ACL Review: Skepta

MC locksteps the crowd with infectious, street-level bangers

In a workmanlike set Friday afternoon, UK grime legend turned critical darling Skepta clearly understood the festival game, upping the ante with each track. Empathizing with his crowd’s plight against what he perceived as oppressive heat, the Tottenham, London, MC nevertheless furnished his own solar power, going hard-n-heavy from the start.

Photo by David Brendan Hall

His supporting DJ, Maximum, launched right into punishing renditions of “Konnichiwa,” the title track off Skepta’s 2016 Mercury Prize-winning album, and blitzing 2014 single “That’s Not Me.” The rapper, born Joseph Junior Adenuga to Nigerian parents, sounded borderline stately with his “roadman” flows on rival-dicing “Ace Hood Flow.”

“I don’t care what gun you bang,
I don’t care what drug you sell,
Fuck you, man.”

It’s a curious sight to see a mostly bro crowd bounce along to “Crime Riddim,” a song about improper police strip and search, and realities within the criminal justice system. What could collegiate Austinites possibly know of those horrors and degradation?

And yet, Skepta’s crowd service makes palatable every line of his brawny, real-to-life lyrics. With a plain white tee tucked into black shorts, likely much more expensive than they appeared, he’s a hood star-made-good ascendant on the bass-raining “Corn on the Curb.”

“Gotta stay dreaming,
Gotta stay believing,
Gotta stay scheming.”

No, it wasn’t that hot, but grime’s chief ambassador showed gratitude for his “energy crew.” He and the crowd were in lockstep by infectious list-checking, street-level banger “Shutdown,” which showcased all his electric abilities as a lyricist and consummate showman.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Skepta
SXSW News: Brawl Closes Gypsy Lounge
SXSW News: Brawl Closes Gypsy Lounge
London MC and headliner forced to cancel festival showcase

Chase Hoffberger, March 20, 2015

More by Kahron Spearman
Texas Platters
Gary Clark Jr.
This Land (Record Review)

March 22, 2019

Organ Great James Polk Works Wonders Outside the Limelight
Organ Great James Polk Works Wonders Outside the Limelight
We speak with Austin’s esteemed multi-instrumentalist and former arranger for Ray Charles

Jan. 18, 2019


Skepta, ACL Fest 2017, Joseph Junior Adenuga, DJ Maximum

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle