Writing courses: How to prevent your classmates hating you

Writing Classes by Tom NashThe old saying goes that everybody has a novel in them. Many of us like the idea of recording these ideas but lack the skills needed to actually transfer the thoughts to paper (or screen these days), let alone craft a meaningful narrative that others would happily pay to read.

Luckily, there are people out there that work in publishing or that have successful writing careers of their own who love the craft so much that they are willing to share what they know with enthusiastic folks like us in classes- whether they be college or university courses or more informal affairs.

I’ve been lucky enough to take part in a fair few writing classes and, being the observant and altruistic chap that I am, have decided to put together a lickle list of tips that could be useful if you are thinking of getting your scribe on in a classroom setting and you would like to avoid the chance of your classmates bonding through their mutual hatred of you:
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Music: Five of the best artists you’ve never heard of (the Hip Hop edition)

Hip Hop by Tom NashIt’s about time I finished the trilogy I started last year with the Instrumental Hip Hop Edition and continued with an introduction to the most criminally underrated and underappreciated Hip Hop groups of our time; CunninLynguists.

This time around, I’m going to share a selection of songs from more artists I feel don’t get the praise they deserve. Those artists are, in no particular order:

Sean Price
The king of ignorance. If you like Hip Hop that’s cynically formulated to moisten teenage girl panties (I’m looking at you, Drizzy), Sean P is not for you. If you like whiplash-inducing boom-bap and your rhymes full of witty punchlines and wordplay, you might just have found your new favourite rapper.
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Music: When rappers sample songs you know (Part Two)

Hip Hop by Tom NashIf you didn’t catch Part One when it went up (there’s less pointing and laughing… About the same amount of Phil Collins though), or you fancy refreshing your memory, click here.

This post has caused me issues. It seemed so easy at first; think of some horrendous rap songs that sample a well-known track in the backing beat. What could be easier, right?

Wrong.

The first three choices blooooooow, of that there can be no doubt. And there was no chance I was putting a link to anything featuring Professor Green’s strange nasal accent on my website (when he says ‘ahhhhh’, he means ‘eye’, apparently- I know, mind= blown, right?) so his decimation of Where is My Mind by The Pixies is something you are going to have seek out and be outraged by on your time. But if I’m completely honest, it got tough quick, as the majority of songs I remembered as being terrrrrrrible, actually had a weird novelty value upon revisiting.

You try playing that X-to-tha-Zee track below and not cracking a smile when he starts dropping knowledge over that loop. Go on. It can’t be done, unless you’re dead inside.

Who knew Toto’s Africa would work as a rap track? And how awesome is DJ Premier for including the ‘biff, baff, POW’ Batman sound effects in that beat for Snoop Dogg? All the awesome, that’s what. You know what I mean.
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Music: When rappers sample songs you know (Part One)

Hip Hop by Tom NashThe sample. Nothing in music is more divisive. Some say categorically that anyone that uses samples is not producing art and cannot be considered a musician. These people tend to anger quickly, which is ironic considering the reputation of the genres they look to belittle and demonise. The rest of us, I don’t know, get worked up over more important issues, hopefully…

The most famous genre for sampling is, of course, Hip Hop. Without sampling, Hip Hop simply wouldn’t be a thing, making it as integral a part of the music and culture as ridiculous slang, big-ass bass and weird hand movements to accentuate rhymes… *Rap hands*

Think nothing good has ever come from sampling? I raise you a Paul’s Boutique by The Beastie Boys, a Three Feet High and Rising by De La Soul and an Entroducing by DJ Shadow… Never heard of any of these? Do yourself a favour and go catch up, as the ‘well-known’ samples below will probably be a mystery too. Run along, youngblood. Shoo; go learn.

Let’s face it, unless you know the source material, most of the time you wouldn’t even know you were listening to a chunk of some other song, unless someone pointed it out to you. Did you know the Arctic Monkeys have sampled Ennio Morricone (seriously- Google him)? What about Royksopp sampling Parliament/Funkadelic? Even bastions of whiny dad-rock U2 have sampled other artists (Harold Budd and Brian Eno, if you’re wondering).

