method man redman

I don’t really need to go on some long explanation about all the hip hop accolades Method Man and Redman possess; If you’re any kind of hip hop head at all you already know just how consistent, skilful and important they are. Staten Island’s Method Man; a member of the Wu-Tang Clan with one of the most distinctive voices in the game, and Newark, New Jersey’s Redman; one of the most prolific and charismatic rappers around are in Leeds tonight, and the West Yorkshire heads are clearly in high anticipation as I walk into the pretty big O2 Academy, with a group of breakdancers doing their thing live on stage; it’s clear that an all out hip hop affair is in store tonight.

bravoBefore Red and Meth take to the stage, the requirement of warming the crowd up falls on Leeds based crews Tha Office and Defenders of Style. They released a collaborative mixtape earlier this year, and as more and more bodies enter the stage, the whole gang performance gets under way. J Bravo, Prys, Optic, Potter, Pertrelli, Teknico, Matter, Zen, D Bizzy, Jack Danz and P Solja trade bars on a seriously heavy cypher to set the wheels in motion, and the versatile crew have certainly got all angles covered. As the hard hitting instrumentals, some of which I recognise from their mixtape, shake through the O2, this 11 deep showcase of some of the heaviest Leeds spitters proves that there is a huge amount of hip hop talent in the UK at the moment. P Solja demonstrates his swaggered out trap flow and Pertrelli energetically drops aggressive flows with gritty delivery. Jack Danz is an absolute beast on the beats, and he’s capable of dropping some of the savagest punchlines you’ve ever heard with the cockiest delivery, and these bump through the venue with complete clarity. D Bizzy drops consistent bars with a percussive delivery, landing with real weigh and impact. Potter’s intricate writing and aggressive delivery is very convincing, and a couple whistles of approval ring out from the audience as he recites his verses. Prys drops flawlessly structured bars with a professional live delivery; there’s a reason Defenders of Style are so respected, they’ve been making quality music for years and are definitely some of Leeds’ best MCs. A more uptempo instrumental finds J Bravo performing with a witty and charismatic style, and Zen demonstrates his fantastic multi-writing, and his impressive, intricate flow is on full display. Going back to the gritty boom bap, Jack Danz and Prys impress once again, before Optic drops with his distinctive tone; his structure is effective, and his old school flow is laced with potent punchlines and technical writing. Teknico possesses a cutting flow and delivery, matched with witty, intricate lyricism, and Matter’s solid flow and charismatic style is engaging to watch. Copies of their mixtape are thrown into the crowd, and the ‘Christmas presents’ are certainly appreciated. Tha Office and Defenders of Style finish their set with another heavy cypher, with J Bravo, Jack Danz, Optic, Matter and Teknico holding it down to finish a very impressive set from Leeds finest.

defenders v tha office

Following this onslaught of real UK hip hop comes the moment we’ve all been waiting for. By this point the O2 had a definite herbal smell infusing every available space, and at 9.30 DJ Dice increases the anticipation by announcing from behind the decks that there is merchandise available, before playing some hip hop classics to amp up the packed out Leeds crowd. 20 minutes later the Blackout duo begin by hyping the crowd up as soon as they arrive on stage, and hands are in the air from the front of the venue to the back. As the frantic, hard hitting ‘Errbody Scream’ resounds around the venue, Redman impeccably delivers his lyrics. Meth and Red launch water into the crowd, and it’s clear that the energy levels are going to be high tonight, and the legendary spitters on stage have started as they mean to go on.

