The god fathers of UK hip hop graced The Jazz Café’s stage last month in a historic reunion that sent the room in to a reminisce of the 90s. London Posse, the quintessential rap group of their era, finally appeased their fans’ relentless requests and resurfaced for a 30th anniversary tour – their first show in over 20 years.
The gig was remarkable, not just for the or the energy in the room, but because of London Posse’s pivotal place in the UK hip hop history which made watching them in the flesh like watching history. They were one of the most influential UK hip hop groups of the 90s, and without them UK music wouldn’t be what it is today.
The night was introduced by The Doctors Orders as they presented the group saying, “Tonight is gonna go down as a legendary night!” And they weren’t wrong. It had been 25 years since the London Posse last played their landmark album, Gangster Chronicle, but Bionic and Rodney P played as if there had been no time at all. Although Bionic may not have practiced as much as he could have, every time he slipped up Rodney P just looked over at him with more appreciation than annoyance. The room was filled to the brim of old and new London Posse fans, who were quickly whipped up in to a frenzy as the two grabbed their mics – the older fans eager to have a bit of their youth spat back at them.
Bionic looked just as he did in his youth – donned in a baggy shirt, a scarf on his head, and shades – and Rodney P wore a t-shirt with ‘CORBYN’ stamped across it, Run DMC style. The two played their classics; Live Like the Other Half Do, Jump Around, Money Mad, and Livin’ Pancoot, but cringed over the sexist lyrics of some of their other, more lewd tracks, such as Sexy Gal. They excused themselves from the outdated words of their youth by explaining that they now had daughters of their own, and didn’t agree with the lyrics… Anymore.
The two got emotional half way through the evening as they paid homage to the late Sipho, the London Posse founder and talented beatboxer who remains close to their hearts. He was part of the original crew, along with DJ Bizznizz, but left the gang before they made Gangster Chronicle, although they were both important in developing the group’s sound and image. One of the reasons for this is because the group formed at a time when the style was to rap with a fake American accent, but the gang decided to go against the grain and use their real cockney accents, which became fundamental to their style and notoriety as one of the first hip hop groups to sound authentically British.
The UK hip hop scene began in the early 80s but remained underground, unaccepted on mainstream radio until London Posse, ‘finally gave British rap an identity of its own’ (The Daily Telegraph). At the London hip hop hub, Covent Garden, the scene grew and evolved through a cultural interchange of London’s cross-racial inhabitants, and London Posse’s sound emerged from a mix of US hip hop and Jamaican-influenced dub, which remains a central aspect of UK music today:
“The group’s South London-inspired music still reverberates in the work of their descendants – Roots Manuva, grime MCs like Dizzee Rascal – more than two decades later.” – Red Bull Music Academy.