Category Archives: hip-hop

Concert Review: GZA

Yo, you remember back in the day?…Back in the good old days…when the MCs caaame to live out the naaame…well the good old days are here and now as GZA and the crew come to London to perform the masterpiece that is ‘Liquid Swords’…memories in the corners of my mind – flashbacks, I was laughin’ all the time…

Date: 9th December 2007

Venue: KOKO, Camden, London.

In Attendance: Myself, Tes, & Christian.

Occasion: GZA takes us through the Liquid Swords chamber.

“Keep your temper. Never lose control of yourself. Be patient. If you learn to do these things, you can master anything.”

With this sage advice in mind we are just about able to withstand the awful awful DJ spinning as we jostle for position inside the venue. This guy is playing some Wu but he is messing around with his own remixes – never once looking up to gage crowd reaction he is playing like he is alone in his bedroom…although considering that any diligent DJ spends many hours doing just that I suggest that this fool take a page from their book and come back in a few years!

Shire Knights move in a 7, we move in an L…in this case it is Tes, our man from Mordor, who executes the perfect L-plan attack which results in us taking up our squares, four rows from the front at dead centre stage! My happiness is partially deflated when some clown comes and stands right in front of me (plus, as a basketball player I am rather jealous of anyone who hits 6’4” before they’ve even started shaving!). I feel slightly bad for taking the piss when the Disc Jokey plays some plinky-blinky-bleep-bleep BULLSHIT and this character starts jerking around uncontrollably…the man is clearly ill! Thankfully this all ends when – as Tes predicts – the DJ literally runs off stage to shouts of “Wu” and “boo”.

‘Legend of the Liquid Sword’

If you are Living in the World Today you know GZA is the lyrical Swordsman of the Wu-Tang Clan who dropped the Gold standard album Liquid Swords. Outside tonight it is a Cold World, but inside the 4th Chamber it is hot as Hell’s Wind Staff because The Genius is performing the entire album from front to back. The soundman is a figure that has gotten it in the unprotected neck even more than the Labels throughout the history of Hip-Hop so one would be forgiven for expecting a round of Shadowboxin’ as the sound is consistently terrible. However Killah Hills 10304 is the parish of Killah Priest and GZA has evidently taken on board the Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth so on this night he chooses patience and peace over a Dual of the Iron Mic. If you weren’t in the house yourself fear not, I Gotcha Back, you know that my Investigative Reports leave nothing Unexplained.

‘Beneath the Surface’

“When the MCs caaame…”

The Genius, Killah Priest, Dreddy Kruger and “back up DJ” City Rich bring the classic album to life; GZA at times is a one man Clan flipping darts by RZA, Meth and Masta Killa as he puts flesh on the Hollow Bones of RZA’s classic soundscape. One thing to note is that, strange as it sounds, GZA’s delivery sometimes detracts from the performance. His rhymes are powerful and delivered from deep inside, yet they are also understated and incredibly slick – often it takes half a bar or more for a line to truly sink in – all these aspects make him incredible in the headphones but somehow cause the live action to lack a little impact (not aided by the poor sound quality). This is reflected in the behaviour of the crowd – we get rowdy when the beat drops (I know I saw Christian doing his fair share of shoving!) but quieten down throughout the song, simply because we are trying to catch every word! Thankfully just appreciation is shown as each song comes to a close.

‘Words from The Genius’

After Killah Priest closes the album with the outstanding B.I.B.L.E we move into a new chamber, and the second half of the show couldn’t be more different…shit is unbalanced, like elephants and ants on see-saws.

However, before the talk he gives it to us raw and rugged like slave man boots with classic tracks such as ‘Clan In Da Front’ and ‘Da Mystery of Chessboxin’ fucking up new recruits.

The bottle of brandy set out at the start of the show is getting low and with it GZA is getting loose, with plenty of time left before we get kicked out he is happy to spend some quality time with the fans…particularly the front row, with whom he comes and stands with for the majority of the show! At first heads swarm like iron fillings around this ultra magnetic MC but he reminds us that he is a normal person just like us, in fact “we are all celebrities”!

Many more jewels of wisdom and comedy gems proceed to follow the oft uttered declaration “I just wanna make a point…”

Predictably, and understandably, the state of Hip-Hop is a topic of discussion and the diagnosis is not positive, at a prompt from an audience member we get a “Fuck soldier boy” and “fuck 50 Cent”, in fact “Curtis, you may have a lotta money, but you ain’t got talent!”…everybody smile: “we on YouTube!”

