Last Thursday (09/02/06) Blade and MuffJam put on a tremendous live UK Hip Hop extravaganza worthy of any festival, but a tremendous bonus for the knock down price of £6.50. It was the launch night of Blade’s new Guerrilla Tactics LP and Blade had called on a multitude of talent from across the country to come and take to the stage to kick it off in the right fashion. Blade is a long time stalwart of the scene, so you know when he calls the acts will come.
After having a couple of pints beforehand we approached Cargo to hear the thump of live Hip Hop down the street. Before we could get in we were accosted by Mic Assassin who was flogging his new mix CD and giving punters a listen on his car stereo. There was stories of people having got in under false names or using others names due to Blade’s unique ticketing system. But none of those problems for us. Despite a small tussle with the bouncer about my bag of flyers we were in and Phi Life had already taken to the stage.
Rarely have I seen Cargo so rammed and we quickly made our way to the main room to catch the performance. On the night Life totally smacked it and could have been doing a solo show with Nappa backing him up on the beats. Si Philli was in parts reduced to being a hype man and even then a lot of the time he was raising the mic to his mouth only to lower it again and letting Life continue. They are consummate professionals and put on a good show with Life dropping knowledge in the form of freestyles at every opportunity.
At this point we realised our foolish mistake of getting there too late and missing performances by Pedigree Chumps, Diversion Tactics, Manage, CLG & Syanide, Swampfoot, The Headcase Ladz, Hard Livin’ and a whole load of other acts. Still the line up yet to play would be worth it.
Not like your usual gig with loads of pissing about between acts it was on with the shows at double time with only 1Xtra’s Mista Jam stepping to the stage between acts for a short bit of banter. Mista Jam did a great job of keeping things hype and even stepped in at the last minute to DJ for some of the acts.
Can’t quite remember the order of the acts but super producer Baby J did a set along with his new Midlands MC’s the Entourage and then next up was HBK Finn who as ever worked the stage with great experience. Dropping a few tracks from his Vitalistics LP he held the audience captivated and was clearly heard by all in attendance. He got some good audience participation going, with his more reggae inspired tracks going down the best.
Next was Jehst, who brought along his regular live partner Asaviour who treated us to several tracks including the Nuke Proof Suit which really works in a live environment. Filling the whole stage they brought out guest after guest to help them along. Mikall Parknsun ably helped out and then was joined by his Ddoubble Edge rhyming partner for a few songs. Kashmere was also in the spot and was pressed into getting on stage as well.
Respekt BA who is Blade’s current touring partner got to do his own set and basked in the glory have just having come from the Jump Off where he was a winner. He was also joined by Stig who really should have big things in front of him. There was an impromptu battle and with only a few lines Stig managed to show up all the other MCs on stage comprehensively.
Finally an increasingly tubby Blade stepped up to round off the night and proceeded to drop gems new and old. Probably not his best performance, but there is no denying the love that was shown to him from the audience. The crowd went mental for Survival Of The Hardest Working, but Blade killed it a bit with all the stage diving stuff which is ok when it is spontaneous, but this was forced. It was also funny to see him give it a go, but have it not work out quite right.
Overall this was a night of live Hip Hop they way it should be done. The venue is lovely despite the expensive beer. Proper value for money in terms of the live acts and not a moment of wasted time. The cyphers outside afterwards were heavy as always and it is always good to bump into heads – Paul H, Wyt Fang, Stig, Spoon, Smiffy and Woody etc. My main disappointment was not catching ex-Katch 22 frontman HKB Finn linking up with Curoc and DJ Mada.