KRS-One, Mad Brains: The Kazimier, Liverpool

KRS ONE at a sold out Kazimier

KRS ONE at a sold out Kazimier

Carrying on the trend of great hip hop gigs at the Kazimier, Getintothis’ Sean Bradbury witnesses one of the best nights the venue has seen.

There is no crowd like a hip-hop crowd. There is no venue in Liverpool like The Kazimier. And there are not many performers in the world possessing the passion and intensity of KRS-One. Fuse these three elements together and you’ve got yourself one hell of a show.

KRS-One’s opening gambit was a soundcheck like no other. It seemed as much an exercise in warming himself up as it was judging the extent of connection with audience.
Where’s the real hip-hop in here tonight?” he asked before launching into an explosive series of mini-freestyles.
The sense of place was palpable. Staring down the face of blinking camera phones at the front – “you better get this shit” – he rapped: “Listen I’m still doing the soundcheck/I ain’t even got down yet/I ain’t even taken my jacket off/I’m off the top and I’m going up North.
How many people got Criminal Minded? I’ma see“, was the next question, prompting some P Is Free call and response.
The show began in earnest with a furious MC’s Act Like They Don’t Know, before some more “old school shit” on Can’t Wake Up (I’m A Blunt) and a blast of Outta Here for good measure.
I’m just starting to get into it now”, he stated before dropping Sound of da Police – “a song about justice” – fairly early on in the night. It started probably the biggest singalong of his set, but by no means the biggest reaction, such is the depth of the KRS-One canon.
He slowed it down next but kept his message going with the lilting reggae vibes of The Invaders, then hurtled into the “original shit” of 9mm Goes Bang.
There were regular bouts of “the original art of street poetry“, a capellas, freestyles and stories between songs. It was a testament to the Kazimier crowd that KRS-One thought these appropriate, declaring that this “crew can handle a higher level of MCing”.
We were treated to a history of hip-hop, a freestyle over some classical beats, Black Cop and of course South Bronx.
Throughout his set KRS-One repeatedly asked where the real hip-hop is. For one night – thanks to him, the crowd and the venue – it was definitely right here in this city.
As the man himself said when the penultimate night of his tour came to a close: “There’s real shit in Liverpool right now. I know I’m way off my time but this shit feels like my living room.” He’d be welcome back any time.
Earlier in the evening, Liverpool-by-way-of-Barca MC Mad Brains provided a frenetic blast across the stage showcasing a full-on mini set of new material.
Brains, aka Cameron Toman, made his name utilising an easy-going swagger which drew plaudits overseas and on home turf resulting in a GIT Award nomination in 2014, yet tonight’s set leaves the rum and herb back in the front room stepping up the pace with a club-classics routine which is as fun as it is flashy. After hot-stepping across one side of the stage to the other for 25 lightning minutes he leaves wide-grinning, sweat-drenched and to fearsome applause.

Pictures by Getintothis’ Jazamin Sinclair.