All this is pretty funny stuff but I listen to Wu to make me forget these fake MCs and indeed that anything ails the genre at all, so it is after an a cappella rendition of ‘All In Together Now’ which kicks off an ODB tribute that I am left wishing GZA would invoke a little more of his late cousin’s spirit:

“Introducing, yo fuck the n!gga name! My Hip-Hop drops on your head like raaain, and when it raains it pours, I give you more of the raw ‘cos my rhymes hardcore, the talent that I got will riz-ock the spot, MCs I be burnin’ – burnin’ hot!”

Music is still a part of the show and the GZA is open to requests, the trouble is he rarely gets round to performing them, getting sidetracked instead by boxing banter – to end the Mayweather/Hatton back and forth between MCs and crowd he offers £100 for a fan of each fighter to come and fight on stage.

He does get round to a few songs…or parts of them…Animal Planet, performed as it is with only every 10th word, goes down particularly well.

“Yeah, I forgot my words…so what?! You forget shit everyday!”

A request to freestyle is also dismissed: “Who said freestyle?! You forget I’m a Genius?…99% of off the top shit is WACK”

As Killah Priests background beat box provides one of the crispest rhythms of the night GZA confusedly calls to City Rich to turn it down, drawing bemused looks and laughs all round.

“What month is this?! I’m having so much fun I lost track of time”

And so it goes on for some time, until, in fact, it is time for us to ‘Breaker, Breaker’ break the hell outta there.

“After the Laughter…”

Despite how it may come across it has been a hugely enjoyable show, mostly because we have experienced a hitherto unseen side of one of the Clan’s most enigmatic members, who knew the stone faced expression was so often exchanged for a sly grin and a witty, dry humour? That the mystique shrouds a genuine desire to mix with his equals the people who come to support Wu-Tang forever? The genes shared with ODB become more evident during the drunken foolery, and none of this detracts from his hugely powerful presence, especially as he grips the chrome microphone to perform his legendary classics.

Witty Unpredictable Talent And Natural Game indeed…the saga continues…W.U.T.A.N.G…W.U.T.A.N.G…


Concert Review: Nas 2007

Nas 002

Date: 22nd May 2007. Venue: Hammersmith Apollo. In Attendance: Tes & Myself. Occasion: Nas.

Since I last saw Nas perform he appears to have found a lot of peace and tranquillity in his life both public and private, I was hopeful that the peace and unity would extend to this evening with no repeat of the gun play that shortened the show last time out.

With doors scheduled to open at 7 it is with a little anxiety that we approach the Apollo around 9, no need to worry, tonight is strictly hip-hop time. With the queue stretching round the corner and down the street it is obvious that things haven’t kicked off yet, word is Nas will be on at 9:30 but the queue is making good progress.

It is a warm, short sleeves kind of night in the capital and the police are dressed for the weather – they’ve got bare arms! If troubled history repeats itself tonight the police will be ready to bust back with their terror-fying arsenal…this does not make me feel safer. At least security are doing their job, it is a swift but thorough once over before entry.

Run up on stage and wreck the DJ…

Once inside we are packed in with Black, Latino and Anglo-Saxons whilst the DJ spins the waxes. All is well as we listen to classics made over a decade ago; the spirit of ’94 is running strong. Somehow the DJ screws things up by playing Jay-Z (some fans haven’t got the make up memo yet and start booing) and completely ruins the vibe by dropping some 50 “motherfucking, bitch-ass” Cent. What is more perplexing is that neither DJ nor hype man realise why everybody is now booing and pelting them with flyers and plastic cups! The show wasn’t a sell out and we reckon that they are holding out, trying to sell the last few tickets as time ticks on.

Never on schedule, but always on time…

“Hip-Hop is Dead, welcome to the funeral” with these words the smiling, Jordan sportin’, fat gold rope with chunky pharaoh head piece gleaming, Timbs on his feet make his cipher complete, N the A to the Nasty Nas kick starts the show.

A quick ‘Money Over Bullshit’ gets the raps rolling before we see what the crowd is made of early on with a boisterous rendition of ‘Hip-Hop Is Dead’. Then we are straight into Ether, except with love for Jay. Don’t get it twisted, it is still “fuck a bum wack rapper making his career out of dissing” – sharp words for 50, followed by ‘Black Republican’. Somehow this, definitely one of the biggest songs in recent history, seems to lack a bit of impact without its other star and performed early on in the show.

