Bashy Interview - Ctrl.Alt.Shift

I caught up with rapper Bashy to find out about his latest album 'Catch Me If You Can', his work in Africa, and how to hustle the grime game. Bish, Bash, Bosh - here's the Ctrl.Alt.Shift review:

Ctrl Meets Bashy
Ashley Thomas aka 23-year old grime star Bashy, is making movements and hitting music headlines. With a mass underground fan base building with love for his first two mixtapes 'Ur Mum Volume One' and 'The Chupa Chups Mixtape - Assorted Flavours' (all before releasing his debut album this June) - get ready, get set, for an era of the bish, bash, bosh boy from West London.

From music projects with Blur's Damon Albarn in Nigeria to being an ambassador for the UK's 'No to Knives' campaign, Ctrl.Alt.Shifter Dwain Lucktung spoke to Bashy about his life and fast times, inspiring the next generation from UK to Africa, and how 'Catch Me If You Can' is going to turn and bop heads this summer...

Would you say your rise to fame was unexpected, with your bus driving past times?
Rise to shame you mean? Nah, I don't think like that, I don't think of it as fame you get me. And I wouldn't say unexpected - I mean, I did hope to get here, because bus driving was just killing me, killing my soul.

How do the hustling youth get big in the game?
They need to look at their own life experiences, draw on their stories, form their own style and come with a new, innovative angle.

What were the highlights of your time in Nigeria, working on the Africa Express project (the ever-expanding coalition of African and Western musicians) with Blur/ Gorillaz's Damon Albarn?
Meeting the Nigerian people, experiencing Nigerian culture, eating the Nigerian food; the pounded yam, ground rice and cat fish - boy, I was eating that everyday. I enjoyed the whole lifestyle over there. And of course it was great working with the likes of musical genius Albarn...

Read the full article here


Who's Scared Of The Big Bad North Korea - Ctrl.Alt.Shift

Are they a nuclear THREAT? Is an intervention necessary? Geared up with my Ctrl.Alt.Shift t-shirt and photographer, I hit the streets of London to bring this issue to the public. Some of the comments were shocking - read all about it!... below:

Vox Pops: A-bomb-ination
Oh here we go again. Are we about to see another media frenzy of having 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' (WMD) plastered all over our front pages? It seems likely, except this is a far cry from Bush's subliminal messaging – the latest rumbles in the world are coming from North Korea's recent underground nuclear missile testing.

And boy, have they pissed almost everyone off. According to Yonhap news agency, UN diplomats are discussing "tough measures" with regards to a resolution to punish North Korea's actions. Bear in mind UN Resolution 1718 imposed sanctions on North Korea after their first nuclear test in October 2006 - they didn't play by the rules then, and they're certainly not playing by the rules now; with last Monday's blast having the power of a 4.5 magnitude earthquake (an explosion up to 20 kilotons according to Russian defence officials).

But with a zero death count, what's all the noise about one might ask. The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said: "The US thinks that this is a grave violation of international law and a threat to regional and international peace and security" - that coming from a nation that dropped atomic bombs on Japan in 1945, killing more than 220,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But that was then, this is now, and nations including the US, China and tell-tale neighbours South Korea, have all voiced their anger and concern at one of the world's most impoverished regimes taking yet another defiant step towards WMD status - this all coming after liar liars North Korea promising to walk away from long-running disarmament talks (agreeing in February 2007 to abandon their nuclear ambitions in return for aid and diplomatic concessions). However, throw another spanner in the nuclear works, as these plans stalled after North Korea accused its negotiating partners - the US, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia - of failing to meet agreed obligations – which brings us nicely, and sadly onto today's predicament...

After false promises to North Korea, can anything really justify their latest devastating actions? And what is to come of this small, but ever powerful and feared nation? Ctrl.Alt.Shift took this explosive subject to the streets and asked:

What is your stance on North Korea's recent nuclear bomb testing (in light of their history)?
Why do you think they carried out such tests?
Do you think it's right for powers in the UN and US to pass down judgement and punishment for North Korea's actions?
What punishment would you bestow upon the nation?
And do WMD's have any place in this world anymore?

Joel, 18:
"Given the fact that North Korea is a dictatorship, this doesn't surprise me at all. I'm not sure what the motivation for this is, however it is going to be political. I think the UN and US have a right to pass judgement because while they possess the same weapons, they are not actively testing them - I feel there's a huge difference between active nuclear testing and already having the technology. In terms of punishment, I wonder if any sanctions or military action would actually make a difference to the situation...I don't think so. There is a phrase that sums up the need for WMDs, and that is: 'If you want peace, prepare for war'"

Read the full article, along with the other comments here


March Against Police Violence - Ctrl.Alt.Shift

This march to New Scotland Yard hit close to home, having witnessed police brutality first-hand (on more than one occasion), and losing faith in the authorities (a long time ago).

