KEEDZ: A CAPELLA - AS FEATURED ON CERTIFIED UK

In the lead up to The Den at the BBK TAKEOVER last bank holiday weekend, I met up with Keedz, the MC from South London. We intended to shoot portraits, which we did, and I caught a few bits of the process on film to share with you. Once posting on instagram, music news site Certified UK have extended their platform and shared the visual with their community, which I am delighted at. Have a look at what I have to say about Keedz and shooting with her here.

A x

Behind the scenes shooting portraits of South London MC Keedz.

Sole DXB Unseen: feat. SKEPTA, CREPE CITY, LITTLE SIMZ, STORMZY & more

foreword:

I’m tired. Tired of waiting on other people to give me the key to share my own work. I’m not sure how to work around it just yet, but I’ll let you know when I do. 

Last year, I went to Dubai for Sole DXB, one of the highlights of my career so far. A group of us lot from London in Dubai causing a madness? Come on. Skepta and Little Simz were headlining, Stormzy was the special guest, and SLOCAL, Crepe City and Trapstar were out there too. It was more than a special moment, and we all felt it.

Anyway, I wrote a piece for a pretty well-known music & culture publication – we agreed on the content and my submission. When you are a freelance writer, your attendance at these events ride on making sure you have content – so it was crucial I composed the scheduled pieces and delivered. Unfortunately, my photos and copy (article) were never downloaded from the wetransfer link on the other end. I’ll be honest – I’ve created content that hasn’t gone up in the end too, but more my own work I didn’t end up having time to edit and upload.

Almost one year on, this content is still not shared. At the end of it all, I want people to be able to access and share joy. I have left the copy as it was last redrafted a few months ago, and to be honest, I just want to share what a special time this was and how big it was for the mandem and gyaldem to be out sharing Art in Dubai thanks to Sole DXB.

A x


As we gear up for Sole DXB 2017, Almass Badat focuses on family and community, releasing never-before-seen imagery and conversation bites from some of the leading creative pioneers at last year’s festival.

AJ Adams, Dubai Street Jam

AJ Adams, Dubai Street Jam

It’s always gratifying to receive recognition and have a platform for your work, but even better to enjoy the fruits of your labour with the ones you keep close. Last year, I attended Sole DXB - founded by three friends Raj, Josh and Hussain in 2010, Sole is growing as one of the leading geographical points for street culture in the East. The festival draws heavily from Hip Hop, inviting sneakerheads, DJs and musicians, ballers and music enthusiasts from around the world to celebrate a weekend of creativity otherwise unseen in the Dubai. In addition to the festival’s Hip Hop roots, Sole DXB 2016 focused on bringing together UK Hip Hop and Grime music, culture, and people. Amongst those representing onstage, Skepta­­ (with a surprise appearance from Chip) and Little Simz headed the line up while Stormzy came through as adidas’ surprise guest. Rounding up culture and apparel were Crepe City, Art Comes First and Trapstar, who hosted conversational sessions. Slocal also took over the festival’s radio station and opened for Skepta – and in hindsight, it felt pretty damn good to be in the desert with a bunch of sun-starved Londoners.

Morgan & Ron, Crepe City

“It’s all about community”, Crepe City’s Morgan Weekes told me. We found a spot of much needed shade in the midst of the festival, in between checking out the sellers, basketball games and brand stations. “Crepe City works to bring people together”, begins Morgan. Both Morgan and business partner Ron Raichura co-founded the UK’s largest online sneaker forum, and at Sole, hosted a talk on their ethos and journey on the Sneaker Boom stage. While there is obvious hype around sneakers and sneaker culture, Morgan and Ron focus on the people.  “The BBQs, photo meet-ups, pub quizzes and charity events outside of the main Crepe City festival come out of our pockets, and it’s a way to give back and thank everyone for supporting us”, explained Ron. The duo are passionate about using their platform and love for sneakers as the unifier for community building and support, and they’re not alone. Crepe City have since hosted a number of charity-focused ventures, as well as executing the first Crepe City of 2017 in March with Air Max Day.

