State regular B Dolan is not afraid of hard work. With constant touring, releasing of albums/mixtapes, self promotion and interviews to be done, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see him run out of steam, even a just a little. However, he’s not one to disappoint, as demonstrated by the recent release of his hard-hitting Kill the Wolf album. He also proves himself to be an excellent showman and passionate performer during this intimate gig in the Workman’s Club.
Buddy Peace gets things started with a collection of unique remixes; winning the slightly tentative crowd over quickly with his fast paced, stomach rattling performance. The sound hits you so hard that it is completely enthralling as he bashes drum machines and sample pads like there’s no tomorrow. Something for everyone is included, with MF DOOM being followed directly by a Beyonce track – proving that you definitely won’t see a set like this from anyone else.
It’s not long after Buddy exits the stage that he reappears with B. Both in black jackets with their names embroidered on the chest, it’s a nice touch that’s reminiscent of classic NWA pictures featuring all five members with mean faces in all black outfits. B begins with the call to arms that is ‘Lazarus’ – the opening track from his latest album Kill the Wolf; the main attraction tonight and rightfully so. Riding out a tour on the back of such a striking album always results in intense shows like this one.
The mashup of classic samples and beats amongst his own tracks provides some familiar sounds, that aren’t necessarily needed, but are still much appreciated. The quick run of some Dr. Dre production into ‘Film the Police’ amply builds excitement for arguably his biggest song yet – one that, at the moment, is as important as the original NWA track which ignited a whole movement in the late ’80s.
However, Dolan’s sentiment is far less brash but yet is still incredibly important in the unsettled political landscape of the U.S.A in 2015. He sarcastically jokes that he can’t stop chanting his country’s initials constantly, much to the disdain of the crowd, though we all know that it is politically defiant artists like him that are needed now more than ever. Artists who highlight the problems in their country and are actively trying to prevent more damage from being done by their own government with messages such as ‘Film the Police’.
Dolan doesn’t bog down the set with a serious message though. A dance battle with an audience member soundtracked by LL Cool J’s ‘You Can’t Dance’ proves to be one of the evening’s highlights and as noted by Dolan, the track includes the most unintentionally hilarious LL line; “You dance like a fat old lady, not saying that fat old ladies ain’t nice.” B is not afraid to poke fun at himself too, or anyone else for that matter. The humour is much needed, especially after tracks like ‘Who Killed Russell Jones’ which demands attention and silence as he sends goosebumps throughout the room by regaling us of the Ol Dirty Bastard story.
Following a show that’s much longer than the average hip hop set, Dolan heads straight to the merch table to sign records and greet the people he has just entertained for the better part of 90 minutes. Visibly drained, it’s admirable to see him want to engage with his fans on a one to one level. He might not want to be labeled as an ‘independent’ artist, which makes sense considering he’s signed to two labels, but he proved tonight that personality, humility and immense talent can go a long way in a rap show. It’s just a pity that these traits only often come along with artists who are labelled as independent.
B Dolan photographed for State by Mark McGuinness.