Five on it Carnival photo by David Sedlecky | Wikimedia Commons
So, I was initially going to use this space to discuss the ‘Rule Britannia’ discourse, but ultimately it just reminded me of that Toni Morrison quote – “The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being.” We can get embroiled in this stupid debate about some dead song, or we can choose to get on with our lives and focus on things that actually matter – like Ash says in that linked article, it is literally fabricated nonsense to keep us all polarised.
Something which is not nonsense and, in fact, brings us all together is carnival (I hope you appreciated that tenuous segue). August Bank Holiday means that this weekend, of course, is Notting Hill Carnival weekend aka one of my favourite weekends of the year. But, in a time of covid it is, of course, not an actual thing – though there are loads of events happening this weekend to celebrate all the same.
Be it the official NHC channels doing livestreams, the Nine Nights party doing a special broadcast from Somerset House, small small socially-distanced parties happening (including Ellie Prohan’s brunch in Brixton at the Prince of Wales), it’s not like you can’t capture that carnival joy. Blasting a stream or even a playlist of your soca faves is something.
But ultimately, the way the bass from a sound system hits you in the chest? Someone selling you overpriced Red Stripe from a trolley? Being overly-ambitious when an auntie at the food stand is putting pepper sauce on your meal? Airhorns! Roaming through the parade, looking after your mate who has had too much Wray, whining (badly) at Nasty Luv, trying and failing to link with those other mates who are also around, missing all the big-name dancehall artists who are playing like you do every year because you’ve wasted time at the system playing bait hip-hop.
Then you go to an afters, wake up a mess and do it all again.
An institution that celebrates all the best parts of London life and Caribbean culture, summer doesn’t feel the same without Notting Hill Carnival in full swing. But we are all there in spirit this weekend.
There’s so much new music this week that whittling it down was hard, but here is an attempt at five on it:
Jazmine Sullivan – ‘Lost One’
I mean wow, um, is anyone else feeling very emotional suddenly? Jazmine Sullivan returned last night with this gorgeous song with vocal layers that wrap around you like a warm hug and lyrics like “Please don’t forget about me”. Genuinely just beautiful. Is everyone okay? I’m not sure I’m okay.
Leikeli47 – ‘Zoom’
Okay, Leikeli47 is one of the greatest and most exciting rappers in the game right now. I will not be taking questions at this time. The choppy delivery, that beat, the panting sound?! Always so ready to hear more from her.
Nao ft. Lianna La Havas – ‘Woman’
Do you ever just get shook by how great Nao’s voice is? A lush and entrancing collab between two UK greats, they’re celebrating womanhood and the vibe is suitably euphotic. It has that delicious Steve Lacey-kinda sound to the guitars and I am very here for it.
Nines – Crabs In A Bucket
The much-anticipated third album (with accompanying short film) is here, and it’s our guy from Church Road’s first major label release! It’s a deft and heavy collection all at once, slick and polished but still gritty with that flow. Pairing his road roots with newfound fame in a manner that is deeply impressive, Nines just grows and grows and it’s a joy.
Demae – ‘Use It’
This is silky perfection – that soulful voice, the instrumentation that floats around her like a cloud, yearning lyrics. With her EP out next month on Touching Bass, if you don’t know Demae yet, I highly recommend you get to know.
You can follow the Five on it playlist here: