UK Takeover, Review/Preview

May 14th, 2005

With UK Takeover 3 only a fortnight away it's only right that we should take a look back at the previous 2 events and consider just what this midlands based event has to offer.

Boasting a line-up to rival pretty much any hiphop event staged in this country in recent memory (deadbeat and uk fresh being the most prominent others), this 100% UK event certainly does suggest it can live up to its name. Considering the problems with the first event (yes, this is the first and last time i'll mention it) which had to be postponed at the last minute due to local beaurocracy, it's a minor miracle that the event ever took place, but thanks to the dedication and hard work of the organisers (sureshot entertainments) the rescheduled event turned out to be a major success and set the standard for future events.

Looking back upon the 1st event it's hard not to recall salivating over the list of artists to perform, ranging from the relatively unknown, through current favourites, and onto some UK legends. Opening with Hoodz Underground, from Sheffield, the night started well and built momentum right through to the end. Notts Inna Nuttin performed an improvised set after technical difficulties, and held up well, with a crowd eager to see them do well. Tempa also from Notts. performed slightly later, and went down well despite her higher pitched voice grating a little through the clubs system.

Unfortunately Lee Ramsey wasn't present, and similarly Jehst had ran into difficulties, but whilst I was sad to have been unable to see them, the night did not suffer through their absence. The first highlight of the night came in the form of Taskforce, who were by far the cheekiest or most mischievous act on stage, comments I heard compared them to UK hiphops version of the Gallagher brothers, if the oasis lads actually got on and had a good crack with the crowd. Can't say fairer than that! Terra Firma tore the night up, their more popular tunes such as Murda! Seeing the audience volume increase a hell of a lot, and with acts like Rodney P and Roots Manuva on the bill it sure wasn't going to die off towards the end. Of course they both smashed it, and yes, when Blade took the stage the crowd were definitely ready, Plus One did his thing, Blade engaged and entertain the crowd as anyone who's ever been to one of his shows will attest to. The night went off nicely (and I'm sure I'm forgetting some people) with Mista Jam hosting the night to a tee.

The one shame for some people was that Skinnyman couldn't get on stage due to a slight overrun, but for those of us lucky enough to get to the after party his set on the decks was nothing short of brilliant, entertaining artists and fans alike with whatever music was available to him, starting with the few soul tunes in the house, complete with "Skinnys version" accapellas, he turned a nice little after party into a house party and he was in his element, before Mista Jam took his turn behind the wheels and dropped some more hiphop and dancehall (interrupted by Klashnekoffs constant calls for "rewinds"… and yes, he got 8 on one record). Ok, so I left tired and smiling at 6am, and then drove home, ears ringing. Thoroughly enjoyed it, and have to give it up to the organisers, artists and everyone who attended.

A few months down the road, and a new UK Takeover, a new line-up and a new venue. This time at the Ballroom. The Ballroom for those who don't know is rather cavernous, it kind of feels like someone's built an aircraft hanger on top of another building, but it's a good venue, although for some reason the clearest speakers were at the back of the venue, and the ones at the front were a little muddy. That little issue didn't take away from a wicked night though, arriving just as Cappo, Konny Kon and Lee Ramsey took the stage and proceeded to rock a venue fast filling up, with KapKon which was featured on a cover cd a couple of months before going down very nicely. Yungun was on swiftly after and proved an instant hit, definitely going down as the first highlight of the night, this man, ably assisted by Dupa Styles, definitely knew how to work the crowd. Terra Firma did their thing once more, and yes, it went down even better than at the first event, Skinnyman went down a storm, mixing up accapella poetic delivery with his personal message, throwing tunes out for the audience to eat up, and just basically enjoying himself with "his people"having great fun, which was infectious. I'm not sure what happened when Est'elle was on, but whilst he backing vocals were clear as a whistle her vocals sounded really muddy, low and mumbly, I couldn't really hear a word she was saying, wherever I stood in the venue, and I'd very much wanted to see her live. Other people seemed to be into it though, so perhaps my ears had hit the wall by that point or something? Highlight of the night though? Blak Twang, and yes "So Rotten‿ killed it, that tunes every bit the anthem, and it filled the sound system in a way no other tune did. There was promise of an open mic, but many of those in the crowd began to filter out as things kicked off, and it faltered after only a few mc's, but that's not to take away from the night, no one who went there could possibly say that they didn't have a good night, and I'm sure quite a few DVDs of the first show were snapped up from the stall on the way out.

So what's the verdict? What am I saying? Well, if you didn't know already, for the price of a hiphop album in HMV you get one of the best hiphop nights you'll ever go to, with one of the widest line-ups of UK talent, and it's in the centre of the country with great motorway access for all of you on the long distance. It's worth every penny, and you're guaranteed more than a few personal highlights. Ok, this started off as an article or review, and I guess by the end it's up as a letter of support, but that's not my fault. If you like your UK hiphop, if you like your hiphop fullstop then don't sit in watching some repeat movie on channel 4 moaning about how there's nothing to do, there is, it's this.