Jehst, Lee Scott & Friends
Friday 7th October
The HiFi Club, Leeds
Words by Luke Bird
Friday the seventh saw another very special event in Hifi’s Hip-Hop calendar, where two accomplished wordsmiths took to Leeds’ subterranean stage for a night that only an intimate venue and top-notch soundsystem can provide. Both Lee Scott and Jehst are legends in their own rights, for their prolific output, home-schooled wit, and contribution to the British scene through their own respective labels. Both are champions of the sample-based, jazz-infused, boom-bap sounds of the golden era, and both stamp their own recognizable, localized British sound onto their records.
Leeds, as a platform for British artists, widens every year, with battle rap giants Matter and Dialect carving themselves a slice of the action, and groups Defenders of Style and The NorthaZe pushing boundaries on the local circuit. Jehst and Lee Scott entered the calendar sandwiched between a High Focus Records showcase with Fliptrix, Ocean Wisdom and Edward Scissortongue et al, and US hip-hop legend Talib Kweli.
"While jovial, jokey and undoubtedly blessed with an ear for rhyme, he is clearly a rapper that takes his trade seriously, and this is mirrored in the quality of his live sets."
Lee Scott was out performing on the back of his most recent project, Butter Fly, a collaboration with High Focus Records frequenter Dirty Dike on production, and he didn’t take long getting the crowd on side. Scott shifted between the title track’s sneered punchlines, (“Round ours Robbie’s God and Grobbelaar’s innocent, Shankly’s sons, early 90s Cassy scum, Taxing Capri Sun’s and stashing them at me Mum’s”), to the choppier, quicker musings of ‘Don’t Tell Me’, (“Head in the sky like I’m ready to die, I tell you a lie like I’ve never been high. Fly pelican fly and I only drink on days ending in Y”), with the ease of a veteran wearing his Scouse-ness as a symbol of pride and originality.
Jehst hit the stage as a homegrown hero, after mastering his craft down the road in Huddersfield, and alongside Loiner Tommy Evans, putting West Yorkshire on the map back in 1999 with YNR Productions. Much like Scott, Jehst maneuvered his formidable back catalogue and handled the crowd as all experienced performers do, in a set that never dipped or plateaued. Whether the funny and dark homonymic style of ‘England’, (“where the smackheads jackin up, crackheads crackin up. You’re back up or backin’ up? You’ll leave with your hands cuffed”), or the slower, simpler, introspective approach heard in ‘Starting Over’, (“I’m a brave man, I’m a soldier, I’m a caveman with a boner, you be Marge and I’ll be Homer, can’t we try starting over?”), Jehst carries it off live with an air of conviction. While jovial, jokey and undoubtedly blessed with an ear for rhyme, he is clearly a rapper that takes his trade seriously, and this is mirrored in the quality of his live sets.
"Both Lee Scott and Jehst are legends in their own rights, for their prolific output, home-schooled wit, and contribution to the British scene through their own respective labels."
The freshly renovated Hifi underground duly got down to the thundering booms, rasping baps and whimsical wordplay of a life’s work from two of England’s finest talents. The bar heaved, the crowd laughed and one guy in the smoking area said of his first ever Hip-Hop gig: “Sickest night ever”.
Words by Luke Bird
Photos courtesy of Ticket Arena