Review: Blackalicious @ The Haunt

On Thursday 5th February 2015, One Inch Badge presented the American Hip-Hop duo Blackalicious at The Haunt, Brighton. On behalf of The Verse, I had the pleasure of attending this amazing event.

Blackalicious is a Hip-Hop duo consisting of DJ/Producer Chief Xcel and Rapper Gift of Gab. Originally formed in 1992, the group have released three incredible albums by the names of Nia (1999), Blazing Arrow (2002) and The Craft (2005). On February 5th, the talented two performed in the city of Brighton, with support from the artists Dizraeli, Vursatyl and Jumbo from Lifesavas.

British rapper, Dizraeli, was the first artist to perform alongside DJ Downlow. With energetic beats and rhythmic rapping, Dizraeli’s set raised the crowd’s energy, as well as their eagerness to see Blackalicious later on in the show.

Following Dizraeli’s performance, were MC’s, Jumbo and Vursatyl from the American Hip-Hop group Lifesavas. With Chief Xcel now on the DJ decks, the audience cheered as ‘the foundation’ of Blackalicious was now on stage.

After this set, Jumbo introduced the other half of Blackalicious, Gift of Gab, to the stage, to which he entered rapping to one of their classic songs, Alphabetic Aerobics, as Chief Xcel played the backing track. This was the moment we had all been waiting for. Both members of Blackalicious were now on stage, fully in their element. From this moment on, audience members remained on the floor, dancing along to the mix of blazing beats produced by Chief Xcel and Gift of Gab’s creatively crafted lyrics.

Jumbo and Vursatyl also shared this set with Blackalicious, collectively sharing their talent as the audience soaked in the authentic vibe. This set included a range of songs from all three of the Blackalicious albums, including Make You Feel That Way, Swan Lake, Paragraph President and more. As Blackalicious is known to embed a variety of sounds in their music, DJ Chief Xcel mixed a range of beats, from heavy Hip-Hop, Jazz, Soul and more.

As the set progressed the energy remained high as Blackalicious performed their original songs, as well as some new material from their upcoming album Emoni (which means faith in Swahili). One song on the new album, called Blacka, got us all hyped as Gift of Gab invited us to sing “Blacka Blacka Blacka” along with him. As you can imagine, we didn’t quite have the same vocal stamina as him, so we couldn’t catch up to his gift of fast paced rapping. In any case, it was nice to see that Blackalicious had not departed from their original style, as well as get a taste of what to expect for the release of Emoni (2015).

Fully engaging with the audience through sing-a-long songs, hands waving in the air ‘like they just don’t care’ and uniquely referencing the city of Brighton when freestyling, Blackalicious offered a truly unique experience, as they kept the crowd on their feet and more than satisfied by the time they finished their set.

After the show, Blackalicious went to the front of the venue, where there was an opportunity for autographs and pictures. I was lucky enough to get a picture and have a short conversation with them, in which I mentioned how amazing their performance was and what a pleasure it was to meet them.

I would definitely recommend anyone interested in Hip-Hop to see Blackalicious live. They are guaranteed to have you grooving along to their head-bopping beats and socially conscious lyrics. Emoni (2015) will be released this coming April and after attending this concert, I have faith to believe that it will be another great album!

By: Maxine Harrison

The Verse Staff

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