Review: END OF THE WEAK LDN (@eodub) HEAT 4

EOW

Heat 4 of the 2017 EOW Lon­don Emcee chal­lenge was the oppos­ite of heat 3. I labelled that the vet­er­ans round ‘cause I’d known most of the emcees for years. Even though this set of emcees were far from new, for some reas­on I hadn’t seen any of them per­form before, except on the open mic at pre­vi­ous heats. When it comes to Hip Hop, music in gen­er­al, I love being sur­prised and find­ing new, dope shit, and that’s what went down in this heat…

The emcees:

1 – The Aur­acle

The mul­ti-tal­en­ted Aur­acle is a sing­er and writer as well as a lyr­i­cist. You can tell when he per­forms and it’s con­firmed when he speaks about music, that his abil­ity as a sing­er has influ­enced his listen­ing and his skills. Inspired by legends the like of Q-Tip, Queen Lati­fah and Guru, this intel­lec­tu­al rhymer enjoys com­plex word­play and edu­cat­ing his listen­ers with the con­tent locked inside. He is also strongly influ­enced by his musi­cian father and is grate­ful to have fol­lowed those foot­steps.

2 – Dal­con

North Lon­don­er Dalcon’s biggest inspir­a­tion to start and keep rap­ping is the per­son­al struggle he’s been through. Writ­ing and spit­ting bars have been his out­let from the start and you could see on the night that he pours his all into his rhymes, spit­ting with pas­sion and drive. He’s influ­enced by the greats, Tupac, Big­gie, Wu and Eminem; mix these with his life exper­i­ence and you get a self-pro­claimed ‘crazy mother­fuck­er’!

3 – Mr Lomax

Com­ing from Wigan, Lomax has been grind­ing for years to spread the cul­ture and build a scene in his ends, encour­aged by the heat he’s seen in Manchester and Lon­don. A drum­mer as well as a spit­ter, he puts a lot of value on rhythm and flow and describes his lyr­ics as intro­spect­ive. Before we spoke he was mad humble, shy even, until we put the cam­era on him! Then the con­fid­ence of a man who knows his own abil­it­ies came out and he said he was gon­na smash every round! Think what happened when we put a mic in his hand…

4 – Huski88

This brother was a late edi­tion to the line up, sign­ing up the day before. I’d met him at the last heat when he’d been play­ing keys in the house band, play­ing with no stand so he could hold his key­board like a gui­tar when he felt to. We free­styled for a bit before, so I knew he had skills, and I was look­ing for­ward to see­ing him take the chal­lenge. When I asked him about his influ­ences, he said his con­nec­tion with music was a 17 years rela­tion­ship that he’d spent with a close friend who he gets to know bet­ter every year. I thought that was dope.

So like I said, this was the first time I’d seen any of these man per­form and from the first round it looked like I’d been sleep­ing on some ser­i­ous tal­ent. Mr Lomax kicked it off with some dope shit, ridicu­lous flows and allit­er­ated word­play before say­ing – in the writ­ten round – “I’ll free­style my chor­us ‘cause I can” before doing it! It was a dope con­cept that set the levels and got the crowd hype. Dal­con did his thing here too, get­ting some nice crowd par­ti­cip­a­tion on his hook as spat about bat­tling the con­straints of a tech­no­lo­gized world. The Aur­acle also went in, speak­ing 3 lan­guages in the first 2 bars of his verse, then laid down clev­er, snappy lines one after another. But the round was taken by Huski88. First, in a trib­ute to Prodigy (Rest In Power), he’d selec­ted Mobb Deep’s Hell on Earth as his beat – and it got a pull up. On the second time he put down a verse centred around old­skool com­puter games, start­ing with “my mumsy’s a SNES and my father’s a mega­d­rive”, then when he got to “I’m in a castle, your wife’s blow­ing my cart­ridge”, man­dem went nuts and he got the second reload. Mas let it be known that this was the first time that’d happened at any EOW con­test around the world that he’d seen – it was a mad­ness.

