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Friday, 13 May 2011



'A great night in hip-hop'.

'Due to unforeseen circumstances De La Soul will not be playing tonight'. You never want a night of legendary hip-hop music to start like this (the 'rising' legends where missed tonight in this three footed hip-hop showcase) but still the amount of profile figures left on this rap bill footed by 'Science Of Speech' more then kept the timeless feeling of this instant classic going all night long. Today's science lesson was a real education in old school and new era hip-hop spokesmen.

He hadn't been here for 15 years prior (this writer was 10 when he last touched the stage...and no I wasn't there) and it took him a Queen Mary boat from New York to get him here (he doesn't fly, that's all you need to do) but still as soon as the definition of hip-hop and the God M.C. Rakim hit the stage it was worth the long wait and journey. Decked in army fatigues Ra let his message ascend through the crowd as he moved everybody's feet with a battalion of hits. Armed with one of the best D.J.'s this writer has heard since Eric B, this M.C. proved this crowd was still down with him. From the classics to his seriously significant new stuff off the heavenly 'The Seventh Seal' Rakim ripped through hip-hop stories and timelines with every chapter and verse from the addictive 'Microphone Fiend' to hip-hop D.I.Y. 'How To Emcee'.

Then the 80's pioneer went from taking it back to his school to taking it to the ladies as he mixed the love conscious 'What's On Your Mind' with a bit of 'Mahogany' and his classic verse off Truth Hurts 'Addictive' for three of a kind. Then as Ra brought his set to a close he brought it back to the classics, duking and duking his way through 'Know The Ledge', showing he really isn't no laughing matter with 'I Aint No Joke' and finally taking us through a journey of sound with his coldest cut 'Paid In Full'. Fans where left rubbing their hands with glee after a perfect performance that broke ground with no flaws. Rakim stayed longer then he was allocated but he was more then welcome as nobody wanted him to jet or hit the road on his boat. As he blew peace kisses the fans where left not wanting another decade and a half worth of wait for the next rap hymns from the God.

If that sounded great enough, two more of the most legendary rappers alive and around today scaled more heights previously unheard of. Two D.J.'s spun the wheels of steel as two hip-hop iron men took the stage for the crowd to marvel. Out trotted Talib Kweli in a flat-cap and waistcoat and Mos Def in a suit and tie to unite once again as Black Star; hip-hop's smartest group and best one-two punch. The pair educated the audience as they began making their 'History' collabo off Mos' excellent 'Ecstatic' L.P. and they followed by making a point of getting those in attendance to attention with Mos, Talib and Hi-Tek's 'This Means You'. Armed with old radio microphones and dapper attire this was a classic affair of 'Supreme, Supreme' collaborations. Dropping everything from Kweli's 'Never Been In Love' to Talib's Reflection Eternals of 'In This World' and Mos' incredible new tracks 'Priority' and 'Casa Bey' the duo made ever track fresh, dynamic and raw. They even paid due respect to England's Slick Rick from his Def collaboration 'Auditorium' to 'Lodi Dodi' and Black Star's own 'Children's Story' tale but with The Ruler's original beat. With this adventurous set Great Britain's finest rap royalty was done proud in a marriage of sound.

We really where rocking with the best as Black Star got by with 'Hip-Hop' classic after classic from the vast volumes of the pairs incredible works ensuring everyone present was part of 'The Blast'. From 'Definition' to 'RE:Definition' they gave us hip-hop dictionary translations with timeless, fan favourites. The chemistry and camaraderie between the charismatic two rap brothers continued throughout as Kweli served as the perfect hypeman to Mos magnificence, while Def's ad-libs and velvet vocal ranges helped him sing along the praises for Talib's timeless tunes. As the pair continually thanked the fans for their energy and time they kept giving us theirs as the played out until they couldn't anymore without room for an encore. Now how about another album guys? Mos closed the night perfectly with the deep 'Umi Says' and a dash of 'Travellin' Man' (we really didn't want him or Kwe to go) giving us his best as the crowd held on to the moment so close. This performance showed that whether on a Nike Jordan ad, a Dave Chappelle block party or here this 'Umi' sounds as epic as ever, like this night.

Sure this gig was a De La Soul and perhaps A Tribe Called Quest away from being raps ultimate night but this 'Rock The Bells' feeling evening was still a night that everyone from the Wu-Tang Clan to LL Cool J would be proud of. It's hard to put into words a review that could really do this performance of these legendary acts together in concert justice. Only two really come close to defining it...'hip-hop'. This was real rap to 'The 18Th Letter' and 'RE: Definition'. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

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