I always feel like I’m in New York City when I walk into the Arts Factory. I can’t be the only one. The brick walls, the basement feel, the general warehouse atmosphere all seem straight out of the lower east side. The music can be a bit touch and go though. Sometimes you arrive in a great mood full of high hopes, only to find some pretentious DJ on stage butchering the fuck out of a perfectly good song. Tonight, however, Black Grass was serving up some utterly delicious hip hop sounds. Some people just have an ear for beautiful beats. His remix of De La Soul’s ‘All Good’ is one of the best tunes I’ve heard for a while – it has a joyful summer tinge that was largely representative of the rest of his set. Stage presence simple yet engaging – basically any time I see the DJ smiling I’m happy. Great stuff.
Before too long it was Mr Mank’s turn. Peanut Butter Wolf makes geeky white boys feel vindicated in their love of hip hop. He brings us together, so unified we can stand as one and shout ‘hell yeah boy that’s the real shit’. Racial stereotypes are overrated.
He really is a master of his craft. Watching him play is a spectacle enough in itself. With calm concentration and quiet skill, he mixes and slices beats with such finesse that it often takes your breath away.
What was truly remarkable at this show, however, was the video hook up. I’ve never seen anyone do anything like it before. He had a projector running as the backdrop, and he’d connected his decks to the video feed, so that when he scratched and mixed the music, the visuals did the same. It was extraordinary. The only thing better than hearing the classics is actually watching the emcees performing them in their natural element. And thus we were taken on an audio visual journey through the history of hip hop. It was one of those things that was so simple, and yet so effective. Really, it was just a shit load of fun, and the crowd loved every second it.
After about a thousand ‘last songs’ it was all packed up and time to go home, so we spilled out on to oxford street feeling thoroughly satisfied. It was one of those ones where you walk away with a massive smile on your face. Thanks to playground music for bringing him out, and I guess we just have to eagerly await the next full moon to see what surprises the wolf can bring out next time.