Trapstar

Trapstar

As far as supporting each other goes, festivals like this give birth to connecting the dots. I met up with Chicago-born AJ Adams, Co-Creator of the underground Hip Hop night Dubai Street Jam. AJ is now based in Dubai and is at the helm of this wave. “I call my generation the Culture Cowboys”, he explains. “We are third generation kids who have no culture as we are so displaced from calling anywhere home. We absorb everything - as this city is so shallow, we’re starving to create and connect. I bring through talent on an uncensored platform, and trust me, Dubai has talent”. He has a point. At first glance, Dubai may seem to be hardly anything beyond the skyscrapers, yet beneath the city’s exterior is a clean canvas. The likes of AJ take advantage of Sole DXB to cultivate the beginnings of the fast-growing community in the UAE, and I look forward to seeing how much the scene has now grown since we spoke. As I continue to explore the festival, most conversations seem reflective. Pushing integrity and expression comes a sense of duty- a belief that Trapstar Co-Founder Mikey echoes. “As a brand, we were born out of struggle, and when we got our foot in the door, we realised that we had a responsibility. Now we have missions and always try to add to them. For example, Trapstar supports new music artists – we have a duty to the culture, and as it gets bigger we can open more doors. Right now we’re here in Dubai and reppin’ the UK. Couple years ago we were just trying to rep London, and before that we were trying to do right by the mandem. So as things change, we try our hardest to be mindful and responsible.”

I feel positive in returning to Sole to see how it's part-generated, part-organic vibe cultivates, and I anticipate what Raj, Josh and Hussain have up their sleeves this time around. If there is one thing I came back to London with last time, it was a feeling of elation. As UK culture continues to plant seeds around the world, there is comfort in knowing that we can now link up with, tun up with, and lean on family from home turf along the way. Spaces like Sole DXB are fantastic when bringing together familiar faces, but also push us to use our skills and talents to strengthen new creative relationships around the world. “Everybody is equal”, as Skepta said at the close of the festival. “Fuck celebrities, I hate them. This is some family shit, and we’re in the future. It’s a gang ting till death. No Ego. If you came here with your day one and your friend for life, this is your time”. See you at Sole DXB 2017.

Thank you Eddie who supported me through the sleepless nights of editing and redrafting this bad boy.  You're a real one. 

Bottom left to right: CR Blacks, Durell, Skout, Nate, Skepta, Lily Mercer, Chennessy, Yassine

Bottom left to right: CR Blacks, Durell, Skout, Nate, Skepta, Lily Mercer, Chennessy, Yassine

Leigh-Anne Leonce x AIR MAX 97 Silt Red

As East London hosted the Athletics: World Championships at the Olympic Stadium, I was a stones throw away...listening to the whirring of helicopters up above, and the odd police siren down below from sneaker-lover Leigh-Anne's apartment. As Leigh-Anne modelled her Air Max 97 Silt Red's, I caught the last of the warm light, and I love the high contrast and yellow tones of the final results.

A x

Leigh-Anne wears Nike Air Max 97 Silt Red

Leigh-Anne wears Nike Air Max 97 Silt Red

Mmm. Jealous.

Jealousy. What an intense, unnerving feeling. A sensation enough to rock even the most stable of people - if those people exist, which I truly doubt. Jealousy is often something I think about, but also something that hardly makes me incensed..anymore. Not to say that I am immune to the searing pain in your chest, the sweat down your back, the pain in my womb, the feeling of wetness in my mouth because i'm about to be sick, or the feeling of worry that you're being mocked, or the balancing act of being on the tightrope of loving or hating your partner, or just the sensation of something that is yours being taken away, or worse, hurt. No.

I am constantly in the process of fine tuning, working at, and redefining jealousy. In my mind, this emotion is one by-product of the violation of trust, honesty, respect, and simply not having all the information of knowing where your partner is at.

As I entered my current understanding of love, about the time I turned 25, I recognised that I had and still have serious issue with being possessed. This led me to question my own relationship with jealousy. I never really understood it. I, a pretty carefree person, regularly seemed to attract protective, and sometimes possessive partners - or perhaps these traits were quite acceptable by society's standards, but just not for me. While I was challenging my partners, literally looking at them like they were talking another language, assuring them that there was no need to be jealous, perhaps it was me, that in fact, was speaking another language. I just didn't understand why they were jealous, because if I said my heart was theirs...well, it was. I wasn't being coerced into a relationship - I didn't have a reason to lie. So why did/do my partners doubt me?

See, I have always been au fait with the truth. I know that people like to think they are honest, and "honesty is the best policy", but putting that into practise is easier said than done. We'd like to think of ourselves as brave enough to speak our minds, or speak candidly to our closest ones, but we fear judgement, shame, and also, hurting the other person (or people). While I have one or two skeletons that niggle away at my subconscious, I am fairly familiar with the feeling of gulping down the lump in my throat before sharing a truth that may run the risk of hurting the other party, because I know that being loved wholly for who I am is more important than allowing someone to love an illusion of myself. I am happy that I am accurate in saying there are only one or two skeletons - working on those, promise.