There is nothing more Illmatic than a full medley of Nas’ debut album, kicked stood up on a speaker high above the sea of waving hands.

The Lost Tapes might actually be my favourite Nas album so I am excited to hear ‘No Ideas Original’ start a string of underground hits mixed in with a cappella raps including ‘2nd Childhood’ and other Stillmatic joints and ‘I Gave You Power’ – “guns up. Not to hurt a brother but to protect each other”.

One of the classic sections of the show is the medley of ‘It Was Written’, ‘Street Dreams’ and ‘If I Ruled The World’ backed with wonderful singing by the crowd.

“If I ruled the world I would give everyone in here 40 billion pounds!”

Nas, you are not the Chancellor of the Exchequer! Still, it’s a nice sentiment, as is the idea of being handed “George Bush’s head on a fucking platter”. The next song is one of my favourites, I don’t even know the name of it but when the hook starts there is no mistaking it:

“I wanna talk to the May-or, to the Governor, to the motherfucking Congressmen!”

I want to talk to the mayor: Yo Ken, what’s up with the £2 bus fare these days?! People are getting taxed hard into signing up for the all seeing Oy’!

When I spit, you lose consciousness…

Firm favourites next with the Mob side of the MOB outlook complete with those flows so spookily reminiscent of Lex cooking ‘caine in the kitchen. Escobar season has returned, if you want to hate Nas now is a good time as he rolls out the still terrible ‘Owe You For Ice’.

‘I Can’ soon forgive God’s Son his sins when he gets down with ‘Get Down’ and I think I must be ‘Still Dreaming’ when the awesome ‘Nas Is Like…’ is rapped out in full.

With LES backing him on the decks this show really has been about one man and ‘One Mic’, from a seated Buddha position Nas performs this song until he jumps up with the crescendo of the verses and it is the crowning moment of the show.

“They shooting! Uh, made you look”…we’ve been treated to the gems from his rhyme book and on that bombshell, the show is over.

A great celebration of the life, the whole body of work was laid out in an open casket and even though he didn’t actually perform my current favourite there is no doubt that Nas Carried On Tradition. And hey, nobody came through to shoot up the funeral.

The N.

Concert Reveiw: Wu-Tang Clan

Like the Universe itself the Wu-Tang Clan are order from chaos and the live show is 9 planets revolving around one stage. To me they are the perfect Hip-Hop group, the perfect 360 degree cipher of MCs. You know the rep and you know the catalogue, I can only begin to describe the experience…like a game of Russian Roulette we had a blast!

(Song titles do not appear in order)

Date: 5th July 2007

Venue: Hammersmith Apollo

In Attendance: Wu-Tang Killa Beys T. Wise and Edson G.Rant

Occasion: Wu-Tang Clan comin’ atcha!

I had been waiting for this show since long before the tickets arrived or the tour dates were announced, even before I knew so myself. In fact I’d been waiting for this show for a decade – ever since I got home and turned up the volume of Wu-Tang Forever in 1997.

My usual running mate Tes couldn’t make it at the last minute so I called around everyone I knew saying “do you want to see Wu-Tang tonight?!”, Grant was the first person to get back with the correct answer – “yes!” I made a beeline to his workplace and we were jumping on a bus soon after.

We make our way inside the Apollo after refreshing ourselves at a local hostelry and joined the Wuniform sporting masses that came to pay respects to the Wu-Tang Clan. The wait at the beginning is always rather tedious but tonight it is ridiculous – not a DJ in sight, just a Kanye West mixtape playing really quietly…on repeat…so lame. I feel like throwing something but it is not “some Ds on a chick” (on a side note: is this really the same Kanye who made All Falls Down!? What a dickhead). Two guys from Manchester come out and break the monotony with a couple of decent songs, I’m not sure who they are but I think I have seen them before and after their act the waiting game doesn’t last too much longer.

“Tiger Style!”

Enter the 36 Chambers – 9 hearts pumping to the beat of a RZA snare, plus four more chambers on the 1s and 2s (you do the Mathematics). The crowd becomes one huge wave of jumping energy as, with RZA in the lead, the Clan emerge onto the stage spraying water and champagne everywhere – if you want beef then bring the ruckus…Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthin’ To Fuck With!!

“When the MCs caaame…!”

