Review: TGP Presents: Jehst x Strange U featuring Sonnyjim, Lee Scott & Wonky Logic

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The heads running The Guilty Party have been putting it down for UK hip-hop over the past year, hosting some truly memorable occasions which have seen performances from the likes of Devilman, Lunar C and most recently Jehst, who visited West Yorkshire alongside Strange U (rapper Kashmere and producer Dr. Zygote) at the Belgrave Music Hall on November 7th. The supporting lyricists were artists who share an impressive trait with Jehst, the notorious label owner of YNR Records, one of the UK’s most esteemed hip-hop labels. Sonnyjim, the remarkably established founding artist of Eat Good records, built his reputation over the past decade with dozens of releases defining his uniquely intellectual brand of lyricism, formidably becoming one of Birmingham’s most celebrated hip-hop artists. Then there’s Lee Scott, who began the initially obscure cult following of his homegrown Blah Records label at the start of the new millennia, upholding a cult manifesto of “cold saggin’ moon funk” music and overlooking its gradual progression into a nationwide following. He was to make his first live performance in Leeds alongside Black Josh and Stinkin’ Slumrock. A bill filled with iconic artists, it’s fair to imagine that nobody really anticipated anything other than a classic.

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Leeds based DJ Wonky Logic was first onstage, delivering high velocity instrumentals that fleeted between soul and predominantly funk derived melodies which overlapped with fervent bass hooks that caused limbs to quiver and spines to shiver, testing the full potential of the Belgrave speakers and setting the bar high for those yet to deliver musically throughout the evening.

As the clocks struck 10pm the crowd filled the space in front of stage. All eyes were turned on Lee Scott, who could be seen standing on the edge of the stage with a manic expression etched across his face. It wasn’t much longer before he snatched a microphone and Reklews took position behind decks. They began by laying down ‘So Cactus So Owl’, the introductory track from Scott’s latest project ‘CactusOwlMoonGoat’. From the jump off it was destined to be a cold saggin’ spectacular. The tempo was neither ecstatic nor relentless; Reklews chose to implement chilling soundscapes with distinctively cold instrumentation, engineering his desired atmosphere to co-exist with Scott’s bars spat with an intense enthusiasm. It was a passionate performance as Scott enlivened the crowds, pausing only to sip his “morning” whiskey as he crimped out in a baggy tracksuit and iconic Blah bucket hat, covering all corners of his discography.

DSCF3424(Photograph by Seren Heyward-Jones)

He was soon accompanied by Stinkin Slumrock and Black Josh, who was making his first appearance on the tour and made sure to leave a lasting impression from start to finish. When Reklews dropped the unnerving melody of ‘Craig Mack’ the crowd went berserk. Black Josh had effectively riled the audience with a zealous lyrical rendition, backed coldly by an eerily resounding bass hook. Stinkin Slumrock made a particularly spirited impact when ‘Why Clef?’ (new joint from ‘CactusOwlMoonGoat’) dropped, spitting his verse with engaging delivery, ensuring his bars were heard with clarity as he led the crowd on another wave of exhilaration. The climax came in the form of ‘Ellesse Ellesse’, when the levels peaked as discordant keys began trickling amongst rugged percussion blasting from the speakers the crowd became elated, matching the artist’s rapid flows to mimic their entire verses in a flawlessly ecstatic finale. Job well done, Blah left the stage with jubilant expressions as the audience made their appreciation heard.

Backstage, Blah gave their takes on the performance:

Lee Scott: “It was fuckin’ live man, especially seeing as this is the earliest time we’ve been on, so this shit was live especially considering that it’s like before 10 o clock. Who’s even awake before 10 o clock? This is like 3 o clock in the morning music. I’ve never even been to Leeds I don’t think, I thought I had but when we were driving today I was like “Nah I’ve never been to Leeds!”. We literally got here, parked up and got straight into the venue. The crowd was live, they got down especially considering it was before 10 o clock.”

Black Josh: “We just really wanted them to understand the depth of the cold sag, and sweg! There’s so much sweg and cold sag that goes on in life that Blah try to put on a plate to you so you understand, you get me?”

