"Up to date / state of the art / take part, get taken apart as I make my mark"

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Slipjam:B, Tues 6th Aug, ft/ Benny Diction & Able 8 plus Dope Central

Hines

There was a time not so long ago when it seemed like I was the only person in Brighton who owned more than two rap albums but had never managed to get off their arse and make it down to legendary hip-hop night Slipjam:B (for a whole bunch of personal reasons too boring to go into right now). I say that with no small degree of shame, given I’ve lived here for over a decade, have been trying to write about rap for most of that time, and am really not exaggerating (much) when I call the night ‘legendary’. Friends who aren’t rap nerds know the name, even if some of them aren’t quite sure what it represents. A rapper? “I think I saw him at the Concorde supporting DJ Premier in 2007” said one joker.

No, you fool! It’s only the longest running (so they think) hip-hop night in the country. Or the longest running hip-hop open mic, or some other equally impressive variation on the theme. It’s only the best place to experience Brighton rap at its most (stereo)typical, for better or for worse. The first time I made it down, in May, I got there early to spend a couple of hours as the only punter as promoter, artist and open-mic marshal Tom Hines fretted over the empty-ish room, worrying what kind of impression it was giving to a first timer. “It’s not like this usually, this is then slowest start we’ve had in ten years.” The whole scene was nursing a collective hangover, he explained. There was a house party over the bank holiday. Tom had only managed to make it down for a few hours, but there were probably a couple of hundred people there and a fair number of them were down for making the most of the weekend with the kind of hardcore relaxation that could leave even the ruggedest constitution enervated come Slipjam Tuesday.

The amazing thing is it didn’t put them off totally. The scene arrived late, but arrive it did. Gruff voiced local legend Gi3mo owned the room, fresh from a job interview in his shirt and tie like a cross between Christian Gray, Raekwon and Compo from Last Of The Summer Wine. The guest artists that night included Genesis Elijah, Terra Slim and A.C., they were all great but it wasn’t them that made the night special. Nope, the credit for that has to go to the kind of nutters that battle a three day hangover to come down. Not just Gi3mo and the other open-mic beasts on stage but the entire menagerie of freaks in the audience. The kind of crowd who’ll bring the energy when any normal, rational, sane, properly socialised folk would have gone to bed. You need to meet these people.

Having said that, this is a gig preview and Slipjam has a record of bringing down artists with enough going on to repay that crowds energy. This month is typical. The headlining slot is taken by Benny Diction & Able 8, in town to celebrate the release of their new album ‘Life Moves’ on the Boom Bap Professionals label (also home to Prose, Oliver Sudden and KTN). Benny’s the kind of bluntly agitated rapper Britain needs to reflect itself clear and true in these troubling times, Able 8’s the Aussie producer whose brand of boom bap is trad enough to charm the purists but odd enough to pull in the weirdos like me who like the odd dystopian bleep every now and then. Brighton’s Dope Central Crew in support are a whole different generation, one probably too young to give much of a fuck about what boom bap is, a bunch of guys (Prospectz, Clax and Kondine) who send my head for a spin with freestyles on their YouTube channel switching from horrorcore through road rap to grime with an ease that suggests it’s the most natural thing in the world. Which it is to them, no doubt. Lyrically they view the same storm as Benny and the rest of us but from its epicentre. More detail, fewer conclusions.

Anyway. Enough of my blether. Here’s a few words from Benny Diction and Prospectz of Dope Central, hopefully enough to give you more of an idea where they’re coming from.
Ringo P

Benny Diction

Benny Diction

Where are you from, where did you live now and when did you move there?
I lived in a range of areas growing up… west Wales, Northants, Derbyshire… before moving to Liverpool in 2001 to study and work. I now live in East London and have been here since January 2009.


What’s the day job?

I teach Music and French to primary school children in East London. Making/pushing my own music and running events are the other jobs I do.
Why rap?
I started writing raps because I’d always been into music and writing in general: poems, stories, comics, etc. Then when I heard the way guys like Rakim put their imagery and ideas to a beat it just seemed like the best way of combining these two things. When I later heard UK artists like Roots Manuva, Lewis Parker, Jehst and Cappo adding their own individual twists to it too, it inspired me to get more into lyric writing. These days it feels like something that is integral to my existence.

