As Hip-Hop is now an accepted genre to accompany competitive junior figure skating, have mainstream incarnations like N-Dubz tempered this once controversial style? With his first solo album since achieving commercial success with collaborator dan le sac, Scroobius Pip shows that while the music industry has watered down and remodeled Hip-Hop to make it more marketable, it’s still possible to pen lyrics with the same sociopolitical clout as N.W.A’s infamous Fuck tha Police.
Beginning as a spoken word artist on the poetry circuit, Scroobius Pip has gained notoriety for his willingness to address issues rarely dealt with by performers in the contemporary mainstream music scene, exemplified in his disconcerting and affecting comment on self-harm: Magician’s Assistant. An uncanny ability to weave humour into his lyrical statements has prevented his work from becoming a form of dismal pontification; instead he’s turned his songs into witty observances on issues that society would prefer to ignore.
After being warmed up by the appropriately beardy (for a Scroobius Pip tour) B. Dolan, the headliner begins his set with the opening track from Distraction Pieces: Introdiction. Underneath an image of his own face that holds a startling resemblance to a stereotypical depiction of Jesus, is a Messiah-like quality to Scroobius Pip as he begins his sermon, and while he’d probably disagree with the comparison, there’s a prophetic quality in his readiness to approach uncomfortable topics. Flanked by a guitarist and drummer, the live music element, absent from his tours with dan le sac, blends the rap performance with rock music (creating an atmosphere relished by the crowd as they begin the tedious but inevitable pushing and shoving of mosh-pit foreplay). But as Pip casually swigs wine from the bottle and engages in light-hearted banter, the most absorbing part of the event is his poetic talent for capturing the world’s ills, proving that Hip-Hop isn’t just an advert for gold jewellery, but can still be a tool for making social proclamations.
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