Photography by Sharjeel Ahmed
November 2nd saw the Superstars of Hip Hop event at Hammersmith Apollo featuring Hip Hop legends Busta Rhymes, Method Man and Redman. It’s always dodgy territory when artists who made their name in their younger days return to performing, look at Jodeci’s disastrous Wembley performance earlier this year for example! The crowd was a real mixed bunch, highlighting the universal appeal and crossover potential of good quality hip hop.
The first treat of the evening came in the unexpected form of support act ‘Lady Leshurr’ who gave a crowd-pleasing performance that belied her newcomer status. One to watch.
Method Man and Redman kicked off the main event quickly dispelling any doubts as to whether they were past their prime. Performing their hip hop classics, such as ‘A‑Yo’ and ‘Da Rockwilder’ they worked the crowd expertly. Their delivery was on top form, spitting with the kind of perfect flow and timing that made them superstars all those years ago.
They took the audience way back to 1994 performing Wu Tang Clan’s ‘M.E.T.H.O.D. Man’, which sent the crowd wild as did ‘Da Goodness’. It was evident that the chemistry between the two performers is something seriously special, the way the bounced off each other during the performance made the experience all the more intense and solidified their status as legends and their right to be billed as superstars of hip hop. The performance was of such good quality it could have easily been ten or twenty years ago, these rappers have lost NOTHING with age.
After a DJ set by 1Xtra’s Ace and a short audience MC competition the headline act, Hip Hop legend Busta Rhymes, walked onto the stage like a champion with the kind of ‘swagger’ many artists can only dream of possessing. With enough gold chains slung round his neck to sink a battleship he went straight in, his trademark aggressive delivery still as present as ever, perhaps more so even than in his younger days. Unfortunately his low, gravely voice was distorted at times through the sound system and this took away from the performance somewhat.
He performed hits such as Ante Up, Dangerous and Make It Clap as well as recent hit ‘#Twerkit’, an expected crowd pleaser. Unlike Method Man and Redman’s performance, it was clear we were watching an artist who was not at his peak, his massive presence limiting his movement and performance , it was left to his mic man and DJ to do a lot of the leg work in working the crowd. Fortunately for Busta, his status as a legend is so firmly concreted by his back catalogue and previous ground breaking performances that he doesn’t need to exert himself too much to please the crowd and give a satisfying performance.
Overall the night was a great experience and a real trip down Hip Hop memory lane with Method Man and Redman delivering beyond expectation and Busta Rhymes fulfilling his duty. Any hip hop fan should make every effort to see Meth and Red live before the day comes when they hang up their microphones for good, these two embody the required vibe, becoming hip hop personified for the short time they’re on stage, I feel I could watch them perform every week for the rest of my life and never get bored, that’s how good they are.
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