Speech Debelle

Speech Debelle’s charm and presence wowed the crowd with her formidable sound. Relaxing the crowd with her one of a kind performance style she opened the show with ‘Running’ a track off her latest EP ‘Breathe’. Bringing the audience with her and she seemed to enter a musical journey on stage she filled the room with the smell of the incense she was burning live on stage.  Rapping through a song about unrequited love the entire venue had an instant connection with her through this song.  The dimmed lights in the venue brought its beauty to the forefront as its 1920’s style clashed with the raw sounds of Hip Hop, giving the genre the respect it deserves. 

The entire stage performance was arranged in such a way that it gave you no legitimate reason to ignore the incredible craft of stage performance. From the soulful backing singers to the drummer, the stage was filled with talent that was drawing the crowd in. Calling the ancestors on stage with her, Speech Debelle’s brutally honest and introspective lyricism brought you into her world and gave you a seat as she performed her songs with all of her physical and emotional being.  Soothing the audience through ‘Terms and Conditions’, she fully understands the situations we all (unfortunately) go through but refuse to admit and shows us such through her command of the stage.  With the backing singers elevating certain aspects of the song with harmonies usually reserved for church she gave us all a brief history on Jamaican Film as she performed ‘Big Fish’. Ending the show with ‘The Work’ she gave the Talib Kweli the introduction he deserved as she took her bow.


Talib Kweli

With the audience still reeling from Speech Debelle’s performance, Talib Kweli entered the stage to an audience singing his lyrics back to him. One man in particular, in a leather jacket sang every lyric word for word, staring up at Talib Kweli from the pit in absolute awe. As the introduction for ‘Never Been in Love’ began to ring around the venue that entire upstairs balcony stood up and danced back and you could almost smell people reminiscing. Every man woman and child in the venue seemed to sing the chorus back without prompt.

With the entire venue enthralled by his performance, he worked through song after song and hit after hit showing us his incredible talent and hard work.  Reducing everyone in the audience to a series of emotions and subconscious physical responses to his art, the whole venue seemed to remember why they fell in love with Hip Hop in the first place.

The performance was one of surprises and one offs as he performed ‘Look of Love’ by Slum Village and paid respects to deceased members of the Hip Hop community. The crowd hanging on his every word as his well-known powerful lyrics took the audiences breath away.  Covering ‘Eleanor Rigby’ by The Beatles he demonstrated once again that his talent and genre has the capability to not only surprise but to be subversive and innovative. Lighting the room red he paid homage to Reggae DJ’s of the eighties for aiding Hip Hop on its musical journey.

Bringing the show down with a speech about taking responsibility for our respective political leaders and urging the audience not to separate the struggle from which Hip Hop was inspired by from the art it creates. Time seemed to stand still as he performed his last song and the audience collectively realised the show was over and that they were all now connected by a shared experience, never to be imitated.