GZA/Genius @ The Birmingham Ballroom, Feburary 16, 2012

 When you hear a venue entitled ‘The Birmingham Ballroom’, you expect contemporary dancing, ballet, all that fancy sh!t you see on Strictly Come Dancing. Maybe in its history it was a ballroom, well tradition is about to drastically change, because The GZA/Genius, one-third of the former group All Together Now crew, and one ninth of the juggernaut supergroup Wu-Tang Clan is coming through, and with the supporting acts in tow, the outcome would be critical.

Big ups to the DJs on set, Jam Fu, playing the best in the golden era of hip hop, and DJ Mylz, for his unique mixes and break beats. Highlights of the night and B-Boys doing their thing are found by clicking here.

Hip Hop fans in the Ballroom were treated with a barrage of supporting acts, each with half hour sets. First up, reppin’ Nottingham, Duke01 & Johnny Crump. He gave the crowd a taste of his energetic tracks such as ‘Crashing Down’, and ‘Infinite Crash Radius’. He went on to entertain the crowd by joking around that he was ‘afraid of monsters’ before going in to his ‘Monsta’ track. To find out more on Duke01, you can check out his reverbnation profile here.

Next up were Ricta & Idyllic hailing from Coventry, now residing in Birmingham. The duo brought humour and wordplay to their tracks by bringing in a cheesy pop track and then cleverly switching up to a banga. Highlight of their set was the Ol’ Dirty Bastard inspired track ‘Insane’, clearly you could hear the Wu-Tang influence in their beats and rhymes. The same was said for Duke01 whose rhymes were more on a deeper level. The duo gave away free copies of their EP ‘Bear Sick’ and their début album will be coming later this year. To find out more about this duo, their website are found here.

Sonny Jim and H.L.I. were the next supporting acts to step on to the stage. Both reppin their hometown Birmingham, they both had a hard act to follow. Although both gave stellar performances,  I think at this point the crowd were just rocking their heads patiently and respectfully before GZA come on stage. A worthy mention must go to Sonny Jim’s track ‘Buried Alive’. check those out on his reverbnation profile. H.L.I. have worked with the likes of Kashmere and Juice Aleem and their EP ‘Omniglyph’ is available now. You can check their facebook page here.

It was about 9.40pm and it the crowd were told that GZA would be on in 20 minutes, but as always with the main star, 20 minutes seemed like 20 hours, but then at 10.15pm, the lights go out, and the familiar Shogun Assassin opening quote would be heard through the speakers of the Birmingham Ballroom. The crowd is ready to hear the Words from the Genius. Then Mr Grice himself comes out opening the show with the intermission he has on the Clan’s ‘W’ album before he starts his Duel Of The Iron Mic. GZA keeps the crowd hype swinging his ‘Liquid Swords’ with tracks such as ‘Living In The World Today’, ‘Gold’ and ‘Swordsman’. A personal highlight was when he performed ‘Cold World’, and his interactive crowd participation kicks in. GZA does something I didn’t see coming, while I was recording him live, he suddenly takes the camera from me and films the crowd!!!!

…and suddenly GZA feels more and more into his element as the night goes on, taking smart phones from fans to take pics of himself, giving the fans the mic to finish his rhymes, and so one man, became nine, as the spirit of the rest of the clan was felt in the Birmingham Ballroom. Maximillion starts branching out, while successfully maintaining hype from the crowd, performing tracks from his lesser known albums such as ‘Animal Planet’, ‘Fame’, ‘Crash Your Crew’ and ‘Advanced Pawns’. It was not long until the crowd starts chanting for GZA’s most loved cousin, and so GZA tells the crowd to put up their ‘W’s, and that it stands for three things, Wu-Tang, Whitney Houston (Rest In Power) and Ol’ Dirty Bastard before going into ‘Brooklyn Zoo’ and ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ya’. I was hoping for ‘Damage’ but unfortunately it didn’t happen. One of Wu-Tang’s biggest hits, Triumph is now a sing along anthem thanks to Inspectah Deck.

