Hammer and Tongue is a monthly poetry slam and performance, showcasing local spoken word talent at Komedia. This, however, was no ordinary Hammer and Tongue, this was Hammer and Tongue collaborating with Slip Jam: B; the well established Brighton hip hop “open decks/open mikes” night and the presence of a DJ really put a different spin on things.
Hammer and Tongue is not some stuffy night of pretentious poetry readings, it is poetry made relevant. With headline acts such as tonights’ Kate Tempest; a revered spoken word poet, rap artist and hip hop band member, it is poetry brought right up to date. And, you would have thought that the rap/poetry performance combination would have only made this more so. After all, isn’t rap fundamentally just poetry to a beat? However for some reason this didn’t quite ring true.
That said, there definitely were exceptions: publicly declaring his indebtedness to Kate, Spliff Richards who opened the night, was a highlight of the show and Kate herself was so breathtaking; she completely left me at a loss for words. Sadly, though, a lot of the other rappers participating in the competition couldn’t seem to get their words out either, either that or you couldn’t hear what they were saying over the volume of the beats.
When the night was supposedly about championing lyricism in the genre of rap, surely the music should have been adding something to the performance, not obscuring the lyrics and taking it away.
Overall however, it was a really good night. Up and coming MCs, Rizzle Kicks and Mad Hatter, showed a lot of potential and the winner Adam the Rapper, also a spoken word poet himself, exemplified the perfect fusion of quick wittedness and rhyming prowess to faultless rhythm that makes the contemporary rap and performance poetry so exciting .
Without a doubt it was the spoken word artists who stole the show, those who didn’t need the music to compensate for their lack of ability and made instead their own music with the rhythm of their words, proving that they could make the most of the backing beats if they wanted to but their rhythmical vocal style didn’t need it to succeed.
Make sure you check out the next Hammer and Tongue night back at the Komedia in Brighton on the 12th November.