Hipster Hopby Rob Cockcroft / Images by Paul Ward / 19.10.2011
For the first time in a long while I’m actually excited to be attending a hip hop party, especially because it’s at Evol which carries the stigma of drawing emo hipster crowds. I’m over the whole knapsack-rocking hip hop purist vibe I’ve been checking out of late where everyone is a stone-faced rap critic. I just want to get drunk and jam and not be ice-grilled for it. I want to be around people in 80’s/90’s throwback gear who don’t give a fuck about ‘keeping it real’ and how deep the last punchline they heard was.
My heart sinks as I reach the door, though, as only one solitary figure jams alone to Jedi Mind Tricks on the chequered dance floor. I buy a beer, secure a table in the corner and do what I’m paid to – social observation. The lone dancer keeps me entertained. He’s kitted out in a Nu Era baseball cap, three-quarter denim shorts, Chuck Taylors folded over at the top, but you can’t see his legs because he’s wearing what appear to be woollen black man-stockings. Hipster hop!
There must have been a memo sent out because all of a sudden everybody arrives on cue. The place fills out pretty quickly and the people don’t waste time. Drinks are purchased and they join the milieu forming in front of the deejay who is playing the likes of DOOM and Ill Bill. A dope graffiti video is being screened, which is great for the aesthetics… and when you want to act like you haven’t seen someone you don’t want to talk to.
Hip hop heads always need to prove their encyclopedic knowledge of lyrics. They rap along to every track. Even when they’re wasted and they’ve forgotten half the words they’ll at least attempt to utter the correct amount of syllables. I prefer to think of myself as more of an ad lib kinda guy. It’s also not hard to spot the friends of the organisers. They’re the dudes acting like the club is their lounge, jumping up on stage at every opportunity, screaming out for every track being played and generally looking like they’re creaming their pants from over-excitement.
Remy Gold steps up to the booth and plays a set that is similar to a mixtape heads of my generation will compile for their own house party. I mean this in a good way. It’s a set based on classics like Dr Dre’s “What’s the difference”, Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones” and Jr Gong’s “Welcome to Jamrock”.
League of Shadows are the first crew to take the stage. In addition to the usual suspects- Garlic Brown, Gambeno and Sammy Sparks- tonight emcee Apollo joins the team, as well as their dj/producer and social media punter Einstein Adonis. Garlic Brown had to take out his false teeth in case he spit them out and sliced the jugular of someone in the crowd, making it a literal sacrificial offering. Tonight’s set feels a lot more improvised, if not messy at times. Repetitive, droning beats, like the Necro “Scumbags” instrumental Einstein Adonis drops, provide the backdrop as each emcee takes turns weaving their verses into the track, sometimes filling in the gaps by breaking into freestyles. Apollo breaks up the continuity by spitting a whole track in a capella, but I’m losing interest. Overall, though, the set is a highly-charged tapestry of vocal ranges and dark, demonic subject matter, allowing each emcee to showcase their own definitive style. The crowd eat it up and spit it back out, showing love with the same intensity.
When LOS are done I’m fiending for more live performances. It’s not happening, though, so for a long time I’m guzzling beer, ogling the surprising turnout of beautiful women (for a hip hop party) and being a sociable nuisance. I heed a warning from the bouncer who slaps me on the back and tells me to get my ass off the pool table and I head back to the dance floor.
Disco Izrael and Fuzzy Slippers are at the decks, all smiles and gang signs in the air, thuggin’ it out as best as urban middle-class boys can. They play standout tracks by Busta Rhymes and an insane remix of some or other Li’l Wayne song. Then they call all the “bitches” to come and stand in front of the stage while they rap. Their beats are electro-fied, bassy hip hop. Unfortunately the words come out a little muffled, unable to cut across the heavy layered instrumentals. However, they make up for it with their city bowl street-cred and cocky braggadocio showmanship, hand motions gesticulating they’re jizzing all over their fans. Their flows are energetic, bouncy and nu-skool, making it easy to stop caring about what they’re saying and just get swept up in the vibe. I don’t want to leave but my teetotalling peeps from Awe! Cape Town want to jet, but fuck it I’ll be back again.
*All images © Diary Of Ward