THE INFAMOUS…HAVOC & BIG NOYD LIVE @2FunkyMusicCafe, Leicester November 2, 2017!

REVIEW WRITTEN BY MICHAEL GRANT, C.E.O. of RePPiN4U, International Rep for Wu Worldwide DJ Coalition

HISTORY WAS MADE ON THIS NIGHT.

Sometimes I wonder, had the tragedy that came to pass on June 20, 2017 not happen, would this night have happened?

Sure, had Prodigy ‘not choke on an egg’ as media reported, there is no doubt they would have sold out the 2Funky Music Cafe in Leicester, but this was a special night. Firstly big Havoc Big Noydshout out to friend of RePPiN4U – Big Twins, who was on the original line up, but for reasons unknown to RePPiN4U, he was taken off the flyer. In his place, The Infamous…Big Noyd. upon hearing this news on the lead up to the show, not only was the anticipation increased with fans, but it also landed on Prodigy’s birthday. This would be the first Mobb Deep show in the UK without Prodigy in the physical, and on his birthday no less. They would perform in Bristol & London following this, but that extra birthday spirit may not have been there like Leicester had. Not just that, but also learning of Havoc’s reaction upon hearing about Prodigy’s passing, this night may not have happened at all, we could have lost both, and Hip Hop may have never recovered from that. Hip Hop still has the war wounds of Dilla, Sean Price, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Phife Dawg, Baatin and so much more.

Personally this is the first time I have seen this at a Hip Hop gig, but it’s definitely something that should be encouraged at every show: Big shout out to the catering company which Shakezpeare and the NGE (New Golden Era) crew laid on for the crowd. Supplying currygoat, rice, fried chicken coleslaw, dumplings while the night progressed was GENIUS. Because I got the ‘John Witherspoon’ guts, I was very careful with my selection of food… kept well away from the hot sauce I tell ya (Too Much Information)

Shout out to DJ Predator Prime for supplying the music while the crowd was in chill mode. Always a pleasure to hear good hip hop selection and not just the 90s anthems being played.

Again, it could be an observation going by my last outing at 2Funky Music Cafe, but they seemed to have learned from not putting on so many opening acts before the main event. The Sky Walker Crew kicked off the show making their Darth Vader entrance, and had a short but entertaining set, including their big black history anthem ‘Bloodline’ which received a great response from the crowd.

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Photo taken courtesy of Limitless Vision & New Golden Era Records

Next up was resident MC – Shakezpeare, who always ups his game each time he performs. Starting his set with his counteraction to the Deep Cover track, this is the third time I have seen him live, and this time he took his performance into the crowd and made the entire 2Funky Music Cafe his stage performing hits like ‘They’re Full of Sh!t’, ‘Top Boy’ and ‘That I Know’. If DJ L.E.S. tells Shakezpeare he is going on with big things – best believe that’s the truth.

L.E.S. warms the crowd up with some big anthems, and then cleverly switches to the biggest tunes from Queensbridge, before Big Noyd runs onto the stage like he’s doing the long jump. The energy this man had was amazing, especially when he drops one of his biggest hits – Recognize & Realize, which had the capacity crowd going wild and begging for a rewind! (Side note – the day I left school in 1996, Recognize & Realize Part 1 & 2 was my #1 favourite tune at the time) so this had a special place in my heart.

Fifteen minutes later Havoc bursts on the stage starting the party with ‘Survival of the Fittest’. Make no mistake – this was NOT a concert, this was NOT a performance. This was a straight party dedicated to the birthday boy – Prodigy with both guys (and in some cases – the crowd) reciting the necessary Prodigy verses. The party was a straight

Mobb Deep Vijay Mistry

Photo courtesy of Vijay Mistry

rollercoaster of big tunes, I personally loved the fact that the last time I was at 2Funky, Kool G Rap performed ‘The Realest’, it felt like this time, Havoc & Noyd presented their side of the story on the same track.

I also liked the fact that Havoc went out to perform some big tunes from their 2014 album, and the crowd went along and kept up with the pace. You name the Mobb Deep hit, Havoc & Noyd performed it, with the exception of anything from the Juvenile Hell album which may have been the night’s only criticism. That would have really shown Havoc & Noyd who was REALLY down with Mobb Deep.

