Friday night September 8th marked one of the evening’s celebrating South London’s bass culture with Southbound. In the Brix ! (Brixton), Hip Hop heads slid through the dancing streets to see one of the greatest names in Hip Hop (Pete rock) and one of the biggest movements in UK Hip Hop (High Focus Records) at the Electric. This was made for absolute history.
On arrival, there was an unfortunate accident outside which caused distress amongst the fans. However, the heroism and efficiency from the Electric Brixton’s staff was inspiring. With all the safety and vulnerability concerns UK showcases have had this year, it was refreshing to see such care and vigilance in such panic as people entered the venue.
Being one of the first people inside, I’m always keen to see how certain DJs open the show to provoke high spirits on a night out before performers come on. Raji Rags from NTS Radio, did not disappoint to transition the queue that stretched from the building on to the dance floor. Drinks were pouring and heads were knocking to contemporary Hip Hop mixed with some Old School to set the table for a Pete Rock evening.
The first person to touch the Mic was Jam Baxter of High Focus records. The music from High Focus records is constantly playing on my radio show (Big Bang Show Reprezent radio 107.3 FM) It’s a prominent force in the UK which holds fundamental values of Hip Hop. The label has progressed to a point where it tours huge venues and distributes music all around the world. There was genuine excitement for his performance as people looked forward to reciting his recently dropped album Mansion 38. He absolutely captivated the audience and as a huge fan of UK Hip Hop, it was a pleasure to see how far we have come and the possibilities that lie ahead. Catching up with him back stage I asked him what it was like to work with Pete rock in the same venue to which he responded,
“When your heroes become your peers it’s a beautiful feeling I feel blessed every single day in my entire life that I’m in this position”
He explained how there so much inspiration he gets drawn from this city and whether he is touring Bulgaria or working on his album with Chemo in Bangkok, Brixton holds a special place in his heart.
The night was still young in the Electric Brixton and three of the Four Owls finally took high flight on stage as the second act of the evening. I’m talking of course of Leaf Dogg, BVA and Verb T. I can honestly say this was the one that stole the show. It’s nothing like seeing 3 of your home grown snatch the night with ample barz on dizzy soulful Hip Hop beats. It honestly felt like this was the main attraction. Joker starr and Micall Parknsun briefly touched the stage and absolutely killed it. There was a close 7‑year relationship already established with the crowd and the performers before the night had even started. Die hard fans recognised and rapped to every single track from Leaf Dogg’s new Album Dyslexic Disciple to the classic Four Owl Album Nature’s Greatest Mystery.
Reaching the early hours of the morning I manoeuvred my way backstage to accomplish a few words with the high focus records bunch who were wicked to hang out with. Eager to see the East Coast Vet, I made my way to the stage to hang back and watch the master at work. I personally enjoy watching experimental Hip Hop like Robert Glasper and Madlib performed which conveys surreal samples and solos with live instrumentation but on a Friday night in Brixton, off the tail of summer, Pete Rock came to close the evening as a DJ and move the crowd with some classics.
His performances always hold an ingredient of nostalgia and being part of the Hip Hop Back in The Day Crew, I couldn’t help but electric slide on the stage (behind Pete Rock of course) and join in with the captivating head nodding generated by Pete rock on the turntables.
East coast Hip Hop has pulsated through the hearts of our London streets in the last couple of months with performances from Jeru da Damaja, Cormega, Kool G Rap, all with a segment paying tribute to one of the greatest that ever did it Prodigy. Tonight was no different as the turntablist played a collection of Mobb Deep records. The view from stage was enough to know Hip Hop is forever. To have thousands of people doing backflips to your music from beyond the grave is timeless. Gaining the perspective from stage, watching Pete Rock conduct an audience from that view, tapped into the psychology on a back and forth relationship riding a collection of vibes to lift a crowd. He closed with some CL Smooth and Pete Rock as a teaser for the up and coming gig in October. 4 am in the morning you would have thought exhaustion would kick in but I was personally euphoric and re-energised.
Headed backstage I met the legend that is Pete Rock, shook his hand and left him to reset for his on going work as a veteran in the game. The night finished in Mcdonalds with people bumping Pete rock from their phones and obviously putting back on all the calories they burnt moshing to a glorious night of Hip Hop.
In closing, I would love to see a performance with Pete Rock where he brings those jazzy soulful samples to light with keyboards, horns and drums. I think orchestrating with live instruments displaying such a quintessential vibe in Hip Hop he captured in the early 90s, would be monumental. As far as High Focus Records goes, UK Hip Hop is in good hands. Looking forward to reviewing the next one.
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