Markus Wright is a talented 19 year old rapper with a big future ahead of him. Son
of a churchgoing mother and winner of the local Battle Scars rap freestyle competition,
he's a master of intelligent and witty rhymes. Approached by the slick Top Blizzy
and his beautiful girlfriend Syreena Dream after the competition, he's offered the
chance to get signed to a record label and make it big. And so his transformation
Re-packaged, re-sold, redundant
Markus is reborn as the hugely marketed Markus the Sadist, cursing, bragging about
his wealth, and threatening to stick his gun where the sun doesn't shine. Complete
with phat trainers, wearing sunglasses even when it's not sunny and typical gangsta
bling, Markus becomes a parody of what mainstream audiences want from hip hop these
There are plenty of digs at mainstream wackness and celebrity culture, starting with
Markus speaking in an American accent ("Yee-uh!") to the news reporter documenting
his every moment.
Persuaded by Blizzy to sign more lucrative contracts, Markus has to wear the wackest
trainers, but what's wearing wack trainers when you're getting paid thousands to
wear them? Without reading the small print the trainer company plays their jingle
when he's performing his songs! It's a bit too much for Markus, but by then it's
too late, and his image begins to fall away when he realises he doesn’t like his
A rap opera
Markus the Sadist is billed as "a rap opera," and in many a way it is.
Soweto Kinch's contribution as composer and musical director bring something fresh
to the soundtrack, and several full length tracks give it a rap 'operatic' (a loose
They aren't typical songs either, but full compositions that compare to musical theatre,
as characters from Markus' past haunt him through song.
Markus's mum is the musical exception. She doesn't rap, but sings, adding an additional
layer to the musical numbers.
Most of the script rhymes, and it's spoken with poetic energy, if not a little difficult
sometimes for some to decipher the occasional Caribbean patois within.
Some of the freestyles are so recent that they’re different for each show, as Markus
dropped a line about Leona Lewis getting punched - it was only a week ago!
A trait of Jonzi D is he acknowledges the audience, and he recognises the use of
the convention where the audience is part of Markus’s live shows, getting his crowd
to shout back at the MC.
The set featured a projection canvas and live video camera to display some scenes
as though they were in a different location, and it was quite effective when doing
paparazzi news reports and when Markus is shooting his music video.
They also used the projection for pre-recorded video shorts of mock news reports,
with Jonzi D making the occasional cameo as multiple ludicrous supporting characters.
It was just a shame it was a little to bright in the theatre to see some of the playbacks
Markus the Sadist was good. It wasn't what I expected, the storyline went deeper
than I thought it might in places, and maybe some of the scenarios were a bit unrealistic
- hacking a prison computer? Hmm - but it kept it real, and spoke out against what
others are afraid to say - mainstream hip hop is generally wack!
You need to make sure to listen up, though. Some character’s dialogue particularly
slang heavy, and if you’re not fluent in street talk, you might get left behind figuring
what they’re saying.
I'd never seen Bashy act on stage before, but he was a natural being a Brit Performing
Arts graduate (read our interview with him here), supported by a strong cast from
different performing backgrounds, which included comedians and dancers playing several
It's just a shame it isn't a longer running production, as only a small amount of
people will be able to see it. It preaches social awareness about delusional mainstream
hip hop without being preachy, and is an example of a show that once it’s gone, you’ll
regret not seeing.
The Markus the Sadist tour continues in Birmingham on 22-24, Leeds on 26 and and
Ipswich on 30-31.