It took me 26 years to realise that there was no hope in keeping silent, and I should just save myself the agony of skating around the truth, because keeping silent feels like bubbling, boiling agony for me. I also care very much about what people think of my character - maybe a bit too much - and so I cannot stand when someone thinks ill or is angry with me. On a basic level, my brain digests that lying as wrong. So if someone is lying to me about relations or attraction, then the lying indicates that it is bad. That bad/wrong feeling triggers jealousy, because those feelings of being lied to, embarrassed or not being trusted enough to be honest with rush back. Of course, I talk from a polyamorous perspective - I believe that everyone has the right to do what they want with their mind, heart and body.

Reflecting on real experience with previous partners, I am often shamed or made to feel bad for revealing intimate history or current attraction, and my natural disposition is to be happy to do so, which also unnerves the other person - this may be rooted in those feelings of betrayal, which in the moment, override that integrity of telling the truth. 

Sometimes it will take me a while to open up, and when I do so, I can have the tendency to play down the truth in failed attempts to protect the other person. As someone who has been on the receiving end of such behaviour, I know that it only makes me more jealous or angry when you feel you are being given half the information. I want to scream "I am okay! I have considered the worst! I can take the truth - what is pissing me off is the feeling that you think I am incapable of handling it all!" as in actuality, I, and the rest of the world have handled much worse.

Perspective is a big thing - when I feel heartbreak or disrespect or jealousy, what calms me is putting things into perspective - this feeling..does it put me in danger? What are the long term effects? Why do I feel threatened? Is it something i'm insecure about, or is the other party actively making me jealous? These are all things I consider before I choose, yes choose to act on my jealousy. 

This leads me on to the pièce de résistance, if you will. The thing that usually dissipates and controls my jealousy. Information. I cannot get enough of it.

Some only want to know the framework. You know, the facts - dates, places, how many times, how long for? For me, I want to know as much as I can. I like the details. I want to know why you fell in love with them. Tell me why you cheated. Tell me about your happiest times, why they made you who you are...what was so special. Or just tell me if you found that person who walked past us attractive, or if you're actively in another connection with someone and you love it! I want to celebrate with you. The answers to these things help me learn so much about myself and also, you. As well as this, allowing myself to share the other person's lens with me lets me reason with jealousy. It offers another perspective by saying "hey, this other person actually made this person feel good", or "they taught him/her something" or sometimes, "that person filled/is filling a space unique to them, and that's okay". More on that last thought later.

It's important to realise that your partner's (or the person you desire) attraction to someone else isn't a direct attack or disrespect to you. Of course, sometimes it can be done with more tact or care, but really, they are/were probably attracted to that person independent of you. As a species, we are programmed to connect with and explore other people. I don't mean physically either - mentally, spiritually, cosmically. We are social mammals!

At the end of it all, it boils down to communication. If information and communication helps deal with my jealousy, how can I expect someone to be totally, explicitly honest with me if I make them feel bad for making a mistake by lying, or loving someone else?

I still also shout, cry, argue, have tantrums, but I really work at checking myself and figuring out what the major goal is. I find most expression of high energy emotion exhausting, and I just want to speak out loud and reach resolve quickly. I genuinely don't have time to spend stressed about personal life any more than I already am.

Of course, the other person may have their own issues with opening up, even after I have have arrived at making my conversation free of judgement and anger. After all your efforts, they may still do things that trigger your jealousy. We must respect that they are on their own journey, and we have to know when to step in or step out.

If you're like me, when jealousy rears it's ugly head and makes you feel your most insecure, your lowest, and not good enough, do you still have the ability to make that person feel welcome to speak freely, so you can both have all the information to move forward?  It is so, so important to create an environment for the other person to open up without judgement. If you have done that, and that person feels secure, then you know you have done all you can to make sure there is no reason to lie, because you have decided that whatever information they bring to the table, you will maintain a safe space, and love unconditionally.

That open line of communication and celebration of love is what reasons with my jealousy. To hear the other person genuinely tell me how happy they were, or think fondly of someone and feel comfortable to do so makes me feel as though I can take on anything. Call me crazy. I find solace in being able to love people independently of our connection, and feel happiest when I can create safe spaces with people. I do hope that these safe spaces are reciprocated more frequently. It's not easy.

