Hip hop sampling culture came under the spotlight at the latest outing of LiveVibe – a peripatetic project that offers young artists a much-needed platform to present their work. It was a theme that seemed to spring from the personal passion of this night’s creator and MC, Hakeem Onibudo, of Impact Dance, whose musings on sampling and other rather self-centred ideas were an attempt to link a disparate range of pieces.
Kloe Dean’s all-female hip hop dance crew Myself UK kicked things off with the exuberant film noir-style ensemble piece The Joint – a tale of gangsters, molls and one tough private dick, set to the Lafayette Afro-Rock Band’s sassy instrumental Darkest Light (sampled most famously by Wreckx-N-Effect for Rump Shaker).
Yukiko Masui took William Bell’s 1969 track I Forgot to Be Your Lover as the starting point for her layered duet – a song that has both been sampled and itself contains an interpolation. Masui’s choreography captured a rich melancholy – and Blue Codington-Makwana and Jonathan Starr performed the piece with feeling.
A film of Onibudo and Boy Blue’s Kenrick “H2O” Sandy putting on a dance academy in Caracas followed – three of the Venezuelan dancers who had been involved in the project were welcomed on stage, but bafflingly not given an opportunity to dance, just a chance to stumblingly thank the British Council, who’d organised it.
Impact Dance’s Bradley Charles and Keanu Wilson provided the most muscular display of hip hop dance of the evening, performing Slippin’ – a duet built on the DMX track of the same name. Charles and Wilson, faces obscured by masks and hoods, offered up a battle of id and ego, ying and yang, as two aspects of one mind, and their bravura b-boy moves were exciting to watch.
Urdang Academy filled the stage for Nathan (Neo) Gordon’s Make the Road By Walking, created around the 2008 track of the same name by Menahan Street Band (sampled by Jay-Z on Roc Boys) – the house dance vibe and old-school moves infused the piece with sunny positivity.
South London spoken word artist Ana Paz performed her piece Fly Butterfly, mixing in dance moves performed by her and b-boy Black Dragon. Then the DJ – Boy Blue’s Michael “Mikey J” Asante, no less – put some unlucky audience members to the test with a “spot the sample” quiz.
Rather confusingly, the relentlessly upbeat Onibudo drew a lesson about self-empowerment from this segment – and so on to Ajani Johnson-Goffe’s Reimagined, a piece for three dancers blending contemporary and hip hop. Tom Scott’s Today was the track – a cover of Jefferson Airplane’s Today that is now principally remembered as the sample for Pete Rock and CL Smooth’s hip hop classic They Reminisce Over You (TROY). It was enthusiastically received but, for me, rather unmemorable – particularly coming right before Boy Blue Entertainment’s explosive finale of 11 dancers swarming the stage, bristling with krump energy.
What to take away from this evening? It seemed odd to present sampling as something that needed explaining – but maybe that’s me showing my age. I did leave, however, reassured that there’s a lot of hip hop dance talent being nurtured at the moment.