Micall Parknsun/Jyager/One OZ/The Being Emcees
Electric Circus, Edinburgh – 18.03.13
A blizzard blows outside in a fitting example of winter in Scotland as we make our way through the city to the gig. Inside in the warmth of Electric Circus, however, something much rarer is occurring…..a hip-hop gig in Edinburgh. These don’t happen very often, with most rappers playing in Glasgow if they choose to come to Scotland at all. The small crowd inside (maybe 30-40) perhaps suggests why that is the case, although I’m sure the weather played its part in putting people off coming. What is certain though is that those that are here have come to appreciate good music and have a real passion for hip-hop. Tonight is officially the debut EP launch for local Edinburgh rapper One OZ, a familiar face in the local scene, but the headliner is London rapper Micall Parknsun (pronounced Michael Parkinson, like the chat show host) who is touring his latest release “Me, Myself and Akai”. I would not be surprised if most of you reading this haven’t heard of Micall Parknsun. Unfortunately this is often the case with rappers in the UK who haven’t appeared in the charts and, if you like the genre, I have to urge you to support local hip-hop and cop his three albums, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. As much as I like Scottish hip-hop, it was the self styled ‘working class dad’ who I was here to see.
But back to the gig. First up on stage were the Glasgow duo Physiks and Gas, part of The Being Emcees rap collective, an act I have to admit I knew absolutely nothing about. They were given a big build up by One OZ, and the energy they maintained throughout their set showed that they could hold their own and would not be the also-rans that many support acts can turn out to be. They were able to hype the small numbers in the crowd as the two MC’s traded bars, displaying a lyrical dexterity and solid flow that defied their apparent young age. There were definitely some raw edges to their performance and they are by no means the finished article, but the duo clearly have some potential if they can find the right backing and smooth out the kinks. Something that I think will come as they do more gigs. I was genuinely impressed with them, and I’m sure I’ll see them on stage again on one of my forays into a hip-hop gig in Scotland. I look forward to it.
Next up was the man whose night it was, One OZ. His was a face I am familiar with having seen him in support of much more established artists such as New York’s Masta Ace and at local Edinburgh hip-hop night Nu-Fire. He was here to celebrate and publicise the release of his debut recording “1st Class Recorded Delivery EP” and was clearly up for a party despite the small number of people present. I tend to find One OZ a bit hit and miss. Sometimes when I’ve seen him I’ve been really impressed with his flow and lyrics and other times he’s really disappointed me. Unfortunately this time he was more of the latter. Personally, his lyrics did not do it for me this time; appearing to rarely stray from the topics of weed and getting high or the braggadocious content that, while a big part of hip-hop, can get tiresome very quickly. Nevertheless, you cannot fault his workrate. He is prolific on the microphone and clearly works hard to get his name out there, shown by the fact that he managed to get the likes of Micall Parknsun to collaborate on his EP. He is also, most importantly, a talented rapper and although I didn’t feel it tonight there were a number of people in the audience who did, so he must be doing something right.
And finally to the headliner, the one most of us were waiting for. Parky was joined on stage for the night by label mate Jyager (think Jagermeister), an Anglo-Portuguese former garage rapper also from London. Jyager predominantly provided the role of hype man, echoing many of Parky’s lyrics to emphasise parts and generally providing energy for the crowd to feed off, but he also had a few cameos in which to show of his skills that are epitomised on his debut album “Encrypted Scriptures” that came out in 2009. Having heard the album I was looking forward to seeing him as much as Micall Parknsun. Parky, however, showed just why he is so highly rated in UK hip-hop. He launched into his first song with an energy that brought the crowd to the stage and made the venue feel a lot busier than it actually was. Throughout his set he attempted to engage the audience and participate in call and response, something he was much more successful at than the previous artists, and his enthusiasm for what he was doing made the gig a lot more enjoyable that it perhaps could have been with so few people present. His repertoire consisted predominantly of joints from his new release, as you would expect from someone touring their album, but he also played some of his classics from previous albums the stand outs being “So What”, “Dunya” and “All for Hip-Hop”, to which much of the audience rapped along. Overall it was a very enjoyable gig and well worth the trek through the snow, although I imagine with more people it could have been even better.