First written lyric you performed for an audience (who weren’t your friends)?

It was at a Rodney P gig at Club Po Na Na in Sheffield. At some point during his set he announced that he was opening the mic up to 4 people he’d choose from the audience. I was reluctant at first, due to nerves, but my mates egged me on to get involved so I put my hand up and ended up being dragged up on stage to do my thing. I can’t remember how the verse started but I’m pretty sure one of the lyrics was “I love grabbing the mic and ripping the fuck out of it/There’s no doubt about it, I leave these wack MCs astounded/dumbfounded, I’m making leaps and bounds/and you’re in the wrong place, son, get outta town”. Pretty profound stuff. Rodney’s reaction was positive but I don’t know whether he was just humouring me.

How long ago was that and how much better are you now than you were then?

That was in Spring 2001 so over 12 years ago. How much better am I now? Well I do still occasionally write lyrics about how much I love grabbing mics and how terrible other MCs are, although I’m a bit more subtle about it these days. My repertoire has also grown to cover other topics too… such as food, drink and stumbling on imagined tribal rituals so I like to think I’m a more well-rounded rapper these days.


Proudest moment as an artist?

Hard to say really but probably picking up CD copies of my debut album Hard Graft, Arts & Crafts and Hearty Laughs last year. It was the first time I could hold a project of my own, in tangible format, in my hands. Playing alongside a live band to 400 people at a jazz festival in Bavaria was a nice buzz too. Hopefully my proudest moments are yet to come though.


First music bought?
Now That’s What I Call Music 33 on cassette I think. Blinding compilation it was too… Oasis, Pulp, Babylon Zoo, East 17, Luniz, Louise (cor)… all that good stuff. Used to rinse I Got 5 On It on car journeys with the family, nodding my head in the back of my parents’ Volvo like a bawss.

Last music bought?

Download-wise: the new Mount Kimbie album and the last two Doppelgangaz LPs. Quality stuff. CD-wise: Forward by Granville Sessions. One of this year’s strongest UK rap releases.

C90, CDR, MP3 or FLAC?

C90. That’s my childhood right there, doing pause button mixtapes and all that. My button game was tiiight.


Most inspiring UK artist of the last three years?
Kate Tempest. She’s obviously been doing it for far longer than 3 years but I didn’t really get onto her until a few summers ago, when I was stumbling around a festival on my ones and heard a girl with a gravelly voice absolutely murdering it over some live rock music. Turned out it was Sound of Rum. She’s carved out a real niche for herself with genuine, sincere art and is getting serious recognition for her efforts.

Most depressing UK artist of the last three years?

I found the James Blake album underwhelming and overrated. There’s people that do the whole minimal electronic thing loads better. Jessie J and Florence Welch are pretty jarring too. But I tend to ignore the stuff I don’t want to hear and just pay attention to the goodness. Say My Name is a tune though still.

Benny Diction And Able 8’s Life Moves is available now from the Boom Bap Professionals Bandcamp page here for the bargain price of £5.

Prospectz (of Dope Central)

Dope Central

Where are you from, where did you live now and when did you move there?
Right, basically I was born in London but lived in Brighton most of my life so I would class it as my home town.


What’s the day job?

I’m currently unemployed.

Why rap?

I rap because I think it’s a good way to express how you feel and get your message across.


First written lyric you performed for an audience (who weren’t your friends)?

You know I can’t even remember my first written lyric I performed. It probably wasn’t very good though.


Proudest moment as an artist?

My proudest moment as an artist was probably finishing my first EP (Regency Road)


First music bought?

I think my first music bought was a Kano CD but I’m not positive.

Last music bought?
The Streets’ Original Pirate Material album. It’s old but I had to download it.

Dope Central have added 48 videos to their YouTube channel here over the last nine months. The ones I checked out were all fierce, in the best way possible.

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This entry was posted on August 5, 2013 by in 2wo 7even 3hree, Live From The UK, Ringo P and tagged , , , , , , .
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