Rap, ends, grime & uni
Hailing from Croydon, South London, Hardy Caprio is quickly earning recognition and respect from the grime scene for his ability to spit seamlessly over both rap and grime beats. His original track Soundbwoy for example saw him spitting over XTC’s Functions On The Low (also used by another Croydon rapper, Stormzy, for his widely renowned Shut Up freestyle). Hot from dropping The Hollywood EP, featuring the much anticipated Hollywood Take 3 freestyle, Hardy took to East London to perform at his sold out show entitled Hollywood Season.
The show was opened by DJ Teeshow, who played all the tunes everyone wanted to hear from J Hus, Drake, Giggs, 67; you get the picture. Shortly after, Teks Sinatra took to the stage to slow things down a bit. He opened with the emotional Lyrics – for those of you who haven’t heard, it’s an open declaration of love for his girl, something obviously very close to his heart. Following on from that was an acapella, a spoken word of sorts. For me this was one of the highlights of the night, listening to someone talk thoughtfully on issues that affect their culture. Tee’s acapella saw him drawing on his experiences of being a young black man in the modern world with lyrics like “Spend my last hundred on a necklace / Even if I got to skip dinner, lunch and breakfast” leaving the crowd roaring in approval. I fully rate that, it takes a lot for young black rappers to not just conform to what’s ‘expected’ of them, in terms of their lyrical content, style of delivery and appearance. Shout out Teks.
Next up was Still Shadey. Shadey provided a contrast in terms of vibes and energy. Opening with Fire4Dem Series 2.5, a real example of one of the most distinctive sounds coming out of London right now, blending grime, trap and rap. It goes without saying that the crowd quickly went from phone lights in the air to gun fingers. However, Shadey did what Shadey does, and showed that he’s much more than your average sound cloud rapper. He mixed up his styles, and gave us something much more sincere and heartfelt, conscious rap. Shadey spat about issues he’s faced personally, talking about his life on the road and his path to finding God, and did it in a much better way than can be described. It’s definitely worth making the time to check him out.
Helping bring an increasingly popular hybrid of afrobeats & grime to the forefront of the music scene in London right now is One Acen. Opening his set last night with his tune Hold Tight, you could tell he was a hit with the girls in the crowd, which offered the perfect opportunity to slow things down and switch the vibe up. Acen was joined on stage by Tion Wayne, and they performed their joint track Hate On Me. Tion then performed his banger ‘F U’, amongst some of his other material.
Duo Tizzy and Brandz stepped up next and did it for the gang. The crowd went mad when they played Always; no surprise there with it being one of the hottest grime tunes of last year.
Kenny followed the duo up, doing what Kenny does best. After we all sang happy birthday to him, he blessed us with a 20 minute set of straight fire, covering grime, hip-hop, trap, rap, afrobeats and dancehall.
At about 10:30pm it was time for the headline act to grace the stage, Hardy Caprio himself. The stage was cleared by Mr Montgomery, and Hardy appeared. The best thing about going to small gigs is that no-one is there by accident. Everyone there was more or less a diehard fan, and that was evident from the way the crowd reacted to seeing Hardy. He opened with Love Song, an absolute classic, partly as a sign of respect and appreciation to his fans who’ve been there from day one.
Shortly after, Caprio brought on Belly Squad, a group known for weaving the street sounds of London with the afrobeats and reggae they were brought up on, to perform their tune Selfish. Hardy ended his set with fan favourites, which I thought was a nice touch. It’s always a disappointment when artists don’t play the songs you want them to, it leaves you feeling unsatisfied. It’s safe to say that Hardy didn’t leave any one feeling that way, with a strong performance throughout his set and his great charisma and a lot of appreciation for his fanbase.
All in all, the gig was everything I’d hope it to be and more: it was raw. It was enjoyable. It was real. I’m sure I’m not the only one who can’t wait to see what Hardy does next. One thing is for sure though – it’s Hardy Season.