Nottingham Rock City
The cream of UK hip hop came together in Nottingham on Bank Holiday Monday to put one of the most mouth-watering line ups seen in a long, long time at Nottingham’s Rock City. Bigger names and less mainstream acts played on the same bill with the same message – You don’t need be American to make good hip hop – and they did a sterling job proving it.
Quality Control didn’t really do much to inspire however, with the sound not really reaching the sides of the venue and the crowd didn’t get into it too much. However, when female rapper Tor bounded on stage with DJ Mentat flanking her on the decks, she kicked the shit out of the lifeless crowd and delivered hard hitting rhymes with a forceful delivery, definitely one to look out for.
Blade came on stage with his hype man much to the delight of the centre of the crowd, but not to me. Whilst he has been a major figure in hard-working independent hip hop in this country, I think his music is boring, and one person next to me commented on how he couldn’t understand why Blade was always booked for these events. I couldn’t have agreed more.
Late addition Lewis Parker was someone I was really looking forward to seeing but he was the biggest let down of the night. The Londoner has been living in New York for the past couple of years and forced this upon us with an American accent both in his speaking and rapping. On a night where we were supposed to be celebrating UK hip hop, he ruined it by doing exactly what English rappers shouldn’t be doing – imitating the US scene.
Jehst and Asaviour were brilliant as ever, despite only have a 4 song set, with their sound making the previous sets sound as if they were being played underwater. Jehst’s potent delivery was crisp and Asaviour’s performance of Jehst produced Bangers N Mash got everyone’s hands up.
Professor Green’s Stereotypical Man got laughs from the crowd, as did his other clever one liners and wit, but he was wrestled offstage, albeit in good nature, by hosts Rodney P and Mistajam, for telling the crowd about having sex with his dick wrapped in cling film.
The night’s sets went longer as the show went on air to 1Xtra and Poisonous Poets took to the stage. They got a good response but they bored me to tears, none of the rappers stood out as having any character and I was glad when they finally left the stage, which was the same story as Nottingham’s C’Mone, who looked like she had stage fright.
Kano’s set was the highlight of the night, with him striding on, winning over the sceptics in the crowd with a mix of his hard hitting beats like Ps & Qs and Home Sweet Home and finishing the set by getting 20 odd girls on stage to shake their collective booties with him and Dangermouse to some heavy dance tunes.
The final of the night’s MC battle was won by a Nottingham MC who was a deserving winner with lines like “the last time you saw tits was when you looked in the mirror” and “you’re so fat you put gravy on your frosties”, much to the delight of the crowd.
Klashnekoff and Terra Firma ran him a close second, proving to previous crews on the bill that when all three members can stand alone as good rappers, it makes for a much better show. The anthem Its Murda was perhaps the most well received song of the entire night and justifiably so as the 3 of them bust out the verses with perfect ability, as the rest of his seemingly ever growing group of mates on stage bopped around.
Headliner Sway had his set cut short but he entertained with his light-hearted banter and selection of quality tracks including Flo Fashion and Little Derek before finishing off with Up Your Speed, which was cut short first time round by a breakdown of the sound equipment, but they hit it back up to make sure the night ended on a high.
With a cameo from Skinnyman, who performed one song but got one of the loudest pops of the night from the crowd, it was a virtual who’s who of UK talent. I was slightly disappointed by Jehst getting shorter sets than the likes of Poisonous Poets but it was great for exposure for UK acts, so overall it was a successful night. Roll on Takeover 5!