ACL Review: Skepta
MC locksteps the crowd with infectious, street-level bangers
By Kahron Spearman,
10:00AM, Sat. Oct. 7, 2017
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.
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.