Review: Pete Rock (@PeteRock) & High Focus (@HighFocusUK ‏) Live @ElectricBrixton


Fri­day night Septem­ber 8th marked one of the evening’s cel­eb­rat­ing South London’s bass cul­ture with South­bound. In the Brix ! (Brix­ton), Hip Hop heads slid through the dan­cing streets to see one of the greatest names in Hip Hop (Pete rock) and one of the biggest move­ments in UK Hip Hop (High Focus Records) at the Elec­tric. This was made for abso­lute his­tory.

On arrival, there was an unfor­tu­nate acci­dent out­side which caused dis­tress amongst the fans. How­ever, the hero­ism and effi­ciency from the Elec­tric Brixton’s staff was inspir­ing. With all the safety and vul­ner­ab­il­ity con­cerns UK show­cases have had this year, it was refresh­ing to see such care and vigil­ance in such pan­ic as people entered the ven­ue.

Being one of the first people inside, I’m always keen to see how cer­tain DJs open the show to pro­voke high spir­its on a night out before per­formers come on. Raji Rags from NTS Radio, did not dis­ap­point to trans­ition the queue that stretched from the build­ing on to the dance floor. Drinks were pour­ing and heads were knock­ing to con­tem­por­ary Hip Hop mixed with some Old School to set the table for a Pete Rock even­ing.


The first per­son to touch the Mic was Jam Bax­ter of High Focus records. The music from High Focus records is con­stantly play­ing on my radio show (Big Bang Show Reprezent radio 107.3 FM) It’s a prom­in­ent force in the UK which holds fun­da­ment­al val­ues of Hip Hop. The label has pro­gressed to a point where it tours huge ven­ues and dis­trib­utes music all around the world. There was genu­ine excite­ment for his per­form­ance as people looked for­ward to recit­ing his recently dropped album Man­sion 38. He abso­lutely cap­tiv­ated the audi­ence and as a huge fan of UK Hip Hop, it was a pleas­ure to see how far we have come and the pos­sib­il­it­ies that lie ahead.  Catch­ing up with him back stage I asked him what it was like to work with Pete rock in the same ven­ue to which he respon­ded,

“When your her­oes become your peers it’s a beau­ti­ful feel­ing I feel blessed every single day in my entire life that I’m in this pos­i­tion”

He explained how there so much inspir­a­tion he gets drawn from this city and wheth­er he is tour­ing Bul­garia or work­ing on his album with Chemo in Bangkok, Brix­ton holds a spe­cial place in his heart.


The night was still young in the Elec­tric Brix­ton and three of the Four Owls finally took high flight on stage as the second act of the even­ing. I’m talk­ing of course of Leaf Dogg, BVA and Verb T. I can hon­estly say this was the one that stole the show. It’s noth­ing like see­ing 3 of your home grown snatch the night with ample barz on dizzy soul­ful Hip Hop beats. It hon­estly felt like this was the main attrac­tion.  Joker starr and Mic­all Parkn­sun briefly touched the stage and abso­lutely killed it. There was a close 7‑year rela­tion­ship already estab­lished with the crowd and the per­formers before the night had even star­ted. Die hard fans recog­nised and rapped to every single track from Leaf Dogg’s new Album Dys­lex­ic Dis­ciple to the clas­sic Four Owl Album Nature’s Greatest Mys­tery.

Reach­ing the early hours of the morn­ing I man­oeuvred my way back­stage to accom­plish a few words with the high focus records bunch who were wicked to hang out with. Eager to see the East Coast Vet, I made my way to the stage to hang back and watch the mas­ter at work. I per­son­ally enjoy watch­ing exper­i­ment­al Hip Hop like Robert Glasper and Madlib per­formed which con­veys sur­real samples and solos with live instru­ment­a­tion but on a Fri­day night in Brix­ton, off the tail of sum­mer, Pete Rock came to close the even­ing as a DJ and move the crowd with some clas­sics.

His per­form­ances always hold an ingredi­ent of nos­tal­gia and being part of the Hip Hop Back in The Day Crew, I couldn’t help but elec­tric slide on the stage (behind Pete Rock of course) and join in with the cap­tiv­at­ing head nod­ding gen­er­ated by Pete rock on the turntables.

East coast Hip Hop has pulsated through the hearts of our Lon­don streets in the last couple of months with per­form­ances from Jeru da Dam­aja, Cor­mega, Kool G Rap, all with a seg­ment pay­ing trib­ute to one of the greatest that ever did it Prodigy. Tonight was no dif­fer­ent as the turn­tab­list played a col­lec­tion of Mobb Deep records. The view from stage was enough to know Hip Hop is forever. To have thou­sands of people doing back­flips to your music from bey­ond the grave is time­less. Gain­ing the per­spect­ive from stage, watch­ing Pete Rock con­duct an audi­ence from that view, tapped into the psy­cho­logy on a back and forth rela­tion­ship rid­ing a col­lec­tion of vibes to lift a crowd. He closed with some CL Smooth and Pete Rock as a teas­er for the up and com­ing gig in Octo­ber. 4 am in the morn­ing you would have thought exhaus­tion would kick in but I was per­son­ally euphor­ic and re-ener­gised.


Headed back­stage I met the legend that is Pete Rock, shook his hand and left him to reset for his on going work as a vet­er­an in the game. The night fin­ished in Mcdon­alds with people bump­ing Pete rock from their phones and obvi­ously put­ting back on all the cal­or­ies they burnt mosh­ing to a glor­i­ous night of Hip Hop.

In clos­ing, I would love to see a per­form­ance with Pete Rock where he brings those jazzy soul­ful samples to light with key­boards, horns and drums. I think orches­trat­ing with live instru­ments dis­play­ing such a quint­es­sen­tial vibe in Hip Hop he cap­tured in the early 90s, would be monu­ment­al. As far as High Focus Records goes, UK Hip Hop is in good hands. Look­ing for­ward to review­ing the next one.

The fol­low­ing two tabs change con­tent below.


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.