London Stratford Rex

Not to be crossed, onstage at least.

What should have been the party of the new century turns out to be an apt demonstration of the crazy distance between the corporate boardroom and the streets. ‘Ryde Or Die 2000’, as it is billed, loses some kudos due to the absence of rising rap superstar Eve, who has an urgent appointment with her hairdresser, but is memorable for a rootsy display of hip-hop in its purest and rawest form.

After UK contenders Big Brovaz Ent, Bad Breed Ent, Malarchi and the excellent 57th Dynasty get a reception that ranges from indifferent to hostile, Rah Digga finally gives the America-centric audience what they want. Straight out of government high-rise projects in New Jersey, she takes all of a foul-mouthed and aggressive minute to cast all the corporate grooming, styling and elocution lessons to the wind. The sole female member of Busta Rhymes’ Flipmode Squad brings the house down with caustic versions of ‘Imperial’ and the self-explanatory ‘Do The Ladies Run This Motherf***er?’.

Noted producer Swizz Beats is on the turntable decks, and his distinctive sci-fi beats are perfect for The Lox – a Yonkers, New York City trio freed from a Puff Daddy contract to create mayhem. Nothing is more ‘street’ and ‘real’ than the sight and sounds of these grown men climbing the speaker stacks and acting like someone has just opened their pressure valves.

Observe ‘Money, Power And Respect’, and more recent rabble-rousers like ‘Fuck You’, and see no quarters drawn in a showcase of straight-up, no-frills hip-hop. It’s just raw as hell: three lifetimes of frustration, violence and drama condensed into one package.

Not to be crossed, onstage at least.