In recent weeks, Portsmouth-born events organiser Word Of Mouth have been making efforts to expand their events and gain more nation-wide recognition. We travelled to their Grab Da Mic event in Southampton last Friday to catch up with the team on how things are going.
First of all, The Angel Inn in Southampton is a great pub to go for a drink - with cheap booze prices that match even the Wetherspons chains of pubs, a playstation with recent FIFAs and Madden games to play, pool tables, friendly staff and owners, and some pretty decent food on table service, The Angel is low-key one of the best pubs in Southampton. However, the dynamics are slightly different for a liveshow compared with a midweek afternoon pint.
The stage was put in an awkward spot in an L shape that hugged the corner of the bar, which meant there was very little room between the edge of the stage and the edge of the bar. This busy corner of the pub had staff frequently walking through it as they remained offering table service for food, and anybody from the back region of the crowd wanting to visit the toilet or smoking area would have to walk through around this corner. Standing in that area resulted in constant human traffic flowing past, reminiscent of waiting in a queue for refreshments that trails back into the main walkway at Clapham Junction. This was not an ideal spot to stand in, and the stage would be better off positioned elsewhere in the pub - for example, at the front by the window or at the back amongst the pool tables.
Nonetheless, the event started at 7pm, but due to a crash on the M3 we were not able to arrive until 7:50pm just as Malakai Manic jumped on the opening cypher. Iggy from the Word Of Mouth team kindly welcomed us on the door. Malakai flowed for days before the cypher soon ended, and some time was left for a break before the scheduled lineup of acts began. Malakai was the first act scheduled to kick things off, and so made a return to stage just a few minutes after the cypher. Malakai chose to take on his first ever stage performance sporting a Pretty Green jacket - pretty dope. During the first part of the set, there was a lot of feedback from the mic but Malakai fought through it to deliver an impressive first live performance.
Next up was Mad Macc, whose grime flows were just as hard-hitting as they were anticipated to be. He brought on stage with him LD, who impressed with some unorthodox bars - rhyming “ándale, ándale” with “in the g spot like Dr Dre”. Dark Star Graver jumped up next in his own-brand Dark Star 4ever long sleeved tee, bringing the energy with him as he came out to his track Set The Tone. DSG is quickly becoming somewhat of a sensation in the South, proudly referring to the South coast within his rhymes on the regular. In terms of image, fashion, and stage movement, Graver is analogous to somewhat of a proto-Meechy Darko flexing UK cadence. Dark Star blessed us with a performance of an unreleased tune from his mixtape set to drop in December before the next interlude, at which point SOuthside took the chance to speak to the Word Of Mouth team.
“Different cities seem to have different cultures”
Word Of Mouth had been in Birmingham the night before the Southampton show, and were set to travel to Devon the day after during their expansion plans. On what it’s like to take Grab Da Mic to different cities, Blessed of the Word Of Mouth team told of some of the challenges that have to be solved on the fly. “Sound’s been an issue”, he explained, detailing that coming into venues they’ve not previously dealt with can pose challenges if their equipment is not up to standard. “If they need a high quality sound system, we can bring one”, he stated. In addition, Blessed even touched on the timing of events, telling that different cities seem to have different cultures when it comes to what time they like to show up to events. In some cities, a venue can get filled by 6pm, whereas the bulk of attendees won’t arrive until closer to 9pm in other cities. These are all things for events promoters to learn as they expand from the town they started, it seems.
Before long, it was time for the last batch of acts to perform. On came Milson, a male artist from Southampton who seemed to draw in the largest crowd of all to watch him perform. Milson provided some high quality chill hop, and showed off his good singing voice at times throughout the set as well. He finished his set with a song that pays homage to a friend he lost to suicide earlier in the year. After Milson’s set, about half the crowd disappeared - presumably a mixture of the fact it had gone 10pm by this point, as well as the fact that some had attended only to spectate the popular Milson. Another Southampton local, Aiki, who’s moved from hip hop to drill, was the last scheduled act to take the stage. Aiki was good fun to watch, and clearly enjoyed himself on stage - an energy a crowd will almost always reciprocate. The Angel had somewhat emptied out by this time in the night, but Aiki still rocked the crowd before it was his time to go.
To conclude the night, Grab Da Mic events run another cypher to offer the chance for anyone who’s got bars to get up on stage. The most impressive spitters in this cypher were Sal Resco - an ill rhyming veteran - and Jacob Kaliroy, a new artist from Swindon who came down just to try himself at spitting some bars. Jacob Kaliroy’s style is in-your-face and uptempo, whereas Sal Resco’s most impressive exhibition was switching up some hip hop flow over a drill instrumental. Professor L on the decks made the various beats blend seamlessly, making this a really fun cypher to watch.
Before everybody packed up and left, and when the crowd had really thinned out to just a lingering few, Dark Star Graver and Blessed of Word Of Mouth himself started a ‘4 bar pass’ where they would take it in turns to spit 4 bars over an array of instrumentals put on by Professor L, each emcee picking up where the last left off. At one point in time, Peach Geez jumped up and spit 4 bars of his own. DSG took after him, rhyming “Like Peach Geez I keep it peachy // it’s real hard to reach me // I’m out in space like ET // I’ve lost connection like BT”.
Keep an eye out for future Word Of Mouth events by tapping here to be directed to their Instagram page. We also encourage our readers to attend their staple monthly Grab Da Mic shows at The Wedgewood Rooms in Southsea, Portsmouth.