I don’t spend so much time in Brix­ton these days. Amongst oth­er beau­ti­ful memor­ies there, the times of selling spraypaint in the mar­ket, play­ing com­munity dances at the Jam, and more recently fight­ing with bailiffs in squat­ted build­ings soon to be turned into ‘lux­ury’ plas­ter­board boxes, are drift­ing away from me. Most people know at least some of the threads in the story…things are chan­ging. So I wondered, as I headed up to Hootananny, wag­waan for Hip Hop in Brix­ton.

Little did I know as I walked through the door, that a tune I love, TY’s ‘Brix­ton Baby’ (soon to be released on his new album ‘A Work of Heart’) and being spun by DJ Snuff, would in many ways set the vibe for the night of music & lyr­i­cism come.

Hootananny, if you’ve nev­er been there, is a bit more than just music a ven­ue. It’s got the stage, big sound, light­ing, bar etc. But this area also opens out into anoth­er space where people chill, play pool, and munch on food from the stalls out­side in the front garden serving up jerk chick­en, freshly baked pizza & more. It’s always been a loc­al hang out spot, as well as a place for good music since long time ago when it was the Hobgob­lin. Tonight, the crowd was in many ways kind of the same as back in the days. It reflec­ted Brix­ton. Every­one up in the mix. Just that these days, some new parts of that mix can come across a bit pre­ten­tious to me at times.There were moments this seemed the case, but thank­fully not over­whelm­ingly so.

Any­way, with the vibes flow­ing through the speak­ers, with MC Honey Brown toast­ing up the ven­ue nicely along­side Snuff lay­ing down a  selec­tion of soul­ful, bouncy vibes, that set things up per­fectly for the first live per­form­ance: Mai Khalil.

Togeth­er with a pian­ist, Mai per­formed a short selec­tion of soul­ful songs, includ­ing older ones such as I Wanna Be Your Lov­er and the more recent and deeply mean­ing­ful Little Arab Girl — from her new album Reflec­tions (the video to this was actu­ally filmed some­where in Brix­ton). The pian­ist was amaz­ing, and com­bined with Mai’s power­ful, soul­ful lon­don twang, had the atten­tion of the 70 or so per­son crowd, who although quite still, showed they were feel­ing the vibes when it came time to make some noise at the end of each track. Whilst it was a beau­ti­ful open­ing to the live shows with Mai keep­ing the per­form­ance very min­im­al and reflect­ive, it might of been good to also drop in at least one track with a slightly more uptempo vibe, or some­thing closer to some of her stu­dio pro­duced rhythm tracks. How­ever, the vibes may also have radi­ated Mai’s energy at the moment, as someone who is very soon due to give birth to new life. Love.

Between Mai and the next per­form­ance, Snuff and Honey Brown upped the tempo and moved the crowd with a selec­tion of dance­hall and lyr­ics, old and new.

The second live act and soul­stress — Lay­full­stop — had trav­elled down from Manchester to bless Brix­ton with some vibes along­side the three piece band who would be rock­ing it for the night on drums, keys (Domin­ic Can­ning from TriForce/Project Kar­nac) and bass (Renell Shaw from Rudi­ment­al). Switch­ing the style up, with ener­gies high and stage pres­ence lively, Lay­full­stop took the crowd on a jour­ney through dynam­ic vocal tech­niques and flu­id shifts in lyr­ic­al flow, bridging Soul, Jazz and Hip Hop lyr­i­cism in single tracks. As the per­form­ance pro­gressed, the tempo, tem­per­at­ure and funky­ness increased, and the crowd, over 100 people by now, bub­bling to the vibes, engaged with Lay­fulls jokes. It was a shame, how­ever, that the sound engin­eer, seemed unable to keep up with the dynam­ics, and at times vocals were com­pletely lost in the mix.

In fact the sound was an issue through­out the even­ing, and affected everything  from the impact of Mai’s power­ful vocals and polit­ic­al com­ment­ary, to gen­er­al lack of bass and bal­ance in the sound fre­quen­cies between instru­ments and vocals. Hootananny sort it out please!!!

