Wednesday 9 April 2014

Big Daddy Kane @ The Concorde2 18/04/2013

Despite the fact that I was completely and utterly psyched to see Big Daddy Kane perform for the first time and to also have the pleasure of hosting the night and introducing the great man himself, I must admit that after the whole DJ Premier debacle the month before I was somewhat reticent as to how things would go. I mean, if a superstar DJ could display such astounding levels of diva-like behaviour, it was a safe assumption in my head that a superstar MC could (and probably would) go above and beyond the levels that were displayed at the previous show. But, to my relief, I could not have been more wrong. Kane was the fucking MAN.

Gods honest truth I can barely remember a thing from this night (the Red Stripe rider once again being the culprit) but I know for a fact that I had a gargantuan amount of fun. Pure, serotonin fuelled euphoria accentuated by vast chemical intake. One of my only concrete memories is texting a few people and updating various social networking profiles to tell anyone who cared that I was having the time of my life. Phoenix Da Ice Fire was the support act and was incredibly impressive, completely owning the stage and doing a brilliant job of warming up the crowd (I overhead Kane bigging him up massively backstage afterward and suggesting that they work together in the future) before Kane got on. I apparently did a good job of hosting (again, not that I remember anything) and dropped a slick accapella after asking the crowd if they wanted me to A) Talk shit or B) Rap whilst Kane’s DJ was setting up his Serato. The crowd were quite insistent toward the latter. But don’t take my word for it; if Cutty said it’s true then you best believe that was the case.

Far from being a repeat of the previous gig, which was the worst case scenario imaginable, Big Daddy Kane was not only the consummate professional but quite simply one of the nicest and most approachable performers I have ever met, and that really is saying something in a world chock full of grumpy, arrogant and obnoxious MCs moving into middle age (Wu Tang is for the Victor Meldrews) who seem to have left their people skills (along with the best part of their music making ability) behind, with any semblance of social nuance and hint of manners, in the mid nineties.

I had so much fun that I can barely remember anything, hence this sparse write up. Kane was an absolutely top bloke, going so far as to very kindly pose for the prerequisite fan boy photo for me and also sign my YO! MTV Raps trading card (proper fan boy tings). Taking full advantage of the situation, I also got him to sign a couple of fliers for me before I then asked him to sign a further 5 or so more for other people who weren’t even at the gig, which he duly did with gargantuan amounts of humbleness and good grace and a fuck off great smile on his face. Absolutely superb guy.

As I’m sure you can imagine, he tore through the set, consummate professional, incredible performer, knocking out all of his hits with the energy of a man half his age. My only tiiiiiny criticism (and it isn’t even a criticism) was that he didn’t do his famous ‘mic drop’ trick, but in the grander scheme of things this didn’t matter a jot because he was A) The coolest guy in the world and B) An absolutely stupendous performer. I was actually so smashed that I ran on stage halfway through his set and interrupted him to ask if he could say peace to my man Gilly, who was at the front of the crowd. He did, and I didn't get the shit kicked out of me, although one of his boys did ask me (very politely, I might add) to not do it again. I jumped on a tidal wave and surfed the night away. I remember little but that palpable feeling of excitement and satisfaction still remains to this day, a whole year after the fact.

So, in short, the complete opposite of the DJ Premier show. Top 3 rap shows I have ever seen, up there with KRS One (write up coming soon) and seeing Pharoahe Monch for the first time ever at Outlook Festival 2013 (who also had Mos Def jump up with him to perform ‘Oh No’ – I’ll try and tell that story, but I wasn’t exactly in my right mind at the time). Faith in legendary American Hip Hop performers restored. LONG LIVE THE KANE!!!

Tuesday 1 April 2014

DJ Premier @ Concorde 2 07/03/2013 - The Man, The Myth, The Diva

**Disclaimer : Maybe Premier was having a bad day. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. But this is my story and I'm sticking to it, motherfucker**

Another throwback. I’ll catch up with myself eventually.

I’ve always been a Premo fan. Always. Anyone who values Hip Hop music on any level should be. He’s one half of Gangstarr for god’s sake. There are so many absolute classics under his belt for so many different artists (can anyone say THIS - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DJ_Premier_production_discography ? I mean, for fuck’s sake) that sometimes the discography itself defies belief. Although these days, in certain circles, I have heard Premier being berated or discussed in patronising tones for being the architect of the original sample-chopping, scratch-chorus ‘Boom Bap’ sound (mainly by trap happy twats in their early to mid twenties or insecure former piano-looping producers in their late twenties – ironic, seeing as in many cases he was the very person who inspired them to produce in the first place), you simply can not deny the guy’s status as one of the all time greats.

