Back in December 2014, I went to Eskimo Dance in London. This was a big deal then, as it was one of the first times Eskimo Dance happened since 2004 (now it seems like they tour the UK doing them every other month). I wrote a review for Vice’s subsidiary site Thump, which resulted in me never writing for them again.
Apparently a joke I made about people stabbing each other in London was not well received by Eskimo Dance’s PR people and I guess the UK and US editors of Thump don’t talk to each other much (the UK editor was schmoozing with Eskimo Dance, the US editor had no idea) and even though it got a lot of good buzz online, the bitching and moaning from the PR person resulted in the article being killed.
Hooray for journalistic integrity. The PR person had reached out to me first, and I told them I wouldn’t change it, as overall it was a positive review and I was just recounting my experiences and I BOUGHT MY OWN FUCKING TICKET.
The specific complaint was about the passage:
I’ve realized no one in London says “excuse me,” ever. First I thought people were playing a game called “bump into the yank,” but then I noticed everyone else was running into each other, jostling each other, and shoving each other all night. This is probably why people in London are constantly stabbing each other.
Rereading it now, I stand by it. There’s an underlying ugliness and aggression when British people drink, and I saw it that night. To put this in perspective, I saw Cam’ron last week in NYC (great show, btw). This was a hometown show for one of the most beloved rappers ever from NYC, and NYC turned out for him. The crowd was full of goons and ex-goons (guys next to me were nonstop rolling blunts all night and yelling at the top of their lungs “I BROUGHT A HALF POUND IN HERE, FUCK ALL Y’ALL”), but anytime anyone bumped into me, it was “excuse me, my dude.” Yo, we’ve been through that whole thing of people getting killed for stepping on sneakers, and we’re good with that now: good manners up in here. I get that the 696 form gave the police license to shut down grime, and believe me, I don’t want that. But, really is some half-assed diary entry blog by a random American going to kill grime?
Anyways, I am going to the Rinse FM Boxing Day show on December 26, 2016. I’d sure love to write about it for someone. But, if not, expect something here soonish. Original bridge burner of an article is below:
As a grime fan, the original Eskimo Dance events from 2003-04 were legendary to me. I have repeatedly watched grainy footage on Youtube, where future stars like Dizzee Rascal, Wiley, Tinchy Stryder, and Lethal B trade bars and battle with each other.
So, when I found out that there would be a new one happening at roughly the same time I was going to visit my brother in Ireland, I made sure to find a way to get to London to see it. My flight landed at Heathrow on Saturday at 8:15pm and Eskimo Dance started at 10. After checking into my hotel, I headed over to the O2 arena.
11:50pm: The line to get into the O2 is longer than the customs line to get into the UK was. There is a metal detector, each person gets frisked, and they even do the hood club thing of checking inside your hat, so possibly it’s more thorough than immigration as well. In the 20 minutes I am waiting, I hear the word “bruv” more times than in watching “Kidulthood” and “Adulthood” combined.
(pic of D Double on stage that night. I remember that Santa hat well…)
12:10am: I get in and see the Newham Generals, (Footsie and D Double), on stage. They are killing it, doing more of a straight PA of their songs than the usual rave style of spitting random bars. For some reason D Double’s mic level is really low, but still when he does “Streetfighter”, the place explodes.
12:30am: the Newham Generals set is over. Logan Sama tries to get the crowd to have sing-alongs to “German Whip” and the Fekky version of “Sittin’ Here.” Not feeling it. This is redeemed by a singalong of “Next Hype” which ends up with me in the middle of a churning crowd of dudes screaming “DUN KNOW WE GOT THE SHOTGUN THERE!” Since everyone in England wears cologne this is not as unpleasant as it should be.
1:00am: the first big MC set starts with Wiley, Chipmunk, Lll’ Nasty, Ghetto, and Flirta D. Flirta D can destroy a rave. He is basically everything hip hop MC’s hate about grime MCing. He only has about 8 different bars and mostly just talks in a weird voices and makes sound FX with his mouth like the guy in Police Academy. It’s noticeable how much better the veterans Wiley, Ghetto, and Flirta are compared to Lil’ Nasty and Chipmunk (I also had no idea Chipmunk was doing grime again, as last time I checked he was making collab records with Chris Brown and pre-famous Iggy Azaelia). This set was cool, but I think Wiley seriously spat for about 45 seconds total.
1:30am: DJ Majestic from Kiss FM plays a really nice set of old garage. In addition to seeing all the MC’s live, it was great to hear all these old tunes like “Bound for da reload” on a big system.
1:45am: FEED ‘EM TO THE LIONS!
1:55am: the DJ starts playing a Top 40 trap set which culminates in a singalong of “Coco” that is possibly louder than the grime sing-alongs were. It’s kinda weird to hear a room full of people sing along to “Mitch caught a body about a week ago” a week after Mitch got charged for that body. Also, in the Internet era there is no excuse to play this kind of set and play things like “Bugatti,” but not “Touchdown” or “Fight Night.” This set started to put me to sleep, but the bartenders seemed to like it.
2:00am: I’ve realized no one in London says “excuse me,” ever. First I thought people were playing a game called “bump into the yank,” but then I noticed everyone else was running into each other, jostling each other, and shoving each other all night. This is probably why people in London are constantly stabbing each other.
2:15am: The OGz set starts. Although it was just billed as P.Money, he brought the entire lot of the OGz with him. This may have been my favorite set of the night, as they were trading bars back and forth really tightly. P.Money spitting “Left The Room” over Pulse X destroyed me.
2:45am: I think I’ve heard the “Ollie Ollie Ollie, Oi! Oi! Oi!” chant used to hype up the crowd about 17 times tonight and every time it makes me think of that episode of The Office where David Brent makes a nightclub appearance.
3:15am: The main MC set starts. It’s billed as just Boy Better Know, but in addition to Skepta and JME the stage is crammed with old MC’s like Jammer, God’s Gift, Flo Dan, Manga, and Discarda, as well as newish ones like Kozzie, Merky Ace, and Big Shizz. No sign of Wiley, which is a bit disappointing. Again, it’s apparent that the older MC’s like Skepta and Flo Dan have a stage craft (and knowledge of what makes good bars to shout at a room full of hyped up people) that the youngers don’t. Even a marginally talented like MC like Discarda can come out and get better response out of “DISCARDA’S OUT, AND I’LL BANG YOU FATHER OUT” than a newer MC will get off a great technical bar.
3:48am: Jammer sets a new record and spits his “Murkle Man” bars 5 times on the same half hour set. Man needs new bars.
4am: The set ends with “Funtionz On The Low” being played. Nice ending and probably the best way to sent out into the cold London night.
All in all, a good night. I probably could have done without hearing “Take Off” by Faze Miyake about 5 times (on the other hand, was totally fine with hearing “Pied Piper” multiple times). But, it was cool to hear a mix of classic 2004 beats with newer productions by Spooky, Preditah, and Darq E Freaker. After all, if Eskimo Dances only feature older productions and have older MC’s as the headlining acts, how long can grime be youth music? If all grime has to offer in 2014 is the stars of 2004, it doesn’t say much for the health of the genre as a whole. But, for new MC’s to come up they need to have a place where they can learn their trade in front of audience and having regular grime events in London is the only way this can happen.