Review: @Black_Milk Live @TheJazzCafe

Black Milk with Nat Turn­er Band live show review @ Jazz Café presen­ted by Doctor’s Orders Sup­port by Mic­all Parkns­sun with Joker Starr, DJ Jazz T & Dur­rty Goodz

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Black Milk returned to London’s Jazz Café with the Nat Turn­er band com­prom­ising of keys, sampler, live bass and drums. The crowd was impec­cably warmed up by a boom-bap heavy set by Mic­all Parkns­sun, assisted by the hype antics of Joker Starr and impec­cable scratches laid down by DJ Jazz T. A pleas­ant sur­prise was see­ing the ver­sat­ile main­stay of the grime scene. Dur­rty Goodz hit the stage to pre­view a song from upcom­ing EP with Mic­all Prkns­sun. Now on to the next.

Nat Turner’s spacey synth intro drum-rolled Black Milk down the Jazz Café stairs to ener­get­ic­ally, fist-up-in-the-air launch into organ driv­en Long Story Short from Black Milk’s debut album. This transitioned into latest album (If There’s a Hell Below) open­er Every­day Was: A boom­ing and epic bass gui­tar driv­en sound­scape with Black Milk’s intric­ate double time flow weav­ing com­ing-of-age nar­rat­ives. The live drum­ming was from the ‘hit ‘em as hard as you can’ school of per­cus­sion and this boded well for the night with a happy head-nod­ding fist-pump­ing audi­ence.

Black Milk had a delight­ful com­radery with the band that eman­ated from every note played and drum hit. Their intu­it­ive sense of tim­ing had Black Milk seam­lessly trans­ition the clas­sic Hip-Hop ‘beat drop’ (for those who don’t know, it’s when the DJ mutes or ‘drops’ the beat to accen­tu­ate the ends or sig­ni­fic­ant parts of the emcee’s lines) into a live band set­ting for sev­er­al bars at a time with a near invis­ible flick of the wrist. I doubt how­ever, that Black Milk would fine the Nat Turn­er Band mem­bers (à la James Brown) if they were to ever miss beats because he just seems too nice a guy to do that. Call and responses were heart­felt and in between songs he nev­er shouted at the audi­ence in tropes but rather, estab­lished a sin­cere rap­port through con­ver­sa­tion­al dia­logue. Black Milk genu­inely treated the audi­ence like his friends.

An homage to Detroit’s techno scene (their techno sounds very dif­fer­ent to the sound many of us in the UK asso­ci­ate with techno) was offered via songs like Detroit’s New Dance Show with break­neck speed instru­ment­a­tion and rhym­ing turn­ing the Jazz Café into a fren­et­ic dance floor. Ulti­mately, Black Milk presen­ted a table spread of his pro­lif­ic dis­co­graphy includ­ing Ran­dom Axe (pro­ject with Sean Price and Guilty Simpson) and Black and Brown (pro­ject with Danny Brown) mater­i­al. This pleased avid Black Milk fans whilst giv­ing a per­fectly defin­it­ive entry point to what he and Nat Turn­er stand for: Live Hip-Hop as a form of mod­ern Black Soul Music.


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Wasif Sayyed

Wasif Sayyed

Wasif Sayyed’s many years as a writer, rap­per, pro­moter, ment­or and hip-hop pro­du­cer have shaped him into an enthu­si­ast­ic and insight­ful cul­tur­al cryp­to­graph­er. He loves read­ing and cook­ing, and can hear the whis­per of an unsheathed liquid sword from 50 paces. Twit­ter @WasifScion

About Wasif Sayyed

Wasif Sayyed
Wasif Sayyed's many years as a writer, rapper, promoter, mentor and hip-hop producer have shaped him into an enthusiastic and insightful cultural cryptographer. He loves reading and cooking, and can hear the whisper of an unsheathed liquid sword from 50 paces. Twitter @WasifScion

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