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Look, it’s a hint at an album that may or may not be quite high up! (An album I’ve played a lot of drums to over the years) Pic: Wikimedia Commons

Ten years ago, I was convinced I wanted to pursue music journalism as a career. Over the course of the decade, I was lucky enough to write for some great publications, review hundreds of albums, interview artists from a range of styles and traditions, and stand in festival fields drinking copious amounts of overpriced cider, usually in exchange for 500 words copy and a free ticket. I improved a fair bit as a writer and critic in that time, but I never felt quite good enough to do it as a full time career. That, and the pay was shite…

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I know nobody reads this bit, but I’ve really enjoyed a lot of music this year. I don’t get to listen for leisure quite as much as I used to, and only encountered many of the releases here because I had the chance to review or interview the artist (I’ve linked those in wherever applicable). The vast majority were for live music/ticket comparison website Stereoboard, where I’ve been scribbling for eight years now (!). However, this year I also had the privilege of writing long-form features for the likes of Vice, The Skinny and Clash (full porfolio here).

I won’t…

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If there’s one thing Awards season has taught us, it’s our cultural institutions are still happy to hint at wider representation and pay lip service to political art without embracing it fully. It was somewhat discernible at this month’s Academy Awards but more apparent at this year’s Grammys, when Kendrick Lamar missed out on Best Album for the third time running.

While it’d be true to say organisers of these ceremonies have made greater strides to better reflect cultural diversity to a certain extent — not a single white man was nominated for Best Album this year, for example —…

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As one of those supergeeks who loves a good list, I’m pretty sure I’ve been putting together album of the year lists for as long as I’ve been writing about music. Folk were nice on here about my ‘Top 50 UK Hip Hop Albums’ list, though, so this seems as good a place as any to post my favourites.

Before I get into it, it’s probably worth mentioning that my initial pick for number 1 was Brand New’s Science Fiction. But in light of the news about Jesse Lacey’s behaviour towards underage girls (which he has admitted), I felt it…

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Scotland is rarely recognised as a hotbed of battle rap talent, even within a UK context.

It’s not entirely surprising when you consider the differences in culture: our battlers tend to have stronger accents, a darker sense of humour and are seen as more old-fashioned due to their emphasis on jokes over wordplay.

Still, several Scottish rhymers have made their mark over the years. Glasgow veteran Respek BA had a reputation as a legendary freestyler years before he even made the bulk of his albums.

Elsewhere, Gasp & Depths managed to get to the final of Don’t Flop’s first doubles…

It will come as no surprise to anyone who follows me on social media that I love a good rant. Forget politics or footy, though — one thing always gets me more hot under the collar than anything: poorly reasoned/researched lists about UK hip hop.

I’m happy to admit I’m a bit of a purist, but I certainly wasn’t the only one having a go at Noisey’s recent run down of the ‘Greatest UK MCs of All Time’. I won’t begrudge the guys at the top — after all, the likes of Skepta and Wiley have done plenty for grime…

Last week’s Restless Natives cross-venue festival was an attempt to bring music and film to Glasgow’s neglected East End and invest in the area. Was it a doomed exercise or a hint that there are better things to come?

The East End of Glasgow still suffers from endemic inequality. In many parts life expectancy is low, the number of benefit claimants is high and poverty is rife. There are few music or arts venues on this side of the city — in contrast to the leafy west end where even places like Finnieston have been gradually gentrified.

Even the legendary…

How on earth can you listen to rap music? It’s a question I get asked on a surprisingly regular basis and I tend to reel off the same reasons every time: the flows, the beats, the raw lyricism, the social commentary, the sound, the attitude, the ethos, the culture, the revolutionary social changes that it has inspired…

Aye, but how on earth can you really listen to rap music?

Snobbery towards this mode of expression is nothing new. Some of the most enlightened arts critics struggle to conceal their prejudices even when it comes to promoting artists. One recent review…

Jonathan Rimmer

Journalist and producer. Music writing @ Stereoboard, Vice, Clash, The Skinny and others.

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