Despite that minor point, the celebration ended as powerful as it started with Mobb Deep’s biggest hits – Quiet Storm & Shook Ones Pt II. No tune can go after Shook Ones Pt II especially after letting that beat ride out.

HISTORY WAS MADE ON THIS NIGHT.

What a night this was, and will never be duplicated. My deepest sympathies go out to those who couldn’t make it to the show under their own power. I cannot speak for Bristol & London but Havoc & Noyd announced that because it was Prodigy’s birthday, they were staying to embrace their fans, and boy did they ever. They were taking pictures with everyone in sight, and special shout out to Big Noyd himself, who pretty much became Rapper Noyd AND Prodigy on stage. He was unbelievable. Prodigy looked upon Leicester from the heavens and gave that extra energy. Big Noyd gathered many of us together and spoke to us on a level about communicating with each other more in the age of social media when having phones in our hands reigns supreme, and also he shared his regrets with us when he spoke about Prodigy trying to school him about the Illuminati and what was in store when he admitted to laughing it off. I dare say many of us (myself included) had a feeling of regret as well, as some of us had never seen Mobb Deep live up until this point, and the reality that we will never see Prodigy, which is why shows like this, I encourage you to see your favourite artists live, because you just never know.

Infamous Grant & Infamous Havoc

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GHOSTFACE KILLAH LIVE @O2 ACADEMY, BIRMINGHAM SEPT 22, 2017!

REVIEW WRITTEN BY MICHAEL GRANT, C.E.O. of RePPiN4U

I WAS GONE FOR 28 SEASONS.

The reason I say that, is because somewhere between July 2010 when I witnessed (in my mind) the greatest show ever in Nas & Damian Marley in the O2 Academy, I return to the same venue, and things have changed.

Ghostface Killah Bham

The first time, I saw my favourite artist of all time with MF DOOM. The Theodore Unit, Killah Priest and MF DOOM himself recited a verse each of Triumph.

The second time, I saw my favourite artist of all time with Sheek Louch of The Lox, it was great to hear a combination of Wu-Block hits, before that unthinkable moment when I took a pic with the Supreme Clientele Champion himself.

This is the third time. This time closer to home, to enjoy the show with my peoples. This time I had no idea what to expect apart from – it would be different from the past two shows I had been to, AND IT WAS. In some ways, not in the way that I would have liked.

My initial arrival to the O2 Academy had me in disbelief, two hours before doors opening and there was already a queue. Initial thoughts were – this could be history right here, until I looked up at the display…’Ghostface Killah & Machine Gun Kelly’. Prior to this the flyer read ‘Ghostface Killah & special guests’… so imagine my horror thinking we had to go through a set with him, not saying he’s not a great artist but rather not a fan of and what RePPiN4U doesn’t necessarily support.

Fast forward three hours later, it turns out there were two separate shows so I could remember Machine Gun Kelly the way I want to remember him… Observe…

GRANT BODY-P!

I was also stunned at the security for taking my HD video camcorder away from me at the doors, which explains this article’s use of video footage from other uploaders. Locked away in a safe, RePPiN4U were unable to bring you highlights on this rare occasion, and also may be a lesson learned.

The real special guests were in fact Joe Young, who opened the show. A very humble dude and great guy, he knew he was very new to the scene, he gave the crowd a heads up that tunes performed from his Invincible Armour album feature his fellow Wu-Brethen, and the crowd accepted that fact.

Next up was an artist from Liverpool named MC Nels0n (Nelson Idama), a good artist, great rhymes, great selection of beats, but there were a few problems – the main one being his mic – the crowd couldn’t get the clarity of his rhymes like the beat overpowered his voice, but the sound engineers quickly rectified that. What we heard was a guy who concentrated hard to remember every line, but he sounded stoic and needed to work on his stage presence. The Birmingham crowd were lenient, because London crowd would have booed him off stage. I have seen artists better than him booed of stage in London viciously.

After a great 90s Hip Hop set with some recent hits thrown in to keep the crowd hype, a few short performances from other artists including a hot looking female MC whose name we couldn’t catch because of the noise made by guys and catching snaps of the hot pants wearing chick on their phones…

The plate throwing clan member finally jumped on stage with Killah Priest at 9:20pm and started his rollercoaster set with hits like Mighty Healthy, We Made It, Ice Cream before jumping into ‘Eye For An Eye’ in tribute to Prodigy.

