Understanding The Impact of The Block Report – With Flashy Sillah

The latter part of 2022 involved record high temperatures, furnace hot nights and train strikes, but none of those factors were an obstacle for a second Block Report live show taking place, brought to us by Mr. Block Report himself, who most know by the alias Flashy Sillah. Fast forward to February this year, and creatives that attended the previous exhibits, would have realised they were simply the pilot episodes leading up to another culturally powered night at Peckham Rye, which witnessed the continuation of what the creator has in store for us this season. To date, notable guest performances include the likes of Youngs Teflon, Tiny Boost as well as thriving performers who’ve soaked in the spotlight, among them being the winner Shakes, J10, JM7, Velkaz and Mosey.

Show number two witnessed how Shakes shook the venue in a refined manner, beyond what you would expect for an artist his age; this set the precedent for the kind of talent Sillah would be on the hunt for in preparation for show number of three. Commentated a success by numerous members across the scene in attendance, this explosive re-up like its predecessors fell nothing short of them.

A fresh line up of underground acts that included Elt Cheekz, AE, EmanfromDaA2, Kzee and OVE (Riskey), came to dominate the stage, following the Block’s first live Cypher that had served as pre-game for the evening. Each individual who made their presence known didn’t fail to immerse themselves in their performance, but there could only be one winner. The prize in question? An exclusive instrumental from acclaimed producer M1onTheBeat, alongside a music video upload to Mixtape Madness on the house, to push their next single. When making the announcement, Sillah adopted the style of 8 Mile’s underground rap battle host, ‘Future’, as he called out to the spectators; using noise levels as an indicator for the one who should be crowned victor.This time it was ELT Cheekz securing that much deserved, champion spot – with the artist’s performance of Estates being a notable number from his set list. 

In the words of Sillah himself, “My goal with the live shows is to showcase undiscovered talent as well as ease the pressures of artists having to pay for a video upload onto a major platform. I wanted to do something I could provide for them.”  Given that the shows are self-promoted by the man of the hour, the turnouts are indeed commendable. What’s important to recognise here with the Block Report and alike mediums, is that they have utilised a platform built on their own identity and attracted a core audience – an authentic one – which resonates with the values their character portrays. The open mics so far, have served as a means for Sillah to actively unite those who create their art – rap, synths etc. – with those who consume art – the tastemakers. This alone highlights a significance, but let’s bring it back to the basics of how everything begun. A boy, a bench, a block, and his takes on music that blossomed into the show it is today. Respected by other creatives. Honoured by notable individuals who have stepped through to make an appearance, including characters in alignment with the Block Report’s purpose. Early episode footage pictures a legend in the making suited up with some ripped denims, cap, reflective tech jacket and a stack of paper sitting comfortably between his silver kicks. He’s then interrupted mid shoot to be questioned by a passing resident about what was taking place, to which he responds,

“This is my new music show… with my hot takes of the week, my hot topics,”

At this point filming had taken place for a length of three to four weeks, and only the boy on that bench, in front of that block – with the vision – could have anticipated that laying those foundations, would go on to create something meaningful for a wider collective of people a part of what many now refer to as, the game.Currently the Block Report is a perfect hub for curating discussions around everything there is to music: genres, upcoming artists, success stories, rivalries, and here’s what Mr. Block Report has to say regarding his creation.

The concept of the Block Report deviates away from conventional studio set-ups because it’s you, the bench, a communal residence, and the camera. What was the inspiration for such an authentic idea?

I came to form the concept of the Block Report accidentally when I started. It was covid, lockdown happened, and we couldn’t hire any studios, so I told my director “yo, let’s set up a tripod and we’ll do it on my block,” but more so the reason for doing things this way is because it’s what represents me; a young person who comes from a council estate. I realised that council estates do have a negative perception attached to them. I wanted to create something where you can do media, and come from a council estate, and represent the place you’re from without any shame. In a positive light.

Can you list the core values that you hold yourself and your platform to; how are they important to the culture?

