The rise and rise of HAAi
UK rap’s man of the minute, slowthai, touched down in London last night as part of his Circus tour. Snarling into his mic, parodying patriotism, and gradually losing layers of clothing until he was in his pants, the Northampton MC made the sold-out show feel like a moment, proving exactly why he’s the most talked-about artist in underground rap circles.
‘Drug Dealer’ got wheeled multiple times, alongside renditions of crowd favourites like ‘T N Biscuits’, ‘Polaroid’ and ‘Ladies’, plus some brand new material. Here’s what we learned from watching the explosive rapper in action.
It was the perfect environment to catch the MC’s teeth-gritting rap
A dingy club sunk into the bowels of Camden, The Underworld is the place to go if you’re into metal and punk – a night there normally entails lashings of Papa Roach, Placebo and Limp Bizkit. It was very on-brand, then, for a rapper whose music exudes punk rock energy to bowl into the club with his hypeman and longtime producer, Kwes Darko (aka Blue Daisy), who stomped the stage in a balaclava.
slowthai’s got no time for people who aren’t fully into the show
“Get off your phone, man,” he said, hanging off the balcony, to one guy in the audience. “You! Get off your phone!” He even made the venue turn on the house lights and got the crowd to turn round and boo the “boring industry wankers at the back”. Disappearing for a moment, he popped up among the maligned people at the back, roaring into his mic. “You look bored, man. BORED!”
Any Tories in the building would’ve been horrified
With his back to a giant union jack flag, a half-naked slowthai half-arsedly sang the British national anthem, getting the audience to raise their middle fingers. “NOTHING GREAT ABOUT BRITAIN, FUCK THE QUEEN”. Referencing his ‘North Nights’ track which goes: “Theresa May wanna be like Branson / Making P from airplane traffic,” he had everyone chanting along with him: “When I say fuck, you say Theresa – fuck Theresa! fuck Theresa!” It felt like the perfect time to take aim at the toxic environment in the country post-Brexit vote.
There was a lot of crowdsurfing
Including from Tyron Frampton himself, who launched himself atop a thrashing sea of people, mic in hand, not missing a bar as he did. Ordering the crowd to form a wall of death and various moshpits, there wasn’t a single person who emerged from the basement club without being soaked to the bone with sweat.
He sells out shows very quickly
Mid-way through the show, at around 10pm, slowthai announced another show in the same venue in October. By half midnight it had sold out.