360 degrees of poetry, beatbox, blues and freestyle hip hop
Natty Speak and Grace Savage - Lyrix Organix: Relay

The Olympics 2012 is over and London has been getting ready to return back to business as usual (with the exception of a few more grey parallelograms to sex-up the EastEnders credits). But wait, it would seem that sunshine-haired Mayor of London has left us with a musical sweetener, to ease the bereavement process! Well, after his Closing Ceremony shape-cutting, who could have doubted his commitment to Great British musical talent and er, zig-a-zag-aah?

The Lyrix Organix: Relay is part of the Mayor of London’s Showtime 2012 festival, headed by poet and MC, Dan Tsu. The concept: four podiums, four performers relaying to create 360 degrees of live poetry, beatbox, blues and freestyle hip hop. All to the backdrop of live art. The young, talented performers have been relaying their way around London performing in a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces across the capital; finishing at the Mayor’s Thames Festival on Paralympics Closing Ceremony night.

From open spaces across London to Westfield shopping centre, Shepherd’s Bush, the reaction from unsuspecting audiences was electric. So, it was with great anticipation that we geared ourselves up for the Thames Festival performance.

The relay introduction saw all four performers warming up to the beats of Yass and Benni and Lyric L’s provocative poetry, whipping up a carnival-esque atmosphere, which was then dramatically impaled by a gritty performance of Revolution, raconteur Dean Atta doing what he does best; articulating London’s dark, deep-rooted social cancers through a beautiful and intricately personal narrative to the backdrop of award-winning deep, bassy beats from Grace Savage.

The baton was then all Grace’s, for the freestyle beatbox leg of the race, Savage is the UK’s female beatbox champion and she had full support from the home team. The performance continued in a strangely confusing but totally mesmerizingly organised jumble of beat, word and melody. The effect of the four orphaned sounds and talents, when bundled together was like a rather hip Dalston-style street party (thankfully sans bunting!). The eclectic styles and quick changes in beat and style required total attention from festival goers - with the only slight relief offered from catchy sing-along, ‘Lady of the Hood’, which had the audience twisting and contorting their bodies like thirteen-year-old hipsters popping their drum and bass cherries circa 2004.

After the respite from a brief window of familiarity and musical order, came Natty Speak’s freestyle rap set, waking the crowd up with ‘Warrior’ ready for Grace to hit back with another incredible, stage-shaking performance.

The four artists served ace after ace producing a rally of sound, lyrics and energy; ping-ponging from podium to podium with the effortless accuracy and skill that any Team GB athlete would be proud of.

We caught up with a very enthusiastic Dan Tsu: "Thames Festival was the crowning moment of the summer. It was difficult to predict how audiences would react to the Lyrix Organix: Relay experience being adapted for a festival stage. But in front of at least 1000 people the feedback was unanimous.”

Despite the constant twists and turns throughout the performance, the seemingly chaotic sound was the result of an impressively tight performance: the four artists switched seamlessly between their own individual pieces and providing the backing vocals and beats for the other podium dwellers (Savage seemingly not pausing for air throughout!) The sound flowed organically throughout the show, spilling out into the audience and scooping them up into the relay too.

The performance ended with fireworks lighting up the Thames to the reggae, jungle sound of the Lyrix Organix Soundsystem.

In the midst of a celebration of our country’s sporting talent, the Lyrix Organix: Relay is a reminder of the fresh musical personalities to be celebrated too. The Relayers too have their own legacy, they will be setting up workshops to nurture this new, grassroots, social sound. It might not make its way onto the credits of the local soap opera, but something tells us the Lyrix Organix:Relay tree has already planted its own little saplings in the London music scene.

Words by Kate O’Sullivan
Photo by Dan Tsu

The next Lyrix Organix: Relay show is at the Old Queen’s Head, 28th October

Find out more about Lyrix Organix: Relay here.


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