Sam Kay – “Nobody’s Perfect” (J.Cole Refix – Freestyle)

Cover, Freestyle, Hip Hop, Rap, UK Asian

Score: N/A

This. THIS! This is why we rate Sam Kay. A few years back, his freestyles – in conjunction with his Jump Off  successes – were what truly put him on the map. He’s most definitely back in the groove now, and note that he’s labelled this a “Refix” – it’s entirely appropriate as his verses are substantially better than J.Cole’s original efforts, and Kay’s diction is simply impeccable. He’s releasing freestyle videos; he’s tearing down Jump Off again (just for a laugh); he’s got a collaboration with golden boy Arjun coming soon. It’s safe to say that Sam is back. (Reviewed by Jesal)

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What’s Beef?

Diss, Editorial

Beef is a funny thing in hip hop. Take all the big ego’s, constant bragging, spirit of competition and a prerequisite need to feel that you’re the best, and clashes are inevitable. As long as informal rules are established, it can be an intriguing contest, a battle of wills, and maybe even let out the bad blood to boost careers.

That was before Twitter.

Twitter, that lightning quick character collector that distributes our innermost thoughts to people we’ve never even met. How to put this eloquently? Twitter fucked shit up. In the old days (about 3 years ago), when rappers had a problem, there was no immediate outlet to vent their frustrations, and no way to directly contact the other guy in full view of the public. Conversations were private, and both parties would have to take a series of steps to actively escalate a situation. Just like if an plane crashes, there are a number of things that must go wrong in order to get to that point.

Twitter, however, has made it possible to jump all of those steps and directly interact with another artist. This can lead to great things and collaborations, but it can also lead to problems, depending on the character types involved. Put simply, many of us shoot from the hip, speak our thoughts as we think them and care not for the consequences. But that can lead to trouble, and one should be prepared for it. And if the wrong (or right, depending on your viewpoint) two artists clash, it can create a situation out of nothing. After all, it’s a whole lot easier to back down and apologise in private, as opposed to in front of thousands of followers.

Which brings us onto the Sam Kay/Shizzio beef. Firstly, we’d like to send a big fuck you to the critics of our previous post on the subject. Rahul called it how he saw it, and as the editor, I back his right to an opinion. We love the other sites currently around, and there is room for everyone – SuperCritic has a place, and is not another content-only site, it delivers critical reviews assessing music to the very core, and occasionally gives unvetted opinions on items the writers deem worthy of commenting upon.

I’ve been asked for my take on the subject. Honestly? Blame Twitter. That’s not a diplomatic fence-sitting response. It’s just that from where I was sitting, watching things unfold, this all could have been avoided if people thought before they pressed the ‘Send’ button (literally the “Send” button, in this case).

Artists have a certain responsibility to their fans and to themselves to create great music. That’s the priority. As recent cases have shown, you can do pretty much anything and the public will forgive you if give them quality songs/albums. But at a more independent level, it helps to cooperate with one another. You might not always like each other, and will certainly disagree with the direction that a fellow artist takes. The Asian music scene is tiny, however, and you’re always going to bump into each other.

Don’t get it twisted – we are not talking about a couple of rappers that have broken the charts, or released classic albums, or sold gazillions of records. You’re talking about two big fish in a small pond. That’s the reality. And the reality is that you’d much rather hear both rappers on the same track, instead of going at each other.

Being a small pond, however, always sets up the possible trap of an even greater sense of ego. Shizzio tweets inadvisable things to Sam, Sam takes offense (with just cause). Sam should drop it, but doesn’t. Shizzio makes himself to look like the victim. Sam continues, and even throws an 8 bar jab on a new song. Words Ali tweets about Sam. Sam responds. People start to take sides. The game divides, less good music is released, and just like crabs in a bucket, they’ll stay there.

There is another way. It’s called thinking before you tweet. It’s called meeting up in person if you have a genuine issue, or even just talking to them properly on the phone. It’s called being consistent in your ideology and not using other people for self-promotion. If someone changes their name, let them. If someone private messages you about a possible collaboration, don’t hold it over them. If someone backs away, let it go.

Beef is a legitimate source of material, of conflict. But actual rap beef stems from actual problems. Twitter beef is thoughtless, disposable nonsense and 99 times out of a hundred, everyone comes off looking just a bit silly. Let’s see what happens next. The best outcome would be a couple of classic diss records, a reconciliation and an eventual collaboration after the misunderstanding. Does anyone really see that happening?

“A wise man told me don’t argue with fools, Cos people from a distance can’t tell who is who.”