 

The rollercoaster continued into the classic 1993/1995 cuts such as Chessboxing, 4th Chamber, and an alternate and interesting version of Knowledge God.

Ghost continues the tradition of remembering ODB, and inviting two people on stage to recite Method Man’s verse and ODB’s verse of Protect Ya Neck. Yes I admit to bottling the opportunity, but if Ghost invited me to recite Raekwon’s verse of Apollo Kids then not only would it be a different story, I’m sure Ghost would be even more impressed…but I digress…

One dude stepped up as you will see in the video below, but unknown to us – Ghost had a secret weapon – Numi Sic’Nis – who went IN on Method Man’s verse! Not just that – she singlehandedly performed the whole Triumph track (minus Ghost verse) – she just kept on going and Ghost himself became her hype man! Simply another example of how humble Ghost is – he could have told the DJ to stop the track but nope!

Just before the show closed out with Triumph, Ghost asked the fans what track they wanna hear him perform, after mad confusion from different requests – my friend requested any track from ‘BadBadNotGood’ (which would have been a unique pick) and there I was screaming ‘Apollo Kids’ – but ultimately Gravel Pit, Run and Daytona 500 got the win.

40 minutes later – just like that – it was all over. So unexpected, disappointing knowingGhostface Bhams (2) the last two shows I was at – he went a lot longer… only defense was that Ghost does like to embrace his fans and that he did – signed autographs on T-Shirts for a good hour. Maybe it was a decision made to comply with the possible curfew of 11pm…

THE SAGA CONTINUES

Now this is what I mean – I was gone for 28 Seasons. In 2010, Nas & Damian Marley – they were on at least 90 minutes and they finished at midnight. 2017, Ghost finished at 10pm – something happened in between that time for O2 Academy to change their policies…

Make no mistake – Ghostface Killah & Killah Priest (with help from Numi) rocked the joint for 40 minutes straight – no slow down, it was one after the other. It was a crash course in big tune.

Onwards and Upwards to October 13 – to normal jabronies, that’s a day the need to watch where they walk if they believe in superstition. For Hip Hop fans and especially Wu-Tang fans, its sword swinging season once again and it will be curtains for their mumble rhyming enemies.

 

KOOL G RAP LIVE @ 2Funky Music Cafe, Leicester UK June 28, 2017

REVIEW BY MICHAEL GRANT, C.E.O. of RePPiN4U

1992: I was but a 12-year-old. Missed an entire year of secondary education. The stories about my cousin’s cassette tapes, are legendary. To my knowledge he still has them. A lot of tunes I used to rock to but never knew who the artists were and it wasn’t all the time I was exposed to Yo! MTV Raps. Ill Street Blues was one of those tunes. The man responsible was in the UK in 1992, rocked every crowd possible, left, and was not seen in the UK again….

UNTIL NOW.

Kool G Rap Live2017: ‘Mumble Rap’ reigned supreme. Grime is misunderstood in America as UK Hip Hop, some fans just couldn’t give a DAMN despite Kendrick’s continuous effects to push boundaries, while others were stuck in 2001 playing Ether while sleeping at 4:44am. This has called for the Don himself to return, your rapper’s favourite rapper, the man who Nas said wrote the Hip Hop bible. The people of Leicester and surrounding areas came together to witness history. Kool G Rap, new album in tow, rocking the UK for the first time in 25 years.

The 2Funky Music Cafe’s strategy of exposing as much local talent as possible are a bit hit & miss. The show started with a Polish Hip Hop group whose name I didn’t quite catch unfortunately, A lot of what they performed was in their respective language and whatever they were saying in their lyrics – they meant it. Massive props go out to them as the UK continues to become more multi cultural and those who support Brexit for the wrong reasons cannot stop the power of Hip Hop.

Trademark Blud followed alongside DJ Tricksta and dropped an impressive 20 minute set. His ferocious delivery over tongue in cheek like beats and political subject matter left the crowd wishing he could have been on a little longer. If an opening act gives you that feeling, you are going places.

