I’ve worked with MTB recently on the part two of the Straight Out Leodis podcast series (part 3 coming soon!) and I’m going to be playing at the next event on May 30th. However, I think I can say without fear of undue bias that April’s Subterranea demonstrates this as a top-rank night in the making. Previous nights have featured guest sets from the cream of Leeds talent, including DMC turntablist Mike-L and MC Matter Mic, and this month’s line-up continued to showcase some genuine fresh talent.
First up was the regular warm-up pairing of DJM and Biggie B-Boy Beatmaster B, who knocked out a decent set. They were to my mind slightly over-reliant on classic breaks and battle records for routine material but they did pull off a wide variety of tricks with the standards and when they chose to flip less familiar wax towards the end of their set they took it all the way – cutting up parts of "The Sound of Music" soundtrack and rearranging the Stranglers’ "Golden Brown" (part of which is in 3/4 time) over a break in 4/4/ time.
The next act consisted of singer/ guitarist/ producer Danny Pig and MC No Change. I reviewed a few of their demo tracks recently so it was great to see them live. The hip-hop-meets-acoustic vibe translated well to a live setting and No Change’s verses were that much more compelling in the flesh, bring an essential element of soul and stage presence. Crowd response definitely reflected some appreciation so to my mind their set was a clear thumbs up.
They were followed swiftly by DMC/ ITF Turntablist Sinical. He had a few initial technical difficulties but was soon back up to the level one would expect from a DJ of his calibre which was, frankly, an incredible spectacle to behold. I’m informed he’s got a regular arrangement with Subterranea and so will no doubt be playing there again next month.
More prime elemental hip-hop came in the form of beatboxer Crowe (AKA Larynx), who I had met and interviewed previously after he won the Leeds leg of Vauxhall Tribes. Once more he captivated his audience and tempered the threat of dry technicality with physical humour. Some of his routines have definitely come on since I last saw him play and he continues to look firmly like a star in the making.
The last act of the night was the full Moulding The Breaks live band, consisting of three DJs (Mike D, Etch and Beatmaster B), two MCs (Higher Elements and Lyrical Dan), DJM on the drums and Boz on bass guitar. The performance they produced was remarkably tight given that the full line-up had only been practicing together for one week and, although it will obviously take time and work for them to be consistently as good as possible, there were numerous moments when things came together really well. What the group performance did do was demonstrate clearly the ethos of the night – getting as many talented, passionate hip-hop heads together as possible and then letting creativity and innovation lead the way.
I’ve also been asked to give a birthday shout out to MTB’s manager "Uncle", who, as Higher Elements repeatedly announced, is now old enough for a pimped-out wheelchair on 22s.