StormzyO2 Academy 2/4/17
It’s fair to say that hip hop has now become a general term that relates to a genre made up of smaller sub-genres. Whether it be Trap, Glitch-hop, Horrorcore, Crunk, Urban Pasifika or Hyphy, Hip hop has evolved into an ever-changing myriad of styles and sounds. Our own little island has contributed to this mesh occasionally, with the ethereal realm of Trip-hop and the much more aggressive Garage, but our latest input to this strange and beautiful soundscape has been Grime, the sort-of bastard child of Garage and Jungle. Tonight’s headliner is possibly our nation’s finest artist currently operating in Grime, our nation’s most recent (and one of the most interesting) Hip hop related creation. It’s all new, and it’s all moving. Fast.
The O2 Academy is bustling as soon as the doors open tonight with people rushing to get their place in an increasingly busy room. It’s a Sunday, which means that there are more than likely large numbers of people here who have early starts tomorrow, but it feels just like a Friday, as the anticipation and high spirits build towards breaking point. Soon there is a strong crowd in here that almost fills the large venue to capacity. Only a few spaces are left at the back behind the mixing desk, where people fill up on drinks at the bar before edging their way towards the stage.
Before long it becomes obvious that what we have here is a hardened Grime crowd. As the supporting DJs spin a heady mix of underground tracks, with breakbeats firing at a rapid pace, equalled only by the flow of the MCs, you can hear the sounds of smaller groups within the crowd rapping along to the verses as if their own show is already in action.
After a lengthy wait, as the crowd’s enthusiasm reaches a peak, up strides STORMZY. It’s a big year for him this year, with Gang Signs & Prayer having been the first Grime album to have reached number one on the UK albums chart. It’s as if someone has flicked a switch on his career, he’s exploding right in front of our eyes.
Not that there was any doubt, but Stormzy is a fierce MC. He strides out on to the stage like he has a lot to prove and delivers an onslaught of rhymes and tracks that lay waste to any question to his hype. Big For Your Boots sounds huge as the stage lights cut his dancing silhouette and bathe the crowd in bright colours. Mr Skeng is a sure crowd favourite, while older Stormzy fans are kept just as happy with tracks like Know Me From.
The pace is taken down slightly for the smooth Cigarettes & Cush, the chorus of which is sung by every person in the room, but the energy doesn’t waver for a second. This is a full, weighty and powerful set that slakes the whole room’s thirst for the best in Grime.
There is a very legitimate reason why Stormzy is blowing up all over the country at the moment. His rhymes are both eloquent and furious, and he has passion and heart by the bucket-load. He might just be the king of Grime.