Or to put it another way, a love letter to two enigmatic Frenchmen of a certain age. L’Entourloop are a crew that emerged around 5 years ago, what they did before, who they are, or where they came from is not easy to divine. What little can be found says the main men go by the monikers of “Sir James” and “King Johnny”, what is also clear is they’ve attracted some guests of the highest quality and know all about the bass. “Dreader Than Dread” featuring Skarra Mucci dropped in 2013, excellent debut album “Chickens In Your Town” followed in 2015, including regular live collaborators N’Zeng and Troy Berkley and more, (such as Funkdub favourite LMK). They first came to our attention in 2017 when the writer stumbled across their second long player “Le Savoir Faire”. An absolute monster of an album, the best of that year, featuring a wider musical spectrum and an even bigger guest list including: Marina P, Tippa Irie, Rodney P, Soom T and Panda Dub. The sound of L’Entourloop is perhaps most simply described as Reggae Hip Hop, with flashes of jungle and drenched in an old school film soundtrack sensibility.
Turning to the live show, catching this collective on these shores is not easy at all, so far as we can tell the only show they played in the UK this year was at the, always ahead of the curve, Boomtown Fair. If you’re in France however there are plenty of opportunities, when a show was announced in Paris that could be made to coincide with a planned trip the die was well and truly cast. The venue was La Cigale, a grand theatre in the shadows of the Sacre Coeur in the 18th Arrondissement, it was packed to the rafters and the crowd was, as they say, “en fete”. The atmosphere might have been because of the nearby “Fete Des Vendanges”, which was overflowing with wine and food, but it soon became apparent the mood was really all about what was coming next.
The two old brothers took to the stage, resplendent in sharp suits and bow ties, manning the decks, beats and FX, with impressive visuals behind. The opening salvo was title track “Le Savoir Faire”, they were soon joined by trumpet player and hype man for the evening N’Zeng. Things stepped up a level further when Bermudian MC Troy Berkley took to the stage and the hits kept on coming, an early set highlight being soundtrack skanker “SoundBwoy”. The pattern was set with vocalists coming on and off the stage, including excellent local MC Mejah, in between times the pair playing heavyweight tracks, mostly drawn from the second album, but with added visuals and outstanding live scratching. If you haven’t caught the live DJ session from Le Mellotron, well you must:
Another highlight of the earlier portion of the set was their absolutely huge remix of Guts track “Want It Back”. Instead of an infectious reggae hip hop stomp the live version of the track flipped it to full blown jungle, with Troy Berkley in outstanding form. The middle portion of the show featured charismatic and talented MC Soom T taking to the stage for a sequence of tunes including “Funk Monk” from the last album. It’s notable to say that a very common pattern at the mid point of a lot of even the most entralling shows there is often a slight lull, a bit more space appears in the crowd and the atmosphere calms a little before ramping up at the end. In this show there was no let up whatsoever, at the mid point Soom T was throwing herself into the crowd on an inflatable, and the room seemed to be getting fuller not emptier.
The final portion of the show saw the arrival of UK Reggae Royalty Tippa Irie, with probably the highlight of the evening being a floor shaking version of “Le Rendez-Vous” – with Tippa displaying that more than 30 years in the game have not dimmed his skills one iota. At the end of the track all 3 principal MCs returned to the stage for a spine tingling display of 3 way craft on the mic. But that misses out the most remarkable thing about the show, notwithstanding the vocal skills and stagecraft on display from all of the guests, the stars of the show were without question the 2 men in suits and bow ties. That wasn’t just because of the heavyweight bass and riddims, it was because of the sense of showmanship and fun they bought to the proceedings. At various points one of them would take to the stage and hype the crowd with a walking stick, or they both came to the front and did a scratch routine using a mini-deck as well as using printed signs encouraging the crowd to “Put Your Handz Up” or “Jump”. All of this was done with a sense of comic timing worthy of Jacques Tati, but underpinned by the ruffest of ruff beats.
The set closed out with the inevitable and vociferously demanded encore, and after over 90 minutes of excellence the writer realised he hadn’t gone to the bar or the toilet. A truly unforgettable evening, L’Entourloop seemingly appeared from nowhere, we’d recommend you catch them as soon as you can in case they disappear back into the mists from whence they came.
If you haven’t already do check out our last mix which includes a few from them, and plenty more from France.
Photo credit, GK’s sister.