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Review: RBMA presents Lords of the Manor

The Square at RBMA Lords of the manor | Cone Magazine

The paradoxical combination of a 17th Century manor house surrounded by 220 acres of land, and a roster of Detroit and London based hip hop and grime artists seems like one that draws few parallels.

But with some prescient imagination from Red Bull Music Academy and Crack Magazine, Bristol was about to be treated to an inimitable house party. A historic building playing host to an event which will go down in the history books.

Walking down a driveway that could fit two war tanks through it, you are then swamped by the sheer velocity of the west wing of the manor house. Lofted upon a plateau that overlooks Bristol’s cityscape and the Avon region, the hazy sheen of street lamps and buildings glow in the distance.

The Square at RBMA Lords of the manor | Cone Magazine

20 somethings smoking blunts, and hyperventilating on nozzies crowd the stair well, which leads into the grandeur reception hall, with a 50ft tall ceiling lined in paintings of oddly dressed aristocrats, Kings, and Princes. And of course the prize deer antlers.

Weaving my way through a series of rooms, I see 10ft tall statues, cream leather sofas, wooden spiral staircases, red carpets, and a casino. But the 140BPM bass laden thumps, crunchy frenetic hi hats, and belligerent bars guided me into the main room…

London hip-hop collective Livin Proof kicked off the proceedings with a 2 hour set of real dope shit. Crab scratching and beat juggling there way through some nostalgic and more contemporary jams, the room was being graced by the NTS radio regulars; Rags, Khalil, Snips and Budgie.

We were cooking on gas by the time South London crew The Square had let there presence known. A hit-squad of straight faced brothers donning bucket hats and black shades floated their way through the room. Having to literally cling to each other to fit on the stage; Faultsz, Streema, Elf Kid, Dee Jillz, Hilts, Syder Sides and Blakie spat double-speed flows over iconic grime productions elegantly mixed by associate DJs. “Put your squares in the air!” The room abides. This new wave of teenage noise makers may still be in school, but they carry themselves like men. Spittin’ chirps lyrics that got most of the boyfriends in the room running beads of sweat (though that could of just been the sultry temperature of an ardent crowd).

The Square at RBMA Lords of the manor | Cone Magazine

Novelist and his crew had achieved what they came here to do. The room was electric. Enter Mumdance, with a rather house orientated DJ set from the start, that later encroached into more darker levels of introspection. Some familiar co-productions with Pinch, including ‘Turbo Mitzi’ and the souped-up, hype machine ‘Big Slug’ were dropped. But Mumdance also paid homage to some killer records by the likes of Ruff Sqwad, and the Waka Flocka Flame grime anthem, Hard In Da Paint. However, It was the return of Novelist to the stage to perform alongside Mumdance, that got the room cracking at the walls.

Mumdance at RBMA Lords of the manor | Cone Magazine


By midnight, the main room was a sweat-box. There was a queue of about 50 people all waiting to get through the door. A symphony of strings concerted an eerie tension of ambience in the room. For about 10 minutes this instrumental film score crescendoed until a dark hooded figure loomed onto the stage. Talk, skinny, and hostile, this figure stared down the centre of the room. He then pulled his hood over a nest of dreadlocks, to reveal the eccentric, gap-toothed Detroit heavy-weight, Danny Brown.

Danny Brown at RBMA Lords of the manor | Cone Magazine

Having stormed off stage in Glasgow only weeks before, because a pint of water was thrown at him, there was an unspoken feeling of tension in the room. But the weed-smoking, charismatic, Ghetto-Tech jester seemed unfazed. Characteristic of Brown’s split-personality rapping style, the whine of his voice is broken unvaryingly by a coarse, throaty growl. Themes of hedonism, pouring through his acrobatic rap style. Brown, blinking along to each spoken phoneme that leaves his protruding jaw, is supported religiously by the crowd with the words, “Kush Coma, I am in a Kush Coma!” Drawing on many tracks from his 2013 release Old, with classics like 25 bucks and the infectious ode to molly ‘Dip’ , It was these safe reservations that insured maximum response from an already engaged room.

This was a rather magical affair. For one night only, I and the 400 other revellers drawn in from Bristol and further afield, had together witnessed a spectacularly juxtaposed soirée. The class divide between bourgeois, and rude boy were vacant. Any scepticism for the night seemed on hold (although the owner of the mansion did fly in from China to make sure everything was okay). But there were no bouncers, red tape or knights protecting every painting, vase and candlestick holder. It was free reign, which is what made this party feel more like it was for you.

Words by Peter Malla



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