Ocean Wisdom @ HiFi Club Leeds 29.04.16

Fliptrix, Edward Scissortongue, Onoe Caponoe & Defenders Of Style also feature on a stellar bill

May 14th, 2016 at Hi-Fi Club Leeds / By Sam Bennett
Ocean Wisdom @ HiFi Club Leeds 29.04.16 Opening the show, as has become the norm for the High Focus Leeds dates, is northern dons Defenders of Style, accompanied by established and respected producer Hashfinger on the decks. Their gritty homegrown hip-hop keeps the West Yorkshire crowd enthused and entertained for the absolute onslaught of heavyweight artists to come tonight. Prys, Jack Danz and Disgust have such an organic vibe as well as effortless chemistry, which results in every track being delivered with energy and precision. They play Moon Moods from their acclaimed The Death Of Meaning LP, which dropped last year, and Jack Danz and Disgust give the crowd a preview of some Upper Echelon material; they have a forthcoming project, and the material online is sure to wet the appetite of any UK hip-hop fan, and the pair tear it down on stage tonight. They also perform Shakedown Part 2 and Old's Cool before finishing a hard-hitting set.

Next to take the stage, and kicking off the heavyweight High Focus showcase is London MC Onoe Caponoe. Today also marks the release of his latest project Spells From The Cyclops, which explores an even further leftfield direction than his previous releases. Onoe demonstrates a trapped out flow from the outset, and his Cosmic Seagull crew are on stage swagging to every beat that thumps through the HiFi Club. Caponoe's set is fast-paced, and he moves quickly through tracks with frantic energy and blistering bars. A highlight is the rowdy Ghosts In Ma Hallway, and the leftfield vibe is translated to stage really well; Onoe's authoritative and professional delivery makes for an incredibly hyped and enjoyable set, and the Leeds crowd are fully receptive to his passionate display.

Swiftly following Onoe Caponoe comes Edward Scissortongue, who is currently preparing for the release of his sophomore LP in collaboration with Glaswegian producer Lamplighter, entitled Tell Them It's Winter. He takes to the stage donned in black shades, and his unique brand of raw, intelligent lyricism and forward-thinking production keeps the buzzing HiFi Club fully enthused. Scissor drops Teeth, taken from his fantastic The Theremin EP which was released back in 2014, before premiering some new songs from the forthcoming release. Ed's commanding stage presence makes for a wholly entertaining set, and his experience shines through; the joints he performs from the new release are traditionally heartfelt and passionate, and are fantastically received tonight. He closes his set on the phenomenal epic tune The Prospector, which can be found on the Chavassian Striking Distance EP, which is the prelude to the Tell Them It's Winter LP.

Next up is High Focus label head and prolific MC Fliptrix, backed by Molotov on the decks. Flipper's catalogue is insanely deep, and it's filled with classic records, both as a solo rapper and as a member of the UK supergroup The Four Owls, who released their second album Natural Order last year. His authentic hip-hop vibes are felt throughout the room from the instant he sets foot on stage. He drops tracks from his latest solo release 'Polyhymnia', such as the beautiful 'Praise The Sun', as well as delivering classic tracks such as 'Graffiti Won't Die' for the longtime High Focus fans in the building. 'Here Today Gone Tomorrow' is another highlight, and the HF representative's intensity keeps the Leeds crowd hanging onto his every word as he drops lyrics with energy that the audience are feeding off. Fliptrix also drops an exclusive tune from his upcoming album with Illinformed, a producer from the RLD crew who made serious noise with his fantastic 'The Mould Tape' release, and the set closes out with some heavy versions of nineties classics.

Last but by no means least is Brighton spitter Ocean Wisdom who is coming off the back of a fantastically well received release with his debut LP Chaos '93. The hype (both Ocean's and the audience's) is amped up to eleven from the instant he bounces onto the low-standing HiFi stage, and as he runs through a selection of tracks from the album the energy is kept at a consistently impressively high level. Singles such as the excellent High Street and the rowdy Splittin' The Racket are standouts and definite crowd favourites; what impresses so much about Ocean's music is his raw, versatile and uptempo style, as well as some real depth to his writing and lyricism. He finishes his set with the emphatic Walkin followed by Real Smooth, a collaboration with The Four Owls which is one of the standout tracks from Ocean's debut album.

Words really can't do a High Focus night justice, it's something that has to be experienced to truly understand, and if you're a hip-hop fan that's not witnessed one of these parties in the flesh you need to fix that up as soon as you can.

Photo credit: Seren Heyward Jones