Its always interesting to me when artists begin booking their peers for gigs. I’m intrigued by the thought process of how and why the pick certain acts over others. For Reali-T’s ‘Stay Tuned’ album release soiree at Arch Sixteen Cafe in Gateshead, the self-proclaimed ‘Black Guy In Your Neighborhood’ explained his choices. Apparently, each of the acts performing were booked because they in some way shape or form helped in the creation of ‘Stay Tuned.’
Kicking off the event, AndSamLad easily won over what would ordinarily be a tough crowd. Its not every day that a singer-songwriter is booked to open up a predominantly hip-hop gig. Sam’s storytelling ability and enlisting the help of rapper NATO to perform a few of their collaborations made for a superb start to the event.
Next to the stage, Max Gavins seemingly taking lead from AndSamLad brought an unexpected acoustic set. With the recently released ‘1994’ blending unconventional genre conventions with rap, it wasn’t necessarily a surprise given the artistic evolution Max has gone through in the past few years. Showcasing a deft music ability mixing double time flows with singing and playing guitar, the artist formerly known as Suus proved he is way more than just another North East rapper. The highlight of his set undoubtedly came with a cover of Kyle and Lil Yachty’s ‘iSpy.’
Rex Regis, another artist who has also just released an album was fittingly the third performer of the night. Unleashing some tracks from ‘The Third’ including bringing in 90Bro who was on DJ duties for the night to perform their collaboration ‘You’re Not From Round Here Wor Kid’ despite the absence of Kay Greyson. A veteran within North East hip-hop, Rex is always on-point with his performances – although I do wish he’d reintroduce ‘Running The Yard’ to his set.
Hush Entertainments then took to the floor with KT Mosebi’s productions laying the foundation for Trax to bring a lot of energy to the room. A stark contrast the acoustic acts before him, Trax brought summery dancehall vibes. Some technical issues did effect the performance somewhat but it was nice introduction to Trax as a first time live viewer of his.
Having graced the cover of NARC. magazine – the first rapper to do so – and releasing the long awaited ‘JTLR’ album with The Lion Ranger, Jister has been very busy. Performing at Evolution Emerging and more since, it was good to see him once again. Having now seen the set a few times, it’s always impressive how Jister controls the crowd almost naturally without needing to use call and response tactics and the like. His booming voice, charismatic wit and ability to switch up his flows in his music make his performances almost hypnotic. From ‘Super Ridiculous’ to ‘Now That You’, you never take your eye off of him even to blink.
Finally the star of the show, your boy from Hackney, Reali-T grabbed the mic after an introduction from ‘Stay Tuned’ executive producer Beezy. Offering a small set showcasing what we could expect on the album including highlights like ‘Black Guy In Your Neighborhood’ and ‘Don’t Chat.’ My personal highlight came as Reali-T performed ‘Bounce’, a single I have supported since I first heard it live way back in 2016, with Sharna Laidlow providing backing vocals in impromptu fashion. The New North East artist finished his set with an encore of ‘Smile For The Camera’ – we’ll let him off for performing over his vocals given the impromptu nature and pressure from the crowd.
Alongside the cypher that broke out afterwards, including Eum deservedly receiving two wheel ups for spitting over grime, Reali-T’s ‘Stay Tuned’ album release soiree was everything an event of its kind should be. A fun, unifying event bringing together artists and hip-hop fans from varying backgrounds and ultimately building hype for ‘Stay Tuned.’
Stay tuned for the album review here on TheRootMusic, pun abso-fucking-lutely intended.