“THE black Beatles of hip-hop are in the building,” went up the shout a few tracks into this late evening rap revival show, and it had already been demonstrated how foolish argument with that statement was going to be.
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Public Enemy and NWA might beg to differ, but the Bronx’s Ultramagnetic MCs have a decent case for claiming they invented hip-hop as it is today.
Although they’ve been a going concern on and off ever since, this current tour has reunited the pseudonymous original quartet of Kool Keith (equally well-known as Dr Octagon), Ced Gee, TR Love and Moe Love in celebrating the 25th anniversary of their seminal debut album Critical Beatdown’s release. They may all be verging on 60, but in the dark and with dazzling DIY costumes including sequinned headscarves and light-up LED glasses they seemed fresh and full of energy. In fact, their remains something raw about their reliance on dissected funk and soul samples, immediate beats and involved party-starting lyrics that sets them at an advantage over the glossy commerce of 2013’s big rap names.
Fans of the Prodigy would have been thrilled by the presence of Critical Breakdown’s title track, source of Out of Space’s “pay close attention / I take your brain to another dimension” couplet, and the Smack My B**** Up-inspiring Give the Drummer Some. Yet every song from the crunching bass of Ain’t It Good to You to the richly lyrical Two Brothers with Checks (San Francisco, Harvey) was a party from start to finish.