The bar had been set HIGH and them levels car­ried on into the a cap­pel­la round. This round was close, with The Aur­acle and Huskie88 both drop­ping bars rammed with intel­li­gent, witty punch lines inside dope flows that had the audi­ence bus­sing up. Dal­con came with a dif­fer­ent angle, speak­ing on his pain and the obstacles he’s faced in his per­son­al mis­sion. Mr Lomax came out on top though, tak­ing his flow, con­tent and allit­er­a­tion to a whole next stage. His word­play was off the hook while cri­tiquing the state of polit­ics we live in and the nihil­ism it breeds. He went in and it showed again that this had the poten­tial to be the best of 2017 so far.

For these emcees who had smashed the two rounds for writers, the real test was approach­ing. Black Santa Kissy K drew for his sack and the grab bag round got under­way. Genu­ine free­style is 100% required for this and the emcees showed their skills. All of them held it down and used the items to enter­tain. Dal­con and The Aur­acle did well, but this round saw Mr Lomax and Huskie88 start to move ahead of the com­pet­i­tion. Both man’s flows were com­pletely con­sist­ent with no breaks or pauses and a lot of con­fid­ence. Huskie’s best item was a screw­driver – he nev­er used the word but instead lis­ted uses for it – screw­ing the cas­kets shut if someone banged his girl or dissed his mum were among them. Lomax killed it when he pulled out a phone and put it straight in his pock­et, nar­rat­ing all the time and then doing the same with a grinder, say­ing him and Mas would be…exchanging notes…on some herb after the show.

The ser­i­ous tests kept com­ing, with Jazz T – the mas­ter of fuck­ing up emcees – behind the wheels ready for the DJ vs Emcee round. All the emcees did well, but Jazz lived up to his rep, trip­ping up all the emcees at some point. Husky88 kicked it off – a bit over­con­fid­ently – offer­ing Jazz out (!!), say­ing he that he deals with dif­fer­ent time sig­na­tures all day as a musi­cian, and he did put down some ill 34 time flows. Mr Lomax came out hard, with a rap­id-fire flow on the first beat, but hav­ing to stop and say “fuck­ing hell” between cuts. The Aur­acle was the same, start­ing  and fin­ish­ing the round with ser­i­ous lyr­ics but some big gaps in between and Dal­con fin­ished the round up, hold­ing it up with a mix of frees and writ­tens, but again, with a few pauses to catch the beats.

DJ vs MC had been pretty even and the cypher round was the same. As usu­al with this stand­ard of emcee, every­one handled the four bar and pass (just about). The band was bring­ing some jazzy vibes and the man­dem put down some dope free­styles. The cypher nearly turned into a battle but the time ran out for bet­ter or worse! The heat was done and again we’d had a very close con­test with 2 real standout emcees. The judges had some work to do.

While they did that work the stage was blessed by a group of broth­ers who are build­ing some real heat on the scene at the moment. Made up of three potent emcees and seasoned Hip Hop heads, Skandouz, Art­cha and Dray Styles have all been in the game (E..A..SPORTS) as indi­vidu­als for a minute but in recent years they have been oper­at­ing togeth­er as FRSHRZ and are mak­ing waves. We got to see why as they put down a dope mix of sharp lyr­ics, raw flows, deep con­tent, strong and clear mes­sages over a vari­ety of rid­dims, all with a soul­ful centre. You could see the years of exper­i­ence as they worked the stage, get­ting the crowd mov­ing with their tracks, inter­act­ing com­fort­ably with each oth­er and the people and drop­ping heavy a cap­pel­las between tracks. Show­ing their com­mit­ment to the com­munity essence of Hip Hop cul­ture, as well as pay­ing homage to the legends on their track ‘Lon­don Pos­se’, they brought through a young emcee called Daak Mar­tin to per­form with them and to do a solo joint, as well as intro­du­cing dope soul sing­er Kee­sha Simpson; both of them smashed it. The man­dem came through with a mer­ch table too, selling FRSHRZ T’s, snap­backs and their latest self-titled EP. Go listen and cop that now, it’s ill.

