Review: UK Rapper Mist (@tweet_mist) Live at Koko Camden


A year has passed since I first heard Birm­ing­ham artist ‘Mist’. I was in a quiet Span­ish vil­lage and he was being played out of a port­able speak­er. There was some­thing spe­cial about Mist’s Brummy accent over those dark, smooth beats. It fit per­fectly with the scene as I looked out the win­dow on a place I didn’t under­stand. Unlike a lot of new UK rap, it made me want to reflect and pon­der on my own path in life.

Wheth­er inten­tion­ally or not, Mist’s mes­sage to the listen­er seems to be to focus on one’s goals des­pite any bar­ri­er that may be in one’s way. He does this by telling the story of how he has dealt with major life events like the death of his par­ents. In one instance he says that his daugh­ter grew up whilst he was in pris­on. Tears came to his eyes but he nev­er let them shed, he was too busy com­mu­nic­at­ing with the sky. Des­pite him being phys­ic­ally con­tained, it couldn’t des­troy his dreams of a bet­ter life.

These sorts of con­cepts are simple yet power­ful, scattered through­out his music. There is a cer­tain wis­dom to Mist’s words, a reflec­tion of his deep med­it­a­tion whilst in pris­on. One par­tic­u­lar phrase stuck with me, ‘the only thing you’re prom­ised in life is death’. His con­clu­sion, com­plete your goals before that time comes.

His ori­gin­al pro­du­cer, Shad­ow, deserves a lot of cred­it for cre­at­ing the elec­tron­ic world from which Mist raps. Shad­ow exper­i­ments with dif­fer­ent synth plu­gins, bring­ing vis­ions of an inner city X‑files. In most of the tracks, the lack of high-hats pulls it fur­ther away from any sim­il­ar­it­ies to trap music. It gives the track more space and air to breath. The bass­lines come in strong but they are not over­power­ing. They keep the listen­er groun­ded in a thug ele­ment in spite of the trip­pi­ness of the synths. Out of the dark­ness of the instru­ment­al we ima­gine how low Mist’s mind must have once been.

Recently, I went to his sold-out con­cert with the same friend who first played him to me. We were both curi­ous about how those unique beats would sound on club speak­ers. We ima­gined that we’d be spaced out, sway­ing to the music and pick­ing out the soft recess­ive sounds that we may not have pre­vi­ously noticed. And what kind of stage per­sona would such an enig­mat­ic char­ac­ter have?

But as I watched from a bal­cony at KOKO club in Cam­den, I couldn’t help but feel like there was some­thing miss­ing from the act. A sim­pli­city was lost. Instead of spit­ting in his calm voice, Mist shouted his lyr­ics on the mic like a hard-core rap­per. The DJ acted like he was per­form­ing for a trap artist and kept stop­ping the track for effect. In these moments the crowd chanted back the lyr­ics. The bass was too heavy, the synths too quiet. The depth of the tracks seemed to be lost to an ener­get­ic atmo­sphere.

What was ori­gin­ally so power­ful about the com­bin­a­tion of Mist and Shad­ow was that it could make you fall into a trance. Though Mist cre­ated vivid con­cepts that brought his world to ours, the sound and level of his voice made it relax­ing to listen to. You could ignore the lyr­ics and go into your own thoughts. In some way, he seemed to be in our side. Now he appeared like a wealthy, Amer­ic­an trap artist.

My friend had an ingeni­ous idea that would have brought some ori­gin­al­ity to the per­form­ance. The DJ could have played the instru­ment­al first, using effects to dis­tort and play with the sounds. He might have even changed the tempo so we could hear how intric­ate the arrange­ment was. After he had done this for a while, Mist’s voice could finally enter the scene, as cool and calm as he ori­gin­ally recor­ded it.

But this is just an idea, maybe the crowd received what they wanted. Maybe bravado is neces­sary in the UK rap scene. But it’s import­ant for Mist to real­ise what made him unique in the first place.



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Nicholas Milverton
A writer with an interest in Philo­sophy, Soci­ology, Anthro­po­logy and all things intro­spect­ive. Someone who is equally at home in under­ground house raves as he is in café’s. He is con­tinu­ally ques­tion­ing the sys­tem and his own lines of reas­on­ing. There­fore, he is always rein­vent­ing him­self.

About Nicholas Milverton

Nicholas Milverton
A writer with an interest in Philosophy, Sociology, Anthropology and all things introspective. Someone who is equally at home in underground house raves as he is in cafe's. He is continually questioning the system and his own lines of reasoning. Therefore, he is always reinventing himself.