(Pic: M.I.A)
MTV Base Spanking New - Manchester University - 12.4.04

On the first night of MTV's Spanking New series of gigs in Manchester it was time for Trevor Nelson to bring the best in new urban flavours. Which of these MTV tipped acts could become the new So Solid Crew, Jamelia or Dizzee Rascal?

The Mitchell Brothers arrive looking like extra's from McFly's "Obviously" video. After chav chic, the duo come with a brand new style - Golf Caddy Chic complete with flat cap and pringle jumpers. The first signing to Mike Skinner's Beat Label they look set to establish themselves in their own right over the next 12 months. "Routine Check" with it's tale about being stopped by the men in blue and "Harvey Nicks" about not being allowed in the popular store for being too scruffy hit the mark, as does their love of brandy. They offer a unique take on British hip-hop that doesn't pretend to come from the ghetto's. With a few more killer hooks they could well step froum under Skinners shadow.

Nathan's polished into an inch of his life and while he's being hailed by his label as the next Craig David (What? A one year career then a laughing stock on Bo Selecta), the more obvious comparison is a British Mario or a one man B2K. "Come In To My Room" is the sort of sexually charged R&B track that Cassidy launched with "Hotel" and it's one that the guys clearly are getting down to as well as the ladies. There's no doubting he can sing, but he needs to hook up with some of the premier songwriting teams to take him out of the clubs and into the mainstream.

Roll Deep are a forgettable London crew offering watered down versions of So Solid and the More Fire Crew. It's energetic, but ultimately forgettable and five minutes later we were asking Roll who?

M.I.A has already broken through with unprecedented success in America playing sold out shows in New York and the SXSW festival. With her mash-up of bhangra, ragga, hip hop and electro being the most groundbreaking fusion since Missy Elliot arrived on the scene it's not hard to see why. The daughter of a Tamil fighter, she grew up in hiding across Sri Lanka and India before settling in the UK. Struggling to fit in she retreated into her shell before going to art college, which led to a chance meeting with Elastica's Justine Frishman. It was to be a meeting which took her Stateside (in a documentary making capacity at the time) where she hooked up with producers Diplo, Richard X and Pulp's Steve Mackey for the debut album proper "Arular" on XL Records. "Pull Up The People", "Galang", "Sunshine" and Bucky Dun Good" all played tonight only hint at the genius of M.I.A. The album is a revelation and the fact that big names are lining up to work with in the States (she's just signed to Interscope - home of Eminem & 50 Cent - both produced by Dr Dre) will ensure she becomes an international star.

When Killa Kella arrives with a string quartet and full band you can be sure he means business. Designer Magazine has witnessed Kella several times before at his many appearances at Anti-Racist and Anti-Fascist benefit gigs, so it seems strange for him to ink a deal with a major (BMG) and be playing the tres corporate MTV gig. However Killa Kella is the sort of maverick the mainstream should embrace mixing up beat boxing, MC-ing and classical flourishes. A perfect ending to a great gig.

Alex McCann

MTV Base Spanking New airs the W/C 18th April
Also check out the MTV Hits and MTV2 Spanking New shows as well
For exact times and repeat times

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