The Biters Crew rocked Fierce Festival Lates, railing against any preconceptions of college-ass disco dorms (R.I.P. ODB) and the inanities of shiny suit rap to give it to us real, straight with no trivia. Colliding together the slam of the beatmaster Larry Achiampong with the awesome flow of David Blandy, dressed in unified B-Boy finery, Biters came through Straight from the us to the power U (Biters Son of Song) to invoke the vast creativity that is latent in the appropriation and regurgitation of existing sources into new shapes, spaces and styles.
Biters came to get down with an undeniable energy that at one point finds Achiampong leaving the stage to spit lyrics directly into the audience. Blandy meanwhile, tests us to see if we are fucking ready for the rawness deftly rewiring the conventions of MC and producer into a singular force that can sample the Rolling Stones Under my Thumb while spitting Wu Tang’s 36 Chambers. The braggadocio of rappers boasts, threats and struggles are altered into discombobulating and wonderful forms by Blandy’s very British voice. A Fierce audience is never slow to respond. Sure enough there is a crackling energy created by more dances than you could list in a day, stage invasions and wry humour at Blandy’s desire to Kick the truth to the young black youth (Inspectah Deck). Biters recall lyrics from the spectrum of styles that is Wu Tang, transplanting colloquialisms from Staten Island to the UK echoing the thwarted desire of UK rap to represent while being geographically othered from the original source.
As with UK R&B sensation Mark Morrison’s uncanny mimicry in sending an impersonator to do his community service, there are always perpetual questions in musical cultures about what makes the real, so real. Obsessive Hip Hop heads place a value on authenticity that creates a canonical system, one in which a chart of the twenty best rap albums remains essentially unchanged over twenty years. Yet, Hip Hop is an unflinchingly creative force. As Biters return to the stage they flex to KRS1’s Sound of da Police a record that when listened to a little deeper, reveals a dexterous transformation through quickly spat repetition of the word officer until it collapses into the term overseer revealing a composed fury at enduring injustice. Biters revitalise Hip Hop as visual art, dragging both lyrics and beats to be referenced within another context. Sound and voice recast as sculpture; identities and affiliations revised and challenged to fly with the Killa Beez on the swarm (RZA). Give Biters the mic and they will change it around, serving it up in the gallery with the audience dancing the Soul Train Line in XXL style. Through biting, Biters keep it real man (Raekwon, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx) proving that newly visual language always has some theft at its roots.