Vanguard Festival 2015 will be remembered for all the right reasons…. and although my memory is typically shorter than a Danish summer, I’m blessed to have shared the experience with friends who will remind me just how good it was someday.

If truth be told I was willfully unprepared for this year’s event. After last year, when I sent a bunch of mails to the appropriate people and received at best a limited response, my intention this year (in the best of Bitchslap Magazine traditions) was to cut the admin. and wing it.

If I couldn’t be in the right place at the right time and not wet my pants if one of my rap heroes happened to wander past backstage, then I didn’t deserve the wristband. (The same wristband that made my drunk ass look at the watch I wasn’t wearing, about 40 separate times over the weekend).

So it was that I began Friday morning on my balcony, with a wake and bake breakfast.., enjoying Ultramagnetic MC’s seminal album The Basement Tapes.

The more I listened to Ced G’s ooh so blunted monotone ramblings, the less I felt paranoid about potentially going to interview his fellow Ultramagnetic MC while being…, quite so relaxed.

As luck would have it, as I arrived I met my good friend Michala Jensen Meelby, creator of Muggie Moscow… a fresh little Copenhagen based clothing label (that I’m hoping Bitchslap will work with this Fall, for a choice BS-SS2016 project we have in mind).

I said I was hoping to get a few words with Kool Keith and immediately a wry smile broke across her face.

Turns out Michala had gone and hung out with Keith in NY a few months back. Went to his Mom’s place in the Bronx, was made pancakes and created plans to make a jacket Keith could wear on stage.

I wet my pants a little bit.

She opened her bag to reveal a truly awe inspiring blue and purple reversible sequined jacket. Embroidered with Keith’s name, it could be worn both ways, with the reverse being a vista from outer space, Keith’s actual home.

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Instantly I realized that I would, were she still alive, bare fist fight my own grandmother to own such a boom garment and promptly suggested we team up to go and find a good spot backstage to surprise the lyrical physician formerly known as Dr. Octogon.

It was Dennis Def, Keith’s stage partner in rhyme (and a superstar in his own right) that was kind enough to help introduce his friends new look to the world…

It was clear Keith was not only touched by Michala’s kindness, but also her attention to detail from the original plans they made.

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The jacket looked stunning during the show. When the red and blue lights illuminated the back of the stage, the purple And blue sequins seemed to come alive and create a multi layered camouflage effect.

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If anything… Dennis Def looked a little jealous after the show.

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It was nice to see Keith taking the time to sign the assorted album covers and t shirts his fans had brought along.

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After a while Keith suggested we go get a few drinks and mingle.
We grabbed some excellent burgers and made our way over to the artists area.

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The sense of disappointment upon our arrival, when it became clear that the Champagne was not Moët, was like we’d ordered Moët but instead been served a large fresh shit, in a mouldy old shoe.

After some discussion Keith decided we should just buy some bottles of Moët en route back to the hotel and party in his room. I didn’t have anymore piss left inside me at that point.

I will admit that wandering around Fotex in Frederiksberg Centre with Kool Keith and Michala… discussing our favourite Champagne’s was somewhat surreal. I told Keith I was a Pol Roger man… partly because it was Winston Churchill’s preferred tipple. He looked at me as if I were chanting a burial ritual in Urdu, until I told him that Churchill used to say,
‘Champagne should be cold, dry and free’, which made him smile and mumble,
‘that Churchill cat had it down right’.

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As fully paid up members of the struggling artist fraternity, Michala and I collaborated and went for the 2 for 1 cheap Cava deal, which we brazenly opened and consumed at the Radisson Hotel bar while listening to Keith reminisce about old times with A.G and MOP.

Although he gave us a few ‘I’m super annoyed with you’ glances every now and then, I’d like to thank the barman at The Radisson in Frederiksberg for not making things awkward, even when Michala opened and handed round a big bag of peanuts which made us all laugh our asses off…., he didn’t say a word. Good man eh.

As the wine was drained it dawned on me that, as good an experience as this was, we were missing some great music. I suggested we return to Søndermarken and take in the last 30 minutes of Lee Fields, but Keith was now tired…, needed a shower and a change, so we agreed to meet laters.

Of course we never saw him again. Too many drinks, D.I.T.C, Dead Prez and his 6am flight to JFK the next morning got in the way. I was left thinking I should’ve done more to get some answers to my tame questions on tape, but it just didn’t seem appropriate. Næste gang.

Waking up on Saturday to find out that ‘for health reasons’ mf Doom had cancelled his performance wasn’t the best start to the day, but I was hopeful Jay Electronica would raise my spirits… and he didn’t disappoint.

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Not so long into his enigmatic set Jay announced that he’d been given his first chance to rhyme onstage in front of a big crowd by Mos Def… and now he would offer the same chance to a couple of Danish rappers in the audience.
This was a well received gesture by the crowd and promptly two lads, egged on by their buddies, ascended the stage.

