Boom Bap ft. Nu Tribe, MC Nelson & More: The Reeds, Liverpool
In a brand new venue on the outskirts of town, Shaun Ponsonby takes in an all-night Boom Bap party that could become a central part of a criminally overlooked scene.
There is always a sense of excitement when you enter a new venue – and for me at least total anxiety that I’ll get lost.
The Reeds is located on London Road. Way past Lime Street and the Empire Theatre, it is a little out of the way from the majority of the venues in the city, but it is also weirdly more accessible than most. There is a bus stop directly opposite, and it’s less than a five minute walk from the train station. Even for me, who regularly gets lost in the city where I’ve spent the majority of my life, it was easy to find.
A converted Chinese restaurant, it is yet open full time. However they are staging the occasional Saturday night party. Tonight is an event called Boom Bap – a handful of rappers and MC’s, headlined by the incredible Nu Tribe.
Naturally, we arrive early. We want to check out The Reeds as a venue first.
It manages to balance out being classy and grimey all at once. Full bookshelves cover the walls, and there are two bars; one selling alcohol, the other serving food (on the menu tonight we have lamb curry and a vegan soup). But it retains a DIY feel.
On entering, we initially looked around and felt a little disappointed – but we hadn’t realised the set-up. Being a former restaurant, the lay out is different from most venues, with an entire section at the back that isn’t initially apparent. This actually works in its favour. It means that even a sparsely attended event can feel fuller that it actually is.
Not that this is a problem tonight. For the first Boom Bap event, they managed to grab Nu Tribe for a flying visit after they recently moved to London.
Choonz Inc Records & Someperson opened up with a DJ set, though as we entered they were joined by some nameless MC’s who had apparently decided to just grab a mike and start freestyling, which really underlined the communal feeling in the air.
Someperson stuck around and was joined by Lucid, and together they expertly warmed the swelling crowd up for the main attraction. A new event in a new venue can be a difficult sell, but by this point it was clear that this wasn’t an issue tonight.
Nu Tribe entered a little late, but got really got the party going. They did a couple of tunes before disappearing and letting the DJ take over. This section was full of surprises. At once point I found myself returning from the bathroom to the sound of Donna Summer’s State of Independence – which, incidentally, as a song written by prog giants Jon Anderson and Vangelis, performed by disco queen Donna Summer, produced by jazz legend Quincy Jones, featuring Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder on backing vocals and being played at a hip hop gig, is probably the most Planet Slop thing ever.
By now the night has become something of a blur. The air is electric, and Nu Tribe return to their microphones to put the finishing touches to their slot. Their entire performance was a kaleidoscope of hip hop, R&B, reggae. The history, the future, right now. People were standing on chairs and the dancefloor was full.
We didn’t have long to catch our breath before MC Nelson appeared. A much different vibe to Nu Tribe, his words are far more political, and his delivery requires more precision.
I have only seen him once before – at what was his very first gig. To see him now is nothing short of a revelation. He is far more relaxed and in control of the situation. His personality is not as intense as you might expect him to be – he is completely cool and affable. This guy is laid back, but intelligent. He can make you laugh and make you think within a single track, and we eat up every word.
By now it has gone 3am. The Reeds has a 24 hour license, so they could go on as long as they want. Nicky Talent is still to come, and they are planning to invite anyone and everyone up to freestyle after that.
But I’m all outta money! Begrudgingly, I head to the exit and hail a cab.
The next morning (well…afternoon) I wake to the news that the success of Boom Bap has led to them making it a monthly event. As well it should. You couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something else happening in the air. More than just a couple of MC’s and an appreciative crowd. Played right, this event and The Reeds as a venue could become a central part of this criminally overlooked scene.
Next time, show your face. You won’t regret it.
Pictures by Christopher Flack