MADLIB @ KOKO, LONDON | Skip to main content



We review the recent London gig of the infamous hip-hop DJ/producer

Not many events can claim to attract such high profiles as Four Tet, The 2 Bears and Thom Yorke on the same night. However, when someone as prolific and influential as Madlib is headlining, it is little wonder. Also on the bill, Jeremiah Jae and Kutmah were representing some heavy East Coast vibes, while Moiré brought some welcome UK flavours to the table.

Upon arriving at Koko, DJ Mag was immediately a little skeptical as to whether the event was going to live up to our high expectations; with some choice beards on display and subtle swaying the usual omens of an awkward hipster-fest. Our worries soon proved to be ill-founded though, and as soon as Brainfeeder's Jeremiah Jae burst onto the stage, the flat caps and snapbacks came out of the woodwork and onto the floor.

Midnight signalled the start of the main event and Koko erupted with a roar of whistles and shouts as the announcer welcomed Lord Quas to the stage and his set begun. We were surprised to see Madlib using CDJs; having not seen him DJ before we assumed that with his reputation as one of the world's most shrewd crate-diggers, he would make use of his extensive collection by DJing vinyl. This was not the case, though by no means was this in any way a limiting factor. His skill behind the decks was immediately evident, effortlessly interchanging and intertwining a brilliant selection of beats and vocals, never sticking to one vibe for too long, keeping the crowd constantly engaged. Any of his own productions he threw into the mix were instantly recognised by the crowd and their adoration of his work was clear to see, with every lyric being rapped back, and a round of applause after every piece.

We expected his set to be slightly more eclectic than it was, anticipating some jazz and soul rarities, or some classic breaks maybe. However, the set was much more straight-up hip-hop than expected, though of course, nothing is ever 'straight up' with Madlib. His selection of beats were all very stylistically Madlib, a mix of psychedelic and experimental hip-hop mixed with expertly executed rhymes from vocalists such as Doom, Freddie Gibbs and MED. There certainly was enough variation, though; if attending this gig has taught us anything about Madlib, it's to expect the unexpected.

After a lengthy industrial section warped into a head-banging beat, Madlib's set sadly came to an end and a rather more sweaty crowd made for the bar and smoking area. It was a brilliant set that was as danceable as it was trippy and as thought-provoking as it was exciting, and every head in the room yearned for more as Kutmah once again took up the decks.

We don't want to be to quick to judge Kutmah, as we had heard he was a brilliant DJ, and after listening to one of his mixes on YouTube we are confident he was just having a bad night. However, his constant use of the same two samples, very loudly, every two minutes, was just plain annoying. Even a back-to-back set from Kate and Wills might well have given him a run for his money tonight! It may also have been that his particularly heavy selection of East Coast tracks was not to the taste of the crowd, though during his second set after Madlib the reaction from the crowd was a marked improvement.

All in all, a fantastic night was had by all, and we applaud Soundcrash for yet another brilliant night of music. OWEN EDWARDS