Aligned with Record Store Day, B.Eat Street hosted the Red Bull Music Academy event Wax Works, dedicated to vinyl-philes (if that’s not a word yet, it should be) with a number of acts performing on their turntables. Amongst those spinning sets were DJ Jazzy Jeff and PRhyme, consisting of hip hop producer extraordinaire DJ Premier aka Premo and rapper Royce Da 5’9.
As Royce Da 5’9 said himself on stage, it took him considerable amounts of personal growth alongside the development of his skills to finally make Premier his DJ. The hip hop legends have collaborated in the past (‘Boom’ in 1999) and now they are back together. Entering the stage they brought the old-school energy back, addressing the audience like church preachers commanding the admiration of the believers. It’s all about good old call-and-response to get a hip hop crowd moving (“Amen!”).
The duo started their one-hour set with some songs from their new eponymous album, characterised by the laidback beats of Premo, but with a more vintage sound. Premo incorporated samples by Adrian Younge (mostly 60’s organs and strings) into the mix, whilst Royce unleashed rhymes that demanded respect with their mastery of wordplay and their realness (“more squares in your radio than in waffles”). I almost feared it might be a self-celebrating event of their maintaining of “keeping it real” with a constant sound throughout the years – but this proved unfounded. After promoting their new album with only three songs, they began to take the piss out of themselves. A fun atmosphere was created by playing games such as a DJ-Rapper interview, where the DJ answers with scratching vocal sample. Another took the form of a sample-recognition game with the audience, where the original sample is played and then made into a beat – all live, of course!
These old hands showcased almost every skill they had within an hour, ranging from scratching to flow variations to creating beats from scratch. They also incorporated a guest act Kid Vishis to perform the art of battle rap without beat backing.
Although I felt this show might be interchangeable and not very personal, this changed when they shared what this tour really meant for them. Royce recounted staying sober for 5 years and dedicating his time to refining his techniques; Premo dedicated the tour to his deceased partner Guru from Gang Starr. For an audience who demanded old-school this was a nostalgic trip back to the golden age of hip hop.
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