Review: @Crown_Sound Scotland’s Live ‘N’ Spittin’ 2014

Crown­Sound Scotland’s Live ‘N’ Spit­tin’ is an annu­al Hip Hop event with a 16 Man Free­style Rap Battle Tour­na­ment along with live per­form­ance sets by pop­u­lar Scot­tish Hip Hop artists. This year it was held at Audio in Glas­gow on Fri­day 28th Novem­ber and was very pro­fes­sion­ally organ­ized. The Scot­tish line up of artists were joined by the Man­churi­an with multi syl­lables for every line who spits above aver­age skits; Shotty Hor­roh. He joined Scot­tish high energy heavy spit­ters Dead­soundz, the lad with the lyr­ics Dav­id MacWil­li­am and Chicago’s answer to Ill Bill; Shifty Pres­id­ents. There were also 16 Scot­tish battle rap­pers with vary­ing degrees of tal­ent (some were not per­form­ing to their nor­mal stand­ard) which only made the really high cal­ibre battle rap­pers that night stand out even more. They were joined by myself on behalf of ‘I Am Hip Hop’ as we are now going to be the only nation­al magazine fol­low­ing the Scot­tish Hip Hop Scene which until now it has largely been ignored by the out­side world. That’s a whole sep­ar­ate art­icle that is in the pipeline for anoth­er edi­tion.

Battle Rap is still imprisoned behind the miso­gyn­ist­ic, homo­phobic, nar­ciss­ist­ic viol­ent ‘bars’ con­struc­ted by the white cor­por­ate cap­it­al­ist bas­tard­iz­a­tion of Hip Hop. How­ever the notori­ous bas­tard­iz­a­tion of Hip Hop by white AmeriKKKan cor­por­a­tions is some­thing that will be ana­lysed in anoth­er art­icle because it is a com­plex issue that should be crit­ic­ally eval­u­ated. Regard­less of the polit­ics of Battle Rap there is no doubt that real free­styl­ing and intel­li­gent lyr­i­cism with a good use of word play and multi-syl­lables is some­thing that takes incred­ible skill and intel­li­gence.  Regard­less of wheth­er or not your aver­age cit­izen or dis­cern­ing Hip Hop head approves of the often repet­it­ive vul­gar school boy con­tent present in some Battle Rap there is no doubt that real skill and intel­li­gence are involved in many tour­na­ments and there are incred­ibly tal­en­ted battle rap­pers on the Scot­tish Hip Hop Scene who deserve recog­ni­tion. There is more than one way of say­ing the pop­u­lar battle line ‘I fucked your moth­er!’ There are some tal­en­ted battle rap­pers who have the lyr­ic­al prowess to invoke humour and even intel­lect when spit­ting some­thing as crude while oth­ers just sound like mind­less ingrates. It is about using words in a way that they com­mand power like verbal punches which leave a mark. Being able to do this with words, espe­cially when it’s being free­styled, takes incred­ible tal­ent. Cha­risma is anoth­er essen­tial com­pon­ent for a battle rap­per and some battle rap­pers can con­vince you that they have skills until you real­ise that you have been duped by their charm, char­ac­ter and con­fid­ence. How­ever those who have been selec­ted as judges in Battle Raps know who’s all about the swag­ger and who can really use words to pag­ger (Scot­tish slang for ‘beat up’).

For me there was only two battle rap­pers at this par­tic­u­lar tour­na­ment who were bestowed with cha­risma in con­junc­tion with the abil­ity to suc­cess­fully turn words into weapons in a way that was far less pre­dict­able and gen­er­ic than all the oth­er con­tenders. How­ever there were oth­er tal­en­ted battle rap­pers there who I have seen kill it at oth­er events but were off their game on this par­tic­u­lar night. Although there were oth­er battle rap­pers there with skills and some clev­er lines they were by no means bat­tling to the same level as Evil and A‑Macc from the Dead­sounds Crew at this tour­na­ment.  These two champs were verbally throw­ing heavy hit­ters in the Hip Hop heavy­weight cat­egory when many of the oth­er con­tenders were feather­weights when it came to free­styl­ing, humour and lyr­i­cism at this par­tic­u­lar event. The best battle of the night came when Evil and A‑Macc faced off against each oth­er as they threw Mike Tyson like lyr­ic­al left and right hooks through­out every part of the battle and verbally they both man­aged to bite each other’s ears off leav­ing the judges hard pushed to pick a win­ner. There was no win­ner in that par­tic­u­lar match and Evil went through and even­tu­ally won the whole Live & Spit­tin Tour­na­ment to receive a sick look­ing trophy, a hun­dred pounds, free beats from pro­du­cers and lots of ill ori­gin­al threads from the unique urb­an cloth­ing lines Con­spir­ing Ravens Mur­der­ous Crows Cloth­ing (CRMC) and Toke Cloth­ing. If Evil or A‑Macc had taken the title it would have been a fair fight because they both battled like true lyr­ic­al war­ri­ors and injec­ted some intel­lect into their insults.


