The legendary MC and producer Ty sadly passed away last year (2020) due to complications from COVID, very quickly tributes poured in from acround the globe as well as in the UK. It was an impressive roll call of artists too El-P, Questlove, Idris Elba, Omar, the list goes on. It’s clear he had respect on a global scale and that his music created a sizable impact. On top of that Ty was a grassroots community activist too, only adding to his impact, his loss was a devastating blow to black music. In the midst of a pandemic it was impossible to truly honour Ty and to process his loss. Covid restrictions meant that his family, friends and fans could not come together to celebrate his life in a manner befitting his legacy.
With restrictions easing up in 2021, a group of Ty’s creative friends and collaborators planned a gig in his honour, to be held at the Jazz Cafe on his birthday, August 17th, the gig was divided into 3 acts, just like a movie or a play. DJ Bounce was the DJ for the entire evening and warmed up the crowd as the venue filled up with friends and fans of Ty. He played classic hip hop tunes and an assortment of well known and more obscure tracks by Ty, a great way to get everyone in the mood as people got their drinks, bought Ty merchandise and greeted each other like long lost friends. Ty, known as the gatherer of the village, was living up to this reputation with the Pass The Torch gig.
The second part of the evening belonged to the special guests, a blend of seasoned veterans and new talent. It was only fitting. Ty was well known for championing talent, old and new, giving them platforms on his radio shows and his Pass The Torch shows. Terri Walker, BREIS, Seanie Tee (Featuring Prolific), Logic, FRSHRZ (Artcha, SKANDOUZ & Dray Styles), TrueMendous, Mas Law and Obi Joe, all put on great performances, getting the crowd further hyped with their skilled stage presence and their effortless ability to communicate and interact with the crowd. Trumendous continued her run of destroying the mic with her ferocious rap skills and relentless flow, it’s clear she’s winning new fans for every live performance, the future of hip hop is bright.
Then came the final act, the organisers of the gig had assembled a band of musicians, Ty’s original touring band to play a select set of Ty’s back catalogue. Ty’s backing singers, Nomvula Malinga and Ladonna Marie provided backing vocals to the band and each song had a different UK MC rap Ty’s lyrics.
This was emotional, at times people in the crowd were teary, at others times full of joy and at other times just getting hyped. It was a masterclass in performing, the level of musicianship from the band* was world class. They were playing music that Ty had crafted, composed and produced, it was a reminder of just how musically minded Ty was, he was nothing short of a genius when it came to composing and arranging tracks.
The set was beautifully curated, including classic Ty tracks such as Groovement, Haha, Look 4 Me. Great musicianship, world class vocalists and the cream of UK MCs…they say good things come in threes and these three elements created a set that was the perfect way to close out the night, it was an emotionally cathartic and fitting way to end the night.
We’ve all been starved for live music, for the human connection that comes with that and the communal aspect of bonding over incredible music. This was a great way to return to enjoying the experience of live music, quite frankly it’s set the bar incredibly high, just like Ty did during his illustrious career.
Words by Haroon
Photography credits @paulhiphop
*Band Details / Richard Spaven – Drums / Jason Yarde – Sax / Robin Mullarkey – Bass / Eric Appapulay – Guitar / Dave Okumu – Guitar / Ashley Henry – Keyboard / Philip Harper – Percussion / Harry Brown – Trombone / Mark Crown – Trumpet / Sam Crowe (guest) – Keyboard