The Jazz Cafe might originally have been a jazz venue, I don't know but I guess it must've been, but I generally associate it these days with Old Guy black acts like Lee Scratch Perry or Mojo magazine-friendly white turns like Marianne Faithfull.
But it's a grand place to go see a hiphop show because of its intimate size and the rock-solid acoustics. You get punched by the backbeat, the heat, and the bass in your face in the crowd. This came into play when hip hop supergroup The Mighty Underdogs played there the same night that the evil revolting Brits awards were going on elsewhere in London town. This was the best hip hop show I've seen since I caught LL Cool J sparking off Cut Creator at the Brixton Academy a while back. Remorselessly new and old skool at the same time,
The Mighty Underdogs are San Fernando Valley's Gift of Gab from Blackalicious, Oakland's Lateef the Truth Speaker from Latyrx, and producer/musician NYC's Headnodic from Crown City Rockers. They put out a six track EP The Prelude, in the fall of 2007. They've come to London now to promote their first proper album Droppin' Science Fiction, which bubbles and pops with musical life and features the likes of DJ Shadow and the better-than-Dad Marley brothers.
Some of the best hiphop and rap comes from rich mixtures of sophistication/simplicity, collaborations (Snoop/Dre, LL/Cut Creator/Rick Rubin), and collision. The Underdogs combine crowd-pleasing call-and-response routines (Hands in the Air) with Michael Jackson samples (oldest trick in the book and sometimes the oldest tricks are the best) and Headnodic's heroic beats, designs, and inspirations.
The trio worked real hard and delivered with unusual authority and clout. The largely white and thirtyish audience were sent home sweating and happy.
Joe Ambrose has written 12 books, the most recent being Chelsea Hotel Manhattan and The Fenian Reader. He is currently writing a book about the Spanish Civil War.