Mainstream hip-hop can appear gaudy and flash; alienating fans and outsiders alike. Getintothis’ Alex Woo was present at the Zanzibar to witness Tony Broke and his cohorts take it back to its roots.
The old adage is good things come to those who wait, and in the case of Tony Lawson, aka Tony Broke, that is certainly the case.
Lawson has been a prominent figure in Liverpool’s hip-hop scene for decades and this year has finally released his first full-length album, Broke As Fuck, on Blah Records.
It was apt that the album’s launch was held in the Zanzibar, as it is also home to the Wavy Rap nights; showcases renowned for hosting fresh artists, both from Merseyside and emerging national talent.
In typical fashion, Tony Broke invited some of them along to perform.
DJ Dalema kicked the night off playing a selection of classic tracks, with everything from Jeru the Damaja to Mos Def, KRS One to Guru, Jurassic 5 and Biggie.
Unfortunately, an ill-timed technical error with the decks deprived us of the opportunity to witness some of the scheduled DJ sets and battles, and only D Fresh was able to get on the turntables.
Thankfully there was plenty of quality from the performing emcees to compensate.
Loki, backpack and all, lays down the law at the Zanzibar
The first performer, one of the standout acts on the night, was Loki; a witty, socially conscious Liverpool MC.
Kicking off with spoken word tracks (a refreshing surprise given what was to follow), he segued into a variety of energetic tracks covering a wide range of topics, including politics and fatherhood. He’s definitely someone to keep an eye on.
A delectable change of pace saw 4saken, a young trio, up the tempo using dance-orientated beats while Like A Scouse Bitch, had the potential to be a genuine club banger.
The three rappers between them offered a skilled variation in flow and style, as each took it in turns to sing the bridge.
Innuendo left no stone unturned with his sharp mind and sharper tongue at the Zanzibar
Next up was Innuendo, a long time friend and co-performer of Tony Broke.
Innuendo is well known for his multi-syllabic rhymes and his jokes, and was in top form, with a particular line about Ken Dodd and tax evasion having the crowd in fits of laughter – we won’t spoil it, go and find it yourself.
He topped it off by inviting Broke on stage to freestyle with him, and it’s easy to see why both acts have been cornerstones in the Liverpool urban music scene for so long.
There were a few more performers on what was a packed bill: Bang On, the former GIT Award nominee excelling with his eccentric yet captivating rapping style backed up with a monolithic stage presence; Ape Cult, a group from Manchester who were missing a few members but still made a big impression; and Lee Scott and Bill Shakes, also from Blah Records, who took to the stage to freestyle with Broke.
What really stood out was the variety and versatility of the support acts on show. While each individual may not have been to everyone’s liking there was definitely something for hip-hop fans of all ages.
Tony Broke weighs in with a typically acerbic aside at the Zanzibar
By the time Tony Broke finally hit the stage, he showed why he’s so widely respected throughout Liverpool.
Playing more than half of the songs off his new album, including Crack Head Dance, N.F.A, Drunken Thief, Bar Fight and Crash and Burn, he proved why it’s a shame it’s taken this long for his first full solo record to be released.
If the Liverpool music community continues to nurture and support local artists like Tony Broke then he won’t be broke as fuck for too long.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Gaz Jones.
Further reading on Getintothis:
Big Daddy Kane, Innuendo, Tony Broke, No Fakin: East Village Arts Club, Liverpool.
GIT AWARD 2012: Artist nominee profile – Bang On!.
The Pharcyde talk to Getintothis: Bizarre rides, the making of a classic and J Dilla’s legacy.
Top 10: West Coast hip hop albums.
Top 10 Liverpool urban artists – ones to watch.
Time for Scouse rap to step up.