Back to The Academy 2 for the second night in a row, this time for some rap action. Oh yes. It all kicked off in fine style with compare, Polar Bear (hey, that rhymes...get me). I've heard the name, but never seen him before. Tonight he performed a few pieces, including Jessica (which is just beautiful) and David (both of which you can listen to on his MySpace page), each one a touching, coming of age tale delivered with split second timing and real heart. Hailing from Smethwick...my home patch...he's seriously talented and I found myself looking forward to his in between set bits as much as the main sets themselves - which is bloody rare in a compare (shit that rhymes too, spooky). I've said before (and dang me I'll probably say it again) that UK rap is really finding its own voice these days and Polar Bear deserves to be up there with the best of them.
Producers With Computers were up next. Bleepy electro rap double act with a nice line in slapper trashing lyrics. You get the feeling that at least one of them has been on the sharp end of a relationship with a 'girlie'...nasty. The early audience is always difficuly to please (this all kicked off at around 7pm 'cos there's some club night on a Saturday...probably something involving the very people PWC dislike). But they did a fine job of getting 'hands in the air' and warmed us up nicely for the man child of rap Gideon Conn. Judging by the reception Mr Conn (no relation to Bobby I presume) is building himself a nice word of mouth following. He reminded me of Freddie (from Freddie and the Dreamers...ask your great, great grandfather), but I'd had a couple by then. Backed by a real live band with a nice chilled out gentle Summertime funky folky feel (that's all bases covered I think) he was simply charming. I wanted to give him a big hug. He's got a great toons too, the toppermost of which I Want You Around, you've gotta love that badopdadoodaadancebadappduane bit. I bought a CD too. The ultimate Baron seal of approval.
Last up, the men themselves Dan (yes, I've got a beard now too) Le Sac vs Scroobius (I could be London Mayor one day) Pip. The trouble with having a big internet generated hit single is that some people may just think 'novelty' and ignore all your other stuff. This would be a real shame if it happened in this case. Mr Pip is a thinker. He talks sense. But he does it all in a way that connects with an audience without seeming too preachy...although he did have a lectern last night...hmmmm. I'm looking forward to hearing the album and seeing how the pair of them develop. They, only half jokingly I think, discussed what they were going to do when all this ended. Mr Pip fancies a career in television and I think he'd be perfect. I can see him riding round the country on a scooter sorting shit out, then writing a rap about it for the end credits. Genius. However, judging by the healthy crowd and the fact that every track was well recieved, he's probably got a good few years of this stuff left to do. The most touching moment of the night was his tribute to Tommy Cooper (complete with a flickering image of our Tommy on a black and white telly), Beauty's In The Eye Of The Beholder, who's death was seen by millions but 'not one tear was cried....can you think of anything more beautiful than that?' Put that way, no, I can't.