When it comes to sampling, I guess ignorance really is bliss.
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Job Hunting: Avoid depressing workshops- don’t be a dick- keep your chin up

Employability by Tom NashA little while ago, I was asked by someone very dear to me to accompany them to an ’employability workshop’ for unemployed graduates. Being the warm, generous, caring soul you all know me to be, I said ‘sure’, then found out it was on a Sunday. Not happy. But it was at a big, wanky hotel and they were laying on a free lunch. Still not happy, but happier…

So we turn up at said big wanky hotel and wander about the place completely failing to find the room the workshop is in (picking up a few other strays along the way) as some numbnut thought a single A4 sheet was plenty of signage. Twenty minutes late, we finally get to where we’re meant to be and we sneak in all casual-like.

What followed was three hours of the most awkward, uncomfortable, utterly optimism-draining ‘ice-breakers’ I have ever had the misfortune to be involved in (You remember that I’m from Croydon, don’t you?). It was so bad, we scarpered at lunchtime- even the lure of curly sandwiches wasn’t enough to keep us there.

But I did learn some stuff and I got this blog post out of it so it weren’t all bad, you could argue…

Anyway, here are a few choice observations I made during this strange, soul-destroying event:
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CV Writing: The reasons you don’t get any replies

CV Writing by Tom NashCurriculum Vitaes, CVs, Resumes- whatever you want to call them, if you want to be employed, you need one.

But how do you know what to put on yours?

Fear not- Tom is here to steer you in the right direction. From the point of view of the poor fucker who has to read these things…

One of my many roles in one of my super important jobs (oh yeah- that’s how freelancers roll, baby) is to look through CVs and writing samples from aspiring writer-types and wannabe digital marketers.

Sometimes there are some real gems in the pile; we’ve found some extremely talented young writers who have been a pleasure to work with… But for every one of them, there have been ten CVs that have prompted a stink-face and swift trip to the shredder.
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Music: The best artists you’ve never heard of (CunninLynguists Edition)

Hip Hop by Tom NashHello, dear reader(s- ever the optimist). The site’s been updated and now everything is in one, easy-to-navigate place and that’s super.

So what better way to celebrate the sleek, sexy new design and layout than a sleek, sexy new blog post? None, that’s right. Great minds, eh?

Last time out, I shared a selection of artists that make beautiful, yet gangsterific (it’s a word) instrumental Hip Hop type stuff. Now it’s time to look at some folk what do the rappity-rap stuff… Where you going?

Well that was the idea, anyway. Turns out this lot need a post to themselves.

People that know me well can click away now, as they are probably sick of hearing me witter on about this group. “Who, Tom? Tell us!”

Umm… It says who in the title.
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Music: Five of the best artists you’ve never heard of (The Instrumental Hip Hop Edition)

Hip Hop by Tom NashSo I just realised that since I started doing this, my bio has mentioned my love of the oft-maligned genre of music known as Rap or Hip Hop (I know, white suburban fella likes Rap… Shocking!) and I’ve never written about it.

While those of you remember me mentioning that I write for Music Liberation will know I’ve covered a couple of Rap albums over there, other than the occasional tweet, I’ve never written anything about the music I claim to be ‘passionate’ about. Well, we’re going to change that.

In a break from the usual moaning about stupid people/things, the following is a list of (in my humble opinion) AWESOME Hip Hop artists that you need in your life. I’ll ease you in with some instrumental stuff.

*Please note, if your taste in music is dictated by Fearne Cotton, Kiss 100 (Is it still called that? Don’t answer- don’t care), or any television music channel, this piece won’t be for you.

Same goes if you’ve ever said “I can’t understand a fucking word they’re saying” or “it all sounds the same to me” when the topic of Hip Hop has been brought up in conversation.

Something vacuous is bound to be on E4 or ITV2, go gurgle in front of that while the grown-ups talk.*

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