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Professor Elemental review

Mark Jorgensen enjoys a refined mix of hip hop and tweed at the Ruby Lounge

Published on April 2nd 2011.

Professor Elemental review

AS A huge fan, even I can’t deny that hip hop can be guilty of taking itself a little bit too seriously.

‘At one point he beckoned a girl in the front row to ‘come forward and feel the craftsmanship’ of his trousers whilst he perched in a confident lunge at the front of his stage.’

It’s a shame, as there are plenty of aspects to hippety hoppety that are worthy of poking good-natured fun at.

In 30 years, hip hop has transcended from being the voice of disenfranchised black youths in urban America to become arguably the most wide-reaching music genre on the planet.

Even upper class dandies are represented, through the tweed and pipe-infused world of Professor Elemental.

Hailing from Brighton, Paul Alborough’s steampunk alter ego first surfaced in 2008 with the release of ‘Cup of Brown Joy’, a hip hop parody dedicated to the virtues of the good old English cuppa.

Following the release of a debut EP called ‘The Indifference Engine’, which covered a range of topics including safari, tea, cakes and gangster chivalry, Professor Elemental recently donned his deer stalker and khaki outfit to perform at the Ruby Lounge in Manchester, courtesy of Alix Walker’s No Future Club.

The support act - three guys with guitars who ‘formed in the car on the way to the gig’ - delivered a surprisingly enjoyable acoustic set.

Then it was time for the silver spoon emcee. Professor Elemental arrived in his customary ‘Kenyan safari’ get-up complete with viscount pipe, to a still disappointingly small crowd.

Neverthless, after a humorous, properly formal introduction, he burst straight into ‘Animal Magic’, a Mighty Boosh-esque surrealist song about frivolous splicing of animal genetics for personal amusement. It was a hilarious opener, displaying technical ability as a wordsmith and faultless character portrayal. And the mention of cultivating a stripy tiger-goose.

Elemental’s parody hangs on his astutely observed aristocrat trying to bond with an ‘Asda demographic’. Sporadically referring his incompetent butler Geoffrey, and the Arndale centre’s ‘platoon of children with dead eyes’ yielded hearty laughter from the audience.

The performance of ‘Fighting Trousers,’ a respectful ‘diss track’ to Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer, Elemental’s rival, was the set highlight. The delivery and production should not be undermined by the parody; it’s a great track which also happens to be remarkably funny.

At one point he beckoned a girl in the front row to ‘come forward and feel the craftsmanship’ of his trousers whilst he perched in a confident lunge at the front of his stage.

Elemental announced he was to hold a hip hop dance-off, inviting two girls from the crowd to strut their stuff whilst he jived away in the background, further decreasing the barrier between performer and audience.

After a couple of equally amusing tracks, Elemental asked the audience: “Everybody, close your eyes. Don’t worry, I won't touch you. Just think of someone nice, like Angela Landsbury or Philip Schofield.” He then belted through ‘Cup of Brown Joy,’ to sighs of relief.

The only disappointing aspect of the night was the attendance. From the DJ, the venue, the warm-up to the main event, this was a night which was wonderfully different and deserved a better turn out.

Talk of Elemental facing his arch-nemesis Mr B in an upcoming live battle means there could be tweed on the dance floor before too long.

The best parodies are created by a true appreciation for its subject. Professor Elemental’s love of hip hop has created a character worthy of giving ‘the game’ a blooming good hiding, Motherh*bbards.

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