Leicester’s own Shakezpeare & DJ Roll Blunt were determined to top Trademark Blud’s performance, and They did. Even with sound check problems which Shakezpeare easily overcame by dropping hot freestyles like a professional, and that is what Hip Hop is about, to be able to adapt in any situation. His mission was a simple one – make sure his performance was so on point that no one apart from G Rap could follow him. Were Galaxy High from Sweden up for the challenge?

This is the part where I shed sympathy for Galaxy High, what I saw were two talented emcees who struggled to keep the crowd rocking which brings me to my point earlier: Too many opening acts may have been hit or miss, or maybe Galaxy High were positioned wrong in the line up sequence, or maybe the crowd were just ready for G Rap, it was the middle of the week, some may have had to commute the following morning, maybe 4 opening acts might be overkill. It is understandable in one aspect, keeping the crowd waiting for the main event for too long can also be a disadvantage.

15 minutes before G Rap took the stage, it was up to DJ Anthony Mace to set it, and it doesn’t start any better with a series of Mobb Deep tracks to remember Prodigy. The time when G Rap finally jumped on stage was the time the show was scheduled to finish according to Facebook which proves when it comes to gigs you cannot believe what Facebook says by gospel.

Performing the biggest tracks like ‘Take Em to War’, ‘Ill Street Blues’, ‘Streets Of New York’ & ‘Fast Life,’ the Don showed he never lost it. He takes time out to remember Prodigy in his own way by performing ‘The Realest’, in which Prodigy featured, and G Rap reveals a true story on stage of how Prodigy impacted him.

 

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Photo courtesy of @Kip1979_kipp on twitter

An interesting moment was when G Rap performed ‘First N!&&@’. Many of us know the DJ Premier produced version but on this night the Dr.Dre version was blasting through 2Funky Music Cafe’s airwaves before a capacity crowd.

 

The Don closes out his 45 minute set with one of his newest singles from the Return Of the Don album – Wise Guys which features Freeway and Lil Fame of M.O.P. The crowd response was greater than I imagined, as usually a predominately 90s Hip Hop orientated crowd look a bit confused and unfamiliar, but that was not the case here.

Admittedly Kool G Rap was not on my essential ‘see live’ list but looking at it in

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Photo courtesy of @Kip1979_kipp on twitter

retrospect, I’m glad I did see him live. Leicester saw history before their very eyes on this night, and G Rap’s time was yours – he embraced his fans and engaged in full conversation after the show, taking pictures and signing memorabilia, even with Prodigy’s memorial service which took place the following day.

 

Massive respect and salutations to The NGE (New Golden Era) massive and crew for looking out for a brother. They are some good dudes right there, just don’t front on them! Last person who did that got BLAOW! In their mouth corner! Others talk about it while they live it and that’s the Hip Hop we support over here.

Take a bow Kool G Rap! He’s Out For That Life!

 

DE LA SOUL LIVE @O2 Insitute, BIRMINGHAM – MARCH 3, 2017!

WRITTEN BY MICHAEL GRANT, C.E.O. OF RePPiN4U

HISTORY IN THE MAKING.

At this time, I feel bad for the people who did not make this show. I shouldn’t, but I do. In the early part of this decade, De La Soul were teasing signs of a long-awaited return to give fans that well needed fresh air… first the Dilla EP, then they had their ‘tribute’ to the Wu-Tang Clan, which I had to put in quotes because it was the true tribute, but was overshadowed by a certain Canadian light-skinned, high-pitched voice artist whose unnamedso-called tribute was about checking a girl in a club (??????) and wanted to ‘controller’ from the ‘Hotline Bling’. Then they proved that they still ‘God It’ with Nas. South Park poked fun at the Kickstarter concept, but one good thing came out of it – De La Soul’s new album ‘And The Anonymous Nobody’. What do you think was going to come next? An impending tour.

The news broke about the tour in the later months of 2016… yeah you know, that year which was ridden with celebrity deaths, the UK’s decision to leave the EU, and the end of the Obama era going into the Trump era. So many people caught up in all of that, and De La Soul were more concerned about coming to the UK. I rephrase the opening statement. a part of me feels bad for those who did not make the show…

De La Soul arrived on British shores, and met a woman with bad wind whose name was ‘Doris’. They are used to hurricanes, rain hail snow and earthquakes… they were not about to be fazed by someone named DORIS????