The core values that I hold dearly to me, myself, my brand and my platform include respect. Definitely treating others the way I would want to be treated and how I do that is by involving the creatives I’m familiar with – who I have a good relationship with – by inviting them onto the platform to contribute. That could include A&R’s, bloggers, or content creators in the same space as myself. By giving these personalities the opportunity to come onto my platform, that goes onto my second core value, and that’s responsibility. Embracing the opportunities to contribute by inviting other creatives to contribute to what I’ve built myself, and helping them build it up to another level, because you can’t do everything alone. Being a servant leader is another one. That means to serve the common good. We all share common ground as creatives in music, and that is our love for U.K. rap, hip-hop, RNB, house music and what not. By doing that, you have to contribute as much as we can to take the scene to another level. Integrity is another cliche one – knowing and doing what is right. Finally, sportsmanship by bringing my best self to all competition, mainly directing that towards mainstream platforms because what I have is independent. I wanna bring my best foot forward when competing with the likes of shadeborough, the foot asylum’s and the JD’s.

When that boy who was in the early stages of filming took the bench for the first time, could he have imagined the outcome of his show today?

These are good questions you know! Could I have imagined the outcome of the show today? I dream big and don’t set limitations on anything creative that I go on to birth. When I did start the Block Report, it was more than fun because I did want to take it further, hence why I pitched it to Mixtape Madness. I had it in mind that it was always going to be proposed to a bigger platform from the first episode on the 90’s Babies Network. Could I have imagined two live shows in year though? No. That’s just my character though. I hate feeling too comfortable, and I like to push myself to a point of discomfort. To the limit. That sort of pressure takes me to another level.

If you can rewind time, what would you say to him?

What would I say to Flashy Sillah who started Block Report on 90’s Babies…I would tell him: do not fear anything that comes your way, and don’t fear your own ideas. That’s a key point I even wanna send out to content creators. Don’t fear your own ideas. If you come up with an idea that may feel a bit outlandish. Do it.There’s no limits to content. I would also tell myself from two years ago, don’t fear the possibility of taking this nationwide. Don’t fear the possibility of this being your life. It’s a thing that connects you to a lot of people, and I knew that from the first ten episodes I had, but I kind of fell back from developing a lot of the concepts I had with the block report, because I had a fear that it would fail. So, the message of “do not fear,” is definitely something I would tell myself.

In the future the Block Report will continue to solidify its place in UK popular culture, sealing a permanent stamp from this present moment in time, onwards. There’s an extreme beauty to public figures who are a part of the culture – pushing the culture – giving back to it. The numbers game should never be the main consideration when tailoring such shows or content to a specific demographic, but more about the organic chemistry generated by the recognition. As indicated by the critical acclaim of the open mics and reception of each episodic upload to date, there is clarity to the kind of potential residing in the realm of this platform, and that potential proves to be limitless.

How Dave Further Proved He’s King of The Parallels With ‘My 24th Birthday’

If there’s one thing about Dave, he’s a king when it comes to creating parallels within his own musical universe. 

The long awaited arrival of his sophomore album We’re All Alone In This Together accounts for this, as the resemblances he’s created don’t necessarily lie in the continuation of songs he’s previously released, because they can present through structural similarities and emotion they evoke from listeners. 

Pairings from WAAITT and Psychodrama standing at a cross roads that are comparable in a versus include:

We’re All Alone and Psycho

Think of the feeling experienced from listening to both intro’s back to back. When WAAITT dropped, did your mind take a hit of nostalgia, and associate it with Psycho? Can you pick up on the truthful elements which turn the artist’s reality into your own?  With these two, everything comes down to how heightened our senses become as the storyteller unleashes his candour.

Verdansk and Screwface Capital

Both are dominated by a piano in their intros, honing in an intense cinematic feeling. The visuals for Verdansk account for this, from the concept, down to the style of execution. Despite its notorious rival, Screwface Capital not having a music video, eliminating this one factor still places the pair on par in what could be classed as Dave’s version of luxury rap – with a crud-esque touch. The verse arrangement, build up in production all the way through to the core beat transition are in alignment; presenting a parallel by structure.

