With KRS-One returning to the city after a sweltering night at The Kazimier, Getintothis’ Shaun Ponsonby finds the hip hop master as urgent as ever.
Having played to a sweltering, sold out crowd at The Kazimier last year, hip hop legend KRS-One returned to Liverpool for 2016, but for whatever reason the circumstances feel a little different. Unless we are mistaken, this show was originally planned to be hosted in the larger Arts Club Theatre, and demoted to the Loft, despite the previous sell out at the larger Kazimier. Somehow it seems that the show passed a lot of the hip hop heads by.
Not that it bothered anybody in attendance. Hip hop crowds are probably the best in the world, and the enthusiasm that greeted KRS-One the minute he walked on stage was palpable.
After we were warmed up with DJ sets from Grenno and Predator Prime, he entered with undeniable bravado, and began by freestyling that this was his sound check. Truth be told, the freestyle was probably the highlight of the night, as he played to the crowd and gave them what they wanted when they wanted it like only a true master can. Showing he is smart enough to do his homework, he even proclaimed “I’m a scouser” in the middle of one rhyme, eliciting loud cheers from the crowd, whom he held in the palm of his hand throughout.
With two pop-up boards flanking each side of the stage reading phrases such as “Rap is something you do, hip hop is something you live”, there was something of a hastily arranged feel to it. However, rather than making the night feel cheap, it instead added to the urgency of his words.
This was most apparent during stone cold classics such as Sound of the Police which, sadly, is as relevant today as it ever has been. Yet no matter how much social and political commentary he spouted, it didn’t distract from the fact that he lectures a positive message. Phrases such as “Find the beat in every sound in nature” and “Be authentic, be original” might be about as profound as a faux-inspirational internet meme, and ironically quite unoriginal, but they balance out the urban realities and prove how the most base gangsta rap stereotype need not be the case.
It was no surprise that he continuously referred to what he was doing as “real hip hop”. Despite the occasional lapse into the hip hop clichés, this man is undoubtedly a master of his craft, creating something brilliant out of thin air, without the army of writers and producers so prevalent with many of the whippersnappers.
“I don’t write songs for cash, I write songs that last,” he raps. We doubt anyone would dare argue.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Martin Waters