After a 10 hour wait at Lyon airport last week to come home after the Oxmo Puccino show, the travelling involved for DJ Premier in London was much easier going. 10 minutes on the Number 31 bus and I've arrived outside the Jazz Cafe in Camden with a fully charged camera, a pocket full of Mango Kush and not a single ash cloud in sight to halt the journey.
DJ Premier hit the UK earlier in the year for a March date at Matter at the 02 arena with a load of other DJs and MCs and returned for last night’s show for the first stop of a tour which will see him move on to Norway for 2 nights before heading off to China . This show promised to be all the more poignant with the recent and untimely passing of Guru still fresh in everyone’s minds. As all TheRapBuzz.com members were out of the country on either business or pleasure it was left to resident photographer Sefton "I love it when they call me Big Poppa" Blake to wave the La Cantina flag and properly papp proceedings before reporting back to the masses.
The Jazz Café is an awesome hip hop venue, spread over two floors with the stage and decks in full view it's a decent size whilst still being intimate enough to really feel the acts. Particularly at home on the stage and with an ever increasing following were the Droppin’ Science DJ collective who provided more than ample support to the big man. Armed with an apple mac and time code vinyls DJ Daredevil threw down some crazy doubles of early 90’s beats, beat juggled with Eric B and Rakim’s 'Don’t Sweat the Technique' and had the crowd going crazy singing along to Cypress Hill’s 'Could Just Kill A Man'. DJ Matman was then standing by taking us though the hip hop ages moving from Pharcyde and KRS-1 to Jay-Z and Nas and then Biggie and Keith Murray. Credit where credit is due – Daredevil and Matman kept the crowd noisy and more than entertained for well over 3 hours with classic beats, killer cuts and doubles on practically every track.
Preemo himself turned up around 10.15 going straight on stage to set-up after what sounded like a nightmare journey which saw his flight from New York get cancelled, none of his crew being able to fly with him, taking a flight alone to Paris and then finally the Eurostar to London. After this brief explication and introduction DJ Premier made it clear for all present right from the get go that the night was to be a tribute to Guru. In his characteristic velvet gravel voice Preemo blessed the person, the life, the family, the music and the legacy of his former Ganstarr partner with a moving couple of minute’s parlance.
By this time the crowd were gagging for it and when Preemo kicked things off with cuts of Gangstarr tracks from the first few albums they responded with that unique collective sound of “whoa”, “yeah” and “ooh” all rolled into one sound that you only hear at a hip hop show with 'Militia' followed by 'Above the Clouds' getting the loudest cheers and the highest jumps.
The crowd was pumped and Premier, you could say, was already pretty emotionally charged so when some twat in the crowd dressed like a member of Goldie Looking Chain with a fake afro wig and over size necklace shouted out "you're not a gangstar" he went on a realness rant, blaming him for disrespecting Guru's soul and shot the guy down big style shouting, "what the fuck do you know little boy, I'm a G!" - this got the loudest shouts of the night. "You know what you haven't got" screamed a pi$$ed off DJ Premier, "Skills!!!" and with that he dropped the Ownerz album track - the crowd went off all sorts of chains!!!!!
Phat beat was followed by phat beat after phat beat as we moved from the classic Gangstarr catalogue to the Preemo produced tracks by MOP and Group Home which left heads nodding hard. From here we were all treated to some of the classic Biggie tracks 'Machine Gun Funk' and, of course, '10 Crack Commandments' – I couldn’t spot anyone not singing along which is cool considering I saw men, women and children of all ages, races, styles and backgrounds - some seriously unsuspecting DJ Premier fans crawled out of the woodwork for this one - including one old lady who must have been at least 65 who had her hand in the air like she really didnt care all night long - true heads!
Very little actual mixing going on mainly as he had to perform mic duties as well but this was cool as between tracks Preems would tell a little Gangstarr or Guru related story - one about how the group was formed, the stages it went through and one about how much of a ballsy little scrapper Guru used to be back in the day.
Whilst Daredevil and Matman ripped the decks up technically earlier on, DJ Premier was there to show he is more than just a track master - cutting, scratching and juggling with the best of them and there was more to come as we neared the end of the set with some more classics from the likes of Big L and Big Pun as well as some more recent beats he's done for Termanology. The highlight was 'Salute Pt II' at the end of the show with Preems introducing the track with the story of how and why it was made, dropping the track and shouting out Guru's verse through the mic - the look on his face was priceless, he was proper feeling it.
I left more than satisfied having seen a living hip hop legend in action and was impressed how he ran the stage and controlled the crowd for over 2 hours. I went straight home and spun every Chris Martin record I own – DJ Premier that is, not Coldplay.
