Review: Lowkey Live At @TheGarageHQ London

Hip Hop Ain’t Dead…It’s In Lon­don

Review Of Lowkey Live At The Gar­age Lon­don, Septem­ber 18th 2016

The Gar­age has been host to many great Hip Hop nights in Lon­don over the years, from Pharaoh Monche to KRS one. As the tem­pera­ment­al 2016 Brit­ish sum­mer has reached its zenith, High­bury & Islington’s land­mark ven­ue once again treated hip-hop fans to a mas­ter class in live music per­form­ance.

Sev­er­al months ago social media’s inde­pend­ent music and social act­iv­ism scene were buzz­ing with a rumour. Finally after an announce­ment of a tour, it had been con­firmed. Lowkey had returned.

Lowkey had been an import­ant fig­ure in hip-hop cul­ture and social act­iv­ism. He is part of a small club of artists who take the respons­ib­il­ity of their plat­form ser­i­ously. Much like oth­er pop­ular inde­pend­ent artists such as Immor­tal Tech­nique; Lowkey speaks about import­ant social and polit­ic­al issues in his music. He provided a voice for a gen­er­a­tion of con­scien­tious human­ists. He made it cool again to care.  This burden must have not been easy to carry, espe­cially lowwhen you are choos­ing to speak again­st the sys­tem which decides which artists get to “trend,” and which do not.

Need­less to say, his influ­ence and music was missed dur­ing his four year break from the lime light.

He returned with a new track titled ‘Ahmed.’  A song inspired from the vir­al, heart-break­ing image of the dis­placed child that was found face down on the shores of Europe. UK’s most polit­ic­ally charged MC decided to once again use his plat­form to provide a voice for chil­dren who no longer had one.

Two months later, I stand in a packed out ven­ue eagerly await­ing to exper­i­ence his comeback tour. The energy is of the room is pos­it­ive, the secur­ity are relaxed. Far from the usu­al tone of a typ­ic­al hip-hop night. The audi­ence is a mix of UK hip-hop vet­er­ans and a young­er crowd, whose polit­ic­al aware­ness was evid­ent through the many kef­fi­yehs worn.  A sym­bol syn­onym­ous with the fight to end Palestini­an occu­pa­tion and with Lowkey’s music.

mic-rightMic Right­eous opened the show. Once labelled UK’s Eminem, his per­form­ance imme­di­ately set the tone. Tonight was to be a set of pas­sion­ate, tal­en­ted and con­scious rap. Tonight is not about mater­i­al­ism and self-pro­mo­tion. He instantly anim­ated the crowd with skil­ful word­play and sharp deliv­ery.

Next up we had Lowkey’s protégé Crazy Haze. An artist who has grown immensely over the past 4 years into a know­ledge­able and polit­ic­ally enlight­en­ing lyr­i­cist. His per­form­ance embod­ied a mes­sage and inspired hope with bars like; “all we got to lose now is our cuffs and our cage.”

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The mul­ti-tal­en­ted DJ, vocal­ist and rap­per Awa­te jumped on stage straight after. His exper­i­ence tour­ing as Lowkey’s DJ since the age of 18 was appar­ent through his utter com­fort whil­st on stage. He util­ised well recog­nized funky beats such as Fresh Prince of Bel Air to tell his story; from his exper­i­ences grow­ing up in a Cam­den hous­ing estate to trouble with the police.

This was fol­lowed by a young female spoken word artist. She went by then name Oshanti – which she explained meant “angry­­­” in her nat­ive Bengali. She chose this name because it rep­res­en­ted the emo­tion that she feels when faced with the social issues that drove her to pick up the pen. She spoke on top­ics like fem­in­ism, reli­gious per­se­cu­tion and insti­tu­tion­al racism. The crowd’s cheer­ing and applause demon­strated a com­mun­al iden­ti­fic­a­tion with her struggle. oshanti

The atmo­sphere grew in excite­ment as the crowd anti­cip­ated who was next. Lowkey exploded onto the stage as if he nev­er left. His famil­i­ar effort­less blend of catchy hooks, qual­ity con­tent and skill­ful lyr­i­cism reminded of us of his mis­sion to ignite a per­son­al revolu­tion in every per­son that hears his mes­sage.

He impec­cably delivered his clas­sic tracks such as ‘Ter­ror­ist’, ‘Long Live Palestine’, ‘My Soul’ and ‘Obaman­a­tion.’ He also treated fans of lyr­i­cism to his clas­sic “Alpha­bet Assas­sin­a­tion” Fire in the Booth per­form­ance.

It was inter­est­ing to see how Lowkeys music had inspired a new gen­er­a­tion of young fans to carry the same polit­ic­al fire that was exis­ted when his mater­i­al was first released. Fans who could not have been older than 12 years old when his Fire in the Booth was released, had mem­or­ised every bar. An example of how qual­ity con­tent is time­less. A les­son Tupac has taught all artists over the years.

The show was kept fresh and excit­ing with spe­cial guests and switch­ing up of the tone. The crowd exploded with excite­ment when his fel­low con­sciences brother in rap Akala walked onto the stage to col­lab­or­ate on “Behind my painted smile.” We were also treated to appear­ances by Black the rip­per (which explained the phantom smell of weed), Mai Kalil and more.

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The show was wrapped with a free­style by Lowkey where he dis­played his Arab­ic skills learnt dur­ing his time away from music. He con­sciously ended it with a mes­sage around the lib­er­a­tion of Palestine to remind us of our social duties. Lowkey and his line-up had not only given a great show, but they also given the crowd an inspir­a­tion­al energy. Wel­come back brother, the hip-hop scene has sorely missed a con­scious voice.

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Merz

Merz

Merz is No Bounds’ well-being lead. A long­time hip hop head with sev­er­al years exper­i­ence in men­tal health. He is also founder of a vegan Mac & Cheese food truck @lazyboykitchen .

About Merz

Merz
Merz is No Bounds' well-being lead. A longtime hip hop head with several years experience in mental health. He is also founder of a vegan Mac & Cheese food truck @lazyboykitchen .