March 6 1999

March 6 1999

The night gets more surreal. [a]Freestylers[/a] play a truncated version of [B]KC And The Sunshine Band[/B]'s [B]'That's The Way (I Like It)'[/B] to introduce yet another rock'n'roll/hip-hop smorga

The concept that hip-hop can absorb any other form of music isn’t new. [a]Afrika Bambaataa[/a] shocked and rocked New York City club crowds in the ’80s by cutting up [a]Led Zeppelin[/a] beats. And tonight, [a]Freestylers[/a] blur the line between rock’n’roll and hip-hop further, by employing a drummer who clearly understands the deceased Zep sticksman, John Bonham, and by lacing the roller-coaster of found sounds with earache levels of noise.

But first here’s MC Navigator. Soon to be bare-chested, his role is to stoke up the crowd and rap when the mood takes him. He reminds the audience that he’s an original bad boy and extols the virtues of his recent Jamaican holiday at least twice. This is when he’s not striding the stage like a maniac, or making way for the breakdance crew who’ve been gathered to add some spectacle. Problem is, most of the time his vocabulary seems to have been pared down to the barest essence – as three songs are glorified instrumentals topped with yells of [I]”Go!… Go!… Go!”[/I] ad infinitum. Perhaps he thinks he’s on a pirate radio station.

MC number two, Tenorfly, is an older hand at showbiz who sings the reggaematic ‘Dancehall Vibes’ with the right balance of rough and smooth, croon and sandpaper. His exhortations of [I]”One love/One aim/One colour”[/I] won’t be lost on anyone who has taken the long bus ride here from the nearby, infamous county of Essex. But then the [a]Freestylers[/a]’ line-up of multinationalism and multiculturalism is just so natural and uncontrived; they seem a decent representation of a certain inner-city UK lifestyle.

DJ Jay-Rock cuts up tracks on the turntable and it’s a wonder he can be heard above the general mjlie. A keyboardist fiddles with his sampler whilst a guitarist makes like he’s in the last indie band on earth on the last night on earth – ie, he goes completely batshit. And the rhythm king of a bassist seems content to underpin the whole unholy squall with subsonics that are thankfully not low-frequency enough to have adverse physical effects.

The night gets more surreal. [a]Freestylers[/a] play a truncated version of KC And The Sunshine Band‘s ‘That’s The Way (I Like It)’ to introduce yet another rock’n’roll/hip-hop smorgasbord. A Russian breakdancer comes on to show some moves. And it’s obvious these guys are far removed from the Beastie Boys, who they’ve been compared to. Too many late-night raves and wild house parties and blues dances have seen to that.