Early songs come from Liquid Swords and Only Built For Cuban Linx…with Raekwon and Ghostface tearing through Criminology and Glaciers of Ice. The Clan are all lively and energetic bouncing off of each other and filling in each others lines seamlessly. GZA, Deck and RZA let loose before Ghostface’s stand out verse on 4th Chamber:

“Why is the sky blue? Why is water wet?”

With these words Rae comes up behind Ghost and splashes water all over him, leaving Masta Killa to comically towel him off whilst he keeps spitting; it is apparent that Raekwon is in high spirits and mischievous mood.

Method Man comes with the hook on the anthem Ice Cream and Ghost is clearly enjoying himself as he helps out.

Some fool gets up and runs across stage, U-God wastes no time launching a water bottle hard and fast in his direction.

“Clan In Da Front”

Next comes more from 36 Chambers, Tearz is a stand out and after we all put our pounds in the air for C.R.E.A.M Deck’s verse gets the attention it deserves.  Wu-Tang’s songs work perfectly for a live show – with so many MCs to accommodate it is uncommon for songs to be performed in their entirety. Instead different members jump in and out and although the order of MCs on the record is meticulously thought out it is refreshing to have different combos and pairings thrown up on stage. The sound is as loud as it gets, snares cracking and lyrics ripping through the track. Sometimes the vocals are muddied but they are at their clearest when everyone speaks together, plus everyone in the crowd knows every word anyway!

“Roll that shit, light that shit, smoke it!”

I had feared that the concert hall was going to be the one place I would not be enjoying the smoking ban – after all, the countless cigarettes did quite literally provide a smokescreen for puffing the funky stuff. As it turns out people with weed are now the only ones smoking! Better than I could have hoped for! I suppose nothing has changed – it is illegal to smoke it anywhere so right here is as good as anyplace!

“It’s the M.E.T.H.O.D Man!”

Showing his approval by ripping his solo tracks Method Man busies himself stage diving and crowd surfing – at one point he does a full front flip into the crowd!!

Meth, with so much charisma, clarity and energy is the natural centre piece of the live show; even if Rae is intent on interrupting him as he does some shout outs…he quickly gets his own back though:

“When I say Raekwon, you say: That n!gga is fucked up!”

He is not the only one; U-God is pouring Hennessy down Cappadonna’s throat and RZA has presented Meth with a bottle of Grey Goose, Meth declines but Rae is still goading him: “Drink all of it! Drink it all!”

RZA has been quiet, often standing off to the side watching his brothers at work; my guess is he’s savouring the moment. A huge grin spreads across his face at the roars and cheers he receives after Meth announces that today is RZA and Deck’s birthday. For the record RZA is 38 and Deck 37 but none of the Clan looks a day over 30.

The born days are not the only celebration of the night – we are all here to celebrate the life of the one and only Ol’ Dirty Bastard…Shimmy Shimmy Ya!

“Ol’ Dirty had a lot of love – he loved his Clan, he loved his brothers, he loved his family…and, he loved pussy!”

The girls are up on stage whilst Ghost sings Cherchez La Ghost, but they’ve been warned: Stop! Shake your body body – or get the hell off!

“1 dime and 12 fucking pennies” – Raekwon is still talking shit!

Unfortunately for the ladies everyone agrees – “this is the Apollo so you can get booed the hell off stage!”

“Wu-Tang Forever”

With the Clan Reunited the night is an unforgettable Triumph, the crowd has been fantastic – at times deafening as we have yelled and chanted and jumped and rocked and rolled.

“The energy you give to us, we give right back to you”

Love is heavy in the air, It’s Yourz, it’s ours, its one love and One Blood Under W.

Deck kicks off Triumph standing up front, cool in shades and they all proceed to rip it…until it gets to Raekwon’s verse and he just stands at the back saying nothing – the Clan turn to look at him as they fill in and it is obvious he is playing around for the sheer hell of it before he flexes the white gold tarantula on the last few lines.

It is pandemonium as the show closes and the house is brought down with Gravel Pit.

“Who wants to hear another Wu-Tang album?! Well, you’ll have to ask RZA about that!”

With all eyes on him RZA remains tight lipped: “BZZZZZZZZZ” is all he is saying! Well, the buzz is definitely growing and I for one am still buzzing from the showing live at the Apollo on this night.

“As we go…”

As they leave the stage the crowd stands, Ws raised, chanting the name; there is to be no encore but the love and appreciation is so strong that the Clan come out and take a bow (well, Meth does a back flip and flings water bottles to the balcony but you get the idea) before breaking out to the after/birthday party that we aren’t invited to.