Entering the sold out O2 institute a little before 8:15pm and Jungle Brown took the stage for a lengthy 45 minute set, which was well deserved because these guys had an impressive track record of artist openings. The likes of Big Daddy Kane and Ghostface Killah to name a few is more of a who’s who. Performing their big tunes including H.I.S.T.O.R.Y, their style complemented the main attraction and the audience without having to pull out the secret weapon of the crowd cheering along to the disapproval of mumble rap.

In between sets was very unusual, there was no DJ in between to keep the crowd hype for 30 minutes while waiting on the arrival of the trio. The weird thing about that was the 30 minutes flew by, well at least in my mind.

Not a second after 9:30pm, DJ Strike takes the turntables and announces that DJ Maseo was not in effect which was a shame, but Posdnous and Dave jumped on stage!

NOTE TO SELF: ALWAYS BUY A STANDING TICKET. EVEN IF YOU HAVE PHYSICAL DIFFICULTIES.

Performing their signature hits such as ‘Oooh’, ‘Much More’ and ‘Stakes Is High’, they took a moment to stop and acknowledge the six people sitting upstairs and ridiculed them all in good fun. Now while I found this entertaining and hilarious as did everybody else, I seem to recall a certain ‘college dropout’ who was associated with a woman who engaged in carnal activity and put it out for the world to see, getting cursed out by social media for doing the same thing.  Just goes to show what we are like behind our devices.

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Photo courtesy of Mr Keyes

Another great highlight was Pos & Dave acknowledging J Dilla, Phife Dawg and Sean Price, but they feel the same way as Busta Rhymes when they proclaim why we as people appreciate people more after they gone rather than while they are here. Busta said that and I agree 100-1000! Unless I’m a true fan of someone I’m not quick to throw YouTube videos all over my timeline when somebody returns to the essence!

HISTORY ABOUT TO UNFOLD…

However Birmingham was not ready for the element of surprise and maybe the biggest highlight of the night. Just after performing a verse or two of ‘Buddy’, Pos & Dave big up all their fellow Native Tongues. Unknowing to most, Black Sheep Dres was lying in wait! Birmingham is not used to surprise guests coming through to blaze the stage. Usually that honor goes to London or Manchester. In a capacity crowd full of people of all ages, it was the 40 and over portion of the crowd in complete disbelief and comprehending who they are witnessing on stage performing their favourite hits. When it came to ‘The Choice is Yours’ however…the younger portion of the audience were about to be schooled…

For 20 years, I had been clubbing, and the DJs would always play the same tired songs, particularly that Faith Evans/FatMan Scoop track. Easily top 5 all-time club classic yet annoying track. On this day, I was proud to see the younger audience finally realising that the voice behind ‘Engine Engine #9’ was standing in front of them and bringing the true essence. Yes it might have took them a moment to realise the part with FatMan Scoop asks

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Photo courtesy of Mr Keyes

‘who’s f**k!n tonight’ was not coming! Dres & De La had the whole capacity crowd laying low anticipating to jump up after ‘pick it up, pick it up!’ during said portion of the song apart from one person with a glaring white coat on who De La single-handedly pointed out in ridicule! This is an old school jam! Not your usual show where all the stars can see on stage were your phones! (Even though that happened too…standard procedure!)

Usually the surprise guest will leave the stage after their moment but not Dres, and De La wouldn’t want it any other way. He became their unofficial hype man for the remainder of the night, but at 10:15pm I don’t know who De La were fooling trying to say goodbye and peace to the crowd after performing ‘Saturday’ and leaving the stage…  nobody budged. De La realised the crowd were not taking the bait and came back out. Finally finishing on ‘Me Myself & I’ and ‘Name & Number’, De La & Dres closed their hour set…

MEMORY OF…(US)

As I constantly hum the track featuring Estelle while gathering my closing thoughts, even if the show went on for another 30 minutes, it would not be enough to cover three decades of great innovative music from De La Soul, so yes, I’m guessing everyone left the O2 Institute with a bittersweet feeling of what track they wanted De La to perform. In my case, being the current purist I am, I wanted to hear at least ‘Pain’ or ‘Royalty Capes’ from the new album. Or ‘I C Y’all’ from AOI. Being as it was a sold out event, I was surprised, disappointed and almost remorseless towards those who couldn’t make it. Yes I feel bad for them but as I write this, the remorse level decreases. On this night, I witnessed history. Two acts for the price of one, and I knew of this show in the closing months of 2016… so to that I say this to quote a De La Soul hook: “If money makes a man strange, we have to re-arrange that…”

 

DOM PACHINO LIVE @2Funky Music Cafe, January 29, 2017!

