When talking of the key names in 90’s, hardcore ‘Gangsta’ rap, many name rappers from the west coast such as Ice Cube and when we think of boom bap from this era, we think of the New York lyricists such as Nas.
There was however a group that managed to blend the dark lyricism of the west and the hard hitting beats of the east with a pinch of raw anger to create a sound that has been unmatched ever since. That group was Onyx — a bunch of Queens natives who broke through in 1993 with their acclaimed, mainstream debut album, Bacdafucup.
The duo of Sticky Fingaz and Fredro Starr returned to this side of the pond to perform at Archspace, Haggerston, East London for one night only on Sunday, 6th May.
The night was supported by Canadian rapper, Snak the Ripper who could have passed the night as his own gig since most of the crowd knew his tracks and got a celebrity welcome after he finished his set.
As Snak made his way through the crowd to meet with the guests, the grimy vocals of Onyx drew all the attention to the stage as the duo demanded “When I go buc buc, you better buc back”. Which are vocals from their more recent 2014 track, Buc Bac.
Despite being one of their newer tracks, the energy had not been lost at all as the crowd went crazy as they started to form a mosh pit right away. The pumped up force continued into the night as the group signalled for an intermission. This interval however was not a typical one as the rave didn’t stop but rather diverted to a tribute set of hip hop artists that had passed away since the group broke through. The Notorious B.I.G, Big L, Big Pun and Prodigy were a few of the names that were honoured while the crowd held their lights up.
DMX, who has been in the news recently for being sent back to jail also got a shout out. This cued for the night to be really and truly ‘shut down’ as the pair performed their X featured hit, Shut ‘Em Down. The mosh was now in full effect as Fredro climbed a speaker to get full view of the packed out crowd.
The late Jam Master Jay got an honour next as Onyx performed Throw Ya Gunz, which was produced by the former Run DMC DJ. JMJ had also helped the group break through after he received a demo from them in 1991. Jay also gave fellow Queens artist, 50 Cent his New York break through some years later before passing away.
The night then drew to a close with the crowd still on fire while Onyx performed their biggest hit of all time, Slam. Despite wearing their trademarked hoodies and jackets on one of the hottest days of the year so far, Onyx not once failed to lower the temperature as the energy on the stage and in the crowd was heated all night.
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Photo Credit: Magdalena Grzesiak
Check out our interview with Onyx here.
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