Catacomb & 8mana Present
Mndsgn & Ivan Ave
Monday 1st February
Headrow House, Leeds
Being given the chance to catch one of the most forward thinking beat makers in hip-hop demonstrate why they have earned such a status is quite a rarity. However, thanks to Catacomb and 8mana’s this was made possible as they welcomed Californian based producer Mndsgn along with a host of other talent to Leeds’ Headrow house.
Since surfacing circa 2009, Mndsgn has released a number of mixtapes and EP’s along with his debut LP, Yawn Zen, in 2014; all of which featuring the kind of flair that earns you a place on the Stones Throw Records roster. However the night was to be less about the man himself and more about his recent collaboration in the studio with Oslo based MC Ivan Ave who’s Helping Hands LP, produced by Mndsgn, drops in the coming weeks.
Before the pair took to the stage, rapper Sigmund and Leeds based producer Sangria Kong each delivered a solid set with Kong’s ear for sampling evident in his tight instrumentals. 8mana’s very own Dulahli followed and was a busy presence on the stage, swapping and changing between sample pads and even welcoming further members of the 8mana crew to supply vocals who aptly delivered with the mic in hand. Final support came from Jackoby. Playing a free flowing instrumental set complete with complex drum patterns intertwined with intelligently placed loops he created an impressive spectacle despite a couple of mishaps with his sampler.
There was no big entrance as both Mndsgn and Ivan Ave finally took to the stage with the Norwegian instantly breaking into Keep Looking, a track featuring on the pair’s 2015 studio collaboration Low Jams. A rendition of Find me followed, warming the crowd with one of the most polished basslines Mndsgn has conjured when working with Ivan Ave. The track’s simplistic yet infectious beat laid the perfect foundation for Ave’s confident delivery, who expertly altered his flow to the breaks in the beat. Ave continued with an impressive solo performance which saw renditions of Toast and tracks from his forthcoming record such as The Circle. Mndsgn eventually joined Ave centre stage and took up position behind the keys. With his face a picture of serenity the Stones Throw producer began to supply the beats along with precision placed synth lines. The pair played through a number of unreleased tracks before closing out with Obedience, a feature of both the Low Jams EP and Helping Hands EP. With the stage only occupied by himself, Mndsgn used the opportunity to road test some beats from his forthcoming record before treating the crowd to a sincere rendition of his 2014 track Camelblues, sparking a number of lighters to drift from side to side toward the front of the crowd.
The performance on the night from both Mndsgn and Ivan Ave perfectly summed up why their collaboration is a breath of fresh air for hip hop; no fuss over image or a strong message in the music, just high quality beats with the rhymes to match.
Words by Elliot Ryder
Photos courtesy of Nick Porter