(Posted by Jesal)

Panjabi Hit Squad – “Dil Mera” (Featuring Rahat Fateh Ali Khan)

Bashment, Burban, DJ, Panjabi, R&B, UK Asian

SCORE: 6.4

It’s truly heartening to see that, after all these years, Panjabi Hit Squad can still take a perfectly good song and rip it off. In this case, it’s “Mamacita” but it could just as easily have been “Turn Me On” or “Tempted To Touch” (you get the idea). Despite the chronic lack of originality, “Dil Mera” is still a very catchy song, with excellent vocals from Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. Is it original? No. Will it sound good in clubs and make you want to dance? Yes. Pretty much that simple, really. (Reviewed by Sohail)

Dil Mera (feat. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan) - Single - Panjabi Hit Squad

Urvah Khan – “War Drum”

Dance, Rap, Rock, USA

SCORE: 7.4

Urvah Khan makes quite a splash in her new video (and that’s not limited to her frolicking about in the ocean). “War Drum” bashes you over the head with relentless catchphrases, vocal switches, musical shifts and attitude in abundance. Where to start? Well, Khan herself is the human representation of a hurtling fireball, all in the form of tattooed/pierced warrior goddess: her insane hair, ripped clothes, teeth that have probably ripped sharks to shreds… As for her style, it would be remiss to ignore the obvious M.I.A. comparisons, particularly when it comes to her vocal delivery: the shouty, half sung half rapped grenades she launches, the controversial imagery, even the way she elongates the last word of a bar. Musically, “War Drum” is quite superb, with an indelible guitar loop and driving percussion, it’s a surefire winner. The only slight criticism we’d have is that the lyrics need a touch more refinement but that will come with time. This is certainly the way to make a quick impression, and we’d bet she will gain as many nonplussed haters as die-hard admirers. (Reviewed by Raman)

War Drum - Universal Rhythm Venture (EP) - EP

Sam Kay – “Gorgeous”

Hip Hop, R&B, Rap, UK Asian

SCORE: 6.6

And we thought Valentines Day was all about love… Turns out Shizzio had other ideas, as he decided to launch an astonishing attack on Sam Kay. Previously known as Sam K, then Sam Khan, it all suddenly turned into Shizzio – for reasons only beknownst to him – starting to throw premeditated Twitter jabs at Sam Kay about why he changed his name. It was an unnecessary and self-defeating move from Shizzio, and worked only to ramp up the suspicion that he is indeed the “Wiley of Asian music” – and surely “K, Khan or Kay” is less of an issue than Sam whipping ass in a battle. There must be more logical targets to pick on for Shizzio, perhaps spurned by Kay’s seeming lack of “Burban” adoption. Besides, Sam Kay doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and Shizzio basically lobbed a few grenades and legged it. It was all rather unsettling and unseemly, in contrast to the track “Gorgeous” that Kay released on the day. Here we have a blatant track for the ladeez (nothing wrong with that, especially on V-Day) produced by Rimshox, with decent production and a superb chorus. To be honest, there’s not much else to say about the song, it’s all relatively straightforward fare (part of a forthcoming EP from Kay). More interesting tales lie ahead, particularly in relation to what direction Sam “The Artist” takes. (Reviewed by Rahul)

Sam Khan – “So Many Dreams” (Featuring Miski & Desperado)

Grime, Hip Hop, R&B, Rap, UK, UK Asian

Score: 7.1

It’s funny. If you heard Rimshox’s instrumental on Sam Khan’s new track, not to mention one of his other recent efforts “Back To My Old Ways,” you wouldn’t think that much of it. If you heard Sam Khan’s acapella, that probably wouldn’t grab you either. However, put them together and it just works. It’s wonderful when an MC and their producer have an obvious synergy, and each knows how to subtly get the best out of one another. The track doesn’t court attention in the blistering fashion of BTMOW, mainly due to the diluting of Khan’s involvement (thanks to a weird guest verse from Miski and an excellently earthy contribution from Desperado). All in all, it’s a very solid track, though not quite up to the level of his two previous efforts. However, it’s all a bit perplexing why Khan didn’t just make another 3 songs and turn the EP into an album. It is already a quantum leap forward from his mixtape-which-was-practically-an-LP “Only One Me” and the rapper now needs to continue his expansion, and add some true genial artistry to his mix. If any of the current generation of Asian MC’s could truly “make it,” it is most likely to be Sam Khan.

So Many Dreams - Sam Khan

Shizzio – “Come Get Some” (Featuring Rafaqat Ali Khan)

Dance, Grime, Hindi, Hip Hop, House, Pop, R&B, Rap, UK Asian

Score: 5.4

Make no mistake: Shizzio is an expert at raising awareness, using the media and taking advantage of a strong work ethic, all in order to keep his profile high. It’s admirable, and whilst he occasionally overplays the whole “One Man Army” pitch, he is the kind of rapper that you actually want to succeed – possessing character, charm and charisma. Unfortunately, none of that comes across on the disappointing “Come Get Some” and you just hope that he hasn’t missed his moment. The Rockswayer beat has a marvellous kinetic energy, not to mention an indelible melody, and the simple Rafaqat Ali Khan loop on the chorus is effective too. But sadly Shizzio fluffs his lines and saps drive from a number that could have worked. The overall concept seems half-baked, his attempt at crossover lyrics seems misguided and even (surprisingly) his vocal performance is well under par. A real shame.

Come Get Some (feat. Rafaqat Ali Khan) - Single - Shizzio