An alternative hip-hop duo consisting of Chief Excel and Gift of Gab, the two members of Blackalicious both bring unique elements to the table – classic breaks and samples from the former and intelligent, tongue twisting raps from the latter. Their sound may draw heavy inspiration from classic hip-hop, but their experimental nature has differentiated them from other rap acts. It is no surprise then to see the Sugar Club packed out for this gig, with people of all ages and from all walks of life looking to be entertained and awestruck by their abilities. It is good thing that Blackalicious are not in the business of disappointing.
Lifesavas and Versatile kick things off alongside Chief Excel, dutifully hyping the crowd for the Gift of Gab. He is greeted with a massive reception, one so big that the opening song ‘Alphabet Aerobics’ gets lost in a mix of cheers and microphone issues. These problems are swiftly dealt with; giving Gift of Gab the chance to prove his pseudonym is that for a reason, with mutli-syllabic, rapid fire rhymes being delivered by the bucket load. Their biggest hits (‘Sky is Falling’, ‘Deception’) are met with an expected massive sing along with the crowd. They never rest on their laurels in regards to the set list, even debuting new material that ‘rocks the party’ just as much as the older tracks.
While certain elements of the show are most definitely well rehearsed, the classic hip hop routines are delivered with an unforced perfection. Whether they are turning one half of the crowd against the other, or raising limbs in the air, you get the impression that the abnormally high energy levels would not be delivered without hype men, Lifesavas and Versatile. They step up to the plate allowing Gift of Gab to take an occasional sit down and control the room with the same command on show from the headliner. There is an infectious feeling of unity set by the four performers that is reciprocated by their audience for their entire set. The ability they have to put on an entertaining show is one that should be studied by their peers as a prime example of modesty, professionalism and fun.