The second of 2019’s End of the Weak England heats took place at a legendary Bristol venue, the Star and Garter. In the heart of St Paul’s and the city’s Caribbean community, the walls are plastered with the names of local and international legends who have graced the stage over the decades. Adding to its already mythical folklore, this cultural hub was recently saved from closure by a consortium of Bristol music leaders and lovers, with a celebration event boasting a line up including Damien Marley, Dave Chapelle and Roni Size. Where better to try find the best Hip Hop emcees Bristol has to offer to send a representative to the 2019 EOW England Final.
The night opened with Kissy K playing a full UK Hip Hop set, followed by performances by Mas Law and myself, before DJ Snuff took over to run the MC challenge. Stepping up to compete for the Bristol title were:
A smart, witty lyricist reppin’ the Burns Manor Records crew, Riski has a dope flow, energy and presence on the mic, used to deliver his bars to the audience with commitment and skill.
Another representative of BMR, the man has more alias’ than a Wu killer bee, with a good balance of cockiness and confidence, backed up by his lyrical ability.
Making it a BMR crew hat-trick of competitors, Daysa brings smart punchlines and multis in with a flow that really catches the ear.
Having entered the wildcard cypher last year, 13E came back prepared to compete, armed with his clear dedication to Hip Hop and passion for rap.
DnB producer and a psychology student Indepth was a last minute replacement for another emcee who dropped out, but you wouldn’t have known it, with his freestyle game being particularly on point
After the written round, you could really tell that Riski, Redi and Daysa were part of the same team. They each came with a classic, dark UK boom bap style, clearly influenced by the likes of Taskforce and High Focus. Each emcee came with their own touch though – Redi on some horrorcore, Riski on a Hip Hop drunkies tip and Days with intelligent punches – making it clear how well they would complement each other on a track. 13E came with some hard bars saying that he ‘…feels like Zeus’, while Indepth decided to freestyle his whole first round, pulling it off, but it wasn’t clear if it was deliberating or because he’d slipped up on remembering his rhymes.
The standout moment of the night came in the acapella round, and it came from Redi. He went into a story about an abused girl trying to deal with her torment, tormentor father and her inability to cope, then fighting back, killing her dad then taking her own life. It was intricately detailed but concise, powerful enough to have the whole crowd listening to every word before erupting into shouts and applause at the end; a masterfully crafted piece.
With the prepared bars done, the freestyle rounds begun. Black Santa Kissy K drew for his grab bag and tested these emcees. All the contestants did well, no one slipping up or standing out, but the same can’t be said for the DJ vs MC round. DJ Snuff dipped into his deepcrates and pulled out multi-genre bangers. 13E and Daysa got through solidly, keeping their flows consistent with only short gaps, while Riski and Indepth struggled to catch the varied riddims, showing just how tough this round is. Again though, it was Redi who stepped up. Even though he wasn’t completely comfortable spitting out of his zone, he kept flowing, with one gap, where he caught his breath then went in double time, dropping lines that got the crowd reacting. Going into the cypher round there was a clear winner, and after the emcees finished going bar for bar, enjoying it as they should, nothing happened to change the result.
With the contest done, Redi got the win and the right to travel to London for the EOW England final on October 17that the Lock Tavern in Camden. He’ll join heat #1 winner Emerge MC and the winner of the next two heats to compete to represent England in the EOW World Final in Brussels on November 4th. With heat #3 already complete, look out for the review on IAHH and get down to heat #4 at cHip sHop Brixton on October 13thto see who’ll be in the final alongside Emerge and Redi.
Photo credit : Nadia Otshudi