FEATURE: J Smirk – Six Of The Best | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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J Smirk is a local rapper, who just been nominated for Best Unsigned Male at the Best Of British Unsigned Awards in association with Vocalzone and BBC Introducing. Voting poll for his category closes at 11pm Sunday 22nd October. You can cast your vote here.

Before that, we found out six of his biggest influences. Over to you J…

ART/ Ron English
Hands down my favourite art composer is Ron English, known for his brand imagery, street art or “popagander” not to mention his amazing collaborations with HYPEBEAST and Chris Brown’s grammy award winning album artwork. I’m in love with his false sense of security he brings to his pieces plus I’m a sucker for lots and lots of extravagant colours! Lastly I love his invention of characters, which come as a result of high and low culture mash-ups. And so, we have superhero mythology, totems, art history and even celebrity culture, all mixed into one. The man is a genius!

FILM/ The Shining
For this segment I was very tempted to write “Stanley Kubrick, that is all.” But for anyone who knows me, they are sick of me talking about Stanley Kubrick and Jack Nicholson because this conversation would go on for days. One of the best physiological horrors of all time. What makes The Shining work so well is how adeptly and efficiently Kubrick and co-writer Diane Johnson draw us into King’s narrative of domestic violence. Even as Jack Nicholson is touring the hotel, we’re being given hints that there’s a deep tension in the couple’s relationship. After the family move in, the story simultaneously and insidiously advances on both the supernatural and psychological fronts. So we learn more about the family’s history just as we’re learning more about the hotel’s history. G.E.N.I.U.S.

MUSIC/ What’s Going On? Marvin Gaye
Growing up I was surrounded by music, My Dad playing northern soul every Saturday on the way to go watch him play football, if it wasn’t saturday it was every other day, Jimmy Ruffin, Major Lance and Jackie Wilson you name it. When it wasn’t that it was my Mam playing Soul, Modern Soul, R&B but funnily enough never Hip Hop! Not even the life lessons of Will Smith so it’s nice to know that I brought that flavour into the mix. But one album that has stuck with me since day one was “Whats Going On’ by Marvin Gaye, an album that both my parents would play. If concept albums had a grandfather, What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye is it. It provides an insight of, what’s going on in the world at the time of its recording. Touching on subjects like war, poverty, drug abuse, and even the environment, Gaye delivers a dark yet beautiful album that delivers on every track. “Flyin’ High (In the Friendly Sky)”, “Save the Children”, and “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” are some of the best tracks off this album, and the re-released album with more tracks have some more truly amazing songs like “You’re the Man, Pts. I and II”. The jazz and soul combo creates an album so surreal it cements itself as one of the greatest albums ever made. This is inspiring, This is genius.

STAGE/ 4.48 Psychosis. Sarah Kane
4.48 Psychosis is a play by British playwright Sarah Kane. The play has no explicit characters or stage directions, Stage productions of the play vary between one and several actors in performance the title of the play derives from the time, 4:48 a.m., when Kane, in her depressed state, often woke. The play is played by a person with clinical depression, a disorder from which Kane suffered. She killed herself after writing the play, before its initial performance. Rather than claiming that it tries to cover depression as a whole, it might be fairer on the text to say that it is a very subjective presentation of depression, giving the audience an insight into one particular case. It’s a difficult read but I had the honour to perform this at college and I understand its weird to say but this is one of the few times I really had fun working on a piece, there was freedom as a performer, freedom that creatives struggle to appreciate.

CULTURE/ Jamaican Heritage
Nowhere else on earth will you find a culture as dynamic as Jamaica. My Grandad Norman Mattis born and bred in Jamaica, he was musical man, the saxophone was his 4th child next to my Mother and her two sisters. He played the underground Jazz clubs in London and refused to stop playing sax. First album he ever introduced to me was not a jazz one but an Afrobeat one. “Expensive S**T by Afrobeat pioneer Fela Ransome Kuti. Where the artwork was topless african women with their fists pointed the sky, that was a good day. My Jamaican heritage inspires me, They really take pride in their artistic style, food, music, religion, literature, weed, peace, love and POSITIVITY.

I’m going to leave this one to Thomas J. Watson;
“Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really: Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, so go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.”

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