Godspeed Thundercat was released three weeks ago and marked the official development of Oh! Dark Arrow (ODA) from…
Godspeed Thundercat was released three weeks ago and marked the official development of Oh! Dark Arrow (ODA) from Marc Potgieter’s new solo project to its current rap-crew status. The crew consists of three rappers; Arrow (Potgieter), Push Push (Nicci St Bruce), Cruz (Keke Mahlelebe) and 36 The Gravekeeper (Matt Hichens) on the beats. The album received acclaim for its departure from Potgieter’s PHFat background and the consequential step toward a more “nocturnal rap territory of an early Odd Future or the nostalgic style of Flying Lotus under his Captain Murphy alias”, as mentioned by Kevin Minofu is his review of the album.
Their debut set at The Assembly, which was supported by sets from Gateway Drugs, Blotchy, Desert_Head, Micr.Pluto and Dank, saw an ODA performance that sought to seep that album’s new feeling into the live show. Arrow took the reins – rightfully so as the crew’s frontman – but also as the performer clocking in on far more experience than the sum of his crew mates’. His rapping was tight and he delivered his verses with keenness, vigour and genuine excitement at presenting something new and it was supported by an accompanying sense of achievement. His signature gangly-demon dance moves were out in full force, but were far better suited to the more bass-heavy tracks, highlighting his comfort in performing a particular style. The more sparse tracks, which provide ODA with much of its differentiation from currently popularised bass-heavy South African rap, proved to be more of a challenge to perform. The visuals being projected either side of the stage did well to assist in this challenge and while Potgieter was adequately equipped to interact with the crowd and carry himself confidently through the sparse moments, Push Push and Cruz were noticeably less equipped. However, that’s not to say that when it came to delivering their individual performances they didn’t step up.
Push Push has already proved her performance abilities with her debut set at YOH! Bad Girls last month. Her flow is relentless, attitude abundant and she executes her verses with razor sharp, well-rehearsed precision. However, her contribution to ODA also consists of more melodic hooks which enter the territory of singing and not rapping, representing perhaps a greater challenge. Apart from a few missed notes here and there, she held her own and skilfully traded confidence for any technical mishaps. Cruz was a pleasant surprise with a energetically schizophrenic performance; he switched abruptly and unannounced from timid and withheld to wild and cathartic, charging the podium at the front of the stage and towering over the front few rows while delivering his verses which were also well rehearsed. As far as performances are concerned, 36 The Gravekeeper must be commended on his management of the decks which he executes with an infectious bravado, supplying the crew with a dependable anchor.
The set was an exhibition, albeit needing some work in its execution, of a performance that the CBD part of the Cape Town music scene is lacking – that of a fully-fledged rap crew. Although the energy and pure enjoyment emanating from the stage was clearly well received by the audience, it was disrupted by moments of disjointed performance glitches and awkward movements highlighting some insecurity as to how their sound should be performed. But this is natural for a debut show, and more specifically the debut show of a crew producing a brand-new sound. As they chant in unison, “O-D-A til I D-I-E” while already sporting matching ODA shirts, it’s easy to see that there is undoubtedly a level of commitment that exists amongst them. With more shows lined up and some momentum now in the bag, ODA will hopefully identify what it really means to them to be a crew, and how that relates to further developing both their sound and live performances.
All photos taken by Stewart Innes.