dprezWhat a line up for the ‘Human­ity For Palestine’ event ‘Free­dom Sounds’.  Firstly, salute to all the people involved for organ­ising such a power­ful event which raised money for mul­tiple organ­isa­tions work­ing to end the occu­pa­tion of Palestine. The line-up con­sisted of Dead Prez, Hav­oc, Lowkey and 47Soul. I mean that’s a fac­tion you’d put up against D Gen­er­a­tion X in the Atti­tude Era (Wrest­ling fans would get that ref­er­ence!) I have to shout out fam­ily too. It’s such a bless­ing to see I am Hip Hop fam­ily  Apex Zero film­ing, Nadia Otshudi tak­ing pho­tos, Dj Snuff on the decks and Mas law jump­ing on for a bit of host­ing.

Dead Prez is one of the health­i­est driv­ing forces in Hip Hop that has ever exis­ted; Books, Mar­tial arts, Act­iv­ist engage­ment for revolu­tion, healthy liv­ing, respect­ing our beau­ti­ful queens, and so forth. They installed an embod­i­ment of pos­it­ive growth in our com­munity, an impact­ful swing back against oppres­sion and a nour­ish­ing take on well-being. Lowkey has an undy­ing voice for the voice­less cov­er­ing an extens­ive amount of con­tro­ver­sies with­in our com­munity and world-wide. As an act­ive advoc­ate for Palestini­an rights, he was a prom­in­ent head­liner on the night. His music along­side the mighty Dead Prez has giv­en a vast amount of gen­er­a­tions hope to stand up what is right.  Hav­oc along­side Big Noyd…Thats the sound of New York Baby ! Every time you spin Mobb Deep, you have just paid a tick­et to go to Queens New York, first class, cham­pagne class, no cry­ing babies on the plane and a lim­ousine wait­ing for you to take you to where no man is safe from! So with that intro­duc­tion to these acts, I was quite simply GASSED!

Right, this is the part where you hear about my even­ing and how it all came to fruition. I left my amaz­ing ful­filling job which bit by bit helps keep young people out of unhealthy beha­viours and provide a ves­sel for them to express them­selves cre­at­ively. I then pro­ceeded to Brix­ton to fight a place to neck down the closest pint avail­able. Instead I was giv­en a gen­er­ous single shot of Wrey Neph­ew soda water and lime whilst eat­ing a deli­cious meal at Picky Wops recom­men­ded by the Vegan food blog­ger Brix­ton Food Fiend. Unapo­lo­get­ic Plug…and no she’s not pay­ing me! We scur­ried (yes I used the word scur­ried!) to the The Elec­tric Brix­ton.

47 soul

I had nev­er heard Elec­tro Arab­ic Dab­ke band 47 Soul before I walked in, how­ever through the magazine’s sup­port of them I had heard of them. Are they on my playl­ist now? Yes. Do I feel I’ve missed out over the years? Yes. Do I feel embar­rassed that I didn’t know who they are? No. That’s how you dis­cov­er new music people! Any­way after boun­cing to the elec­tron­ic soul­ful sounds of the crit­ic­ally acclaimed band, the crowd sud­denly broadened their screams when Lowkey jumped out on one of their tracks. Women flocked to the front in hopes for some eye con­tact, a hair sample or a whiff of his after­shave, I’m jok­ing but not really and also hat­ing. That was the first appear­ance of the broth­er and I have to say he nev­er seems to amaze me on how polar­ising he is went he steps on. Through­out the even­ing there were speeches from Nancy from Human­ity for Palestine, Huda from The Palestine Solid­ar­ity Cam­paign, an acapella from an emer­ging Palestini­an artist and a brief word from a broth­er speak­ing on behalf of Gren­fell United. The stor­ies, pas­sion and pain dis­played was a sting­ing remind­er as to why we were there and the com­munity we were fight­ing for, Justice!

