Another night of Hip Hop music in this city of Kingston is almost upon us! Often, I wish there were more spaces with such an energy, but its absence from the local scene is what makes events like Made You Look truly unique. Two weeks ago, we had to, unfortunately, postpone the first staging of this new series. It was quite disappointing, especially because it was supposed to mark our return to hosting events after two years of no Pay Attention. My father always used to tell me every disappointment is God's appointment. I used to dislike hearing this after losing a football or basketball match, but the saying has a lot of meaning and relevance.
A tiny detail in the history of Pay Attention that has never been documented, and was even forgotten by myself, is that its very first staging was intended to be March 17, 2012. On the day before, we were notified of a health inspection at the venue, which would result in the place being closed. The first Pay Attention was then held on April 21. I remembered this only because I still have one of the very first flyers. It's interesting how none of us remembered this postponement. I believe, moving forward with Made You Look, we will forget about the recent postponement. And I will go as far as saying that it was meant to be. That parallel at the start of both these series shows me we are on the right track and we are about to start something else that will be epic.
Pay Attention got its name because we wanted people to simply pay attention to the local Hip Hop scene. Also, we didn't charge admission at first, so all you had to pay... was attention. After approximately three years, we felt like we got people to do just that. And that's why now we are saying Made You Look! We said Pay Attention and we Made You Look.
I'm sure the Hip Hop heads will notice the title of the event is the same as a popular Nas song. That is, indeed, where we got the name. In fact, it was one of the options for the name of our December 2012 stageshow, The Takeover. We liked the name since then even though we had not used it, and our new partner, Nanook Enterprises, also loved it.
Interestingly, Nas' song samples Apache by Incredible Bongo Band. This is one of the most sampled songs in the history of Hip Hop and was one of the first break beats that DJ Kool Herc looped up at his parties. Given our movement's recognition and embrace of DJ Kool Herc because of his contribution to Hip Hop as a Jamaican, it makes perfect sense that our event is named off a now-classic single that flipped Apache.
I'm anticipating a great night at Made You Look. I hope to see our regular patrons and supporters and I look forward to sharing the highlights after.
Trabolee teams up forces with Five Steez over luxurious and lush production to champion for expansion of both the material and mental in a celebratory but also inspirational track. Tra and Steez welcome the listeners into their current vibrational plane, freely expressing their beliefs across the two verses as Bam! adds her well-timed harmonies on the bridge. Know Now is the theme music for resting in your own truth and progress, as creatively construed by the three artists, over a dope Swahililand flip by producer Edd.
The hook reverberates powerfully: "Let 'em Know Now, I can never slow down / I got the feeling and the vision is profound" as a sort of affirmation.
The song is also set to be a closer on Tra's upcoming album Preaching 2 Da Converted, set for the last quarter of 2017.
Depending on one’s cultural orientation, different locations may come to mind when one hears of ‘the promised land’. For Kingston, Jamaica’s Hip Hop collective, The Council, this place is its home, which it represents proudly on its latest release titled after the term.
Promised Land captures the totality of Jamaica, a nation regarded as a cultural super state because of its global impact despite its small size. The track shows both the country’s dark and light sides, from its streets to its beaches, all while highlighting some of its history and values.
The song is the fourth offering from The Council’s upcoming album, Nothing Else Matters, and features all four members of the crew – Inztinkz (also the group’s producer), Five Steez, The Sickest Drama (TSD) and Nomad Carlos – alongside J Militia, who croons soulfully on the hook.
This release follows previous singles, Valhalla Doctrine (featuring Tha God Fahim), The Final Countdown and Council Arts, all of which represent the tip of the iceberg of Nothing Else Matters, set to drop around summer.
The Council, as individuals and together, have been paving the way for the underground Hip Hop scene in Jamaica with consistent releases and events in their city, Kingston.
It has been two years since Kingston has seen a genuine Hip Hop event, the last being the party and showcase series Pay Attention, which went on hiatus after March 2015. Its organisers have now partnered with Nanook Enterprises to present another unique series, Made You Look, on Saturday, April 29 at The Haven, 12 Hillcrest Avenue.
Made You Look – set to mark the fifth anniversary of Pay Attention’s April 2012 genesis – will feature Hip Hop and R&B selections from Inztinkz, DJ Stamma and DJ Zanj. The event, to be hosted by The Sickest Drama (TSD), will also showcase live graffiti art and breakdancers from the Demolishun Crew. Admission is $500, and $300 with valid student ID. Gates open at 8PM.
