A gathering that Tut’s probably hasn’t seen for a while; certainly a young crowd and a tribe not often seen in here… or other similar venues come to that.
Tonight offers an illuminating insight into an unfamiliar (to me at least) diaspora of the rap family; the Caledonian version.
It’s an entertaining array, but there’s a bigger picture… more of which later.
Catching the tail end of a support who may or may not have been Kid Robotik – research here has proved futile – the first thing that strikes is that, frankly, my appreciation of rap up until now has been at odds – substantial odds – with that experienced by listeners and fans in the locale of the originators.
Because it’s a hell of a jolt hearing pugnacious rhymes – the more so when Loki swaggers on – in an accent half way to your own: NWA could fuck the police all they wanted, and I got that, but I ain’t from Compton [in fact the closest I’ve been is the one just off the A34 and street culture is slightly different in Berkshire] and it’s never occurred to me until tonight that the impact may have been slightly different if you are American.
There’s an auditory threat once Loki starts spitting out his lyrics; not from who he is – seems a good natured fellow – but from simply hearing things with venom in a familiar argot and accent; makes one realise that Wu Tang etc etc have penetrated in a rather different way than if I lived just up the road from their japes.
Damascene moment, right there.
Kid Robotik – or the imposter! – has satisfyingly heavy beats and it’s music and lyrics from the schemes: schemes that perhaps mudanely rappers worldwide often represent; it’s a wonder in many ways that we do not have a more fertile scene; deprivation in Detroit or Castlemilk, downtown Hamburg or Rio have much in common; more than separates them anyway.
Loki delivers a more antagonistic presence in some ways and has forceful, fast delivery; tales of life on the ground, warts and all.
Which brings us to SubKonsious and A-Macc: these guys working together are the real deal; in a way a juxtaposition from what’s gone before as they are more polished and… international; but it’s good, very very good.
Dark and moody but with the odd foray into party vibes, the highlight is ‘Just Don’t Know’ with the vocal hook sung by Caitlin McKenna – only drafted in hours before, it is seriously classy and rivalled only by a kinetic and splenetic team up with Chrissy Grimes from Level Syndicate.
With weighty, rolling basslines at times there’s almost a Bristol sound about their beats, Wild Bunch and all, but the shout out to Drumchapel is all that’s needed to send the bouncing fans, well, bouncier and it is still defiantly Scottish vocally.
I’m a little gutted when I note it’s Dom Perignon being sloshed into the punter’s glasses from one of the guests on stage; missed a trick there with me bucket of vin rouge.
Very solid proposition and they have a laconic talent within to take them places.
This evening will however mainly be remembered for the shock of absorbing gripes, grumbles and observations from the street not as heard from the Bronx but straight outta Glasgow.
There’s a voice of the British underclass here – if we must call it that – that is largely ignored by middle class journalism and middle class venues, though we consume and arguably fetishise it when it comes from afar.
If anything it was last represented by rave culture in the UK: punk makes its claims but had far too many public school boys to have any credibility there; perhaps grime has a flag to wave but despite its reverberations has it really lived up to its initial promise?
One thinks back to the film ‘The Great Hip Hop Hoax’ where two Dundee rappers felt the only way to succeed was to reinvent themselves as West Coast US characters to have any chance: if we’re so keen to lap up the mean streets of downtown USA then why not the Scottish equivalent; we’ve as much to say and the creative talents from our vibrant electronic music production through to the wordsmithery to back it up.
Plenty of individual pockets of talent, up to and including the aforementioned grime, over the years but no real, lasting commercial scene in the explosive sense of the overseas product we lap up – why is that?
Too close to home? Too harsh to hear? In which case why do we drool over gun-toting imports and send them to the top of the charts?
What role do we as punters, consumers play in this apparent contradiction?; is it purely aesthetic or something far more dubious that allows us to enjoy and indeed eulogise that which we at best ignore, at worst condemn in our own back yard?
Uncomfortable truths yet again right there: despite the overwhelming presence of the mighty dollar in some aspects of American hip hop we’ll still take a holiday in other people’s misery, glamourise it even… just not in my back yard.
Perhaps it is this mystery and confusion that caused Loki to tell the native music industry to “go fuck themselves” the week previously; I can hardly blame him… I may have gone further.
Words: Andrew Morrison