When talk­ing of the key names in 90’s, hard­core ‘Gang­sta’ rap, many name rap­pers from the west coast such as Ice Cube and when we think of boom bap from this era, we think of the New York lyr­i­cists such as Nas.

There was how­ever a group that man­aged to blend the dark lyr­i­cism of the west and the hard hit­ting beats of the east with a pinch of raw anger to cre­ate a sound that has been unmatched ever since.  That group was Onyx — a bunch of Queens nat­ives who broke through in 1993 with their acclaimed, main­stream debut album, Bacdafucup.

The duo of Sticky Fin­gaz and Fre­d­ro Starr returned to this side of the pond to per­form at Arch­space, Hag­ger­ston, East Lon­don for one night only on Sunday, 6th May.

The night was sup­por­ted by Cana­dian rap­per, Snak the Rip­per who could have passed the night as his own gig since most of the crowd knew his tracks and got a celebrity wel­come after he fin­ished his set.

As Snak made his way through the crowd to meet with the guests, the grimy vocals of Onyx drew all the atten­tion to the stage as the duo deman­ded “When I go buc buc, you bet­ter buc back”. Which are vocals from their more recent 2014 track, Buc Bac.

Des­pite being one of their new­er tracks, the energy had not been lost at all as the crowd went crazy as they star­ted to form a mosh pit right away. The pumped up for­ce con­tin­ued into the night as the group sig­nalled for an inter­mis­sion. This inter­val how­ever was not a typ­ic­al one as the rave didn’t stop but rather diver­ted to a trib­ute set of hip hop artists that had passed away since the group broke through. The Notori­ous B.I.G, Big L, Big Pun and Prodigy were a few of the names that were hon­oured while the crowd held their lights up.

DMX, who has been in the news recently for being sent back to jail also got a shout out. This cued for the night to be really and truly ‘shut down’ as the pair per­formed their X fea­tured hit, Shut ‘Em Down. The mosh was now in full effect as Fre­d­ro climbed a speak­er to get full view of the packed out crowd.


The late Jam Mas­ter Jay got an hon­our next as Onyx per­formed Throw Ya Gunz, which was pro­duced by the former Run DMC DJ. JMJ had also helped the group break through after he received a demo from them in 1991. Jay also gave fel­low Queens artist, 50 Cent his New York break through some years later before passing away.

The night then drew to a close with the crowd still on fire while Onyx per­formed their biggest hit of all time, Slam. Des­pite wear­ing their trade­marked hood­ies and jack­ets on one of the hot­test days of the year so far, Onyx not once failed to lower the tem­per­at­ure as the energy on the stage and in the crowd was heated all night.


Arch­space are set to host even more hip hop nights this sum­mer with La Coka Nos­tra per­form­ing on Thursday, 14th June and Camp Lo on Monday, 2nd July

Keep up to date with Hip Hop Back In The Day for hip hop pro­mo­tions, gigs and mer­chand­ise by click­ing here.  

Pho­to Cred­it: Mag­dalena Grzesiak

Check out our inter­view with Onyx here. 

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Sumit Rehal

Sumit Rehal

Sum­it is a music and art journ­al­ist from South Lon­don. His mis­sion to pro­gress cul­ture by high­light­ing tal­ent. His three vices are hip hop, trav­el­ling and sam­osas, which he has had the pleas­ure of cov­er­ing across the world.

About Sumit Rehal

Sumit Rehal
Sumit is a music and art journalist from South London. His mission to progress culture by highlighting talent. His three vices are hip hop, travelling and samosas, which he has had the pleasure of covering across the world.