…but the true highlight of the night was when GZA announces that he’s gonna take it back to the 36 Chambers…but I don’t think the crowd were prepared for this…He tells the crowd they best Proteck Ya Neck and he was gonna Bring Da Ruckus because he took the performance to the middle of the crowd! The crowd was swarming like killa bees, at the same time respectfully letting GZA have his space in the crowd. Security called GZA back to the stage but GZA actually said he ‘felt at home’, and remained in the crowd for a good while longer. Who’s gonna argue with him? He’s JUSTICE! Here he breaks down the Supreme ‘Alphabet’ and ignores whose ‘Knock Knock’ing on his door!

GZA closes the seemingly longer than 60 minute set with what better track than C.R.E.A.M. This had the crowd singing along yet exhausted from the surprise element of GZA interacting with the crowd with so much energy to rival Method Man. If there was a gripe I had, was that sometimes it sounded as if GZA’s mic was not turned up properly, as if it mattered anyway when the crowd knew his tracks word for word. Saying that the same could be said for the supporting acts but it wasn’t a problem at all for Ricta & Idyllic. To summarise, sometimes the best gigs are those in small venues with an intimate crowd. You might be dazzled by the pyros and the visuals of the more high-profile artists, but nothing beats your favourite MC showing the fans love in the most surprising of ways, especially in the case of GZA who usually stands back in a clan performance and lets Meth have all the limelight. On this night, GZA let his fans know that ‘I Gotcha Back’.

Photos taken courtesy of RePPiN 4U

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REST IN POWER J DILLA & BAATIN @ HARE & HOUNDS, BIRMINGHAM UK 2012

It comes once a year. Full grown adults losing their sleep, tossing and turning dreaming of the festive seazon. They put on their good garments for this one day. A special time with family and friends laughing, reminiscing singing their favourite carols, and enjoying their Donuts….what, you thought I was talking about Christmas? I’m talking about Dilla Day, Feb 10, and the biggest jam in the Midlands, the J Dilla/Baatin Rest In Power Jam hosted by A Few Good Men!

Last year the jam was a tremendous success. It still left memories in heads since then, and so A Few Good Men (E Double D, DJ Psykhomantus, DJ Rhize and the founder Roc 1) decided to hold the event again, last time the day landed on a Thursday and the night ended early. This time it would be a Friday. I was concerned that the Hare & Hounds was not able to hold the capacity crowd this time around considering the ruckus that some of those Dilla bangas can bring.

After warming up the set, the team of UK DMC finalists and champions go into the J Dilla/Baatin set at 10.30pm, and got the crowd wilding to some of the biggest tracks such as Phat Kat– Nobody Care About Us, Slum Village-Players, Jaylib-The Red and Common-Thelonius. Heads up in the dance sweating crazy!!! However the DJs had a few tricks up their sleeve…

First trick, Psykhomantus drops a Dilla scratching mix and blend that shown the crowd why he is the former UK 2009 DMC Battle of Supremacy champion, mixing Dilla bangaz such as Common’s eMC2, and Raekwon‘s House Of The Flying Daggers. Then Rhize introduces local Birmingham act Da Mighty Elements to perform a short Dilla tribute live set. Unfortunately despite their efforts to keep the crowd hype with their Dilla and SV chants and rhyming over the Illa J DFTF instrumental, I think the crowd appreciated it but just wanted to keep partying hard.

E Double D presented his video mix, beginning with the phenomenal ‘Won’t Do’ and ending it with the mosh pit classic ‘Scenario by A Tribe Called Quest’. I will risk life and limb and put boots to asses on that battlefield when those tunes drop! E Double D then announces that an extended video selection will feature in the upcoming Yo! MTV Raps tribute jam later this April in which I will certainly be attending.

