Review & Interview: TGP Presents: Kyza x Split Prophets

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If you caught our review of The Guilty Party’s last event featuring Jehst, Strange U & more you already know how hyped we were to return to the Belgrave Hall, Leeds back on December 5th to catch their latest showcase featuring undisputed hip-hop heavyweight Kyza Smirnoff and Bristol’s livest hip-hop collective, SplitProphets. For those unaware, Kyza has been at the forefront of the UK scene since the turn of the new millennium. His origins stem from N.W.C (North-West Collabo) alongside veteran producer Micall Parknsun, who spotted his potential and connected him with Lowlife Records, collaborating with iconic artists such as Jehst and Chester P before proceeding to join forces with Klashnekoff, creating the Terra Firma collective which has produced some of Kyza’s most acclaimed material before leaving in 2006 to begin focussing on his solo career. Kyza’s last solo project, Hibernation, dropped in August and was complimented by Wordplay Magazine as “the rebirth and reintroduction to Kyza Smirnoff“.

SplitProphets burst into the scene back in 2011 with their hard-hitting Scibbled Thoughts E.P, gaining them due respect throughout the underground and across the nation. As their reputation’s enhanced they’ve gone on to support hip-hop legends including Wu Tang, KRS One, Immoral Technique and many more. Affiliated with hip-hop artists world-wide they’ve most recently collaborated with French hip-hop collective Mer2Crew to produce a western-influenced short film for their single Incorruptibles which dropped just over a week ago. This year they’ve continued to entice their extensive fan base with releases including Bil Next and Paro’s Weedmasons EP and Upfronts Up Front And Personal LP, which were quickly deemed classics by the hip-hop community. Unsurprisingly, we expected something of a memorable evening.

Kyza took to the stage around midnight. Despite a relatively minimal crowd turnout in comparison to past TGP events, Kyza wasn’t deterred and commenced into an intimate performance. The showcase proved to be a real treat for the heads alongside us, quietly grooving to Kyza’s setlist which was littered with acappella freestyles and exclusive material from his forthcoming release. Full of feel-good vibes and rugged hip-hop flavours implemented by Mr Sayso on the decks, Kyza proved to possess a flow compatible with any tempo thrown at him over a variety of nostalgic beats spanning multiple genres; Damien Marley’s ‘Welcome To Jamrock’, Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’ and Nirvana were just a few famous instrumentals of choice. These light-hearted yet intricate lyrical renditions went hand-in-hand with the congenial atmosphere which existed throughout the evening. Kyza engaged and made himself approachable to his audience, ensuring that they enjoyed the performance as much as he did.

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(Photography by Seren Heyward-Jones)

Roughly an hour later SplitProphets representatives Res One, Bil Next, Flying Monk and Upfront MC took to the stage with a revitalizing energy. The emcee’s put in an ecstatic performance with on point flows and realist rhymes over rugged and  rhythmic instrumentals which kept the crowd on their toes. The vibes were off the hook. Compact with boom-bap influenced beats the set list was made up of anthemic classics from their solo LP’s. The rowdy collective kept the crowd attentive as they relayed rhymes depicting the struggles of Bristol living, drug taking and other graphically personified perspectives of their realities. They maintained an upbeat ethos by regularly engaging with their audience, spitting both jokes and wisdom. Towards the end of the showcase SplitProphets were joined onstage by Defenders Of Style (Joe Snow, Jack-Danz) and Lunar C for a ruthless gang cypher which clinically displayed all artists abilities to the fullest; a performance which we certainly won’t be forgetting in a hurry.

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(Photography by Seren Heyward-Jones)

After the show we caught up with Res One & Upfront to hear their thoughts on the evening and learned exclusive insights into what the Split Prophets camp have in store for 2015.

What was your favourite part of the performance?

Res: Basically there was about 500 people deep, one of them run over the crowd, like running on people to get to us, and dragged Upfront into the crowd and physically abused him… in the crowd.

Upfront: What was that?

What do you like about this venue?

Res: Everything man. It’s got a good stage, it’s got a good dance hall, it’s got a good bar…

How would you sum up the night in a sentence?

Res: It was a lot of fun.

We’re coming to the end of 2014, have Split Prophets got much in store for next year?

Upfront: Tell ‘em American Res!

Res: Split Prophets have got a lot in store for 2015. We’ve got a crew album coming, we’ve got an album from Res One coming, we got an EP coming from Flying Monk and we got multiple different collaborations, videos, tours – we’re doing a tour of Europe in 2015.

Upfront: Ah shit…

Res: Fuck it, there’s a tour of Europe! Fuck ‘em.

Upfront: He’s real good at being inconspicuous isn’t he?

Res: This is the real exclusive! And a tour of Australia, but that is a maybe…

So what are you doing after tonight? Not driving back to Bristol surely?

Res: We’re in Leeds tonight. To be honest the whole reason we came up here was to do a track with Defenders Of Style, so it wasn’t just to come up and do the show we came up also to make music with them, so tonight we’re going back to Jack Danz’s to make music.

Sounds dope. Thanks for your time gents. 

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(Photography by Seren Heyward-Jones)

There you have it people, the real exclusive. Watch for upcoming SplitProphets tour announcements and their collaboration with Defenders Of Style dropping hopefully in the near future. Shouts to MC Sez on photography, Res One for speaking with us, each performing artist and the event organisers for hosting another memorable hip-hop showcase. Watch for future TGP gig announcements dropping in 2015 by following their Facebook page HERE.

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