At a time when (for want of a better word) “Urban” music is visibly on the ascent again; when arguably the best lyricist in the UK announces a London date you expect it to be a sold out affair. Albeit left to the last minute with tickets finally selling out the morning of; the scene awash with fellow artists, industry types and revellers alike, seemed to turn out in force; packing out O2 Forum Kentish Town to the brim.

The scene is set something proper. A full live band set up on varying levels on stage, and DJ Chuckie Online spinning as the crowd enters the room.  We’re treated to MoStack taking to the stage as the opening act and although the North London native hops on with bags of energy and gets the crowd vibing with, No Buddy & I Do, before rounding up his set with his notable single, Liar Liar; it’s clear that the crowd are here for one reason and that’s Mr 32 himself.

A changeover ensues, and after hearing a Popcaan rendition of, Controlla for the 7th time on repeat and the restless onlookers wanting to draw for the earplugs; the lights finally go down.  The crowd edges forward and when the now iconic image of an upturned palm (akin to Wretch’s, Growing Over Life album cover) appears on the massive LCD screen which forms the stage’s backdrop, we know that we’re in for something special tonight.

Wretch is considered the pinnacle of what lyric driven Hip Hop looks like in this country and he definitely proved why as he went through each track on the critically acclaimed new album Growing Over Life spilling out his passion without forsaking clarity. Powerful imagery adorning the screen behind him from the onset. Antwi kicking off proceedings before the crowd get fully involved as he continues form with Pressure. There isn’t a dull moment as the set continues appealing to the ladies in the audience with Take Me As I Am; seeing many of them swoon.

It’s notable that the live band are in their element here with particular sprinklings of soul delivered by Teni Tinks and her male backing vocalist counterpart that help everybody remember where this album is rooted; in soul & emotion. With surprise appearances from Krept & Konan alongside newcomer Abra Cadabra – which sends the whole crowd into an almighty frenzy with the Robbery (remix) during a short interval; it’s hard not to see how you wouldn’t have enjoyed yourself.

Heavy hitting in places, like when Wretch is joined on stage by collaborator Avelino (aka Young Fire). Their rendition of, Open Conversation & Mark Duggan, particularly poignant as both take a seat on stage reflecting on the impassioned Stafford Scott speech that forms the video inset, before the counterpoint of their smash, Hulk Hogan which has the crowd chanting alongside the rappers. To an incredibly touching moment as Wretch is joined on stage by his mother & older sister for an emotive performance of, I.O.U. Wretch continues on delivering each cut from the record to rapturous applause and with the whole crowd singing along. He’s visibly having the time of his life on stage.

As he closes proceedings with the final track, Church I can’t help but smile in the knowledge that in this album Wretch has delivered the seminal material that will see him able to perform these tracks for years to come, and judging from this show, the levels have been set and the title belongs to him.


Article written for the British Blacklist by AKS

About AKS:
AKS, pronounced {Ay-Kay-Ess} is a London Based Hip-Hop artist, Web Developer & Co-Founder of Less is More Music.

AKS recently released his long awaited sophomore EP, and the second project in his three-part ‘Modes of Transport’ series – Train of Thought. His first solo project in five years, and the highly anticipated follow up to his seminal debut EP The Bus Stop, which was released to critical acclaim in 2011. Led by the lead single, Stay with Me, the new EP has gone on to assert AKS as one of the most promising acts in the UK’s urban scene. With a sold out London headline show and 2 Unsigned Music Award 2016 nominations under his belt, including Best Album/EP/Record, it’s clear that this is one journey that isn’t set to end any time.

Buy AKS Train Of Thought EP –  iTunes | Limited Edition Physical CD
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