Clipse, Shepherds Bush Empire, London (by bse)
Me old mucker beezer recently went to see Clipse. He posted about it on his new blog, 16 33 45 78 and gave me permission to repost it here. Make sure you check his blog as he has the theme to Grandstand on there too. Oh, and for those who didn’t know he also is one of the chief posters over at The Gat.
Fuck Hiphop shows. Seriously. I €™m not going to any Hiphop shows any more.
The Clipse are the best Hiphop group out. Their album €œHell Hath No Fury € was the best Hiphop album of last year. By far. Seeing them live now ought to be comparable to seeing Public Enemy in 89 or Wu-Tang in 94.
Their show at the Shepherd €™s Bush Empire last night was the worst concert I have ever been to. The sound was terrible. Bad mic levels are a standard at Hiphop shows, they only really work if you know all the words already, because you €™re not gonna catch them live. Malice shouted all of his rhymes, Pusha shouted all of his rhymes and most of Malice €™s as well.
Listen to a Clipse record. They don €™t shout. Their whole persona is of dudes that don €™t shout. They are inscrutably controlled and cold in their deliveries. Like Mobb Deep on €œShook Ones €, they do not make shouting music. I guess rap has to be shouted live, right? I mean everyone else does it, being the best group out shouldn €™t mean you have to do things any different. Should it?
The music though :
The Empire has a decent sound system. I saw Ghostface there a few years ago and while the show was spoiled by the vocal interference of too many crew members, the sound was pretty good. All the beats sounded great. With the Clipse we €™re talking about impeccably engineered, sparser than sparse, Neptunes beats, played on vinyl over a sound system. We €™re not talking about mic-ing up a thirty piece orchestra, they had Harry Love playing some instrumentals. It should have been easy. It sounded terrible.
About 20 minutes into the set I went off to have words with the soundman. I leaned over the booth until I got the dude €™s attention and shouted €œthis sounds fucking shit € at him. He goes €œYeah I know, I €™m just doing the lights € so I went round the other side to find the soundman. Rappers are forever berating the soundman, mostly to get their mics turned up (bad idea). Clipse didn €™t mention the bad sound, they seemed oblivious. It would have been a bit rich if they had been blaming the soundman, since they didn €™t turn up for a sound check. They apparently sent one dude (Ab Liva?) to do a mic check, for which he didn €™t even come out on stage. Well done. The support, Kidz In The Hall, who did turn up for the sound check, had perfectly good sound, compounding the laziness of Clipse €™s set.
Malice had a somewhat compelling intensity on stage but his brother seemed to be equal parts shouting and disinterest. Going through the motions of what must be a pretty long tour by now but trying to cover it by saying some words REALLY loud.
The arrival of €œKeys Open Doors € managed to punch through my pissed off mood a bit. It is the best recent Hiphop song, from the best recent Hiphop album, from the best current Hiphop group. It ought to punch through a bad mood, but by the time Malice (the best rapper out, remember) got to his verse the energy had gone again. Too much bad sound for a group so polished on record (they had shitty feedback throughout two whole songs). Too little finesse from a group so careful in their writing and so calculating in their delivery.
I know €œthem crackers weren €™t paying fair Jive € and the album tanked despite universal acclaim but if you €™re going to tour for your money, you better tour a show worth seeing. Last night €™s show was not.
The world of live music is thriving whilst the recorded music industry loses money. There are more and larger concerts, festivals and tours than ever but Hiphop is getting left behind. Most shows in London don €™t sell out, regardless of the venue and this is not because Hiphop artists don €™t sell here, it €™s because everyone says Hiphop shows are shit. I €™m done disagreeing with them.
Oh and Malice €™s chain looks a lot like a Jim €™ll Fix It medal: