Turn of the screw

Live: Bru-C Black 'N Red EP Launch

2 July 15 words: Bridie Squires
We went down to Rough Trade to see a rapper who's making movements on the Nottingham scene and beyond
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Photo: Thomas Comery

As one of the hardest working rappers in our city, Bru-C has been making waves among many genres and subcultures. A regular battler on Don’t Flop, and now Youthoracle’s new league Clash Money, his skill as a funky wordsmith gets better by the day. But he’s no one-trick pony. Along with YMCA Digital Community Arts Practitioner Trekkah, he runs a community arts and record label – Phlexx – and is a member of 2012 Future Sound of Nottingham-winning band The Afterdark Movement

With all this on his plate, you’d think he’d be hard-pressed to pursue a solo career in music, but he’s pushing on, getting studio time down, gigging, and putting music videos together. In fact, just a few weeks ago he could be found storming the LeftLion/I’m Not From London offices to film for the title track of his Black 'N Red EP – you can catch the video now on YouTube channel JDZ media. Watch out for the chilli.

Any road, Rough Trade are tickling my pickle as of late. I was a bit unsure about the splinter-inducing space on first entry, but a couple of salt beef “beigels”, DJ sets and performances later, I’m well and truly sold. Plus, their very own pale ale is a bit special. They’ve been putting on some proper decent gigs recently, Bru-C’s EP launch being one of them.

The gig started with a beat master who’s been known to catch the earworms – Earlybird. Known around Nottingham for his prowess on the MPC, this time he delivered a grime set alongside a “peace, love and unity set” with nothing but roots reggae. What might seem like a jarring couple of genres actually makes a lot of sense what with Bru-C finding his feet within grime and more recently moving into a more reggae and hip hop-fuelled sound.

Spoken word poet Raphael Blake was about for a support slot. With an effortless flow over spacey beats that toe the line between drum ‘n’ bass, hip hop and sometimes glitchier-sounding music, he explores subjects falling everywhere between romance and finding your feet as a young adult. Raphael has a confident stage presence that can only come from smashing open mic slots, as he has, over the years. With teeth grits and eye closure from both performer and audience, you know he’s going places.

Opening his set with the Black 'N Red EP title track, now nearing 20k views on YouTube, it’s clear Bru-C has switched up his approach not just to music, but to life in general. Where previous tracks like IAMBRU and Kamehameha made you screw your face up in a frenzy of teenage aggression, this track lets you sit back in your seat and dream about how good life can get.

With The Afterdark Movement backing Bru-C’s vocals, the positive lyrics and community feel popped in bubbles over the swelling crowd. Inclusive of keyboard, two guitars, bass and drums, the sound was more wholesome and soulful in comparison to his earlier material, with stronger hooks that are harder in a more sophisticated sense. After a shout-out to EP producer Aokid, you could tell our Bru was having the time of his life with family, friends and music lovers keeping energy levels high.

The set was well thought-out, with more chilled-out, mature songs slotted between livelier tracks hinting at ska influences. But no matter the genre, Bru-C has come on in leaps and bounds, allowing real emotion to seep through the beats, into his lyrics, and down all our lot’s lug holes. With a final Gorillaz’ Clint Eastwood cover, inclusive of a crazily deep and raspy voice from guitarist Trekkah, the room exploded before spilling out into a toasty evening on Broad Street.

He’s definitely onto summat.

Bru-C performed live at Rough Trade on Wednesday 24 June 2015.

Bru-C on Twitter

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