Closing day of Dedbeat finishes in explosive fashion with Jeru Tha Damaja...
Lou Barlow was wrong. Nobody cares about the beauty of the ride, its all about the beauty of the [I]crash[/I].
This much is apparent at the Dedbeat pool party, a startlingly peculiar setup whereby overcoated B-Boys nod their heads to hip-hop classics as scantily-clad nubiles frolic in the heated indoor swimming pool, skateboarders soaring and, more often and more thrillingly, falling on the skate ramp just to the right.
Elsewhere, there’s an inescapable feeling that, for all intents and purposes, Dedbeat is pretty much finished now, bar the shouting. Thanks to a bitter blizzard and the ever-present spectre of Mondaymorningbacktowork/school, many Dedbeat-ers are already heading home, while last night’s hip-hop-fuelled graffitti attacks on the site mean that those who linger have to check rucksacks, etc, in before enjoying the music.
The Pulse Ranks – a sweaty, noise-filled den of sonic iniquities for most of the weekend – is eerily deserted now. The Slump Ranks – the poolroom, throbbing with fusion and souljazz the last two days – has been transformed into the ‘Mong Bar’, with the caveat that no music will be played therein, for fear of damaging the casualties who linger within. The Beat Ranks, however, bustle quietly with slowly-recovering kids laying prone, twitching softly to Mr Scruff and his amazing transmogrifying record bag.
His set builds subtly, brilliantly, opening with chilled-out soul and funk, slyly slipping in more and more uptempo cuts until almost all the dead have risen and are dancing in a winningly trashed style. Yes, now they are ready for Dedbeat’s last, and perhaps finest, treat.
Striding onstage in a ludicrous leather Castro cap, after a suitably reverent intro from the wonderful Ty, Jeru Tha Damaja doesn’t drip needlessly machismo or insupportable ego like perhaps some mic-wielders we could mention. Sure, he grouches a little when he spots a tape recorder in the crowd and fires off a spiel about starvin’ artists who pointedly DON’T deserve to get ripped off, but it’s that seriousness, that fire, that cold-dead bullseye sight that you [I]dig[/I] Jeru for. Other mic-slingers scurry about like Nubian Angels With Dirty Faces, but Tha Damaja is hip-hop’s man with no-name, a righteous justice-man clearing the dirty decks of rap with razor-sharp rhymes. Oh sure, he’s pretty jovial most of the time, joking with the audience and leading three-part chants, but the likes of ‘Whatever’ and ‘Invasion’ are rap-as-gunfire, and Jeru’s aim is true. “I’m not yo average nigga,” he snarls. He’s half-right… He’s not your average [I]anything[/I].
A bizarrely militaristic end to a most somnambulant day, and a most easy-going festival, but undeniably brilliant too. Let’s do it again next year…