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If you were at the gig you’ll know what I mean when I say one guy absolutely killed it (surprising even Jay himself) and the other guy choked and was so bad that everyone experienced that car crash moment… when however painful and cringeworthy it is, you just can’t look away.

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Soon after he’d bummed a joint from the increasingly engaged audience, Jay decided that he wanted everyone to come on stage with him and that’s when the crowd I think really woke up to what they were witnessing. What seemed at the time like a hundred (but probably 60) brave souls jumped the barrier and got up on stage. The security were cool, the stage manager smiled nervously and the gig went on, with numerous bboys an bgirls having the time of their lives as they bust a move alongside their new hero.

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It was only after the security had removed 20 or so of his fans from each side of the stage that Jay noticed the exodus and quickly suggested if they couldn’t be on stage with him, he would move into the crowd.

Much to everyone’s collective glee he jumped down (made even more people take out their phones to capture the moment) and won over everyone with his humility… and some heartfelt a cappellas.

He even managed to add some hiphop entrepreneurial spirit in at the end, by signing off saying ‘I’m going to watch Roy Ayres on the other stage, if you see me in the crowd buy me a beer and give me a joint’.

What a champ!.

The other MC I was keen to have chat with was the great man himself, Melle Mel.

I had teamed up again with Michala and a couple of her friends, along with Dick and Nanny. We met up with Melle in the artist area where we received a warm welcome from some of the Furious Five before settling down to enjoy some drinks in the warmup tent.

I think I left to go and get some ice and was only gone for a few minutes, but the scene I returned back to… I won’t forget in a long time.

Soon after I departed, Michala (who does have a habit of lifting people off their feet) had decided she needed to pick up Melle Mel and encouraged by her friends, enthusiastically took hold of the willing, if slightly bemused ‘Lord of Rhyme’ and attempted to clean lift him off his feet. To me, from the photo (tak Sabine Ravn!), it looks like Melle is confident he’s not leaving terra firma anytime soon.

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Not long into the move Michala realized just what a challenge she’d set for herself and started to lose her grip. That’s the moment I walked back into the tent.
The moment when Michala accidentally Girl Power body slammed Grand Master Melle Mel to the ground.

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Like a couple of ninjas Dick and Nanny made themselves scarce, anticipating that Melle and his crew were about to live up to their furious title. And so it was.
His pride and ass a little bruised, Melle ordered everyone out and his security got busy escorting Michala and anyone else in their way to the door.

I just sat down, stared at the floor and concentrated on not looking at Melle, smiling and saying ‘dude, you just got owned by a girl’.

Realizing sarcasm might not work on this occasion and I had to make it right, I apologized for my friends exuberance, explaining that when you finally meet one of your heroes… after 20 years of reppin’ their music and style, then sometimes that love can build up and seem like a bad thing when you open the bottle. ‘We’ve all been on the wrong end of some misguided affection in our lives eh lads’ I mused…. and within an ‘Amen to that brother’ from Scorpio, it was all good again.

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We sat and chatted about their music and careers a while, lamented the direction mainstream hiphop has gone over the last few years and they gave up some impassioned views on the seemingly never ending series of racially motivated killings by the police in the U.S.

Melle Mel is an interesting, clever and passionate guy, I’m glad to have had the chance to see the change in him, as a human being. To fully chill and, over the course of an amiable chat with a stranger, go from a state of embarrassment and annoyance to become the funny and inspiring guy I’d hoped to meet… in a short space of time, tells me he’s got a heart of gold.

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Soon after I found myself onstage at the Pumpethuset after party, drinking as much of the Furious Fives beers as humanly possible and dancing like an idiot.

Melle delivered, the crowd loved it and went home happy, but for me, unfortunately on a few occasions the DJ played the kind of dance music you’d expect to hear at Sonar or Trailer Park Festival… which is great music.. but I don’t expect to hear it at at hiphop gig.

While Melle took a drink, dried his brow and other members of the crew simulated sex acts with most of the women on stage, all I could help think was… we’re listening to this… while Diamond D is sat next to me… looking expectantly towards the stage…., why doesn’t someone throw the guy a mic?!.

Admittedly D wasn’t on the bill, didn’t expect it and said later he wasn’t bothered, but the look on his face towards the end said he would have jumped at the chance to step up and keep the set list fully rap related.

I decided to split and go and get into my Sunday recovery position, knowing it would be well into Monday evening before my ears would stop reminding me just what good a time I’d had.

Mange tak Michala…!, we will party again soon mi amiga.
Also big thanks to Thomas Flensted-Jensen for taking some great photos.
Finally a huge TAK to everyone involved at Vanguard for making a great festival, from the crowd, to the security and all the volunteers… good people do good things, big up from Bitchslap Mag for the memories, ses næste gang!.