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Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Melle Mel, L100 Cypher: Shankly Hotel, Liverpool

Celebrating four decades of Rapper’s Delight, Graham Smillie heads to the Shankly Hotel to catch Sugarhill Gang with Gradmaster Melle Mel and Scorpio.

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By Planet Slop
Tue 18 June, 2019

Its 40 years since the Sugarhill Gang became the first Hip-Hop group to score major chart success with Rapper’s Delight. Where does the time go?

Tonight, at the very unlikely Shankly Hotel, Master Gee, Wonder Mike and Hen Dogg are joined by Grandmaster Melle Mel and Scorpio of the Furious 5 for a spectacular trip down memory lane.

That’s not just what it says in the programme, for 50 minutes we are treated to some of the absolute best that Hip-Hop can offer. Rapper’s Delight, The Message and White Lines especially are greeted with huge cheers.

We are reminded to “Make Some Noise!” and put our hands up in the ai-er so often that even I am carried away. I almost danced, everyone else danced like crazy. It’s a lesson in how to put on a show. Cheesy grins break out as we are carried along on a wave of beautiful nostalgia.

But!

But, then a very odd change in pace as we are led into a singalong so epically misplaced that half the crowd headed out to the roof terrace, (not to throw themselves off, it wasn’t quite that bad), but Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) followed by Living on a Prayer and a Beatles medley was a bit cringy.

However, enough people stayed long enough to call for an encore of their new record and were rewarded as the five walked off the stage and into the crowd, still rapping they posed for selfies with everyone who wanted one, some even had two or three.

If only for those first 50 minutes it truly was a night to remember. But there did come a point where I half expected to step out of the building onto the dockside of a different port city having had a good night on a cruise ship.

There was also an astonishing opening set from Liverpool Hip-Hop collective L100 Cypher – headed up by Planet Slop’s old friend DJ 2Kind – who warmed the crowd up nicely with a set full of attitude and rhyme.

The L100 Cypher is a constantly changing line-up of local artists. Tonight we saw Tony Broke, Jamie Broad, Royzy Rothschild, Felcon, Mickey Locks, Prefects and VvGoodX.

Each of the guys dropped rhymes over classic 90’s hip hop beats from artists like Schooly D, Pete Rock, Mos Def, Lords of the Underground and Big Daddy Kane.

The crowd was almost at capacity during their set, which of course added to the performance as both crowd and crew fed off each other.

They were all incredible, but there was a real jewel in VvGoodX. It was the first time we had seen him, and hegave the audience a taste of what it must’ve been like to see LL Cool J perform in his heyday; all six packs and dancing with members of the audience.

This was a memorable performance in more ways than one, and to see these local boys on stage with such legends was strangely heart-warming. There’s a vibrancy to them that we find absent from other, more celebrated artists working in the city, and we can but hope that they will continue to forge their own paths.

Pictures by Graham Smillie