Nottingham Rough Trade
29th April 2019
Nottingham Hip-Hop group Last Sons and friends celebrate the release of their debut album Chekov’s Gun with a storming set at Rough Trade. Christopher Lloyd was there to report.
Nottingham’s Last Sons have been making a name for themselves with their live sets for a few years now, and have spent the last couple of years locked away honing their live sound with production help coming in Stateside from Uncommon Nasa.
Before they take to the Rough Trade stage to celebrate their lyrically and sonically deep debut, we are treated to a support set from The Xtraordinary Gentlemen, a duo from Manchester who treat the crowd to an old skool style of hip hop that is somewhat reminiscent of the daisy age of hip-hop with added humour. In fact, the between-track banter is so sharp you could be forgiven for thinking you were at a stand-up gig.
The set features tracks that heavily sample Star Wars musical samples and 80s rock guitars abound. Towards the end of their set they even throw in a bizarre cover of Pet Shop Boys’ West End Girls, doing so without at any point falling into the category of novelty “comedy rap”, which is no mean feat.
After a brief pause, headliners Last Sons take to the stage to bludgeon the crowd with tracks from their debut Checkov’s Gun. A visually emotional frontman Duke Zero One takes to the stage assisted by stage partner Lethargy and Furious P on the turntables. Between them they create one hell of a noise. A classic barrage of sludge heavy beats, 90s style cutting and scratching and lyrics that can simultaneously paraphrase Brian Blessed in Flash Gordon, “Dive my hawkmen!”, whilst seamlessly taking a knife to the political clusterfuck that is modern life under the current destructive and narcissistic political climate.
The set opens with the first track from the Chekov’s Gun, Dope Springs Eternal, introducing a subversive sound which is to conventioanl rap what Public Image Limited is to identikit punk. The beats are slow, the noise is high. Duke Zero One barks out “I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger” in a way that would have Samuel L Jackson cowering. It is a sound that acts as a template for the majority of the album and the set
Welcome to Corporatonia steamrolls along sounding like a Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy filtered through Company-Flow vibe, before things take a momentary lighter tone, musically at least, on Technicolor Terror, which lyrically still remains ferociously hefty, and sonically features mightily impressive turntable work by Furious P.
The album closer Actually Happening ends off the short and sharp set with an ecstatic Duke Zero One basking in the reception the packed venue have given to both the album itself and this, its live celebration. It is an album he states, that at times he “felt would never happen”. That the album took two years to come into fruition shows that Last Sons’ priority was not to rush out material but to pour their heart and soul into an album that has heft and brevity, an album that can stand strong alongside the more recognised and established hip-hop artists.
In Checkov’s Gun, Last Sons have succeeded in producing exactly that, and one gets the impression that every gig in support of the album will be nothing short of triumphant.
You can find The Xtraordinary Gentlemen at their official Facebook page.
You can check out more about Last Sons over on their official Facebook page, as well as being able to pick up a copy of the album Checkov’s Gun at the Uncommon Records Bandcamp page.
Words by Christopher Lloyd, Photographs by Mieke Tate.
More writing by Christopher can be found at his author’s archive.