Doing a bit of extra publicity had clearly paid off – the place was filling up just after me and a slightly worse for wear Martin had arrived and grabbed seats.
Jason-From-Transition-Mastering-Studios treated the early crew to a nice set of 90s ragga classics and finished up with Sandra Cross’ “Country Living” and Janet Kay’s “Silly Games”. Great selection and I think there was some mic action in there as well. MC-ing and ragga usually appear later in the evening so BASH was definitely hitting the ground running…
I’m not sure if Loefah was on for very long but I pretty much missed all of his set because people I know kept turning up and we were chatting…
So – Mala and YT – where do you start, eh? I guess on the shallow level of appearances. I never twigged when YT appeared with Digital, but you never see black DJs with white MCs in reggae. Now, I reckon YT has totally proved himself, so I won’t be receptive to purist arguments about him being a white bloke using patois. Even with that settled, I wasn’t sure if this set was going to work. Mala and YT are two talented blokes working in different genres who obviously have different visions of where they want to go. A recipe for disaster? The exact opposite was true – the combination rocked it.
YT seemed to be driving the show in places, and he was tearing it up. Mala was reduced at points to sticking on backing tracks for tunes off “Straight outta Britain”, but he seemed characteristically relaxed about it all. YT hits like “England Story”, “Innit”, and “A Wicked Act” got rinsed out. The latter even included some new verses – updating the 7/7 theme with references to the recent alleged plane bombings.
A new track was introduced as “England Story pt 2” which turned out to be an awesome re-rub of Admiral Bailey’s “No Wey Better Than Yard” – we got taken all round the country with the occasional “when you check it out lawd, England it ah mi yard!”. Blinding. Want it.
At one point I was faced with the absurd situation of having a certain inebriated blogger on my right hand side telling me that he wasn’t sure if white people could ever MC reggae properly, while on my left hand side a group of black blokes were waving their lighters in the air and bawling for a rewind.
Mala pulled out some dubstep tunes towards the end of his set, which YT took in his stride. I wasn’t really feeling the music, but that’s me. Having said that, there was one great bit where Mala managed to make the top of my head wobble. Just the top two inches of my head, while the rest of me stayed still. That was wicked.
Now – how’s this for the beginning of a set? –
- Conroy Smith – Dangerous
- Papa Levi – Mi God Mi King
- Shinehead – Rough & Rugged
- Turbulence – Notorious
Pretty damn excellent, I reckon. Now – how about if it’s all relentlessly tweaked with by The Bug? Hmmm? And how about if top-of-the-range grime MC Flowdan flings down lyrics over the top of it all? Yeah I reckon that might veer towards being one of the best things of my summer, actually!
I know even less about grime than I do about dubstep, but I do know that grime has more in common with the whole uk fast chat vibe than dubstep does, and I can spot a pure pro in his game. Flowdan is one of those people who is larger than life: as soon as he stepped up to the mic he was officially In Charge of the room. Busting lyrics like nobody’s business. “Jah War” mashed me up. Huge. Want it.
Flowdan didn’t seem remotely phased by the stranger riddims selected by The Bug, or the sound problems which reduced the set to and old skool one-deck session. You don’t need more than one deck if you have a wicked MC – that’s the whole reason they came about, to vibe up the crowd over and in between records.
Flow introduced his cousin and I started worrying. This guy looked a lot younger, so was this some kind of “two for the price on one” obligation thing? Nepotism in the dance? I needn’t have worried (I need to trust people more!). The young Killah is the latest recruit to the Roll Deep crew and it’s not like they are desperate for new blood, is it?
Killah was obviously loving the vibe, praising the 90s riddims cos he grew up on ’em. Him and Flow alternated tunes and… wow!
To YT’s credit he’d stuck around to check the scene out, and to Flow’s credit he alloed him back on the mic. Devastation ensued.
After a while I retreated and checked my watch. Damn.
“Shit, I wasn’t going to stay this long!”
“Neither were we! – You working tomorrow?”
“At my desk by 9:00am mate…”
At 2:00am I clambered up the stairs. Incoherent. Unable to tell Loefah how much I’d enjoyed myself, but he looked blasted and it must have been written all over my face. Loef was bidding the faithful goodbye. Mary Ann Hobbs was flyering for her own party – how cool is that?
On the bus on the way home I was thinking. Well, trying to. I was musing that in your teens and twenties you go out and see loads of stuff that blows you away. There are lots of “first times”. Maybe when you hit your mid-30s this has diminished because things repeat and you get more discerning. Seen it all… ?
Well, BASH gives me that rush every single month. Every time, without fail, there’s something which smacks me in the head with its brilliance. That’s why I’m so evangelical about it – sometimes I feel it’s all I’m blogging about – squeezing a few minutes of my medically-allotted keyboard time.
So – if August was mayhem, then September will be armageddon. Come down, or don’t, but (in the words of Anthony Red Rose) “you can’t say me never did a warn you”.