On Thursday 20 October I headed to the O2 Academy Islington for UK rapper, you know the one they call S-K-E-P-T-A, for his second headline UK tour this year.
It being Skepta’s last date, I was pretty sure that the UK rapper was going to go out in a bang, especially playing out The Wedding Bells Tour in his home town of London.
With a four-year album deal secured with Universal’s Island Records, and a top 20 studio album ‘Doin’ It Again’ under his wing, Skepta braved the O2 Academy’s hyped up crowd, along with a few friends of his.
Being up in the VIP area was pretty much a case of “Too many man, too many many man”, where most of the “man” happened to be part of Skepta’s entourage. Most of the ladies were thankfully downstairs in the standing area, or shall I groupies! And boy did Kiss FM DJ Logan Sama have these girls impregnated with the latest grime beats. Whether it was the lyrics or the dance moves, the crowd had it all, I had never seen such a hyped up crowd, and this was before the headlining act had come on. Logan Sama admitted how happy he was to be back in town and that he couldn’t understand a word northerners would say whilst up in the north of England, maybe he had come across Cheryl Cole on his travels?
As the floor filled with Skeptamaniac’s (most of them being under 18s), Krept and Konan had the honours in opening the show with Krept performing a track, and also a firm favourite with the crowd, ‘Paranormal Activity 2’. Support acts Krept and Konan, and Marvell, warmed up the crowd and the stage by spitting over famous instrumentals by Kanye West and DMX. Marvell which consisted of three members also done their utmost in making sure everyone knew who they were with “Marvell” printed on their t-shirts. I’m sure that anyone could spot a Marvell member from a mile off, like literally!
At this point, the crowd were still in full swing, but that’s until Talay Riley jumped on stage. It seemed like I was the only one who was in full connection with Talay and his presence. The audience seemed to have took the moment as a break, maybe it was partly because of Talay’s setlist of songs. Talay performed a beautiful rendition of Beyonce’s ‘Halo’ which amazed some and practically put some to sleep. I don’t think the audience was appreciative of the rising star, you could plainly see that the audience were hardcore followers of grime. A mainstream crooner was so not what this crowd needed, we should have brought along the X Factor crowd!
Whilst up in VIP I managed to grab Skepta’s brother JME for a quick round up, unlike his big bro who asked me whether we could do the interview later (and if you’re wondering whether it took place, then no, it didn’t, the main man of the night managed to blag his way out!). JME was on a high expressing his thoughts on his brother’s closing night, admitting to being a “very proud brother”. And to all of those wondering why JME wasn’t under the list of support acts then hear this, straight from the horse’s mouth, JME admitted how Skepta never asked him “because I’m his brother, it would be weird for me to support him as I’m an artist in my own right”. JME also preached “This is real support, me being here tonight”, have to agree with him there, you don’t have to be stuck to someone’s backside in order to show support, brother or not!
I also caught up with Krept and Konan, where I delivered the good news that Tinie Tempah had in fact tweeted about them hours before the show. The duo was “overwhelmed” with the reaction from the crowd and admitted that supporting Skepta on his last night of the tour in their hometown made it even more worthwhile.
Other guests I spotted included magician Dynamo, Shorty, and Jammer, who I caught at the front of the VIP crowd enjoying the show with a little liquor in his possession. The proud Adenuga mama was also in the house, I spotted the proud mum comfortably perched on the couch.
The crowd’s stamina burst back up just as the man himself, Skepta, finally took to the stage wearing a white tuxedo matched with black trousers and a black shirt. Skepta definitely looked the part, and to top it off, his live band was present throughout the entire set. As the rapper belted out “home sweet f**king home” the crowd whipped into an even bigger frenzy. Skepta livened his famous tracks, his not so known tracks and tracks off his third studio album ‘Doin’ It Again’. ‘Rescue Me’ and ‘Bad Boy’ were two of the tracks which went down well with the crowd, seeing as they are the two single’s which widened Skepta’s fan base.
You could tell that the rapper was totally zoned out whilst up on the stage, because once off stage he looked controllable and more “with it” (if you know what I mean). The rapper treated the crowd to a medley of his collaborations including ‘Cross My Heart’ (Preeya Kalidas) and ‘So Alive’ (N-Dubz). With the absence of Preeya Kalidas, it was fair to say that Syed did in fact steal Amira back, doh Skeppy!
Skepta was also joined by special guest Chipmunk on stage, who received a lot of love from the girls whilst the male spectators just stood and observed the talent. The partners in crime performed ‘Big’ and ‘Decorations On My Body’ with Chipmunk wearing his signature “Cmar” tee.
The very controversial track ‘All Over The House’ excited many heads in the house, along with the latest single ‘Hold On’, ‘Do It Like Me’ which had everyone yelling “f**k skepta”, and everyone’s favourite hangover track, ‘Amnesia’. Overall, Skepta made it an hour on stage, and quite frankly got through the whole heights of his career. As the Skepta show came to a close, the man of the moment had his whole crew out (JME, Frisco, Chipmunk, Charlee Drew) on stage with him which caused a bit of a champagne cool down, an encore which will always stick with me!
As my encounter with Skepta was out the window, instead, I took two Skepta fans to the side and quizzed them about the Skepta show. The two very young fans, Lewis and Bailey aged 11, and 9 years old, described the show as “funny”, “good” and “wicked”. Quite the average use of words I know, but I couldn’t get anything better out of them. Maybe it was a slight case of amnesia!
Words by Melek Derebeyli