Many Scot­tish battle rap­pers needs to put down their Buck­fast and pick up their pen and prac­tice their skills as writers and prac­tice their free­styl­ing by rhym­ing against their mates because there is an immense amount of tal­ent on the Scot­tish Scene that needs nur­tured so that Scot­tish Hip Hop can put itself on the world map. The stand­ard of Scot­tish Battle Rap could be raised if those with tal­ent and poten­tial really start put­ting in work and expand­ing their lyr­ic­al abil­it­ies by prac­tising them more because the Scot­tish Scene has to expand it’s influ­ence bey­ond Scot­land. There are many battle rap­pers in gen­er­al who need to learn more cre­at­ive ways of anni­hil­at­ing their oppon­ents as opposed to call­ing them a ‘fag­got’ in as many dif­fer­ent ways as pos­sible, say­ing they have got Bib­lic­al with their oppon­ent’s Moth­er or girl­friend or accus­ing their oppon­ent of writ­ing their bars when they’re bars are so wack that they are clearly rhym­ing badly off the dome. This can be found in all Battle Rap world­wide but if Scot­land is going to raise it’s game to get inter­na­tion­al recog­ni­tion it has to be ori­gin­al and try and not engage in many of the trends that hold Hip Hop back. There has been some off the hook Scot­tish battles but there could be more if Scot­tish battle rap­pers chose not to fall into the pre­dict­able trends that coun­tries with way more suc­cess­ful Hip Hop scenes can afford to at times. There was a couple of incred­ible battles by Loki and Jinx that I watched on You­Tube that were on a whole dif­fer­ent level and that is what Scot­tish Hip Hop needs more of to estab­lish itself.  Unfor­tu­nately at this tour­na­ment even many of the more tal­en­ted battle rap­pers did not bring it to the extent they were cap­able of which was dis­ap­point­ing.  Nev­er­the­less the two emcees who both would have made worthy win­ners in this war of words proved that Scot­land has real ori­gin­al tal­ent just wait­ing to be dis­covered by the wider world. There was oth­er tal­ent present but to com­pete with the US, oth­er parts of Europe and even down South Scot­tish battle rap­pers in gen­er­al need to move away from pre­dict­able play­ground insults and ‘raise the bars’ the way Evil and A‑Macc did and many oth­ers do at oth­er battles, shows and on their tracks.

Dead­soundz, Shifty Pres­id­ents and the non-pre­ten­tiously named Dav­id MacWil­li­am ended up hold­ing the mic more than the head­liner him­self but even the few hard­core Shotty fans I heard talk­ing were not trip­ping too bad on the main man from Manchester being on at elev­en. That is because the oth­er artists really cap­tiv­ated the audi­ence with their tal­ent, energy and stage pres­ence. The Glas­gow Dead­soundz crew with mem­bers Sub­Kon­sious (The Anti-Injustice Movement’s Scot­land Gen­er­al),  A‑Macc (who’s per­form­ance promp­ted me to give him a place in The Anti-Injustice Move­ment), and Steve ET really did keep the night going with high qual­ity crowd pleas­ing tracks which kept things pop­ping on the dance floor. Their lyr­i­cism was sharp and held every­one’s atten­tion and kept the night with a party atmo­sphere.  How­ever they do have some con­scious tracks which prove they are cap­able of more revolu­tion­ary con­tent which demon­strates their abil­ity to be ver­sat­ile as emcees. They spat with a smooth and con­sist­ent flow to some real catchy beats that made sure that if you were not throw­ing shapes on the dance floor your head would be nod­ding and foot tap­ping to their upbeat Hip Hop party anthems. My col­league Gata Malandra did an inter­view with Dead­soundz dur­ing her time in Scot­land so keep your eye out for that on the site. I also got an inter­view with Live & Spit­tin Win­ner Evil (aka Find­lay John­ston) so expect that over the next day or two. It was a great inter­view with a really tal­en­ted young MC and Battle Rap­per who has big things to come.

