It’s not all the time that US hip hop royalty head to Leeds, and so having Run The Jewels as well as Danny Brown on the bill at O2 Academy Leeds signaled a very special evening dedicated to one of the most vast and versatile genres from across the pond.
Brown bounces onto the stage, sporting a brand new grill and flashing his tongue to the cheering crowd. He treats the Leeds crowd to a chronological set of his back catalogue, starting with the stand out single of the first in his trilogy, ‘Die Like a Rockstar” from his gritty 2011 record XXX. Danny delivers his high-pitched, cartoon-style bars of his truthful lyrics and flows without hesitation into the EDM tinted sounds of Old as he runs - the length of the stage as well as - through “Smokin & Drinkin’”, “Dip” and “25 Bucks”, with audience participation creating frenzied gig-goers without so much as a cue from the Detroit rapper - who seems to have carefully hand picked his most crowd pleasing tracks. Not allowing himself so much as a pause, he moves onto his latest release Atrocity Exhibition, and flies through high energy, punk and at times almost comedic performances of the brass-ridden “Ain’t It Funny” and his finale track, “Really Doe” with its catchy hook and varying flow. A short but mighty sweet set from the quirky emcee, giving the crowd only a tease and taste of the high standard of US hip hop on offer tonight.
Walking onto the stage to Queen’s seminal track “We Are The Champions”, Killer Mike and El-P roll onto the stage, dressed in all black, beaming smiles and looking genuinely humbled to greet their crowd - despite the boasting message playing out behind them. They rip through flawless live renditions of “Talk To Me”, “Legend Has It” and “Call Ticketron” before Jamie pauses the show to lay down some ground rules before they take their set any further. Securing the duo’s spot as the nicest guys in hip hop, they tell their loyal fans that fighting is disallowed, and putting your hands on anybody you don’t know isn’t what they’re about (Mike put it a lot less eloquently, as he said “if you’re a drunk guy, don’t be a f*cking creep touching up girls”) - from this moment, a huge feeling of community overwhelmed the place and the tone was set for an enjoyable set by RTJ. Continuing, the dynamic duo swap places on stage intermittently, spitting nothing but fire as they run through their back catalogue, with “Close Your Eyes (And Count To F*ck)” initiating excessive strobes to really get the raucous party atmosphere well underway, “Hey Kids” rousing their audience to join in with every word and finishing with “A Christmas F*cking Miracle”, the pair’s performance was nothing short of flawless, not missing a beat and keeping the entirety of their crowd completing captivated and engaged. Having paused in between songs to give a few speeches during their stage presence, hitting on topics important to them such as mental health and their gratitude towards their fans, the “RTJ” chant that rang out when they left the stage showed that the feeling of gratitude was reciprocated. Returning to appease their fans’ demand for more, the hip hop legends give a live rendition of “Angel Duster”, met with their viewers raising finger guns and fists to replicate their logo and show their utmost respect.
Images courtesy of Anthony Longstaff
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