Tag Archives: London

Mr. SaySo – Kyza

Kyza performing at London’s End Of The Weak event complete with live band.

Live Review – Wu-Tang Clan

WU-TANG CLAN LIVE: WEDNESDAY 16.07.08: SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE, LONDON

 

After over fifteen years of performing together, it seems Staten Island’s mighty Wu-Tang Clan still cannot get to the stage on time. As the crew’s scheduled arrival of 9pm rolled by, the warm-up DJ’s steady assurances that “Wu-Tang will be on shortly” soon started to sound hollow. By the time it reached 10pm the London crowd’s previously hearty chants of “Wu-Tang! Wu-Tang!” had given way to scattered boos, whilst said DJ’s selection of party-rocking cuts from the likes of Snoop, KRS-One and Onyx was quickly losing its entertainment value. But just as things looked like they could go seriously wrong, Wu’s DJ took his place behind the turntables, a bespectacled RZA sauntered into view followed by various crew members, and an explosive rendition of ‘Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’ Wit’ immediately transformed the previously restless audience into a sea of hand-waving Shaolin soldiers.

Initially there seemed to be some confusion amongst the members of the Clan who had managed to reach the stage, which included Inspectah Deck, a temporarily mic-less GZA and Raekwon. But where were U-God and Ghostface? Method Man obviously wanted to know the whereabouts of his Wu brothers as well if his shouts of “Where the f**k ni**as at?” were anything to go by. To begin with it seemed as if Meth’s constant walking on and off to find the missing Clansmen was pure pantomime until he forcibly kicked the side of the stage before being taken aside by RZA who, with one arm draped around the lanky rapper’s shoulder, appeared to offer some calming words to the Ticallion Stallion. Soon after, U-God and an unusually low-key Toney Starks made their entrance and slipped straight into position as the crew proceeded to rip through a steady stream of classic hip-hop moments (with Method Man’s right-hand homie Street Life also present to offer some assistance).

Choosing to focus mainly on their earlier material, the Clan rocked first album highlights such as ‘Bring Da Ruckus’ and ‘Protect Ya Neck’, whilst peppering their set with solo project joints like Method Man’s ‘Bring The Pain’, GZA’s ‘Duel Of The Iron Mic’ and Rae’s eye-candy anthem ‘Ice Cream’. Performing such timeless cuts not only took the crowd down memory lane, but also seemed to remind Wu themselves of their humble origins, with each member attacking their verses with fervour as if they were once again new artists attempting to convert non-believers.

Perhaps it was the apparent tensions between the crew at the beginning of the show, or the rough-and-ready way in which the Clan blasted through their playlist, but there was an unpredictable vibe in the air that gave the performance a definite sense of energy. Whilst some longstanding artists often seem as though they’re just going through the motions onstage, this felt like a rowdy free-for all, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

With most of the crew keeping audience interaction to a relative minimum, it was Method Man who took it upon himself to ensure the crowd was entertained beyond the music. His constant stage-diving and crowd-surfing seemed to take the weed-loving wordsmith a step closer to a broken leg every time he launched himself off the stage, but it had the desired effect on those close enough to play a part in hoisting Meth in the air as he continued to rhyme. It was also Johnny Blaze who led the audience in the night’s obligatory tribute to Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

An hour or so after the Clan hit the stage, it was all over. Although some concertgoers no doubt felt the crew could have done more if not for their late arrival, at the end of the day, what we’d seen was one of hip-hop’s greatest groups giving lively performances of some of hip-hop’s greatest songs. Moreover, whilst talk might be in the air nowadays of Wu-Tang’s relevance to the average rap consumer, it seems the Clan will always have a home on the stage and a solid base of loyal fans that will pay to see them.

Ryan Proctor

Swift It Major Interview (Originally Printed In Hip-Hop Connection 224 / The Game Cover / July 2008)

“I’ve read so many articles that have labelled me as only being a Jump Off battle finalist, but I want people to know that I’ve got something to say in my music as well. I’ve never really looked at myself as a battle emcee, I just dived head first into the Jump Off thing to see if I could get through. But if the battle rapper tag helps me get recognised, then so be it.”

Initially inspired to start writing his own rhymes after hearing UK hip-hop collective 57th Dynasty, north west London’s Swift It Major has spent the last five years or so on a mission to standout from the crowd. His virtually unrivalled (if unplanned) success at the capital’s premier open mic event might have led many to view Swift as nothing more than a punchline pugilist, but that’s a first impression the forthright rapper is hoping to shake with his recently released debut album, ‘A Park Bench Drama’, a boisterous mix of wit, humour and personal opinion that covers a variety of topics, not least the impact of the MySpace generation on an increasingly fragile domestic rap scene.