REVIEW WRITTEN BY MICHAEL GRANT,  C.E.O. of RePPiN4U

August 5, 1997. The day Wu-Tang fans around the world was about to experience the flood RZA was talking about on a Tim Westwood show. We had come to an end of the Abbott’s five-year plan. What was coming next from Hip Hop’s most influential collective? A six-man SWAT team called Killarmy. Their debut album Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars, dom-pachino-leicestercontinued the signature Wu-Tang Sound but instead of Shaolin Kung Fu film samples, it was war movie quotes headed by producer 4th Disciple. Along with Sunz Of Man & Shyheim, Killarmy remain one of the most well-known of Wu-Tang affiliates.

Fast Forward 20 years later, and we see Killarmy’ Voltron break down into the lions and have become their own generals in their own right. Dom Pachino a.k.a. P.R. Terrorist in particular has learned from his Wu-Tang brethren, spawned a clothing line, launched Napalm recordings and has his own array of ammunition in artists including Bugzy Da God who performed with him live in the 2Funky Music Cafe in Leicester.

Massive shout out to PC The Producer of FATP (From Across The Pond UK Hip Hop Show) and part of the RePPiN4U administration for opening the night with a unique twist – instead of the usual 90s Hip Hop classics played by most DJs (which is appreciated, by the way) he played a selection of UK Hip Hop and Wu-affiliate cuts which was a true testament to the heads in attendance who travelled from the likes of Nottingham, Wales, all the way from Sweden, and all showed their love to the man who has put UK Hip Hop on his back.

PC would then be joined by DJ Roll Blunt who rallied the fans in attendance as the opening act – Shakezpeare stormed the stage with his high-octane energy and ferocious delivery on the mic performing his set including the Bronze Nazareth produced ‘Train Of Thought’

Half an hour later Bugzy Da God comes through and keeps the momentum going. It wasn’t necessary to use this technique, but Bugzy hit the crowd with his disdain for mumble dps-2rap/trap music by performing ‘Nail In the Coffin’ which is his switch up of Common’s ‘Sweet’. That secret weapon always works. Bugzy was firing on all cylinders with requested 4th Disciple produced tracks, and just in case a few people started to rub their eyes or hide their yawns with their hands, Dom Pachino came out all blazing saddles, telling people to Wake the f- up. Terrorizing his way through his hits, most notably ‘Problem Child’, which he explains is a very personal record, and ‘Napalm’, which is a single with a sure-fire video waiting to dps-1happen from his P.R. Terrorist Vs Dom Pachino project. With the crowd reluctant to go home and even management caught up in the vibe, the 11pm curfew was thrown out the window but Dom ended the set with the track which put Killarmy on the map in the first place – Wu-Renegades.

There were a few hiccups along the way with the decks not playing certain tracks but the professionalism of the performers knew when it was time to drop killer a capella freestyles, which is the backbone to a real emcee. The crowd turnout was also less than anticipated, but maybe it was for the better. After all – like Raekwon says – this show was ‘Only Built 4 Cuban Linx’ and with that in mind Dom, Bugzy and Shakespeare performed like it was a capacity crowd in Glastonbury. That has to be respected.

Look for the coming RePPiN4U Exclusive interview with myself, Dom & Bugzy elsewhere in this blog!

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All photographs taken courtesy of KULVADER PHOTOGRAPHY

 

 

KRS-ONE Live @Institute Birmingham JULY 14, 2016

REVIEW BY MICHAEL GRANT, C.E.O. OF RePPiN4U

“Let’s redo America’s infrastructure, beginning with the mirror, let’s start this summer…” KRS-One, From The Beginning Again, 2015

I had a question for KRS-One regarding this track at the q&a session earlier that day, and never got that chance. I wanted to know how he felt about the UK infrastructure… and I guess that would have been another show altogether. Prior to this, I heard the stories, that KRS hold nothing back on his shows and keeps it 100% Hip Hop. Not only did I want to find out for myself, but to see if anyone had the grapefruits to call the Teacha a ‘sellout’ because he was seemingly defending Afrika Bambaatta.

