Dedbeat Weekender – Saturday: Great Yarmouth Vauxhall Park

The second day of Dedbeat finds Roots Manuva and Big Daddy Kane wowing the crowds...

“Lot of [I]Rastafarians[/I] about this weekend,” notes our cabbie, with the sharp ‘wit’ his profession are famed for, en route to Dedbeat’s second day.

Well, no, actually there aren’t. For all its ‘urban’ trappings, Dedbeat’s as white as, say, Reading or Glasto. And hip-hop culture as purveyed by Dedbeat is all antique Adidas tops and break-dancing, elements of the culture which have no place whatsoever in the modern, planet-swallowing vision of hip-hop. As impressive as the athletics displayed by DJ Prone and his Sinstars this afternoon, it’s hard not to see them as a fetishisation of urban culture for kids too young to catch it first time ’round, or an easy-to-swallow version of youth-rebel culture, neutered by its antiquity, yet flashed around by middle-class white youths in the same way Tarantino uses Blaxploitation culture. ‘Wildstyle’ or ‘Slam’? It’s your choice…

Thankfully, the best acts onstage tonight annihilate such stereotypes. F’rinstance, Mr Complex & L-Fudge – Rawkus stalwarts who appeared on the first Soundbombing LP – are a textbook lesson in ‘undieground’ rap, splicing leftfield lyrical smarts with laser-guided tricknology and the kind of sludgy bass-funk that could level skyscrapers. It’s not hard to imagine L-Fudge stomping out of the ghetto to superstardom in Pharoahe Monch’s footsteps.

Similarly on the fast-track to a very real superstardom is Roots Manuva. Tonight’s set, his first after a short spin on Australia’s Big Day Out festival, sees him debut a few new tracks off his upcoming second LP – the closing ‘Witness The Fitness’, all phreak-bleeps and fug-eyed funk, is a keeper – but it’s the ‘hits’ that prove Manuva’s power. Genius soundclashes like ‘Baptism’ and ‘Juggle Tings Proper’ are as close as you can get to a [I]true[/I] sound of the UK, circa 2001 – drenched in dub and slang, you can decode it or dance to it, your choice.

Those tired of the boom and the bap saunter off to the Pulse Ranks for some of the twisted house confections proferred by the likes of Keith Tenniswood and Kitbuilders, but the smart ones stay to catch the return of Big Daddy Kane. It’s another one of those rap nostaljack tours, yer man busting through the hits at lightspeed, which has its downsides (only one minute of ‘Raw’??? What??!!??) but for an hour this grand old man of mic-slinging is an absolute master, throwing shapes and firing off words faster than light. More retro-rap action, p’raps, but whereas the aficionados admire the wrinkles on their genuine old-skool sambas, Kane’s one badass you [I]won’t[/I] find in a museum.

Stevie Chick