Des­pite that how­ever, Lay­full­stops per­form­ance ended on a high, with a couple of tracks involving DJ Snuff and the band jam­ming togeth­er and Lay­full­stop flow­ing double­time over the top. Snuff con­tin­ued on the decks bring­ing the uptempo and con­ta­gious rhythms of Afrobeat and oth­er sim­il­ar tempo vibes — includ­ing Missy Elli­ots ‘ Work It’, care­fully blen­ded into the mix.

A bit after 1am, the band returned to the stage, and began to tune up and jam with the rid­dim Snuff had spin­ning. Before the crowd real­ised, Logic was up in the place, and on the mic, hyp­ing up the crowd and get­ting every­one to come for­ward. The crowd packed in, around 200 people — and were greeted with the chor­us from Mighty Moe & Logic: ‘Asa­laam wa Alaykum Sha­lom. Wag­waan, know where your from’ — the second track off the Mighty Logic album, that fea­tures Jaja Soze (a broth­er who’s got long­time roots music­ally with Logic in Brix­ton). Logic and Moe flowed back to back over the music like one and it was clear, Hip Hop was def­in­itely in the build­ing!!!

Next the rid­dim switched up into the foot skank­ing vibes of ‘Go So’. If it hadn’t happened already this really got the whole crowd boun­cing, and in the blink of an eye TY was up on stage with Logic and Moe. All 3 artists on stage skankin hard and lov­ing it. Levels high.

Before the next track, TY took time to show love to Mighty Moe, and his involve­ment with Hip Hop cul­ture, pos­sibly point­ing to the mis­placed ten­sions that some­times emerge between dif­fer­ent music­al genre ‘boxes’. For those that wondered why, its because Mighty Moe has been for many years a part of a col­lect­ive called Heart­less Crew, that pro­duces and DJ’s music more ori­ented towards the Gar­age music scene.
Draw­ing the crowd togeth­er, it was then straight into the chants of ‘ok ok ok ok ok…’ the chor­us off the not per­formed live before track: ‘Ok’ fea­tur­ing TY. Crowd par­ti­cip­a­tion was encour­aged, and Ty, Logic and Moe bounced off each oth­er with ease, and it was clear they were right at home in the moment.
This was fol­lowed by a live ver­sion of Rod­ney P’s ‘Live Up’ that fea­tures Peoples Army and Might Moe. This track has a ser­i­ous reg­gae bounce to it. Although Rod­ney and oth­er artists off the track were not there, bro Ghette jumps on stage, with his bash­ment style lyr­i­cism up in the track and gets the crowd finally ALL jump­ing. If noth­ing else gets them, uptempo reg­gae vibes often have the power to move people. And if that wasn’t enough, Amy True joins every­one on stage, ready for the trans­ition into the next track, the third off the Mighty Logic album: ‘Dont Worry’.
The chor­us on this track had nuff people singing along with Amy. You might find this sur­pris­ing con­sid­er­ing the crowd was not solely Logic & Mighty Moe fans, or even a purely Hip Hop crowd. But it was kind of overly pre­dict­able, being a part cov­er of that clas­sic Bob Mar­ley, that has been embraced by nearly every­one. Per­son­ally I always want every­one to sing along to Marley’s ‘War’ track, but maybe I’m miss­ing the point. Any­way, it worked well and helped gel the crowd togeth­er.

From that it was straight into what is pos­sibly one of Logics biggest clas­sics — ‘ Beg­ging You’.
TY & Amy sing the intro togeth­er and the crowd is hype, jump­ing up on the chor­us with Logic and Moe. Through­out the show, the live rid­dims were tight and funky, but now the band mem­bers were giv­en their moment to express them­selves fur­ther and bless the audi­ence with solos: piano, then drums, then bass, and then before you know it, the live per­form­ance is done. But the audi­ence is left with the lyr­ic­al flows of Honey Brown & Mighty Moe going back to back over rid­dims spun by DJ Snuff.

The Mighty Logic album is good. But catch them live, and it’s almost a whole dif­fer­ent album, def­in­itely worth exper­i­en­cing.

Review writ­ten by the legendary DJ Steaz.

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I Am Hip-Hop magazine welcomes contributions from guest authors. If you would like to review an event, please get in touch! iamhiphopmagazine[at]