Camden’s Jazz Café is probably the best live music venue in London, with it’s intimate vibe and great acoustics it’s perfect for real music and last week it hosted Abstrakt Artists’ latest event featuring Courtney Bennett, RU1 Fam and Natty. The colourful Mariette Immaculate, a London based radio presenter and fashion blogger, hosted the evening hyping the crowd between acts along with DJ Sean Styles who played some great hip-hop tracks including 90s classics, all mixed seamlessly.
First on stage was Courtney Bennett, a super-talented young artist who’s already been a big hit on youtube and is steadily making a name for herself on the live scene. She kicked her set off with a smooth mash up cover of Drake’s Furthest Thing’ and Aaliyah’s ‘One in a Million’. Not being the biggest Drake fan I was apprehensive when she first announced the cover, but I needn’t have been, she gave the song a totally original feel, putting her own style on it, as she did with her next song; a cover of Sweet Female Attitude’s 90s garage anthem ‘Flowers’, which she performed in a beautifully soulful style. The rest of her set consisted of original tracks including soon-released debut single ‘Motives’. Throughout her time on stage Courtney switched between singing and rapping seamlessly and with amazing ease. Her singing voice is caramel-smooth and soulful and her rapping ability high, playing with words, shortening and elongating syllables to fit around the music and create their own rhythms. Her band, who she told me before the show she had only met on the day, were also incredible, really setting off the night with a soulful tone. Courtney spoke with the crowd between songs adding an element of reliability, which is often lost in live performance. The set was a perfect start to the evening and showcased Courtney’s talent, which should see her become a big name over the next few years.
Next on stage was hip-hop collective RU1 Fam consisting of artists including No Name, MCM, DanJahDan, Hunta PRO, Mercury, Majical and Watusi 87. From the start of the set these guys worked hard on stage, hyping the crowd (‘Put your ones up!’) and creating a perfect vibe. What is really special about RU1 Fam is the connectivity that is clear between the members, during the performance they came together flawlessly, bouncing off each other, there was a real family feel to the group and musicians.
They also showcased a range of rapping styles with some parts hard and leaning towards aggressive and others much softer and delicately handled, this was brilliant as it gave the crowd everything they wanted and also displayed the group’s supreme talents well.
RU1 Fam just released EP ‘I Am 1’ and they performed songs from this including ‘Real Life Hip-Hop’ and crowd pleaser ‘I Am 1’. The flows were flawless the whole way through the set, it was great to see this kind of conscious hip-hop performed by such a tight group, there was a real retro feel to the vibe, reminiscent of t he golden era of hip hop in the 90s, it was great to experience, I highly recommend catching RU1 Fam at a live show. This is hip-hop taken back to its roots and the group do it expertly.
The evening was rounded off by Natty who performed an awesome set. His voice sounds even better live than it does on record with a beautifully thick richness and so much soul. The venue was perfect and for the sound and the positive vibe running through the place was palpable. A highlight was Natty performing an acoustic version of his hit ‘July’ after people in the crowd shouted requests for it ‘I don’t ever do what people tell me’ replied Natty, ‘but tonight…’ and the crowd loved it. The band and Natty’s acoustic guitar playing were faultless and married up with his soulful voice perfectly creating a beautiful sound throughout the set.
The whole night was an amazing experience, Abstrakt Artists put on a great event with all three acts delivering beyond necessity, all of them created something beautiful and special, and they all did so whilst maintaining the most positive vibe I have felt at a live gig for a long time. This is how live music should be.
Photography by Rae Smith