Skepta – David Rodigan – Sheffield
Most festive dwellers tend to spend Halloween out on the streets knocking on people’s doors for sugared goods dressed head to toe in freakish attire, but the hundreds of people packed into Sheffield’s O2 Academy on Saturday night were treated to an unreal performance from one of UK’s hottest artists of the moment.
As well as playing a Halloween gig, Skepta also released an appropriately themed mix online earlier the same day. Listen here:
Tottenham-born Joseph Adenuga, better known by his moniker Skepta, has had something of a whirlwind year, jet-setting around the globe and liaising with some of music’s biggest names, with the likes of Drake, Kanye West and Pharrell Williams all appearing to be contributors for his impending album ‘Konnichiwa’.
Watch Skepta freestyle over OTHERtone alongside Pharrell:
From playing in small venues to living it up on the big stage to a packed out Sheffield crowd, it can well and truly be said that Skepta has put grime on the map. With support coming from reggae royalty David Rodigan suitably warming up the masses with his eclectic selection of Caribbean beats, including Barrington Levy’s timeless classic ‘Here I Come’ and Damian Marley’s ‘As We Enter’, before getting grimey proceedings underway by dropping Skepta’s BBK counterpart Solo 45’s dancehall favourite ‘Feed Em To The Lions’.
The anticipation in the air could be cut with a knife, as the miniscule delay between Rodigan’s set and Skepta’s seemed to last forever, but as DJ Maximum took to the decks to ready his arsenal, the buzz was immeasurable.
As the first few notes of Skepta’s huge hit single ‘That’s Not Me’ burst from the speakers alongside fellow BBK member Shorty, phones were raised to the air to capture a snap of the eminent artist, as he burst from the shadows to the line ‘one line flows yeah I got some of those’, which of course was bellowed right back to him heartily. The drop in the song that followed shortly after produced what one can only describe as ‘mayhem’, as the crowd hustled and bustled amongst itself to the bass-heavy track and earning itself a ‘wheel up’ (or restart, if you’re not up to date with the grime lingo).
His new track ‘Top Boy’ was next on the bill, which was met with suitable recognition considering its recency. Skepta’s emphatic stage presence ensured the upbeat nature of his music was met with reciprocal measure. His renowned mixtape ‘Blacklisted’ was next up, as he dropped the pinnacle track ‘Ace Hood Flow’, a song which further stoked the flames of the vibe of the night.
Following three back-to-back lung-busting anthems from the self-professed ‘King of Grime’, it was certainly time to take a breather for both fans and performer, as Skepta took a moment to take a puff from his inhaler to gain enough breath to utter ‘f*cking asthma fam’.
Sticking to the spooky theme of the evening, the Microphone Champion dropped his diss track ‘Nasty’ for long-term ‘enemy’ Devilman, whom he clashed in a Lord of the Mics battle in 2006, accompanied with the chilling statement ‘somebody’s gotta die tonight’. The eerie melody and menacing delivery of the lyrics were certainly befitting of the evening.
Keeping in line with his ethos of promotion for those closest to him, he allowed lesser-known Shorty to take centre stage to play a selection of his songs, including the infectiously catchy ‘What’s Going On?’ A few more acknowledgements were made, as DJ XTC’s grime instrumental ‘Functions on the Low’ made famous by Stormzy with ‘Shut Up’ provided the backing for an impromptu freestyle from the frontman, as well as JME’s ‘Man Don’t Care’, who had appeared with Skepta onstage earlier in the night in Nottingham. The pair also paid homage to their BBK conglomerate by playing the group’s smash hit ‘Too Many Man’, evoking memories of years gone by.
An appropriate way to draw his performance to a conclusion came as Skepta bowed out on ‘Shutdown’ arguably his biggest single to date, personalising the Drake introduction from ‘Man’s never been in marquee when it’s shutdown ey’ to Sheffield, which of course received a rapturous response. The final nail had been hammered into the coffin to seal what was a phenomenal performance, which was topped off with the singer proclaiming ‘Boy Better Know forever’. We certainly hope so.
By Laurie Waite