TSD, the host and one of the organisers, says, "Everyone who has been following our movement knows we bring the essence of the Hip Hop culture.” He also adds, "A lot of parties in Jamaica feature a Hip Hop segment that is lacking for any real Hip Hop head. You hear the same past and current hits, sometimes in the same order at each event. As lovers of and practitioners in the culture, we can't settle for that and we seek to fill the void for our community and other like-minded people."
Joan Webley of Nanook says, "We're pleased to be working with the Pay Attention team, also known as The Council. This has been a long time coming and I'm happy that Nanook is a part of this local Hip Hop movement. This is also one of the first events that Nanook will be having outside of the space to which our supporters have grown accustomed."
Sponsors of Made You Look include local cable entertainment station, HYPE TV, the New-York-based ArkHouse Music Group and Gambling House Recording Studio.
Five Steez has released a new music video for his song, True School, from last year’s EP, HeatRockz. The visual – directed by Scotty Dreamkiller with assistance from Jay Mani – is a mini action-suspense thriller, featuring the rapper and female sidekick, Kemi, driving around, collecting mysterious packages.
The video brings to life the song’s anthem-like chorus, shouting out the people “in the streets / and all the fly women in they jeeps”. While the hook acknowledges the listeners, Five Steez’s verses challenge his so-called competition with clever bravado.
“We had fun doing this,” says Steez. “We took on some characters, but we were just being ourselves on camera. When you watch it, you’ll basically take a ride with us. But you will have more questions than answers at the end.”
This mini action-suspense thriller is the second music video from HeatRockz, with the first being for the EP’s opening track, Dirty Couch.
The 5-track HeatRockz is Five Steez’s most aggressive project to date and features 'true school' bangers that keep heads nodding. “It’s really me flexing my skill and making high-energy music," he says. The EP is available for free download at http://bit.ly/HeatRockz and is also on iTunes, Spotify and other digital outlets.
Five Steez is set to follow up HeatRockz with another body of work produced by Mordecai, but not before the release of Nothing Else Matters, the album by The Council, of which he is one fourth, alongside fellow MCs, Nomad Carlos, The Sickest Drama and Inztinkz.
Kingston, Jamaica’s MC super group, The Council, has unleashed a third single, titled Valhalla Doctrine, from its upcoming album, Nothing Else Matters. This time, the four-member crew connects with Atlanta-based Tha God Fahim on an ominous track produced by Inztinkz. In their usual fashion, all MCs display advanced, nuanced lyricism with their varying yet complementary styles.
Five Steez and The Sickest Drama (TSD) kick the song off with their own verses, followed by Steez with a hook, proclaiming him and his collaborators to be “gods of the mic”. Inztinkz, who produces all tracks for the group, delivers the third verse and is then joined by the guest, Tha God Fahim, who fits in perfectly at the table with The Council. After the second hook, Nomad Carlos closes the record, ending dramatically with his last line.
Working on the album in between their own solo projects, The Council first released the singles Council Arts in 2015 and The Final Countdown in 2016, followed by the surprise EP, Forgotten Parables. Nothing Else Matters is now complete and more singles are to come before the album release, which is yet to be announced.
The Council is a formation of some of the most revered rappers in Jamaica’s underground Hip Hop scene, all active for over a decade, staging Kingston’s premier Hip Hop event – Pay Attention – from 2012-2015 and, over the past three years, operating Gambling House Recording Studio, the local Mecca for the community. The crew is currently based in Kingston and New York, where Nomad Carlos resides.
"Be the change you want to see in the world."
This quote, often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, is excellent advice for all. As for artists or creatives, I believe it is important for each one to have a vision. One must know his or her direction and be guided by some philosophy. Many of us have ideas and emotions we want to share with others, however, sometimes, we are plagued by doubt, lack of resources and even basic infrastructure to execute some of our projects in the manner we envision them. Nevertheless, we must create. After all, it is what we do.
It can be frustrating as a lover of art – or in this case, more specifically, music – to experience monotony. In recent times, I have observed many who felt that way about the entertainment scene here in Kingston. Having grown tired of the typical party options, as well as some of today’s popular Dancehall, these people desired and flocked to alternative events and spaces.
This shift, I believe, is part of what gave rise to the ‘Reggae Revival’. And by this, I mean not so much the group of artistes we associate with the term, but the increase in live Reggae shows circa 2010 – 2013, followed by the spread of Dub events, which seem to have replaced the live shows. The Revival is a part, and is one of the first signs, of this shift, which is a deviation from the norm – Dancehall.
