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- Jazz Cafe, Camden Town »
- Spooks »
An unusual and pleasant surprise to see a popular and successful hip hop act performing in a small club just down the road. Rude not to check it out, I figured…
Spooks are at this moment in time between record companies, and hence a pair of low key shows while they're over here courting London labels.The gig opened with a short, but kicking, set by Spooks touring DJ, DJ Ghetto (also of The Superstars of the Ghetto), where he warmed up the audience and warmed up his scratching, starting the beats that were going to flow right through the show. After a big build up the band poured on to the stage and got to work, seeming a tiny bit nervous at the beginning, but then within a few tracks creating the mother of all parties, with Vengeance's laid back rapid fire rapping contrasting with the more in-yer-face boombastic rhymes of Booka T and Hypno, Ming Xia's sweet vocals providing a counterpoint and a breather from the antics and interplay of the guys. On record, slick and soulful, live it was sweat and saliva, bump and pump with heaps of audience participation making us feel as if we were part of the show, not just spectators. My high point of the set was the part where Ming Xia hummed a melody, DJ Ghetto scratched a bass drum in time, and the guys all took turns to jam out rhymes. The track was 'Bitch Blood'_, and it showed a glimpse of the street corner roots of the band.
After the show I got chatting to Hypno about the scene in Europe and the UK, heavily plugged The Streets album as (in my opinion) the first genuine British Hip Hop record, and heard how much Spooks love Muse, and how they thought they blew everyone else away at the festivals. Hypno said Spooks want to move over to this side of the pond because they were interested in collaborating with European artists. There is, for instance, some awesome rap (like Saian Supa Crew) in France that isn't known in the English speaking world because they rap in French, and Spooks want to change that and bring all of these different European flavours of hip hop together. After the persistent deluge of rappers trying to use controversy as a device to sell high volumes of records to adolescents, it is a joy to come across a hip hop act with such positive ideas.