Tag Archives: coconut unlimited

BOOK SLAM

Sorry I haven’t been blogging. I’ve got interviews with H M Naqvi and Tjinder Singh ready to go but my second novel is taking precedence I’m afraid.

Sorry again.

By way of apology, here’s a video of me at Book Slam:

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Coconut Unlimited launch party

You weren’t there man.

Maybe you were.

dddEither way, the Coconut Unlimited launch party was a massive massive success. We sold out of books, people boogied till 2am and at one point, there was a queue down the street to get in. Book launch? Dope-ass gig? Who knows?

Seeing Penguin bods, authors like Gavin James Bower, Stuart Evers, Laura Dockrill, Evie Wyld, Niven Govinden and on was amazing. My family was out. Musicians like DJ Excalibah, Nerm, Dirtburg were out. Booktrust was out. Writers, rockers, editors, agents, it was quite a turnout. Even Alice Ingall came. We rocked the house.

I read from the book.

We had hip hop karaoke from the best. Last Mango In Paris (Shane Solanki) performed a hilarious medley of classics, Josh Idehen of Benin City rocked with ‘Ruff Ryders Anthem’, Bonecatron from Dirtburg made us swoon with ‘Passin’ Me By’ by The Pharcyde and DJ Excalibah bravely attempted ‘Bombs Over Baghdad’ by Outkast, a fast song by any means. I even tried my hand at an off-beat version of ‘Just a Friend’ by Biz Markie, which was rightly interrupted by Spak Whitman, the poetical alter-ego of comedian Rich Sandling.

Neel, who I performed Pretty Cool with, compered, feeling like a rock star. Mr Lingo from Funk From the Trunk, dropped those funky ass hits like every single day. Rahul Verma from All-India Radio soothed us with Bollywood. DJ Excalibah got all old skool. Then Dirtburg reformed and it was truly amazing. ‘Gypsy Jazz’, ‘I Can Do That’ – it was like the heady days of 2004 all over again.

We sold out of books. We were dope.

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Coconut Unlimited – the mixtape

Hey all,

My book is back from the printers! To celebrate the release of ‘Coconut Unlimited’ on 28 October, Quartet Books has teamed up with Funk From the Trunk DJ Mr Lingo and Sweatbox Sounds to create ‘Coconut Unlimited – the mixtape’ just like in the book. We’ve recorded special Coconut Unlimited dubs, drops from people like Charlie Dark, Nerm and Laura Dockrill as well as characters from the book coming to life. There are tracks from Thirsten Howl III, Wu Tang Clan, Gang Starr, A Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions and many more. It’s a document of the Golden Age of Hip Hop that inspired the book, ‘Coconut Unlimited.’

You can download it for free here

Do spread the link and the word…

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IDS IBS

I’ve been away. Sorry.

Before I went, I had the chance to take down the government but I failed you. I had the opportunity to throw in the Con-Dem government’s face their hypocrisy, wrongness and general disregard for the welfare of their loyal subjects. I failed you.

I’m at the BBC, recording my poem for Asian Network (not saved- screw you middle class 6Music fans). I’ve timed this to perfection. I’ll be in the studio, record for 15 minutes and be at my dayjob desk in time for the first coffee run. BOOM. I’m sat outside the studio waiting. Waiting waiting waiting. After 20 minutes of uncomfortable shifting, I notice who’s in the studio ahead of me, overrunning. It’s Iain Duncan Smith, secretary of state for Work and Pensions, ironically making me late for my work (and ergo my pension). I think, I’m gonna say something. I’m going to destroy him. I’m going to kill him. I’m going to make him feel so guilty and disgusted with himself he goes to work and says ‘Boys, I’ve seen the light, we should call it a day.’ I think of a stinger, a zinger, a pain-bringer. I get it, I workshop it in my head. I search for the qualifier- is he blud, bruv, cuz, bredrin, geeza, chief or mate. I opt for mate.

He finishes… 30 minutes late. He walks out and asks his assistant how that went.

I look at him, catch his eye and look at my watch, holding it up to him – this is my freaking moment people, my glorious, political, revolutionary moment – and I say… ‘Took your time, MATE.’ He shakes his head slightly and walks off.

I walk in feeling amazing then I realise. That was SHIT. That was SO rubbish. ‘Took your time, MATE’??? That’s rubbish. Even ‘Took your time, COCK’ would have been better. Even ‘Took your time, now time to kill yourself you Tory prick’ would have been better. But a sarcastic nothing like ‘Took your time’ followed by a sarcastic ‘MATE’ – that’s pretty rubbish.

I’m embarrassed.

But you wouldn’t have said anything at all now, would you?

I hang my head in shame.

Next: exciting news about our exciting Coconut Unlimited release party. You can come.

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New York minutes #1

There’s a moment on departure when I think I’m in an episode of 24. My bag goes through an extra scan at check-in where it is swabbed with a cloth, which is then analysed in a big futuristic machine. I can see the word ‘explosives’ in the corner of the readout screen and freak out, asking what they’re scanning for.

