fantasies to the popularity of the Marvel franchise and The Hunger Games, sci-fi has always been a preferred mode of escapism.

The reasons are numerous. One theory, by the 19th-century sociologist Max Weber, is that the west is in a state of disenchantment because of our society’s focus on rationality and bureaucracy over mysticism and wonder. This suggests that many people are leading predictable, stable lives and need an injection of fear and magic that seems completely removed from their own experiences. Or at least they used to feel that way.

2016 has been a fearful year. We’ve seen natural disasters, endless wars, the normalisation of far-right politics and a rise in white supremacy. Sometimes, sci-fi no longer feels like escapist fantasy. After the year we’ve all experienced it feels like we’re at the beginning of a film about a group of plucky teenagers who band together to take down the tyrant terrorising their world.

Read the full article at BFI blog.

I don’t always get paid for my work, so if you’ve liked my pieces and want me to write more you can donate a couple pennies to keep me going in between paid work.

In conversation with Mangoseed

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My parents always used to say that there’s no song that wouldn’t sound better as a reggae song. Now that could have been their overwhelming sense of Jamaican importance (we always think we are the biggest island in the Caribbean) influencing their pride in reggae music but it’s hard to deny the brilliance of Jamaica’s most well-travelled genre. That’s why it’s always powerful to hear new bands who take the best elements of reggae and recreate it for today.

Mangoseed collect strains of roots music from around the world to create their multi-faceted south London sound. Formed in 2008, their gigs are always a stage show of well-coordinated moves, frantic guitars and steady, cautious bass lines. The band released their debut album Basquiat, a nod to American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, in 2014 and have high hopes for the future. gal-dem spoke to Mangoseed to find out more about the band and their original sound.

Read the full article at gal-dem.

I don’t always get paid for my work, so if you’ve liked my pieces and want me to write more you can donate a couple pennies to keep me going in between paid work.

Azealia Banks’s rage is understandable, but not when she’s using the rhetoric of white racists

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Shade is a hell of a drug. Once you take it you just can’t get enough.

The line between hilarity and pain is so fine it’s barely visible, but it’s there. That line got crossed once again yesterday when Azealia “the walking definition of the phrase ‘your faves are problematic'” Banks launched a vitriolic racist and homophobic attack on former One-Direction star Zayn Malik.

The Twitter rant was prompted by Azealia’s belief that Zayn copied her music video. When Zayn seemed to respond to her on Twitter stating, “I see you reaching but I don’t care” and “My @’s too good for you”, instead of Azealia replying with a quick, catty comeback, all hell broke loose.

Read the full article at IBTimes

I don’t always get paid for my work, so if you’ve liked my pieces and want me to write more you can donate a couple pennies to keep me going in between paid work.

How Casting A Black Hermione Challenges Storytelling

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Waking up on Monday to a feed full of tweets about a black Hermione Granger, my first thoughts were that maybe some Potter fan boys and girls had taken over Twitter. On second glance, I realized it was all true: There is a black women in a prominent role in a fantasy drama that was previously portrayed by a white actor.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a new play that focuses on Harry and the gang years after Hogwarts. When the play opens at London’s Palace Theatre in July 2016, Hermione will be played by the astounding Noma Dumezweni, a 45-year-old Swaziland-born actress.

The announcement of Dumezweni as Hermione is, of course, a double-edged sword. The movement to widen the film and drama industry’s concept of diversity and represent the world as we see it has taken one step forward—but the fact that we’re celebrating shows how far we have to go.

Read the full article at Newsweek.

I don’t always get paid for my work, so if you’ve liked my pieces and want me to write more you can donate a couple pennies to keep me going in between paid work.

Review | Dark & Lovely at Ovalhouse Theatre

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“Hair is just hair.”

Leeds-based artist Selina Thompson opened the London leg of her new interactive performance piece Dark & Lovely with this stark revelation. Dark & Lovely examines what it means to be a Black British woman and how the politics of hair have a part to play in our identity.

Standing outside a giant ‘tumbleweave’ home, built from abandoned weaves and leftover hair extensions, Thompson beams and smiles in a shoulder length weave and a silk dressing gown. She welcomes the audience to come closer to her as she hands out rum punch and repeats, “Hair is just hair”; that dismissive phrase black women hear so often from others. You see hair is never just hair for black women, and Thompson knows this all too well. She details the times in her life when friends joked about her hair, made her feel lesser, cheapened or not worthy. Black women’s hair is never just hair.

Read the full review of Dark & Lovely, a new play showing at Ovalhouse theatre, at Media Diversified

I don’t always get paid for my work, so if you’ve liked my pieces and want me to write more you can donate a couple pennies to keep me going in between paid work.

BBC Local Radio Interview


I was interviewed on several BBC local radio stations on Sunday 27 September to discuss Viola Davis’ Emmy win, lack of roles for black women in TV and my Media Diversified article arguing why Empire’s Cookie Lyon is one of the greatest black characters on TV.

You can listen online here. The interview starts at 1:20.

I don’t always get paid for my work, so if you’ve liked my pieces and want me to write more you can donate a couple pennies to keep me going in between paid work.