Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer entertains diners at La Raza in Cambridge
Famed for his uniquely British take on hip hop, the Brighton-based inventor of 'chap hop' made his second visit to Cambridge in three months.
Having seen him put on a sterling performance at The Junction on December 1, I was delighted to learn that Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer was to appear at La Raza in the town centre, as part of their weekly cabaret event known as ‘Neon Moon’, which seeks to bring delightfully quirky acts, music and otherwise, to the heart of Cambridge.
Located on Rose Crescent, La Raza is renowned for its inventive contemporary cocktails and fine cuisine (the tapas, one customer informed me, are particularly good).
On Thursday, March 9, diners were entertained throughout their three-course meals by the aforementioned Mr B, one of former Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove’s favourite artists (and also one of mine), who took to the microphone at around 8.30pm, his trusty banjolele in hand.
The first song of the evening, All Hail the Chap, outlines the ‘rules’ of being a chap, which include wearing tweed, smoking a pipe and using a trouser press. Dressed in a brown tweed jacket, white shirt, green waistcoat (complete with pocket watch) and green tie, Mr B looked every inch the chap hop superstar who has taken YouTube – and the live festival circuit – by storm since releasing his first LP, Flattery Not Included, in 2008.
As well as writing brilliantly observed original material, Mr B also puts his own inimitable spin on hip hop classics. Chap Hop History, the second song of the evening, is essentially a medley of well-known rap classics, such as Rapper’s Delight and (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party), done his way and it got the crowd singing along.
After a half-hour break to allow for the finishing of starters, the singer/rapper/songwriter/comedian/dandy came back and delighted the crowd further with his singing, banjolele playing, dancing and between-song banter.
He played the two songs I requested when I spoke to him before the show (Dammit It Feels Good to Be a Chap and Hermitage Shanks), the first of which got the crowd ‘gangsta nodding’ along from their seated positions, while the second, a tune about bathroom activities, had them laughing out loud thanks to its humourous lyrics.
Curtsey for Me and We Need To Talk About Kanye (an hilarious put-down of Kanye West) also featured in this second mini-set.
While puddings were being eaten, the final medley of classic covers (there were four in total) paid tribute to the late David Bowie, another very English musician who succeeded in creating his own unmistakeable identity.
It’s always an absolute pleasure witnessing Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer doing his thing and I believe it’s a bit of a shame that he’s not more widely known. Judging by the reaction of those who were seeing him live for the very first time, few people – if anyone – would ever go away disappointed from one of his recitals. All hail Mr B!