As you may’ve already realised, I’m quite a big fan of Radcliffe-raised, Sheffield-honed and now London-based hip hop artist The Ruby Kid, a.k.a. Daniel Randall. He actually invited me to a gig at The Maze in Nottingham this Thursday night (guest list steez), where he performed a set and did a couple of spoken word poetry performances (increasingly en vogue in the ever-trendy East End, or so I hear). Together with my German course cohort James (an open-minded kind of guy when it comes to music, and someone to whom I had actually introduced The Ruby Kid’s “Maps” EP a few days prior to the gig), we set out to find this relatively obscure independent music venue situated on the Mansfield Road and in a part of town very few of us Nottingham University students ever venture out to on account of its unseemly association with Trenters (or Polys as they call themselves).
Nonetheless, we overcame our parochial views and childlike misgivings and reached the cosy little venue, supped up a few Weißbier at the bar before entering, and saw some pretty impressive local acts, which included folk/punk singer-guitarist Joe Slater, ska/punk act Breadchasers and of course, The Ruby Kid himself (although a title of local artist is debatable given his musical talent burgeoned elsewhere). Initially I felt the atmosphere teetered on being a tad cliquey, but I guess that was merely cynicism on my part as I eventually came to the realisation that they were in fact all part of a tight-nit and supportive network of independent Notts musicians. They were all warm and friendly folk after all, especially the chirpy Nottingham-residing, South Londoner Liam O’Kane (himself a musician and member of indie label/collective Off Cut Records) who arranged a night that had nothing but good vibes about it. The highlight for me as a hip hop fan was obviously seeing The Ruby Kid live, as well as having a bit of a chinwag with him about battle rap and hip hop journalism after the show (I actually met him briefly once before at a Steel City Cypher session a couple of years back). The guy was just as compelling performing as the guy I have heard many a time on tracks, and he definitely excelled in moving the crowd with his intelligent lyrics and for the most part, he managed to hold the audience’s attention well during his rather bold, slightly avant-garde a cappella rap/spoken-word poetry performances (one of which involved him stepping off stage and vocalising whilst standing in amidst us spectators).
All in all, this was a great way to end a poxy exam/coursework deadline period and I wish nothing but the best to all the independent musicians I saw and met; even if it was all a tad short-lived…