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RE:Definition @ Hackney Empire, 7th July [Review]

A well-received reunion between two former N.A.S.T.Y. Crew-ers came in April this year, when Ghetts performed unannounced at an Urban Development (UD) show and assisted Kano. Together they went back-to-back on “Hunting We Will Go”, to a lively East London crowd. While it was great to see, there weren’t any signs of such a thing happening again... That was all until the line-up for Re:Definition was announced, boastfully announcing the pair as headliners. Last night saw the event in question spring up at the mighty Hackney Empire and with such a promising pair sitting atop the flyer, it couldn’t be missed.

Just as with UD’s regular Industry Takeover events, UK Hip Hop’s Mikill Pane acted as host to the event and paced things through well. While he may have had a bit of trouble getting people to get his humour, after performing “Summer in the City” and “You Don’t Know Me” from DJ Wonder’s elevated booth, he’d managed to connect more with the crowd and eased the initial awkwardness out of his relationship with the crowd. It then made it easier for him to drift through the night, announcing as each act - Urban Development Vocal Collective, Jay Norton, Lovelle, Selah, Donae’o and Talay Riley - was due to do their thing.

Where’s the Grime? You ask. Well, keeping with the flow, we were eased towards the dingier sounds gradually. Solo sets from Lady Chann (helped by Glamma Kid) and RoxXxan (assisted by a verse from Benny Banks) took things part of the way. They were peppered through the night and bridged the gap between those who perhaps came to see the lighter Soul and R&B (as those people wouldn’t have taken too kindly to being thrown into the deep end and being exposed to Scrufizzer’s rapid-paced rhymes too early on).

By the time Scruface, Grime’s new rising West Londoner took to the stage, everyone was already familiar with his musical cohort, Abel Miller. A little earlier, the young R&B singer allowed everyone to warm to his classic approach, again allowing people to steadily become more comfortable with the energy found in Scrufizzer’s “Deep Thoughts”. He brought his most recent SBTV video to life and showed that he can adapt to areas further from his usual comfort zone. Once Abel had left the stage, however, Fizz’ erupted the venue and made full use of the erratic lighting once “So Fizzy” dropped. He left the stage confidently knowing a few more people would have to be Googling his name later that night.

On towards the main event, which was just as immense as it aimed to be. First came Ghetts. After a brief pre-recorded video explaining what he means in a few of the “Artillery” bars, he jumped on the stage to present what happens when he spit them on stage to a packed East London venue with a live band. He then switched gears completely to show off his upcoming new single, “On a Level”, which takes him from a bouncy Hip Hop vibe right up to some mash-out-the-place Jungle in the chorus. In spite of its newness, it had just as much an impact on the crowd as “Artillery”.

Madness over, it was then the turn to show a quick Kano video, where he tells us the process behind writing “London Town”. Seconds after, there he was. He ran through the tune quickly with a commanding stage presence and showed all the mannerisms of a seasoned stage performer. The next minute he’d brought GH back on so that they couple reignite the magic from Urban Development’s All-Day event and show what happens when the pair are in control doing “Hunting We Will Go”. The surprise factor behind the last Ghetts-Kano performance may have dampened the excitement of this one a little, but they ensured that not a single seat in the house would be disappointed. To close things off, Kano reminded us where things began as he made everyone stand before he got into “P’s & Q’s” and there’s little need telling you how that was received.

All in all, whether or not your musical tastes vary as much as the musicians did, it was well worth passing through Re:Defintion 2011. Grime-wise, the Urban Development team did well to balance its presence with the various other genres, which were injected into the night. The audience was exposed to the various stages of development: it ranged from the globally-recognised (Kano), to the street’s favourite (Ghetts) and even had a little time for what’s about to blow (Scrufizzer). It was a huge one and the impact of it is bound to spread far beyond.

Words by Chiino.