Review // Juice Crew put on a monumental show for the old skool faithful at O2 Academy Bristol

Some true legends of the genre prove they still know how to set the stage on fire

Christmas came early at the O2 last weekend, with Queenstown-based hip hop pioneers Juice Crew putting on a monumental show for the old skool faithful. Over 30 years since their founding, members Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Masta Ace, MC Shan, Craig G and Roxanne Shante still know how to set the stage on fire. Fans who were maybe put off by the higher ticket price will not know what they missed during this scintillating one-off encounter with some legends of the game.

Over 30 years since their founding, members Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Masta Ace, MC Shan, Craig G and Roxanne Shante still know how to set the stage on fire

Bristol’s home-grown talent Split Prophets crowded the stage early on with the likes of Paro, Bil Next, Blanka and Flying Monk joining core members Upfront, Res One and – back doing what he knows best – Datkid. The set was quintessentially UK but the early billing time and possibly slightly older crowd left the group imploring the floor to liven up in preparation for the main event.

They did.

The bubbly Roxanne Shante oversaw proceedings as Master of Ceremonies, which was a great way to introduce the crowd to one of the lesser known members of the crew whilst keeping the crowd on their toes between individual performances. Hits such as Live on Stage and Roxanne’s Revenge were performed throughout the night.

The bubbly Roxanne Shante oversaw proceedings as Master of Ceremonies

Craig G hit the stage with a solid set including an extremely varied selection of producers from Premier to Juice Crew’s own Marley Marl. Craig G intertwined own hits like Ready Set Begin with covers such as My Adidas with clarity and made sure that he didn’t waste a single minute of his slot.

MC Shan cut a cool figure, putting the old in old skool with his matching tracksuit and Kangol bucket hat with hits from the mid to late 80s

MC Shan cut a cool figure, putting the old in old skool with his matching tracksuit and Kangol bucket hat with hits from the mid to late 80s. The drum-heavy beats took the crowd back to the early years of US hip hop with ample praise for missing super producer Marley Marl in the lead up to his stand out classic The Bridge. MC Shan didn’t miss his chance to play Kill That Noise, his diss to KRS One back in the days when the origins of hip hop’s birthplace was being disputed.

Enter an old, homeless alcoholic to the sound of A Change Is Gonna Come, of course I’m speaking about Masta Ace, who – once out of costume – arrived to huge appreciation from the crowd. Masta Ace worked the stage with verve. It was at this point you were sure that this wasn’t just a collection of old MCs trying to relive their heyday, this was a well-oiled and well-rehearsed show. Tracks from A Long Hot Summer and Disposable Arts showcasing how well Ace has transitioned into a newer era.

Let’s Take a Walk would have been the highlight if it wasn’t for a solo rendition of the superb Crookyln Dodgers to get the crowd well and truly losing their S**T

Let’s Take a Walk would have been the highlight if it wasn’t for a solo rendition of the superb Crookyln Dodgers to get the crowd well and truly losing their S**T. The set was jam packed with crowd pleasers with Born to Roll, Beautiful and even Nostalgia, to name a few.

Big Daddy Kane Set It Off next, demanding the loudest roar of the night, and deservedly so, with the MC sounding stupidly similar to his 1989 self as he ripped through fast-paced classics from It’s A Big Daddy Thing. There was never the sense that BDK felt too good for the event, in fact the whole crew seemed to be enjoying themselves throughout the night, which clearly rubbed off on the crowd. Raw and Smooth Operator gave the O2 even more classics to swallow, before the rest of the crew joined for the biggest collective hit The Symphony, introducing Kool G Rap in the process.

Big Daddy Kane Set It Off next, demanding the loudest roar of the night, and deservedly so, with the MC sounding stupidly similar to his 1989 self as he ripped through fast-paced classics from It’s A Big Daddy Thing.

Kool G Rap went a bit too gangster on his first couple of solo hits and started to lose the crowd, at this point it was approaching 11pm and for no apparent reason some of the audience felt it was their bedtime, leaving plenty of wiggle room at the front. Kool G Rap brought us back with Ill Street Blues and, of course, Road to Riches, before Big Daddy Kane reappeared to end the spectacle with Another Victory and the one we were all waiting for – Ain’t No Half Steppin’.

The Juice Crew showed their pedigree throughout with a hit-riddled masterpiece of entertainment

As if it wasn’t enough to just be in the presence of such genre defining legends, The Juice Crew showed their pedigree throughout with a hit-riddled masterpiece of entertainment that will be remembered for a long time to come.

Words by Callum Rees

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