I embraced a few oth­er heads through­out the night includ­ing man like Shocka, who was right­fully praised and shouted out by Lowkey for his essen­tial involve­ment in Hip Hop right now. I pro­ceeded to con­sume more liquid cour­age and placed myself front row to wit­ness the rest of the show.

lowkeydp Lowkey got an extra­vag­ant slow build­ing intro­duc­tion and jumped on wear­ing all black head first with hard hit­ting machine gun word play.  Lowkey has an excep­tion­al abil­ity to work the crowd. His vocals were abso­lutely crys­tal clear as there isn’t too much going on with his instru­ment­als espe­cially bass wise. Unfor­tu­nately Hav­oc and Dead Prez slightly suffered because of the sound issue in that space. The whole per­form­ance was soul food for the com­munity. It was lib­er­at­ing to scream out lyr­ics like “You may take my life, but you can’t take my soul, you can’t take my soul ‘ and ‘They’re call­ing me a Ter­ror­ist, like they don’t know who the ter­ror is, When they put it on me I tell them this, I’m all about peace and love’. Scream­ing those chor­uses were like war­ri­or chants sang togeth­er from all walks of life stand­ing against vari­ous demons that tor­ment us phys­ic­ally, emo­tion­ally and men­tally. Wheth­er or not Lowkey is at the top of your list of emcees that have attacked the alpha­bet, his track ‘Alpha­bet Assas­sin’ is still an impress­ive piece of work and you’re still in awe watch­ing it per­formed. I’ll Para­phrase on an inter­view I did 2 years ago with Samurai Chigudu, the asso­ci­ate pro­fess­or of Afric­an Polit­ics at the Uni­ver­sity of Oxford. He said that “when you come to a per­form­ance like Lowkey with flags of Palestine wav­ing, people wear­ing hijabs, brown folks, black folks, white folks, old folks, young folks, show­ing each oth­er love , that kind of eth­os only hap­pens at a Lowkey gig, Few oth­ers pull that off.” A per­tin­ent point to the aura that Lowkey brings to his per­form­ances. His final song was some­thing that brought me and so many to tears when I saw him per­form it at the Cor­on­et at Ele­phant and Castle ‘Ghosts of Gren­fell’. How­ever much they try to extin­guish the pas­sion to accom­plish some kind of justice for the hor­rif­ic tragedy in North Kens­ing­ton, West Lon­don, moments like this , poetry like this, music like this motiv­ates action, sup­plies clos­ure and strengthens the bond we have for one anoth­er. Lowkey’s sounds dis­persed into the back­ground after anoth­er cap­tiv­at­ing set and DJ Snuff worked the turntables.

This is where the vibe didn’t just switch gears, it switched cars! Hav­oc and Big Noyd took the stage with the absences of the late great Prodigy.

havocIt was the first time for me exper­i­en­cing a set from any of the mem­bers of Mobb Deep and it abso­lutely didn’t dis­ap­point. It was good to see Mike from the Chip Shop role through on stage. He deserves all the love in the world from Hip Hop Icons provid­ing such a fant­ast­ic plat­form for emer­ging and estab­lished artists in the heart of Brix­ton. That also indic­ated that there could be a cheeky appear­ance by Mobb at his spot later that even­ing. You’ll soon find out if that was the case. By this point I was still front row dab­bing and spud­ding fam­ily on the cam­era crew and swinging my head try­ing to break my neck. Clas­sic­al sym­phon­ies of NYC infilt­rated the Elec­tric and nearly every bar was recited by the thou­sands in attend­ance. I love Dead Prez, but due to the absences of some of my favour­ite tracks on their set, Hav­oc, Big Noyd and DJ Les were my high­light of the even­ing music­ally. ‘Quiet Storm’, ‘Hell on Earth’, ‘Sur­viv­al of the Fit­test’ and ‘Shook Ones, Pt 2’ almost back to back solid­i­fied an explos­ive ram­page of bod­ies bump­ing into each oth­er.

The finale, the piece de la res­ist­ance, the cur­tain closer, the oth­er syn­onyms that asso­ci­ates with those words stepped on stage. It should have been a Dwayne John­son moment on the mic like , “Finally Dead Prez has come back to Lon­don!”. I’ve been told it hasn’t been that long but last time I saw them was Kentish Town 02 For­um 2011ish where I bagged an amaz­ing T‑shirt that my mum acci­dent­ally gave to char­ity. (First world prob­lems) M1 and Stic­man dis­played their power­ful pres­ence with inter­vals of mono­logues through­out their set. One in par­tic­u­lar I remem­ber was how power­ful our voices really are and when we speak, we should speak with power. The duo have always been a key mor­al force to carry my words with pur­pose. This is a remind­er that no mat­ter how much of someone’s dis­co­graphy you may know by heart, no mat­ter how many inter­views you may have encountered from artists you fol­low, there is always some­thing new you can take away from them or that gives you the same feel­ing from when you heard them the first time.