‘I don’t have to tell you,’ I’m told. I express surprise at this new scan. She eyes me suspiciously. I move on quickly.

There’s a moment on the plane when I think I’m in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm and the foibles of others are oppressing me. The teenager next to me on the plane is sat with knees as akimbo as he can make them, straddling both armrests with his bony elbows. I’m cramped into the aisle and as a result, my flabbier elbows jostle the hips of a particularly rotund air stewardess every time she passes. I feel like screaming at him.

There’s a moment in my taxi from the airport when I think I’m in an episode of something else when the cab driver instructs me to stay away from Union Square as it’s full of gays and I shouldn’t trust them. I try and reason with him but moments earlier when he’d told me he was Trinidadian but uninterested in cricket I lost respect for him. I ignore his mean comments and instead watch New York throb outside my windows.

Which cliche to give New York then? It’s very angular. It’s hard to get lost because of the military grid system. But it’s also hard to feel like you really know the place. The streets with the red brick town houses feel like movie sets. The beautiful men and women bustle past with that ‘I’m-waaaalkin-here’ fuzz. The shoe shiners all sit in the shade and shoot the shit. I should be listening to Boogie Down Productions, the sound of New York in my ears.

Hungry, I head to a sports bar to eat bad food and watch highlights of the World Cup action. The Americans are obsessed with it this year and are hilariously talking up their scrape-through to the next round by referring to it as a ‘historic win’ amongst other exaggerations. Everyone’s talking about it this year. Is this David Beckham’s footballing legacy to the world? To get America excited about the World Cup? The bar I’m sat in has a cordoned off area for an Eclipse party starting at 8pm. It’s 5pm and girls are sat by themselves already drinking cocktails in the cordoned-off area, waiting for the Eclipse party. Eclipse is the third Twilight film. These girls are adults.

I head over to a party in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Tejal is the younger sister of my childhood best friend Nishant. I haven’t seen either of them in 16 years. When I was a child, it was Anand, Nishant and me- the only quirky Asians in our all-white school. I recently fictionalised our teendom for my book Coconut Unlimited, so I’m excited to see Tejal and her parents again. Especially seeing as Naina auntie is described as the perfect parent in my book. We are here for Anand’s wedding. Tejal is a food writer and journalist and gourmet expert and her boyfriend Hugh is a writer. They host extravagant underground restaurant parties, 9-course banquets, in their spacious converted warehouse, a gorgeous, high ceilinged industrial construct, filled with books about food, delicious cocktail apparatus and a playful dog called Kimchi, who is the life of the party I attend, managing to be everywhere in the appartment at once. I talk to a Stella Mccartney employee who resolves to help me in my search for sartorial vintage ware and a book editor who drunkenly resolves to find Coconut Unlimited a US-home, as well as other friendly smart and cool Brooklyn types. I feel part of something. Inside feels completely to the outside, which is a ‘project’ or housing estate. I’ve walked through many in London but walking through this project in Red Hook to get to Tejal’s flat has associations with gangsta rap records for me, associations I quickly dismiss on sitting in the park and listening to the men play chess and banter hilariously with each other.

As I head back into the city later that night, jetlagged and freezing due to a malfunctioning air conditioner in my taxi, we head over the Brooklyn Bridge and the lights twinkle like static from the office blocks across the water and much as it’s beautiful, I worry about their carbon footprint.

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Coconut Unlimited – available to pre-order

It’s official then:

COCONUT UNLIMITED
Nikesh Shukla

‘A unique, bittersweet, tragi-geek celebration of beats, rhymes, and growing up. Nikesh Shukla captures the excitement, delusions, and creative confusion of adolescence with disarming honesty and laugh-out-loud insight.’
Riz Ahmed AKA Riz MC, star of Four Lions

Coconut Unlimited follows the adventures of three hapless, hip-hop obsessed Asian boys in an all-white private school.

It’s Harrow in the 1990s, and Amit, Anand and Nishant are stuck. Their peers think they’re a bunch of try-hard darkies, acting street and pretending to be cool, while their community thinks they’re rich toffs, a long way from the ‘real’ Asians in Southall.

So, to keep it real, they form legendary hip-hop band ‘Coconut Unlimited’.

