Jeru the Damaja
Will Not Be Televised Hip hop night
The Antwerp Mansion, a dilapidated former Belgian consulate turned creative hub and cavernous party venue, lies semi-hidden behind the neon corridor of Rusholme’s curry mile.
Mancunians negotiate this well-worn thoroughfare in their thousands every hour, but increasingly a few hundred are also choosing to spend their Friday or Saturdaynights in the Mansion’s Byker Grove-goes-raving environment.
Not the typical spot for a hip-hop show then, but perhaps a fitting venue for Brooklyn’sJeru the Damaja – a rapper who advocated a staunchly underground and independentapproach during an era dominated byshiny-suited Bad Boy excess.
Before his arrival on stage, the scene was set by a series of performances attesting to the current health of the Manchester hip hop scene.
Disciple aka Spider Jaroo, recently seen locked in a ferocious battle with Shotty Horroh at the Don’t Flop North event, provided a brief but energetic set to previewmaterial from his fresh EP Writing for Commission.
The Blackpool MC was followed by D’Lyfa Reilly and his Red IQ cohorts, backed by DJ Konny Kon, who delivered the tight and focused wordplay crowds have come to expect from them, honed over a series of high-profile support slots in recent months.
With the Mansion’s main room already bursting at the seams, The Natural Cirruculum stepped up to again justify their rep as one of the city’s most consistently exciting hip-hop acts.
At times it was hard to distinguish the audience from the stage with the seven-strong collective in full effect, but a sea of bodies could not prevent the star quality of TNC rappers Dayse and Bill Sykes shining through.
By now the crowd were baying for the main event, having seen Jeru embrace thecommunal ethos of the venue by arriving early and mingling with fans at the bar.
He made his way through densely packedbodies to the stage, cheerily admonished one girl at the front for texting during the showand proceeded to deliver flawless renditions of cuts such as Come Clean and Ya Playin’ Yourself in between swigs of Hennessey.
Each song was greeted rapturously by the multitude now inside the Mansion, as Jeru commanded the stage with the confidence and guile of a natural performer.
He remained on stage for a few minutes after putting down the mic, simply enjoying the tunes selected by his DJ, before rejoining the mass of bodies swaying to classic hip hop beneath Victorian ceilings in the city’s best new venue.