FIVE YEARS OF MADNICE
- Abstract Orchestra Does Dilla
- MC Ge-Ology
Big band hip hop collective ABSTRACT ORCHESTRA bring to life some of James Dewitt Yancey’s best work, cramming onto the small stage tonight to celebrate his music and life, and to demonstrate their love and appreciation for sharing his talent with the world. Often being described as ‘the Mozart of hip hop’, not only is Dilla’s music overwhelmingly influential for many past and present hip hop artists, it is almost as carefully crafted as the classical musical mastermind. Tonight’s show, in celebration of the fifth birthday of promoters MADNICE MARAUDERS at the well-loved 24 Kitchen Street, is all set up to be a musical masterpiece. The late J Dilla would have celebrated his 43rd birthday on 10th February, making for perfect timing for the collective to perform his work.
The setting and atmosphere is almost ironic; this grungy venue playing host to a classical set up, complete with sheet music neatly placed on stands, as opposed to DJ decks and a mic for the MC. With only a slight delay, the collective take to the stage with the sold-out crowd screaming in excitement. Opening with track Nothing Like This, the room is soon filled with the audience singing back the catchy vocal hook “All I need in my life is/there ain’t nothing like this/I never felt quite like this”. The Abstract Orchestra and their crowd are transported into a dream-like state as the essence of J Dilla’s unique sound becomes stronger with each track, amounting to a very fitting opening.
The interweaving dual male and female vocal lines create a perfect harmony with leading flute and saxophone lines throughout the set; most notably on crowd favourite U-Love where, at times, the flute steals the vocal melody to make way for the backline to shine and Dilla’s classic hip hop beats find their way to centre stage. The constant parallels between old school hip hop, jazz and classical genres remind the audience and the performers of Dilla’s versatility and knowledge of music. The set up of music stands and a conductor remains firmly within the classical realm; but the driving brass riffs and complex rhythms steer towards a more typical jazz standard, it is then that the rhythm section steals the audience’s attention and establishes J-Dilla’s influential loose, laid back rapping style.
As the set comes to a close, the audience screams for an encore as we grasp for a few more seconds of raw energy form Abstract Orchestra whilst they re-live the epic stream of J-Dilla’s work performed in its purist form. With the live ensemble recreating the scratches and mixes between songs, just as if it were being played on decks, nothing can compare to the sweet sounds of live brass mirroring the melodies of one of the greats.
As New York MC GE-OLOGY takes to the stage, his effortless expertise transports the crowd onto the next track, keeping the energy of the room alive long after the sound of Dilla fades into the night.