It must be the policy of this particular venue because once again the main act is on at 22.00 and the venue has to shut at 22.45, so we’re getting another 45 minute set from a headline act. Quite why they don’t go on earlier and play longer I just don’t know, something to ask next time I come here. This time, we’re here to see Bay area MC Gift of Gab. He’s been around for 18 years and in that time has laid down powerful, double time, aliterative rhyme as part of Blackalicious, as a solo MC and as part of the wider Quannum collective that includes DJ Shadow, Lateef and Lyrics Born.
He starts with his classic “Alphabet Aerobics”, and his witty, funky take on the alphabet is a perfect opener to a hyper show. He’s got a solo album out called “Escape 2 Mars” so his set is a mix of his “new shit” and Blackalicious classics. He’s performing to backing tracks, accompanied by his producer who has a drum machine and triggers various samples. Gift of Gab is a big guy and has a powerful voice. It’s great to watch him perform because he literally takes a deep breath and then expels words in double time for bar after bar and when you keep expecting him to run out of breath he just keeps going. My only criticism is that he employs this type of flow on the majority of his songs so they tend to sound similar. When he switched tack and does a storytelling rhyme it really stands out because it’s not something he does all the time, being all about wordplay with a fast and smooth delivery.
He’s a witty guy with a droll sense of humour and keeps up a good natured banter with the crowd throughout the show. As the 45 minutes comes around all too quickly he finishes with “Chemical Calesthenics”, his other classic wordplay showcase based around elements of the periodic table. It’s a perfect way to finish and a fitting end to a good hip hop show. He’s on quite a long tour of the UK so catch it if you can.
And those classic joints “Alphabet Aerobics” & “Chemical Calesthenics”