Amongst all of his accolades this year including winning the Mercury Prize and his recent album ‘Konnichiwa’ being certified gold, Skepta’s sold-out show at Alexandra Palace will no doubt go down as one of his best moments of 2016.
The grime MC’s appeal has exploded in the last few years, taking him overseas to break the toughest markets. But for the Boy Better Know star, the show represents over ten years of grafting. Ally Pally is not far from Skepta’s hometown of Tottenham. The concert was his homecoming, telling the crowd that as a child he’d visit Alexandra Palace to feed the ducks.
As crazy as the year has been for Skepta, his simplicity and shunning of fame was evident throughout the show. Opening with ‘No Security’ in a black tracksuit, he remained true to the ‘tracksuit mafia’. The night was all about Skepta, but from the beginning, the MC proved that he was intent on incorporating the “crew and the gang”. Third song in, Skepta brought out brother Jme to perform ‘That’s Not Me’.
Skepta’s set included his earlier music such as ‘Ace Hood Flow’ from his 2012 mixtape, ‘Blacklisted’. Helicopter aerial shots of Tottenham, and CCTV footage filled the screens for staples from ‘Konnichiwa’ including ‘Crime Riddim’ and ‘It Ain’t Safe’, sung word for word by his audience.
Special guests came along thick and fast which included Giggs, who performed ‘Whippin’ Excursion’ whilst Skepta showed us the corresponding “Sickest Excursion Skank”. The MC gave a nod to the success of Giggs’ recent album with a sizeable ‘Landlord’ backdrop.
If that wasn’t enough, Kano came on to perform ‘3 Wheels Up’ from his ‘Made in the Manor’ album. Grime love was in the air as Giggs, JME, Kano and Skepta hugged it out. D Double E would also pass through as Skepta concentrated on the women for ‘Ladies Hit Squad’. Fellow Tottenham resident Wretch 32, Novelist and Lethal Bizzle also made an appearance.
Skepta thanked his exhilarated audience, and the late Steve Jobs as Apple Music streamed the concert worldwide. Finishing with ‘Shutdown’ and ‘Man’, his crew came on stage capturing the epic moment with their phones whilst a car was set alight reminiscent of textbook scenes from a grime music video.
Without his “very special guests”, Skepta’s standalone success would have been more than enough for the night to deliver. But the MC proved just how much of an ambassador he is of the genre. Grime culture has always been rooted in ensuring that accomplishments are collective. The ‘King of Grime’ showed that whilst breaking down glass ceilings, he’ll be paving the way for others.
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Words: Nikita Rathod