As the biggest hip-hop stable was having a tiff with hip-hop’s biggest radio station over the pond this weekend, locals fans were packing into the cavernous Village Underground in Shoreditch for a special from the city stalwarts Livin’ Proof. and VIP Hudson Mohawke. Even amongst the bickering rap royalty and the jubilee celebrations this relatively modest event kept its own flag waving high.
The night was chiefly handled by the resident quartet DJ Rags, DJ Khalil, DJ Snips and Budgie with stamina man The Last Skeptik on MC duties throughout the night. Things began slowly with a buttery 90s vibe as coats were being checked and the bar filled but it didn’t take long for the brick cocoon to fill and the selection to move into a more contemporary East Coast/Dirty South axis with Lil Wayne’s stomping 6 Foot 7 and a Dipset medley picking up the tempo. DJ Snips took his turn to play some seminal cuts from Nas and Biggie and showcase some old school scratching techniques but it was DJ Khalil’s bashment interlude that really started to put feet on the floor and drinks in the air. The event really was the roadblock it was expected to be and you really felt you were in the room in about 799 other people when Niggas in Paris dropped, then dropped, then dropped again and the DJs also went in with Danny Brown and Darq E Freaker’s Blueberry, another standout track from the night.
Just as things were nearly reaching a crescendo with bangers old and new and a swinging 2-step break (Battle by Wookie was involved, nuff said) very special guest Hudson Mohawke turned up with a ‘We Trippy Mane’ tee and a laptop full of goodies. A clear admirer and unlikely spiritual progenitor of Just Blaze, Hud Mo opened with soaring Blaze-produced Jay-Z tracks and his whole set put the emphasis on engulfing maximalism with a full-bodied mix of Kanye West’s recent hit Mercy slap bang in the middle of things. That’s not too say anything of Mohawke’s own productions however and particularly the demented Cbat which, bold as it is to claim, topped anything else on the night for exuberance and ebullience. Hudson Mohawke simply has to make more beats for rappers, the wilder the better.
After about a glorious, punishing hour Hudson Mohawke closed and the Livin’ Proof DJs returned to brings things full circle. You’d call it a cool down but you don’t play Houseparty by Meek Mill at a cool down. As the night reached an end the dancefloor loosened its grip and weary people petered out slowly, feeling tired and emotional but rightly so after such a great event.