Reklews: “It looked like people enjoyed White Lightnin’, Yes He Did and Ellesse. Ellesse usually does go off.”

After a periodic interval Sonnyjim hopped onto stage beginning a solo effort to get the crowd hype, holding the microphone in one hand and swigging expensive bottled cognac in the other. The set-list delved throughout Sonnyjim’s extensive discography in captivating lyrical renditions, supported with predominantly psychedelic beats rugged with distinctive boom-bap elements. For upbeat tracks such as ‘The Landing’ Sonnyjim was passionate with on point lyricism, creating a joyous atmosphere. Whether he was taking the audience on a trip down memory lane in tracks like ‘Holdin It Down’ or evaluating his position of power with intelligent perspectives in more recent singles such as ‘Royal Flush’ and ‘Running Water’ his audience were engrossed from start to finish. Sonnyjim returned his appreciation by chucking Eat Good merchandise into the bustling crowds before him before leaving the stage. A masterful performance.

DSCF3483 (Photograph by Seren Heyward-Jones)

As the crowd entertained themselves in the break Kashmere unexpectedly jump-started his performance following his first step upon the stage, with Dr. Zygote already prepared behind decks. He force-fed his audience knowledge, rhymed with outstanding precision. The crowd had no difficulty in coming to grips with the intellectuality which dominated the setlist, mainly covering the leftfield EP #2040 which released in late September. Dr. Zygote held it down on the decks by dropping experimental beats which grooved with mind-melting instrumentation, releasing a unique portfolio of darkly discordant instrumentals alongside riveting bass hooks. It was practically impossible to stand still when confronted with Kashmere’s gritty and determined delivery, his words truly resonated with the audience as he put his revolutionist perspectives on a plate. He ultimately asks the people to think for themselves and to question the system we’ve been placed into, preaching the necessity of unity in order to spark a crucial change to the embedded social and political structures.  The duo finished with ‘Strange Ones’ before immediately disappearing off-stage to a resounding applause.

If you don’t know about the EP #2040 then get to know by checking out the bandcamp link below:

Jehst opened his heavily anticipated setlist with ‘Starting Over’, tripping over a few microphone chords in the process but jokingly taking it in his stride. He recognised the vibes and was generally light-hearted, however when he recited his real classic material such as from ‘The Return Of The Drifter’ and ‘Falling Down’ albums which dropped over a decade ago his passion truly emerged as he relayed lyrics depicting life’s experiences and the lesson’s learnt. Around the halfway mark Jehst took a seat on the edge of the stage for ‘Camberwell Carrot’, taking the performance into the crowd to deliver his rhymes with precision even amongst the bustling fans, breaking the imaginative barrier between them and leaving no supporter unsatisfied. To emphasize the organic nature of YNR’s music Kashmere joins the stage and call’s for Jazz T to handle the sample loop, Dr. Zygote to take over the drum machine and Jehst to manipulate a bassline with Kashmere himself on the microphone. Together they delivered an entirely live performance. ‘Dolph Lundgren’, Jehst and Strange U’s most recent collaboration, came close to the end. To put it simply, the crowd went off. The lyricists put in perhaps the most animated performance of the evening in an dynamic lyrical spectacle, emerged within the murky depths of another compact experimental beat from Dr. Zygote. The finale came in the form of ‘Nuke Proof Suit’, in which the YNR collective riled the crowd a final time and basked in the roaring reception they received. A performance nothing short of memorable.

DSCF3521(Photograph by Seren Heyward-Jones)

Big ups to everybody involved, our first-hand TGP experience was truly unforgettable. Shout outs to MC Sez for holding it down on photography, Blah Records for speaking to us, all the performing artists and The Guilty Party. Any self respecting hip-hop heads based within West Yorkshire should get to know about The Guilty Party’s upcoming event featuring Kyza Smirnoff, Splitprophets and Hashfinger on December 5th and support your local hip-hop scene. More information can be found on the Facebook event page HERE.

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