Unfortunately I missed the London Blackstar gig but was lucky enough to get tickets to the Manchester leg of their tour. After arriving in Manchester from a 4 hour drive from London I started to question my sanity and if it’s worth travelling this distance and back again all for just a rap concert.
The last two rap concerts I attended were really poor but at least Mos Def, Rakim and Talib Kweli are heavy weights in the game so maybe this time around I’ll be better served.
I then started to question the state of hip-hop. Having listed to hip hop for the last 23 years I have seen it seriously evolve into something that is now pretty much unrecognisable as from what I love about this music in the 80’s.
Hip Hop used to me more than just music it used to be about making a statement and a way of life. From graffiti art, break dancing, to mixing and scratching vinyl.
But things have changed so much that I don’t even recognise some of my rap heroes. Hip Hop once stood against all these things and now we see our rap gods conform to the powers that be.
After entertaining these thoughts I started to have real reservations of the concert I was about to see. As I walked through the doors of the venue I saw one of my long time heros Rakim rocking the mic. In the 5 minutes of standing there I was already captivated along with the rest of the crowd throwing up their hands.
Rakim’s performance assured us all that real hip hop is still living and breathing in full force and helped to start to eat away at my doubts.
As his set came to an end I would have been happy to drive back to London knowing that my faith has been restored, but we had more to come. Was the next act going to be able to top Rakim’s performance?
The crowd started to get restless after waiting too long for the next act and just as we were about to give up Talib entered the stage and got the crowd hyped. We were back to the same energy and feeling we have when Rakim exited the stage. Just as we were feeling the flow Mos Def jumped on stage and the vibe and energy in the arena increased by four notches. As they rhymed to their jam Definition although they have gone their separate ways musically they were clearly together and here to have fun tonight.
The dynamic duo kept us all waving our hands, nodding our heads and singing along to the choruses.
The whole experience left me reverte to my childhood years to when I first fell in love with Hip Hop and was a strong reminder why I fell in love with the culture to begin with.
As Flavour’s Photographer Saira Awan and I jumped into the car to make the long journey back to London the smiles on our faces and the natural high we were on made the journey back home feel like a fraction of the time.
Words by Daniel Hagon
Photography by Sai Photography