As many music labels look back on 2017 and the opportunities the year brought them, one label in particular will be reminiscing about the significant growth they have experienced - Playaz Recordings. With two sold out shows at Brixton Electric and a first festival stage take-over at South West Four, Playaz have shone with their most successful year to date.
Re-launched by DJ Hype and Pascal in 2006 as Real Playaz, the label has arguably been overlooked by many drum and bass fans over the years as one at the forefront of the genre. On NYE this criticism was well and truly crushed, as Playaz held their biggest ever UK show at a sold out Brixton Academy - a venue famed for hosting some of the most acclaimed artists and events in the world.
After RAM Records produced two huge NYE events the previous years, there were a lot of question marks surrounding Playaz’ ability to to produce something just as special. But with a line-up consisting of Hype b2b Hazard, My Nu Leng and a mind-blowing showcase from the Playaz Allstars, it was always going to be a milestone event.
The most notable USP of the night was the plethora of scintillating b2bs, including Danny Byrd b2b Mollie Collins and Crissy Criss b2b Mampi Swift. Both acts were surprisingly the ones to kick off the night, with Danny Byrd and Mollie Collins taking to the stage as early as 20:30. Due to this, the main room of the Academy was disappointingly empty for their set.
To see Mampi Swift walk on stage with Crissy Criss afterwards was a welcome sight, as fifteen minutes earlier Mampi was stuck at the stage entrance unable to get into the venue due to his name not being on the list. “It might just be Crissy tonight…” he joked at the door.
Mampi and Crissy have build a defiant little and large combination over the years and blessed Brixton with one of their renowned seven deck mixes. Despite being opposite sides of the decks, the chemistry between themselves was clear to see, with both of them energetically reacting to one another’s quick-fire double drops.
With Mampi’s jungle roots and Crissy’s jump up knowledge, they were able to create a unique blend encapsulating the musical foundations in which Playaz is built on. It was drops like Noisia’s “Dead Limit” mixed with Bad Company’s “Planet Dust” that prompted people to flood into the main room.
The set was one that many in the crowd would have liked to of carried on for longer, as the next two hours in the main room were the most bizarre of the night. Following on from the b2b was Holy Goof then Heartless Crew and Roots Manuva. Going from fast drum and bass mixing to three sets of bassline, dub and hip-hop dramatically slowed the tempo and changed the atmosphere of the night at what should of been the big build up to midnight on main stage.
In search of different musical ventures, many opted to leave the main room. The music on offer in the adjoining room two turned out to be even more of a stark contrast to the energetic drum and bass during the first part of the night. Hosted by Rum’N’Riddim, the room was blaring out a chilled out selection of r’n’b tracks and even played the original version of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You”. For those wanting their 170bpm fix, Ed Sheeran just didn't cut it…
As hope of drum and bass was all but lost, the sound of Friction’s “Mad In The Jungle” could be heard echoing in the distance as we wandered upstairs to kill some time. Situated in the cloakroom corridor was an unsuspecting window with three Rough Tempo DJs. Usually the slow-moving cloakroom queue during peak times is one of the most tedious parts of the night, but those in the queue on NYE were treated to an explosive drum and bass showcase, which resulted in a corridor so packed at 11pm that new arrivals couldn't actually get into the queue.
Taking on the prestigious midnight set was Hype b2b Hazard, a deadly combination responsible for tearing up events across the world throughout last year. Both mainstay members of the Playaz family and major reasons for how the label has got to where it is, it was not only a fitting way to see in the new year, but also to wave goodbye to the label’s most successful year.
With Hype on vinyl and Hazard on his CDJS, it’s a tricky combination that has got better with every performance. From Hazard’s “Killers Don’t Lie” mixed into A.M.C’s stomping “Tap Ho” remix, to Hype defying the logic of Noisia’s “Dead Limit” with a masterclass in live sampling and scratching - their midnight set was nothing short of epic. At this point the main room of the Academy was flooded with a sea of people streaming all the way up the sloping floor to the back walls. The New Years party atmosphere was in full flow.
The latter stages of the night saw showings from My Nu Leng and Bad Company UK, alongside more unique b2bs with two jungle sets from jungle purveyors Randall and DJ Die alongside a performance from Benny Page and Potential Bad Boy, who linked up with General Levy on mic duties.
But it was the exclusive four-way b2b between Sub Zero, Tyke, Annix and Taxman that stole the show. Referred to as the Jump Up Allstars, these producers have done wonders for Playaz over the past years ands are firmly at the core of everything the label achieves.
Only having a stingy forty minutes to share between four producers, the Allstars immediately brought a ferociousness to the night with through their quick-mixing and energy on stage - as they bounced around to every drop behind the decks. The four-way b2b managed to breathe new life into a crowd that was starting to feel the weight in their legs as the night neared its end.
A stand out moment from the set came when Sigma’s “Nobody To Love” prompted many in the crowd to get on shoulders and wave their arms in the air, only for the track to be mixed with Hedex’s thumping “Forever” VIP, which resulted in a swift rewind and a flurry of cheers.
As proceedings drew to a close, there was an overwhelming sense of joy around the venue even as people were leaving into the cold night. To see jump up on such a massive stage was an incredible experience that everyone inside Brixton Academy was lucky enough to witness, and to top it off, flyers were handed out announcing that Playaz will be stepping up their game once again in 2018 with an event at London’s hottest new venue, Printworks, on March 10th.
Photos courtesy of Lock N Load
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