O2 Academy, Oxford
8th March 2012
Rizzle Kicks are energy personified. The 20-year-old Brighton duo of Jordan Stephens and Harley Alexander-Sule spar verbally with complementary synchronicity; Jordan does more of the rapping while Harley does more of the singing (and even plays guitar at one point). With the same soul record-plundering sample modus operandi as Fatboy Slim (who produced that matrilineal exhortation to dance, Mama Do The Hump), they seem to be aiming hip hop at a pop level. Less brash and gaudy – and less related to Berry Gordy – than LMFAO, they’re simultaneously T4-friendly and naughty (they do swear a lot).
Their live show is the kind of disjointed affair that might have naturally progressed from originally impromptu bedroom jams, PAs and support slots. Tracks from their debut album, Stereo Typical, are sometimes incidental to jamming and rapping over random tunes, which range from the Inspector Gadget and James Bond themes to Seven Nation Army and Hot in Herre.
They’re into questions. What Jordan’s saying doesn’t seem as important as the act of engaging the crowd; queries about whether we’ve heard of James Brown and the film 8 Mile get as much of a cheer as Ed Sheeran’s Brit Awards success and an announcement that the pair smoke (their “hip hop jive” Miss Cigarette is a nicotine analogy, you see).
When I Was a Youngster samples The Clash’s Revolution Rock and is their most obvious connection to that mariachi/ska/reggae element. This fusion could sound like a mess, but they keep it light, making every track sound distinctively Rizzle Kicks, be it from their early Hadouken-style vocal patterning or the trumpet (present throughout, as you might hope for an act whose breakthrough hit was Down With The Trumpets). While their live presence doesn’t hold together as well as the recorded music does, you can’t fault their exuberance and enthusiasm.