“People are trying to get into this thing sideways,” states Major, with a nod to his 2007 single ‘X Factor’. “Artists today want everything to be quick and easy, which is never going to work, man. They just want to see their video on Channel U and get their fifteen minutes of fame, but they’re not putting any thought or planning into what they’re doing. Do you know how many times I’ve seen a video and thought, ‘This tune is alright, let me go and buy this shit’. But do you think you can find it as a single? Do you think there’s even a single or album coming out? It don’t make no sense, man. We’re never going to build an industry that way.”

Gripes about the music business aside, Swift is also keen to deal with more serious issues, namely the rising level of violent crime occurring on Britain’s streets and the apparent lack of urgency amongst politicians to address the situation. “I think the government really needs to start looking at the root causes of crime in the UK instead of just locking people up and thinking that will solve the problem,” he offers. “But that said, a lot of families need to start showing their kids the right way to go as far as things like education are concerned, because if the government isn’t going to help our communities, then we need to start helping ourselves.”

Swift’s balanced, realistic worldview also extends to his own career aspirations. “All I can do is push ‘A Park Bench Drama’ as much as I can,” he says matter-of-factly. “If the people call for another album, then I’ll do another album. If not, then at least I know I put everything I had into this one.”

Ryan Proctor

Bonus Clip: 2007 Swift It Major interview on London’s now defunct pirate Hip-Hop station Itch FM.

New Joint – Jo’Leon Davenue

Jo’Leon Davenue – “Frustrated” ( Mobetta : Union / 2008 )

Taken from the London artist’s “Something Special” mix-CD.

 

Triple Darkness Interview (Originally Printed In Hip-Hop Connection 221 / Pete Rock Cover / April 2008)

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“The whole essence of the group is about coming with the illest lyricism, but combining that with some knowledge as well. I’m hoping that when people start to get into what we’re talking about, it might help them change their ways spiritually, mentally and physically.” Over a decade since Mobb Deep first told us about a war going on outside no man is safe from, gruff east London emcee Cyrus Malachi is reminding HHC that the struggle still continues on the frontlines today, but Triple Darkness are here to make a difference.

Originally a duo, the “vision” of Triple Darkness began in 2003 when Hackney homeboys Cyrus and Nasheron started rhyming together, but it wasn’t until 2005 when Malachi returned home from a brief jail stint that the pair really started to take their musical aspirations seriously. Hooking-up with talented producers Beat Butcha and Chemo, the twosome also added M9 to their ranks, with the west London rapper having recently achieved some solo notoriety by releasing his own gritty but thought-provoking material.

“We are a conscious group,” says Cyrus when asked about the trio’s multi-layered references to everything from stopping gun crime on British streets to ancient Egyptian history and the Illuminati. “But conscious rap comes with its own stereotypes and can be very predictable. So we’ve tried to use everything we’ve seen growing-up around poverty and depravity to show people they need knowledge of self to survive in this world. I’m not afraid to speak out about issues I see affecting the black community.”

Although it would be easy to write off some of the more esoteric content heard on TD’s debut album ‘Anathema’ as the result of too much time spent listening to Killah Priest and Tragedy Khadafi, the group share a genuine thirst for any information that can help them make sense of the “paradoxical” modern world we live in, even if that sometimes means entering the shadowy area of conspiracy theories and unseen global powers. “When I started reading up on the reasons behind certain historic events and different secret societies it just blew me away,” says M9. “It all started to come together like a jigsaw for me and I realised that the whole idea of the New World Order is something that’s very serious. It’s such a big part of my life that it’s only natural it would also be a big part of my rhymes.”

Nasheron, meanwhile, has concerns closer to home, such as the influence of today’s popular thugged-out hip-hop on the younger generation. “It romanticises a certain lifestyle without showing the full reality of it,” begins the passionate lyricist. “I’ve yet to see someone live that street life and it be all rosy. There’s always a price to pay. These kids today doing all sorts of madness, it’s like their mental growth has been stunted because of this sh*t.”

“‘Anathema’ deals with the muck and the mire,” states Cyrus in a parting reference to the group’s unapologetically hardcore project. “But the underlying theme is that we need to rise up out of the social conditions we find ourselves in.”

Ryan Proctor

Triple Darkness – “Anathema” (Higher Heights / 2008)

UK Raiders – Kashmere / Jehst

Kashmere hits the promo trail early (with a little help from Jehst) for his forthcoming album “Raiders Of The Lost Archives”.

Guard Ya Grill – Lil’ Wayne

This has to be the most creative response I’ve seen to Lil’ Wayne being bottled while onstage in London earlier this week – it must be good because I really don’t consider myself a Weezy fan at all and I’ve still posted it!

Bonus footage for anybody who hasn’t seen one of the million YouTube clips of the incident itself.