Skip to main content

"fingers twitching between roach and razor" - GRAVEDIGGAZ, ICE CUBE, Live Review, 1994

(note - can't imagine another mag where dissidence to 'higher ups' would be so tolerated. whole paper going mad about g-funk at the time and like a stroppy sod I have to stick my elbows out. looking back, i was wrong, snoop n dre were awesome from the off (and realness is a helluva duff thing to be boosting) but editors trusted you back then to the point where they'd be happy with a 'you're fired' interruption and then onwards)

ICE CUBE/GRAVEDIGGAZ
BRIXTON ACADEMY
LONDON
MELODY MAKER, September 10th, 1994

TRY and tie down hip-hop with yer baggage and it always finds a way to bust loose. Never mind asking “Has Rap Gone Too Far”, you should be asking why rock ain’t going nowhere. Sorry, but Gravediggaz make the point; tonight they are stunning.
   When Snoop and Dre combine their mindless vacuity of lyrics with a kinda gloopy, Reaganite yuppiness of sound, it’s not just irresponsible, it’s a lie. It’s the ghetto as just another capitalist terrain, an apolitical place where Snoop cruises by and niggaz with the problem die in the gutter.
   Cypress, Wu-Tang, Onyx and now Gravediggaz strike me as being a hell of a lot more real. Listening ot them no one would dream of living in black America; nobody could get away with shit like “I Wish I Was Black”, no one could anaesthetise or ignore the sickening truth of the ghetto condition. These bands are the truth behind Snoop’s lies and it ain’t pretty.
   Gravediggaz sound like a hideous revelation, the vocals always coated with an echo of horror that breaks in the mouth of rapper Rakeen into gabbling hysteria, a constant agitated yelp falling over itself in its rush to say everything. Anything. The terror in his voice becomes terror of what he’s saying, becomes terror of his being becomes absolute terror. It’s the old hardcore world view that shit is all there is, but rapped out over the most addictive, ghoulishly fat funk you’ve ever heard. And Christ, the music!
   Gravediggaz may come from a good pedigree (Wu-Tang, Stet, De La, Too Poetic) but they’re doing their best work here, creating a sound to literally die for.  1994 has been a good year for people making connections, mixing it, making those dream fusions you always wished they would but never did. “Defective Trip” is where New Kingdom’s acid-fried trip hop has you sick and paranoid, brain high in hell, fingers twitching between roach and razor. “6 Ft Deep” is as slow and atonal as rap could possibly get and I keep coming back to Pram nowadays cos so much hip-hop recalls them – stumbling, brain-jangling, unearthly. Get their LP the day it crawls out the crypt. Gravediggaz are GODLIKE.
   After this, Ice Cube can’t help but come across as flat. Or can he? He stomps on with “Wicked” which tears the roof off the sucka in no uncertain terms and the crowd are lovin’ it. So, it’s down with the notebook and into the fray, and Christ he’s good. He does fake JB exits, faces up to his co-rapper, who gets the whole crowd to chant “F*** YOU, ICE CUBE” and runs through a series of skits and monologues. The command he has over the crowd is made evident when his mention of a the kid who got stabbed at his Glasgow show is accorded a genuinely touching silence. I could do without the “Lethal Injection” material (you’re fired – Ed) and the old NWA stuff but “No Vaseline”, “When Will They Shoot?”, “The Nigga Ya Love To Hate” and “It Was  A Good Day” are all classics of our time.
   If this was the first time I’d seen him I could imagine it being keck-creaming awesome; as it is, the stage flashiness (spotlights sweeping, sirens wailing, the crowd holding lighters that turn into flamethrowers) and the crews’ call/response machine-gun delivery, is enough to fill the Tube home with smiling, sweaty bliss and loads of people shouting “BIG UP” to each other.
   But, Gravediggaz, man. This week’s New Band Of The Year.
NEIL KULKARNI 


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

MANIC STREET PREACHERS, ASTORIA, LONDON, 1994, LIVE REVIEW, MELODY MAKER

(photo by Pat Pope, full text)  MANIC STREET PREACHERS  ASTORIA, LONDON  SORRY, lifelong fan, but I’m a new convert. I got into them a week ago and here I am. (They start with “Faster and, after the dub and horrorcore they’ve played, it jarrs and fits perfectly.) OK, see it ain’t attitude cos anyone can do that, just cock a snook and suck your cheeks. It ain’t glamour. Glamour is boring. Glamour is loud pretty people who hug, hug, hug, giggling at your geek self all night. And it ain’t rock’n’roll; it was your rock’n’roll that made a nigger-hater the King, your teddy boys who Paki-bashed for Mosley, Notting Hill 1958, your rock’#n’roll build on SAMBO DON’T SELL. I ain’t interested and the Manics are way beyond that. (“Yes” is Stjepan Mestrovic’s “Balkanisation Of The West” turned punk anthem, as if it could be any more punk. No higher compliment exists.)    The four founding points of Manics songs – one: modern life is untenable. Two: no one ever gets used to loneliness. Three: if tr…

BRITAIN SEE THYSELF PART II. A POST-REFERENDUM DIARY AND A HISTORY OF BRITISH SELF-PITY

Tuesday June 28th, 2016.

OK, a week since the vote and hey, I know the drill. Similar to those habits you kicked back into after 9-11, after 7-7. Heads down. Don't notice the people crossing the road to avoid you. Don't register any reaction to the shop assistants who drop the change with a panic'd repulsion into your foul brown palm. Keep your eyes down, no eye-contact with anyone. Get through the street to safety because the street is a place where you are a target again now, just as you were as a child. Don't ever ever relax again because that moment where your vigilance slips, when you start doubting your own paranoia, is the moment when the van draws up and three pink faces look your way grinning, when the kids see their chance to have some fun, when the guy on his bike who you hadn't thought of leans into the pavement to spit his venom, when the words will come unbidden and deafening, those words that won't just fuck up your day but will haunt your sleep, …

WHY WE MUST BAN THIS UKULELE FILTH NOW

Top Eight Worse FUCKING Ukelele FUCKING Breathy-Voiced FUCKING Covers For FUCKING Adverts

I can't think of any more because I don't want my head to explode with rage.

1. Dogs Trust - 'I Only Want To Be With You
2. Renault Zoe - That's Entertainment
3. McDonalds - Rhythm Of The Night 
4. T-Mobile - Teenage Kicks
5. Lloyds Bank - Mad World 
6. Kia - Ever Fallen In Love 
7. John Lewis - Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want
8. Chanel No.5 - You're The One That I Want 


My uke-hate I think came to a peak with an ad from last year. I blamed Lily Allen for the mannered vocal unmanneredness, Mumford & Sons for the fucking ukeleles, David Cameron for the ideological basis for it all, but it was AXA Insurance I blamed for that appaling cover of 'Little Things Mean A Lot"  and they will therefore burn for all eternity in the skin-flaying flames of hell, alongside Dave, Lily and The Mumfucks. Artists (esp. Britschool-alumni-style priveliged CatPowerfan-feckers like …