Heart Attack and Panic Attack 

Dedicated to the Six Path‘s era  – which looking back at David’s journey, this was the beginning – Heart Attack’s steady heartbeat, chaotic sirens, news voiceovers and sombre acoustics deviate away from the 140bpm, Grime heavy elements that were laced into the prequel; creating a state of hyperrealism. The fabrication of this effect is intentional; aiding listeners to understand that even though time has passed between Panic Attack, and it’s accentuated continuation, the themes touched on in both – crime, justice, social exclusion – are still prevalent problems of today. 

The arrival of My 24th Birthday, successor to My 19th Birthday joins this ensemble; demonstrating that any genius mirroring isn’t purely limited to the above.

My 19th Birthday is by far one of Santan’s most lyrically powered tracks; a top contender from his Game Over chapter. A true embodiment of every element that comes with pain rap when delivered by him. Fast forward five years, My 24th Birthday shines light upon the Streatham prince’s growth, creating major contrast from the anguish detailed in its predecessor; the growing pains of becoming an artist, alongside the struggles of rising to become who Dave might now refer to, as Him.

There’s a desolate essence to the tone of delivery. Arm in arm with the unpredictable melody (possibly lifted from his own vocals as hinted by the Instagram post paying tribute to the release), the story graces our ears, giving us a moment to reminisce with the rapper, about times prior to this, that had far less favourable circumstances. Despite the fame, opulence and success that can accompany a 24-year old poet, he doesn’t hold back on centring what he spits about, around honesty – detailing how regardless of his present, there are moments in this current reality where he lacks complete fulfilment.  

Those who are new to his music will find their love for him continuing to grow, whilst those from the Blackbox days will commend him for upholding his artistic integrity. Through the mirror dimensions David creates, honesty propels him forward. Besides proving to us that he is a king when it comes to creating parallels in his music, he also doesn’t fail to remind us that he is in fact, the truth. 

Multiverse of Music: UK Rappers If They Were Characters In ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’

The arrival of Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Way Home has generated an ecstatic buzz among MCU and cinematic enthusiasts because this third instalment to Tom Holland’s Spider-Man series serves its purpose of an incredible pop culture moment, as we witness him share the big screen with Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. This highly anticipated cross-over has been a trending topic since the trailer’s reveal, which initially introduced nostalgia through the prolific re-appearance of Dr Oc. Likewise, it’s been a big year for UK rap, as many artists are experiencing their ‘main character moment’ having delivered projects that will go onto be hot topics of discussion for years to come, whilst others are still acknowledged for the timelessness of their art.

Seeing as we’ve now been introduced to the concept of the Multiverse, and watched a handful of home-grown talents flourish, the timing is perfect to present you with a breakdown of UK rappers if they were characters in Spider-Man: No Way Home!

Peter 2 | Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man – Kano

Both OG’s in their fields, and the type of individuals who have a character profile that brings about nostalgia when music or MCU lover’s hear their name. If there was to be a Tobey Maguire on the UK rap scene, it would be the maker of Home Sweet Home, and our favourite Top Boy, Kano. Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker is constantly credited for laying solid foundations in a world where Spider-Man would exist, having been the first to remarkably portray Peter Parker, and just like him, our old school favourite spitter, doesn’t go unnoticed for his contribution to Grime and UK Hip-Hop, being among the first poets of his kind on the  scene. 

Peter 3 | Andrew Garfield’s Spiderman – Little Simz

As of recent, there’s been a huge wave of love that Little Simz and Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker have received – and it’s about time. Rebellious in the way she constructs her captive sonics, this rap Goddess and our favourite introvert, SIMBI would be the Amazing Spider-Man. Andrew’s Peter, like Simz, has an introverted aspect, but when it’s time to embrace the hero part of himself, and come out of his shell – even as Peter – he captures the attention of audiences by bringing out a highly eccentric persona, that diverges from the one in both Tobey and Tom’s portrayal; as does Little Simz when she’s out for blood in her bars. Both Simbi and Garfield are magnetic standouts in their own universes, no doubt.

