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

Kanye 021

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.

Concert Review: One Nation Under a Groove

Date: 22nd October 2005. Venue: The Forum, Kentish Town, London. In Attendance: Me, Tes. Occasion: One Nation Under a Groove.

“The Revolution will not be televised on Channel U” – Klashnekoff.

One Nation Under a Groove was a show organised by the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies’ Palestine Society, it was a show that gathered people from all over the world to perform, spread their message and represent themselves.

It’s almost a shame that I had won the tickets because this show was well worth the admission, I’m definitely glad to have been there.

Possessed with little information about the event, and an ignorance of the details of the politics discussed, I was unsure what to expect from it. We arrived as the first poet was finishing, as I sipped my Guinness the host for the evening, Abiodun of the Last Poets, took the stage. Abiodun is a natural talker with a voice that makes you listen, after thanking the performers so far he recited a poem that the “spineless” Russell Simmons had been “scared to air” when performed on Def Poetry Jam.

Next up was rapper Invincible from Detroit, the live drummer was a nice touch but unfortunately she had a small voice and the sound system was doing her no favours, end result: I could barely understand her. Does anyone ever do a sound check?!

The crowd might have been a little hard to fathom for some of the artists, it was small and, because of the nature of the event, not particularly boisterous (there were to be exceptions) but it was an attentive crowd that was definitely appreciative.

Next up was a man I was excited about seeing, British poet Benjamin Zephaniah. Benjamin is an oral poet whose work I had previously enjoyed studying, he is a thoughtful commentator on British culture (amongst other things), his insight comes from a well considered personal viewpoint, his passion is obvious and he fuses it all together with a love of wordplay and a sly sense of humour. Benjamin’s vibrant character makes his performance a joy to behold; his accent is Jamaican meets Brummie (with my slow ear I have to concentrate to comprehend at times) and he plays into his comedic moments which are born out of the ridiculousness of reality. Benjamin on his poem ‘Money’: “Titles are important, it took me 15 minutes to write the poem and 3 weeks to think of the title. You may not like the poem, but you will like the title!”

He also keeps the legacy of Stephen Lawrence alive, this was a young man whose racist murderers were known to all, because of the way the case was handled they walked free – ‘What Stephen Lawrence Has Taught Us’. I recommend anyone to look up some of my favourites from the night: ‘Wrong Radio Station’, ‘White Comedy’, ‘What Has That Got To Do With Me’.

Citing a need to truly experience Kentish Town, upon finishing he said he was going to try and get arrested. The other option being to have sex with someone from the area, he dismissed this after asking for a show of hands: “There are only three of them, and they look very nervous!”

Throughout the night various images are projected onto a large screen behind the performers – kids and troops, world leaders etc. When artists were performing some dope camera work showed their image larger than life behind them.

On a night full of lyrical treats the performance of Poisonous Poets was no exception, although only half the cru was there (Reveal, Lowkey, Stylah and DJ Snips) they put on a good show. The catalogue was narrowed down for the occasion so whilst Reveal was not punch line heavy his a cappella about the daily condition of the citizens of Iraq (that he has witnessed first hand) was most intelligent. An impeccable freestyler it would appear Reveal needs a prompt when performing written lyrics as he reads from a mobile, unless of course he was multi-tasking. The double P ran through a few hits, including Lowkey’s ‘Lies’, before Lowkey closed it with an a cappella of ‘Perspective’:

“To a youth wearing hand-me-downs in a shanty town / your Avirex is probably worth enough to get his family out”

“You think having a Gat makes you gangsta? That sh!t’s fake / ‘cos there’s kids in Rwanda that been strapped since 8”

And if you don’t like that you can spin on it like Alistair Campbell.

Nowadays me and Tes can’t go anywhere without Wu-Tang showing up, in this case it was affiliate Silver Rings who had been off touring 37 countries. This was Ring’s first time in London and he was joined by Arabic rapper Arap who was an absolute monster, a big ball of energy who smashed the heavy beats that were dropping.

Abiodun told us how the Wu like to teach and how they drop by when he holds an open house and cooks for people in his Harlem home.

KRS1 doesn’t fly, KRS1 most definitely talks – we are treated to his positive ramblings via the video screen.

Next up was DAM, the first Palestinian rap group. The group is made up of three Arabic rappers and a Jewish DJ and they are from an area in Israel. If they were ever daunted at being the only Hip-Hop representatives for a whole people it didn’t show. They rapped in Arabic and Hebrew and spoke English well, an obviously conscious effort to promote understanding between people.

