Hailing from North London and regarded as one of the best UK rappers in the game, Nines headlined a sold out O2 Forum Kentish Town, for his first ever UK tour. Following the release of his critically acclaimed album, Crop Circle, the rapper is fast becoming a household name and has garnered respect within the scene for his honest lyrics, much of which documents his lifestyle and journey from Church Road (area of Harlesden in which he grew up), into music.
The stage for Nines was kitted out with the iconic Ice City logo (the music collective of which he is a part of), a fairly minimal set up but by no means underwhelming and a nice touch when you consider how key Ice City has been throughout his come-up.
Kicking off the show was a performance from up-and-coming drill artist, SL, who did Tropical and Gentleman all the while with his hood pulled up to just under his eyes, as we’re used to seeing him. Considering the success he has had this year in what is a contentious genre (drill), under constant scrutiny for its perceived glamorization of violence, it’s good to see him have the chance to perform his music to a big audience alongside an artist who is so highly regarded.
Nines came on to Trapper Of The Year, which was met with excitement as one of his most popular songs early on in his career from his debut album One Foot Out. He then continued through his discography performing songs from mixtapes in the early days, as well as his more recent music. It was clear from this the divide in the audience between fans from the early days and those who have started following him more recently but it was nice to see so much of his old music played as it helped to show the shape in his journey.
The atmosphere and crowd took on a different feel to other gigs, due in part to the success of Crop Circle and the anticipation of the crowd of seeing him perform his debut album live, but also owing to the fact that along his journey he’s had shows cancelled by venues and a reluctance towards booking him due to a slightly chequered past. Nonetheless, that only made the show all the more special as fans old and new were there for the big event which was very present within the audience.
A personal highlight of mine was when he performed CR, from the album From Church Road To Hollywood as not only is it a class song from production to lyricism, but was one of the initial songs to catalyse him into the limelight. It was also clearly a firm favourite with the audience as most people were rapping along (or attempting to). This performance alone was enough to put it up there with one of my favourite shows I’ve been to.
If Nines alone wasn’t enough, we were also given performances from Not3s and AJ Tracey - which when you consider how relevant both artists are in the scene at the moment is a pretty big deal. Whilst I wouldn’t put fans of the likes of AJ Tracey & Not3s to be the same as those who are hardcore Nines fans, it worked as a complimentary bonus as opposed to a surprise that detracts from the artist you’re there to see. Both artists performed Butterflies together and then did a few tracks of their own, before the mic went back to Nines for the rest of the gig.
All in all, another great show. As my first time seeing Nines (after 3 years in waiting + one cancelled performance) I definitely wasn’t left disappointed from what was an authentic, energetic and allin-in-all stellar night.