After a long wait, we arrive in the main room at London’s Cargo to the sound of “Lady Chann, Stylo G – please report to stage, you are wanted onstage!” Lady Chann and Stylo G are AWOL, but Mr Williamz steps up and impresses with his singer style and calls of “all you who love Reggae music/smoke ganja push up unnuh hand!” much to the delight of the audience. Around this time the atmosphere has already reached fever pitch as air horns are thrown out and blown noisily. With UK Bashment selector Gabriel Heatwave and his main man Rubi Dan at the helm, the night promises to be very exciting, with a lorry-load of home-grown MCs all gathering for a piece of the mic, inna classic Dancehall style.
Fast-chatter General Levy pretty much steals the show, breaking off occasionally into renditions of his Jungle classic “Incredible”, to much blowing of horns from the crowd; Drum ‘n’ Bass staple Skibadee comes on to compete with his own take on the fast-talking style. Elsewhere, Lady Chann appears with fellow female MC Stush, and hype up the crowd with their relentless rhymes and shouts of “pull it up!” – I lost counts of how many times I heard the intro of the charmingly entitled “Punanny Riddim” come back again. White boy YT (geddit?) is out in his usual full force, and Glamma Kid is looking quite the glamour kid when he rolls out his rhymes, more gravelly than I expected for someone who recorded “Fashion Magazine” (familiar on the Soul Jazz compilation, “An England Story”, as many of the artists here tonight are).
Eventually, the main attraction of the night, Wiley comes on, although he only manages a few minutes over a Grime riddim before the mic gets taken by someone else; he fails to re-appear after that. After perhaps a little too much dedication to the late Smiley Culture, including a special version of “Cockney Translation” by Asher Senator and co, we are treated to Roll Deep’s Riko, who appears to have missed the earlier memo of peace, love and unity, with a rendition of “Informer Must Dead” (“we shot off dem head!”). His presence and lyrical skills onstage make for a formidable performance. The rest of the night rolls on, with more passing off the mic, rewinds, and the selector dipping and fading the levels in response to the MCs. The atmosphere is barely interrupted by the fading up of the lights, but the disappointment is tangible when the decks and microphones are shut down and we are all ushered out.