Review: @Crown_Sound Scotland’s Live ‘N’ Spittin’ 2014

Crown­Sound Scotland’s Live ‘N’ Spit­tin’ is an annu­al Hip Hop event with a 16 Man Free­style Rap Battle Tour­na­ment along with live per­form­ance sets by pop­ular Scot­tish Hip Hop artists. This year it was held at Audio in Glas­gow on Fri­day 28th Novem­ber and was very pro­fes­sion­ally organ­ized. The Scot­tish line up of artists were joined by the Man­churi­an with mul­ti syl­lables for every line who spits above aver­age skits; Shotty Hor­roh. He joined Scot­tish high energy heavy spit­ters Dead­soundz, the lad with the lyr­ics Dav­id MacWil­li­am and Chicago’s answer to Ill Bill; Shifty Pres­id­ents. There were also 16 Scot­tish battle rap­pers with vary­ing degrees of tal­ent (some were not per­form­ing to their nor­mal stand­ard) which only made the really high cal­ib­re battle rap­pers that night stand out even more. They were joined by myself on behalf of ‘I Am Hip Hop’ as we are now going to be the only nation­al magazine fol­low­ing the Scot­tish Hip Hop Scene which until now it has largely been ignored by the out­side world. That’s a whole sep­ar­ate art­icle that is in the pipeline for another edi­tion.

Battle Rap is still imprisoned behind the miso­gyn­ist­ic, homo­phobic, nar­ciss­ist­ic viol­ent ‘bars’ con­struc­ted by the white cor­por­ate cap­it­al­ist bas­tard­iz­a­tion of Hip Hop. How­ever the notori­ous bas­tard­iz­a­tion of Hip Hop by white AmeriKKKan cor­por­a­tions is some­thing that will be ana­lysed in another art­icle because it is a com­plex issue that should be crit­ic­ally eval­u­ated. Regard­less of the polit­ics of Battle Rap there is no doubt that real free­styl­ing and intel­li­gent lyr­i­cism with a good use of word play and mul­ti-syl­lables is some­thing that takes incred­ible skill and intel­li­gence.  Regard­less of wheth­er or not your aver­age cit­izen or dis­cern­ing Hip Hop head approves of the often repet­it­ive vul­gar school boy con­tent present in some Battle Rap there is no doubt that real skill and intel­li­gence are involved in many tour­na­ments and there are incred­ibly tal­en­ted battle rap­pers on the Scot­tish Hip Hop Scene who deserve recog­ni­tion. There is more than one way of say­ing the pop­ular battle line ‘I fucked your mother!’ There are some tal­en­ted battle rap­pers who have the lyr­ic­al prowess to invoke humour and even intel­lect when spit­ting some­thing as crude while oth­ers just sound like mind­less ingrates. It is about using words in a way that they com­mand power like verbal punches which leave a mark. Being able to do this with words, espe­cially when it’s being free­styled, takes incred­ible tal­ent. Cha­ris­ma is another essen­tial com­pon­ent for a battle rap­per and some battle rap­pers can con­vince you that they have skills until you real­ise that you have been duped by their charm, char­ac­ter and con­fid­ence. How­ever those who have been selec­ted as judges in Battle Raps know who’s all about the swag­ger and who can really use words to pag­ger (Scot­tish slang for ‘beat up’).

For me there was only two battle rap­pers at this par­tic­u­lar tour­na­ment who were bestowed with cha­ris­ma in con­junc­tion with the abil­ity to suc­cess­fully turn words into weapons in a way that was far less pre­dict­able and gen­er­ic than all the oth­er con­tenders. How­ever there were oth­er tal­en­ted battle rap­pers there who I have seen kill it at oth­er events but were off their game on this par­tic­u­lar night. Although there were oth­er battle rap­pers there with skills and some clev­er lines they were by no means bat­tling to the same level as Evil and A-Macc from the Dead­sounds Crew at this tour­na­ment.  These two champs were verbally throw­ing heavy hit­ters in the Hip Hop heavy­weight cat­egory when many of the oth­er con­tenders were feather­weights when it came to free­styl­ing, humour and lyr­i­cism at this par­tic­u­lar event. The best battle of the night came when Evil and A-Macc faced off again­st each oth­er as they threw Mike Tyson like lyr­ic­al left and right hooks through­out every part of the battle and verbally they both man­aged to bite each other’s ears off leav­ing the judges hard pushed to pick a win­ner. There was no win­ner in that par­tic­u­lar match and Evil went through and even­tu­ally won the whole Live & Spit­tin Tour­na­ment to receive a sick look­ing trophy, a hun­dred pounds, free beats from pro­du­cers and lots of ill ori­gin­al threads from the unique urb­an cloth­ing lines Con­spir­ing Ravens Mur­der­ous Crows Cloth­ing (CRMC) and Toke Cloth­ing. If Evil or A-Macc had taken the title it would have been a fair fight because they both battled like true lyr­ic­al war­ri­ors and injec­ted some intel­lect into their insults.

