De La Soul: The Forum, London
Nick Hasted has been a film journalist since 1986. He writes about film, music, books and comics for The Independent, Sight & Sound, Uncut and Little White Lies. He has published two books: The Dark Story of Eminem (2002), and You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks (2011), both from Omnibus Press.
Friday 07 March 1997
Everything about them had been stripped down. Turntables were shrouded by a rough blanket, a primitive screen hung at the back. Stagecraft was limited to what MCs Dave and Pos had to say, and they responded by turning north London into a New York block party circa 1979. The crowd, divided into "the hip-hop motherfuckers over here" and "the wankers over here", waved their hands in the air as records crackled and scratched. Part old- skool, part Play School, the mood was confident in a way beyond any of their recent records.
But their past still had to be faced. "Anybody know about 3 Feet High and Rising?" Dave asked, and the crowd roared. "Yeah, yeah," he sighed. And his band played the hits, but not with the expected resignation and the acceptance that their past selves had won. They assaulted the songs in a process of ruthless reinvention.
They made "Me, Myself and I" into a party record, a simple noise. "Daisy don't mean anything," they rapped. "Daisy don't mean a thing."
A final "I" turned into a drawn-out rumble, and they slipped in a song from De La Soul Is Dead.
For one night at least, they really had killed the past, not by rejecting it, but by battering it into the present.
Their position assured, De La Soul went on to reclaim hip-hop's past, too. They listed their music's great names, and asked the crowd to respond. "You gotta keep it like that, you gotta keep it like that," they pleaded as Tupac raised unquestioned devotion. They played some Run-DMC, bringing back a name more forgotten even than theirs to the fold.
It was followed by a white light streaking suddenly through the crowd and the best of their new songs, "Stakes is High", a litany of abuses of black people and music by the careless and the cruel. As a statement of history and community that sounded like a party, it summed up a joyous night.
TV reviewGrace Dent: Jimmy McGovern's new drama sheds light on sex slavery in the colonies
Eurovision 2015Australian Idol winner unveiled as representative Down Under
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 2 Indian woman creates 'Marriage CV' after parents put her on dating site: 'Definitely not marriage material. Won’t grow long hair, ever'
- 3 World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 GamerGate: developer Tim Schafer provokes rage with joke about online gaming activists at industry awards
The 9 rules every Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoon had to follow are wonderfully pedantic
Toy Story 4: Pixar promises a romcom storyline 'separate' from the much-loved trilogy
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
The world's most beautiful libraries: Introducing Franck Bohbot's House of Books project
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests