- Boogie Bland
- Blue Saint
As much of a musical heartland Liverpool is, hip hop is something that never truly took off. You might have had a quick cringe at MCs on YouTube channels like LabTV, or appreciated their amateur cheeky-chappie lyrics and respectable flows. It’s only when I saw BLUE SAINT, a Congolese-born local MC, that I realised anyone in Liverpool was making strides beyond grime. He artfully dances between RnB and hip hop, while eagerly displaying his flexible MC abilities. It’s a good opening act to the night, with a jazzy and chilled vibe reminiscent of A Tribe Called Quest or the more recent Isaiah Rashad. His lyrics are catchy; however, midway through he pulls on a balaclava and goes a little horrorcore. The songs performed tonight are handpicked to show off his diversity and adaptability as a growing artist. I can only hope he’s the first of many in a newly burgeoning hip hop scene; there are too many psych bands and not enough MCs.
It’s only in recent years, mostly due to Kendrick Lamar’s success, that conscious hip hop has had a revival. It’s a heavy label for some – no one want’s to be seen as a ‘conscious’ rapper. PHAROAHE MONCH has carried it for a while now. His work, especially on his latest record PTSD, is heavily politicised. When he comes out on stage, it’s plain to see that this is the channel for all his anger and rage over the state of his country, culture and race. He tells us he’s strictly non-violent, which rap outsiders would be forgiven for doubting when he breaks into Damage. It’s the final part in his Bullet Trilogy (songs all from the perspective of a bullet). The lyrics are incendiary and timely, eulogising just a few of the people lost to police violence over the past few years. Many times throughout you see raw emotion from the Queens, NYC-raised rapper: anger, relief, sadness, nostalgia. He may write from the brain, but he spits from the heart. The crowd know this – and each song gets them moving. Hands and heads alike bounce to the beat, they join in on the Simon Says chorus and they definitely get the fuck up. If this wasn’t enough, we get a lesson in turntablism from DJ BOOGIE BLAND. It is true masters of the craft like these that show you just what a deck can do. Both he and Monch make a good team; its danceable music but with a core of truth and depth. At 43, he’s been in the game for some time, and he knows how to execute a thrilling live show.