Sunday 25th June 2000
Last year, I trekked down to darkest Somerset on a summer Sunday to witness some of the best hiphop acts in the world rocking the crowd all day in the dance tent. Any hopes of a full hiphop day this year were dashed when the line-up was published with only a few hiphop crews on it, but hey, who am I to complain if Michael Eavis chose quality over quantity?
day was kicked off by People Under the Stairs - for those
of you who don't know, People Under the Stairs are an undergorund
hiphop duo from LA, consisting of Thes One rocking the mic and Double
K who, as well as emceeing, deals with the turntable duties.
Perhaps belying their status as stalwarts of the underground scene, the dance tent was barely half full when they came on at 1.30 on Sunday afternoon, but they didn't let this bother them, coming out with an extra emcee - Jazzmat - to help them hype the crowd. However, with a crowd this thin - mostly caners chilling out - they were always going to struggle to produce a truly memorable Glasto performance. They ran through their repertoire, dropping gems from last year's album, notably 'San Francisco Knights' and 'Time to Rock our Shit', as well as new, unbeat tracks like 'The Cat', and 'Youth Explosion'. While this material is very strong, their live act was slightly unpolished and they were really let down by the fact that Double K has to spin the instrumental for each track before coming front of stage to emcee - not very clever.
I love PUTS, and I think their two albums so far have some of the dopest production I've heard come out of the new hiphop underground, but although good, they were not the definitive live hiphop performance - check The Roots for that.
enjoyed a slightly undercooked starter, it was now time for the
main course to be served. At 2.30pm Dilated Peoples emerged
to a much busier crowd who also knew more about the act on stage:
they, like me know that basically, Dilated Peoples are the
shit, and that's the bottom line. They've got killer production,
two super-dope emcees in Evidence and Iriscience, and one of the
illest turntablists in the world as their DJ - Babu. They were really
tight, each of the three elements of the band anticipating each
other and all of them combining to work the crowd effortlessly.
While there was a fair contingent of hiphop heads and teen skaters
who all knew Dilated, the onus was still on them to prove
that they could rock a crowd consisting mainly of curious festival
goers and those waiting to be convinced.
With tracks like 'Guaranteed', 'Triple Optics' and 'The Main Event' they got heads nodding however, and while manic dancing was not in evidence this early on, the roars of approval showed the love people had for them. They broke their set up with all the hiphop staples - call and response routines, crowd participation and a killer scratching and beat-juggling routine by Babu. As the de facto leader of the World Famous Beat Junkies crew, he is well known as one of the sickest DJ's in the world, and this routine was awesome - it was musical enough that the unknowlegeable crowd were impressed and featured some ridiculously fast cutting over the accelerating beat of Cut Chemist's remix of 'A to G' by Blackalicious. Having also dropped the UK-LA collaboration 'Friction' which DJ Vadim produced, they finished off with the underground stormer 'Work the Angles', which got everyone moving as Babu flexed his scratching muscles again. Dilated Peoples are wicked - if you didn't know, now you know, so go and pick up their album 'The Platform', cos they're as good on record as they are live.
missed both The Herbaliser's hiphop flavoured funk and The
Runaways' set, the only other hiphop act I can report on is
probably the most interesting. The Saian Super Crew came
to Glastonbury bringing a mixed reputation with them from Paris
- their legendary live gigs around Europe meant that lots of people
knew about them, but their recently released LP was somewhat disappointing.
Happily, their live set was all it was supposed to be, with intricate
(French) wordplay between the 6 emcees over their musically very
diverse beats. Perfectly executed dancing, unintelligeable lyrics
and some truly breathtaking beatboxing characterised their performance.
While I am unable to name any of the songs they performed, even
with my fantastic command of the French language, it was the energy
of their performance that got the large crowd really dancing.
They were constantly exhorting us to show them love and when we did, they repaid us with beatboxing the likes of which can only be matched by Rahzel, Click and Scratch in America, and Kela in the UK. While they were beatboxing throughout their set, it was the combination routines with 4 of the 6 group members all straining their larynxes that really got the crowd yelling. While they did solo mimicry routines (Mic Buddha recreated 'No Diggity' by Blackstreet), the synchrony of the joint routines made them the most musical and therefore enjoyable, proving that beatboxing did not die with Doug E Fresh's career.
If the Saian Super Crew are in your town then go and see the vocal hydraulics, if you were there on Sunday then you know that hiphop is universal now.
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