Pity they can’t rap…

From struggling to find records in the suburbs and rehearsing on rubbish equipment, to evading the clutches of disapproving parents and real life drug-dealing gangsters, Coconut Unlimited documents every teenage boy’s dream and the motivations behind it: being in a band to look pretty cool – oh, and get girls…

‘Coconut Unlimited is an overdue take on the neglected nexus between private school and Public Enemy. A spry, funny writer, Nikesh Shukla has a terrifying eye for the awkwardness of adolescence but, fortunately, spares his reader too much fist-eating embarrassment through the charm of his characters and the heart of his prose.’
Patrick Neate, author of Jerusalem and Twelve Bar Blues

‘Charming, funny and connects to the wannabe gangster in all of us.’
Joe Dunthorne, author of Submarine

‘Coconut Unlimited is dope. A Brit-Asian Rotters’ Club that is both a loving homage to hip-hop and a fresh take on the English comic novel. Carry On Rapping…’
Niven Govinden, author of Graffiti My Soul

‘Laugh out loud and refreshingly honest. The hip-hop soundtrack thumps like a bassline from beginning to end.’
Anita Rani, presenter and journalist

‘Like Goodness Gracious Me being channelled by Flava Flav…’
Bobby Friction, DJ and broadcaster

‘An absolute killer of a book that perfectly captures the suburban quest for Rap Stardom. Grab your crotch and bust a lyric into your hairbrush handle…’
Charlie Dark, writer, producer and DJ

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Things I Been Doing

So much, so much has been going on.

1) Coconut Unlimited is DONE and will be out on Quartet Books and will be out in October 2010. Go seek. And for the one or two people who read this blog, the launch party will be a special affair in Camden on 12 October 2010. Hope you can come down.

2) I’ve been writing a super-secret telly project with a super-duper rapping actor. More soon hopefully.

3) I’m hosting an event at Concrete Bar, Heyward Gallery on 7 July 2010 called The Complete Works as part of London Literature Festival. It features all my usual cohorts like Salena, Gavin and Stuart and a literary pub quiz. Start forming teams!

4) A short story will appear in the next issue of Nutshell magazine so go cop

5) A short story will appear in the 33 ‘West’ anthology through Glasshouse Books in June so go cop[squared]

6) I’m taking part in July’s Literary Deathmatch at Concrete (in the old Tea bar, under Pizza East) so come support.

Phew. Enough bragging. Bye!

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So… some news about Coconut Unlimited…

It will be published by Quartet Books

BANG

Thanks to Stuart Evers and Niven Govinden for their advice.

Thanks to Gavin James Bower, David Eliot and Naim Atallah at Quartet Books. It’s going to be awesome.

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Storytails (a mini break from 100days)

I realise that all my blogging energy is taken up with my 100 days microfiction endeavours. I’ve been up to some interesting stuff with some bits coming up soon. I have an amazing anecdote from the blistering brilliant Book Club Boutique from last Saturday but I’ll tell you in a bit.

In the meantime, on Sunday, I read ‘Rap Tape’ my hilarious extract from ‘Coconut Unlimited’ at a new storytelling night called Storytails at the Pangea Project in Stoke Newington. It was a good night. You can download an mp3 of my performance here

Amazingly, someone reviewed the night and was very nice about my bit: ‘Nikesh Shukla seemed the most practised performer of the lot, and his ‘Rap Tales’ strays almost into stand-up territory as he acts out his memories of discovering hip-hop and making mix tapes with his cousin way back in the Eighties. Shukla’s is a very funny British Asian voice, self-deprecating and he does his own bad beat box sound effects. This was an extract from a longer work so didn’t have the self-contained feel of the other pieces we heard, but had lots of other kinds of charm.’

Read the whole review here

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Ty-ght like a Tiger

Yesterday, while the rest of London was having snow-based hissy fits, I was on a train home and noticed a tall serene looking man with impeccable Clark Kent-glasses sat next to me. It was only Ty. Yes, Ty the rapper and soul-infused Afro-beat loving smooth hip hop man with the infectiously funky live band. Now, I interviewed him back in 2004 or sometime and even though my book’s about my love for hip hop and growing up with it careening through my ears, I still lost touch with that ukhh scene. I compared it to a friend who you were tight with at university but now you’re an accountant and he’s a pharmacist and you don’t see each other that much anymore.

And then I saw Ty and I thought, this is probably a sign I need to reinvolve myself in the good stuff happening in UK rap music.

I said hello, reintroduced myself to the man and we had a quick chat. Mostly about his album and how he was excited about it, touring with a James Brown tribute outfit last year and my book. He got excited about my book and its reference to hi p hop and we lamented that not enough about the music is published in books ever. And he was super nice and friendly and full of worldly wisdom. It was great seeing him.

Then I got home to Twitter and saw the following exchanges:

tymusic @nikeshla gooo to see you today bro..that books sounds a goood en….we need more books like that bro…excited for you!

tymusic @nikeshla. SOMEBODY GIVE THIS MAN A BOOK DEAL….. Now…

EngineEarz RT @TheReju: 4 REAL! RT: @rahooligan RT @tymusic: @nikeshla. SOMEBODY GIVE THIS MAN A BOOK DEAL….. Now… >> I second that!

Wow… a legendary hero musician like TY ordering publishers to sign me up, retweeted by supreme hip hop journalist Rahul Verma, Radio 1 producer Reju Sharma and one-to-watch act for 2010 Engine Earz Experiment, my ears are burning.

Thanks so much guys. I feel blessed and touched. Bigness for you.

Get Ty‘s new album in April and Engine Earz‘s tunes whereever you can find them. You won’t be disappointed.

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