Given the welcoming nature of Polish people I was in confident mood embarking on a journey to Kraków, the country’s second city and host to Burn’s Battle Remix event featuring Grand Master Flash and Busta Rhymes last weekend.

Better still, I was travelling with an experienced crew, consisting of Bitchslap’s own DJ Schack, DJ Ronin and Rico Coker, Denmarks’ champion breakdancer for the last two years. In this company I was confident we could take on the world, or at least parts of Kraków and not end up getting jacked and left for dead on wasteland somewhere outside the city.

What was clear from the start is that our hosts had not cut any corners. I’ve been to way too many events where you leave feeling underwhelmed with the hospitality, but the Burn team was on point and after an enjoyable lunch in the old Jewish quarter we set off to the imposing Tauron arena for a Q&A session before the gig.

I’d already been informed of the disappointing news that Grand Master Flash wasn’t doing interviews due to some scheduling issue, but in the best of Bitchslap traditions I thought fuck that!, hopeful that a ‘right place right time’ approach to backstage etiquette would afford at least a few minutes with the pioneer of of hip-hop DJing, cutting, and mixing.

Almost immediately you could tell Busta was in an unusually reflective mood and knowing he’s put some issues behind him recently I couldn’t help but ask… “You seem in a good place right now, can you tell us something about 2016 that helps us understand where you’re at right now”

 

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BR: ‘I guess a while back I’d started to make some decisions I didn’t feel too good about. When I went to Aftermath and got with Dr. Dre we sat in the studio and Dre said:
“You did it your way until you got here, but if you want new results, you have to try it a new way and I repeated that and thought it was a great perspective to look at things from because I did want new results. I could sell a platinum album almost twice over, but one album selling five million copies, Dre knew how to do that shit pretty well. So I tried it his way, but after a lot of challenging moments over three years I still didn’t get the results I wanted. So even though I learned a lot from the experience in terms of being patient, learning how not to settle and exploring the options before you make a final decision.

With Dre you have to try a million different things within one song and I wasn’t used to that, to me if a song feels good then what the fuck are we over thinking this for?, it’s just over complicating the energy and questioning the original feeling you had for the song.

Fuck all that. If it feels good, I go with it and that’s the way I like to live my life.
It took me some time for me to get back to the Busta Rhymes way of doing things but when I did, my smile are bigger and I started having the fun that I was used to having again.”

It wasn’t long before I made my way backstage to chat a little with the breakdancers warming up, one international and one from Poland, who’d won a bunch of preliminary Burn battles to earn a spot dancing on stage before Busta fired up.

 

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I was having such a good conversation with the Polish breakers that for a few moments I didn’t realise we were standing next to Grand Master Flash. He was wearing his hoodie up and I’m sure I looked a little stunned when we shook hands, but he was all smiles when I introduced him to as the Yoda of hiphop to the Polish crew, who immediately lost their shit and began scrambling for the best low light camera setting on their phones.

BS: I’m guessing you never get bored being revered by B boys and B girls the world over?

GMF: I just enjoy doing what I do and I’m glad I’ve made a good contribution to the music I love.

I did ask another tame question, but before he could answer the stage manager was motioning for Flash to ascend the stage, so we went to the photographers pit to get up close and learn from the Master.

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GMF’s set was dope and it prepared the crowd in the best way possible for the following dance battle that did not disappoint.

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It was a close battle, but for me the Polish crew won by a whisker.

The support act from Poland was O.S.T.R a rapper and record producer who’s worked with an impressive role call (Evidence, El Da Sensei, Craig G, Keith Murray, Jeru The Damaja and Sadat X) and is beloved in his homeland so the wild reception he got was understandable.

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When Busta made his entrance on stage the Polish crowd went nuts and it was an honest and heartfelt appreciation for an artist that’s been in the game for twenty five years.

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The classics, ‘Give It To Me’, ‘Break Ya Neck’ and ‘Woo Ha came thick and fast, a little too fast for my liking as most all his best tunes were condensed into short two minute or less renditions of the most notable rhymes, while DJ Spliff Star was his enigmatic self and got the crowds hands up in the air more than they were down.
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Busta has understandably lost some of the original speed and dexterity of his legendary flow, but he still has the charisma and connection with an audience to make in no doubt that everyone left the event happy with what they’d experienced.

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0 YO!