Soul Jam. The Illersapiens

Upstairs at The Ritzy 06/05/10

Soul Jam is a monthly event held at Upstairs at The Ritzy by The Illersapiens, a live hip hop collective from south London. It was election night so I reckon the audience wanted to hear some integrity rather than any more political chat. The evening started with the Illersapiens with DJ X-Kutz next to the stage spinning some tunes. Mid-jam someone came up to them and said hi and what was immediately obvious was that so many people knew each other. There are a lot of regulars that come each month to Soul Jam and this gives it a big family-vibe. Sadly Skandal couldn’t make it, so the plan was to have a make The Illersapiens’ set longer, then DJ X-Kutz and then the regular open mic slot later on.

So after a little mc taster from Mr Man, DJ X-Kutz did spun some great tunes on vinyl. After a break outside The Illersapiens took to the stage. The song Elevate began their set and was from the EP of the same name. This song, along with all their others in various ways, is packed with positive energy. With the chorus ‘We’re trying to elevate your mind right now’ and the jazzy backing makes it impossible not to move, smiling ear to ear whilst doing it.

Then they played Word To My Mumsie. This is a song dedicated to all those mums out there that slog hard to make sure their kids feel loved, happy and know right from wrong. Full of warmth and pride this is a song that is sure to touch a lot of people. Normally vocalist Katy B sings but she couldn’t be there, it had a strong lively beat and a great solo on the conga.

Skank Away came next and everyone did. It looks back on Mr Man’s history of skanking away, accompanied by a reggae/dub beat. Other songs in the set were Bap Bap with a hip hop reggae feel and again, although Katy’s contribtion was missed, they did great.

One of my favourite tunes was played next, requested by someone from the audience. Brixton is all about what the area has to offer: music, cultural diversity and loads of life and it shouts down the bad press Brixton gets. Crowd participation shouting the B R I X T O N chorus made any Brixtonites in the crowd proud.

Now it was the time of the night to let anyone who wanted take to the mic. Three guys went first and mc’d together with the Illersapiens backing them. After them the open mic session was put on hold as Mr Man asked us all to have a one minute silence to mark the passing of the hop hop legend, Guru. It was a an important minute that paid respect to the man that, as Mr Man said, made sure real hip hop was preserved and that jazz got proper recognition within it.

Back to the open mic and someone stepped up who really got the crowd going. As it was election night he thought he’d give us something to think about. His lyrics were strong and expressed a strong message on the night of the election. Along the lines of thinking we were free was ridiculous and that all the party’s are just the same. He is part of Gifted Misfits Crew, which although haven’t done that much in a while, he said they’d be making more material soon.

A girl called Jessica also made her voice heard and she sang beautifully. Conquest, Adrian and K Flame also stepped up. After this the Illersapiens played together again and played the rest of the evening away with the help of DJ X-Kutz.

The Illersapiens put on a great night. The band are brilliantly tight together as is each member with their instrument. Their music is energetic, smart and most of all positive and the community spirit that was created was unlike any gig I’ve been to.