It is a beautiful thing to see a sea of thousands of people who have spent the last 2 hours jumping, climbing and treading all over each other turn and shuffle out quietly and peacefully, gradually dispersing into the night.

“The Saga continues, Wu-Tang…Wu-Tang…”

Concert Reveiw: Klashnekoff

Date: 31st July 2005. Venue: Cargo, London. In Attendance: Me & Tes.

Occasion: Crooked Tongues BBQ.

Sunday morning saw me returning to England very jet lagged and very drunk after a few crazy days in Dublin but these conditions were not going to stand in the way of a party that night, especially not this one. Crooked Tongues ( were having their summer BBQ complete with free beer, a performance by Klashnekoff and (I guessed correctly) a lot of pretty girls, oh, and I won the tickets too.

Suffering a little from being sleep mental I managed to describe the atmosphere as “like a big BBQ”, which to be fair pretty much covers it. Everyone there was flossin’ their Sunday best – a tough atmosphere to stunt in but my AJ XX’s and fresh Jordan Tee did me well. Of course everyone was also eyeing up each others gear so the attention from the ladies was nice – even if they were only checking my shoes (some of those girls were hurting us right Tes?).

After a few Guinness to keep my blood running black and some reinvigorating chicken came the entertainment, Mystro hosting and a couple of DJ sets including Sarah Love who tore it down as usual. I had to take it easy during these because I wanted to save a little energy for the main event: Klashnekoff and DJ Skully’s set to promote their new mixtape.

Klashnekoff bought the whole Terra Firma fam up on stage with him to celebrate the event including Kyza (who didn’t get to spit) a boy of about 14 and a couple of guys who looked ready to work out at a moments notice.

K-lash was his usual self on stage – ripping through tracks with a ‘Pacish DMX of an air about him interspersed with his “schizophrenic” lapses into funny accents. Usually he will explain his philosophy along with the music but tonight he cut the long talk and let the new tracks speak for themselves – they are FIRE!

I love the focus on meaningful and high quality lyricism but K’s tendency to turn the beat down for the last verses of songs can detract from the energy of the performance, although plenty of people (including me and a front row Skinnyman) are still more than happy to rave it down. Alongside the new tracks were the TF classics ‘Daggo Mentality’ and ‘It’s Murdah’ and also a scorching Marley dub-plate (“out in the streets, they call it Fiir-maaa!”).

The reason Klashnekoff has been quiet for a while is because, figuring he could make more, he turned down 6 figures on a contract and is doing it his damn self “low budget like chicken and chips”, so if you don’t hear from the TF camp “it’s because we’re broke”. That said he promised that the recently completed second album is crazy nice.

Another bonus of the night was that I have never been to a show where people have showed so much respect for each others toes, contrary to Tes’ theory that “you don’t put your very favourite things on the floor” people were scared of smudging their preciouses so kept a respectful distance. In fact despite a lil’ scuffle on the dance floor during performance the whole vibe was real friendly with everyone enjoying a few of my favourite things – BBQ, music, hot girls and fresh kicks.


Bonus Track: Once out in the street Eyes of the Hawk Tes spotted a bag of weed right on the pavement, and Tes, no need to worry the boy ain’t getting wet – ish was strictly high grade!!

Concert Reveiw: Ghostface 2006

Date: 7th October 2006. Venue: Coronet, Elephant & Castle. In Attendance: Tes & myself. Occasion: GHOSTFACE KILLAAAAAAAH!!

Ayo, where my Killah tape at?!

Seriously, I lost my Fishscale album, has anyone seen it? Devoid of the latest work from master craftsman Ghostface Killah I set out in search of one better, the man himself live in concert…

As we passed some dudes leaned up on the railings outside the venue one of them practically ambushed us with an offer to buy his mixtape – his sales technique was awful!

Whilst we waited to go in Genesis Elijah worked the queue with more success, he stopped for a brief chat as he shopped his mixtape and we exchanged our music with one another.

Passing through yet another incompetent security check we grabbed a few Guini and waited for the first of the support acts as the place slowly started to fill up.

An energetic trio of double time rappers with forgettable beats was followed by Choong Family. Their beats and overall presentation were much better but unfortunately there was much more energy on the stage than off it. In fact the extended fam on stage (including a very sincere chap waving a little flag) seemed to dwarf the half dozen or so rows that were already stood at the front, and in what was a theme of the night none of the crowd was showing much love.

