RAHZEL La Belle Angele, Edinburgh. Mon 4 Jun .000

fl, 5,; . i it«


First, the facts. Rahzel is a human beatbox. That is, he recreates

beats, scratching and the like using just his gob and a

microphone. But that dry outline does not even begin to describe the quite awesome and mind-boggling skills of the man.

While pioneers of human beatboxing like Doug E. Fresh and Biz Markie were experts of ‘boom-tsch-boom-ba-boom-tsch‘ schtick, Rahzel takes the vastly underrated oddball hip hop art form to dizzying new heights. First seen in classy collective The Roots, Rahzel is striking out on his own these days, on a mission to bring human beatboxing to a wider audience. On the evidence

of this gig, that should be a piece of piss for the man.

A live Rahzel show is simply unbelievable, and this is no exception. With La Belle Angele rammed to the gunnels with pasty-faced Scottish homeboys and homegirls, the man takes to

the stage around midnight and proceeds to entertain,

bamboozle, tease and cajole his audience with consummate


An imposing presence, the bulky b-boy from the Queens area of New York starts off taking it easy, rapping with confidence over some juicy beats provided by DJ JS-One, a man whose skills on the decks are quite something to behold in their own right. Rahzel teases the kids with snippets of vocal scratching here and there, but this is just a taster for the mouth-based

mayhem to come.

And then, all of a sudden, all bets are off. Rahzel and JS-One embark on a remarkable ‘scratch-off’, battling mouth against decks for supremacy of the beats. Natch, Rahzel wins. From here on in the show is a mix of jaw-dropping displays of talent and a lesson in hip hop history. Bits of Wu Tang Clan, De La Soul, Run DMC and, erm, Black Sabbath are dropped into Rahzel’s own material, and the kids are, quite rightly, daft for it.

Quite often, beats, scratches, sound effects and singing all somehow come tumbling out the man’s mouth at the same time. It simply isn’t natural. Or believable. But that’s exactly what makes Rahzel absolutely and utterly unique. (Doug Johnstone)

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I Frank Black Liquid

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