Another sign of this shift is the increased popularity of Soca among Kingston’s partygoers and the emergence of EDM events. I am neither predicting the demise of Dancehall nor do I want to see it, but there are clearly growing audiences of people attending events that may be new, unique or simply not the popular option. As an organiser of what has been Kingston’s most consistent Hip Hop event – Pay Attention, which ran from 2012-2015 – I know how hungry people are for a different experience and how satisfied they are when they discover it. I also saw it while playing my role in Manifesto Jamaica events during 2010-2011.
I never ever thought I would be a ‘promoter’. (That is why I always refer to myself as an ‘organiser’.) But it was Manifesto Jamaica that thrust me into that position and gave me the impetus to later start a Hip Hop event with my partners, since we wanted something like that to attend, as well as a platform to perform our music. The journey with Pay Attention has been incredibly fulfilling and it has taught me that if you build it, they will come. (Not saying you don’t have to ‘promote’ lol).
The Pay Attention team aka The Council (Photo by Yannick Reid)
In recent times, I have been pleased to attend other events that I would consider ‘different’, and most certainly, bold. In 2015, I had fun at Turn Up, a Trap and EDM party held by Innovo Entertaiment. I would love to see another. To me, it was very much a Hip Hop party, which is always welcome. Also, starting in that year was The Listening Party, a producer showcase series I am most excited about. The beatmakers featured on the three stagings so far have ranged from Hip Hop to EDM to Dancehall and I’ve enjoyed the event each time.
Another fresh series, New Wave, has a Making the Beat segment, which allowed the featured producers to not only play, but talk about their instrumentals. It also had an AUX cord segment in which anyone from the crowd could play a song they like. I found that interesting.
On Thursday nights, I like to pass through the live jam at Constant Spring Golf Club. It’s free, the bar has very reasonable prices (surprising for such an ‘uptown’ place), and sometimes, I want to hear some Rock, Blues etc. I wish the Poetry Society of Jamaica fellowship was every week, but whenever I am not in the studio on that last Tuesday of the month, I do my best to be there.
There are a quite a few alternative options for entertainment in Kingston once you keep your ears to the ground. Sometimes, I hear people – mostly those outside of my creative circles – complain that everything is the same. But they are the ones that think what radio plays is the only music out there and the events advertised are the only ones happening. I do not blame them for they know what they are exposed to. These are the people hungry for something different. So, build it, they will come.
I believe now is the time for any creative with a vision of something out of the ordinary to bring it to life. Let nothing stop you. You have something. And there are people out there that want it. You may have to go and find them. But at least build it, they will come.
Inztinkz of The Council / Pay Attention and Joan Webley at Nanook (Photo by Machel Witter)
Here are a few shots of The Council (minus Nomad Carlos) at UPNess: Nothing Else Matters on Tuesday, December 6. It was our first event from Pay Attention in a year and a half, and the energy was just right. We did things differently this time around by partnering with others and incorporating Afrobeat into the mix, as well as live painting and breakdancing. The event was also a part of the RJR Communications Group's Kingston Music Week. Towards the end of the night, we spoke to the people for a while and then let loose some of the tracks from our upcoming album, Nothing Else Matters. Photos by Machel Witter.
RJR’s Kingston Music Week will offer a unique, eclectic experience in the form of UPNess: Nothing Else Matters, a Hip Hop and Afrobeat party being staged by Nanook, Pay Attention and Wakeupstar, on Tuesday, December 6. The event, which begins at 8 p.m. at Nanook on 20 Burlington Avenue, will feature musical selections by Deadline, Inztinkz and Mz Lytes.
UPNess: Nothing Else Matters will also include live painting, breakdancing and a preview of the upcoming album, Nothing Else Matters, by local Hip Hop collective, The Council, which comprises Five Steez, Nomad Carlos, The Sickest Drama and Inztinkz.
“This year will be our second staging of UPNess,” says Joan Webley of Nanook. “We are creating a new experience this time around, fusing communities and vibes, and everyone will have a great time, hearing mind-blowing tunes across two genres.”
Patrons can expect good music with a difference and a vibrant energy throughout the event, which will be hosted by the multi-talented Racquel Jones.
Admission is only $500 and part proceeds go to the Alpha Boys’ School.
RJR’s Kingston Music Week is a week-long festival that boasts 19 events and will run from December 1-7.
Join the Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/799271173549168/
Kingston, Jamaica’s super group of MCs, The Council, has revealed Forgotten Parables, a two-track EP comprising unreleased music featuring its members – Nomad Carlos, Five Steez, The Sickest Drama and Inztinkz.
Both songs, produced by Inztinkz, were recorded at Gambling House Recording Studio, years prior to the formation of The Council.
The Council’s official album, Nothing Else Matters, from which it has already unleashed the singles Council Arts and The Final Countdown, will be released in 2017.