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Many Scot­tish battle rap­pers needs to put down their Buck­fast and pick up their pen and prac­tice their skills as writers and prac­tice their free­styl­ing by rhym­ing again­st their mates because there is an immense amount of tal­ent on the Scot­tish Scene that needs nur­tured so that Scot­tish Hip Hop can put itself on the world map. The stand­ard of Scot­tish Battle Rap could be raised if those with tal­ent and poten­tial really start put­ting in work and expand­ing their lyr­ic­al abil­it­ies by prac­tising them more because the Scot­tish Scene has to expand it’s influ­ence bey­ond Scot­land. There are many battle rap­pers in gen­er­al who need to learn more cre­at­ive ways of anni­hil­at­ing their oppon­ents as opposed to call­ing them a ‘fag­got’ in as many dif­fer­ent ways as pos­sible, say­ing they have got Bib­lic­al with their opponent’s Mother or girl­friend or accus­ing their oppon­ent of writ­ing their bars when they’re bars are so wack that they are clearly rhym­ing badly off the dome. This can be found in all Battle Rap world­wide but if Scot­land is going to raise it’s game to get inter­na­tion­al recog­ni­tion it has to be ori­gin­al and try and not engage in many of the trends that hold Hip Hop back. There has been some off the hook Scot­tish battles but there could be more if Scot­tish battle rap­pers chose not to fall into the pre­dict­able trends that coun­tries with way more suc­cess­ful Hip Hop scenes can afford to at times. There was a couple of incred­ible battles by Loki and Jinx that I watched on You­Tube that were on a whole dif­fer­ent level and that is what Scot­tish Hip Hop needs more of to estab­lish itself.  Unfor­tu­nately at this tour­na­ment even many of the more tal­en­ted battle rap­pers did not bring it to the extent they were cap­able of which was dis­ap­point­ing.  Nev­er­the­less the two emcees who both would have made worthy win­ners in this war of words proved that Scot­land has real ori­gin­al tal­ent just wait­ing to be dis­covered by the wider world. There was oth­er tal­ent present but to com­pete with the US, oth­er parts of Europe and even down South Scot­tish battle rap­pers in gen­er­al need to move away from pre­dict­able play­ground insults and ‘raise the bars’ the way Evil and A-Macc did and many oth­ers do at oth­er battles, shows and on their tracks.

Dead­soundz, Shifty Pres­id­ents and the non-pre­ten­tiously named Dav­id MacWil­li­am ended up hold­ing the mic more than the head­liner him­self but even the few hard­core Shotty fans I heard talk­ing were not trip­ping too bad on the main man from Manchester being on at elev­en. That is because the oth­er artists really cap­tiv­ated the audi­ence with their tal­ent, energy and stage pres­ence. The Glas­gow Dead­soundz crew with mem­bers Sub­Kon­sious (The Anti-Injustice Movement’s Scot­land Gen­er­al),  A-Macc (who’s per­form­ance promp­ted me to give him a place in The Anti-Injustice Move­ment), and Steve ET really did keep the night going with high qual­ity crowd pleas­ing tracks which kept things pop­ping on the dance floor. Their lyr­i­cism was sharp and held everyone’s atten­tion and kept the night with a party atmo­sphere.  How­ever they do have some con­scious tracks which prove they are cap­able of more revolu­tion­ary con­tent which demon­strates their abil­ity to be ver­sat­ile as emcees. They spat with a smooth and con­sist­ent flow to some real catchy beats that made sure that if you were not throw­ing shapes on the dance floor your head would be nod­ding and foot tap­ping to their upbeat Hip Hop party anthems. My col­league Gata Malandra did an inter­view with Dead­soundz dur­ing her time in Scot­land so keep your eye out for that on the site. I also got an inter­view with Live & Spit­tin Win­ner Evil (aka Find­lay John­ston) so expect that over the next day or two. It was a great inter­view with a really tal­en­ted young MC and Battle Rap­per who has big things to come.

