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Big Boi review – The Tivoli, Brisbane, Fri Aug 26th

Another week down, another Friday off the calendar. This sleep-deprived writer is running on fumes by the end of the day, but knows he can't miss out on this opportunity. Once inside The Tiv, I lose count of reverse-flipped baseball caps; it's hardly an expensive R&B club night, though – more a high-calibre hip hop event.

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Tonight's Australian support, Obese Records signees Thundamentals demonstrate just how remarkable the close-knit Blue Mountains hip hop scene is. Pacing the stage, Tuka, Jeswon and Tommy Fiasko take mic turns while DJ Morgs lays down shuddering bass and thwacking beats. He certainly knows how to use the MacBook as an instrument – however, he's a revelation behind the decks. If one were to use “urban” slang, Morgs “can scratch dat shit”, so adept he is with the turntable – and of course, the three MCs can rhyme like nobody's business.

All the way from Brooklyn, the buzz-riding Theophilus London works hard through an hour-long set. Looking like a million bucks in a sparkly silver shirt and brandishing a chunky gold chain around his neck, the rapper utters the first of the night's many "make some motherf***ing noise!" requests and we're immediately transported to an old-school block party. The backing is minimal – a guitarist and a girl DJ – but there's hardly anything skinny about the '80s electro-influenced tracks rattling the sound system. When London and guest MC join forces in a dancing display that can be best described as “a cross between riding a horse and the motorcycle”, it's a major hoot, but it's still the New Yorker's best-known numbers – Last Name London, I Stand Alone and the big finish All Around The World – that get the best reception.

Much to his fans' relief, the earlier 'illegal substances' arrest has failed to hamper Big Boi's long-awaited Australian tour, and tonight we witness one half of OutKast in full glory. Long known as one of the most skillful lyricists in the business, the erstwhile Antwan Patton rules the house in authentic Southern hip hop fashion.

One year on, tracks from Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty – an expertly-crafted LP mixing the old-school 'Atlanta bass' sound (typified by grinding TR-808 basslines) with a dazzling range of influences – sound remarkable when delivered by the author and his band. Accompanied by the the two-man horns section, guitarist, drummer, the hulking DJ Swiff (who additionally turns out to be a gifted vocalist) and the supporting MC and decked out in a camo jacket, the Georgia rapper/producer exhibits perhaps the most effortless, natural flow this reviewer has heard live so far.

As expected, the tunes are as rich and hearty as chicken-fried steak. The General Patton/Follow Us medley instantly triggers an almighty collective boogie, while OutKast aren't forgotten with golden oldies Ms Jackson, B.O.B. and the breakneck-paced Ghetto Musick (at last! Live! In Brisbane!). The guitarist sings a cruisy soulful number while Big Boi takes a brief break; the MCs subsequently invite a posse of girls onstage to sway to the still-shimmering Love The Way You Move. Sir Lucious' big hit Shutterbugg makes everyone cut the rug(g) some more, with the pot fug(g) becoming more detectable. We merrily yell along as Swiff drops Queen's perennial We Will Rock You and absorb the grooves of the George Clinton collab For Yo Sorrows and the grunge guitar-laden Tangerine.

The encore is marked by a tasty drum solo; then Swiff shows exactly why You Ain't No DJ before General Patton himself bids us a heartfelt “thank you”. A high-class showcase by a true hip hop master and his unit.

 

Denis Semchenko – AAA Backstage

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