Friday, March 24, 2006

And we saw Ugly Ducklings and Giant Pandas!

On a freezing and miserable evening I feared the worst for these guys and sure enough, Cyprus Avenue was very quite when I arrived. I met Kieran (from Cork's excellent Campus Radio of UCC) and we had a cup of tea at the bar (how hip-hop are we!)
It was strangely appropriate that it was tea rather than Cristal or Moet that was our beverage of choice because these two West Coast hip-hop crews are rolling far from the MTV cliche of Bling-bling shoot em up gangsta rap. I've been involved in a few Ugly Duckling gigs before as we brought them to Jam at the Savoy twice and I also toured with them in Galway and Limerick two years ago for a couple of shows. Giant Panda (above with the Panda eyes!) are on the excellent Tres label shared by another great act who played at Jam, People Under The Stairs, and I recently got one of their first records in Fat City.

Undeterred by the small crowd Numan from Giant Panda got on the decks and played Dilla's classic "Let's Ride" production from Q-Tip, winning me over straight away. Maanumental joined him on the mic and even minus Chikaramanga the two MC's tore into an energetic and minimal live Old Skool sounding set. The Small crowd suddenly came right alive and everyone danced like crazy as the Giant Panda delivered another timely reminder of why we all love hip-hop so much. Intelligent rhymes, funky beats, and energy levels that would put more well-known rappers to shame, these boys kicked an excellent set, the highlight for my ears being a tribute to the ear of hip-hop cassette's called 'Diggin' In the Tapes"! Now that is Old Skool!

Ugly Duckling (see pic) seemed a little bit more disheartened and having played to over 800 people in Cork at previous gigs I could understand why-Still though, they kept at It professionally and rocked on with their own unique brand of cliche-free hip-hop, including everything from the new single "U.D.", to the older jams like "Now Who's Laughing" and "Everybody In the Place".

After the show I caught up with both crews who were dead cool and I walked the Panda brothers back to their hotel after I nabbed them for some jingles. I already have some excellent radio drops from Ugly Duckling from a few years ago so I didn't have to bother them! I jumped in a cab soon enough and headed home, and now it's pushing on, so I'm gonna catch up on some of the sleep that I missed last night, I find it's hard to put the head down when you are so amped and hyped! Check Black on Red on Saturday (7-10PM Cork's RedFM) for some of Giant Panda's new stuff-we've also got a little bit of audio up on so have a peek-it's not finished yet. But I am so goodnight and stay funky!!!!!!!

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    I'm a DJ from Cork in Ireland. I work with RedFM, presenting Red Drive, The Hitlist and my specialist show, Black on Red. I'm probably best known for being one of the main hip-hop/soul DJ's in Cork and Ireland. I've been DJing in Cork since the early 90's in legendary clubnights such as Sweat in Sir Henrys, Mor Disco, Free La Funk, Yo Latino and also Jam and Jam Junior at the Savoy and the Pavilion. I've also held down long term residencies at clubs around Ireland such as Brown Sugar at the Kitchen in Dublin, U-Turn at Ri Ra in Dublin, Jazz Juice at the GPO in Galway, Thompson Garage in Belfast, the Soul Clinic, Dee-Bop, Meltdown and Mo Bounce in Limerick and i've played abroad in the United States and the U.K. on numerous occasions. I also write a music column for the Evening Echo and i'm a regular contributor to the U.K.'s Blues and Soul, the longest running black music magazine in the world. These days i run the Pavilion, a music venue in Cork, which hosts my Jam night every few Fridays also you can catch me at