Working nine to five is a bitch sometimes. On the plus side, thanks to the 37-odd hours a week I spend putting up with other people's BS, I am more or less financially solvent on a good month. On the downside, all those early mornings can leave one a little drained of a night.
It was thusly that I arrived at Wednesday's Diffrent Strokes event at the Primrose Pub, Leeds… late and not in the best of moods. The first act I managed to catch was Chief Wigz of 9-Lives Clik, backed up by Pro-Optik and Eliphino. Wigz is a bit of an acquired taste and I was not in anywhere near the right frame of mind for his hardcore, rough edges approach to the art and craft of MCing. I'll provide a more objective review another time…
Next up were the GroundWurq crew from Huddersfield – J-Simple, Jack Flash and DJ Heritage representing over beats by ApaTight (who I think was absent that night). GroundWurq have received a definite boost to their profile over the last few weeks due to a spot on Jehst's Mengibus Mixtape and I was interested to see how they would acquit themselves live.
Jack Flash initially stood behind the decks, speaking through a lowered fixed mic and rocking an NY New Era Cap, hence looking strangely like someone who had come to a fancy-dress party as a skinny, white version of Funkmaster Flex. J-Simple meanwhile took to the fore and led on mic duties for the first couple of tunes. Both MCs were energetic and boasted well-constructed flows, but in my humble opinion need to develop a little further if they are going to be seen as serious contenders independent of the High Plains Drifter. Jehst may be famed for blazing serious weed, but a high-quality weed-carrier is still a weed-carrier.
I only saw part of Tru Ruts' set but, having been persuaded to feature them on my HHBRadio.com show the following night, I can attest that MC TruthMaze and spoken word artist EG Bailey are both entertaining and creative performers. They had made the trip over from Minneapolis, Minnesota (not just for Diffrent Strokes, mind!) and definitely brought some Mid-West flavour to proceedings.
Finally, the headline act, IRS, were simply stunning. With four MCs and one DJ on stage, it might be expected that the cohesion of their set would drop of at some point but this was categorically not the case. Every word, note and beat was interesting, involving and natural. Jim Jones flip "Brassic" was my personal favourite and I know social-networking send-up "CrackSpace" was eagerly anticipated by several present – the performance did not disappoint despite slightly cloudy vocals due to the limitations of the sound-system.
If you've heard good words about these guys, believe them and make sure you get hold of a copy of their mixtape "The World Is Theirs" which is dropping any day now.