The Nextmen and Cutty Ranks

By Masta G

There’s no escaping Cutty Ranks at the moment – on Friday night he appeared at The Nextmen’s album launch party, a ‘Friends and Family’ night at 93 Feet East. The labyrinthine East London venue was packed out for this rightly popular Manchester based hip hop night; no doubt the appearance of the legendary Jamaican MC gave added incentive to the crowds. A heavy hip hop set got everyone moving in the main room before The Nextmen stepped up to the operating table, their arrival heralded by projections caricaturing them and their impressive roster of UK and outernational collaborators (Ty, Rodney P, J Live, Cutty Ranks). The labcoat-wearing dancefloor doctors (did I also see a stethoscope?) administered heavy doses of hip hop and ragga favourites before previewing some of the tracks from their new album. The release of their new ragga style 7” and the fact that they chose ranks to front their show both suggest that The Nextmen are feeling the dancehall vibe which seems to be everywhere this summer. The sounds of their latest creations and the enthusiastic chat of Dynamite MC got the party vibe going but there’s no question that Cutty Ranks’ live MC set was the highlight of the night. Particularly enjoyable were his dancehall versions of reggae classics like 54-46 and a selection of his own evergreen material. Tho’ not a big man, Ranks filled the bare stage in 93 Feet East like the veteran he is and held our attention single-handedly for the best part of an hour. While his sweaty antics on stage slightly upstaged The Nextmen, their new material sounds strong enough for them to remain happily in the shadows. Hopefully their synthesis of dancehall and hip hop will get the same positive reaction in the record shops that it did on such an entertaining night out.
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