Throughout the night there had been a lot of “Fuck Bush, Fuck Blair, Fck Sharon” – names that partly seemed interchangeable and more so a Fuck what they represent. One member of the group said that he was not going to say these things “there has been a lot of fucking people tonight, if they hadn’t of said it, believe me, I would be saying it but I want to let you know we are not just about fuck this fuck that, we are a people of culture and we are here to represent it”. Arabic, Hebrew – these languages I don’t speak, but I do understand incredible beats, confident and determined flow, excellent delivery, rhythmic songs, a natural easiness with one another and a bold stage presence – things that DAM had in abundance. These guys really smashed it.

It was the smaller names on the night that I really enjoyed seeing do so well but as we neared the end the big names certainly came out strong.

Abiodun introduced M-1 and Umi of Dead Prez (Sticman was back home in Atlanta) by telling the tale about how ‘Mind Sex’ (on which he featured) was recorded in prison; he said this was an odd experience for him because he had been in prison for real. Abiodun was not repentant of his crime because he was jailed for stealing money from a Grand Dragon of the KKK:

“And I didn’t do it with no poem either!…I used a .357 Magnum and that’s a whole ‘nother thing!”

The Red is for the blood in his arm, the Black is for the mic in his palm, the Green is for the charm, it grows natural.

M-1 and Umi were fantastic, passionate performers; I could hear every word quite clearly and was thrilled as they ran through some older gems and some tracks from the newer mixtapes and albums.

“This is not a concert. It is so much more”

Both guys appreciated being given the chance to perform at this event and they put on such a show. Topics were discussed before songs were performed, I could write a track list but if you know Dead Prez you can as easily imagine it. I hadn’t expected Michael Jackson to be quoted but he was right: “You can make a change”.

There was of course one song that was guaranteed, though M-1 still had a little tease “I’ll do that one, but you better know how to act. If you don’t go crazy I’m leaving”.

“We’ve talked a lot about the amount of bullsh!t that is out there but is anyone else fed up of these bullsh!t rappers?!”

When this track dropped it was an explicit demonstration of what I had been feeling all night, of course I’m talking ‘bout Hip-Hop, Hip-Hop.

I thought I was less familiar with Pharoahe Monch’s songs and I couldn’t see how he was going to top this performance, I needn’t have worried.

The Mighty Monch was accompanied by two excellent singers who perfectly complemented his raps and really added feeling to the performance. Backing him on the decks is a member of the Executioners who does his own crazy mini-set.

Each and every song is lyrical to the end and the opening line of Agent Orange is sublime:

“P!ssed on the motherfucking White House Lawn, threw (a rock/Iraq) and I-ran”

The anthems are all present and correct including ‘Oh No!’ and ‘Fuck You’. Before the grand finale we are treated to a few bars of a cappella, unfortunately the crowd seems non-plussed (my guess is they were blown away) with the crazy lyrics and the punch line flies over heads: “They ain’t ready for that”.

“What we have here tonight is Hip-Hop. We have people from all over the world here, in one place, representing themselves and demonstrating their cultures, bringing their message. We are Hip-Hop”

Pharoahe’s words, my sentiments exactly. Where you at? Right Here! Where you at?! Right Here!!

Needless to say, not one person in the building failed to do what ‘Simon Says’.

With the help of Abiodun we coax Pharoahe back out for an encore and then it really is over. My knees hurt, so does my back, but I could carry on right here ‘till I collapse.

It has been mentioned that, great as all this is, we are preaching to the converted. Because of the very nature of the event I agree with this statement but that is not to say that this evening did not have a positive impact.

The positive energy is carried through into the night – Tes and I manage to bag the last bits of chicken in the shop, and they tasted damn good. Almost as good as the taste left in my mouth by this show.

Concert Review: Jehst 2005

Date: 15th October 2005. Venue: The Coven, Oxford. In Attendance: Me, Tim. Occasion: Jehst.

We spent the day tying up loose ends in the studio, finishing up songs and making new beats, before saddling up the Wisemobile and heading into Oxenford. Unfortunately Tim and I, potheads that we are, went and left the ThunderCuts CDs we had been hoping to flog Del Boy and Rodders style at home. We managed to shake off the loss with a trip to Parisien and a couple of Guini before the show.

Despite the interior still resembling a smelly cave and a joke of a new ‘performance area’, The Coven seems to be on the up with a solid line-up and a good attendance (including a high percentage of honeys). The main area is small and lower than the rest of the club so a good number of people have to watch from above which creates quite an intense atmosphere. I like the Oxford crowd because it is still hungry for the shows, the only downside to this is a high tolerance level but this wasn’t to be tested tonight. I was feeling pretty jet lagged so whilst the DJs were spinning I was pure waiting for Jehst.

