As the last ISIS night of Michaelmas Term jammed and funked its way to life last Thursday evening, the scorching rays of West Coast sunshine began to clear away the fog of Oxford’s fifth week blues. Promising a tantalising hip-hop fusion of Old Skool 90s classics (think Grandmaster Flash, NWA and Tupac) and the new kids on the scene, Cellar coaxed out every R&B purist in Oxford ready for a night of raucous bars and beats. Still, there was a sense of uncertainty before the event among some would-be Cellar-goers. Song selections on the event’s Facebook wall had been both sparse and eclectic, ranging from the classic Nas, Tupac, and Biggie Smalls to the ambitious selection of David Guetta’s ‘Titanium’, perhaps not strictly classed as a 90s hip-hop classic. Most meekly listed their names alone, unwilling to be named and shamed for insufficiently ‘hip’ song choices.
Despite this, a long queue wound its way from the High Street to the Cellar stairs and snatches of Nas’ ‘The World is Yours’ had those in the cold air nodding along in anticipation. At £4 entry and a pound a pint, the night easily offered some of the best value for money to be had in Oxford. Inside, Cellar had clearly put great effort into reproducing the heat of Southern California; the venue was both overcrowded and under-ventilated, without any of the romance of Venice Beach. Despite the heatwave, masterful DJs mixed up an excellent selection of the classic and the modern, fading the masterful lyrics of Tupac into Chance the Rapper’s laid back beats. Everyone agreed that Ice Cube had been right about Thursday of 5th Week: ‘Today Was A Good Day’.