Review: Crescent City Nights Review At Ritzy Brixton

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“Every­body needs a plat­form and we need to cre­ate that for ourselves” said Tony Wilson, one half of hip-hop duo Wilson Miles. Billed as a show­case of inde­pend­ent hip-hop from both the USA and Bri­tain, Cres­cent City Nights returned to Lon­don at the Ritzy in Brix­ton, giv­ing a plat­form to unsigned acts from Europe and across the pond.

Thanks to the transat­lantic approach of the night, there was a fant­ast­ic diversity of gen­res. Hack­ney based rap­per J Ibz kicked off the night with his track ‘Leg­acy’. He’s an up and com­ing rap­per and pro­du­cer with an intro­spect­ive and lyr­ic­al style. DJ Bill­ski and UK Prin­ciple brought a reg­gae and hip-hop infu­sion to the night, with vet­er­an UK Prin­ciple smoothly croon­ing as Bill­ski spat to ‘War in the City’, a unique grime and reg­gae con­coc­tion. Keemy!, who per­formed straight after a four­teen-hour shift, is both a UK rap­per and pro­du­cer who makes beats in a smooth altern­at­ive hip-hop style that would make Phon­te or MF Doom feel com­fort­able spit­ting on.

A. Levy brought the sound of the New Orleans under­ground to the table. He’s a vet­er­an of the Big Easy’s under­ground scene and has shared the stage with acts such as Jay Elec­tron­ica, N*E*R*D and Wiz Khal­i­fa. He also owns the Hut Stu­dio, a record­ing stu­dio in New Orleans. Open­ing with a jazz inspired track, you could clearly see that A. Levy is an estab­lished and refined per­former. He’s so pre­cise and smooth through­out his set, with his verses sound­ing just as pol­ished on stage as he does in the stu­dio.

But back to the UK for a minute. M.A.C., who spent most of the night DJ’ing, left the decks to high­light his tal­ents in rap­ping — which he does well. He opened by rap­ping over Mobb Deep’s ‘Shook Ones Pt. 2’, a sure-fire way of sound­ing gritty and hard of course, but M.A.C. did the icon­ic track justice through his strong bars and deliv­ery. The qual­ity con­tin­ued in his own track ‘Myth 2.0’, a song about dis­tan­cing your­self to find inner peace that’s backed by an eth­er­e­al zen like pro­duc­tion. Fol­low­ing with ‘What a Feel­ing’, both songs are from his debut album Five Nine­teen, released in July this year. His set was stel­lar and hope­fully we’ll hear a lot more from him.  Inter­est­ingly, M.A.C. has also col­lab­or­ated sev­er­al times with War­ren D, one of the oth­er acts, pro­du­cing and host­ing his 2015 EP Me, Myself & Rhymes Vol.2. War­ren D has an old school boom bap feel, drop­ping know­ledge in his verses and not sub­scrib­ing to a neg­at­iv­ity. He even per­formed a heart­felt ode to his wife.

Brit school gradu­ate, act­or and musi­cian Troy Glas­gow had one of the most intriguing sets of the night. Firstly, he star­ted rap­ping acapel­la after segue­ing from a nat­ur­al con­ver­sa­tion with the audi­ence. His music is polit­ic­ally charged, filled with com­plex meta­phors that, espe­cially on ‘Hege­mony’, can veer between sav­age con­dem­na­tion and sound­ing pray­er­ful. Just like M.A.C., Glas­gow decided to pay homage to a golden age song, namely through his ‘84 State of Mind’ a track heav­ily inspired by Nas’ N.Y. State of Mind. His per­form­ance was elec­tric and instantly cap­tiv­at­ing, and his music is a bril­liant demon­stra­tion of socially con­scious rap.

Mr. Fox is an MC hail­ing from North Lon­don who recently released a music video for his song ‘For the Team’. Styl­ist­ic­ally, Mr. Fox was a 180° from the oth­er UK acts and is more closely, although not entirely, of a grime fla­vour. He has a hard-hit­ting street style packed with quot­able punch­lines and dark heavy bass­lines. It’s a shame he has only one song (‘For the Team’) on his Sound­cloud (that was pos­ted a year ago), because his oth­er music is the type that would tear up any rave.

The inter­na­tion­al theme of the event didn’t just bring acts from the USA. In fact, one of the main high­lights of the night was Ravy, part of the super tal­en­ted Roman & Ravy, a rising hip-hop duo hail­ing from the Neth­er­lands. Roman handles the pro­duc­tion and Ravy raps and sings, hence why she alone appeared on the night. They both have her­it­age in Sur­i­n­ame which they draw from to incor­por­ate into their music, along­side an infu­sion of EDM, pop, R&B and hip-hop. On ‘On Fleek’ you can hear a strong dance­hall and Sur­i­n­amese kaseko influ­ence in the tem­po and thun­der­ing drums. The song is hugely dance­able and an instant ear-worm.  It was also bolstered by Ravy’s incred­ible stage pres­ence: she has a ter­ri­fic energy and pops and locks along to her songs.

Brixton’s very own Milo Merah, sup­por­ted by a ter­ri­fic live band, delivered a spec­tac­u­lar, enchant­ing and refined per­form­ance. Nowhere were his soul­ful and smooth vocals stronger than on “Heavy to Hold” which was heart­felt and imme­di­ately mes­mer­ising.

Fit­tingly, the hosts of Cres­cent City Nights are them­selves a shin­ing example of a transat­lantic part­ner­ship. Wilson Miles com­poses of Tony Wilson, an MC from New Orleans and Hec­tor Miles, a pro­du­cer from Lon­don. Their 20-minute EP ‘Where There’s Smoke’ dropped in May this year and fol­lows from their debut ‘The Golden Hand­shake’. Com­bin­ing sharp mul­ti-syl­lab­ic rhymes and vivid imagery, Wilson is an excel­lent rap­per and live artist. As DJ, Miles blends south­ern rap son­ics with boom bap, chopped and screw, elec­tron­ic and exper­i­ment­al sounds. Togeth­er, their uni­on fostered a solidly tight and mas­ter­ful per­form­ance.

Due to time con­straints, FRSHRZ, one of the lis­ted acts, didn’t have time to per­form. In July they launched their EP at the same ven­ue and put on a won­der­ful show. It was a shame to have missed them but hope­fully they will be back soon. That aside, Cres­cent City Nights stuck true to its eth­os and was a bril­liant inde­pend­ent show­case of tal­ent. Fin­gers crossed, they’ll be back again.

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Mark Mukasa

Mark Mukasa

Mark is a South Lon­don based writer and avid fan of all things hip hop. He’s also an MMA and his­tory enthu­si­ast who tries to keep his love of animé under wraps.

About Mark Mukasa

Mark Mukasa
Mark is a South London based writer and avid fan of all things hip hop. He's also an MMA and history enthusiast who tries to keep his love of anime under wraps.