What went down from the front row at Lee Scott’s return show [31.07.21].
A teetering queue stretches through Camden as London’s Jazz Cafe readies its doors for a barrage of Lee Scott fans, whose nine month wait has finally fallen to minutes.
The three-times postponed event was originally a sit down affair showcasing the boss of Blah Records‘ album, Lou Reed 2000. Now, with lockdown restrictions out of the window, the iconic venue is set for a sweat-fest of surprises. Heads have travelled in from across the land, including notable figures from other UK labels such as High Focus, Potent Funk and beyond.
Once inside, an hour passes like a backstage spliff and before you know it Lyza Jane and Sniff take to the stage. Formz is on the decks while the melody machine Lyza sets a chilling tone. With a short support slot she can only squeeze in a couple of tunes, including the ever-popular ‘Blue Sunday‘ featuring Sniff himself. She then slips away amidst applause.
For another smooth set, Sniff is joined by MUD Fam‘s Mongo and Taurean on live sax. Then, on bursts Stinkin Slumrok who proceeds to big-up Mongo before stealing his shades and mic. A lot of respect is shared between the two as the tunes roll out and the energy increases, leading CLBRKS to enter the scene only to dive into the crowd.
Moving leisurely between support acts, the interim sees CL back on stage in a suit, spraying sanitizer over the audience. Symbolic to say the least.
Then, with suspense gushing from the smoke machine, the crowd begins to chant “We want Lee Scott”. Recent Blah signee Franky Bones emerges alongside a bass guitar, while a trilby-wearing Jack Chard slides off his shoes as he settles in behind the keyboard. On steps Hyroglifics, (who produced most of Lee’s new album [gate clicks shut]), taking position upstage behind the decks. Franky hands his drink to the front row. A punter taps down a zoot at the foot of the central mic stand. Enter Lee Scott stage left.
A figure wearing a giant mascot-esque head gambols across the stage, its eyes upside-down crosses. You can’t deny that this is no ordinary rap gig. In fact, it might as well be a wrestling match, as ring girls hold up signs declaring the first round has begun. Interestingly, Lee Scott shares his name with an American professional wrestler, and samples of related wrestling commentary open his new album as well as this performance. Ding ding.
‘Somewhere‘ kicks things off. King Grubb takes a seat onstage to croon melodies and digs into a large Amazon box of wayfarer shades. He launches fistfuls into the crowd before Lee takes the box to do the same, shouting “I don’t wanna see no eyeballs”. ‘Title Track‘, (from Lou Reed 2000), is our third song and one of the night’s most touching moments of crowd singing. If there are tears they’re disguised by sweat. This is followed by ‘Rocket Fuel‘, (again from the same album), in which Lyza Jane rejoins for the hook. Bisk enters handing out cigs to the band, who all leave before ‘So Cactus So Owl‘ closes the first round.
This next section is packed with tracks from Lee Scott’s new project with Hyroglifics, including ‘Bonus Money‘ alongside Lyza once again. At this point in time [gate clicks shut] is still yet to drop, and on the topic of it’s release date Lee says, “That’s why it’s called Blah Records; we just do what we feel init”. He goes on to explain how he hasn’t rapped live in two years, but from where we’re standing, there’s no rust to be seen. Cue round three.
After Lee announces he’s forgotten the set list, Reklews‘ beat for ‘Breakfast‘ slaps in and Bill Shakes bounds onto the stage as the crowd roar “Woke up this mooorning” to commence the Hock Tu Down classic. The guests don’t stop, with Sly Moon slinking on for some sticky G-funk and a dungaree-clad Black Josh for ‘Fisher Price‘ sans-Milkavelli. Then the whole stage piles in for ‘Ellesse, Ellesse‘ where the room’s energy hits a new found peak. Round four is declared and bedlam is the weapon of choice.
There’s little difference between the carnage on stage and in the pit, with the Blah gang pulling out all the stops. The tunes are getting harder and there’s certainly no space for a keyboard anymore. Slummy steps in with a last minute verse to fill in for Estonian MC VÄIKE PD, as the yet to be released ‘All On Tick‘ gets its first performance. The crowd is in the palm of his clammy hand.
Out of nowhere, (and perhaps the biggest surprise of the night), appears the elusive, Glaswegian star CHLOBOCOP. The audience is treated to both ‘2 Phones‘ and ‘Bell Me Back‘, in which Black Josh climbs the DJ table and hangs from the railings above. In contrast, CHLOBOCOP’s shy style keeps the attention on her, the crowd hanging off her words instead. She exits the stage having handed over the mic, though most of the other guests have remained in the madness.
This fourth round is the hardest of them all. The lights cut out for the Sniff-produced ‘What If Lee Was A Lil Rapper? Wow, OMG‘ where things get properly trappy, running into 2014’s ‘Yes He Did‘ before anyone can catch a breath. Lee Scott then whispers into the ears of his posse, who each drift offstage while Hyro spins the final beats alone. The crowd has feasted and have been thoroughly fed but surely we’re not done yet? It’s a good thing “616” has the same amount of syllables as “One more song”. The chants begin.
Bang bang ahh ahhh. In comes the beat to Cult Of The Damned‘s self-titled beast of a tune. The full team, (and then some), storm the stage, meaning another new peak is reached. Tony Broke‘s arrival receives a response close to that of Goeff Hurst’s 1966 hat-trick, the place popping off to the “One man supercrew, in a supercrew”. Their collective chemistry is unmatched. Everyone hypes everyone. This is truly ‘Lee Scott & Friends’.
With the Blah Records battalion throwing the rest of their drinks and cigs into the crowd, they exit the stage for good, (and for bad). This show was likely much more than it could have been in its original form, despite the multiple reschedulings and arduous wait. Lee managed to cram in music from throughout his extensive discography, including label-wide releases that landed after the initial gig was promoted. This was the return to abnormality the whole venue needed.
Catch ‘Lee Scott & Friends: Part Deux‘ in Bristol on October 2nd for another helping of alt-rap antics from the Runcorn royalty.
Peep our playlist compiling all the songs and artists mentioned above:
Written by: James Wijesinghe