Monday, August 15, 2005

Kano/Diplo at the Knitting Factory/Juelz/Roll Deep at East River Park (The MC Review)

[Ed. note: This post is the work of my girlfriend MC, who will serve as a guest contributer every now and then. Since her writing is both better and wittier than mine, I imagine it being more then than now. Peep her amazing flics from the two shows this past weekend in NYC in the above post, as I have not seen many in the blogosphere yet. Great stuff, and only made me feel worse that I missed all the grime/Dipset goodness.

Anyway, she left for India today, and shit sucks. I will try not to get too emo over the next two weeks, but I ain't making no promises. Imma pussy, what can I say? To compensate for said weak emotions, I will be posting up lots of dirty, hyper-masculine ghettotech. The blog equivalent of buying a corvette, I guess. Miss you, mami.]

Well, after several questions about why I was there (can’t a girl wear a frilly white button-up shirt and camo-print ballet slippers with bows, and still go see a hip hop show?), as well as a torrential downpour, your girl is back from NYC and a full day of fire from 2 continents. It started at the East River Park for a joint show featuring East London's Roll Deep Crew and Harlem's finest Juelz Santana and the Dipset, and continuing at the Knitting Factory with the first American show for rising grime star Kano.

First of all, I want to say that I thought this event was a really neat showcase for talent from its hosting city as well as talent from across the Atlantic. I thought it was especially valuable since lots of folks over here are still getting into grime and this was a chance to hear some of the best that scene has to offer.

Although the East River Park gig didn’t start on time (when I got there at 2, they were still building things, speakers and mic stands and whatnot, so I knew there wouldn’t be music for quite some time…), the talent came correct. Kenny Mohammed the Human Orchestra (or whatever his nutty name was) was pretty cool, even if beatboxing isn’t my thing. Dude did pant and purse his lips and spit beats and all that for 20 minutes straight in that blazing heat. Wiley and the rest of the Roll Deep Crew repped HARD, bringing the audience straight grime style rhymes, with crazy English lingo and that distinctive rhythm many of us have come to love (in particular, the Roll Deep members shout out in unison at the end of most of any individual emcee’s verses, and it’s really effective). Also, one Roll Deep member was rocking some AF1 Easters, and I’ve never seen a dude actually wearing patent leather pastel, so you have to respect that. The DJs from Heat also brought it, mixing in reggaeton, dancehall and hip hop from all over.

What I personally was anticipating the most, however, was my bol Juelz. After that crazy rain storm, during which a bunch of people left (I give myself gangsta points for staying, I was completely soaked). He came out with that crazy Diplomats medallion and a pinky ring so full of gold it literally stood an inch off his finger. Despite being a short set, it was off the hook. Some old (“Santana’s Town”), some new (“Mic Check”), the crowd was going crazy (lots of girls in the front trying to touch him). Dip-Set Forever.

Later at the Knitting Factory, Nick Catchdubs did a long-ass set that kept people moving (myself, I’m always glad to hear “So Icey”). Diplo came out towards the end and started to control the video display (lots of Star Wars, with some City of God and Das Boot mixed in)… I’m a little hazy on the transition between Catchdubs and Diplo, but somewhere in the middle there, Bone Crusher’s “Never Scared” came on and everyone went wild (maybe not like at the Ukie for Hollertronix, but is there anything like that, really?). Diplo broke out some of his favela classics (and video footage to match) and—of course—“Sweet Dreams” and a whole bunch of other good stuff, but it was starting to get really late…

Finally, around 1:15 or 1:30, the “Golden Boy” himself, Kano, came out with his entourage (two of those dudes were BIG). He opened with "Ps & Qs", a blog favorite, and his rhymes were crazy fast and really staccato. It was CRAZY in the front row; a million people were taking pictures, Kano was strutting around, and people were literally jumping up and down and shouting the lyrics, and generally I think it was a really successful debut for him.

What I thought was interesting was the fact that the other emcee up there with Kano had just as much mic time, they were basically taking turns at some points; I saw something like this at the Dizzee Rascal show at the Trocadero in Philly, and I’m wondering if that’s how they do at grime shows in London, or what? But Kano and his sidekick dude were both great. The set was short, and we all left soaked in sweat (our own and other people’s… yum), but pretty psyched. I know I’ll be all over Kano’s album, Home Sweet Home, when it drops in the U.S.; I’m pretty sure after last night that a whole lot of other folks will be too.

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