The line-up for the Trinity Ball was ‘announced’ last night by the unusual method of someone finding the YouTube teaser video of it a day ahead of time. In my capacity as co-editor of the Ball Guide, which Trinity News makes every year, I’ve known it a while. And I’ve been silently giddy about it for a while, too. In fact, astute social network watching even led someone to guess the headliner, because when I’m giddy, I cannot avoid typing lyrics to stuff WITH CAPS LOCK ON and posting videos and waxing nostalgic about stuff I really liked when I was a younger scut.
There’s loads of British hip hop, which is nice.
I can’t remember exactly, but I’m pretty sure Original Pirate Material was, if not the first, then one of the first non-minirocker-acceptable albums I ever properly loved. It was definitely the first hip hop album I bought, having wallbounced to NOFX while my peers drew hash leaves on their pencil cases and listened to 2001.
If you’re rolling around your school with your Junior uniform augmented with a dog chain and really poorly manufactured Pennywise t-shirt as an extra layer, it’s not likely that you’re going to be able to open your mind enough to relate to first person stories about fucking bad bitches and still being Dr. Dre. Mike Skinner’s easy, non-aggressive flow, full of this new but vaguely familiar English slang, was instantly accessible. The first album was all pluck and aspiration, with songs about being late to meet your girlfriend to balance the ones about owing someone money ‘subbing scunny’. The second one, A Grand Don’t Come For Free, is softer around the edges, less rappy, and it got a broader audience, but it does feature probably the best Streets song, a ridiculously affecting, almost conversational walkthrough of taking pills while his friend kisses his girlfriend. You can hear the thought process change from glum and worried to ‘on pills’ through the verses. It’s serious stuff.
I even liked the third album, which everyone hates. I thought it was funny.
The fifth album, Computers and Blues, rap-wise, is the best since Original Pirate Material, successfully managing to regain the unique perspective and expression he had on that first record but gradually lost when fame changed his lifestyle and he descended a little into self-parody. This is my favourite track, not least because of the line “weed makes me not wanna be in new places… fight it”. Which can be a problem for people, I hear.
As well as The Streets, there are three of the rappers from Tinchy Stryder’s ‘hey look at UK rap’ anthem Game Over – Professor Green, Devlin and Chipmunk. Here’s Game Over again, because it’s still great. Professor Green’s is the second verse, and it’s my favourite. “I could tear apart MCs but I’d rather read a book on childcare by Kerry Katona.” Devlin’s is fourth, the ridiculously aggressive, metrically loose one. It has a curious line about making someone “turn on his own team like an Irish defender”, which is either a reference to Roy Keane (who is obviously not a defender), a really obscure reference, or some kind of attempt to imply that Irish people are incredibly stupid/treacherous. Headscratcher. Chipmunk’s last of the guests. He is soft as butter at rapping, and in the video he wears a body-warmer with a hood. He is for teenage girls to listen to on their phone on the bus. Devlin’s also kind of dodgy. Green’s good though.
Finally, meriting an honorary mention by vaguely being British urban music, is Katy B, whose Benga-produced Katy On A Mission from last summer is a serious ripper. Obvious highlight of this video is 2.50 when the DJs do synchronised body snap things at the last drop. Dope ass shit.
Other people playing: Simian Mobile Disco, Rubberbandits, Fight Like Apes, Alex Metric, Jessie J, more. Tickets go on sale on Wednesday, but if you are not a Trinity student or alumnus, you are going to need a time machine, a friend or some ingenuity. “Private party” and all that. I’ll post the Ball Guide when it’s done, it should look nice and fancy. Apologies for Trinity-centric post, but that’s where 80% of my energies are directed on a daily basis, so doing this the once seems defensible.