Review: Camden Crawl presents #CC14 – 20 – 21 June Camden Town, London
The Camden Crawl is a mammoth two day takeover across Camden Town’s numerous music venues. I like to think of it as our own little version of SXSW in Austin, TX. Fitting with the digital era we live in, #CC14 as it was dubbed this year is all about showcasing the talent who have built recognition among the taste makers from hip hop and techno to punk rock and heavy metal, plus everything in between! We have interviews with Lady Lykez, Mickey Lightfoot and Eyez coming but for now check out the run down of what happened!
The rap orientated highlight of the Friday performances saw Ghetts run through tracks off his successful ‘Rebel with a cause album’ backed with a live band, young singer Cameron Bloomfield and a guest spot from Rival, a long standing grime MC whose priceless co-sign from Ghetts added an extra level of authenticity to his live grime crossover sound. This was preceded by a promising set from young R&B singer Raheem Bakare who provided an excellent run through of his own material and covered a Bob Marley classic, whilst adding his own flavour and making it his own!
Itch FM DJ and host Thad Boogie represented his company Big Promo at The Beatrice on Camden High Street, for the more street orientated UK hip hop sound. In demand rapper Little Simz went in hard with her unmistakable squeaky voice spitting like a seasoned vet, getting some great feedback on her new material from the crowd. As a relatively new artist to the game, it’s great to see how she has carved a distinct sound as she weaved in and out of the trap and boom bap orientated beats while effortlessly delivering her confident flow.
Finsbury Park’s Lady Lykez blew the whole venue apart with her energy, ferocious mic skills and a performance that you could tell she enjoyed as much as the watching audience. As Lykez dropped her stand out tracks ‘Eurgh’, ‘I Love my Butt’ and ‘Psycho’ it was hard to decide which was delivered better, but all received a positive reaction, especially the unashamedly bootylicious ‘I Love My Butt’ – a stark antithesis to the sexualised content displayed in the industry, by celebrating body image rather than using it a magnet for male attention.
Derby hailing rapper Eyez was the next to step up, and the Lords of the Mics entrant went in hard showing big promise as the next street rapper with cross over potential. The strong delivery of his lyrical talent was backed up with an acoustic guitarist, backing singer and co-MC Dubzy. However Eyez proved that their backing was superfluous as his stage presence and ability to project himself meant he could have held it down with the traditional ‘two-decks-and-a-mic’ format!
Emily Rawson and host Big Ted took over The Jazz Cafe, an iconic venue in the heart of Camden Town which has hosted countless legends of black music over the years, and is also a regular spot for weekend club nights, such as Emily’s successful ‘Supa Dupa Fly’ dedicated to 1990s/early 2000s hip hop classics. Highlights of this segment of #CC14 were undoubtedly Mickey Lightfoot and Blizzard.
Lightfoot’s left field and progressive take on the electronic side of the UK soulful street sound was definitely a breath of fresh air. To someone that’s never heard his music, it could be described as a more abstract answer to Mikill Pane and Ghostpoet and takes strong influences from Andre 3000! His live performance backed by his keyboard and bass guitar playing team didn’t go unnoticed either as he kept the crowd skanking throughout!
Nineteen year old Manchester starlet Blizzard showed that he’s more than adept at merely rapping over hip hop and grime, but also a confident and charismatic singer and keyboardist, as he sang, rapped and played his way through his set, with a rapturous approval from the packed audience presumably as a response to his industry wide approval ratings, akin to that of Barack Obama circa 2008! The gem of his set was a reworking of Traci Chapman’s 1988 classic ‘Fast Car’, themed on his budget Megabus journeys to and from London, which was not only comedic and witty but also an indication of his arduous struggles to make it as an up-and-coming artist from Northern England!
Mumdance and Novelist took over Koko for a heavy duty grime DJ/MC combo set which went down a storm in the multi-tiered theatre scale venue at the Mornington Crescent end of Camden. The young Lewisham artist proved he’s not just an MC that can murk a radio set but also has the capacity to tear up big venues. Mumdance’s space age selection served was a mind blowing introduction to the new to grime audience who looked as tho they were definitely enjoying the set but didn’t quite know how to dance /react to it!
Plastician‘s set which followed was always set to be a stonker, and as a pioneer and of the dubstep/grime/140 bpm sound he was of course equipped with the dub plate laden tracks and mixing skills, with banger after banger as the crowd showed no sign of tiredness!
Outside of the core music we cover on BlatantlyBlunt, other names who impressed me were D/R/U/G/S, a Manchester DJ who brought a late night ear blasting electronic techno set to the Electric Ballroom, with a complimenting light show which made me feel like had just ingested a double dose of his name sake!! As the set ended I felt an instant come down, desperate for another hit and will be sure to check out any appearances from him in the future!
The Underworld, a Camden Town flagship venue known for it’s heavy metal and hard rock shows hosted Slaves, a two-peice garage punk band who brought that hard-as-nails sound, exemplified by the likes of Sex Pistols. They had a quintessentially English dry wit and sense of humour which included a good dose of sarcastic romance and a somehow endearing crowd interaction strategy which included asking what the audience’s favourite type of biscuit was. The headbanging mosh pit fans in the front added a sense of reassuring terror to their set and the vocalist/drummer delivered a self confident performance of shouty aggression which sat perfectly with the crashing drums and equally boisterous backing vocals of the electric guitarist – not for the faint hearted but as a grime fanatic I felt in my element!!!
Review by Nick Russell
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