East London's Newham is a rough area to grow up in, by any standards - and among the many shootings, stabbings, muggings etc, one thing remains missing from the picture of these particular dark memories - and that is the presence of respectful and effective po po. Unfortunately (and I say that with sadness that it is unfortunate), for many of my crowd, we've grown up being made to feel guilty whenever even approached by the boys in blue, even when we're the ones dialing 999. Trust is further abandoned when the innocent die at the bloodied hands of the law - but it's too fewer a time we see the responsible receive the fate of a criminal commiting the same crime. The uniform gives you power to protect the people - NOT RULE THE PEOPLE. If my sentiments seem melodramatic, read my Ctrl.Alt.Shift report below of this march against police brutality; and pay special attention to the story of Sean Rigg, one of the many alledgely killed by police without justice:

Young Blood: Who Killed My Brother?
When it comes to an age of activism, some say there's a grey matter, somewhere between the late 80s and now. Some claim we've come down to an apathetic generation with a lack of fight - and in turn, certain sceptics identify an uphill struggle, in Ctrl.Alt.Shift's mission to make activism 'cool again'. Then again, certain others have then said to me (and rightly so) that it's not even a question of 'cool', but having the sense of fighting for what's important - yet repeating the same tone of scepticism with belief that the distant past movements for women's rights and racial equality have done the militant dirty work for us, leaving our present overly-comfortable, lazyboy state of mind. I mean, it's not crazy to think that some, at times, can find it difficult to get to grips with today's issues and injustices that are blowing up so far from home; things like Gaza, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Tamil Tigers, DRCongo and the rest of the world's tragedies that don't necessarily affect our everyday lives. Now stop in your tracks - as on Saturday May 23rd this entire notion died, as I listened to a woman scream for 45 minutes: "Who killed my brother?" Her gut-crunching wallows are important to the most apathetic of all of us.

This woman was Marci Rigg, sister of deceased Sean Rigg - leading the United Campaign Against Police Violence (UCAPV) rally from London's Trafalgar Square to New Scotland Yard last weekend. Let me set the picture for you: 21st August 2008, 40 year old Sean Rigg was arrested and restrained by four Brixton police officers, placed in a van and taken to the police station - one hour later, he was dead. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) are meant to be conducting an independent investigation into his death. However, so far, the Rigg fam claim to have experienced a cover up of vital CCTV evidence, a biased investigation in favour of the police (with interviews of the officers involved taking place a whole seven months after the incident). Sean was not formally identified by his family (in fact they were actively discouraged from seeing Sean) - and eventually after much fighting, the family were able to view Sean through a glass box, finding wounds to his head - described in the IPCC's post mortem as a 'wound to his cheek'. This bullshit farce is why Rigg's family cried down the speakerphone, "Who killed my brother?" with the crowd chanting back "The Police!"

Read the full article here


Ctrl.Alt.Shift Films!

Working for Ctrl.Alt.Shift comes with numerous highlights (run-ins with the law, reporting from DRCongo and chucking Fairtrade bananas at Tesco to name a few). But this one included sitting back, eating popcorn, and doing one of my favourite things - watching films! Yes, we put on a wicked film premiere, and a manic after party, to promote, and celebrate the 5 winners of our short film compeition in early 2009. Below gives you more on that, all the info on the movies and links to actually watch them - so get the munchies, put your feet up and enjoy:

Newsflash! Ctrl.Alt.Shift Film Premiere
Banging live music, five stunning films, applauding and cheers, a sick after-party, free wine and beers - Ctrl.Alt.Shift know how to get down when it comes to putting on a film premiere.

Near-on 500 movie-goers and Ctrl.Alt.Shift supporters crammed into east London's Shoreditch Studios last Thursday 14th May. All came to catch the five short global injustice-tackling films created by the aspiring movie-maker winners from last year's Ctrl.Alt.Shift film competition. And anyone from stars of the productions, to their friends and family, to the directors and producers themselves were present to join in engagement and awe of the finalised flicks - each one based around a Ctrl.Alt.Shift key issue of either War + Peace, Gender + Power and HIV + Stigma.

Mark Dolan (of Channel 4's 'The World's...and Me' series) stepped up to the stage to draw in the crowd already enjoying the free popcorn. After a brief intro to the project, he presented the first film - War School; which explored what would happen if a child soldier regime was implemented into the British schooling system. To my relief, the two lead actors sat happy-go-lucky in the front row of the audience and applauded their own performances in this great, awareness-striking, opening flick.

