"Markus the Sadist" [Review]

"Markus the Sadist" [Review]

Last night, MOBO (as well as the whole of the UK music industry) nipped down to London’s Bloomsbury theatre to catch the latest Jonzi D production “Markus the Sadist” – a Rap Opera, which has been touring the country and stars the multi-talented music artist-cum-actor, Ashley Thomas AKA MOBO 2009 Nominee, Bashy. The expectations were high for this one – especially with Jonzi D at the helm and Mr Bashy in the spotlight.

The play is a metaphor for the development of the UK urban music scene, which has moved from the margins to the mainstreams at, as some might argue, the cost of credibility. The play is, for the most part, delivered in rhyme and it’s the wry humour, music and choreography which keeps it entertaining and most importantly, relevant and engaging. Wittily highlighting the issue, the play centres around the career of young Markus Wright and lays bare how easily young people can be enticed and exploited by the perceived glamourous and lucrative lifestyles – but at what cost? This is the theme that the play explores over the two hours – are we moving towards an industry where artists are purely money-driven and seemingly uninterested in maintaining their integrity and unaware of the influence their actions have over their followers and fans?

Bashy plays Markus – a naïve, young London rapper, who, after landing a record deal, goes from getting respect for his trade on the street to become a smash-hit success, at the price of ‘selling out’. Bashy takes on the two personalities of his role admirably and plays the innocent Markus as a sensitive and impressionable youth; the character of which is the complete opposite to his on-stage persona, Markus the Sadist, who is a brash, offensive gangsta rapper. The wide gap between Markus’ two personas highlights the difference between the conscious rap style of artists such as Common, Mos Def, and the gaudy, materialist and ‘dollar dollar bill y’all’ motivated ‘bling’ artists.

While he is taken with his lavish life-style and easy money, eventually his integrity wins him back and he rebels against the industry which has ‘made him’ and the demons that lurk there – however, perhaps a little too late…

Hip Hop is a multi-billion pound business and has become a lifestyle which goes beyond just simply music – crossing into dance, film, fashion etc. ‘Markus the Sadist’ is a play which gathers all elements of the Hip Hop culture and uses them to show how the success of Hip Hop could be its own downfall. I’m not saying that Hip Hop and its increasingly lavish image is the beginning of the end, perhaps it’s a good job that the likes of Jonzi D, Bashy and co. are making us sit up and think twice about if the big bootied bikini-clad beauties and the dripping in diamonds, expletive dropping, fast-car driving rap-stars in the music videos are really what we should be aspiring to…

Words: Becky Lockett