m1dpThey wore tra­di­tion­al Dashi­kis as they have in so many occa­sions on the per­form­ance sup­port­ing Afric­an fash­ion around the world, and today stand­ing in solid­ar­ity with the people of Palestine. The B‑Boy remix to ‘Big­ger than Hip Hop’ was still dope enough to cause may­hem with swarm­ing bod­ies boun­cing into a per­spir­ing mosh pit. Also to add to the rep­res­ent­a­tion of all ele­ments of the Hip- Hop, they invited dance col­lect­ive ‘Rain Crew’ to the stage to rep­res­ent the B‑boys and B‑girls of the cul­ture, a pic­ture-per­fect Hip-Hop set­ting.   My favour­ite track on that night was ‘Police State’, the chor­us just tackled me bring­ing the dark side of some of our real­it­ies at the fore­front and how emo­tion­ally oppress­ive cir­cum­stances can be from the aggressors that be. They closed the night with the absence of anthems like, ‘They Schools’, ‘Ball or Fall’, ‘Mind Sex’, ‘Hap­pi­ness’, ‘Psy­cho­logy’, ‘Tal­l­a­hassee days’, ‘The Hood’ and a lot more that have moul­ded my Hip Hop spir­it. That’s my only dis­ap­point­ment with the com­plete under­stand­ing of time the con­straints that come when 3 legends take the stage in one even­ing.

The night con­cluded in the legendary Chip Shop BXTN. I rolled deep with the magazine, EOW and some oth­er beau­ti­ful human beings to a place that pulsates Hip Hop vibra­tions. We stepped in, toasted to life, the fight for free­dom and an excep­tion­al job well done. After I schooled every­one on the dance floor with my 5 moves of death, the beau­ti­ful Rishma still wouldn’t crown me as the best dan­cer in the group. That’s cool, Haters are every­where these days. Even if they’re amaz­ing people. One by one, euphor­ia car­ried dif­fer­ent people away into the night but I stayed. I knew what was com­ing after Hav­oc and Big Noyd stepped into the space. They went back to back in their sec­tion with vari­ous legendary tracks spin­ning in the back­ground until even­tu­ally, Hav­oc took the Mic. We were blessed with anoth­er legendary intim­ate per­form­ance that only the Chip Shop could provide. As a respons­ible indi­vidu­al, at like 1am with work the next day, I called it a night. I shared some Carib­bean food with the very tal­en­ted I Am Hip Hop pho­to­graph­er Nadia Otshudi on the way home and cracked jokes with Mas Law on the night train.

Free­dom Sounds exem­pli­fied the power Hip-Hop has to uni­fy, edu­cate, empower and enter­tain.

Togeth­er that night we were the voice for the voice­less, the voice of res­ist­ance against cor­por­a­tions that profit from the occu­pa­tion, against the media that does not report the truth, we were the voice for Palestine. Hip Hop was alive, fight­ing for free­dom and stand­ing tall for the people of Palestine.

Pho­to­graphy by Nadia Otshudi


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Emcee, Radio Host, Journ­al­ist and Hip Hop junkie unwill­ing to go to rehab! Lon­don is my home and if there is a live per­form­ance cham­pi­on­ing the Hip Hop cul­ture, you’ll hear from me on what I think and you’ll prob­ably catch me there doing back­flips amongst Boom Bap sounds. Banging through your radio waves, check me on West­side 89.6 FM on The Hip Hop Back In The Day Show and on Reprezent Radio 107.3 FM on The Big Bang Show with DJ J HART. I’m here to pre­serve the cul­ture, add to it and bring you that UK fla­vour aswell. Fol­low me on @reignofsire.

About SIRE

Emcee, Radio Host, Journalist and Hip Hop junkie unwilling to go to rehab! London is my home and if there is a live performance championing the Hip Hop culture, you’ll hear from me on what I think and you’ll probably catch me there doing backflips amongst Boom Bap sounds. Banging through your radio waves, check me on Westside 89.6 FM on The Hip Hop Back In The Day Show and on Reprezent Radio 107.3 FM on The Big Bang Show with DJ J HART. I’m here to preserve the culture, add to it and bring you that UK flavour aswell. Follow me on @reignofsire.