Peter 1 | Tom Holland’s Spider-Man – Dave 

Rap prodigy and going strong in his lead for the younger gen, Dave, embodies the qualities of our current Peter Parker, Tom Holland. Both appeal to the masses, by setting a high standard, and hold a place in the hearts of many, with the way they’re able to transcend audiences of all age groups through the delivery of their art. No Way Home’s Spider-Man, and the platinum selling artist, hold traits that truly make them the “people’s champ.” Just as we witness Tom share the screen with Andrew and Tobey in No Way Home, Dave also stepped forward to share the mic with Stormz, Meekz, Ghetts, and, Giggs on his most recent project, ‘WAAITT’.  This pairing defines the aspects, of how the old gen meets with the new to create a feeling of what can be best referred to, as ‘new school nostalgia‘.

Electro, portrayed by Jamie Foxx | Skepta 

This comparison shouldn’t be surprising, because it goes without saying that when it comes Skepta, everything about his sound and artist: is charged up. Electric. Whether it’s what he’s given to us in projects, features, or live performances. Much like the Tottenham spitter, Electro, represents a character hungry for power and quick to adapt to the frequencies of a different universe; both him and Skep are multi-dimensional figures. So the UK’s Electro would be our Greaze Mode beast, Skepta. 

Lizard, portrayed by Rhys Ifans | Giggs 

Dr Curtis Connors carries himself as a perceptive, methodical man; driven by the determination to succeed, as seen with his genetic hybridisation trails. Having taken interns under his wing whilst working at Oscorp, it’s clear he’s very open to the ideas of youngsters. Similar to Dr. Connors, Giggs – despite maintaining his signature, tranquil flow, and road rap style throughout the years –  has in fact demonstrated innovative approaches with his music; especially with the collaborations on his last Mixtape Now or Never, and sparking talks of a potential link up with Kentucky sensation, Jack Harlow, during the summer.  Also it’s uncanny how the two parallel each other with their, deep, gruff voices, and something about The Lizard’s humour in NWH, really gives off a Gigg-esque vibe.

Dr Otto Octavius, portrayed by Alfred Molina | Ghetts

Ahead of his time no doubt, and consumed by the art of technology, Dr Otto Octavius is GOAT’ed as villain in the Spider-Man series, and the origins of his villain story lead him to become an antagonist that truly thinks outside the box – whether he was under the control of AI or not. If there’s a scientist of the game in the UK, it’s Ghetts as he’s highly experimental and given listeners evolutionary material in his 2021 album, Conflict of Interest.  Like Dr Oc, Ghetts takes his art into different spaces and is a true, sonic shapeshifter. 

Sandman, portrayed by Thomas Haden church | Stormzy

Sweet by nature, but ready to unleash a storm if it comes to it, Spider-Man’s Sandman doesn’t hold traits of a villain with a poor temper, but rather those of a force that should not be reckoned with because he can easily adapt to and fuel the conditions of a fight through manipulation of his abilities, to cause damage. Stormzy, like his super human counterpart, brings a chaos – a sandstorm –  to his raps, and has mastered the art of adjusting to more contemporary styles, as seen with his recent features on Dave’s Clash, Ghett’s Skengman, and the progress in his discography which has put him at the forefront of UK Rap.

Green Goblin, portrayed by Willem Dafoe | Little Simz – The People’s Choice | Chipmunk – In Reality

Willem Dafoe delivered a masterclass performance in No Way Home with the reprisal of his role as Green Goblin, embodying every aspect of a villain that needed to crush Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, pushing him to becoming the Spider-Man he is. Simbi is no villain, but she has never missed with the delivery of an album, woven with words, sonic styles, and flows that are truly top of their league and tump out her male counterparts on the scene. She’s previously proven this with the 11/10 Grey Area, and this year, the Brit nominated SIMBI. If there’s anyone who’s capable of a Green Goblin style execution, whilst being labelled a hero for her impact as a female rapper, it’s Islington’s very own, Little Simz. 

On the other hand, if there’s a spitter who can hold his own in a feud, and deliver antagonistic pen in the same way that Green Goblin delivers lines that go on to be ingrained in the minds of the protagonists he impacts, it’s Chipmunk. Notorious for being in a number of heated UK Rap wars, and a very skilled bar-er when sending shots, in reality Chip does have what it takes to be the scene’s Green Goblin, whilst maintaining the status of an acclaimed artist, among his core audience.