Bristol has been the home to some ridiculous line-ups over the past few months and its future as a venue for some stellar Hip Hop gigs is very much in the ascendency. On the day that Rhyme & Reason unveiled joint headliners of KRS-ONE and PETE ROCK for a future venture; home-grown sounds descended upon Lakota again for another night of dope beats.
After the customary local warm-up from Juvey P & Lowdose; Res, J Man & Fingerfood took to the stage to drop fresh material under their new pseudonym, Team 84. With Fingerfood cutting and chopping with the precision of Heston Whatshischops, J Man showcasing his lyrical dexterity with his trigger-tongue highlighting his prowess on both 90 and 140bpm and Res calling for an impromptu Split Prophets assembly; the energy and rapid-fire flows served as the perfect appetiser for the evening’s entertainment.
Kicking off the High Focus showcase; their latest acquisition Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, flanked by Leaf Dog, slowed it down, smoothed shit out and previewed a host of tracks from their upcoming collab, “The Dog ‘N’ Bone EP”. From the audience’s response, he definitely earned himself some new fans and their new EP is better than heavy so make sure you keep your eyes and ears peeled when that lands towards the end of the month (the review’s on its way very soon too). Bringing that real life drama to the Red Dread soundsystem, Leaf then took centre stage with his fellow Amigo/ Owl BVA, running through tracks old and new (including fresh Four Owls and BVA solo ish) with the endless energy we’ve come to expect from the duo.
With HF mainstay and Wordplay familia Sammy B-Side firmly settled on the 1s and 2s and controlling the night’s vibes with a mere flick of his digits, it was time for the head honcho and ‘elder statesmen’ of the label to raise the levels even further. Trading verses and tracks, Fliptrix and Verb T took us to the edge, along the high way, dropped more dynamite before sparking a near riot as they encouraged Lakota to start wylin’ out. Drawing the High Focus theme to a temporary climax, the often calm and reserved individual, most commonly known as Dirty Dike, kicked off his stint on stage with a chorus of his “favourite song” containing the repetitive and admittedly catchy sole lyrics of “Fuck You”. Maintaining the night’s theme of dropping new material, after running through tracks from his “Sloshpot EP”, he delved into a couple of gems from his upcoming “Return Of The Twat LP” before pushing the speakers to their limits with a ridiculously bass-laden D&B onslaught.
Seemingly out of nowhere, the headline act arrived. Throwing Mr. Ti2bs to the foreground to drop heat from his recent release “Super Ti2bs”, Skinnyman then stepped up to show how it’s done. Backed by his son, the veteran ran through a whole host of his classic tracks with the likes of “Fuck The Hook”, “Who Me?” and “No Big Ting” near enough blowing the roof off the place. Skinny’s relentless energy, hyperactivity and determination for the crowd to spark something created the foundation for a set that would most definitely put some of the younger bucks in the scene to shame. As his showpiece drew to a close, he then became hype-man for High Focus’ resident ornithologists.
One of the hardest working collectives around at the minute; The Four Owls once more took flight and delivered a high calibre set list, covering their brilliant debut and material from their forthcoming follow up; with the same passion and enthusiasm that anyone who’ve clocked them over the past 12 months would come to expect from their shows. As the night reached its crescendo Dabbla, Dubbeledge, illaman and Sumgii, under their Problem Child alias, hit the stage to shut it down. Possibly only their second collective outing, the combined experience shone through as the group hyped up the crowd, dropped new bars and served up the perfect culmination to a monumental night of the finest sounds from our shores.
Once more, Bristol played host to another ridiculously heavy night of entertainment. With too many highlights to really do them justice, the biggest bonus to take away from the evening’s events was the sheer amount of new material on offer. Everyone that played have new stuff waiting in the wings and for those that thought 2012 was an epic year for British Hip Hop; based on what was witnessed at Ill By Definition, the remainder of 2013 has massive potential to eclipse its predecessor and further cement our scene’s standing in the global culture. UK Stand Up.
Words by Mike Pattemore @beats_n_pieces
Photography by Anis Ali & Clem Samuel
Video by Clem Samuel