Hip hop parodist Doc Brown
Sometimes laboured, but poignant, moving, and convincing
This article is from 2010.
There are three things you should know about London’s hip hop parodist Doc Brown. One: he’s superstar author Zadie Smith’s little brother. Two: he’s had several brushes with pop success, having toured with De La Soul and Mark Ronson. Three: more than anything else in life, he wishes David Attenborough was his grandpa. Brown – alias rapper-turned-comedian Ben Smith – is a warm and engaging performer, and his variously ribald and tender reflections on success and (mainly) disappointment are coolly counterpointed with well-pitched musical interludes.
He’s best when mocking and deconstructing his beloved hip hop culture – Smith still has an erudite way with a rhyme – and his observations on the ‘street’ merits of overhead projectors or on urban music’s influence on contemporary linguistics are gladdening. Some of Brown’s reflections are laboured – the celebrity name-dropping, the details of his fall from grace – but he’s poignant, moving and (almost) convincing when concluding that his once insatiable lust for fame has been usurped by love for his young family. Until you remember that he’s still on the stage.
Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 29 Aug (not 16), 7pm, £9–£9.50 (£7.50–£8).