I’ve been meaning to pop along to one of Tom Hines’ infamous live hip hop/ open mic nights for a while now. Slip Jam:B (or ‘slippers’, as it is endearingly nicknamed), has been going strong in Brighton for nearly 15 years, running on a monthly basis since 1999. For some reason I have always managed to miss it. Having finally failed to think up an excuse not to go, I found myself at the never dull Prince Albert for a night of silly freestyle cyphers and angry self-deprecating sets.
Having moved venue recently (it used to take place at The Hope), Slip Jam attracts a regular crowd, consisting of local hip-hop artists and junkies alike. Anyone and everyone is welcome to take to the stage during the open mic, which leads to an interesting ensemble of styles as well as a large variation in quality. The night has a great sense of community about it, and it is clear that events such as Slip Jam are where many UK Hip-Hop artists are born, with some of the more regular and well known artists having started out here.
Unofficially, tonight is Slip Jam regular Mos Prob’s birthday bash. It kicks off in its usual fashion, with regulars and newcomers alike trading freestyle rhymes on stage. Some emcees are much better than others, and it does get slightly repetitive; if I had a penny for every time the phrase “off of the top” was uttered… well you get my drift. To be fair, the performers are making their rhymes up on the spot, which takes a level of skill to get right, and there were more than a couple of genuinely funny lines.
After the open mic cypher draws to a natural finish, its time for the night’s main acts. Hip-hop’s self-described biggest loser Enlish (AKA Big Dave) is on stage first, performing a variety of tracks from his previous releases. Inflatable beach balls dance around the room to summery beats and self-depricating lyrics. Whilst handing out his latest album “Cold Lazarus” to members of the crowd, I have to remind him to hold a few back – they’re still for sale online.
The performer of the night is Rum Committee’s Gi3mo, who’s staccato enunciation and southern vernacular makes for an angry, engaging set. His two latest releases (The Untold Adventures of Gary Guttersnypes and Garry Guttersnypes 1.5) make up the bulk of his performance, with committee colleague Kong joining him on-stage to spit a forthcoming RumCom number. Crowd control and engagement is a strong point; the audience seems slightly larger when Gi3mo is on stage.
Adam The Rapper is tonight’s main act. Performing alongside Sherlock Bones, his relaxed poetic style connects well over the crisp production. His emotionally delivered and broody lyrics resonate across the room, and at points it feels like he is almost wailing. The crowd has thinned at this point, but it doesn’t stop Adam from delivering a decent, captivating set.
Events like Slip Jam are the wellspring of UK hip hop. The night provides breeding ground for new artists, and it also doubles as a place for more established names to let loose. The close-knit feel and light hearted vibe explain why Slip Jam has been running for so many years, and hopefully will be for many more to come. Good old slippers.