A x

REUBEN CHRISTIAN's DO YOU - EP. 35 W/ ALMASS BADAT

Not too long ago, Presenter, Comic, and all-round talented guy Reuben Christian launched DO YOU, an ongoing podcast series focussed on motivating, well, YOU. 35 episodes in, and Reubs FINALLY asked me to join him! If you've ever heard Reuben and I on air, you already know you're in for a bag of laughs (probably at us!). Intro aside, grab a cuppa and tune in to 1hour and 45 minutes of un-censored conversation recorded at 1AM in Reuben's loft-studio. It really is as fun as it sounds!

Click the image below to hear Episode 35, and click here to listen to the whole series, featuring inspirational individuals like Beats 1 presenter Julie Adenuga, musician SHAKKA and GQ style editor Nick Carvell

A x

Directing Elle: Dancing in Fire Official Music Video

Last month, It's Changed, my first release of a music video happened. What many won't know though is that It's Changed is not the first music video I've directed. Back in March 2016, I worked with a small team of skilled individuals to create the visual for Dancing in Fire by Elle.

This project took thorough planning and pre-production - everything you see on screen was treated, storyboarded, and then built prior to the shoot:

Every scene was drawn out, painted, and detailed with each prop. This is regular practise when I direct - it helps immensely when communicating your idea to a client, as well as practically visualising what is in your mind's eye.  

The shoot took one full day - and a lot of trial and error. We arrived at the studio at 7AM, and began shooting at roughly 10AM. This was also the first time I had worked with a RED Cam, which was definitely an adjustment and a healthy challenge for all those involved. Over a year on, Dancing in Fire is premiered on gal-dem - the perfect platform to unveil Elle's work.

Often times, I feel as though visuals have the tendency to become outdated fairly quickly - we are in a world where content is so readily available, that the false-pressure that audiences need to be satisfied faster, quicker, and with more of a shock factor is imagined. That, combined with your own growth as an artist, can result in looking back on work and thinking you've technically/artistically surpassed your ability fairly quickly. You can't beat pure fun, expression and creativity though, and i'm so happy to say that I am still very proud, engaged and excited to release a project that was filmed at the beginning of my Directing exploration. Elle and I also spoke to Antonia at gal-dem about the project - you can read the full interview here!

In the meantime, peep the official music video to Dancing In Fire below:

Co-Directing Frisco: It's Changed Official Music Video

You may recall my post on shooting Frisco's Get Greazy Music Video. On the same day, just before we shot Get Greazy, Fris and I filmed the visual for It's Changed, the musician's latest single and a result of a collaborative effort. Out today, July the 18th 2017, on iTunes, Spotify and the like, it's been roughly a month since the music video was released.

On reflection, I love this visual as I was able to retain artistic identity. It also felt amazing to have my client happy with the final product - Fris fed back throughout the edit, and executed his own vision while co-directing with me. I've been working on bringing my portrait photography to motion picture, and think that this is a wicked place to begin! The performance itself is direct in it's style - straight to camera, one verse, and without interruption, and while filming was minimal, detail lies heavily in the artist's on-camera energy and the final edit.

It's Changed was shot using a Canon 5D Mark III, against a red backdrop, and red gels over continuous lighting. 

It's Changed - by Frisco, produced by Skepta:

RE-CAP VISUAL - Re: IMAGINE x DR DRE 2001

Celebrating one of the most pivotal albums in music, Re: IMAGINE, a London-based band of musicians, reenacted Dr Dre's legendary album 2001 live on Sunday night. Aside from this West Coast classic, Re: IMAGINE have presented OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, The Fugees' The Score, and in the near future, Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - tickets on sale here tomorrow!

As XOYO filled up the sold-out show, I caught a few highlights of the night - enjoy :)

A x

THE DEN - JUNE '17

The Den is back!!

Returning to our home turf at The Old Blue Last in Shoreditch, The June '17 edition of The Den marks the beginning of our summer season. As our team look forward to the coming months of good music, great live performances and celebrating hard work, we also recognise the recent events that have affected our communities, and so have decided to donate this month's proceeds to the residents of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Holding it down as ever are resident DJs SK Vibemaker & DJ Corey, as well as guest DJ Ralph Hardy, and joining Double S, Manga, Tre Mission and Blay Vision on stage are Birmingham brothers Preditah & C4 - a sibling duo i've been waiting to see live for a minute.

Look forward to seeing you on Tuesday - in the meantime, check out a selection of work from The Den's artists of June 2017 below! 

Buy your advance tickets for June's edition of The Den HERE!!

#LongLiveTheDen