PLAYED ON: Thursday 1 March 2018

NME Awards Shows 2018: A2

Gig info





A2:  9PM

These times are just for guidance and are subject to change, KOKO cannot be held responsible for changes to these showtimes so please arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Please note this event is 14+ (under 16s must be accompanied by someone who is 18 or over)

South London A2 is the self-taught UK hip hop misfit doing things his own way. His introspective rap, inspired by his grime scene background, is darkly imaginative and pumped full of original flavour. It’s the culmination of a life of musical curiosity, sparked from messing around with cracked production software. “I remember taking my sister's keyboard and sitting down in my room for hours, just playing on the keyboard. I got a cracked version of Fruityloops from a friend and started producing when I was 13. Rapping was pretty much the same thing, part and parcel type thing, trying to master both, continuing the artform.”
That initial curiosity has since evolved into a full blown pursuit of perfection; “Everything has to be meticulous,” A2 explains, “every instance of the process has to be perfect because once something’s out there, I can’t take it back.” The 26-year-old Croydon boy grew up spitting rhymes “In the school playground, my estate, on a bus most days”. Growing up on a diet of rare groove, reggae, R&B, soul, blues and jungle - a mashup of sounds influenced by his Jamaican heritage that you can hear reflected in A2’s own output today. “I miss the 90s because the 90s had so much influence on me. Vinyl, CDs, big sound systems, all the car journeys, I used to be infatuated with bass that’s why I used to love jungle. These old school r&b songs they’ve got mad bass in them. Just give me a nice bass, a nice drum pattern and I’ll do the rest.”

A self-confessed product of his own environment, A2’s teen years were complicated, having to navigate the social geography of his ends, where stepping out meant watching where you could actually go to avoid trouble. “Everything that’s gone on in my area is all moulded into one thing now, good and bad, the ends was a bit mad but it’s been a strong influence on me”, he says. At that time A2 found himself immersed in south London’s grime scene, listening to Battersea’s So Solid Crew, Stockwell Grime producer slash MC Dot Rotten and Danny Weed’s seminal grime track, ‘Creeper’, over which A2 and his mates would practice MCing. He would
eventually outgrow the scene as his own music developed, feeling that grime was too selective, he began to gravitate towards a more hip hop rap-centric sound. “I didn’t feel like it was open enough,” A2 elaborates, “I felt like you had to be part of a gang and if you weren’t part of the gang you weren’t gonna be let in. I just wanted something more chill, I was done with all the noise. I wanted to create music that was dark in its own way. I don’t think I really even fit in with this rap game if I’m honest with you. I feel like I do a different type of thing where it’s got its own space.”

All of this is channelled into A2’s latest release, the extended EP BLUE, an acronym that stands for Before Love Undoes Everything. BLUE dropped Novemeber 2017 and follows his previous seven EP releases, including 2016’s More Sleep II EP. Red Bull Sound Select dubbed A2 one-to-watch in 2017, with both Beats and Boiler Room backing A2 as they throw their support behind his creative vision both sonically and visually. Following the success of BLUE, A2 is set to perform a headline show at KOKO in March. “It doesn’t even feel like music, it literally feels like science,” says A2 about the album, “When I’m making beats and doing tunes, it doesn’t feel like I’m just writing lyrics, it feels like there’s biology behind it or some kind of chemistry.”

BLUE is full of nocturnal sounds - or as A2 so poetically puts it “3am real life shit” - and packed with rhymes about text messages, phone calls and shouts outs to his mum. A2’s signature late night laidback delivery flows across warped and woozy R&B inspired beats. Beats produced by A2 because, “The beat needs to give you the vibe, it needs to show you how to approach it, otherwise you’re doing it blind.” It’s the sound of hard knocks, of breakups and breakdowns, of ephemeral late nights and early mornings when you’ve had no sleep and been talking deep.

“I’ve always been a low key kind of person. When it comes to the music it has to be a reflection of me and I’m not all bright and vibrant and loud, I’m pretty reserved and quiet. It’s moody, everything I do is moody, the sounds are moody, the energy is moody. I wanted to be honest and truthful, when everyone pretending they’re a superhero, I didn’t want to be fabricating anything.”

Already championed by heavyweights like Drake - who was playing an online rip of A2’s song ‘Gold’ previous to its release in his DJ sets and on OVO Sound Radio - it’s the right time for A2, the dark knight of UK rap, to rise.

Tickets on sale Friday 8 Dec at 10am.

Please note you may be required to have your ID scanned on the door. For more information, please click here.


Live Photos by Chazz Adnitt. 


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