Written by Joe Langham.
Read the “Hip-Hop Isn’t Dead” debut event Review here – http://bit.ly/YB97W2
English Frank and Black The Ripper in Leeds – http://bit.ly/WRYQS1
Following the massive success of the opening night, Hip-Hop Isn’t Dead returned for a second night with another massive line up to match. With the opening night back in December setting the bar so high, matching it would not be easy, yet English Frank once again rounded up some of the UK’s biggest names in hip-hop for a memorable night.
The night consisted of some returning faces including Rodney P, Big Cakes and, of course, the brains behind the night, English Frank. New acts of the night included special guest Akala, Ty and Haze the Truth. DJ Shabz returned on the decks to support the majority of the night’s performers. Birthday boy, Mr Bonnie Blazer, hailing from Leicester opened the night. His unique style and Rastafarian roots offered a fresh twist compared to other rappers. His set list which ranged from catchy to more deep and thought provoking tunes included ‘The Anthem’, ‘Jupiter’ and ‘Understanding’. Haze the Truth was equally unique in style and sound. His songs varied between street sounding hip-hop and more pop sounding tunes yet despite this, his set fitted into the night well. His set pleased the crowd who were bouncing along throughout. Hipman Junky offered choruses and backing vocals for the majority of Haze’s tracks. The crowd were given a surprise treat of a performance when Haze invited Swiss and Akala to the stage to perform ‘Against All Odds’ for his finale.
Rasta rapper, Raggo Zulu introduced himself with a freestyle before dropping into some lively tunes to get the crowd hyped including ‘Are you smoking?’ before doing an impromptu duet with Big Cakes. Raggo literally lit the up the crowd during his performance as the crowd put up a sea of lighters, making for an atmospheric and enjoyable performance. Ty, an artist who has worked with the likes of De La Soul and Estelle and has four critically acclaimed albums to his name took to the stage next, with DJ Big Ted on the decks for him. After thanking the crowd and English Frank for making the night possible he dove straight into a track performed over Amy Winehouse songs. Despite the strength of the earlier acts, Ty raised the bar to another level. His lengthy set included many songs from his albums and invited his friend, Mr Tibbz of People’s Army, to perform for the crowd half way through his set. The latter end of his performance included another guest in the form of Swiss, whom he performed a lively rendition of ‘Oh You Want More?’ with. Much to the disappointment of the crowd, who did want more, Ty left the stage before returning for a quick encore in the form of an acapella before finally leaving a rapturous crowd cheering his brilliant performance.
Rodney P performed a full set this time after his teaser set on the opening night, much to the crowds delight. DJ Skitz dropped some hip-hop beats to hype up the crowd before this UK legend took to the stage for his performance. This was not really needed however, since the crowd were still ecstatic from Ty’s previous one. Rodney P played a whole host of tracks from his repertoire including ‘Doggist’ and ‘Nice Up’ and spat over Pharoahe Moche’s ‘Simon Says’ along a variety of hip-hop, reggae and even a dubstep beat. The crowd were treated to a few tracks from an upcoming project before Rodney made way for Black the Ripper. Recently achieving a number 1 album in the iTunes hip-hop charts, Black the Ripper aka Samson Blackaveli performed a lively show, with plenty of special guests joining him on stage from the start. With tracks from new number 1 album, Married to Marijuana and older works such as Black is Beautiful, the crowd were kept vibing for the entirety of the set. Black the Ripper and his heap of support frisbeed CD’s to the crowd during the set and despite one person taking a flying CD to the face, the crowd seemed to get their freebies safely.
The multi-talented English Frank was up next, who opened with an acapella which was both political and personal before some old tracks and new exclusives from upcoming project ‘Frankenstein’. Whilst not as good as the performance on the opening night it came close. Rodney P joined him for a short while before they made way for the night’s big finale. His recent film Offender also played in the background of the stage throughout the night. Special guest of the night, poet and UK star Akala needed no introduction and got straight into it, working up the crowd with some call and response exercises in preparation of ‘Freedom Lasso’. Full of intricate bars and clever word play offered an entertaining education for the crowd. The energy of Akala’s performance reflected in the crowd who never stopped moving, and went even wilder when he dropped a lively rendition of ‘XXL’. Numerous acapellas, laden with heavy punchlines, were lapped up by the crowd before Akala ended the night with the news of a new album with a live band, of which he played a track from. The laidback exclusive gave the crowd the chance for a much needed breather.
DJ Shabz performed before, between and after sets playing various hip-hop classics including Dead Prez’s ‘hip hop’. He also acted as DJ for the majority of the night’s artists and kept crowds entertained throughout the night, whether he was the main performer or DJ’ing for another. The hosts of the night, which included Logic and Big Cakes, freestyled and kept crowds entertained between some of the sets. This night also saw the introduction of an open mic, with performances from budding rappers laced between the main sets. If the future of hip-hop is in the hands of some of the open mic performers, it appears to be in very safe hands. Another successful night, with highlight performances from Ty, Akala and Raggo Zulu just showed that Hip-Hop Isn’t Dead is just going to get bigger and better, a notion that was confirmed by English Frank at the end of the night when it was announced the next HHID will be at a bigger venue with some even bigger names from the hip-hop world.