The 28th of September at the Coronet was not hosting just any ordinary occasion. There was nothing ordinary about the audience that circulated the entire arena stretching back to the Elephant and castle station to get into the building. This performance certainly didn’t come at any ordinary time when you consider the trials and tribulations the London public have faced recently. This was an extraordinary gathering of unity and wide-eyed hope against domestic and international oppression. I walked up and down the line witnessing different creeds, countries and backgrounds all to celebrate and seek liberation from one of Hip Hop’s most tantalising emcees. I spoke to one passionate fan that really captured this unity I witnessed at the gig,
“You come to a gig like this and you see people with their flags from Palestine, with their hijabs, black folks, brown folks, old folks, young folks giving each other love showing each other love. That kind of ethos only happens at a Lowkey gig. Few artists pull that off.”
It was however unfortunate that such love was met with such hostile security on the night. The gargantuan line did reflect Lowkey’s mass following but also reinforced his argument in his music on how people of a Muslim faith are treated with mass prejudice. Some may argue that the thorough search is a breath of fresh air considering what happened at Arianna Grande ‘s concert in Manchester, but it was the attitude of the staff that aggravated the ordeal to the point it forced an apology from Lowkey when he came out. He quickly followed with the song “terrorist” which highlights the stereotype Muslim people suffer with every day.
Fortunately as a journalist for this magazine who worked extremely hard as media partners for this event (alongside Global Faction), I was able to come in earlier than most and managed to witness a refreshing talent who has been supporting Lowkey for 7 years, Awate. From Eritrea, this emcee has championed the war against discrimination in the news and has a library of tracks reflecting many people’s views of injustice. He was a perfect candidate to support Lowkey that evening and you can see why Lowkey has him as a regular support for his performances and why Awate opened for the Blackstar gig last Friday. I was extremely impressed with his vocals, not just as an emcee, but also as a singer. His hooks are extremely educated, catchy and captivating. Reminds me of how J Cole dips in and out of singing on his tracks. This experience motivated me to meet and greet the artist backstage, purchase his EP Shine Ancient and play my favourite track from that project on the Big Bang Show (‘Displaced’). Awate was absolutely responsible for laying the foundations for a renowned evening.
On the tale end of meeting Lowkey backstage and shaking his hand, I made my way back to the crowd. The atmosphere was constantly growing with love and delight as poetry met the audience with Rafeef Ziadah.. Her sweet charisma and satire soaked the sour reality of her message she had for the people. The poem “Passport” was met with such awakening for those who hadn’t heard the poem before. Wide-eyed people smiled as Rafeef played on the words heir and hairs whilst swearing an oath to the queen. Her breakdown of her experience at a Canadian immigration office portrayed so many points on how we are one the same and how flawed their analysis and verdict on what makes someone a citizen is. She continued with more enlightening poetry which could only inspire and strengthen the spirit of everyone who watched. I would absolutely consider looking up her stuff and catching her next performance.
The evocation of excitement the crowd manifested was at real heights by the time Narcy hit the stage. What better song to introduce himself to the audience than the track RED that features Yasiin Bey. The Iraqi- Canadian who resides in Montréal blew the house down with heavy instrumentals and the type of flow that got everyone sweating buckets riding pulverising sound waves. His music spoke with such patriotism and showcased an enormous respect for women and his gratitude for family. Narcy will be back but I may catch him on my next trip to Canada.
Finally the pièce de résistance, the artists who has been championing social justice touring the UK as part as his illustrious return, Lowkey hit the stage. He came on with the same sincerity and humbleness that came from every single act. He jumped into the crowd smiling doing his best to shake and meet everyone in the front row. Solidifying his symbol as the people’s champion, he brought people up on stage and gave them a chance to recite the lyrics from his all time hits. Not to mention a lot of the opening performers where involved throughout Lowkey’s music with MIC Righteous featuring on ‘Revolution’. Awate was right behind Lowkey on the decks and more associated acts were present. Mai Khalil and Asheber sung their heart out on the Ghost of Grenfell song and yes we will get to that. A refreshing scene of fist raised, flags waved and big smiles. My personal favourite was ‘My Soul’ from the ‘Soundtrack to the Struggle’. You can’t beat the chorus sung live. Nostalgia and liberation shook the room with Lowkey delivering all expectations over Boom Bap head bangers and intimate acoustics.
Conclusively, the entire night collectively led to one of the most moving performances I have ever witnessed. The entire venue commemorated the tragic incident at Grenfell towers with its iconic heart surrounding the name. If I am reviewing a performance, I spend the majority of the gig in the crowd front row with everybody so I can get a genuine perspective. For some reason, this is the occasion; I decided to hang out in the background on stage. I wanted to be amongst the performers representing the magazine with keep gratitude for this song. Little did we know; that with all the calibre performers, it was the audience that stole the show. The voice for the voiceless became one and people collectively poured out every drop of their despair they had that night. Last thing I saw was teary and amongst many, we wiped our eyes and took a breath to gather what we just witnessed. I made my way backstage in hopes of meeting Lowkey and all the other talents and I arrived in a room where everyone was embracing each other. The performers where physically and emotionally drained but still managed to talk to and shake the hands of everyone who came through. All and all it was a once in a lifetime performance. If it happens again, you best be there.
Footage & Photography by Suleiman Yusuf.
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