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Motley @ The Band on the Wall, Manchester

(1st November 2002)

"There once was a young boy named Motley who dreamed of growing up and becoming an MC. Motley resides in Motleyland, a place over the hills and far away. Motley is here today to show you how he busts his funky ass and gets down. Motherfuckers!"

That's the Motley intro. As a statement of intent it's not quite as hardcore as NWA's "You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge" but it sets the scene just as well.

You'll already know Motley from my review of their De La Soul support. Y'know the one - the three unknowns unifying 2000 or so party goers using nothing more than exuberance, charisma, talent, razor sharp beats and rhymes. 2000 converts to the Motley cause ready to lay down their lives to experience the Oldham flow one more time.

That's them. 2000 people who couldn't be arsed to trundle two miles across town to Motleyland. Bollocks to 'em, cos tonight was my "I saw U2 in a pub before they were famous playing to one bloke and a dog in a pub" story..

"If I knew there were going to be so many here I would've made a bit more effort!"

This guy, Motley/ Hash Browne/ Joseph, has got personality by the boatload and together with cohorts D Rebelious One and DG P proceeded to bust ass with ease. Motley's Oldham flow is as infectious as it is funky and it's clear to see he loves what he does - grinning from ear to ear right through the set.

Motley displays all the classic hip-hop hallmarks, beats, rhymes and, just as important, humour. Eminem's Christina Aguilera rhymes are swapped for infinitely funnier images of Ann Widdecombe (honest) and the traditional hip-hop homage to the wheels of steel are traded for memories of the UK ghetto gear from back in the day - an Alba stereo.

From what I hear Motley's set for big things - the music industry's knocking on the door and to be honest I was kinda glad tonight was chronically under-promoted, just to see someone right at the start of their career without all the hype. Y'see I fully expect to be seeing this guy's face on front covers and (although I hope he has more integrity) doing the obligatory rap/ pop diva collaboration over the next 12 months - but tonight was another great reminder of how energising music can be. (Martin Crabtree)

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