Electrowerkz is not the most glamorous London venue. In fact, it reminds me of a Peckham squat. However, there could not be more of an apt setting for Big Dada’s the tenth anniversary celebration. The place was full of people from every background imaginable to pay homage to the venerable UK hip-hop label: Trendy students danced to Diplo; East End gangsters threw their arms up in the air to Canadian rapper Cadence Weapon; hipsters sang along to Roots Manuva (along with everyone else in the vicinity of Angel tube station this evening) and perplexed journalists watched the afro clad Infinite Lives.
The main draw was Roots Manuva, who was a little slow to start his set (something he attributed to a little smoke). He might’ve forgotten the odd word or two, but his performance was glorious. His beaming smile and infectious laughter won the crowd over in seconds.
However, tonight was not all about Roots Manuva. Big Dada’s diversity drew performances from the first MC they featured, Juice Aleem, who was on fire tonight ten years after his collaboration with Luke Vibert, as well as a host of other characters from the pioneer’s past.
In the middle room, the back-to-back sets from Cadence Weapon and Diplo were fantastic. Cadence Weapon kicked off his set without fear and had the room jumping like a scene from 8 Mile. Kids were chanting along to his tracks and were led by die-hards who had been waiting for ages to see the man perform in the UK. Diplo had a few issues with his equipment at first, but eventually managed to pull it together and suddenly the crowd got its groove on.
There was so much music to choose from that a trip into every room led to the same question: Do I stay and watch this act, or do I go and find out if I am missing something elsewhere in the club? Before I left, I raised my can of Red Stripe toasted Will Ashon, the label’s creator. Here’s to ten more years.
Words & images: Oliver Guy-Watkins