KRS ONE BHAMAs always massive props to VJ EDoubled & Mad Flow for warming up the set. What sets them apart from other DJ/MCs is they don’t just play the dope 90s hip hop anthems, they also bring their comedic antics and wit to the turntables. Notable moments were Edoubled teasing the crowd and locking off Pharoahe Monch’s Simon Says at the precise moment, exposing the crowd’s inability to recite classic lyrics and threatening to play some Drake… even though that was met with emphatic NO’S from the crowd, (and that was women alone!) it didn’t stop Edoubled spinning a bit of George Michael with Mad Flow freestyling over it! Edoubled will play pop tunes without hesitation all for the sake of entertainment and you cannot hate on that!

Massive shout out to the Break Mission dance crew , they stepped their b-boy game up knowing the Blastmaster was in the building. Shout out to Birmingham’s own Malik of MD7 & RTKal who never disappointed with his short set and a stellar performance, particularly when he went in with ‘A Dream Within A Dream’. He probably meant that literally and figuratively sharing the same stage with one of the greatest hip hop pioneers.

How does KRS cram in a 30+ year career into a 2 hour set? The only way he knew how. Storming the set with his biggest hits – Step Into A World, MCs Act Like They Don’t Know and South Bronx respectively, taking Break Mission’s skills to the limits, then demonstrating the true art of hip hop: freestyling off the dome, here he cleverly rhymes about the crowd filming him (myself included) and not coming to just enjoy the show but puts a twist on it, encouraging the crowd to film him as he speaks about technology ruining our society.

A great moment in the show occurred when KRS went full Teacha mode with ‘American Flag’, another great chess move here, 100% of the crowd were fully in tune with the lyrics spoken in the record, but the unfortunate likelihood might be that 85% of fans may not be aware of the new album ‘Now Hear This’ of which the track is featured, unless of course they purchased the physical copy of the album on the way out.

KRS channels his Caribbean upbringing in the track ‘Invaders’, he knew given the UK’S musical diversity and his audience’ most of which in the building have already celebrated their 25th birthday – he would be able to capture the vibe.

With all the hostility against the police in recent times, it’s no wonder that when the sirens hit and it was the Sound of Da Police, the roof blew off the Birmingham Institute… KRS closes his epic two-hour set by and dropped a freestyle off the dome uplifting not only his black people but also his white people as well, and it ended with him not even speaking in the mic and declaring himself a ‘just turned 50 year old.’

KRS ONE TELL EM

PRESS: Why don’t you have bodyguards, you know, like the other guys do?

GHOSTFACE KILLAH: Because I don’t need them muthaf***as. God is my Bodyguard… (The Pretty Toney Album, 2004)

Usually the performer will bow their head and say peace to the crowd, not KRS. His final words were ‘I’m coming into the crowd and taking pictures with everybody!’ Not a bodyguard or security in sight, KRS embraced the crowd in a Selfie frenzy. Yes this is the same man who earlier in the night said ‘technology is ruining our society’… he is right in one sense, because today I scroll my news feed and I see people turning their backs on KRS for his remarks on Afrika Bambaatta. But I can say this: If those same people said that on social media were in the Birmingham Institute, they were killing themselves just to get a selfie with the legend. I’ll leave you with that thought.

On This Night, KNOWLEDGE REIGNED SUPREME OVER NO-DOUBTEDLY EVERYONE.

 

 

INTIMATE Q&A WITH KRS-ONE @Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham UK JULY 14, 2016

REVIEW BY MICHAEL GRANT – C.E.O. OF RePPiN4U

“When you walk up to opportunities door, don’t just knock it… kick that b!tch in, smile and introduce yourself…” Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

On this day, that very quote was learned on many levels. Over here in the UK, especially in the West Midlands, we often gripe about our promoters not getting artists to perform in Birmingham. More often than not they usually appear in London and not everybody can get down there due to priorities and commitments. B.U.T. an event like this??? All that is thrown out the window. Miss an event like this, it’s on you. But fear not, RePPiN4U was in attendance, and captured a third of the show on camera.

krs one qa

I say a third because it’s a minor gripe I had with the show. It was meant to start at 3pm on the dot, and even BPT (Black People Time) was not to blame for this – Black People were at the Old Rep Theatre in Birmingham waiting from 2:36pm! A man such as KRS-One with so much knowledge to give to the people, two hours isn’t long enough. The Teacha turned up on stage an hour later. Not his fault but the organizers. It wasn’t like the audience grew impatient – they didn’t at all, but if it was our new Prime Minister Theresa May, if she begins her speech at 3pm, SHE BEGINS at 3pm and not a minute later.

