“On road doing shows/ And we picking up nice cheques”
“Fuckin’ hell, Cardiff’s alright you know,” states Rodney P as he enters the stage, the third and final member of this trinity of UK Hip Hop royalty.
The King Dem tour has brought together the supreme lyricist Ty, the energetic Tony Rotton aka Blak Twang, and the original UK Hip Hop Don Dada, the Riddim Killa, Rodney P.
Each performs their own set of around 4O minutes with Ty the first to take the stage after Rotton’s sideman K9 has performed a couple of tracks to loosen up the Friday, March 15 crowd with the show starting at 8pm sharp.
The running order reflects the style of the three MCs. Ty steadily builds the crowd’s anticipation moving through his collection of soulful and jazz influenced cuts. He’s hyped but he’s never over excited and always keeps his cool as he brings the crowd into the show with call and response rolls on cuts like Somehow, Somewhere, Someway.
Everything is taken up a notch when Blak Twang bounds on to the stage opening with Kick Off from what was probably his most commercially successful album of the same name. Rotton’s set is filled with anthems and he closes with the crowd shouting every word of the chorous of how he’s So Rotton.
The 2002 single was released with reggae singer Jahmali and is perfect for making way for the elder statesman of UK rap Rodney P. DJ Teddy Ted, another mainstay of the UK scene who has manned the decks throughout the show, drops Damian Marley’s Welcome To Jamrock as the Riddim Killa announces his arrival, confirming he’s pleased with tonight’s host city.
Since his days in the seminal London Posse Rodney P has combined the attitude of a London geezer with a reggae soundtrack and he is soon dropping his verse from Live Up over Johnny Osbourne’s classic Truth and Rights. He runs through various post London Posse cuts, collabs, his verse from the UK remix of Pharoe Monch’s Simon Says, and the cover of punk rockers The Stranglers’ Peaches, recorded with the Dub Pistols, before asking the inevitable question, How’s Life in London and also giving a quick flash of another London Posse track, Money Mad.The whole show then stops for the King Dem to take a photo with as many of the crowd that can squeeze together before Rodney jumps back on the rhythm and closes his own set with another song built on a reggae favourite, Nice Up.
All three are back on stage to perform The Conversation (We Ain’t Done Yet) from their forthcoming King Dem EP and to close the show which has brought Ty and Blak Twang, who’ve been recording for more than 20 years, together with Rodney P who has helped shape the UK rap scene since the 1980s.
Earlier in the night Ty had said the tour is “Not just about three people it is making the point that Hip Hop in this country matters.” Hip Hop is all about putting words into action and all three have certainly made their point tonight.