Next up, HIV: The Musical depicted one man's sorrow, as he (actor Martin Freeman) reluctantly watches his HIV-awareness theatre idea transformed into a ridiculous camp musical by a shameless, money-grabbing director, played by actor Julian Barratt. The film was hilarious, but although there were tears of laughter (at lyrics such as: "Your erection - no protection - my heart exposed to this infection"), there remained the significant and important undertone of how many ignorant stigmas there are surrounding HIV.

Man Made was the story of a mannequin who is being examined and sold to a buyer - the scene being a metaphor for a victim of sex-trafficking. This haunting flick, in the style of the Saw movies, brought an astonished hush across the audience as they came to realise what the abused, cigarette-burnt mannequin represented.

The penultimate movie, A Thousand Voices, was a remarkable animation telling the tale of refugees detained indefinitely in British government with little or no attention brought to their dire circumstances. These forgotten people were brought to life, and to light by this flick that sounded telephone recordings of the desperate asylum-seekers awaiting deportation in cell-like conditions.

Finally, No Way Through depicted what it would be like if unjust Gaza-like military check-points existed in the UK. A cyclist gets mowed down in the opening of the movie, yet despite the persistent efforts of the driver to find her medical help, they are denied access to any aid due to the road-blocks and couldn't-give-a-damn officers on guard. It's a frustrating, head-shaking couple of minutes watching this young girl slowly pass, and yet constantly always a few steps away from being saved. Remember Gaza - Free Palestine echoed in my head.

After the amazing display of movies and global issues, it was the talk of the night from then on, which in part, is Ctrl.Alt.Shift's intentions for every project that we create – opening eyes to things that need to be seen and changed.

Before and following the screenings, the buzzing crowd were indulged further with performances by four of the music acts behind the film soundtracks, Jesca Hoop, The Thirst, Chipmunk and Shy Child. Then the shaking and grooving moved out, down the streets of east London to the after-party at Legion club, where DJ MistaJam spun some old-school garage, a bit of jungle and a touch of Dizzee to finish the night off on a high. Even the likes of rappers Giggs, Professor Green and Example, artist T-Magic and Adulthood star Adam Deacon dropped by to feel the ground-shaking vibes.

The film premiere was live. I crawled home at 3am, and whilst that journey remains blurry, the images and messages delivered by the films cut deep; look at the injustice, count yourself lucky, consider those unlucky, fight for change, fight against injustice - the power of film is a wonderful thing.


Ctrl.Alt.Shift Jobs Promotion

This is a short piece I wrote for Ctrl.Alt.Shift online to promote 9-month internships at our head quarters. Do you like the pics of me and Ben Anderson? - the former glorious interns i.e. the new ones are going to have to step up their games to meet our 24/7 heroic hustling:

Ctrl.Alt.Shift Gap Year - Apply Now!

Are you in that "What the hell do I do next with my life" mode? It happens to the very best of us, whether you've just graduated from university, are half-way through and looking for a year out, or have finished your A-levels and are in hot pursuit of a year of work.

For those of you that the above applies to, the Ctrl.Alt.Shift gap year is your chance to make exciting movements. As you already know, Ctrl.Alt.Shift is a global movement for change, with the initiative itself funded by Christian Aid.

Forget this dire era of financial and job crises, by applying for the scheme, you could end up working at Ctrl.Alt.Shift.

Credentials? As long as you're over 18, passionate about global justice and down for getting involved with the youth - you're in the running for the role. It's nine priceless months, from September 2009 - June 2010, of networking, crossing borders and barriers, rallying up your fellow peers to make a difference, and proving to any sceptics that we are the generation of promise and positive change...

Read the full article here


A Coffee Revolution In Sheffield - Ctrl.Alt.Shift

We travelled up to Sheffield to spread the word of the Ctrl.Alt.Shift movement - setting the scene in a small coffee bar for an intimate gig. It was actually a nice reward for my day of hustling in the cold, recruiting the Sheffield students (students, who always seemed more opinionated and enthusiastic than any political crony), getting sign-ups and generally networking my ass off. After 10 hours of that, I was happy to relax to some nice beats, reminiscing over my studenty days with a bagel and some cheap coffee (swiftly followed by a snake bite).

Here's the review:

Ctrl.Alt.Sheffield Gig @ Coffee Revolution
This week, Ctrl.Alt.Shift hit the streets of Sheffield to spread the good word of the movement, soak up all the youth activist freedom-fighting talent, whilst recruiting some of our own Ctrl.Alt.Shifters from the windy city.

Our street team began by prepping for and promoting Ctrl.Alt.Shift music showcase, Justice's Call; a global development awareness and injustice-combating night set up alongside Sheffield University's Open Space Society.

