Having only released his excellent album ‘Rip Eat Prescription’ on Friday, Razorrawks didn’t hang about in giving the material its first airing, booking a record release gig at The Ferret on Sunday 10th January. He was supported by two excellent local acts, Lewis Whiteside from Preston & Booth Boxers from Burnley. It was a shame that ‘The Monday Of Months’ was in full swing, because this should have been way better attended. However, it’s quality not quantity, isn’t it? A smallish, intimate but resoundingly enthusiastic crowd got their drink on and acted like they didn’t have work in the morning…
First of all, a massive shout must go to DJ Trauma. He mixes for Booth Boxers, and he provided a warm-up mix, as well as sets in between each act. He is an extremely skilled turntablist, from song selection to mixing, having some awesome scratch skills. Lewis Whiteside was the first act, coming across as humble, sincere, unassuming, nervous and confident all at the same time. He had a great rapport with the crowd throughout, and is a genuinely entertaining performer. Mixing in late 90’s and early 00’s Hip Hop influences, his beats use buzzing, rock guitar loops and samples that sound like they are lifted from epic 70’s Blaxploitation soundtracks. Among the highlights, there was a fantastic spoken word section about the earth and how humans are mistreating it which was genuinely fantastic. There was an almost Trap sounding beat which had verses about sex that would make Christy Mack blush. However, his finest track was towards the end of the set. A song about Hip Hop and artistry that had a more laid back beat, with a piano loop and a subtle vocal sample laying the background for an almost spoken word flow, more poetry than anything else. A really great artist, and I’m looking forward to catching Lewis perform again…
Booth Boxers were up next, and they definitely brought the party atmosphere after Lewis Whiteside had warmed everyone up. Backed by DJ Trauma, it’s a great set, full of Boom Bap era mixing, scratching, punchlines, hooks and great verses. They bring to mind a great wealth of Hip Hop history, reminding you of everyone from Jazzy Jeff, to Cypress Hill, to House Of Pain, to Nas, Binary Star and even Jedi Mind Tricks. All of this is topped with a pair of unmistakable northern accents. Everything about the set is a throwback to 90’s Hip Hop, but it works extremely well - the perfect soundtrack to a Sunday evening. It’s upbeat, positive and extremely enjoyable. There were several highlights throughout the set, but the jewel in the crown for me was closing track ‘Kick Back’, which has a fantastic brushed drum loop that forms the main spine of a contagiously head nodding beat, all the while the two MC’s trade excellent almost single-breath verses, dealing out a fantastic hook to match.
Without trying to sound offensive, Razorrawks is the definition of one of those nicely designed posters with a picture of mountains and type laid over the top. ‘Work hard and stay humble’. It is a refreshing thing to see in an artist, especially in the Hip Hop community, a scene that often embodies itself on talking big, talking shit, and flashing wealth - at least where the upper echelon is concerned. ‘Rip Eat Prescription’ is a well considered and well thought out piece of Hip Hop, and the live performance is much the same. The set starts with atmospheric track ‘The Bitter End’, the spoken sample of The Wilcoxon Speech and the moody synths building the tension until that drum beat kicks in and Razorrawks spits those faster bars. It’s a great opening track and quickly showcases the diversity on offer throughout ‘Rip Eat Prescription’. Razorrawks has admitted that he doesn’t always feel like he can identify with being a ‘rapper’, and although it does show in the way that he performs, striding around the stage and carrying himself like a Hardcore singer, when he has tracks in his live arsenal such as ‘Snakes On Ladders’ he most certainly is a rapper, because his ability to verbally dance, duck, weave and jab his bars over an instrumental is impressive.
Another insight into Razorrawks The Rapper is the fantastic ‘Sinister Mr Minister’ where he skilfully doesn’t seem to take a breath during the entire there-and-a-half minutes, spitting his gruff northern verses over that dirty, warped synthesized beat. We are treated to a great showcase by the Prestonian Hip Hopper, mixing a couple of his older tracks along side his album material, and everything is fantastically received by the small but dedicated crowd, who are by now all nicely lubricated and suitably enthusiastic. I get to hear a personal album favourite in the form of ‘Catalogue Of Errors’, which doesn’t disappoint - the lunging synths and over-digitised drums sounding great through a full sound system, and Razorrawks legato word flow earns another great response from the room, before finishing with early project single ‘House Of Frauds’ which suitably brings the house down on a fantastic, understated and well crafted Hip Hop set.
If we keep going at this rate, with line-ups like this and the occasional visit from someone of B. Dolans stature, Preston will have a name for Hip Hop in no time! Cheers to The Ferret once again!
Author: Tim Bridges