Review: Young Sceptic Presents…TM & Dano

For months now, Young Sceptic Presents has been amassing a strong following, establishing itself as one of the premiere local hip hop gigs within the North East. Based in the heart of Sunderland, the event has been headlined by The Great & The Magnificent, New North East and HB in the past. For July’s event, Spennymoor duo TM and Dano took the top slot following impressive performances at Newcastle’s Static gig and during their live set on Spark FM. With support coming from Jay Simian, Baddz Beats and JYT alongside relative newcomers Legitimate Anarchy – the event was set to be the most exciting yet for me, purely because this was the line-up I was least familiar with.

Prior the line-up announcement I’d never heard of Legitimate Anarchy. I had interviewed Jay Simian and the Midnight Society and seen them twice previously live, but in Jay’s time as a member of The Millitantz, I was still finding my feet within the local scene. TM has established himself as one of the premiere artists the North East has to offer, but I had only seen him perform live once before, likewise with Dano, except the latter has never released a song yet – much to my disappointment.

The crowd for the event was a modest one. Predictably made up of more rappers than actual fans – something which became obvious once the cypher kicked off and there were more people on stage than off it. Joining the support acts, Legitimate Anarchy, Jay Simian, Baddz Beats and JYT for the cypher, host Young Sceptic, Jay Tafeeda, TM Trick, 90Bro, B-Type and Trav each dropped bars. TM Trick in particular impressed, and surely encourage even more people to pick up copies of his recently released EP which were available on the door.

Host MC, Young Sceptic also performed a short set, following an impressive introduction from Legitimate Anarchy. Sceptic unashamedly rapped over beats from Coldplay and Adele, but it would have been nice to see some original beats, especially considering the EP he’s been promoting for months. Legitimate Anarchy arguably stole the show with their set however. The trio took to the stage before their set even began, after beatboxer Cyber-byte asked for someone to join him, and rap over his beatboxing performance. Legitimate Anarchy’s readiness to rap at any and every given opportunity was outstanding to see.

Their set was a hype-fest, with loads of big beats that with a bigger crowd, could have really been something extra special. Despite the modest crowd, they we’re eager to show how grateful they were for people coming out, and rapper their hearts out. Being on first, and the amount of vodka I drank is working against them in terms of stand-out tracks in the set, because I can’t name them but there was one which was somewhat reminiscent of JME & Skepta’s “That’s Not Me” which I liked, alongside “Fuck You.” As far as first impressions go, they don’t come much better. Their performance as a group could be fine-tuned, as far as ad-libbing and hype-manning one another goes, as well as a few issues with coherent deliveries (though that could have been partly due to the sound engineering), and they’ll quickly become a force to be reckoned with, within the North East scene.

Following Young Sceptic’s performance and the multi-man cypher, Jay Simian took to the stage. Given Chris Kineval’s absence (apparently graduations take priority?), he dropped the ‘& The Midnight Society’ suffix, and simply named Baddz Beats and JYT as part of his set. Their performance was somewhat bittersweet. Thankfully the sound was much better than it were during their set at Evolution Emerging – but their songs perhaps weren’t the best fit for a night which was predominantly grime. In fairness, I very much enjoyed JYT’s performances – given once again this was my first time hearing him – and afterwards asked him to send Paradise over to me – but it wasn’t a song that fit into the vibe of the night. I love an emotionally resonant song, but during live performances they have to be very well orchestrated between bangers. Jay Simian and Baddz Beat’s performances of tracks from ‘Simian Child Vol. 1‘ were again awkwardly placed. I’m a strong believer in putting your best foot forward and opening with a big song, but Jay preferred to start proceedings with some spoken word. The track isn’t bad by any means, but the laidback nature, again, didn’t quite fit the vibe of the night. Their set certainly improved as it went on, closing with the singles from the aforementioned album. Generally their performance was the best I’ve seen from them yet, but the ordering of their set list could be changed, and place them on another level.

Is a rapper, really a rapper, if they’re not late? That’s a saying I find myself repeating over and over, as I immerse myself into local hip hop culture. TM & Dano rolled through the doors two and a half hours after sound check, just catching Jay Simian’s set. Their tardiness was soon forgotten however once the pair hit the stage. Whilst a livelier (and fuller) crowd could have made their set that much better, the pair made the most of the crowd they had, performing a few bars I’d heard previously but more excitingly, new, never heard before tracks. Whilst the lack of knowledge of their lyrics within the crowd hurt the hype of their performance – they could have done with a few more previously heard songs in the set – the knowledge of new music on its way was all I needed. I will be holding TM to the fact he said on stage I’d be getting the exclusive premiere of his forthcoming tape – from what was heard last night, it should be a very exciting release. Dano stole the set with a Westlife-esque sit down on stage, performance. I didn’t catch the name of the track but it was something special, especially the bar about his Grandda – one I certainly connect with. I’ve seen Dano perform twice now, and he’s killed it both times, but still there’s no sign of an actual release. It’s the most frustrating thing in the world, seeing someones obvious potential but not being able to show it off because there’s no actual evidence if you don’t experience it yourself. To use his own words against him, he needs to “sort it out.”

Overall, each performance was a pleasure to witness. A few minor issues here and there, but each and every artists on the stage, including the cypher MC’s and Cyber-byte the beatboxer, deserve a much bigger crowd next time they perform. I can’t wait to see what each and everyone of them do next, and hope to catch a live-set from them again very soon. The next Young Sceptic Presents gig will be on Saturday 6th August, with performances from Smooth Jezza, Max Gavins, MC Halo and Mr. Static Productions – in addition to a live cypher.  

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