The extended family theme continued with the last support act, Wu family that is; having recently got a beat on Ghost’s Fishscale album Lewis Parker came out and rocked a tight set. The beats were great and he rocked the mic right wit good stage presence and charisma – clearly enjoying the fruits of his labour!

Most people are impressed by a good beat boxer, but when you can walk on and get the whole crowd open with your first note then you know you are nice! Faith SFX, playing the mic like a trumpet, opened up with strains of the instantly recognisable theme tune from The Godfather. He then mixed it up into a beat and even dropped it into a Dr Dre remix – sick! One of my favourite bits was when he held the mic to his neck, the effect was a muffled sound similar to music when stepping out of the main club, then he brought it back like the door had swung open again and you were back in the mix.

Everything stepped up a notch further when Theodore Unit took to the stage with Trife Diesel and Shawn Wigs bouncing verses off of one another. The last song was a poignant one about loss, Trife was rapping from the heart but still had to pause beforehand to make sure folks were feeling it: “I respect you London, I see you all stood out there in your b-boy stance but you gotta show some appreciation”. The end of their short set came with a warning – show a little more love or Ghostface will turn around and walk straight off the stage.

“Ghostfaaaaace, Ghostfaaaaace…”

Tony Starks, Ironman, Ghostface takes the stage to his song of the same name from The Pretty Toney Album. “Peace bushes, trees hello” Ghost makes friends with the fictional cartoon folk of The Forest in an unexpected run out for this animated name dropper. Even Tweety Pie gets a mention, however he might have “tawd he saw puddy” but I believe he is mistaken – the crowd is a straight rugby match!

The direction of the show is scatter shot – there is no seeming consistency between songs performed, none that is except for Ghost’s impeccable, impassioned, heartfelt delivery. It is in this manner that we are taken through the next few songs including Metal Lungies, Ice Cream (a classic favourite), the insanely energetic Run and Trife’s excellent verse on Biscuits.

All this is marred slightly by technical incompetence: “Mic man, can we please get mic 1 turned up, and mic 2, and…can you just sort all of them out?!”

The light man gets it in the neck too – can it be that it is all so difficult to get a nicely mixed variation of soft lighting?! It would seem so: “Yo, I tell you what, just turn them all off!” it is in this way that Ghost hilariously performs in the dark for a while.

Response is lively as Ghost asks who has which of his albums and we are treated to more of the Wu-Tang classics from …Cuban Linx and Supreme Clientele. Ghost also explains how Wu-Tang’s influence is all over Hip-Hop:

“Apart from Slick Rick I was the first to really bring the jewellery in – I was rocking the Jesus piece first, then Biggie went to get his”

“Me and Rae were drinking Cristal back in the Heaven & Hell days, before your favourite rapper was rapping about it”

This included further expounding on how he made fake rappers switch up their actions around him back in the days when he was “still on some bullshit, punching people in their face”

None of this talk really comes across as a rant or bitter in the slightest, he is just telling it how it is. Nor does it break up the show at all, every utterance is absorbed and despite the indifference to the supporting acts the crowd finds its voice for Ghost. No one is lost for words as the place erupts with a Shimmy Shimmy Ya dedication to Ol’ Dirty Bastard and we all “bomb atomically” to Triumph.

The dedications continue with word to JDilla before Ghost harkens back to the good ol’ days of discipline on Whip You With a Strap. This type of bizarre subject matter is a perfect platform for Ghost’s unconventional rhyme mastery and it is testament to his authenticity that such imaginative strides never seem contrived.

Light up the broccoli kid…this is by far the most pungently smoked out audience I have ever been in.

More darts are sent truly from the heart on Holla and Be This Way which are accompanied by a description of this soul child’s upbringing – getting kicked out of the living room while his parents partied to classic records, you know, “the music that your parents used to fuck to”.

On that note it is time for the girls to come up on stage – the few that manage to elude a boyfriend’s grip that is. Females are few and far between but some do make it tentatively onto the stage.

Whilst some might decry the over-influence of Def Jam on the conception of songs such as Back Like That it seems to me that Ghost’s approach makes him incapable of selling out. This may be a hit radio song but it is still done very much on his terms and it sounds fantastic being banged out here. The extra dramatic effect of the performance may have a lot to do with this sentiment, delivered as it was on one knee pleading to the fairest of the few girls on stage.