It was down to Genesis Elijah and Wordsmith to get the party started and they did a good job. Both had a lot of energy and enthusiasm and the sound system was sounding pretty good so I only failed to comprehend the muddiest vocals. This is the first I have heard of the pair but they were tight and their beats were banging. Lyrics were high grade all night, not least Wordsmith’s musings on whether his life would be better had he never picked up the spliff – but I’m pretty sure that was just the weed talking.  They were joined by a couple of other dudes (locals?) and they all had some pretty good freestyles with everyone vibing off of the atmosphere. One dude just stood at the very front pouting at the crowd and doing all sorts of twisted shit with his fingers, I’m not sure anybody knew who he was. Meanwhile Jehst was biding his time, lurking at the back and bunnin’ a zoot.

Jehst briefly joined the freestyles before going full blown into his set. Communication with the DJ was hard because he was on the balcony above but they sorted out the tracks ok to give us a lot of new songs from the next album – all of them were bangers, sounds like it’s gonna be hot. Promoting the new was much the order of the day but he did drop some classics even though one request was turned down because he didn’t know it.

Also with Jehst was someone called Smurf (or some such) and Asaviour who has never been my cup of tea, thankfully his annoying voice was rendered less so by the sound system. Smurf dude was not great and it was unnecessary to take a break in Jehst to hear him.

I must admit that Jehst has slipped down my radar of late and this was a timely reminder of how bloody good he is, always the lyricist but I thought that the beats knocked harder on his first album than the latest one. I think he is at his best in the headphones or when chillin’ and giving the album a full listen – if only because it is easier to appreciate his train of thought wordplay – but he gives a live show his all and obviously enjoys it. ‘Under the Weather’ was a favourite and the best of it all was saved for the last track of the night –  ‘The Return of the Drifter’ – which everyone knew word for word and it brought the house down.

All in all everyone was happy, the crowd was given their dose of live hip-hop and the performers were all happy to receive such love on the road. Despite the fine ladies present I only managed to get a number from an area rapper about possible collabos. My game has never been so low (as in singular and down). Only thing for it was chicken so we dodged the bloody, puking, legless townies and the ‘lice that swarm the streets at night to get some. In the queue two drunken girls told me I was not to be trusted. I certainly can’t be trusted not to make a mess – ketchup down my sick new hound’s-tooth LRG. Time to ride the Wisemobile home with a fat spliff and then bed for the rest of the morning.

Concert Review: Talib Kweli

Date: 27th September 2005. Venue: Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London.  In Attendance: Me, Tes & Jason. Occasion: Talib Kweli, BK MC.

The concert landscape has been kinda barren over the last few months so I was excited as I once again journeyed from Oxford’s streets to Oxford Street on Sunday to see Talib Kweli.

Most record shops were closed for the Sabbath so I couldn’t cop the new Klashnekoff mixtape but I did manage to pick up some Wu back catalogue (Ghost Dog Soundtrack, Beneath the Surface) and shoot the breeze with dude in SelectaSpin.

Once at Tes’ we wiled away the afternoon listening to conscious mixtapes and watching MTV Base with the sound off.

Whilst J ironed his “back-up outfit” Tes and I had a quick beverage and watched skateboarders wipe out on a loose paving slab – we could have warned them but where’s the fun in that?

I’m not sure that the concert was a sell out but it was pretty packed none-the-less, although Tes did note that Kweli seemed to attract “the girls who usually stay home”. There was however a Lethal Bizzle who provided the warm up although, along with the band that followed, we mostly just ignored him.

As the wait for the DJ neared its end we used our noodle and our muscle to negotiate prime position with a well executed L plan attack.

Kweli bounced out to Move Somethin’, and after a brief introduction he went into a love movement of sorts with Love Language and Never Been in Love. Kweli’s live show flow was spat with a passion; rhyming like a battle MC he would only occasionally dip into his ‘album voice’, although both styles worked well despite the inadequate sound system in the Empire. This was a wonderful set mixing material from all of his albums including Black Star and even the slow burners turned into bangers as the crowd obliged every shout to get down. Favourites were Going Hard and especially We Got the Beat which was accompanied by an old school jam and an invitation to the B Boys to jump up on stage. Also invited on stage were Kano and Estelle (never one to miss a concert I am attending!) who made guest appearances.

Lonely People samples a perfect record and turns it into a perfect record in its own right with lyrics that are sharper than the logo of Rawkus records.

Improvisation was in the house as the DJ cut a track to ribbons and Kweli dropped a good few quality freestyles.

Teasing the crowd with a seemingly short set Talib came back out to rawkus cries for a total of two encores. A lacklustre cool and response had him give us a lesson on how to scream like we all in pain before launching Good To You and the anthemic I Try and Get By, finishing brilliantly with Beautiful Struggle.