So, it was with great pleasure that I was informed that I was to be hosting Statik Selektah alongside DJ Premier at the Concorde 2 in Brighton on the 7th Day of the 3rd Month of our Two Thousandth and Thirteenth Year (anno domini). It was with a certain amount of trepidation that I approached this newly appointed duty; it had been some time since I’d hosted a gig at the Concorde and, more importantly, I was somewhat unconvinced by how successful two DJs would be performing at the Concorde 2, a venue renowned (much like the Prince Albert) for playing host to exciting live bands and energetic performers to be watched and enjoyed, as opposed to static DJs (no pun intended) playing music to dance to. When the DJ is a focal point 10 feet above the crowd at the end of a long room where everyone is facing in the same direction, dancing is pretty much off the menu. Everyone is standing there looking directly forwards waiting to see someone that, essentially, is going to stand there and do little but talk with their hands. But what the FUCK do I know?


You know how these stories start by now. I get there with Neil B, we proceed to rape the rider (Red Stripe – again – a quick way to put yourself into an early spiral of deceit) and start fucking around on stage on the decks and the mic respectively. I do remember remarking to a number of people, myself included, how drunk I was on this particular occasion; it was an early show, doors at 7.30pm, so by the time you hit 9pm you’re already battered and wondering how in the fuck you’re going to survive the next 90 minutes, let alone be verbose, engaging and entertaining for a crowd of 600+ punters whilst operating on a skin full of Jamaican chemicals (read into that as you will). Still, I’m a god damned professional, so it was on with the show.

And it’s lucky that I am god damned professional, because trying to get the show moving was far from plain sailing. Far from just fulfilling my duties as host and compere it is usually the case that I get roped into some form of stage management, artist liaison and other such undertakings, which may sound important and glamorous but basically means that I'm the whipping boy for some other poor twat who is so stressed by the nonchalant attitude of so many performers when it comes to set times that they need some other poor twat to shift some of the stress onto. That’s where I come in. Fair do’s I’m usually so wasted by this point that it’s no issue for me to lend a hand but things would be far more agreeable if I could just get on my wave and just do the job that I’m there to do (which nine times out of ten I’m NOT getting paid for). Anyway, as usual, I digress.

The venue was open 7pm – 11pm with a strict ‘music off’ policy at 11pm sharp. Statik Selektah got on at 9pm on the dot and played what I would consider to be a near perfect set, deftly switching between classic joint after classic joint (sometimes a little too quickly, but beggars can’t be choosers) whilst doing his best DJ Clue impression by screaming inane banter over a stand mounted microphone. Great set, but as mentioned earlier, when 600 people are all packed into a room, standing still and all facing in the same direction whilst not dancing to any of the aforementioned classic music, the effect or intention of such endeavours is somewhat lost in the situational circumstance.

I thought that Statik Selektah looked a bit like the guy with the little arms in Sin City

I’m on the stage for a bit bobbing around to the set, popping backstage, grabbing a beer, popping back onto the stage, doing the do. During my travels during this 60 minute period the one constant seemed to be everyone backstage (including stage manager, club manager and everyone in between) all asking the same question – “Where the fuck is DJ Premier?”

The answer to this repeatedly asked question did eventually materialise via a random chick that some people were referring to as his tour manager, although I have a sneaking suspicion that she was actually just some sort of on-the-road jump off with an inflated sense of self worth and importance because she was in receipt of the D from a particularly famous Hip Hop producer and DJ. She was a personal assistant at best; that is, she was personally assisting Premo in guiding his D into her mouth (zing!). After a number of frenzied phone calls and numerous mono-syllabic conversations with the lady in question, the official stance on the situation was that A BOTTLE OF PROSECCO HAD BEEN LEFT OFF OF PREMIER’S RIDER REQUEST AND HE WAS REFUSING TO LEAVE THE HOTEL UNTIL SAID BOTTLE OF PROSECCO WAS PRESENT AND CORRECT IN HIS DRESSING ROOM. Don’t say anything. I know.

Cue one of the promoters (big up Henry) bolting out of the Concorde (which, in Brighton’s relatively confined geographical landscape, is in the middle of fucking nowhere) to head to the nearest offy to pick up said bottle of booze (and for who, exactly? For Premier? Yeah fucking right) so he could place it with the rest of the lavishly extensive spread so he would finally grace us and the 650 odd other people in the venue with his illustrious presence to do what he was there to do – play decent records. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out entirely as planned.

Taking the stage roughly 15 minutes late at 10.15pm, the already close-to-cardiac-arrest manager wangled a deal by which the club was able to remain open until 11.15pm, therefore allowing Premier his full hour on the decks and giving the punters what they actually paid for (rather than watching me stumbling around on an empty stage, attempting to keep the energy levels up, all the while feeding the clearly aggravated crowd lie after lie as to why the show still hadn’t started).

