Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Breaking the Barrier: Review

All photos: Craig 'Cain' Hain / Crown Sound
Breaking the Barrier at Afillion Studios: another night of live music, another round of battles, another round of getting absolutely pished in the name of Scottish hip hop. Except this time, half of us were wearing costumes (naw, but seriously, check out the Crown Sound page's pictures because there are some belters).

Sadly, I didn't have enough space in my bag to don my spider-man suit, but still made it down on Halloween to judge two highly contrasting battles. Following the first round of this year's tournament (which I reviewed here:, there were a couple of no-shows. JR the Juggernaut, after hard fought wins over Zebs, as well as Steve-ET in the first round, was not able to make it down to face Scott Earley. Meanwhile Zebs himself was a no-show, meaning that SSU's own M1sterman automatically goes through to the last four.

Milla killing it on stage
For the two battles that did go down, we were provided with grading sheets that gave us a pretty mathematical judging system to work from. Tally marks were awarded out of five for delivery, content, flow, crown reaction, stage presence, all that jazz. The system seemed to work quite accurately as all the judges agreed that Number 13 edged out Subkonsious in the first battle. Unfortunately, we've probably seen better from both. It was no horror show, but it was perhaps fitting that 13 took the battle with mostly puerile humour on Halloween, especially after his bars seemed to hit so much harder against his brother Maka. With that said, his performance was clean and convincing, with Subz stumbling through his latter rounds after taking the first pretty clearly. 

RDS v EVIL proved to be the battle of the tournament so far. My inkling was that EVIL would edge this - he's been killing it at every event recently, and deservedly has a headline battle v Gasp at Badmouth next Friday - but I ultimately voted against him for the first time. This was very much a style clash, with RDS bringing bars and aggression against EVIL's natural stage presence and freestyle ability. It was close, but RDS edged him out in the third round, proving his ability to flip and freestyle as well. Whoever faces him next will have to be on their A-game, and that might not even be enough.

Elsewhere, the live performances made for a more stylistically diverse card than we're used to from Scottish events. Milla (see above) is an exciting dude to watch out for, and this was my first time seeing him perform music. Though his battles have tended to be "jokes over bars", his lyricism shines through in his own material. His closing a capella was particularly poignant, reminding me of Mog albeit perhaps less downbeat. Lumanes also killed his set, dementedly jumping around stage in trademark fashion. He was also joined by much of Deadsoundz (as far as I can drunkenly recall) for the latter part of his set.

By this point in the night, the bar had literally run out of alcohol to my dismay. What was still conscious of the drunken crowd undoubtedly enjoyed Skyy Boii's energetic set. Though he's been playing bigger club-styled shows in Edinburgh for a while, which perhaps shows a bit of foresight on his part in terms of PR, this is the first time I've seen him personally. Though his style is far removed from the boom bap of many Scottish artists, Skyy can clearly flow and his shit is undeniably catchy.

Skyy Boii hyping up the crowd
Though it wasn't a packed out venue, every act hyped up the crowed to make for one of the most fun hip hop nights I've been to in a while. Big up Cain for the event - be sure to all get down and see Shotty Horroh at Live n' Spittin' on November 28, as well as Afillion Studios on December 5th for the next round of battles.