Other Fishscale joints are banged out including Be Easy. This brings me back to the crowd – far too many people are running round with the fake frowns (sell ‘em on EBay!) too busy looking mean and acting cool to get down, enjoy themselves and make some noise. But it is what it is; I’m still having a great time, as is anyone else who is letting themselves be entertained.

One of my personal favourites We Made It ends an incredible show by the incredible showman. In an era of Hip-Hop that is preoccupied with lifestyle over art Ghostface is that rare thing – an almost mythological figure that puts his all into the execution of his artistic creation. Few have developed their art to the level of Ghostface, and it remains the main focus even for someone with such a story to his name. Drug dealing, getting shot in the neck, and a prison stretch during his career that put grey hairs on his head – all these remain a part of the whole rather than becoming sensationalist sideshow. It is these weighty considerations that add extra feeling as he sings “from Rikers to the Cayman Islands”.

The show doesn’t seem to have a natural ending, Lewis Parker is brought back out on stage and at Ghost’s bequest the fickle fan faction gives more love than they did for LP’s actual performance. Ghost is priceless as he struggles to remember the name of the song Parker produced on Fishscale: “damn, forgetting my own shit!”

It seems as though the show has been short, but as midnight ticks past on the timepiece I realise he’s been on for nearly 2 hours, time flies. After an enthusiastic send off we make our way into the night as the collective on stage gradually drifts off and the saga continues…Wu-Tang, Wu-Tang…

Concert Review: Kyza

Date: 10th March 2006. Venue: The Cellar, Oxford. In Attendance: Me, Tim, Ronnie. Occasion: Kyza aka Mr. Sayso.

After corralling the troops Friday evening, we headed to The Grapes for a couple of swift ales before slipping into a side street and joining the queue for The Cellar where the night’s main event, Terra Firma’s Kyza, was to be performing.

It was getting on a bit and the 1 in 1 out policy had us a little nervous but we made some friends in the queue and the doormen were as full of hilarious wise cracks as ever. Doors had opened at 10 but we got in sometime after 11 having lost Grant early to some confusion including a garbled message about “smoking himself sober”…

We had missed the open mic so we got in some beers and caught the end of DJ Fu’s set before the main event. The Cellar is how it sounds, the actually area is reasonably spread out with 2 bars but the low ceiling gives it an intimate atmosphere, which is emphasised by the slightly raised stage area and the DJ booth tucked away at the back.

The area was packed out when Kyza stepped into the arena in his red and black Che Guevara tee, his black beanie almost scraping the ceiling, half full bottle of Smirnoff in one hand, mic in the other. Backed by DJ Caramac he performed the guest verses that first established him as a top notch lyricist on tracks with Klashnekoff and Jehst, proving that he’s the one who deserves the props and Kudos:

“EP a’ come soon bro/ but for now I gotta shell out some rude dough ‘cos I blew up the studio”

Well that EP never really did arrive, but the good news is the debut album, The Experience, should be along June/July of this year. I don’t know whether the recent slew of singles will all make the album but they all rocked the house on this night, including Harsh Realities and last summer’s Welcome to Jamrock dub They Call It (Murda).

“Who’s got Channel U?”…A few shouts… “You actually like that sh!t?!”

My sentiments exactly my man; with that he launched Real, a call for the smartening up of the art:

“On T-V you can see how these dumb w@nkers act / Making Blacks look stupid, thanks for that!”

On top of that is a call for some self respect to return to the streets with an upping of arms instead of an upping of arms:

“I know bold cats that’s just a bit frightened / thinking ‘can we just go back to the days of fist fighting’ / ‘cos if I get whacked up, scars’ll heal / an’ that’s a fact blood, now that’s Real”

The banging tunes continued with some tracks from the new album that gave a taste of big things to come. Kyza had mad charisma onstage – cracking jokes, passing the vodka around, possibly taking girls’ numbers mid performance (?) and orchestrating a rendition of Happy Birthday. He closed the show with Lights Out, a lyrical monster of a song with a beast of a beat to match that had me jumping around and thumping the ceiling.

“Was that good enough for you?!”  Yes fella, it certainly was! I had a chat with dude after the performance and he was feeling the vibe of The Shire. I also asked if he had enjoyed the ThunderCuts I had passed him a while back in Lesta – “yeah bruv of course, I’ve been bumpin’ that!”

All that was left to do was rave it down for the rest of the night! I was on rare form on the dance floor as the others will testify; unfortunately it was business as usual with the ol’ ‘Whoo!’ dance. There were two girls dancing  right by me the whole time, but only with each other, I don’t think they like men – me either, what a coinky-dink! – I thought.

