Once again bringing a heavy selection of homegrown hip-hop to Leeds is the Elements crew; tonight sees a line-up packed with local talent, and the healthy West Yorkshire scene is showcased upstairs at The Old Red Bus Station, a venue which has become a staple destination for rap and electronic music since it’s emergence back in 2016.
Opening up is local duo Lyrical Alliance; the crew are gearing up for the release of their ‘Piffy Clyro’ LP, which is scheduled for release later this year. These boys have been a regular on the live circuit around the city, and it’s great that Elements have got them on board. After some technical problems and a couple of delays, Whitey Boy and Dr. Mellow take hold of the mics and begin their set from behind the decks. They deliver their quirky boom bap beats and unorthodox flows which warm the crowd up nicely, and there’s a clear chilled nineties influence; they’re perspective is a fresh one though, and the inventive writing is jam-packed with Yorkshire charm.
Upcoming collective Budrat Records are next on the bill, and the six piece Sunderland collective pack themselves behind the mics and begin the mic-juggling. Their intricate flows and raw attitude make the hard-hitting beats and gritty lyricism a winning formula. The North East crew bring consistently banging punchlines and charisma and chemistry in abundance. The energetic, rowdy performance is very impressive, and with a series of sets at some dope shows in recent months, Budrat Records are certainly ones to keep your eyes on.
Rising two-piece The NorthaZe are at this stage a staple at pretty much any hip-hop gig in the city. Their unique mixture of uptempo flows and mellow beats have helped the Mellow Thrills movement to hold the huge buzz that it currently does. The signature sabre sound is delivered with polish and professionalism, and Kosi and Swish display natural chemistry as soon as the first beat drops. Kosi’s shades can’t really go without a shout-out either; don’t get it twisted though, The NorthaZe aren’t bringing any gimmicks though, it’s pure lyrics from flows from the exciting pair of lyricists.
Headlining tonight are the veteran Leeds crew Defenders of Style. Their most recent release ‘The Death Of Meaning’ was a critical success, and the crew haven’t stopped working since. With some banging Upper Echelon tunes courtesy of Disgust and Jack Danz, and Joe Snow’s 2016 solo EP ‘I Know You Know Me You’, the DS Fam have kept up their prolific grind from all angles. With a new LP rumoured to be somewhere on the horizons, Prys, Danz and Disgust showcase their West Yorkshire attitude with silkilky delivered verses. The joints are consistently raw, and the new material the collective play tonight is some of their best work yet. We also get a dope performance of ‘Rhyme Or Crime’ from the latest album, along with the anthem ‘One Four Seven One’, and every bar from the three-piece incarnation of Defenders lands with intent and precision.
So we leave after one too many red stripes and stumble home after an eclectic assortment of just a few of the exciting prospects producing quality hip-hop around the LS zones. The local scene has been building and building over the last few years, and the music on offer tonight shows why crews like Defenders and The NorthaZe have received some pretty powerful cosigns, and there are so many other talents just around the corner.
Words by Sam Bennett