Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ugly Duckling / Kinny / Sm:)eymic / DJ Mylz @ The Hare & Hounds, Wednesday 25th August 2010

First up tonight Sm:)eymic. Yes that’s a :) in his name. Maybe I should just do the review the same way eh? It would save me hours writing this nonsense if I could just stick up a :( or :)? But then you’d have nothing to read at work would you eh? Anyway, Mr Mic is a one man band for the 21st century, but instead of strapping a drum kit to his back and playing a triangle with his schlong he’s a master of that live looping business (you know, where they record themselves singing and playing instruments then loop it all together). It’s a neat trick to watch and listen to and somehow he manages to avoid it all sounding like a dog’s dinner. Impressive. He comes across as really nice guy too and his cover of Grandmaster Flash’s Rapper’s Delight at the end was inspired. So, :)’s all round then...

Next up was Kinny, a new name to me, all the way from Canada (now that’s one hell of a bus journey...wonder if the number 11 goes that far?). She’s worked with Quantic before now which should give you a fair indication of her general vibe. Slightly hampered by singing along to a backing track rather than a live band she nevertheless blew my socks off (holes and all) with her vocal. Damn she’s got soul. Reflecting her Jamaican roots there are some reggae beats in there too (‘Enough Said’ in particular manages to combine the jazz and reggae worlds really well). Track after track of 100% silky vocal lushness gradually attracted the attention of the chatterers in the audience and, by the end of it all she’d won over at least one new fan. Me. Add a real band to the mix and you’ve got a truly special gig.

Finally it’s time for Long Beach hip hop legends Ugly Duckling, now celebrating 17 (17!) years in the bizzle fo schnizzle. So named ‘cos they felt out of place in their local rap scene they still stand out as being different to your average ‘crew’. Joint MCs Andy (tall and skinny) and Dizzy (short so skinny) come off like the Laurel and Hardy (ask your grandparents) of rap. That’s a huge part of their charm though, as is their nicely self deprecating performance which neatly busts apart all those tired old clichés about hip hop’s obsession with the unholy trinity of birds, bling and bullets.

You can’t fault the beats...glorious snatches of lush soul and funk vinyl delivered by Young (or maybe that should be middle aged now) Einstein on the wheels of steel. Having seen them a while back tonight's show was pretty similar, but why mess with a winning formula eh? From the mic throwing (Andy and Dizzy literally chuck the mic from one to the other just in time to deliver their line) of ‘Pass It On’ to the lady lovin’ (one of the female audience members is invited onstage so that Dustin and Andy can try on their pick up lines on them) ‘Honey Was Offended By A Pick Up Line’ it was a masterclass in good time hip hop. It’s impossible to avoid getting swept along by it all and pretty soon the audience was bouncing along with their hands in the air. By the time ‘A Little Samba’ rolled around even the lamest fly boys and girls were getting in on the act. As the set drew to a close the defiant ‘I Won’t Let It Die’ whipped the faithful into a mass bounce along. It couldn't be more appropriate. 17 years on and this is far from a dead duck(ling).

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