Shifty Pres­id­ents, a Chica­go MC who is hold­ing it down for Hip Hop in Scot­land, really brought pres­ence and raw nat­ur­al cha­risma to the stage as the host of the show and then as a per­former. After Dead­soundz had every­one in the party mood the cha­ris­mat­ic US emcee took to the stage and spat hard and grimy like a mem­ber of La Coka Nos­tra or Army of the Pharaohs. His lyr­ics were more about party­ing than politricks but he would surely be cap­able of both which is what crews like La Coka Nos­tra are all about. Shifty spits the type of Hip Hop, or ‘Goon Musick’ that I pre­dom­in­antly listen to so his per­form­ance would have been a def­in­ite high­light for Hip Hop heads who like that par­tic­u­lar US grimy under­ground style. He’s am emcee who really could get big if he estab­lished a nation­al and inter­na­tion­al repu­ta­tion with Hip Hop heads who appre­ci­ate razor sharp spit­ters like Ill Bill, Slaine, Vin­nie Paz, Mad­child, etc. This guy needs to think big as he could be head­lining shows as a major act as opposed to open­ing shows for major acts like the incred­ible Mad­child of Swollen Mem­bers. If this man plays his aces he will be spit­ting vit­ri­ol in a Snow­goons video with oth­er ‘main­stream under­ground’ beasts on You­Tube some­time soon.

The last Scot­tish artist to per­form did not have the phys­ic­al pres­ence or cocky cha­risma of some of the Dead­soundz  boys, Shifty Pres­id­ents or Shotty Hor­roh. He looked like your aver­age boy next door but when he got on the mic Dav­id MacWil­li­am abso­lutely smashed it. There was no hard ass Hip Hop ali­as, back­wards cap and bling or gim­micks of any descrip­tion because this young man’s abil­it­ies as an emcee were all that was needed to win the audi­ence over. His lyr­i­cism was intel­li­gent, heart felt and clev­erly con­struc­ted but without a hint of pre­ten­tion. He had energy, pas­sion and a nat­ur­al tal­ent for the First Ele­ment of Hip Hop which he heav­ily incor­por­ated with The Fifth Ele­ment (Know­ledge). He looked in his teens or early twen­ties but spat ori­gin­al bars like a true Hip Hop vet­er­an.

Shotty Hor­roh arrived at 11pm to do his set but on that par­tic­u­lar night the con­scious Lon­don emcee of Jamaic­an des­cent Klash­nekoff was per­form­ing in the centre of Glas­gow with oth­er pop­u­lar Scot­tish artists open­ing for him like Glas­gow emcee and world class Beat­box­er Bigg Taj. There was a one hour over­lap between the end of this event and the start of the Klashnekoff’s show so many audi­ence mem­bers only caught a few tracks by Shotty Hor­roh before hav­ing to shoot off to the oth­er show. There is no doubt that Shotty has more bars than Weth­er­spoons, a fast but flu­ent flow and many suc­cess­ful tracks that invoke a mul­ti­tude of reac­tions due to his ver­sat­ile con­tent. He is a suc­cess­ful emcee for a reas­on and the audi­ence would have liked to see more but it was a def­in­ite bonus to be able to see the the Man­churi­an with multi syl­lables even though it was for a short time.

How­ever what was clear was that Shotty Hor­roh was not needed for this show to be a great suc­cess because the battle rap was enter­tain­ing even when it was­n’t on point and Evil, one of the two Battle Rap beasts of the night, took an award that he truly deserved. One that A‑Macc could also have won fairly. The artists who per­formed, who were ini­tially seen as being like open­ers for Shotty Hor­roh proved them­selves to all be worthy head­liners in their own right.  They kept the night on a Hip Hop high and nev­er failed to set the mic on fire. The show went so well that the main act not per­form­ing until late on did not even effect the suc­cess of it. The time has come for more Scot­tish open­ing acts but even more Scot­tish head­liners! It was a great night for Scot­tish Hip Hop and there will be many more!

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Kalash Nikov


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