redman leedsFollowing this they run through their classic verses from LL Cool J’s ‘4, 3, 2, 1’, and the energetic instrumental complements two of the most impressive flows in the game. As they perform ‘City Lights’ from the 2009 ‘Blackout! 2’ album, it is clear that the chemistry between the two MC’s is flawless; this is the key to engaging audiences as well as they have been doing all around the globe for years. Following this comes ‘A-Yo’; seeing them playing songs back to back shows what a great beat choice Red and Meth have, both in regards to their collaborative work and on their respective solo steez. The charismatic on stage energy is engaging, and this continues with Redman’s 1992 classic ‘Time 4 Sum Aksion’. The funky, uptempo beat gets the whole venue jumping, and the crowd is receptive to the fantastic energy on display on stage. Method Man drops his classic self titled tune from the Wu-Tang’s debut to an expected huge reception. Meth spits from the front barrier, and the raw, energetic performance is something to be respected. Red drops the in your face and anthemic ‘Let’s Get Dirty’, before Streetlife joins on stage. The Wu affiliate pops a bottle of champagne before running through ‘Grid Iron Rap’.

method man redman leeds2Method Man demonstrates his raw, energetic flow on the hypnotic 90’s instrumental of the absolute classic ‘Bring The Pain’; Redman and Method Man storm around the stage as if they own it, and these are two veterans still killing it as if it was day one.

As the thumping kick of ‘I’ll Bee Dat’, from Redman’s ‘Doc’s Da Name 2000’ album fills the venue, the New Jersey MC cockily shreds the beat, before launching into the incredible ‘Smash Sumthin’. The brutal instrumental finds a frantic and precise Redman tearing the roof off of one of my favourite Reggie Noble tunes. Method expertly delivers his bars as the gritty, New York sound of ‘You’re All I Need’ backs his distinctive voice. The two herbalists clearly weren’t impressed with the weed they’d got in Leeds, dissing whoever sold them it live on stage; how you wouldn’t represent for these connoisseurs amazes me. Once again Method Man demonstrates his percussive, savage flow over the hard hitting instrumental of ‘Fall Out’. Next, Method Man and Redman introduce Streetlife back to the stage to showcase some of his new tunes, and the hardcore New York sound is heavy as ever; the Wu-Tang Clan’s extraordinary depth of talent is truly something to behold. The crowd show their respects to DJ Dice and Allah Mathematics who have been holding down DJ duties, before the herbalist anthem ‘How High’ gets the heads nodding back and forth. Whether it’s on an uptempo or a chilled vibe, Redman and Method Man always give 100% and do their job incredibly well. They follow this with the sequel, ‘Part II’; Method Man’s melodic delivery is as smooth as ever, and Redman spits with clarity and precision. The duo drop a heavy run through of ‘Y.O.U.’ from their 1999 debut album, with fast paced, consistent flows. The intensity rises as the record progresses and both MCs deliver their verses flawlessly. Following this Red and Meth show appreciation for Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and the crowd completely reciprocates this. A bag of weed gets thrown on stage, to which Method Man shows his gratitude, before ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ya’ pounds through the venue, inciting a deservedly wild reaction. The crowd are rewarded for their continued energy throughout the show with a performance of some Wu-Tang classics which is a real treat, before Meth and Red launch into ‘Da Rockwilder’, and the acidic synth and punchy drums back the two MCs as they hold it down with real chemistry. Redman launches himself into the crowd, surfing on the WY heads hands, before Method Man stands vertically on the front row’s hands, before dropping onto the bodies below. Redman tops this by climbing up onto the stage rig and jumping backwards, luckily supported with no problem by the packed out crowd. Method Man announces that next time he returns to Leeds he’s going to be bringing the whole Wu-Tang with him, and then Red and Meth close the show by paying respect to hip hop’s fallen soldiers.

meth n redman leeds

Tonight was the final date in the Blackout pair’s tour, and what a way to end. The depth of their back catalogue is amazing, with hit after hit being performed with high energy from the start of the show to the end. Tha Office and Defenders of Style impressed, and the Redman and Method Man showed their veteran status with one of the most professional and impressive shows I’ve seen for a long time. We hear tonight that ‘Blackout! 3’ is on its way, and if its anything like the last 2, it’ll be another certified classic. Leeds has played host to some of hip hop’s biggest names over the last year, and this was a fantastic way to close out 2014.


Words by Sam Bennett

Picutres Courtesy of Ben Gwynne @ 159 Photography