By the time we got out the hour was too early for Parisien so we ducked through the townie drunkards in the chicken spot and then made our merry way. All in all another banging event that had me banging the vents!

Concert Review: Kanye West 2006

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Date: 20th February 2006. Venue: Hammersmith Apollo, London. In Attendance: Me & Tes. Occasion: Kanye West brings his Touch the Sky Tour to Town.

This The Blueprint homies, follow my moves…

Feeling unusually unexcited about the concert but none the less looking forward to the night ahead I set off for the smoke. As I waited for Tes at the gates of NikeTown some “community police” eyed me suspiciously, I’m pretty sure they were just respeckognizing my especially fresh Tee.

After a quick visit to the household we were on our way, more correctly we were on a slow ass train waiting for the ‘security alert’ to get cleared up further down the line.

The show itself, like Late Registration, was to prove disappointing by unavoidable comparison. We arrived mad late, squeezing thru the doors and joining the back of the crowd to discover that we’d only missed the first couple of minutes – later on I only remembered the first number as “one of the long slow songs from the album”.

I cannot deny that the 10 piece orchestra (led by a hyperactive violinist), backup singers and DJ (A-Trak) was impressive, and possibly necessary to bring the multi-layered musicality of the songs to life. I put it down to our late registration but the nagging under whelmed feelings did not dissipate.

When The College Dropout tour came to town for one night only back in ’04 it was a magical affair that went down as one of the best in the year that was soundtracked by the irrepressible Mr. West.

Whilst I can appreciate the skill and dedication put into Late Registration it just doesn’t move me like The College Dropout and this show is the same – everything is done to perfection, except it’s not.

This show is not perfect, it is rigid and strict and I can’t get loose to it. Everything is choreographed to miniscule detail – even the long drawn out song endings are rigidly and strictly adhered to. The crowd interaction seems scripted to the utmost.

Case in point – one of my greatest show experiences comes from that evening in ’04, when Kanye launched into Slow Jamz only to have the entire crowd sing the words back to him – his mic held loosely at his side, the expression of wonder on his face was priceless. Nowadays this is a scripted part of the show – A-Trak spins the original track, Kanye directs the crowd. Cold Call and Response, this is more like the answering machine.

Then there is the “media” rant complete with quotes on the big screen that he has taken particular umbrage with (including one which is actually a compliment – backhanded though it was). Upset that his oh-so-humble-look-I’m-not-arrogant Brit Award speech (the Brits?! Who the fuck cares?!) had been cut short he knelt on the floor and went on for a bit. I suggest that he stops paying mind to the celebrity fawning gutter press (of the UK in particular) if it upsets him this much. I understand he is trying to overcome it but he doesn’t seem to realise that he is still playing by their rules and, as such, into their hands.

It is a real shame that the positive messages in Kanye’s music get glossed over by the whole superstar image nowadays, the words become secondary to the whole package. Not that this crowd seems to mind much, first-name-superstar pop concerts (yes, Pop Concerts) bring out the bougie crowd, a mostly white crowd that is happy to sing along to Gold Digger (Digga?!) and holla the chorus to Crack Music, but they can’t hear Jimi. It was interesting to watch Tes try and throw a slap in all directions at once.

Songs? Well, you all know them, he did most of the album but without the guests they lack impact, Lupe Fiasco’s wonderful closing verse being the exception. Unless it was the first song Diamonds from Sierra Leone is conspicuous by its absence. Even Through the Wire sounds off; leading me to wonder if another stint with his jaw wired shut would do him some good. Bizarrely it is Jay-Z’s U Don’t Know (produced by Just Blaze) that gets people most hyped. There was no Encore.

The after party was at some swanky Leicester Square joint called Penthouse where the prices were Sky High! Sky High! – Tes got on the Bat Phone and immediately found the location but when we rolled up the queue was round the block and the only way to jump it involved miniskirts and “favours” no doubt, needless to say this was borderline homo.

This was all just a little too polished and impersonal, it was like theatre or TV, like the crowd didn’t need to be there – the token, security accompanied, jumping in front of the first row just seemed fugazi (after watching Nas jump shirtless into a gun toting crowd rocking his shine all else pales by comparison!). So Kanye finally has the whole world checking for him, but gone is the diamond in the rough passion – forgive me if I preferred it when most of his plaques they still said Kayne.