Mos Def Live

For Ben Sherman V.I.P.
BSVIP Mos Def_(c) MSethi July 2011 3359.jpg
The queue was actually round the block at XOYO as Kill It Kid, Huey Morgan and Mos Def were due to perform at east London's club of the moment. There was only room for 500 people inside and those at the end of the line looked like they might have to go home disappointed. Marking the launch of the Ben Sherman V.I.P. campaign for the charity Trekstock, this was probably the most intimate show Mos Def has played in the last decade.

Delta blues influenced Kill It Kid kicked off proceedings and their drawling lyrics and raw, Mississippi sound and obvious roots music influences was a fitting scene-setter for the night to start with. This was a perfect stage to open them up to a whole new audience in east London. It's hard to believe they've already finished their second album, they didn't show any sign of nerves, knowing that the next person on to the stage was going to be one of the biggest names in music.

After them came Clash's very own Paul Sethi, stepping up to the mark and kept the mood and anticipation with a tight DJ set, dropping anthems from Kool Herc, LL Cool J, Jheru The Damaja and Digital Underground as the atmosphere grew more tense on when Mos Def was going to take to the stage. The thing was, no one was quite sure. DJ included. Ripples of excitement went round the audience as various people looked like they were preparing the stage several different times. The restless ripples turned to waves of cheers when host for the evening, Huey Morgan took to the mic, looking dapper in a tuxedo, to introduce the headliner himself.

Mos Def may have been a bit late, but this is hip-hop aristocracy, and when have they gone by anything other than their own (expensive) watch? Sauntering on to the stage to the Beastie Boys Intergalactic, snappily dressed in suit, red shirt and tie (as you'd expect) he crooned his thanks to the sweaty mass before him for being there and sharing the evening with him into his trademark 1950s mike, injecting an adrenaline-fuelled enthusiasm through the crowd and a flurry of iPhones lit up the room.

'Turn it up pleeeeeease' Def shouted before his call of 'Speeeeedball' announced the track of the same name from Grammy Award nominated album The Ecstatic turned the crowd exactly that. From then on he had the room in the palm of his hand. Stopping frequently to mop his brow with a hankie, he apologised for having so many 'sweat breaks', but 'looking like shit is never an option.' After that a mix of crowd pleasers from the Mos Def back catalogue came thick and fast - Cream Of The Planet, the Black Star smash Children's Story, Hip Hop from his seminal album Black On Both Sides and the politically charged Revelations from The Ecstatic all highlights. Def's lyrical delivery is legendary and he certainly delivered the goods in east London.

Words by Josh Jones
Photo by Marc Sethi


View an accompanying photo gallery from the night HERE.

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