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SKILLS: Jasmine and Jacob Banks

I STARTED the week at XOYO in London for a sold out show by Jacob Banks. The venue was heaving with young, diverse trendies. The vibe was positive and excited.

His two female support acts did a great job but it was the fast-rising, Birmingham-born singer we were all there to see.

Jacob performed an hour-long show with an impressive set list, and his label mate from Renowned Music Wretch 32 even joined him for a track at the end of his set. His Justin Timberlake and Luther Vandross mash-up was incredible!

Jacob is unique in both style and sound, with a cool and laid back vibe. He was dressed from head to toe in black, with just a peak of white sock escaping from his Adidas sneakers.

His trademark wide brimmed hat was perched firmly on his head and complimented by a black, satin lapelled blazer.

His vocals are extremely smooth and the audience was with him every beat of the way. In the house were fans and friends including DJ Manny Norte, BBC 1Xtra’s Twin B, west London music act Shakka and Olympic athlete and music industry favorite Jeanette Kwakye. Great night.


SOUL BROTHER: Kwabs and Jas

Next, I caught up with another young man causing a buzz on the scene and who is tipped for huge things in 2014 – UK soul singer Kwabs! He’s been on many a ‘ones to watch in music’ lists recently and his debut EP Wrong Or Right is out this week.

Kwabs has a deep baritone vocal that is truly worthy of airplay. He revealed to me what we can expect from his new music: “There are still loads more musical flavours that aren’t out there yet. The fans will be used to hearing me sing on slower, brooding tracks so I intend to pick the energy up a bit. To that end, I suppose the biggest surprise will be when my music gets them dancing!”

Kwabs is a south London lad. I personally always avoid going south of the river. Yes, I’m a north of the river snob. With this in mind, Kwabs attempted to sell south London to me.

“It feels like a proper melting pot here, with different cultures crossing paths all the time, and I love that. It also has the best food, which is basically everything.”

I wasn’t convinced so instead decided to focus on our mutual love of the Motherland, with both of us hailing from African roots. Kwabs is of Ghanaian descent, while I’m east African. We laughed at the never-ending competitive banter between Ghana and Nigeria and the debate about which country is the best!

“That is a dangerous question,” he laughed. “I honestly couldn’t say that one place is better than the other – I’ve never been to Nigeria. But our Jollof rice though, it wins. Sorry guys!”

We also touched on the dangerous yet exciting world of social media. This week at ITV, I held a debate titled ‘Is social media a platform for good with young people or a platform for vanity, violence and vulgarity?’ Kwabs shared his thoughts on the matter.

“Definitely both. Social media makes young people feel they can say what’s on their mind very publicly without real and direct repercussions to airing their views. Though that’s not to say that everything on people’s minds is worth hearing!”

Recalling one of his own social media encounters, he laughed as he said: “I once had someone tell me on Twitter that they didn’t enjoy my gig. You get over that pretty quickly though. Life is way, way too short. I do get the occasional marriage proposal over Twitter! Those are more or less guaranteed to make me smile.”


BRINGING LONDON TO LIFE: Stefano Hatfield and Jas

With the impending launch of new TV channel London Live about to take place, I sat down with the channel’s editorial director, Stefano Hatfield, to hear more about it.

So many young black and minority ethnic young people have been snapped up by the brand. And my own reporters, plus numerous other mini brands that have been hustling their art in London for years, are finally getting their first big breaks through the network, which is due to launch on Sky, Freeview and Virgin next month.

New TV shows to look out for include Brothers With No Game, a comedy about four young Londoners with unsuccessful love lives; Spit TV, an exclusive one mic, one take set of performances hosted by Ras Kwame; and The Adventures of T-Boy, a sitcom following the exploits of a rich Nigerian who comes to live with his aunt and cousin in London!

Time will tell what success the network enjoys, but at last, a broadcaster is giving London’s ethnic minorities an equal opportunity on TV screens and that is something I applaud!

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