Thursday, 18 October 2012

REVIEWED: Madlib's Medicine Show feat DOOM, Freddie Gibbs and J. Rocc for The Stool Pigeon

This is a gig needs that needs big and clear bass frequencies — but, as it’s a hip-hop showcase in dear ole London Tahn, we know not to expect passable sound quality. LA’s Stones Throw maverick Kutmah fills the large venue with choice beats, but the first thing you notice is everything else but the music. This isn’t One Audience Under a Groove, it’s the post-working week: the lager is flowing, bromance is in the air. Security guards stand around a patch of vomit.

DOOM doesn’t let it get to him and he paces the stage slowly, calmly. The US exile — he is living in South London after being barred entry back into the US — temporarily dons a high-vis jacket, and casually boshes out rhymes in the relaxed-yet-hard-boiled manner that has sustained his global cult. He isn’t known for decent live shows, but on ‘Gazzillion Ear’, for example, his thick’n’true flow and rhythmic about-turns are hypnotic. Like the best artists, DOOM achieves something others can’t while looking like he doesn’t care; the Usain Bolt of boom-bap hip hop. Before leaving the stage he performs a brief homage to another famous Olympian, by doing the ‘Mobot’.

After DOOM leaves the stage, his sometime collaborator Madlib (the pair will apparently be reuniting in the studio soon, and DOOM featured their shared Madvillain track ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ during his set to a huge crowd reaction) cuts an estranged figure — almost anonymous behind the decks in the front of over 2000 worshipers. Some are talking over his DJ set, not through intentional rudeness but because it’s not cutting through. You feel the Forum is full of people wishing they were seeing their ‘Konduktor’ in a smaller club.

Next up is Freddie Gibbs, backed by J. Rocc. Like DOOM, Freddie’s flow is fluid, but Gibbs is a more menacing MC, all gym-prepped torso and aggro chants while J. Rocc provides cuts from Damian Marley and Nas, Dilla’s Ruff Draft, and Dizzee’s ‘I Luv U’. Down the front, joints and fags are smoked freely under the venue’s proscenium arch. It’s like 2006 all over again. Which might well be back when the cult of Stones Throw peaked. No, this isn’t tonight’s hot new thing in town — that’s Azealia Banks at Shepherds Bush. In this hulking former cinema, the sample appreciation/inebriation axis rules – a modern-day Wigan Casino with spaced-out, ketamine’n’lager-fuelled lurching replacing speed-propelled northern soul dancing. An unabashed, imperfect, collective show of love for mixology, soul samples and boom-bap beats by the tired and emotional. AKA a lot of fun.

Originally published on the Stool Pigeon website

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