In and around our venue - the Fairtrade shop Coffee Revolution, in the heart of the university's student union - it came as a welcome surprise that many of the students we were signing up had already came across our project. Erin, a 23 year old engineering student coincidently took part in Ctrl.Alt.Shift's Newcastle hand mural earlier this year, and she was delighted to catch our red t-shirts roaming around her city: "It's so great to see you guys bring the cause to Sheffield." Jeremy, 18, an arts student who had a ticket to Ctrl.Alt.Shift's Sadlers Wells HIV-awareness dance show in London last year said: "There's a massive student population here that will thrive on the cool things this initiative is doing."

And, in the midst of flyering, one 25 year old Japanese student called Karla whispered in my ear that she had seen the Ctrl.Alt.Shift logo graffed on some tunnel walls around the city - evidently the ripple affect of the movement is making headway above and beyond my own expectations.

What to Say?

Sam Browse | MySpace Music Videos

Onto the music show, with an immense line-up of Sheffield favourites, including rebel with a cause Sam Browse, giving an acoustic tribute to anti-fascism, anti-racism, "Love and Politics," and a quick shout out to Ctrl.Alt.Shift's work saying: "Much respect to these (Ctrl.Alt.Shift issue 3) magazines here on the tables, looking through, it's great to see such a celebration of women." The atmosphere was reminiscent of an old-school jazz café; chillaxed and serene with the strumming beat of Browse's guitar...

Read the full article here
Photo: Flickr user hardillb


Herita Ilunga Interview - Ctrl.Alt.Shift

Since coming back from a reporting trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo in late 2008, I've been a lil obsessed with everything, well... Congolese. I fell in love with the culture, the warmth of the people, eager to understand in greater depth the struggle; I missed and wanted more of the good, the bad, and the ugly stemming from this wonderful African nation. So of course, when an opportunity came along to grill one of the DRCongo's most respected players, West Ham's Herita Ilunga, I leaped on it studs-showing (despite the fact I'm Man Utd blood to the core).

He dodged my questions regarding the decade-long African civil war involving his country (fair enough, he probably didn't want to get politically lost in translation, with me having to revive my rusty French to conduct the interview), but he had a lot to say about football as inspiration, his work with intiative Congo Now! to revitalise his people back home, and explained why his colleagues 'deserved' their ridiculous millions:

Ctrl.Alt.Shift Meets Herita Ilunga
He's becoming a firm West Ham favourite out in east London - as a fearless, world-class defender with a true, nowadays, rare sense of appreciation and loyalty in professional football; as emphasised by his recent snub of big boys Liverpool to become a permanent Hammer (at least for four years). Herita Ilunga, 27, has already scored a lot of the golden goals that those back home, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, could only dream about - in being a multi-million earning player delivering crunching tackles for both Premiership club and country.

Yet despite these dizzy heights, Ilunga doesn't seem to have lost sight of his grass-roots. This is illustrated by his recent work with Congo Now! - a week of London based awareness-raising events set up by multiple injustice-combating organisations to draw attention to the crisis in Congo (an ongoing African conflict which has slipped from the headlines, but not from memory in recent months). Ctrl.Alt.Shift reps Dwain Lucktung and Mervin Martin hunted down the man to get his thoughts on the matter, as he kick-started this year's Congo Now! campaign with a photo-shoot at the Houses of Parliament. In between camera flashes, we discussed DR Congo, talked about his work on and off the pitch, and questioned the money-obsessed sport that was once the beautiful game...

How do you feel representing your country on the pitch?
I am very proud, of course. But it's a shame because we had the opportunity to represent our country (in the World Cup) after 30 years of absence - in fact we were first throughout much of the first-round qualification part - but at the end we lost the last two games (against Malawi and Egypt) and we ended up third. So it was disappointing.

Can an African nation finally win the World Cup in 2010?
I think that an African can possibly win the World Cup if the team is well motivated and eager to win - but it remains a difficult challenge. But we'll support any African country that appears in the tournament.

What are your thoughts on the Homeless World Cup (HWO) in Milan later this 2009?
(The HWO is an annual football tournament, a project giving over 25,000 homeless people - coming from across 60 different nations - the chance to rep their country on the pitch). I agree with what they're doing, and I am willing to help any operations concerned with helping and promoting countries, and people in bad situations. The most important thing is the organisation - it has to be well organised and everybody has to be united and work towards the same goal.

Tell me more about your work with Congo Now!...
The project is to sensitise everyone with what is going on in the Eastern part of the country and also in the rest of Congo; to mobilise all nations, the international community, so that Congo stays in the limelight. And hopefully others may realise that they have an important role to play in stopping what is going on over there; in turn helping the war victims, the innocent people who are in the middle of the conflict...

Read the full article here