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- Why? »
“How many people here are from record labels or magazines?”
Ten minutes in, and already why? (on anticon – capital letters are _so_ lame) is getting twitchy. On his last visit to UK shores, he was greeted by a crowd comprised almost exclusively of industry types, hungry for a gander at one of the men behind seminal hip-hoppers cLOUDDEAD. But tonight, barely a hand is raised.
“Oh good. Last time I was here, there were like 200 industry people, but you’re the real fans, you know.”
I guess he hasn’t seen the guest list. Truth is we’re all too cowardly to admit that we’re industry. Actually, the real truth is that we’re all genuine fans. It’s hard not to be a fan of a man who produced an album earlier this year, ‘oaklandazulasylum’, that was a glorious patchwork of musical styles, containing everything from ambient Aphex Twin beats, to ramshackle ‘One Foot In The Grave’-era Beck-like folk, to the almost expected (this is_ anticon after all) twisted observational hip hop. Whilst most hip hop is lyrically observational, why? (Yoni Wolf to his mum, possibly) takes things a step further, offering us his own quirky take on the world: _“there are very few microwaves in the Third World” (‘Ferris Wheel’). I'm not certain how he knows for sure, but it’s a pretty good assumption. His step forward is something tonight’s support act, Amateur Dramatics, should look to replicate, as the Brighton duo’s competent beats are marred by some alarmingly simple rhyming about video store owners and people taking their photograph. Still, they can be forgiven – the MC wears a bowler hat. Nice touch.
why?’s joined on stage by a live band – unusual for any hip hop act, especially one perceived as a soloist. The set up works well enough, although it occasionally lapses into soulless white-boy funk along the lines of ‘The In Sound From The Way Out’, the one Beastie Boys album you really don't need to own, or even the Red Hot Chili Peppers. But all is forgiven come the cataclysmic closing to ‘The Teeth Behind Kisses’, which sees the drums battered to within an inch of their lives by a man who, off stage, looks like he wouldn’t dare step on an ant. ‘Early Whitney’, the title track from why?’s new EP, is about as far removed as any preconceptions of what constitutes a hip hop record as any song could be, and it’s all the more glorious for it, driven onwards by some luscious acoustic guitar. If 50 Cent and his chart-bothering ilk are nothing but greyscale rap – replete with the same themes, styles and poses, just arranged a little differently – why? is taking us all on the most interstellar trip of our lives; the whole experience awash in wondrous Technicolor. This isn’t hip hop as we know it kids, and the signs are that the exploration has only just begun.
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