London Ladbroke Grove Subterania

A kind of five-man society for the preservation of hip-hop culture...

A kind of five-man society for the preservation of hip-hop culture, Brooklyn’s [a]Arsonists[/a] are nowhere as scary as they might seem. The general public might associate the crew with pyromania, but the only flames this witching hour are present in the propulsive verbal and visual attack.

[a]D-Stroy[/a], Freestyle, Jise One, Q-Unique, Swel Boogie and guest DJ Pogo are so enthusiastic and elastic-limbed, onlookers could be pardoned for assuming they’ve been pepped up by a ton of pills. It’s more a natural energy, though, with a gregariousness, cool choreography and keen sense of showbiz only veterans have. Well, six years is an eternity in hip-hop.

[a]Arsonists[/a] don’t go for any of the pitfalls that sink others’ shows; the beats and scratches are live, almost [I]alive[/I]; surliness doesn’t surface; and they could almost be called politically correct, within limits. If this makes tunes like ‘The Session’ seem like hip-hop for suburbanites, so be it. Just remember the dawn of the culture was based on the same elements – party rhymes, battle rhymes, turntablism, breakdancing – that [a]Arsonists[/a] aim to propagate.

Is this a cop-out? Should it be mo’ money, mo’ murder? ‘As The World Burns’ does get political, but the segue of old-school memories is where [a]Arsonists[/a]’ hearts really are. Basically, the crew show that often overlooked attribute: the party possibilities of hip-hop.