After FRSHRZ bun it down the judges came back with their ver­dict. As I said above, yet again the con­test was extremely close, but with Mr Lomax com­ing in second it was Huski88 that advanced to the final on Septem­ber 15th at Hootanany Brix­ton. He’ll be join­ing Men­ace Men­d­oza, Dr Koul and Emerge MC along­side who­ever wins the last heat on August 31st back upstairs at The Ritzy. This month we’ll be joined by my man Yet­izm, a don on the MPC who’ll be lend­ing his skills to the DJ vs Emcee round to put the emcees through their paces. Get down to Brix­ton this Thursday for another night of heavy lyr­i­cism and blessed vibes.

EOW

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Apex Zero

Apex Zero

Apex Zero is an emcee and beat maker who has been express­ing his anti-polit­ic­al views and extend­ing his work towards defin­ing, inspir­ing and cre­at­ing last­ing change through Hip Hop for over a dec­ade. Apex has been work­ing with grass­roots and mil­it­ant organ­isa­tions, edu­cat­ing him­self and oth­ers, organ­ising and build­ing towards over­turn­ing the oppress­ive mech­an­ism at large since his mid-teens, around the same time that he entered London’s under­ground Hip Hop scene as part of his crew, First and Last with his brother OMeza Omni­scient. Years of earn­ing respect and enhan­cing their repu­ta­tion, which lead to col­lab­or­a­tions and work­ing rela­tion­ships with many of the scenes most prom­in­ent artists and organ­isa­tions, mani­fes­ted in the Octo­ber 2013 release of Apex’s debut solo album ‘Real­ity Pro­vok­ing Lib­er­a­tion’. The 15 tracks of self-described ‘Neo-Hard­core Hip Hop’ gathered inter­na­tion­al acclaim from both fans and crit­ics, fur­ther enhan­cing Apex’s repu­ta­tion as one of the strongest and clearest voices in anti-polit­ic­al, ‘revolu­tion­ary’ Hip Hop in the UK. Based in Beijing, China since 2014, Apex has been trav­el­ling out­side of the UK, seek­ing new per­spect­ives and aim­ing at enhan­cing his out­look, explor­ing dif­fer­ent soci­et­ies, con­nect­ing with Hip Hop heads, act­iv­ists and schol­ars world­wide. Like his music, his writ­ing is often an exten­sion of his ideas and efforts to effect change in the world whil­st enhan­cing and elev­at­ing both the cul­ture of Hip Hop and the people who embody it.

About Apex Zero

Apex Zero
Apex Zero is an emcee and beat maker who has been expressing his anti-political views and extending his work towards defining, inspiring and creating lasting change through Hip Hop for over a decade. Apex has been working with grassroots and militant organisations, educating himself and others, organising and building towards overturning the oppressive mechanism at large since his mid-teens, around the same time that he entered London’s underground Hip Hop scene as part of his crew, First and Last with his brother OMeza Omniscient. Years of earning respect and enhancing their reputation, which lead to collaborations and working relationships with many of the scenes most prominent artists and organisations, manifested in the October 2013 release of Apex’s debut solo album ‘Reality Provoking Liberation’. The 15 tracks of self-described ‘Neo-Hardcore Hip Hop’ gathered international acclaim from both fans and critics, further enhancing Apex’s reputation as one of the strongest and clearest voices in anti-political, ‘revolutionary’ Hip Hop in the UK. Based in Beijing, China since 2014, Apex has been travelling outside of the UK, seeking new perspectives and aiming at enhancing his outlook, exploring different societies, connecting with Hip Hop heads, activists and scholars worldwide. Like his music, his writing is often an extension of his ideas and efforts to effect change in the world whilst enhancing and elevating both the culture of Hip Hop and the people who embody it.