All throughout Talib seemed to be enjoying himself and he always seemed to be talking directly to me – a rare talent in a performer.

After the party…

Yep, thanks to spinemagazine we had the hook up at the after party although the “+ guest” was a myth so Tes got stung at the door. Jason also pulled a move with a stunning error of judgement, namely not getting us an ‘in’ with the group of pretty girls ahead of us in the queue, despite knowing one of them, because he “couldn’t remember her name”.

As it turned out it was so exclusive that Kweli wasn’t there but this did not bother us, the crowd was mostly bougie broads but at least there were no ignorant thug MFs shootin’ the club up.

As we were cold chillin’ in our little corner spot we started to notice a few random but familiar faces, including Skitz, (Lil’) Bow Wow and Pos of De La Soul, then in through the door walks GZA. The Genius was leaned up right by us so I told him how I had bought his album earlier and gave him a pound (I also made a note to self: buy Beyonce’s album – you never know!). Obviously a man who lives by his jewel “half long and twice strong” GZA was a man of no words, yet somehow gave out the impression that we had had a deep conversation. The man had a powerful aura about him and I’ll be damned if the Wu haven’t got an elixir of life ‘cos these old guys are looking good.

Tes in the City is trying to curb his playeristic ways (at least ‘till payday) so he actually requested a cock blocking interjection, luckily I am repellent to women.

DJ Snips was spinning some quality so I was getting down like tomorrow wasn’t Monday and was on the verge of finding my All-Star form of last season, however there just weren’t the people to work with – needless to say I Whoo! Danced on my own.

Concert Review: Notting Hill Carnival

Date: 29th August 2005. Venue: Notting Hill, London. In Attendance: Community League Records Street Team (Me, Tes, Jason & Kevan) Occasion: Carnival, the biggest street party in Euroland.

I met Tes In the City and Jason at the telly they had slid some young breezys back to after the after party the previous night, then headed back home so Tes could pick up a fresh pair. Tes regaled me with the tale of his escape from another nightclub shooting the night before and how, much like RZA [see: Wu Manual] he had, in the eyes of his charge, become a superhero, for real. I immediately called ‘Butler’.

Sometime later we headed back across town toward the thronging masses of Carnies. On the bus one kid tells his friends that “Carnival is only for robbers and thieves”. First thing I notice is how many beautiful people were out, I needed 1000 pairs of eyes to take it all in and another 1000 to clock for the agents – po’ was out in force.

We soon wandered upon a BBQ stall where I immediately ordered Jerk Chicken but received some sort of rice dish; it was delicious none the less. I love old Rasta dudes who smoke huge spliffs and wander around selling ‘high grade’. As we passed a po’ barricade I was sorely tempted to sly a bullet proof vest from a nonchalantly piled uniform stack.

Carnival is a parade of floats down the main streets with music and dancing and also certain streets that have sound stages set up, we turned into one of these packed out dark alleys (I think it was Black Wall Street) and found our spot. We were joined by the forth member of the squad, Kevan, who was on top form with a half empty bottle of Alize in hand. It was crazy, dudes were spinning dancehall and hip-hop and we were partying in the streets sippin’ Alize and Red Stripe and blazing herb – i.e. perfect conditions for the ol’ Whoo! I’m dancing on my own dance! Whoo!

Folk were out on their balconies overlooking the street and the whole vibe was amazing.

Time now to debunk a popular CLR myth, it turns out that Tes is not one of the Mitchell Brothers! That’s right, I saw all three of them in the same place and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a trick of the light. The Brother’s did a few songs (doing well with one mic between them) with good energy for the raucous crowd. I particularly enjoyed the po’ baiting that accompanied ‘Routine Check’ and a song about weed.

The DJ was a tad irritating because he would play the beginning of a song, get a reaction, cut the song and repeat the process. Tellingly the intro alone for Dip Set received the most bluh-bluhs (not just from me) but they were run close by Tony Yayo (the streets love an idiot) and a slew of classics – sh!t was like Biggie’s funeral.

We left Kevan scouting talent every which way and loose and hopped a bus back. Tes continued his superhero role, righting some wrongs by chastising a kid on the bus for continuously pressing the ‘stop’ button, then he turned on other passengers for their lack of support. The best bit was when Tes just said “you’re stupid” over and over whilst kid’s friend (approx. a quarter the size of Tes ‘Mailman’ Odigie) mean mugged and repped the ‘never back down’ culture. Tes’ attitude is basically impervious to AK fire.

Back at the Batcave we watched ‘Caddyshack’ whilst listening to 9th Wonder and eating African fried rice.

When all was said and drunk an excellent time, I wasn’t pushing CLR too hard – just absorbing – but I promise you this: next year I’m writing this s!ht off for tax!