LALA & THE BOO YA, ‘LIONESS’ SINGLE LAUNCH – REVIEW

Last Saturday, driving through the bleak, post-industrial neighbourhood of Holbeck in South Leeds, we happened upon what appeared to be the front of an ancient Egyptian temple… no seriously. The taxi pulled up behind five or six others, all disgorging party people into the bitterly cold drizzle and it became suddenly apparent that this was, in fact, the venue for what can arguably be described as the hottest event the North has seen for quite some time. The launch of LaLa & The Boo Ya’s debut single ‘Lioness’ was held in the Temple Works, a converted mill built by the kind of crazy, nineteenth century industrialist that you read about with, basically, way, way too much time and money on his hands. This accounts for the giant Egyptian façade but not for what we found within.

LaLa & The Boo Ya are Marf and Eddie, a sibling, vocalist/producer combo hailing from Bradford, with perhaps the most ingeniously applicable name ever. Their music, pretty difficult to pin down in terms of genre, which is most certainly a virtue, is probably best described as containing elements of Jungle, Ragga, Electronica, Breakbeat, Dubstep and even, dare I say it, Folk. Their sound fuses into something as playful as it is heartfelt, as heavy as it is delicate, and as fascinating as they are to listen to on record, this is an act that really come into their own in person; once seen, never forgotten.

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A palpable sense of expectation hung in the air in the larger of the two rooms as LaLa & The Boo Ya’s 1am, headline set rolled around. Stuffed to the gills with crowd, the ceiling was already dripping with sweat in places, as Marf and Eddie took to the stage amidst a huge swell of approval, with an equal measure of humility and confidence. You just couldn’t help but feel that something a little bit special was about to happen. The set itself swung from soulful vocals and tight amen breaks, to the bouncier electro-tinged ‘Stanley King’, a political tune about the local councillor who opposed the extended opening of a children’s Madrassa and when they opened up into the balls-out Ragga Jungle of ‘Junglist Soldier’, the roof nearly came off the building. The real treat however was when they brought on a full band, including brass and strings, to perform a rendition of the single, ‘Lioness’. Hopelessly beautiful, even haunting in places, whilst still keeping the crowd moving and uplifted, the band seemed to be having as much fun as the audience. The double meaning in the choral refrain of “I am a Lioness, I fiercely protect my pride”, combined with Marf’s commanding and compelling stage presence also provides a sincere and much needed alternative to the patriarchal subject matter, more often associated with the genre. Essentially an almost flawless performance, if the world has any justice in it, these guys will be going far.

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For anyone who knows the smallest thing about Jungle music, Congo Natty and Congo Dubz gracing the stage together should have been enough of a draw but to have their set also feature Tenor Fly, well, that’s just not something you get to see everyday. A veteran and innovator of the scene for pretty much as long as it has existed, Tenor Fly is an extraordinarily talented MC, not only in that he is able to make his bars audible even when spitting fast enough to keep up with the kind of amens Congo Natty drops, but also in that he is a consummate entertainer with it. The ability to keep the crowd engaged, grinning and eating out of his hand, as well as dancing is what really sets those of his calibre apart. Marf taking to the stage to perform another version of ‘Lioness’ was most definitely the icing on the cake.

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The night in general was crammed full of artists that really deserve a write-up but to quite honest, there just isn’t space for them all here. Whittling it down though, Freear and the incredible Drum Machine cannot be left unmentioned. Mike Freear is the founder of and producer for, JAM all time festival favourites: Slamboree. A DJ in his own right, equal parts filthy and funky, his mash-up set jumped all over the place in terms of genre but never in terms of quality, keeping the crowd on their feet and very, very happy. Dropping South African mentalists Die Antwoord’s, epically bassy ‘Fatty Boom Boom’ was a particular highlight. Drum Machine were probably the quirkiest and one of the most impressive additions to the bill; a thirty five piece live drum outfit, they play modern, urban drum music on traditional samba instruments. Aside from the spectacle they create through sheer size, their costume (check ‘em out!) and the force of their sound, they are so tight, so groovy and so damn cool; we highly suggest you go and see them as soon as you can.

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At the end of the day, despite the incredible array of talent on hand, this event just would just not have gone down without the efforts of the The Queen Of Clubs and GSS Pro Audio.  The former brought together a perfect venue, incredible bill of artists, and even polite and friendly door staff. JAM will most certainly be looking to attend any further nights by this most brilliant and capable of promoters. The latter, GSS, are one of the titans of the northern soundboy scene and regularly provide expertly crafted sound reinforcement to all manner of venues and festival stages. Chances are you have already been to a night they are involved in but next time your face is being torn off by an imposing, black wall of speakers and you can hear every element of the tune, pin sharp, look around for their banners and remember that JAM told you so.

‘Lioness’ is out on Congo Natty’s new label Congo Natty Bass, released as a double A-side with a Congo Natty/Vital Elements remix featuring Lady Chann and is available as mp3 download or 12″ vinyl. You can find links below to all the artists and organisers mentioned in this article and we here at JAM suggest that you use them and keep a track of what’s going on, because next time; we want to see YOU on the dancefloor!

Words: Benjamin Paul

Images: Scott Salt

http://www.scottmsaltphotography.com/gallery 

(https://www.facebook.com/pages/Scott-M-Salt-Photography/106546549432447?fref=ts)

https://soundcloud.com/lalabooya

http://www.surus.co.uk/congo-natty-bass/

http://www.boomartistsagency.com/

http://thequeenofclubs.co.uk/

https://soundcloud.com/freear

http://congonatty.com/

https://www.facebook.com/CongoDubzOfficial

http://www.gssproaudio.com/home.htm

https://soundcloud.com/slamboree

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Drum-Machine/276663495711659

http://www.templeworksleeds.com/

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