- DJ Format
Rich in beats and with a verbal dexterity that could eclipse any poxy review written about them, BLACKALICIOUS are here in Liverpool to shake the foundations of the Kazimier and promote their fourth LP, Emoni.
The night starts with DJ FORMAT playing tracks that have audience members grinding, dropping and salivating for some live hip hop. Before we’re allowed to get stuck in to the main act though, we’re treated to an unexpected set from VURSATYL, a rapper whose threads and spectacles have a distinct look of Stevie Kenarban’s Dad from Malcolm In The Middle. Vursatyl’s a charming act, a skilled lyricist with deep vocals, creating the perfect hype for when Blackalicious’ MC, Gift Of Gab, carefully makes it down those high stairs to an eruption of applause.
There’s only one way Blackalicious can get started and that’s with a vocal aerobics exercise: you know it, the one recently rejuvenated by a scarred-up wizard on Jimmy Fallon. Alphabet Aerobics live is likely to leave most with their mouths wide open, and as the tempo increases they only get wider. So many words, so little time – all expertly delivered and clearly enunciated.
Gift of Gab stands more modestly than many hip hop acts. He doesn’t pour Wild Turkey down fans’ shirts, he doesn’t have a swagger that draws attention, just a simple confidence that he is going to lay shit down and you are going to listen. He calls the crowd “Crazy ass Scousers”, who love the small recognition of local culture, and goes on to tell how “his man” Chris (Durham-born Chris Tyler, one of the night’s promoters) said “Liverpool is ghetto as fuck”. Now, do that in a Geordie accent and try not to grin.
Youthful hype-men Vursatyl and Jumbo The Garbageman fill in when Gab takes a break, but he’s not all puffed out. Gab may not be as fit as he used to be, but he’s still able to rock a Freddie-Mercury-at-Wembley style “day-oh” intro to fan-favourite Deception.
Make You Feel That Way and Swan Lake receive warm receptions before Gift Of Gab shows his true genius by launching into a freestyle finish, the likes of which will be hard to forget. Speaking at a million miles an hour, his face jiggling with a G-Force similar to what is experienced by fighter jet pilots, Gab shows that, for a big guy, he’s still lightning fast.
As the show reaches its climax, the group encourage what turns out to be a pretty awful stage invasion, cut short from the moment it begins for fear of the decks getting knocked over. Their hellraising days may well be behind them, but Blackalicious prove that an act that are getting on a bit but can still put on one helluva show.