And so we begin. I wouldn’t say that Preem had a face like a slapped arse so much as that he had the face of someone who had recently sucked diazepam through a lemon. Or, the face of a wronged Hip Hop legend who could barely bring himself to make an appearance at a show that he had no doubt already been paid handsomely for due to the distinct and unacceptable absence of a bottle of alcohol coveted mainly by women who can’t afford champagne but fancy themselves as some sort of pseudo-cosmopolitan Sex And The City type diva. Who cares now, he’s here, thank fuck, on with the show. If you couldn’t tell by the tone of my writing by now, however, in my case the damage had already been done; this was made abundantly clear in my own head when he (eventually) took to the stage to start spouting forth about ‘Real Hip Hop’ and such. Does ‘Real Hip Hop’ have anything to do with sitting in your hotel in a pouty strop because someone didn’t bring a bottle of slightly-more-upmarket Lambrini to your party? I think not, but feel free to go ahead and cry if you want to.

Anyway, to be brutally honest (if I haven’t been already), there’s really not much more to report here. Premier played his advertised one hour slot but somehow managed to not play any songs that appealed to the crowd in any way, shape or form whatsoever (from my point of view, of course). Everyone knows that Guru (RIP) and Premier were trying their hardest to establish themselves as separate entities outside of Gangstarr (Guru especially), but honestly, when you pay the best part of a score to see DJ Premier play, what would you rather hear?

  1. A selection of classic Gangstarr cuts, including famous DJ Premier produced timeless bangers for various high profile and talented artists, or
  2. A selection of previously unheard and probably unreleased DJ Premier tracks featuring unknown rappers that nobody really wants to hear when they have paid £20 under the assumption that they will be hearing option 1?

Well, I’m sure that you’ve guessed by now what happened. The breaking point came when Premier played a track off of GOODIE Mob’s classic debut 'Soul Food' LP, screaming “WHO KNOWS ABOUT GOODIE MOB??” over the mic before he dropped it.


Bearing in mind that the crowd consisted mostly of people in their early to mid twenties (or so it seemed to me) who would, one assumes, have absolutely no knowledge of this admittedly brilliant group and their equally brilliant debut album due to their age and lack of exposure to southern rap groups in the mid 1990’s, a reload of the song and a repeat of the same question that warranted absolutely no reaction the first time round was probably not a good idea. But who gives a fuck about good ideas? “COME ON, WHO KNOWS ABOUT GOODIE MOB??”

Tumbleweeds. Tumbleweeds with slippers on. Tumbleweeds with slippers on having recently graduated from Ninja Stealth Training School.

It was at this point that drunken Dave, lurking behind DJ Premier (see picture - #pause) took it upon himself to inform Preem of the obvious – that the clientele in the club were too young to either know or give a fuck about GOODIE Mob, regardless of how good they are, were or might still be. They were just too young. This, of course, did not go down well at all, with Premo shooting me daggers for even suggesting that an album that came out 19 years previous would be coveted by a gang of people who were barely 6 years old when it dropped and therefore would not have the desired effect. Silly me.


The fun continued when, in a frenzy of record mixing hand gestures, Preem knocked the knob (pause) off of one of the upfaders and sent it flying into the darkness. Just the plastic knob, mind you, nothing else; the piece of metal was still showing meaning that the mixer was still completely active and serviceable. Considering that he was doing nothing along the lines of some hyped up DMC turntablist routine, it really shouldn’t have made any difference whatsoever. But, of course, it did. He loudly proclaimed to the sound man that the mixer was now broken and he needed a new one, in the middle of his set, in order to continue. I, being very drunk, demonstrated to Preem that the fader still worked perfectly by whipping it up and down, which of course altered the volume of the record that was playing at the time in a high-to-low-to-high-to-low capacity (this is tech speak here people, try and keep up). Compare it to the small plastic covering on the end of a shoelace falling off; if it does fall off, it doesn’t mean the shoelace can no longer be tied, does it (tenuous, but hopefully you get my point)?

Anyway, after this next mishap and the prerequisite ocular House Of Flying Daggers from Preem I was pretty much done. I was drunk and pissed off, the entire hour was an exercise in disappointment for everyone present (as far as I could tell) and everyone filed out at 11.15pm to go about their business. Neil and I probably followed shortly afterwards to go and get outrageously wavey somewhere, as is our disposition as hot young go-getters. Before we left, however, I had a quick chat with the stage manager and the other guys who had been pushed further into the realms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by the entire experience. And you’ll never guess what.

Premier had left his entire rider, offending bottle of Prosecco included, completely untouched in his dressing room. Ladies and gentleman, Real Hip Hop had left the building.

The opinions and memories detailed above have been retrieved from the damaged hard drive that is my brain. They are my thoughts and opinions and mine only. Many people at this function may have had a lot of fun, contrary to my described perspective. I, however, was, and still am, very, very disappointed by the entire experience.

Next time on Rap Ain't Real, My Life Is Real : Another Hip Hop Show, at the same club, with me performing the same duties, but with a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT OUTCOME. Result! Stay tuned, boppers.