These Few Good DJs go on to play classics from Craig Mack to Pharoahe Monch to Wu-Tang to rewinding all the way back to the 80s with Eric B & Rakim. So here was me beliveing that they would return to the Dilla selection and REALLY hit us with killer tracks because I would have thought that the jam would last longer, but it strangely didn’t happen. Either they forgot a lot of the tunes from last year or they actually decided to change it up this time round. Either way it was a win-win for the crowd but for me personally I was hoping for more Dilla. Even the DJs were concerned about the stability of the Hare & Hounds venue as they teased the crowd with Ghostface Killah’s Daytona 500 and they quickly switched the track saying “nah they are not ready for that!!!!” It didn’t stop them playing Raekwon’s Criminology though….

The jam ‘prematurely’ ended at 2am with the Slum Village classic anthem- Get Dis Money, and so ‘1nce Again’ I left the jam with my crew buzzing yet disgruntled that the night didn’t go on longer. Was there truth in E Double D’s joke that he made during the night that “people look tired and are not used to hip hop jams”? Whether there was or not was not of consequence. These Few Good DJ’s promised that more hip hop jams like this will happen over the course of the year which to me is great news. Now headz needn’t complain that there is nowhere to go in the Midlands hip hop wise, A Few Good Men are here to erase that doubt. As far as Mr Yancey, I sincerely hope that he is proud of how the hip hop world pays homage and sees his influence Still Shining.

Video footage are on A Few Good Men facebook page. CLICK HERE AND LIKE A FEW GOOD MEN

 

Photos courtesy of A Few Good Men, Used By Permission.

GRAM REAPER

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Gram Reaper is a hot new artist to hit the map, much to the excitement of  already sizeable army of fans. With the album out  it’s going  be a success, fame and entertainment, the exciting, new fabolous sound that the Gram Reaper & Deadly Assassins in merlin have made on their own is certain to gain interest from across the world. The development of thier unique style is the result of a lifetime of musical influence. Growing up around a talented musical family friends means that (So Naive) was always surrounded by different forms of music.

“Music is my life and first love. I am a new aspiring and upcoming artist “spittin bars  in ma sleep”! that’s my motto:) Growing up, born and raised on the East side of Rochester NY  as a child, I always loved listening to music. You can’t tell me that I wasn’t born with it in my veins. I remember when my mother use to play da oldies man  I  grown  up  hearing  great music  plus  every  one in  ma  famly  got something to  do  with it. I couldn’t go a day  without music and still can’t.  From ol’ school from Barry White, Mariah Carey, Keith Sweat & Usher, But now I stay in a studio somewhere listening to my new joints and try to make something happen.

I just got to be around music. I always had a good ear for a good beat, hot lyrics and let’s not forget some strong bass. I not only have to listen to music, I have to feel it as well. I usually drown everything out around me and zone out, with a ‘Do Not Disturb sound’ written across my face. I always do it, I  live it, sh!t  I  am  hip  hop  I  have been  through  so much  in  ma  life  it’s  a  move  in  still  going  throw  it some day. I have gotta be on  top  man,  pass  da  top  in  do  sh!t  better  then  a  lot  of  fakes  out  there, you  now who you  are  still  (lol). Now I thank God  for giving me the anointed gift of music,  but  real  talk  when  someone tells you that you  have  a  gift  in  something  take  heed in  it  in go  throw  in  do   whatever  you  can  to make   sh!t  happen  you don’t  wanna  do  things  at  the  last  moment  like me, see I’m one of them cats you fakes write about and talk about in your rhymes, but you know what, I ain’t gon’ stand for it no mo’ it’s time for real g’s to  stand  up  Deadly  Assassins  let’s  do  this! It’s  time  we  dead  these  fake  mc’s   and  wannabe’s!  Holla  at ya  boy  if u  wanna collab,  you  can  reach  me  at  585-325-4141  ma  yahoo’s  assassin39ssincdeadly@yahoo.com  or zp4405@yahoo.com  ONE!”

“YO! WHAT’S GOOD? .. .I NEED YOUR SUPPORT ..”

You can find the full profile and have a preview listen of his tracks here on Reverbnation
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THANKS IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR SUPPORT …
this ma blog get at me http://gramreper.blogspot.com/…………