Big night! I fared much better than my last visit, when I left before it all kicked off.
After a bit of chattage in the front bar area bit, we headed in to see Sunship and Warrior Queen doing their thing. Sunship’s Chunky was at pains to tell us how legendary they are/were, even to the extent of grabbing the mic off the real MC. This didn’t exactly endear them to me but the set was good and bouncy and even included Bassment Jaxx’s “Jump and Shout” and Musical Mob’s “Pulse X”.
Warrior rocked out some of her greatest bars, and it felt pretty odd hearing them over anything other Bug productions, made it all a bit distanced – dreamlike. That said, she’s a force to be reckoned with and you can’t argue with lyrics like “Dem a Bomb We” and “Aktion Pak”. Sunship finished with their Warrior Queen collab “Almighty Father” which is tough and sweet in exactly the right proportions. But it was the full vocal tune they played, not an instrumental so Warrior Queen was doing live vocals over her own recorded ones. Odd.
Logan Sama’s arrival was as good a signal as any that things were about to get… serious. He was followed by about 20 MCs who proceeded to pass the mic back and forth like a never ending big fat spliff.
The dynamic was pretty interesting – Trim, Jammer and youngster Chipmunk were actually on the bill and their lyrics were a cut above virtually everyone else. But all the MCs were great, the less well known serving as punctuation for the longer stretches of vocals by the bigger names…
Grime has its own sign language – show someone lower down the pecking order an open hand and they know that it’s your turn on the mic. It keeps things moving – no suggestion of overblown solos or hip hop esque “spots” where people get to do a selection of their hits, everyone just busts out a few verses at most before handing over. It’s proper pirate radio stuff and is guaranteed to keep the energy levels right up there.
Chipmunk is 16 years old and whilst not everyone likes his flow, it’s generally acknowledged that he is the at the forefront of the next generation of MCs. I mean, jesus, I couldn’t even speak in public when I was 16, let alone get up on stage with mic amongst some legends and hold my own. His “League of My Own” mixtape is well worth checking, but it felt really great getting to see him do his thing in the flesh.
Trim’s “Soulfood” is one of my favourite things in what has been a stupidly good year for music. There’s so much bullshit talked about people being on “the next level” but nobody does vocals like Trim. Some Grime makes you hit the rewind button cos it’s so rapid fire and slangy that you can’t keep up, but Trim talks slow, and so artfully – you have to check his stuff out repeatedly because of all the subtleties in there, mad allusions… (and I hate the word, but…) poetry.
I can’t tell you what precise tracks he bust out, it was a blur of geezers on the stage and hands in the air in the audience and familiar verses flowed into stuff I’d never heard before. Messy. Great.
Jammer is I guess what you’d count as an elder statesman in Grime, but his signature “Murkle Man” includes the lines “I’m a big man but I’m not thirty”. He gets more props as a producer than as an MC, but all he has to do is drop those lines and everyone goes mental, every time. I’m actually a bigger fan of his than a lot of people, his “Are You Dumb 2” mixtape has an amazing tune on it featuring some purloined Sizzla vocals which works like a roots/grime duet. Jammer has stupid energy onstage as well – there was one bit where he and another MC (Blacks?) were just doing a line of lyrics, passing the mic to the other, then back – just insane rapid fire stuff which had jaws dropping and smiles broadening.
This stuff is infectious, much more addictive to me than moody geezers playing one record after another, good though that can be. The rest of the night is a bit of a blur, Fuda Guy from Ruff Sqwad was great, at least 20 people held the mic that I had no idea who they were. I barely got a chance to check out room 2 but that seemed pretty cool as well – some nice breezy 2step was a good break after all the slewage and chest beating in the main room.
Meanwhile London’s dubstep fans were queuing up to not get into a carpark in the freezing cold….
- Check out the links to tunes above
- Get down to the next Dirty Canvas if you can
- Check out what my mate Danny had to say about the night
- See the rest of my photos below
- Leave a comment…