M.I.A / Broke'n'English - Music Box (Manchester) - 28.6.05

Broke'n'English carry on the tradition of great Manchester hip-hop acts that free of the constraints of the clique London scene make fresh original hip-hop. Taking it back in the day with Ruthless Rap Assassins and Kaleef through to the Moss-sidaz and onto Motley and Raw T, Broke'n'English have been plying their trade for the past couple of years with a leftfield take on hip-hop. Primal and raw it's more akin to the the experimental interpolation led hip-hop coming out of Europe and Japan. The lyrical output is English through and through with Mike Skinner's urban realism lived through in Maccie D's. When they freestyle off the cuff on beats so huge they reverberate around the room, they prove their lyrical prowess.

M.I.A is the most prolific original talent the UK had to offer, but acres of press coverage aside you'd be hard pushed to see it on the streets. While America has embraced her and collaborations with Missy Elliot and Kayne West have just been released, in the UK M.I.A's fanbase extents to a handful of electro kids.

Her journey is well documented, daughter of a Tamil Freedom Fighter she moved from village to village trying desperately to escape to England. A stint at St Martins College led to a chance meeting with Justine Frischmann of Elastic and the rest as they say is history.

Last in town for the MTV Spanking Brand New event, tonight is a raw affair with 2 decks, a microphone and two backing dancers which bring the ragga style Salt & Pepper booty shaking back in fashion. With an eclectic mix of ragga, electro and huge hip hop beats it could easily fall apart, but every single track is a huge club banger taking Missy Elliots early work and pumping it with steroids. Cockney patois scatter-guns political situationist slogans like a call to arms, a British female MC with the lyrical nouse of Public Enemy, but the only militant aspect of the live show is the incessant dancing.

"Sunshine", "Galang", "Bucky Dun Gun" are already classic's, but just wait till "URAQT" hit's the airwaves and M.I.A breaks out of the mainstream. Dizzee Rascal, Mike Skinner and Kano haven't got anything on this girl. She delivers more in one track then most artists offer in a whole career!!!

Words: Alex McCann
Photos: Shirlaine Forrest  www.shirlainephotos.co.uk

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