The increased ammount of nights, releases and press UK hip hop acts are currently receiving isn’t the only positive effect of the boom in this little culture of ours we’re currently benefiting from. With more heads, promoters and publicity in general knocking about, the ammount of overseas artists hitting our fine shores recently has also been, frankly, ridiculous. With Phife, Immortal Technique, Premier, Pete Rock & CL Smooth and Doom all touching down in London town over the last couple of months, we’ve been spoilt for choice, leaving our mind state high and out wallet states low.
As if to put the cherry on the cake, Wordplay Magazine and Will Not Be Televised teamed up last night (7th November 2012) to book the mighty Lord Finesse, of the infamous Diggin’ in the Crates crew. I’d been told Lord Finesse’s stage show is on point, but no amount of accolade and praise for the mighty producer/DJ/MC could prepare me for the pure volume of education the funky technician dropped on Cargo club out in Shoreditch. With Boogie Blind (of the Executioners) blessing the decks behind him (and the mic in fact, with an outgoing and at times hilarious stage presence) they literally put on a lesson in rocking a raised platform.
First though, we arrived just in time to catch Glastonbury owls BVA and Leaf Dog. I’ve sung their praise plenty of times before and I’m sure there’s no need to say it again, but these two just work together on stage in a way that no one but tight friends can. If you think they pop up on this website an awful lot, it’s because they also pop up in hip hop in general an awful lot, two absolute troopers that fully rep for the UK wherever they go and are helping to elevate our scene no end. Although the Cargo crowd, in typical London style, were fairly unreceptive, they still put everything into it and, with a lot of heads in the place who were obviously more up on their US material, no doubt left with a few new fans. Living and breathing boom bap.
The dull crowd problem quickly changed though, when Manchester’s Estate Recordings/Broke N English DJ Konny Kon stepped up to the decks, pulling out US classic after classic from (would you believe it) a real vinyl bag. Although he was having a bit of trouble with skippy vinyl which seemed to upset his game at the start, he got more and more comfortable as the set went on and tunes from Biggie, Wu and all the usual suspects had the middle section bouncing like a herd of hoodied up kangaroos.
After a short twenty minutes though, the crowd began to point and whisper as he swapped places with Boogie Blind, who instantly asserted his stage presence even from the back of it, utilizing his mic to hype up the crowd with a “here comes the funky technician” chant, at which point the man everyone had been waiting for eventually swaggered into view. I mentioned earlier how much they schooled the crowd, and without you being there it’s hard for me to fully explain the sheer class of their act, but I guess I’m obliged to try…..
Firstly, the simple ease in the way Finesse holds a mic. Even when spitting his faster flows, he never seems short of breath and just straight jams on stage, putting pitch perfect delivery out across the room as if it’s nothing. Then there’s the fact that they’re both very entertaining guys. From crowd mockery, through banter between them about Boogie Blind’s increasingly liquored up state (which in no way effected performance) to somehow finding new angles for age old rants against the autotune hip hop of today, it almost became a stand up at times.
They’re also humble though, shouting out Wu and plenty of other crews along the way. Finesse’s story of how he met Big L (RIP) and began rolling with him made for good knowledge, and brings me on to one of my favourite sections of the show, Big L tunes! Taking more of a backseat for a little bit, Finesse let Boogie Blind chop his way through a mix of Big L classics, occasionally spitting verses alongside, to a sea of L’s from the crowd in the midst of a pretty incredible, although bittersweet, homage to the departed rhymer. Some may call this lazy, I’ve heard people in the past get irate about performers simply playing tunes from other artists, but in this case you’d definitely be chatting Belgian’s finest waffles. For while Finnesse was billed from 10:40-11:30, he started near enough on time and didn’t finish till 1:00, extending his show out of sheer love for the craft.
Having worked through material, more or less chronologically, from all of his albums, they began delving deeper into the discography with remixes and guest verses, Finesse seemingly having an encyclopedic knowledge of his bars to any tune Boogie Blind decided to cut in. They were literally just having fun in that infectious way that means the crowd can’t help but join in. Finesse stepping behind the decks for a beat juggling battle with Boogie in which they switched places every bar was simply nuts, and he said it himself, after admitting defeat to Boogie, when he exclaimed “No rapper, no fuck that, no MC, rocks it on the decks like I do“. Another nice little gimmick was getting someone up from the crowd to be his hype man and adlib a tune for him. When BVA appeared onto the stage, I was admittedly quick to assume it had been set up, but just as quickly realised that neither Finesse nor Boogie had a clue, as BVA gave him back up with expected effortless ease. “London, I think you’ve found a new star” were the words leaving Finesse’s mouth as the Four Owls member stepped off the stage.
Frankly, you shouldn’t have missed it, but make it up to me by making sure you catch Finesse if you ever get a chance. You can tell he bleeds hip hop and his pure passion for it, not to mention intense skill in all the musical elements of it, makes for a humbling experience. He played all the popular classics as well as the tunes for the more on point fans, with none of that ‘I’m only playing my new stuff’ arrogance that’s kicked me in the teeth in the past and he did it all with style and grace, effortlessly. I’m sure I’ve made my point. More photos over on Facebook.