God bless the blastmaster – before the session began he notified the journalist and the audience that he can ramble on so feel free to cut him at any given time… again, a pioneer such as KRS-One, you DON’T want to cut him out of respect, and he’s that guy that belongs in a small club of people who you could listen to all day and hang on to his every word.

Some of the things KRS speaks on, fans may already know, but to hear it live and in person is such a pleasure to behold. Highlights include his humble beginnings as a homeless person who sought help from his social worker who turned  out to be a hip hop fanatic, going on to form Boogie Down Productions. Then he went on to break down the concept of his first album ‘Criminal Minded’, the impact of the song ‘South Bronx’, and how Brooklyn was heavily habited by people of all Caribbean backgrounds which explains the influence in his music.

A particular favourite moment of mine was when he told a story of how his mother raised a young Lawrence Krishna Parker. He and his brother were playing basketball in the neighbourhood, when a taller, older kid confronted him and tried to bully him off the court, not only did a young Lawrence stand up to him, but he also defended himself and sent the bully home crying. In a twist, his moms would collar him for fighting with fists, but rather, fight with words, and it has become something he learned later in life as did I when he told the story.

Another great subject he spoke on added on from the #BlackLivesMatter movement. KRS brought up a good point that today’s 20-year old hip hop artist will come with an anthem which addresses that and will be remembered for years or decades to come and he guaranteed it. There has been a lot of great tracks that have come out recently in light of the events of Philando Castle and Alton Sterling, but mostly from established artists in which have been featured in recent RePPiN4U Hip Hop Radio shows on Wild1 Radio / BDSIR Network – (cheap plug but it’s not because I pay those bills) so with that said ‘here’s looking at you AFRO’…

He goes on to add-on from what Chris Rock was saying about black actors in Hollywood at the Grammys this year. Awards are given for great films like 12 Years a Slave and Training Day, but not even nominations for powerful films like Malcolm X. Why is that?

But the moment which everybody had paid their £5 for had come with the Afrika Bambaatta controversy. The audience’s ears were wide open for this, and KRS knew this subject would come up without coming up, it started from a question from a young lady in the audience regarding sexual violence in hip hop, and it led to this. KRS stands by his statement about not caring less because it was accusations and nothing to do with Bambaatta as a hip hop icon but as a human being, but went on to say if proven guilty Bambaatta would be dealt with. Here the journalist tried to challenge him but KRS was fully prepared. The journalist admitted defeat as she turned to the audience for another question to which the audience had to applaud KRS-One’s resiliency.

krs one police jewel

Which brings us to the epilogue of this review. The other minor gripe I had was that the event was unintentionally misleading. It was titled a ‘Q&A’ session. On a fans perspective, we felt we did not get the opportunities to ask the MC who is 1,2,3,4,and 5 questions (myself included), only two did, and they got an exclusive DVD of KRS’ teachings, this was because the host journalist may have gotten carried away with her questions which seemed 5 minutes long for the Teacha to digest. On a journalist standpoint, you have one of the greatest minds in hip hop history sitting opposite you, you will seize that opportunity to show your intelligence and ask him questions after all the research done and to her credit she did a tremendous job, but to fans it felt more of an intimate interview with KRS-One than a Q&A session and the journalist may have been out to establish herself, to that I cannot blame her – I would do the same. Also to her credit she may have covered subjects which we the audience would have asked him anyway.

Going back to Dwayne The Rock Johnson’s quote, an event like this may not happen for a long time, especially with an MC who made his 7th visit to the UK. Not much when you consider a veteran with a 30+ year musical career whereas other MCs have come to the UK more times who have been in the game not even half as much.

Props to Punch Records and Birmingham Music Scene for putting this together. Here is hoping for more events like this in the future.