Saturday, 16 March 2013

All The World's A Stage: 'Lost In Music' Competition, March Music In The ESPspotlight

One of the great things about growing up surrounded by Performing Arts, is that your eyes are opened to entirely new avenues and arenas through study. At stage school (as it was then known), I studied gymnastics, dance (ballet, tap, contemporary jazz), acting, singing and music theory until injury forced me to call it a day. When I returned to full-time Academia in my early-teens, I mistakenly thought I would lose that cultural infusion, because I wasn't surrounded by it day in, day out.

I was so happy to have been proven wrong! My North London Secondary School was home to an excellent Music Department where I was able to continue my interest, minus the physical aspect. The emphasis was placed on the areas I excelled in anyway - Music, Drama and Literature (bet you never would have guessed). More importantly, having come from being the only black child in the first four years of a prestigious theatre school, where certain musical genres were 'not encouraged', to an 'urban' multicultural environment, where ackee and saltfish wasn't considered an 'ethnic delicacy', I learned that there was an entirely new element to the Arts that I had never been exposed to beyond the radio.

Sneaking out to clubs (there's a strategically placed "never" at the start of that, just for you Mother Dearest), I met Hip Hop, Garage and Jungle MCs and DJs who, for the first time, made me realise that these were real talents that existed outside of America. I was already years deep in my timid love affair with the likes of Nas, AZ, Will Smith and Heavy D, plus the radio taught me what a 'sample' was back when I was in single figures.

EPMD's first album (1988)
Like when I first heard this song that sounded like Kool & The Gang's 'Jungle Boogie', but wasn't, because these guys were rapping over it - I was all kinds of confused. It took me awhile to find out that this new version was called 'You Gots To Chill' and there were only 2 guys on it, instead of an entire Kool family tree. One of them taught me the meaning of 'flow' before I ever had cause to consider the term. He had this laid back, comically conversational style and his name was the boy version of mine, only spelled funny. For years the pair ran games of trickery on me, recording songs that sounded like the classics I would hear my Mum play.

Fast forward a year or...few; it's mid-September 2011 and Yours Truly has herself a fortnight-old blog. Still finding my direction, I received a press release and invitation from East London venue XOYO, announcing that (my favourite) half of that group was coming to London to play a one night only DJ set. That Green Eyed Bandit as he is also known, had absolutely everyone in attendance overheated with a set that pre-dated EPMD's '88 start. His double deck time machine touched on true Hip Hop and R&B. No commercial highlights, his selection paid tribute to the 'Good Ole Days of The Greats' and went down smoother than Vanilla Grey Goose. Then the crowd persuaded an impromptu Mic moment out of him and sealed this as the best set that I have ever attended in my entire life. Check out this little snippet from the 90-minute set to  find out why...

That moment - probably more than any other, made me fully respect and appreciate the Art of a good DJ set. Whether he had jumped on the Mic or not, this was indeed a Performance. Yes, every person in the room was starstruck from the moment Erick Sermon stepped into the booth; but once you removed that element, the content of his set proved that bottom line, he is the definition of a Craftsman. Intricately planned and executed - he knew every tool (music track) backwards, he knew just what to drop and when for maximum impact, where to scratch for extinction level damage - this was the very definition of a slaying!

Yours Truly, post-set with the LEGEND that is Erick Sermon

In addition, whilst some may consider his Blessing the set with what he is better known for to be it's crowning moment, for me personally, it was his energy and interaction with the crowd; looking you directly in the eye, smiling, reciting every lyric and actually partying with us, that made the connection real. This is a man who loves what he does, to a level that cannot be faked and is unchallenged at his skill level. That my dear reader friends, is my very definition of Performance Art.

All hail the Green-Eyed Bandit!

Competition Time! It's your chance to win a free #ESPspotlight Review of your Event or your performance at one. Usually £25.00, answer one easy question based on today's 'Lost In Music' Special. Runners up win 50% off, as do you, if you book a Review between now and Thursday 21st March, provided you quote #MarchMusic at the time of ordering.

Answer me this:

Erick Sermon sampled one of the greatest voices in music history, for one of the biggest tracks of this Millennium's first decade. The late, great artist is Motown Royalty:

Name him and Erick's 2001 Hit Song?

Probably the easiest question yet (and that's saying something), in yesterday's competition I asked you:

'Lady In My Life' is taken from Michael Jackson's historic, (former) bestselling album of all time - What Was It Called?

The answer is of course: Thriller!

How To Enter:

1. Email your answer by 10:00 tomorrow morning (that's right, I heard your requests and am extending the closing deadline to the morning after each competition post!)
2. Tweet confirmation of your entry to ESP Ltd. on Twitter, using the #MarchMusic hashtag.
3. LIKE EricaSharlette Promotions Ltd. on Facebook 

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome in the Comments Box below. Are you an EPMD fan? Were you at the XOYO club that night too? Share your moments and don't forget to read my earlier #ESPspotlight Interview with Singer and Actress Cynthia Erivo!

Until next time folks, 
ES ;)

'Lost In Music' Competition Terms & Conditions:

  • Only one entry per person, per day.
  • Prize refers to ONE single/EP/Album/Event ONLY
  • Applicable to Events within the London Regions ONLY
  • Performance week runs from 15th-21st March
  • Entrants MUST complete all stages for entries to be eligible.
  • Answers should be submitted via email, with confirmation of entry tweets containing the #MarchMusic hashtag sent to ESP Ltd. on Twitter.
  • Entrants must LIKE the EricaSharlette Promotions Ltd. Facebook Page for entries to be considered eligible.
  • All methods of entry should contain the #MarchMusic hashtag.
  • The #MarchMusic promotional code must be applied to claim the 50% discount.
  • Entry deadline is 10:00 on the morning after each competition post, winners will be notified via email within 24 hours.