As you know, TheRapBuzz.com is proud to claim that true International Hip Hop spirit and we wouldn’t be true to ourselves if we didn’t travel across the lands to witness the best emcees from all over the world perform live...
Last week we were in Lyon, France to check out one of the best lyricists and innovators of the French Rap scene, Oxmo Puccino, accompanied by his trusted band, the Jazz Bastards. With live instrumentation providing the musical background throughout the show and an impressive crystal-clear diction close to CD quality, Oxmo took control of the crowd like only the best showmen can.
The highlights of the night were undoubtedly the rendition of classics such as ‘Amour et Jalousie’ (both off ‘Opera Puccino’, his first and possibly best album), ‘J’ai Mal au Mic' (from ‘L’Amour est Mort’), and performing ‘On Danse Pas’ with an almost club-like beat behind it, making the room go wild with each and every one shaking that a$$!
Jumping from one album to another, obviously including ‘365 jours’ and ‘L’Arme de Paix’ from the homonymous full-length release, the show ended with 2 encores, the second of which featured Oxmo’s standout track ‘L’Enfant Seul’ to the pleasure of all present, who’d been demanding it and were finally blessed to witness such a musical masterpiece live.
French rap at its' best.
Check out the full length video of the concert here and some more pics below...
The shock of Guru's death put us out of action for sometime, while we re-played every Gang Starr and Guru track that we own (there's many of them). Attending The Sound Clash was therefore a great reminder of all the kick ass talent still alive in hip hop; it took away the sadness we felt after the death of a hip hop icon and brought back the energy (for real, with some of the boomiest bass lines we have ever heard vibrating our rib cages) that drives this culture forward.
It may have been a coincidence that just as we walked in, one of the supporting acts (Spin Doctor, Mr. Thing, Chris P Cuts & Dj Snips) was playing 'Above the Clouds', and damn it sounded good and felt good to see everyone on the dancefloor applauding the choice.
Shortly after, the show began (pics here, thanks Doctor's Orders). Alchemist and Just Blaze took up their positions behind the decks and ignited the crowd with all of their top productions. The beatmakers alternated their bangers in a format, that as beatmakers ourselves, we absolutely love: the original sampled track first, with the beat dropping in after. This creates a beautiful build up, as the crowd immediately recognises the sample and anticipates the drop of the beat, skillfully chopped and skrewed by the beatmaker. No fear here of copyright infringement or unsolicited sample calling, just pure appreciation of the talent of the hip hop beatmaker.
As the set heated up though, it unfortunately became clear that the venue chosen wasn't ideal for a battle event. Unless you were one of the early arrivers sweating it in the first two rows, seeing the beatmakers in action was near impossible, therefore turning a battle event into what resembled a club night (where seeing the deejay doesn't really matter). A venue with an elevated stage would've made more sense, since a core part of the show was the live entertainment provided by Jus and Al on the mic.
the same set in the US featured some on the spot improv with the beatmakers responding to each other's beats in clever ways. The London event felt more like a joint deejay set than a battle, still cool, but not really a 'clash'...
And as pointed out by many reviewers, the set really brought to life the difference in styles between the two. Just Blaze is a hip hop hit maker, driving the crowd wild with practically every track he dropped; his beats have a bouncy feel and intricate rhythm patterns that you can't help moving to. Alchemist is instead more of a story teller, cooking up emotional soulful and dark samples into exciting soundbeds; not party tracks but intelligent boom bap bangers. It was therefore not surprising to see a stark difference in the crowd's reaction to the two beatmakers; people recognised and sang Alchemist soul vocal samples, but they broke into wild dancing when Just Blaze spun yet another hit. Not necessarily a bad thing, but in what was supposed to be a 'battle' it kind of automatically favoured one beatmaker over the other based on 'hit count' and not really talent.
The set finished with the instrumental version of Exhibit C at 2 am (great finale track by the way) and we happily exited the club, ears ringing and satisfied at having had yet another session of real head nod hip hop.
But, while outside lighting up a well deserved post club cigarette, to everyone's surprise, Alchemist walked out to hang out. Cool, unpretentious friendly dude, he had his picture taken with everyone (including us) before walking off into the Shoreditch streets with his black back pack. Guess it really is true, 'our boy Al, everybody's pal'
...and to wrap it up in his own words from Twitter:
London has been blessed. I never knew Just Blaze / ALC beats could create such a pungent body aroma ! Salute! AlanTheChemist
Look forward to more people...
|TheRapBuzz.com in house trade union activist Ru1 posing with Al, happy days|