First Avenue, Minneapolis
Another day in Minneapolis, another show for me to attend and this one was the one I’d really been waiting for – a 7 hour independent hip hop festival, with some amazing names thrown into the mix and which proved to be just as good as I expected it to be.
Luckyiam.PSC was the man on opening duty and despite his DJ being stuck in a hick town due to a crap car, he showcased some cuts from his new album Most Likely To Succeed and he was true to the title as he succeeded in getting the crowd suitably warmed up for the rest of the show.
Def Jukies Hangar 18 were on next and despite constant apologies, they were unforunate enough to have sound problems during their set, which is a real shame because their tour-de-force Beatslope lost every positive thing about it with the shabby sounding bass over-riding the track. Here’s hoping the rest of the tour is kinder to them.
Then came one of the acts I had basically bought the ticket for. Blueprint has the most distinctive voice in hip hop. Fact. Not only that, but he’s also one of the most under-rated and he proved just why he should be getting more attention with this set which featured Soul Position tracks and his own solo stuff, the highlights of which were the bullying Boombox and Big Girls Need Love Too. He got the crowd pumped despite having a short set and it’s a damn shame he found himself below the likes of Grouch & Eligh and Cage, both of whom provided a huge lull in the proceedings for me, though Mr Lif and Akrobatik did do their best to raise the noise levels.
However, when Rhymesayer Brother Ali took to the stage with the local hero Toki Wright on hype duty, they were forgotten and the albino rocked the venue to its very foundations with joints from his last album The Undisputed Truth. Truth Is was the set stealer, with not one person in the crowd silent and the man in the flannel shirt knew he had everyone in the palm of his hand. Whilst I would have preferred more older songs, there’s no denying Ali is the feel-good king.
Next up was Sage Francis, someone who I wasn’t really fussed about seeing. However, he took it up a notch from the previous show I’d seen him at and, more importantly, played older tracks which to me is hugely superior to his newer material. Hearing the Non Prophets track Damage was a surprise and a delight and hearing Makeshift Patriot is always a highlight. But it was when he did a breakout dance routine which took in the running man and a forward flip onto his back that he proved his entertaining credentials.
There was no doubt who got the biggest cheer of the night when Murs, Slug [with his novelty tache] and Ant strode out to perform as Felt. Murs, in his indycar get up was his usual bouncy self and Slug was all smiles, looking like he was genuinely having a huge amount of fun. Early Morning Tony and Dirty Girl warmed the crowd up and Felt 1’s Hot Bars continued the trend before Slug and Murs traded tracks giving us God Loves Ugly, Modern Man’s Hustle and Trying To Find A Balance from Atmosphere and Bad Man, H.U.S.T.L.E.. and L.A. from the Living Legend. The set finished with a personal favourite of mine – Night Prowler, a Living Legends song featuring Slug which set the final act of the night up perfectly.
All the members of Living Legends rushed the stage, complete with one Transformers mask and water pistol. Even if you didn’t know any of their tracks, it was hard to not have fun as they bounded around the stage with smiles on their faces and crowd-friendly sing-a-long choruses.
Luckyiam and Murs stole the show for the crew, but it was a great way to end what had been a fantastic day of hip hop. Celebrating independent hip hop is something that we should all do, and I hope this tour continues for years to come.
I would like to end by sending my thoughts and best wishes to those in Minneapolis affected by the bridge collapse, especially BK-One and his fiancée. MPLS has been amazing to me and I want them all to know LDN feels for them.
Photos by Chris McShee