Shifty Pres­id­ents, a Chica­go MC who is hold­ing it down for Hip Hop in Scot­land, really brought pres­ence and raw nat­ur­al cha­ris­ma to the stage as the host of the show and then as a per­former. After Dead­soundz had every­one in the party mood the cha­ris­mat­ic US emcee took to the stage and spat hard and grimy like a mem­ber of La Coka Nos­tra or Army of the Pharaohs. His lyr­ics were more about party­ing than politricks but he would surely be cap­able of both which is what crews like La Coka Nos­tra are all about. Shifty spits the type of Hip Hop, or ‘Goon Musick’ that I pre­dom­in­antly listen to so his per­form­ance would have been a def­in­ite high­light for Hip Hop heads who like that par­tic­u­lar US grimy under­ground style. He’s am emcee who really could get big if he estab­lished a nation­al and inter­na­tion­al repu­ta­tion with Hip Hop heads who appre­ci­ate razor sharp spit­ters like Ill Bill, Slaine, Vin­nie Paz, Mad­child, etc. This guy needs to think big as he could be head­lining shows as a major act as opposed to open­ing shows for major acts like the incred­ible Mad­child of Swollen Mem­bers. If this man plays his aces he will be spit­ting vit­ri­ol in a Snow­goons video with oth­er ‘main­stream under­ground’ beasts on You­Tube some­time soon.

The last Scot­tish artist to per­form did not have the phys­ic­al pres­ence or cocky cha­ris­ma of some of the Dead­soundz  boys, Shifty Pres­id­ents or Shotty Hor­roh. He looked like your aver­age boy next door but when he got on the mic Dav­id MacWil­li­am abso­lutely smashed it. There was no hard ass Hip Hop ali­as, back­wards cap and bling or gim­micks of any descrip­tion because this young man’s abil­it­ies as an emcee were all that was needed to win the audi­ence over. His lyr­i­cism was intel­li­gent, heart felt and clev­erly con­struc­ted but without a hint of pre­ten­tion. He had energy, pas­sion and a nat­ur­al tal­ent for the First Ele­ment of Hip Hop which he heav­ily incor­por­ated with The Fifth Ele­ment (Know­ledge). He looked in his teens or early twen­ties but spat ori­gin­al bars like a true Hip Hop vet­er­an.

Shotty Hor­roh arrived at 11pm to do his set but on that par­tic­u­lar night the con­scious Lon­don emcee of Jamaic­an des­cent Klash­nekoff was per­form­ing in the centre of Glas­gow with oth­er pop­ular Scot­tish artists open­ing for him like Glas­gow emcee and world class Beat­box­er Bigg Taj. There was a one hour over­lap between the end of this event and the start of the Klashnekoff’s show so many audi­ence mem­bers only caught a few tracks by Shotty Hor­roh before hav­ing to shoot off to the oth­er show. There is no doubt that Shotty has more bars than Weth­er­spoons, a fast but flu­ent flow and many suc­cess­ful tracks that invoke a mul­ti­tude of reac­tions due to his ver­sat­ile con­tent. He is a suc­cess­ful emcee for a reas­on and the audi­ence would have liked to see more but it was a def­in­ite bonus to be able to see the the Man­churi­an with mul­ti syl­lables even though it was for a short time.

How­ever what was clear was that Shotty Hor­roh was not needed for this show to be a great suc­cess because the battle rap was enter­tain­ing even when it wasn’t on point and Evil, one of the two Battle Rap beasts of the night, took an award that he truly deserved. One that A-Macc could also have won fairly. The artists who per­formed, who were ini­tially seen as being like open­ers for Shotty Hor­roh proved them­selves to all be worthy head­liners in their own right.  They kept the night on a Hip Hop high and nev­er failed to set the mic on fire. The show went so well that the main act not per­form­ing until late on did not even effect the suc­cess of it. The time has come for more Scot­tish open­ing acts but even more Scot­tish head­liners! It was a great night for Scot­tish Hip Hop and there will be many more!

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Kalash Nikov

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