Live Review: Madlib + J.Rocc | U.K.

Botched Invasion: Benji B's Deviation plays host to Stones Throw's Madlib & J.Rocc
by Roy Shay

wank⋅er \ wang-ker \ n Chiefly British and Australian Slang: Vulgar.

1.a contemptible person; jerk.
2.a male masturbator.

road⋅block \rohd-blok\ n

1.an obstruction placed across a road, esp. of barricades or police cars, for halting or hindering traffic, as to facilitate the capture of a pursued car or inspection for safety violations.

The gig was originally scheduled for a week ago, but Madlib got caught up in some UK immigration paper-pushing nonsense. "WE APOLOGISE FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE CAUSED BY THE RESCHEDULING OF THIS EVENT. TRUST US - WE WILL MAKE IT UP TO YOU TOMORROW!" yelled the email update. As if I, or anyone else originally planning on going, needed any more of an incentive. Benji B's Deviation hosting Stones Throw's J Rocc and Madlib at Fabric, with its internationally revered sound system? It's almost pornographic. Shame, then, that Madlib done went and cocked it up so tragically.

It started off well enough: Benji B brought his show's biggest current bangers - Dam Funk, Hudson Mohawke and the rest of them lot - out of people's iPhones for the first time and onto Fabric's ferocious monitors, the distinctive, searing basslines shaking drinks right off the bar and carrying well throughout LDN's EC1 zipcode. BPMs climbed steadily, through Floating Points' "Love Me Like This" and into Benji's rather distinctive disco-tinged sensibility, ending his set with Billy Ocean's "Nights" (tune!). The venue was rammed solid by then.

Next up was J Rocc. I had never seen him deejay before and was ever-so-pleasantly knocked off my feet by his utter awesomeness as a party starter. The party-stonkers were lined up back-to-back, some going over better than others, but generally caving the roof in. Cuts were fast, stabs were on point and the MC was all but made redundant. "I don't know about y'all" Rocc belted, "but I came here to party!" Thank Dilla someone was, as the magnitude of the impending shit-storm wasn't quite evident yet. J Rocc's set was relevant, varied and tighter than the sea of jeggings around me: Batucada, Pharcyde, Tribe, Slum, M.O.P., Sister Nancy's "Bam Bam"... The bombs fell hard and fast. "And Madlib hasn't even gone on yet!" I remember thinking. I should've seen it coming when J brought 'Lib on to do Jaylib's "Official" and he was too fucking munted to remember the lyrics to his own song. The "BRRRRRRAP!!!"s were too loud and hard for the audience to spot what was coming, but I could see it in his eyes.

Madlib came on at half-past midnight with the attitude of a spoiled, bratty, demanding, obnoxious eight year-old that snuck into his parent's liquor cabinet and topped it off with a visit to his older brother's weed stash. After dropping a thick, sick, stunner of a new Madvillain beat, he abruptly stopped it and demanded the crowd make some noise for J Rocc. When it wasn't loud enough for his liking (and it was loud, don't kid yourself), the megalomaniac woddled off the stage to a stunned audience, already bitter and skeptical after the previous cancellation of the night. After a Mayer Hawthorne lookalike (could've been him for all I know) begged the crowd to make enough noise to bring Madlib back out of hiding, the self-absorbed genius teetered back on stage and delivered a dreadfully amateur set, peppered incessantly with incomprehensible drivel that was deemed important enough to drown the music with. CDs skipped, loops butchered and stunning, never-before-heard music was generally raped to within an inch of its' life. It was like watching a four year-old stumble into a Michelin-starred kitchen and asked to make a meal from rare truffles and expensive cuts of fine meat. At two points in the night, 'Lib looped high-pitched, deafening screeches and played them for minutes on end to a puzzled, bitter crowd, plugging their ears and cringing at the thought of the impending ringing that would keep them up when it's time to go home and sleep. As a stark contrast, though, came a chilling, fantastic remix for Dilla's best track, "Won't Do".

I take my hat off to Benji B for putting on such an ambitious night and filling such a venue well into the morning on a school night. And, I'll also say that I am the worlds biggest Stones Throw fan: I wore my Madlib shirt as an undershirt that day, as an hommage to what I see as Dilla's true successor, for fuck's sake. But I won't be taken for a fool. The emperor's clothes suck.




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