The night started beautifully and casually. DJ Wicked was spinning all the old school Hip Hop classics. I found myself at the bar, reciting bar for bar Method Man and Redman’s ‘Da Rockwilder’ with another gentleman playing snooker. There was an artist there called August Blu in one corner of the room doing portraits. This gave an extra special quality to the night as his spray cans and work had its own mini stage without taking away from the music. Real culture in my opinion has Art, Music and Dance all under the same roof. One by one the crowd began to filter in as we were led to the stage. My joy was already found through the diversity of people that this night had brought.
Although it was my first time at the venue and at a New Guardz event, I instantly felt right at home. The vibe was open and easy. The incredible double ‘M’ duo of Mas and Marv introduced the show. Mas has this incredible stage presence that is second to none. The combination of funky entire; which changed multiple times as the night progressed; dope rhymes of the dome and impulsive humour was a perfect start to the live show and permeated through the night effortlessly. Marv brought his awesome beat-boxing skills, cool African prints and free-styled like he could do it in his sleep. The two supported each other like a black artistic version of Ant and Dec.
The first act was a beautiful Singer-Songwriter named Corrine Leandre. For someone who admitted she was nervous, her voice pierced my heart and the hearts of many that night. Three words: Pure and uncomplicated. Her range was vast and she causally hit key changes without stress. Her ad-libs weren’t the usual showy, premeditated extras; which sometimes overtakes a track but clearly chosen and very effective. She proceeded to perform her own carefully crafted tracks and a cover of Beyonce’s ‘Hold Up’ with her own twist. Just when the audience thought she was done she showed she had some flow too; putting down some rhymes:
“fuck these politicians, tryna tell me what the hell life is and what the heaven that it isn’t”
She held the stage with strength and grace and definitely provided the acts that followed her a hard task to match.
Proceeding Leandre was Black Chronical, who had a very, very interesting flow. I found myself really impressed about his choice of not only lyrical content; but the way in which his lyrics sat on the beat. It made it a challenge to follow, which for me made his tracks very interesting. It’s good when artists push the art by not spoon-feeding audiences. The UK now due to our Grime artists are known for being able to rhyme on pretty much any beat at speed but hearing a Hip Hop mc display that talent was deeply satisfying. Whoever is producing Black Chronical’s instrumentals has some serious talent and the combination seemed to be working towards something fresh and unique for the UK Hip Hop world
Dun D had took the room into a place of high energy and true London vibes.
“It’s a London ting INIT”
I found myself singing along to his infectious hooks. He reminded me a little of Lethal B; in the sense of a home grown, relatable talent; but also his way of understanding and grasping the club scene. He ranged from Grime to Afro-beat / Island Styles, which got the crowd dancing. It was a great switch up and gave party spirituality; that may not have necessarily existed in the space prior to his performance. His enjoyment and passion created a joyous atmosphere and took the event into a different place.
Femi Santiago came next with his funky, self produced beats and killer falsetto. His natural zest for life put smiles on everyone’s face especially learning about his joy of fatherhood and married life. At this point the audience was packed but with room to enjoy the vibes. He moved through Funk to Soul, R ’n’ B and even gave some Trap Beats. It was a nice switch up to the acts that came before and Santiago’s track ‘Audacious’ is a dynamite record.
New Guardz — These guys are just insane. From The Direwolves – the four piece band in wolf masks (any reference to Game Of Thrones instantly gets my seal of approval!) To the Beat-boxing, cyphers and best of all, audience interaction. Marv, in particular, wasn’t afraid to mosh with the crowd or to even share free alcohol through water pistols!! The New Guardz performance had a similar feel to The Mouse Outfit in terms of it’s group structure, dynamic and openness; so it was nice for London to have our own cool Hip Hop collective.
What struck me was supportiveness and awareness the group had of each other in the space. They were all confident and happy to lead or be led. It was nice to see a group of men do this. There were no egos, only room for play and stunning, unique deliveries. The energy created by the ensemble really gave the night a sense of love and community, which you don’t really get from most live shows. Usually the acts are quite disconnected and people generally go for their artists and are not interested in anything or anyone else. The New Guardz exemplified the thing that Hip Hop was made for: to bring all kinds of people, from all walks of life, together. They ranged from Hip Hop to Rock, Ska to some more jazzy rhythms and over these played with flows in an impressive and creative way. These guys created a forum of experience and exploration for the audience. It was truly captivating.
DSOTM (Dark Side of the Moon) all in black, out came with some seriously smooth flows. The guys had this level of consistency and logic that transcended their performance. Their high-energy style, teamed with real diverse intonation choice (in terms of the order of verses) was an interesting addition to the ones that came before. The performance was 200% commitment and heart. A real pleasure to witness especially after the New Guardz set.
The last of live acts was the unbelievably talented Bobbie Johnson hailing from Brighton. She closed the show with a bang. She had bars at a speed that even Twista or Kendrick would have trouble keeping up. She is exactly what the Grime scene needs and got instant reloads for pretty much every track. The lyrics were on point, her delivery was seamless and the best part was she was so humble about her gift. It was an outstanding performance and it’s great to watch females like her and Lady Leshurr really represent for the UK, displaying that we produce female MC’s of a truly awesome standard. Watch out for this girl. If you don’t know her already get to know now. She is not to be overlooked.
Schroff spun the decks the rest of the night keeping the insane vibes. Although the music blew me away I found myself witnessing cyphers and freestyles during the breaks of the event. This was the icing on the cake. The support from people that had travelled from all over to experience this event was truly astounding. It really broke the stereotype of London as this transactional city; in which everyone is out for themselves. This sense of community and appreciation of talent really took the night. This night was truly sensational and I will definitely be going to the next one. For anyone that wants to hear beautiful music, meet beautiful, talented people and have a great night out, I would definitely suggest heading down to the New Guardz next live event.
Follow these guys @newguardz
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