Ambitious detail by some of Scottish Hip Hop’s most celebrated voices
Producer Steg G does not work in half measures and albums The Air In Between and Live Today are no exception. This live showcase, invigorated by The Glasgow Barons orchestra, wove a rich history that was hard to ignore.
The Air In Between saw Stanley Odd lyricist Solareye masterfully take on a God like narrative, connecting timelines with omnipotent flare. His intimate word play introduced an array of familiar voices. The Irish immigrant powerfully embodied by The Freestyle Master. Wandered youths energetically brought to life by crowd favourites CCTV. Aspirational office worker Emma expertly portrayed by the critically acclaimed Empress. Each artist knew and understood the power in their delivery. This is real life. The grief of immigration. The effects of austerity on our youth. Ambitiously detailed by some of Scottish Hip Hop’s most celebrated voices.
The real triumph of this event was that it is art born out of community. The Glasgow Barons, founded by conductor Paul MacAlindin, is renowned for access and diversity. Their work with Musicians in Exile and Sunny Govan Radio is of note. That ethos of mentorship and trust was evident in the connection between each artist throughout the performance and arguably powered both albums on display.
After a short break, the group returned to the stage united, tearing into recent release Live Today. The tone accelerated as the crowd lapped up the energy. The lyrical content grew in urgency, with dark and fraught undertones. Live Today is a tombstone to addiction and trauma. A eulogy that challenges violence and masculinities within urban communities. It is brutal and frank. Yet hope shone through. ‘The Wee Small Hours’ documented the tension of Covid-19 lockdowns, in sharp contrast to ‘My Destiny’ and it’s confident positivity. The night ended with heart wrenching ‘Funeral for a Friend.’ The audience united as they mourned an injustice experienced by so many.
As Scottish Hip Hop receives increasing attention from the creative establishment, this beautiful dialogue is a strong example of what it has to offer.
Photo credit: Victoria McNulty