REVIEW: CHESTER P @ THE CELLAR

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I cannot think of anyone that can top the honest lyrics of the UK hip hop veteran that is Chester P. Within his music itself you can sense that the man has raw burning passion for what he is doing. He delivers relevant accessible messages in the most imaginary, heartfelt and extraordinary ways, if you don’t believe me listen to his track ‘Spoonerised Minds’.

This was an event for which I had been looking forward to for some time and so on Thursday 25th April 2013 as one half of a dynamic duo I ventured through the bright lights of Bedford Place and past the hordes of people awaiting to enter Junk who wanted to see another dynamic duo who go by the name of Bondax, and from there on to The Cellar.

At this stage I must give the likes of Joe Raygun and the rest of the crew at The Cellar who put this event on their dues. This venue has become a hub for hip hop on the south coast which has attracted so many exceptional acts in its time. Recently it has seen the likes of Buggsy, Immortal Technique and the entire High Focus crew and now Chester P, none of these events would have been possible without the efforts of the people who have assured that The Cellar is a venue which is held in such high regard.

In all honestly prior to attending the event, Chester P had been the sole reason for my being there, but having arrived, purchased and tucked into a £2 pint of Tennants, the sounds of Jester Jacobs and Moose Funk Squad called. Out of the entirety of the warm up acts I had only heard one of their tracks before and that was ‘I’m Dog’ by Jester Jacobs. Another track that is well worth a listen if you have a moment and one that went down a treat live.

Not to say that I doubted that there would be quality acts on show prior to Chester P and Ramson Badbonez, but it would be fair to say that I was unsure of the standards the warm up acts would bring but the guys absolutely smashed it. The Three Headed Beast’s, a group I hadn’t heard of before the night, self-entitled EP is currently downloading on my computer and I have checked out all of the artists that I heard. I hope this begins to show not only the quality that was on show that night but also the depth of hip hop that there is now in this country.

I often think that to be an artist and perform to an empty room must be a demoralising experience and yet you have a duty give everything for the few people who have shown their faces. To say that the room was empty would be an overstatement but at some points there was no more than 25 bodies vibing to some of the earlier artist and yet they undoubtedly performed with energy and enthusiasm. What these artists did was to unify an audience who had all turned up for one reason, for that night hip hop was our one love and passion. As I mentioned the crowd wasn’t the biggest, and even though it kept growing right up until the moment Chester P appeared on stage, The Cellar was never close to capacity. The atmosphere in the crowd though was one that you will not come across often, this compact crowd was composed of true and pure hip hop heads, and we were united by this fact.

Ramson Badbonez acted brilliantly as the link between the warm up acts and Chester P. He is an extremely talented musician in his own right but I got the sense that his performance was overshadowed by the expectations and excitement that had built for Chester P. Let’s not take anything away from him though, his appearance and his quick, assertive, grime tinged sound definitely added to the evening.

Then came the turn of Chester P, throughout the entirety of the night, until this moment, there had been a pair of legs sticking out from under a curtain on one side of the stage with a pair of Nike Air Max on the end of them. It was now that they were utilized to carry the unmistakable figure of Chester P out of the shadows and into the light. Never have I see an artist of any age, race or genre captivate the entirety of their crowd in such a short period of time, there is something unexplainably absorbing about the man, we prayed on every word that left his mouth, enthralled. It may be clear that I am a fan of Chester P and support everything that he has done for our scene; he should be recognised as a true legend. But trying to be as impartial as I can possibly be I have to say that the performance that he gave us was phenomenal.

He clearly is a master of the art of performance, staggering around the stage like a man possessed. On the low cut stage at The Cellar he interacted perfectly with the crowd in a performance epitomized by its variety. He was in full control, never rushed, giving props to the man who had driven him to the event, before breaking into a selection of his tracks in which he addressed social and political issues and their injustices that hit many home truths and opinions within the crowd members. The conversational attitude and accessible lyrics allowed us to tap into his emotions and enthusiasm to the extent that with the slightest mention of a mosh pit the majority of the crowd were jumping into each other. The unity of the audience was best demonstrate at this moment as my friend and other half of our dynamic duo strolled about the crowd introducing himself and shaking the hands of other attendees.

Chester P is an enormously creative man, and this is something that he demonstrated in abundance as he paused mid set to recite one of his poems entitled ‘The Full Moon of Doom’. On top of this we got a glimpse at the roots of the Chessmonster, a man brought up battling and freestyling on the street, plying and perfecting the art in the underground movement. He plucked three words at random from the crowd that he then went on to encompass brilliantly into one of the slickest and quickest freestyles you will ever see. Two of the words he chose were some of the following: politics/ education/ Ronald Reagan… or something along those lines, I think. The third was ‘seahorse’, a nonsensical offering from yours truly, an overly excited fan. As if this wasn’t enough at the end of his set he stood on the stage sharing wisdoms with us as he collected numerous objects from the crowd to sign, I am now the proud owner of a Chester P signed wallet.

Chester P is a name that probably does not hold enough respect amongst the new breed of UK hip hop heads, and to say that he has been one of the main players in the scene for the last 15 years or so would be an understatement, the man is a legend. Go check the geezer out if you don’t know him, in his music there is something for everyone.

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About Author

Charlie is studying Spanish at the University Of Southampton. Having been a part of a number of music projects in the past few years he has finally decided to start his own - Endgame. Endgame will be a Southampton based hip hop project that aims to work outside the rigid parameters of it's culture and genre.

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