London Charing Cross LA2

Proof, if any was needed, that Saian Supa Crew live, breathe, and dream global standard hip-hop...

The Parisian suburbs, whose lack of hope and opportunity is vividly evoked in the film ‘La Haine’, have produced many gangsta rappers in recent years. Saian Supa Crew are different, though, more concerned tonight with a demonstration of the basic elements of hip-hop than grimy descriptions of hell on earth.

This is partially due to a language barrier of sorts, which demands even French speakers work hard to understand the slanglistics and wordplay, and partially due to a willingness of the six-strong clique to communicate in a universal hip-hop language.

Specta, Leeroy Kesiah, Fenkisi, Vicelow, Sir Samuel and Sly The Mic Buddah use a physical body language, that sometimes borders on mime, or knowingly invokes the dance steps of American crews, to fill in the gaps in getting their celebratory point across. With light and shadows on stage, and a mixing desk operator to the side, what comes from the speakers is an often-inventive hybrid music, that relies heavily on electronic sound collages and special effects.

And Saian Supa Crew are as willing to acknowledge their African roots as they are to pay homage to the wider diaspora. ‘Jump Up’ cleverly mixes traditional tribal guitar music samples with dance beats, whilst ‘Raz De Maree’ benefits from heavy reggae bass interludes. When Specta and Leeroy stage a bravura display of the art of the human beatbox, even the other crew members jump into the audience to watch. It’s almost unbelievable – how the duo, individually, can mimic whole songs that come complete with scratches and snatches from well-known tunes by Nas, Black Eyed Peas and Terror Squad (amongst others) with the human voice.

Proof, in any was needed, that Saian Supa Crew live, breathe, and dream global standard hip-hop.

Dele Fadele