On the 26th of September, Golden Egg Hip Hop hosted Break the Silence, a spoken word event for Oxjam Music Festival, raising for Oxfam. Golden Egg Hip Hop consists of ‘dead kings’ Pete Obsolete and Chris Seymour. I arrived halfway through the night to a grand old spectacle.
Nestling into one of many old-school cinema chairs, first up I saw Cypher hit the mic. With a ‘0161 Manny on the map’, he broke into action. Interspersed with hair flips and cries such as ‘not gonna lie I’m running out of breath yo’, he dropped his bars in a distinctively deep, Northern voice. Accompanied by Biggun (of Leanin’) and his dubby beatbox, the two made quite the dynamic duo.
Then the tone changed as Chia Norris took the stage. Centrally seated, she let out a voice that floated with a near-imperceptible husk. A clipped guitar was played with impeccable timing to complement her earnest and honest lyrical performance. A line sounded, ‘a bit like swimming in the ocean’, and it was ‘a bit like’ she was describing her own voice, which seemed to swim up and down the octaves with absolute ease. Dressed in diamond-checked rainbow trousers, when she introduced a song called ‘Love Yourself’, she told the audience that she wrote it because ‘people don’t’. Seeing this casual and honest woman sit and strum was a treat. My only want was that I could take the audio from the evening and somehow combine it with a morning coffee. I’d compare Chia to an old star, she was that wise and comforting. Skipping to her last song with a chuckle of ‘I’m not gonna lie I can’t be bothered’, her set made for a very warm and happy collection.
Next, Pete Obsolete and Chris Seymour got up to perform some spoken word. They spoke about some heavy material, such as the marginalisation of classes and the perception of politics, and did so with some deft, questioning sentences. As the pieces continued, they began to explore the issue of the environment. Seymour batted away his rare slip ups with easy joking and bouts of laughter. ‘Woah, this is going amazingly’. It was so enjoyable to see the two men having a joke around on stage – the two are a more comfortable couple than Dr Syntax and Pete Cannon of High Focus. Complimenting each other, they acknowledged their natural chemistry with a joke: ‘Yo, this one’s called brother love’. Stopping and starting at different times, the two voices flowed into one another, reinforcing the recurring motif of their track, ‘Man got your back’. The lyrics were creative and interesting with a range of cultural references, such as ‘like a nightmare on wax’ to keep the audience on its toes.
Following this, Chris Seymour revealed that by day he works as an NHS nurse. Evidently a down to earth guy, his solo pieces covered issues such as social media and the escapist culture that we inhabit. His performance was really engaging and notably expressive – he sighed whilst he spoke. Chris’ most memorable song covered Theresa May and class politics. His lyrics were powerfully worded, ‘how can we trust a government that only looks out for its own?’. I also noted his effective storytelling techniques. He knew how to paint a picture, of park benches, low times and real life. It wasn’t a depressing picture, but one that was relatable to the tee.
A hatted skater with curls began to perform a more poetic, tender collection. He performed a piece about the MEN arena, about pride and moving forward. He focused on peace as the way forward, intoning that we ought to ‘release our grip on hatred and its uselessness’. Next, he told an anecdote about a crazy homeless guy named Brian, an ex-civil engineer, and an excellent singer. His confident voice really made you miss Brian, and know an old feeling of appreciation that in reality, never was. If I had known Brian, I likely would have cried.
Next up was Biggun, who offered deep and bassy beatbox with expert percussion. His tattoo proclaimed ‘drop beats, not bombs’, which you’d expect of a man with such remarkable speed and control. His beats hit harder than bombs, and at an amazing volume. As he moved into drum and bass, he paused briefly, at which point, by pure accident, Pete Obsolete’s voice hilariously came to the fore: ‘that’s fire’. So did five more performers, taking turns to dance and spit bars as the beatbox came in and out. There was some real raw talent and everyone knew what was going on.
A man wrapped in a Manchester City scarf was next to the stage. It was later revealed that he goes by the name of Caveman. In the midst of his performance, he let out screams so that his voice, like his hair, was all over the place. Hot-headed, his words came out surprisingly neatly. An extrovert for sure, and a lover of phallic references, Caveman proved to possess a sensitive soul with his tugging and descriptive observations on climate change.
Break the Silence was a reminder of a collective conscience and was a reinforcing experience. It’s too easy to forget that everyone is human and that everyone has thoughts and feelings about topics that matter because these are subjects that might not face discussion in the average person’s day-to-day existence. Whilst music alone is powerful, spoken word is not lent enough credit for its constant treatment of larger issues. The form gives people a platform, a voice to share their care with the world. Equally, the UK hip-hop community is held together by a lot of love. These Manchester artists in particular share endless streams of support for one another. And yet they never run the risk of looking cheesy, when they’re so rife with quick quips and playful cheekiness.
Golden Egg Hip Hop’s next big event is set to be a stormer. They’re soon to battle it out with Grand Theft Audio’s drum and bass beats on November 3rd at Cubo, Fallowfield. Interested? You should be. Tickets are available on Skiddle here, and are only £3, so make that worthy purchase my friend.
Photo credit to Golden Egg Hip Hop.